PICTURE ONLY GALLERY LINKS
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 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
civilized ku # 2777 ~ What's the point of standing upon the shoulders of giants if your only vision is downward?
Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. You may see and be affected by other people's ways, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself of them. That is what Nietzsche meant when he said, "I have just read Schopenhauer, now I have to get rid of him." He knew how insidious other people's ways could be, particularly those which have the forcefulness of profound experience, if you let them get between you and your own vision. ~ Paul Strand
Can you name any picture makers whose work you like but have managed to not let interfere / influence your own picture making? Inspiration without imitation, so to write.
In my case, Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, and Eliot Porter come to mind, although there are other well-knowns I could include. There are also a number of lesser-knowns on my list as well.
What I admire most about their work, in addition to their pictures, is their consistency of vision. They all possess/ed a distinct personal manner in looking at and seeing the world. And, almost to a man / woman they tend to focus their picture making efforts in manner in which, as James Agee wrote; ... all consciousness is shifted from the imagined, the revisive, to the effort to perceive simply the cruel radiance of what is ..." which has inspired me to pursue my own distinct manner of looking and seeing.
How about you? Any picture makers, or words who / which have inspired your picture making?
Polaroid's Sx-70. It won't let you stop.Suddenly you see a picture everywhere you look ... Now you press the red electric button. Whirr ... whoosh ... and there it is. You watch your picture come to life, growing more vivid, more detailed, until minutes later you have a picture real as life. Soon you're taking rapid-fire shots - as fast as every 1.5 seconds! - as you search for new angles or make copies on the spot. The SX-70 becomes part of you, as it slips through life effortlessly. ~ Polaroid advertisement (1975)
I have 4 SX-70 cameras 3 of which I acquired during the Polaroid-SX-70-pictures-as-art era. At that time, SX-70 cameras, which had been discontinued, where selling for as much as $ 500-1,000US in NY and other art hotspots. I found mine - mint, working condition - in flea markets, where the sellers had no idea of their worth - they were just old cameras after all - for $20-30US.
While I wasn't "making art" per se, I used them for many commercial assignments (mainly editorial work) and a multitude (thousands) of spontaneous everyday snapshots of family, friends, and just knocking around stuff. It would not be unreasonable to write that I was well and truly addicted to the Whir and Whoosh of Polaroid picture making.
So it was with much sadness and disappointment that I witnessed the end of SX-70 film.
That written, the digital picture making domain does have some "whirl and whoosh" characteristics which promote the "it won't let you stop ... suddenly you see a picture everywhere you look" effect. Not the least of which is the fact that the digital picture making domain doesn't set you back a nearly a buck a shot as did the Polaroid picture making domain. And, without a doubt, as the picture appears on a back-of-the-camera LCD screen, it does promote a "search for new angles" (and other picture making considerations).
Case in point. I just returned from Rochester where I went for lunch with some former classmates. On the short overnight trip, I added 20 - plus variations - new pictures to my finished folder. In a real sense, I did see pictures (nearly) everywhere I looked and my cameras (paraphrasing) "became part of me, as they (and I) slipped effortlessly through life."
FYI the landmarks in the landmarks picture are: Mercury (aka: Hermes), The Wings of Progress, and the Main Street bridge, which at one time was lined with buildings on its north side (the side pictured).
I suspect it is for one’s self-interest that one looks at one’s surroundings and one’s self. This search is personally born and is indeed my reason and motive for making photographs. The camera is not merely a reflecting pool and the photographs are not exactly the mirror, mirror on the wall that speaks with a twisted tongue. Witness is borne and puzzles come together at the photographic moment which is very simple and complete. The mind-finger presses the release on the silly machine and it stops time and holds what its jaws can encompass and what the light will stain. ~ Lee Friedlander
Like Friedlander, my picture making is an act of indulgent self-interest. And it is about both me (self) and the other (world): relationships, connectedness, discoveries, imaginings and, hopefully, understandings.
As such, it is why, for me, the silly machine and all its parts and pieces are of little consequence. They are but the means to the often mystical / magic mind moments in time which the medium and its apparatus can appropriate and hold for both aesthetic pleasure giving and considered inspection / introspection. An Image Province of self and world, lost in time past, pulled back from the depths oblivion and obscurity.
In a sense; I picture, therefore, I am.
As photographers describe it, picture-taking is both a limitless technique for appropriating the objective world and an unavoidably solipsistic expression of the singular self ... The two ideals are antithetical. Insofar as photography is (or should be) about the world, the photographer counts for little, but insofar as it is the instrument of intrepid, questing subjectivity, the photographer is all. ~ Susan Sontag / Photographic Evangels
With this notion, Sontag suggests that a photographer is nothing inasmuch as he/she is simply making visual records of the world. On the other hand, inasmuch as why (intent) and how the world is recorded and represented (vision), the photographer is everything (at least so to him/herself, if not anyone else). Since Sontag considers the two "ideals" to be antithetical - directly opposed / mutually incompatible - a photographer must be one or the other: something or nothing.
However, Sontag goes on to write:
Photography is the paradigm of an inherently equivocal connection between self and world - its version of the ideology of realism sometimes dictating an effacement of the self in relation to the world, sometimes authorizing an aggressive relation to the world which celebrates the self. One side or the other of the connection is always being rediscovered and championed.
In setting up the dichotomy of "counts for little" / "effacement of self" v. "is all" / "celebrates the self", and then writing that photography is (nevertheless) the paradigm of a connection - albeit ambiguous, uncertain or questionable in nature - between self and world, seems to be quite a verbal / linguistic exercise in prevaricating around the bush inasmuch as two mutually incompatible "ideals" cannot sometimes be connected and at other times not.
Of course, if "counts for little" and "is all" are akin to oil and water, they may not ever blend into one, but they can float around together in the same containment vessel. And that "ideal" is where I come down on the matter.
In my picture making activities, I, aka: a containment vessel, try to approach the world without any prejudicial visual preconceptions, a sort of effacement of seeing, if you will. Let's call it my oil. However, when a worldly referent strikes a nerve (optical), I respond using the other element floating around inside me (aka: the containment vessel); my vision (the manner in which I represent what I see), which is, most definitely, a celebration of self. Let's call that my water.
Indeed, my oil and my water are separate elements which, nevertheless, by dint of their swirling around together in close proximity in the same pot / containment vessel, work together - a connection of sorts - to create the synergy exhibited as what one views as my pictures.
All of that written, Sontag was, one the one hand, writing about photographers (a person), and, on the other hand, photography (an activity). If one looks at what she wrote from that perspective, some, if not all, of it makes more sense.
Nevertheless, I believe a photographer can be self-effacing and self-celebratory without fear of being self-contradictory. IMO, it's not an either / or proposition; it's more a matter of balance. And it is at the intersection of that balancing act that the connection between self and world, so employed in the activity of photography, bears the most fruit. That is to write, to instigate both the maker and the viewer of pictures to rediscover and champion both the self and one's connection to the world - a real balancing act, if ever there was one.
And writing of seriously proficient, The The Hawk Owls are a great jamming bluegrass old time country band. Seriously proficient.
Then there's not seriously proficient - my cover was blown when attempting to make a picture for my single women series. Guess there's a first time for everything.
... the need to photograph everything lies in the very logic of consumption itself. To consume means to burn, to use up - and, therefore the need to be replenished. As we make images and consume them, we need still more images: and still more ... the possession of a camera can inspire something akin to lust. And like all credible forms of lust, it cannot be satisfied: first, because the possibilities of photography are infinite; and, second, because the project is finally self-devouring ... Our oppressive sense of the transience of everything is more acute since the camera gave us the means to "fix" the fleeting moment. we consume images at an ever faster rate and, as Balzac suspected cameras used up layers of the body, images consume reality. Cameras are the antidote and the disease, a means of appropriating reality and a means of making it obsolete. ~ Susan Sontag - The Image World
OK then. While I will buy into the idea that we live in image saturated world, the idea that we live in an image world, a world where reality has been appropriated and made obsolete - via the machine which makes them - by images / imagery, not so much.
Sure, innumerable humans spend significant time playing in a make believe world of images, aka: video games. However, I am not accquainted with anyone who has taken up permanent residence therein or, for that matter, believe that those image worlds are actually real (insane or mental ill excepted). Reality based, perhaps. Realistic, perhaps. Real, not so much.
And, most certainly, in a vast social media world, one which is largely image based, numbers of people beyond measure view billions of pictures everyday - facebook alone admits to 6 billion uploaded / posted pictures a month = 2 billion a day. But to claim that people are consuming those pictures, as in burning them up (destroying), is bit of a stretch. The idea of consuming them, as in absorbing or being engrossed in, can fly with me. And so can the idea that those "consumers" want / have a desire for those images to replenished on a regular, if not hourly, schedule.
But again, that still begs the question, how many of those "consumers" consider those images to be their reality, one in which they reside? Representations of reality, certainly. Living vicariously for a moment or two, certainly. Permanent residence therein, not so much (previous exceptions noted) - but all the gods of heaven and earth help them if they do.
All of that noted, Sontag's point, re: camera possession inspires ... lust (I assume a lust for making pictures) .... if one defines lust as an overpowering desire or craving for making pictures, I find the notion less than credible (compulsive-obsessive disorder excepted). If one defines it as ardent enthusiasm / zest for making pictures, I believe, without reservation, that usage of the word would accurately describe most serious picture makers, myself included.
My ardent enthusiasm / zest for making pictures most likely floats / swims around in the deep end of the pool. Not many days pass during which I do not make a picture. On some days I make many pictures (today's diptych pictures as an example). That written, I do not have an overpowering desire / craving to make those pictures. Far from it - I do not climb out of bed in morning, my aged skeleton emitting creaking and cracking noises, craving to make a picture. The thought of making a picture only occurs to me when my eye and sensibilities see / encounter a picture making opportunity.
And, I can write, with absolute conviction and belief, that the results of those picture making activities in no way replace, diminish, or otherwise compete with my participation in and utter appreciation for living in the real world of actual experiences. That world has not been made "obsolete".
In fact, making pictures, makes me very aware of what's going on all around me, more attuned to the world than I might otherwise be. And, I never let the act of making a picture interfere with the participation in and enjoyment of the moment. I can also unreservedly write that my pictures of life being lived add considerably to my appreciation of life being lived. So, my picture making endeavors, instead of being "self-devouring", are actually quite self-reinforcing, re: a life well lived and well appreciated.
If that's lust, I say, "Bring it on."
Freed from the necessity of having to make narrow choices (as painters did) about what images were worth contemplating, because of the rapidity with which cameras recorded anything, photographers made seeing into a new kind of project: as if seeing itself, pursued with sufficient avidity and single-mindedness, could indeed reconcile the claims of truth and the need to find the world beautiful. Once an object of wonder because of its capacity to render faithfully as well as despised at first for its base accuracy, the camera has ended by effecting a tremendous promotion of the value of appearances. Appearances as the camera records them. ~ Susan Sontag - The Heroism of Vision
It would seem, to my mind and sensibilities, that Sontag's consecutive use of the word "appearances" is meant to imply both meanings of that word:
1. the way that someone or something looks.
2. an impression given by someone or something, although this may be misleading.
In essence, that dual-meaning usage succinctly and word-frugally entraps the modernist era debate (and beyond), re: the medium's claim to truth - does/can the medium's capability of rendering reality* realistically also convey truth (or, at the very least, a truth)?
I come at that debate from the school of thought that the medium's inherent / intrinsic characteristic as a cohort of/with the real is; a. what distinguishes it from other visual arts, and, b. what enables a practitioner thereof to make images which represent the appearance of the real which are quite true to that reality. And, in addition to a picture's visual true-ness to that which is illustrated (the referent), that same picture can also convey / illuminate (the implied) a truth (meaning) which transcends the pictures visual truth.
The fact that a picture can also lie / be untruthful / misleading through deceptive - sometimes called "creative" - visual techniques and tricks is somewhat beside the point. Spoken/written words can be truthful, spoken/written words can be untruthful. The existence of neither word-state negates the existence of the other.
In any event, in my picture making endeavors I am drawn to the appearance of things as they are and, in the making of my pictures, I attempt to create visual representations which speak to the truth of what is.
* please park your dance-on-the-head-of-pin notions of reality where the sun don't shine.