Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blog Guelph: 258 of 366

258 of 366, originally uploaded by Pah Print.

5. What is your favourite photo from your set? Why is it your favourite?

I tend to like stuff that is recent. Not a particularly new way of seeing one's work, but there is a reason it is not new. You move forward with creativity or you die. I suppose I like the darker ones that make viewers wriggle uncomfortably or scratch their noggins. I like good photography; I hope there are one or two that qualify that way.

Here, have a manifesto. It is pretty much the way I feel about it all right now. I wrote this last week in response to a conversation about being creative, and after hearing an interview with Margaret Atwood in which she says many of the same things, though in a way only Atwood can say them.

"A-hem! Myee Man-i-fest-o . . . (which is mine)"
When pressed (often when not, if the truth be known) photographers will tell you that they want their photographs to mean this, or they want their photographs to mean that. Their photography as 'art' should take precedence over most other considerations of the work. This art is what they do and they're very proud of it. Most good photographers work very hard to master the technical aspects of their craft. Good technique is often a hallmark of good art.

And that's cool, BUT, in the past 10-15 years events have conspired to allow a lot of really beautiful images to be put out there (and many mediocre ones). People have become adept at translating natural beauty, or cultural flotsam and jetsam, onto a two-dimensional medium without much work--no learning curve--instant gratification. Like anything else there is an element of mass production in it all. So many 'photographers' are shooting nowadays, and so many have access to images via the internet, that it is a very different playground than it was once upon a time.

In that sense it's all become a little stale. How many admittedly beautiful scenes, or interesting candid crowd shots, can you look at before the same process begins to occur which has taken place with our perception of images of violence and poverty? Good point, huh?

Personally, I don't give a s*** about any of that stuff. I like going out and shooting trees and stuff once in a while, Alan and Doug know this to be true. I like making architectural photographs because I was trained to do that. I like cars, and flowers, and children, and pets, all that good shit. I also LOVE shooting often controversial subjects and topics and making people look at things they might not look at or otherwise see. I would like to think this happens with some of my pictures once in a while.
Really with a lot of my stuff I just want people to wake the f*** up and react. Whether it's out of disgust, or a sense of profound wonder, or anything in between, it does not matter. Put your shit out on the line with blind faith. Let that sucker go.

Finally, I believe that any image produced in the name of art will eventually have to be viewed as utilitarian, or acknowledged as reactionary and very political, or both, in order to be remembered. The rest is commodity, only there to be consumed, converted, and crapped out. Or it is a very pretty thing that is a rendering of a very pretty thing (art for art's sake *sigh*).

Assuming anyone read this far, does that light a fire under you?

Part Deux:

Art usually reflects the times and people in which it is produced.

Easy times appear to produce art which is bloated with self-importance, often humorous without knowledge of its own folly, and seen long after the fact as pretty ironic (yes, that's a pun), again, without self-knowledge.

Hard times produce lean, mean statements which take the shortest route from A (the art) to B (the viewer/reader/listener etc). We are often not allowed to experience art produced during hard times until some point in the future due to institutional censorship, it is that powerful.
I don't think anyone will know what is valid and good from this period, our period, for a very long time, things are that f***** up. I believe lots of good things may be happening, but who can say what and where they are right now? No one that I know personally, and as I noted above, there is just too damned much of it to process in a lifetime.

Thanks, Dave!

Stay tuned for Mr. Mikey Mike next Wednesday.


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