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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

>>>> Comments, commentary and lively discussions, re: my writings or any topic germane to the medium and its apparatus, are vigorously encouraged.

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« ku # 501 ~ real reality | Main | ku # 499 ~ meaning »

ku # 500 ~ an unapologetic gasbag

Erratics in the woodsclick to embiggen
Yesterday's entry yielded up a couple interesting responses.

One, from Mike (anonymous), explored a very different meaning than most took from the pictures - ""My Life in Summer Camp" could have been the title of this chirpy girlie essay. Perhaps a little more hardcore than our Girl Scouts, but although armed to the hilt by the US taxpayer, these girls won't get to shoot civilians in the Gaza Strip and the other occupied territories. They will probably just swan around Jerusalem with their weapons spreading unease amongst tourists and other unarmed civilians. It's the boys (as usual and at the same delicate age) who'll move into "harm's way" and will shoot unarmed old men, women, and children. It's the boys who patrol the occupied territories. These girls have chosen to be part of a brutal colonial system which should disgust civilized people. If they had any backbone they'd do well to renounce it as did the many USA youths who protested the USA's military/corporate adventure in Viet Nam."

As I mentioned yesterday, no 2 people respond to a given picture in exactly the same manner, which, IMO, is a good thing. Pursuant to L. Ron Hubbard's theory that "True art always elicits a contribution from those who view or hear or experience it. By contribution is meant 'adding to it'...", every honest contribution can, indeed, add to what we know - about the picture, the artist, the artist's intent, and, in the best of cases, what it means to be human. In that spirit, I applaud Mike's comments and response to the pictures.

The other interesting response was from Robert who opined "How intelligent/genius or whatever do you have to be to throw out a bunch of attack questions ... It's a knee-jerk reaction to other people not seeing the world or judging photographs in the same way that you do."

Actually, as evidenced by the preceding (Mike's response), I was not at all bothered by some 'people not seeing the world or judging photographs in the same way that you (I) do'. No sir, not at all. My agita stems from the subject of Robert's other statement ...

"The reasons for finding a photo ho-hum or average can go on and on without touching at all on how the viewer feels about the subject of the photo."

I do realize that, on photo-oriented blogs/forums, photographers tend to react to pictures as photographers, i.e., more concerned about things technical and technique than what a picture might have to say beyond its obvious visual qualities. Such is the broadly ensnaring trap of a medium that is so intimately connected to and dependent upon things mechanical and technical.

From the standpoint of creating photography as Art, more's the pity.

That said, I am at a total lack of understanding as to how one can call a picture that is laden with so many possible emotional / intellectual punches, 'ho hum' or 'average' no matter how 'ho hum' or 'average' the technique employed to make it, or, to put it another way, no matter how 'ho hum' or 'average' the visual qualities appear to be.

If a photograph (or any Art in general) is intended to be saying something about something worth saying, and the pictures in question most definitely are so intended, what is being said is, in fact, the point of the exercise. The visual manner in which 'what is being said' is presented can certainly be of interest ...

but to dismiss or miss 'what is being said' because the viewer hasn't been bedazzled / manipulated / seduced with obvious and flashy pyro-technicals / visuals is, IMO, indicative of an observer who is "intellectually lazy, emotionally deficient, lacking in human empathy / compassion, divorced from the 'real'" (or some mixture of same).

A couple caveats:

1) Just because a person may be, in some fashion or in some situations, "intellectually lazy, emotionally deficient, lacking in human empathy / compassion, divorced from the 'real'" should not be understood to mean that they are sub-human. IMO, it just means that he/she "have very little to bring to the table of not only viewing (the) pictures but also to the table of what it means to be human." More's the pity.

2) Most photographers are 'hobbyists'. On the whole, they are not trying to "say something about something worth saying", they are just trying to make pretty pictures. For them, the act of making pictures is little more than a pleasant activity with which to occupy one's time. That said, it should be understood that, IMO, as far it goes, neither activity is evil, useless, or a waste of time.

3) All of my comments and opinions about the medium of photography and specific photographs come from the perspective of, as the blog intro states, "photography of photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful ...

So, from time to time, my passion for; 1) the medium, 2) its highest potential, 3) its inherent characteristic as a cohort to the real, 4) and its ability to explore and investigate what it means to be human, will inevitably generate some heat that may be difficult and, perhaps, uncomfortable for some to touch. There is no intent to offend but there is intent aplenty to incite and irritate in the hope that something of value may emerge from the cauldron.

A fact for which I offer no apologies.

Reader Comments (4)

I have said it before, I am nothing but an amatuer, I thought I "understood" photography, but I am always learning.
I read this blog everyday and although I am not artistic and can't express myself in a deeper way, I always learn something new.
One of your pictures, Still life #5 last week had something that jumped out at me, I can't explain, maybe the green and browns, the glistening, I don't know what it was but I do know I liked it.
That is what it is all about some like it and some don't.

January 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDon

I think this gas is some kind of thought gas. I always do a lot of thinking after getting a whiff.

January 31, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gotz

Having slagged the woman's album of color snaps I should add that as a diary they were fun to look at — perhaps a little voyeuristic — young girls at work and play. (Long long time since I was 18!) I'd like it more if she'd keep at it and perhaps explore a little further what her army is doing to those it's vanquished and has ground under its boot heels since 1948 — contrary to international law and all that I'd call moral and humanly decent. But I guess that's just wishful thinking. Still one can hope.

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I think part of the greatness of those pictures is how on first glimpse they seem like "my buddies" snapshots. They could almost be college dorm picts. Except that the girls have guns all the time. There are the issues Mike brings up. These are just girls but in what kind of world do they, and we live? And the photos, while somehow relating to snap shots, are actually very sophisticatedly composed. So many contradictions to consider.

February 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gotz

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