Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More London

There are so many books I want to buy in London. Its crazy. I have to hold myself back. But walking around town is cool too. It gets drab and boring but when the light comes out, it is magical.

Scene off Westbourne Grove

Shop on Westbourne Grove

Shop Front, Covent Garden

Tate Modern

Tate Modern

Under the Millenium Bridge

I visited a huge photographic exhibition called 'Street & Studio' - An urban history of Photography. These types of retrospectives are really cool. It forces me to look at the early history of photography, when photographers were using large format, and what it has become today. I was standing in front of these examples of early photography, comprehending how important they are and wondering why they were so boring. The print is flat, a lot of the images are soft. There was a lot of try too hard to be art photos as photographers struggled to gain a validity in art. You know, photographers trying to replicate fine art painting by dressing people up and doing mythical scenes. But nowadays, some art photography, full of ideas, are still boring to me because the execution is practical.

So I think, art photography can be a convenient label at times, but so much of it can be elitist, only for a select crowd of people who enjoy a certain bent of mental stimulation. I guess the other extreme is entertainment of the lowest common denominator, tits and ass titillation. But I guess we all have our own truths. And there are as many realities on this as there are people. How do our realities intersect? What images could I make, that would be meaningful to someone else? Is it enough if my pictures are pretty and sentimental, or do I have to have a rigorous ideology? Boring...


Damien Franco said...

I think art as a blanket term is, of course, subjective to a persons upbringing and their schooling.

Quite frankly I struggle to understand how you could look at some of those old images and find them boring.

Was it purely based on the images being "flat" and "soft".

The early photographers did in fact struggle very hard to solidify the medium as an acceptable form of art. The tools that were available to them at the time should not be a determining factor in deciding whethere the image, the emotion, the truth of what was being told is either good or bad.

What do you consider photographic art?

Heng said...

Perhaps I am shallow. I think a lot about things, but somehow when I look at the older photos, they just do not speak to me. Is it execution, or the subject material. And in my intellect I understand that these photos are important. But in a way I had the same problem with classical ballet in comparison to contemporary Dance. I could comprehend the importance of classical ballet but the wrapping of mime and beautiful sequence around a simple story line does not engage me. But in contemporary dance, where the choreography is more abstract and more about the possibilities of motion, I get entranced. And I have seen dance where I was totally wowed but left my friends cold.

I propose that what is important, is not necessarily engaging. And what is engaging is not necessarily important. In this world or mixed cultures and abilities, beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.

I cannot define what photographic art is in words. I think the work of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Jock Struges, and even portraits by Avedon and Penn to be art. I think it is their rigour and asthetics that make it art for me.

And yes, Tilmans, Gursky and the Beckers are art, conceptual art. And important in the context of photography, yet cold to me.