BODIES OF WORK BOOK / GALLERY LINKS
MY NEW GALLERIES WEBSITE (pictures only) is here.
The Kitchen Sink selects/book gallery is here.
The Rain selects/book gallery is here.
The 2014 ~ Year in Review 2014 selects/book gallery is here.
The Place To Sit selects/book gallery is here.
The Life without the APA pictures are here
The The Forks ~ there's no place like home gallery is here
The ART ~ conveys / transports / reflects book / gallery is here
The Decay & Disgust work/book is here
The Single Women selects/book gallery is here
The Picture Windows selects/book gallery is here
The Kitchen Life selects gallery is here
A 10 picture look at Tangles, Thickets, and Twigs ~ fields of visual energy is here
Entries in civilized ku, manmade landscape (1319)
I concluded pt. 1 of yesterday's entry, the narrative and concept, with the idea that it seems obvious to me that the narrative to be found in a picture or a portfolio collection of pictures flows directly from a picture maker's picturing concept. To continue with that thought ...
... I believe that it is fair to write that every picture starts with a concept, from a simple snapshot - isn't my referent cute / pretty / funny / et al, it's time to take a picture - to the most convoluted self-referential MFA academic lunatic fringe pictures - I am engaged with the intersection of tomato soup and saltine crackers and the instagatory relevance of consumer driven imagery and its alienationatory effects and affects upon the transitory decision process of when to move my bowels, it's time to make some pictures*.
Somewhere in between those picture making polar opposites are those "serious" picture makers - to include amateurs and those involved in the Fine Art world - who make pictures without all the flapdoodle and green paint content in their Artist Statements and, IMO, every "serious" picture should have an Artist Statement. I believe that to be so, even if the intended use is for the picture maker's eyes only inasmuch as writing (get it out of your head and on paper) an Artist Statement is an opportunity to define / understand why you are doing what you are doing and exactly what it is that you are doing.
In any event, an Artist Statement is an opportunity for the picture maker to inform viewers of his work what it was that instigated a particular picture making endeavor, aka: the concept which drove the process. Outside of the academic-driven picture making world, where concept is King and interpretation of concept is the revenge of the intellectual on art, where many may find an Artist Statement interesting and even informative, most just care about the picture(s). IMO, no amount of flapdoodle and green paint, aka: artspeak, gloss is going to change their mind one way or another.
I will admit that it very pleasing when a viewer gets it, it = the concept. Especially so when he/she, to paraphrase Susan Sontag, has looked at the surface of a picture and then he/she "think - or rather feel, intuit - what is beyond it ...". IMO, that's best a picture maker hope to accomplish. That is, when a viewer gets it without having to read an Artist Statement which reads like an obtuse self-referential / analytical MFA term paper.
I believe that to be so because, first and foremost, the picture making medium, photography division, is a visual art. Hence, a picture, the 2D object in and of itself, must attract and hold the viewer long enough for a viewer to begin to think / intuit / feel about concept / meaning.
CAVEAT: The preceding paragraph should not be understood to mean that I am member-in-good-standing of the A Picture Which Needs Words Is A Failure club. That's because I believe that a concise well written Artist Statement has value which allows viewers to understand a picture maker's motivation(s) and I, for one, do not see the harm in that.
All of the above written, I must write that I believe, due to the pervasive influence and pressure, re: concept is King, emanating from the academic lunatic fringe many a fine picture maker has spent an undue amount of time and energy concerned with and, in fact, worried about whether his/her pictures pass the MFA lunatic fringe litmus test.
After spending some time myself thinking about that very thing, I have come to the conclusion that I make pictures simply because I like making pictures. And, yes, all of my separate bodies of work do have a concept which helps hold them together as a cohesive collection of pictures but .... truth be told most of those concepts came after the initial picture making had begun. That is, realizing after the picture making fact, that I had, in the act of making pictures because I like making pictures, created the beginnings of a body of work.
At the point of that realization, I worked on figuring out / understanding what the pictures meant to me. From that understanding I formulated a concept which would carry me through a continuing picture making process which would result in pictures for a given body of work. Pictures which conformed to a given concept. Now that may be an ass-backward / cart before the horse way of doing things but it works for me. Then again it has been suggested by many that, in order to find one's vision or at least a concept worth pursuing, one should just go out and start making pictures and see what happens.
A case in point is my picture window body of work (see a few latest additions in this entry). While began making those picture, in part because of the influence of John Pfahl's Picture Windows work, I came to realize that, for me (to my eye and sensibilities), the pictures had meaning for me beyond what I had originally thought. Meaning such as the comfort of one's immediate surroundings vs the vast unknown of the outside world; which can lead to thoughts of the one's personal world vs the impersonal uncertainty of that which we do not know; the life inside one's head vs the the life outside of one's comfort zone both mental and physical.
However, all of that is quite swell but ultimately it's up to the viewer to appreciate the pictures simply as pictures or perhaps to drift off to thoughts and feelings which are implied or inferred in the pictures. Concept and narrative are all well and good but if one concentrates on making fine pictures the rest will follow quite naturally.
IMO,it's up to the picture maker to identify emerging concepts in the picture making, fine tune the concept, make pictures according to the concept, edit and organize the results in a cogent and cohesive portfolio, and let the picturing chips fall where they may.
*Back in his 1952 review, for the NY Times, of Henri Cartier-Bresson's book, The Decisive Moment, Walker Evans wrote: "Cartier-Bresson's fourteen page preface essay has something quite unique about it, for writing of this kind: it is quite devoid of rubbish and ego."
On the recent entry, 2014 selects ~ potpourri o' pictures, Eric Fredine wrote: "I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role of concept and narrative in a portfolio. Its a self-serving request because I’ve been thinking about it without much satisfaction. (But at least the thinking seems to have some value even in the absence of clear conclusions.).
my reply: I've started writing my reply 3 times. Each time resulted in the deleting and rebooting of my words and thoughts. Or, to quote Eric, "I’ve been thinking (and writing) about it without much satisfaction." In any event, I think this reboot will be on the right track .....
Eric raised the idea of concept and narrative within the stricture of a portfolio. A portfolio is, in this context, a collection of pictures which is normally organized around a specific theme or style (aka: concept). That is, a related / cohesive body of work which illustrates - the picture and referent(s) themselves - and illuminates - implied narrative / meaning - the central idea of the picture maker's intent.
Narrative in a picture or pictures can best be understand when thinking of pictures created in the photo-story / photo-journaism M.O. See W. Eugene Smith's landmark groundbreaking photo essay, Country Doctor as a prime example. Or, Walker Evans' pictures in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Creating a narrative can be accomplished with just a single picture as well. See Nick Ut's Napalm Girl.
In the aforementioned cases, narrative can best be described as a form of story telling albeit told in pictures rather than words. Various interpretations of those narratives / stories, made by various viewers, can be had for a number of reasons. Consider Susan Sontag's observation:
Photographs, which cannot themselves explain anything, are inexhaustible invitations to deduction, speculation, and fantasy... The very muteness of what is, hypothetically, comprehensible in photographs is what constitutes their attraction and provocativeness.
Unless a picture maker states / writes about his/her intended narrative, the pictures will be open to a wide range of "deduction, speculation, and fantasy". And even then, viewers are apt to ignore the picture maker's statement and create one of their own making. IMO, that fact is one of the medium's prime attraction for me - the best pictures - mine and those made by others - are those which avoid a propagandistic approach and which embrace the medium's ambiguity, meaning / understanding / narrative wise.
That is to write, pictures which, although they might hint at a narrative / meaning, leave plenty of room in the viewer's mind to form their own conclusions. Let the viewer decide because he/she brings to their viewing, as Sir Ansel suggested, all of their accumulated experience of "all the books we have read, the movies we have seen, the music we have heard, the people we have loved". ASIDE: heaven help those who read only pop drivel (if they read at all), listen to pop music, and have been unlucky in love.
I would also consider the notion of narrative in a picture or pictures to not be limited to literal story telling. IMO, a narrative can be thoughts, ideas and emotions which spring to a viewer's mind when instigated by the viewing of a picture. That is, thoughts, ideas and emotions which fall beyond / outside of the picture maker's intended narrative, aka: Sontag's "fantasy" notion.
All of that written, it seems obvious to me that the narrative to be found in a picture or a portfolio collection of pictures flows directly from a picture maker's picturing concept. I will deal with that idea in my next entry inasmuch as this entry has probably stretched the attention span of most readers*.
*this statement is not meant as an insult to my readers. It is merely a statement of online reading propensities.
When pressed by Santa to make a choice between a new lens or a new camera, I decided I need a new camera like I need the proverbial hole-in-the-head. Hence, Santa sent a 60mm f2.8 lens by FedX for late Xmas Eve delivery and I didn't need a tube of super-sealant to plug a hole in my head.
The primary intended use for the lens is to fill a "need" for a moderate tele with which I will make pictures of Hugo playing hockey (see hockey picture in this entry). And, after a brief hockey picture making go at it, it looks like the lens with fill that bill quite well.
That written, I have also made a few non-hockey pictures (see the 3 non-hockey pictures - all made @ f2.8 - in this entry) and I must write that I believe the lens will get more use than just making hockey pictures. At this point I can't speculate on what that usage will be but I can write that the lens produces pictures with a very nice look and feel. And, as I discovered, it is incredibly sharp, no ... make that exceptionally sharp, even wide open.
I am not a sharpness freak by any stretch, but from the very first file processing, I was struck by the sharpness factor. This just might be the sharpest lens in my µ4/3 kit, matching that of my 4/3 "pro" lenses which I use on my µ4/3 cameras with an adapter. Very impressive indeed. FYI, I am not alone, re: sharpness. After reading number of reviews (after delivery, not before) in an effort to confirm my opinion, the consensus, re: exceptional sharpness, is nearly unanimous.
Sharpness aside, the lens delivers a very nice color rendition and a very decent bokeh. AF is fast enough to make hockey pictures and the lens is part of the Sigma "Art" line of lenses - DN / A - so what's not to like? Now I can be certain that I am making art ....
All of that written, the lens has another exceptional factor, i.e. the price. This is the first non-Zuiko lens in my kit - it's a Sigma lens. At $200.00USD (give or take a ten spot), complete with lens hood and padded carrying case, it comes in at well less that half of the Zuiko 60mm f2/8 macro - $499.00USD + $45.00USD for a lens hood - Olympus doesn't offer a lens case.
For the µ4/3 crowd out there (there is Sony NEX variant as well), this lens is a no-brainer acquisition.
PS I don't often write about gear but every once in a while I come across something that is well worth a mention.
* Even though he's kinda scary in a horror movie kinda way, Bonhomme (bonhomie) is the ambassador of the Quebec City Winter Carnival, where we first encountered him. The word comes from French - frank and simple good-heartedness; a good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality.
At the Quebec Winter Carnival, Bonhomme's head is used as a cap on hollow plastic walking canes filled with Caribou - a sweet Québécois alcoholic beverage composed of red wine, hard liquor, usually whisky, and maple syrup or sugar .... which goes a long way in explaining the good-natured manner; friendliness; geniality (as well as the drunkenness) of Winter Carnival attendees.
1. The arbitrary limit of 20 pictures was changed to 30. No particular reason other than, when all was said and done, that number of pictures seemed to look and feel right.
2. The selection process was not as difficult nor as time consuming as I first thought. In my head there were a number of give-and-take / in or out "conversations" but, ultimately, my mind was not fried in the process.
3. When organizing the pictures for the book, the pictures were placed in no specific order other the fact that I was deliberately paying attention to making spreads that would not be made / viewed as having "matching" referents. Presenting random referents was the order of the day / point of the endeavor. FYI in an FYI - the pictures are presented as spreads in the order in which they appear in the book.
4. No outside-of-my-head opinions or comments were solicited or volunteered in the selection process. The choices were all mine and mine alone.
5. I'm very pleased with the results and would very much appreciate comments.
ASIDE: During the selection process, it occurred to me that I should, as time allows after the first of the year, start making year-in-review selections for previous years. I must admit that while that idea is very attractive, It is also very intimidating, time and effort wise. Only time will tell where that idea goes.
That written, as I was contemplating such a project, the notion that there should be an over-arching umbrella project title / name. After letting the idea bounce around inside my skull like a bunch of BBs careening around in a lotto drum, I came up with a idea for a name in the form of a logo:
It makes sense to me. In fact, I cannot think of a better phrase to describe my pictures / picture making activities. And, not mention all of the spinoff uses - logo hats / golf shirts / sweatshirts / cashmere sweaters, logo camera bags, logo fountain pens, logo coffee cups, etched logo cut crystal bourbon glasses .....