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Author Topic: Photography and The Death of Reality  (Read 7777 times)
snoleoprd
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« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2014, 11:25:32 AM »
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Well I expected a bigger sh*t storm.  Grin However it is a good article. I never look at an image and think whether or not it is "reality", whatever that may be. I look at an image and think about how it makes me feel, how it makes me think and wonder about the image. To me photography is the vision of the photographer and it is to invoke a feeling or a message.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
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« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2014, 12:36:04 PM »
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Well that is one interpretation of photography.  Who wouldn't get a warm feeling by a little baby hugging its mommy.  Feelings about the photo are key.  But in other ways, falsehoods in photography can get you to vote in a way that is not consistent with the reality of the situation.  That could effect the entire country.  The  "vision" of the photographer may be political in nature.  He is trying to influence your action.  Photography has long been used for propaganda and it's stagecraft is in its lies.
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snoleoprd
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« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2014, 01:16:48 PM »
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And how is that different from speeches, articles, news reports, opinions? They are all there to create a reaction and "feeling". It is how the individual responds to it, that makes or breaks it, whether it is a picture or any other form of media. It is all the intent of the "artist" or writer, etc.

Alan
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John Camp
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« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2014, 02:53:35 PM »
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We've been down this road once or twice before, but most of the replies in this thread miss the elephant in the room: that photos can be the best representation of reality that we can manage. They don't necessarily have to be, but they can be. That's why photos are taken as evidence in criminal cases, that's how they're used in navigation, that's how they're used to calculate precise orbits, etc. In other words, photos aren't just what people want them to be; they're not just another bit of sensation dependent on human interpretation. If a series of photos lead to calculations that show an astroid is going to hit New York City on July 4, you probably don't want to be there on July 4, if you have any interest in continuing with your current life style. In other words, photos *can* be objective evidence of events outside human psychology. Painting, on the other hand, can't be, nor can any of the other art forms. This gives photography a particular power. it *can* be a representation of reality outside of human psychology. To say that a photograph it *isn't* an objective reality (as Picasso supposedly did) is to confuse sophomoric discussions of philosophy (Hey, don't bogart the joint, man) with serious reflection on the way the world works.

The above is one case, and now I'll suggest another, but this *is* purely subjective -- in my opinion, the power of photography comes from its ability to represent the objective in a meaningful way. The greater the distance between meaningful representation, and the photograph as hung on the wall, the less I'm interested. If one spends a lot of time looking at a wide variety of paintings, you'll very quickly notice that some huge percentage -- 99+% -- is crap. Poorly executed even in its own terms, intellectually shallow, derivative...stupid. In my view, photography starts with one great strength, the ability to represent an external reality with some fidelity, and a lot of potential weaknesses -- easy technical manipulation, fraud, snarkiness, and so on. I'm not interested in that stuff. I don't doubt that others are.
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darr
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« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2014, 04:07:54 PM »
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We've been down this road once or twice before, but most of the replies in this thread miss the elephant in the room: that photos can be the best representation of reality that we can manage. They don't necessarily have to be, but they can be. That's why photos are taken as evidence in criminal cases, that's how they're used in navigation, that's how they're used to calculate precise orbits, etc. In other words, photos aren't just what people want them to be; they're not just another bit of sensation dependent on human interpretation. If a series of photos lead to calculations that show an astroid is going to hit New York City on July 4, you probably don't want to be there on July 4, if you have any interest in continuing with your current life style. In other words, photos *can* be objective evidence of events outside human psychology. Painting, on the other hand, can't be, nor can any of the other art forms. This gives photography a particular power. it *can* be a representation of reality outside of human psychology. To say that a photograph it *isn't* an objective reality (as Picasso supposedly did) is to confuse sophomoric discussions of philosophy (Hey, don't bogart the joint, man) with serious reflection on the way the world works.


Yes, photography is a great tool for evidence, if that is the intended purpose, but the article is based around the intention of creating your own personal perception of reality. Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking, Fast and Slow (thanks to ednazarko for pointing to his work), mentions the video Alan Klein's post points to as to what can happen and does frequently happen when specific instructions (evidence) are given for the brain to focus on, and how the brain misses stuff in front of its eyes while it is focusing on the evidence. The elephant in the room for me is personal perception or creativity; our perceptions are very personal, yet sometimes very similar.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2014, 04:10:00 PM by darr » Logged

darlene almeda
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« Reply #25 on: April 16, 2014, 04:19:47 PM »
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I thought the article was pretty thin, myself. He's not actually saying anything. What he is doing, though, is taking a position.

If it were my essay, I'd recast it as a manifesto. It's quite decent as a manifesto, but could use a bit more punch, more fire in the belly. Plus, manifestos are way more fun.
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- Andrew

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BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2014, 04:48:58 PM »
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Journalistic photography aside, I disagree with and reject the notion that one has any obligation to describe one's workflow or process of creating the final image.  Photography is an art form.  We use tools to create our art, as do other artists.  I often share aspects of my workflow with other photographers whom I treat as friends.  But there is certainly no need or obligation to tell anyone how I create my art.  Painters and sculptors are under no obligation to explain how they create the effects they do.  There is no reason for photographers to feel differently.  If we want photography to be treated as an art form, we need to act like artists. --Barbara
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2014, 04:49:05 PM »
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We've been down this road once or twice before, but most of the replies in this thread miss the elephant in the room: that photos can be the best representation of reality that we can manage. They don't necessarily have to be, but they can be. That's why photos are taken as evidence in criminal cases, that's how they're used in navigation, that's how they're used to calculate precise orbits, etc. In other words, photos aren't just what people want them to be; they're not just another bit of sensation dependent on human interpretation. If a series of photos lead to calculations that show an astroid is going to hit New York City on July 4, you probably don't want to be there on July 4, if you have any interest in continuing with your current life style. In other words, photos *can* be objective evidence of events outside human psychology. Painting, on the other hand, can't be, nor can any of the other art forms. This gives photography a particular power. it *can* be a representation of reality outside of human psychology. To say that a photograph it *isn't* an objective reality (as Picasso supposedly did) is to confuse sophomoric discussions of philosophy (Hey, don't bogart the joint, man) with serious reflection on the way the world works.

The above is one case, and now I'll suggest another, but this *is* purely subjective -- in my opinion, the power of photography comes from its ability to represent the objective in a meaningful way. The greater the distance between meaningful representation, and the photograph as hung on the wall, the less I'm interested. If one spends a lot of time looking at a wide variety of paintings, you'll very quickly notice that some huge percentage -- 99+% -- is crap. Poorly executed even in its own terms, intellectually shallow, derivative...stupid. In my view, photography starts with one great strength, the ability to represent an external reality with some fidelity, and a lot of potential weaknesses -- easy technical manipulation, fraud, snarkiness, and so on. I'm not interested in that stuff. I don't doubt that others are.

Can't disagree with any of that. Despite the dramatic title of the article, it would be a serious mistake to assume everyone thinks and feels the same.
Photography is many things, it can be realistic (to a point) it can wander into digital art. Take your pick..taste is a very varied thing.

Picasso, can't stand his work (does nothing for me at all in any way) but there are plenty of folks who just love it
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darr
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« Reply #28 on: April 16, 2014, 05:01:55 PM »
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Journalistic photography aside, I disagree with and reject the notion that one has any obligation to describe one's workflow or process of creating the final image.  Photography is an art form.  We use tools to create our art, as do other artists.  I often share aspects of my workflow with other photographers whom I treat as friends.  But there is certainly no need or obligation to tell anyone how I create my art.  Painters and sculptors are under no obligation to explain how they create the effects they do.  There is no reason for photographers to feel differently.  If we want photography to be treated as an art form, we need to act like artists. --Barbara

I agree. I do not think it is any artist's responsibility to explain the steps to how they created their work. That would be an instructional tool, more akin to a score of music, but even that is open to interpretation. As in the days of wet darkroom, you could say you dodged and burned, etc., but even that can be a bit abstract. I once read the many different prints Ansel Adams himself created of Moonrise, Hernandez, were all different because of how he interpreted the work as his vision evolved.
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darlene almeda
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #29 on: April 16, 2014, 05:47:20 PM »
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We've been down this road once or twice before, but most of the replies in this thread miss the elephant in the room: that photos can be the best representation of reality that we can manage. They don't necessarily have to be, but they can be. That's why photos are taken as evidence in criminal cases, that's how they're used in navigation, that's how they're used to calculate precise orbits, etc. In other words, photos aren't just what people want them to be; they're not just another bit of sensation dependent on human interpretation. If a series of photos lead to calculations that show an astroid is going to hit New York City on July 4, you probably don't want to be there on July 4, if you have any interest in continuing with your current life style. In other words, photos *can* be objective evidence of events outside human psychology. Painting, on the other hand, can't be, nor can any of the other art forms. This gives photography a particular power. it *can* be a representation of reality outside of human psychology. To say that a photograph it *isn't* an objective reality (as Picasso supposedly did) is to confuse sophomoric discussions of philosophy (Hey, don't bogart the joint, man) with serious reflection on the way the world works.

The above is one case, and now I'll suggest another, but this *is* purely subjective -- in my opinion, the power of photography comes from its ability to represent the objective in a meaningful way. The greater the distance between meaningful representation, and the photograph as hung on the wall, the less I'm interested. If one spends a lot of time looking at a wide variety of paintings, you'll very quickly notice that some huge percentage -- 99+% -- is crap. Poorly executed even in its own terms, intellectually shallow, derivative...stupid. In my view, photography starts with one great strength, the ability to represent an external reality with some fidelity, and a lot of potential weaknesses -- easy technical manipulation, fraud, snarkiness, and so on. I'm not interested in that stuff. I don't doubt that others are.

+1

« Last Edit: April 16, 2014, 06:18:25 PM by Sharon Van Lieu » Logged

Telecaster
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« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2014, 08:35:08 PM »
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Photography for me is mostly a creative endeavor. That's where the anything goes approach comes into play. But of course it can be documentary as well, even primarily so. There's no point in being absolutist about it one way or the other. As has been suggested in other posts in this thread, better to spend less time defining it and more time doing it.   Smiley

-Dave-
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Misirlou
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« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2014, 09:36:34 PM »
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I like this image a lot. I can really 'feel' it. The limited DR of the human eye means that a slightly 'processed' image often better conveys the real life experience. 

- N.

Thank you. That's exactly my intention with my photography. Probably has something to with the fact that I was a painter before I was a photographer...
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David Sutton
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« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2014, 12:47:27 AM »
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I agree that photographs are the best representation of physical reality we can manage, or rather photography's younger sibling: the movies. The first time I saw the full length dvd of The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon  I was affected in a way that was quite different to viewing any other historical imagery, with the possible exception of the work of Ponting and Hurley.
The greatest power of photography has probably been to show us worlds invisible to our eyes: the world of the super fast, the super slow through time lapse, the microscopic and the macroscopic. And to show us places and events beyond our reach.
Ignoring for the moment the need for most of us to regularly manipulate photographs to cover up the limits of our instruments, "straight" images of the physical world have their limits because we want to see (and show) something of the inner world of the subject and the person who made the image. And this is where we all come unstuck because the result may look "real" but it's reality is an internal one. It is at this point I part company with many folks. I don't care what the camera saw.
So aggravating discussions aside on what is "allowed", we often end up in the same boat as the rest of the art world. A lot of what I call "not very good" and others call "crap". And a smaller body of work that is great but quite polarising. Some like it and many loathe it.
I'm going a different way. I've taken up using antique roll film cameras. As Georges Braque, who co-founded cubism with Picasso said, "out of limited means new forms emerge". So far I haven't seen it. I hope he wasn't talking "not very good".
David
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professorgb
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« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2014, 09:59:15 AM »
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You won't see crazy 6 foot white rabbits march through a scene if you're not expecting them to be there (see some of the very cool perceptual research referenced in Daniel Kahneman's books.)

Referencing Kahneman?  That's a first here.  I suspect you're a graduate student!  However, there are limits to Kahneman's script theories of perception, as we need to take account of novelty, motion, and other artifacts which cause effortful processing rather than automatic, schematic processing.  Although, I have to admit that the video with the big white rabbit is killer.

Ok, geekout over.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 10:06:21 AM by professorgb » Logged
Isaac
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« Reply #34 on: April 17, 2014, 12:58:54 PM »
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Quote
Photography and The Death of Reality: "Hey, I know that title is a bit dramatic, but for my first article here on The Luminous Landscape I wanted to do something a bit different…"

The problem is not that the title is a bit dramatic; the problem is that the article is about Realism not Reality.

The problem is not wanting to do something a bit different; the problem is that the article does not do something a bit different, this topic is discussed every 6 months on LuLa.

For example:
Quote
Photography and The Death of Reality: "One of my goals with this article is to get your feedback in the Forum Section of this site."

Compared to the discussions on this topic that have already taken place in the LuLa forums, the article is shallow.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 01:56:09 PM by Isaac » Logged
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« Reply #35 on: April 17, 2014, 01:31:45 PM »
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This seems yet again to be a somewhat sterile discussion that will come to no real conclusion…

I think the opinions expressed over the last couple of days have not been as black&white as they were a couple of years ago.

Discussion that does not lead to a single shared conclusion can still lead to a richer more-informed perspective.
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Isaac
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« Reply #36 on: April 17, 2014, 01:44:54 PM »
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Photography … it's stagecraft is in its lies.

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"As in fashion so, too, in photography everything is ultimately stage-managed; naturalness is no more than a fiction, or, at best, simply the least artificial moment. This means that in fact fashion photography is of greater documentary interest than a great deal of photography which is flagged as such. For the transience of existence is concentrated in fashion into laws with an immensely wide application but with a very short shelf-life, which is the reason that stage-management plays such an important part in this context.
   And, vice versa, each picture grasps the fleeting moment like a model his or her clothes, as in war pictures by Capa, Cartier-Bresson's genre scenes and Robert Frank's visions of everyday political life. The realism of the image becomes a stage-managed representation. Therefore, in a certain sense, fashion photography, by never hiding its own stage-management, becomes the most authentic form of photographic representation."
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 02:22:49 PM by Isaac » Logged
BarbaraArmstrong
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« Reply #37 on: April 17, 2014, 02:09:15 PM »
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Yesterday I had the pleasure of chancing upon a BBC special on Albert Watson doing landscape photography on the Isle of Skye.  With several assistants who carried the needed equipment, Watson was happily artificially creating conditions he knew to be typical of the weather on Skye, but which were not occurring when he found himself at a location he liked.  The fog-maker looked like a leaf blower, definitely producing "fog."  The mister squirted onto his car windshield replicated the effect of raindrops on the windshield through which he photographed.  And his vehicle provided the headlights for a sweeping band of light across a nightscene.  I greatly enjoyed the pleasure he took in his photography, and his initiative in creating the photographic impression he wanted.  He was seeking images with a "mystical" look.  So he had gone in October with a lot of cloud cover and rapidly changing weather.  And then added his own reality.  --Barbara
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Alan Klein
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« Reply #38 on: April 17, 2014, 02:27:17 PM »
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You work your butt off getting out to the right place, in the right light and at the right time and circumstance to finally get that shot you're so proud of.  So, it's a real letdown when someone asks of your photo, "Did you Photoshop it?"  Meaning of course that they will lose respect for it because in their mind you faked it or could have.  Nobody asks that of a painting.  It's understood that the work is in the artist's mind.  

Years ago, notwithstanding the Ansel Adams of the world, most people took a picture.  Either it was a chrome that went from camera to projector.  Or it was negative film that went from camera to print by an outside developer.  In both cases untouched by the photographer.  People never asked if it was real, faked, touched-up.  They took it as what the camera shot.  Real.  Had weight and substance.   No more.

Maybe in the future, people will stop asking that question "Did you Photoshop it?" if we get to the point where photos are understood to not represent reality.  Until then, these arguments will go on.
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Isaac
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« Reply #39 on: April 17, 2014, 03:39:35 PM »
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Years ago, notwithstanding the Ansel Adams of the world, most people took a picture. … In both cases untouched by the photographer.  People never asked if it was real, faked, touched-up.  They took it as what the camera shot.  Real.  Had weight and substance.

Years ago, "most people" didn't fancy themselves to be artists :-)

Quote
'You see, the extraordinary thing about photography is that it's a truly popular medium... But this has nothing to do with the art of photography even though the same materials and the same mechanical devices are used. Thoreau said years ago, "You can't say more than you see." No matter what lens you use, no matter what the speed of the film is, no matter how you develop it, no matter how you print it, you cannot say more than you see. That's what that means, and that's the truth.'   Paul Strand, Aperture 19(1), 1974.
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