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« civilized ku # 2477 ~ wherein I make a picture in which the fragility and instability of our seemingly certain reality is questioned | Main | civilized ku # 2476 ~ 490 East / 490 West »

diptych # 26 (kitchen life # 39-40) ~ explanation entry, Part 2 - I'm not going down that road

Cutlery + tea package / tea package + cutlery ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack Park • click to embiggenAs mentioned in my previous explanation entry, Part 1, I mentioned a number of reactions, re: David S. Allee's Frame of View pictures and exihibition. # 1 that list was that I need to get my work circulating. That reaction was instigated by my pondering of the notion that, if my picture windows sample book had arrived at the door of the Margan Lehman Gallery before Allee's Frame of View portfolio (or whatever he submitted), would I be the one to have an exhibition?

IMO, the answer to that rumination is, "No".

There are a number of reasons for that supposition, but I'll mention just 2 (I'll mention another in tomorrow's Part 3 entry): a) my sample book is devoid of artspeak, and, b) Allee's pictures, unlike mine, are very window frame/framing oriented.

Allee's emphasis on his pictured framing devices really helps to ram home and make obvious the idea of, as the Press Release states, "the illusion of a two-dimensional picture plane", aka: his tromp l'oeil trope. While this was obviously his intent, it is precisely what I don't particularly like about this work - it is just too flat out visually obvious. On the other hand, that very obvious trope is most likely exactly what the gallery owner / director liked.

However, no matter how much art sauce they pour on that content / turkey, I ain't buying it.

When talking about his picture making M.O., Stephen Shore stated:

Because of the resolution of working on an 8×10 view camera, I found that I did not have to thrust the viewer's face into something. If I saw something interesting, it could be part of larger picture that has a number of points of interest. It changes the viewers relationship with an image. It is not framing one thing but creating a little triangular world that the viewer can move their attention around and explore.

I have have ranted and raved on quite a number of occasions, re: the picture making dictum of to simply. In most cases, but certainly not all, I see it as a prescription for dumbing things down. Not wanting to go there, that is one reason why most of my pictures are rather densely packed with visual information.

In the case of my picture windows work, I employ the same tromp l'oeil" visual trope as Allee. The difference is it is not as obvious because I have given the viewer much more room to move around and explore the entire two-dimensional surface* of the print. I do so because my work is not just about "the view" of the outside - it's also about the inside, both visually and metaphorically.

The visual aspect is visually obvious. Perhaps for some, the metaphor is not - the interiors of the rooms I picture can, if one is so inclined, be considered as a symbol of the interior / inner life of the individual wherein he/she tries like hell to make things comfortable for one's self. It's the way of the world, no matter how different those attempts at comfort might be.

But, of course, no matter how inner-sanctum safe and comfortable the inner self might be or feel, there is always the outside world to consider. An exterior reality which is always viewed and considered through the framework he/she has constructed for one's self.

All of that written (I could go on and on but I don't want to tell anyone how to think about my pictures), I am certain that it all can be "translated" into artspeak. And, if it were, the work just might stand a much better chances of impressing a "big-time" gallery director.

On the other hand, I'll close with a few words from Edward Burtynsky (you should read his refreshing direct and simple artist statement):

When one looks at my images, I want it that you don't need a text beside them but the communication is all encoded in the image. To me that is what the power of an image can be. What I saw happening in a lot of postmodern work was that you need to have the text, needed to know the concepts before the work could make any sense. Separated from the text, the work could not support itself. You had to be educated in the visual arts, the movements, and other things, to understand. I didn't want to go down that road but wanted to feel the work could contain all the ideas.

Right on.

*In the gallery Press Release, wherein the artspeaker seems to be impressed by the fact that "Allee transforms three-dimensional views ... into the illusion of a two-dimensional picture plane ...". Don't these self aggrandizing / see-how-educated-I-am artspeak buffoons realize that every three-dimensional view ever pictured by any and all picture maker(s) is "transformed", by means of the intrinsic characteristics of the medium and its apparatus, into an actual two-dimensional picture plane?

Reader Comments (2)

Hi Mark,

If you ask me, I find myself drawn more to your Picture Windows body of work than David Allee’s Frame of View series. Allee’s photographs are no doubt interesting but they seem way too obvious in their intent. Yours, on the other hand, seem more refined and provide the necessary breathing space I desire – space that is respectful of my intelligence and grants me the opportunity to derive my own conclusions as I search for meaning in the work.

Having said that, I’d like to understand why so many contemporary photographers are preoccupied with finding a way into a New York gallery. What does one really gain after bagging a show in one of those places? Does it immediately lead to fame and fortune, with a never ending stream of collectors knocking on your door? Somehow, I find that hard to believe and I suppose I cannot be very wrong because many of those galleries are closing their doors all too often.



February 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnil Rao

After looking at your "picture windows" images a few times, I did conclude that they were some kind of "inside - outside" metaphor, although my eventual interpretation didn't match the one you describe here. Instead, I wound up with a more literal interpretation (the "inside" world that humans create versus the "outside" world that we don't). More of a "human looking outside the cave" kind of thing - something we've been doing for thousands of years. I think I was influenced most by the first image in that regard. It's not important, certainly, but is that your wife in that image? Some people referred to that person as a man, but my gut says that it's your wife.

I doubt I'll ever have to worry about galleries of any kind, but I agree with you on the "artspeak". Change some of the wording and you've got a politician on your hands.

February 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Maxim

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