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Thursday, 16 October 2014


Switch "should" to "can" and I'd agree with that statement.

Of course the problem if you are an impressionable youth with a camera is that the obvious thing to do is take a lot of pictures of really really mundane stuff.

"Hey look at this great picture of Keith Richards' shoes and Captain Kangaroo's shadow "

Actually, many of Mr. Ladd's photos, as seemingly "quiet" as they are, can be described as just that.

I disagree! That quote reflects the common hubris of many artists.

It's not the music, it's the performance - that's why, in classical music concert posters, the performer name is printed in big, the composer names in medium, and composition names in small font, if at all. It's why theatre plays must be radically re-interpreted in the director's own style. The original play is just raw material, incomplete and uninteresting on it's own. In movies, the director and actors are important, the screenwriter is not. Literature, visual arts, it really is true everywhere.

I say that not very much true art has been produced with that mindset. The true artist is enthralled by his subject, he sees past it's seeming mundaneness and obviousness, that's why he's the artist.

Marcel Duchamp - Fontain

Photography by Alfred Stieglitz


Here the choice is a real dilemma.

"The great example of this that I can think of off the top of my head is Edward Weston, who made art out of a ceramic toilet ("Excusado") and a bell pepper ("Pepper No. 30") as well as a great many other mundane subjects."

I'm not sure I agree. Both are common objects, but the prejudice that they are necessarily less interesting than their photographs I'm not willing to accept without further consideration.

Might the enduring interest in them be in part because they are such perfect evocations of things inherently of interest to most people. Sort of B&W Platonic ideals in which we can see the beauty of their true forms.

Perhaps Weston's talent lay not only in being able to make exquisite, tonally gorgeous prints, but in recognizing subjects that would be inherently interesting to most people and making beautiful images of them as ideals.

The unanswered question in my mind has always been whether it was a green pepper, which is much less interesting to me, or a luscious red one. A problem with B&W.

Then there are all the photographs of his wife, in many of which the subject transcends the photograph - to this male.

Late Night Rambler Moose

not exactly linear, but i think relevant to the quote, for a long time now i've suggested that my images are most interesting to the imagiative viewer . . . . which is to say that imo, nothing including photographs is interesting in and of itself . . . .

I would say that Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter (and many other great landscape photographers) have created extraordinary images that are beautiful in their own right but do not come close to to being "MORE interesting" than their subject.

More interesting than the Grand Canyon (Yosemite, High Sierra, etc.) would be impossible in my estimation.

However I love when a photograph reinterprets its subject and encourages me to view it with new appreciation and insight.

Plausible at first sight, but it doesn't hold up to a moment's scrutiny.
How can a portrait photograph be more interesting than its subject? How can Ansel Adams's 'Moonrise' be more interesting than those mountains or the moon?
Transcending obviousness sounds good, but it is not a universal concept because what is obvious to one person may be impenetrable to the next. How can I, as a viewer, presume to guess what was obvious to the photographer?

"A photograph should be more interesting than the subject and transcend its obviousness."

And yet who among us, armed with a camera, can avoid snapping utterly unimaginative but irresistible obviousness occasionally? Sunset lakes, anyone?

It depends on what the photograph is trying to achieve. If a photograph is meant to catalog something, it should not look any more interesting than the thing itself, but it should be exactly as interesting as the thing itself, no more no less. If a photograph is meant to be a note, then it should serve to remind the photographer what he wanted to remember by it. Interestingness has nothing to do with that.

Imagine if every frame of Google street view strived to be more interesting than the things it was photographing... I bet it would be useless.

The value of all art is a matter of opinion.

That's what makes it interesting and annoying at the same time.

I think Tuomas may be missing a great deal of enjoyment. Plays, ancient or modern, are often wonderful on the page, before or after first seeing a production. Using ones own imagination sometimes rather than relying entirely on that of directors and actors is worth doing anyway.

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