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Entries in civilized ku, manmade landscape (1238)
Sometimes - and it is of course a rarity, something to be treasured and remembered - a landscape becomes in front of your eyes everything you ever hoped a landscape could be. This is difficult to describe as an experience, let alone say how one might arrive at it. It is, of course, not something that can be engineered. Partly perhaps it is valuable because it is rare and can only be given, not sought or deliberately looked for. It is highly personal. All one can think is "Yes, for me, what I see in front of me, what I am attempting to record, is what seems to me like a sort of revelation. ~ Charlie Waite
Encountered, observed, and pictured while driving home from a get together on Sunday evening past.
Recently, I encountered a series of pictures which were all made out of focus. A few of the pictures were nice enough to be visually interesting, others were little more than diffused (soft focus) variations on Mark Rothko paintings, albethey made with the tools and techniques of the medium of photography. After viewing the pictures, the primary impression imprinted upon my eye and sensibilities was one of a ho-hum variety.
The fact that the pictures are exhibited in a large-scale architectural installation which creates what one writer describes as "a seamless transition between both 'spheres' — the pictorial space and the exhibition space, between the installation in the center of the room and the classical presentation of the works on the outside. Visitors can enter the work to become part of an 'unpredictable' universe" strikes me as a kind of carnival fun house cheap trick - providing a venue in which the Academic Lunatic Fringe, Photography Division, can have their art sauce cake and eat it too.
And, writing of art sauce, dip your utensil of choice into this heaping serving of the stuff:
Through his use of extreme soft focus as an artistic device, he searches the observational parameters for the perception of images .... he questions the basic principles of photography: sharpness and recognizability. By leaving these parameters out of the image content, he breaks with conventional ways of seeing .... The photographic medium is distilled into light and darkness, confronting the viewer with infinity. A paradigm shift is occurring in fine art photography, from the documentary and representational to a new abstraction that radically questions the medium. With his resolutely blurred photographs, he is positioned at the crux of this contextual and aesthetic renunciation of apparatus-led seeing in favor of a nonrepresentational perceiving of the world. He has succeeded in creating a photography that goes beyond pictorial representation.
After reading the above, I was immediately reminded of Susan Sontag's quote which states that interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Placed in a fuller context, that quote is an excerpt from:
Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art ... Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.'
Now, to be perfectly clear, the out-of-focus pictures made by the artist are are exactly what they appear to be - out-of-focus pictures - and that's OK with me. If making and/or viewing such pictures suits your eye and sensibilities, I say/write, "Have at it." And I mean just exactly that. As Julian's grandmother often uttered, "For every pot there's lid." Follow your own picture making path and be happy. But ...
... enough already - leave the lid on the pot - with the he searches the observational parameters for the perception of images .... he questions the basic principles of photography: sharpness and recognizability. Really? It seems to me the picture maker is simply making out-of-focus pictures and - note to ALF - there is absolutely nothing new in that. And, guess what ALF, every picture maker searches the observational parameters for the perception of (their) images to one degree or another.
RE: searching for the observational parameters for the perception of images - Seriously? Who doesn't recognize the simple fact that some observers of pictures have severely attenuated observational parameters for the perception of images while others have expansive observational parameters for the perception of images. All of which leads to a very simple conclusion - some observers will 'get it', some will not. Duh.
And the idea that this picture maker may be testing and trying to expand the limits of 'getting it' or not, is neither ground breaking nor paradigm busting. It is, in fact, SOP for many picture makers, especially so, but by no means limited to, in the fine art world of photography.
In any event, those who have employed out-of-focus picture making were rarely, if ever, (paraphrasing) radically questioning the medium. They were, to repeat, simply making out-of-focus pictures as a means of expressing their particular manner of seeing. Nor were they questioning the basic principles of photography. They were, in fact, employing one of the basic principles of the medium - the ability to bring the object of their attention into focus or not.
That particular "artistic device" has been around since the dawn of the medium. The idea that he has succeeded in creating a photography that goes beyond pictorial representation is utter shit on a shingle. That notion belies the history of the medium and all of those who have strived and succeeded in going beyond pictorial representation. And the idea that he is positioned at the crux of this .... renunciation of apparatus-led seeing merely adds to the pile on the shingle - as far as I can tell, he made his out-of-focus pictures with an apparatus (as indicated, a large-format apparatus) which, in fact, allowed him to make out-of-focus pictures (either in camera or with after-the-fact processing).
If he or a critic need to turn all of the aforementioned use of the simple basic principles of photography into a steaming heap of flapdoodle and green paint, so be it but it annoys the living hell out of me. Nevertheless, there it is in all its glory - the revenge of the intellect upon art .
Again, to be perfectly clear, the pictures are what they are. Period. Use all of your observational-parameters-for-the-perception-of-images powers to determine whether you should like 'em or leave 'em. The choice is yours.
As for the ALF-led commentary surrounding the images, I leave you with this from Sontag:
The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art - and, by analogy, our own experience - more, rather than less, real to us. The function of criticism should be to show how it is what it is, even that it is what it is, rather than to show what it means.
The Landscapist / Cinemascapist families went on an island camping trip this weekend. The island location was on Lower Saranac Lake, home to 50 islands and 80 campsites. Weather was great and the bugs almost non-existent.
The wife, as pictured above, was able to indulge her ongoing fascination - unnatural? - with locks. Both the lock master's dog and I were/are very curious about her behavior when encountering a lock.
It is both amazing and, at times, very surprising what you learn after living with a woman for 20 years.
Last evening I attended the Beer, Bourbon, Barbeque and Stogies event at Freestyle Cuisine in Lake Placid. The gathering featured an 8 course meal (small plate) with a bourbon and beer pairing for each course followed by a good cigar. The food was excellent, the bourbons and beers were much above average and 80% of the attendees were women - a good time was had by all.
I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times...I just shoot at what interests me at that moment. - Elliott Erwitt
Yesterday, I played a late day round of golf. I had the course all to myself and +/- 10,000 black flies. When the breeze picked up, the black flies disappeared, when the breeze died they were back in full force. It was also very humid which in combination with the 1/8 inch of black fly repellent made my skin quite slimy. Nevertheless, I survived without a single bite and I managed to card a very good score.
The light and cloud cover were constantly changing, which made for some good pictures. All in all, it was a nice 4.5 mile walk. - which stand in contrast to the adage (attributed to Samuel Langhorne Clemens / aka Mark Twain) that golf is good walk spoiled.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for. ~ Georgia O'Keeffe
Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated. ~ Paul Rand
While in Canada, the wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Raymond, Eleanor Pinsonneault and their dog, Foxy. They were our hosts in Chaffey's Lock where we stayed in the cottage behind their house. Eleanor and Raymond, advanced septuagenarians if not octogenarians, were very friendly, warm-hearted, and gracious. We felt quite comfortable and at home from the first to the last moments of our stay.
Eleanor is a rather accomplished artist who now works primarily on commission. And, if her website bio is current (I believe it is), she is also currently finishing a Fine Arts program at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario.
While we were her guests, I was amazed by her seemingly boundless energy - despite her age and physical limitations - as is evidenced in the picture of her garden tending (take note of the walker she uses to get about). Her work pace in her gardens is very slow but methodical. She does not appear to be able to bend down or squat but she just keeps plugging away.
All of that written, and more to the point of this entry, I showed Eleanor - on my iPad - a few of the pictures I had been making around the grounds of her house to include the breakfast remains picture in this entry. Her response to that picture (and others) was spot on the money, my picturing intent wise.
To wit: her first response was a delightful smile and a chuckle. The smile and chuckle were instigated by the depicted referents but that reaction was immediately followed by a statement to the effect of how the color and the arrangement of shapes and lines all came together to create rather "delightful" impression of such mundane subject matter. To write that I immeasurably pleased by that response from another artist is a vast understatement.
She gets it. She understands. And I can't explain the joy I felt to connect with another artist on that level.
All of that written, I must also write that I fell in love with Eleanor (to the wife, platonic wise). Her dignity, grace, artistic acumen, energy, and all around joie de vivre are an absolute inspiration and an outstanding example of a full life well lived. She will be forever in my memory. Although ....
.... I will be adding to that memory during our return trip to her Chaffey's Lock cottage next month (for my birthday). The retinue for that trip will be the wife, my son (the Cinemascapist), his the wife, Hugo, and hopefully my good friend from NYC. Should be fun and I hope to spend some time with Eleanor in her studio sharing art stuff.
To us, the difference between the photographer as an individual eye and the photographer as an objective recorder seems fundamental, the difference often regarded, mistakenly, as separating photography as art from photography as document. But both are logical extensions of what photography means: note-taking on, potentially, everything in the world, from every possible angle.
I am about to embark on a course of action which, potentially, could very difficult and fraught with danger - changing my computer and updating every thing that needs to be updated. It's kind of scary inasmuch as every thing needs to be updated - software and especially print drivers / color profiles.
The first order of business is to join the iCloud via the Adobe Creative Suite. While that should be a fairly easy undertaking, I am not happy with the fact that I am tethered to the iCloud - financially until the end of (my) time and at those times when I am not tethered to the iCloud via the internet, I am out of business, so to speak, since the software does not reside on my computer. Welcome to the future (I have been very happy and content to live in the past, computer wise, but time waits for no man).
Until I have worked out the print driver / color profiles issues, whatever they might be, on the new computer, I am keeping the old computer in service as my printing station. This is my most worrisome undertaking. My current printing workflow is spot on the money and replicating that performance on the new machine and its updates may be a frustrating pain in the ass. Hope not but I'll be taking daytime naps to compensate for my restless / sleepless nights until that mission is accomplished.
FYI, once the change over is made I do not anticipate any problems / issues with posting to the blog but ....... Wish me luck.
Featured Comment: Paul Bradforth (no link provided) wrote:
"Mark, a couple of things:
1) I think it's quite important to get nomenclature right so you don't add any confusion of your own. "iCloud" is an Apple product, and is entirely separate to Adobe's "Cloud" offerings. "iCloud" has nothing to do with Photoshop.
2) When you subscribe to Adobe's cloud apps, the software does reside on your computer. You may need to access the cloud from time to time simply to 'prove' your subscription, but I think that's a rare occurrence. You can use the software at any time, without being connected to the Internet. At least, that's my understanding of it."
my response: Thanks for the clarification on things. I was hoping this entry would incite such a response. And indeed, iCloud should read as Creative Cloud.
The photographer was thought to be an acute but non-interfering observer – a scribe, not a poet. But as people quickly discovered that nobody takes the same picture of the same thing, the supposition that cameras furnish an impersonal, objective image yielded to the fact that photographs are evidence not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world. It became clear that there was not just a simple activity called seeing (recorded by, aided by cameras) but ‘photographic seeing’, which was both a new way for people to see and a new activity for them to perform. ~ Susan Sontag
IMO, if one does not have an acute visual awareness, aka: seeing, of what's going on around him/her - in its absence I believe it could be fostered and acquired - the chances of developing 'photographic seeing' are pretty slim. And while the physical act of acute seeing is a critcal component of 'photographic seeing', the pyschological ability to think and feel during the act of seeing is equally important.
IMO, sight + thought / feeling = 'photographic seeing' is a slightly more encompassing notion of Sontag's idea.
In either event / idea, I believe that once one has developed 'photographic seeing', aka: the notion of 'vision', the results of viewing one's pictures in a critical manner (as if someone else had made them) will aid immeasurably in refining one's physical act of seeing. An enhancement which, in turn, will aid immeasurably in enhancing and refining one's 'photographic seeing. The refining / enhancing works in both directions.
Which is why, assuming there is thought and feeling in the equation, the old adage of "the more you make pictures, the better you get" is, in so many words, spot on the money.
A question: have you developed the ability to view the pictures made by yourself as if they were made by someone else other than yourself? In other words, separating the thoughts and feelings experienced and invested in the act of making a picture from the experience of viewing the resultant work.