An interesting report by ABC

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by troutnut, Mar 11, 2005.

  1. This relates to the debate here about the difference between "artsy" photographers like Friedlander and those who choose instead to take photos worth looking at.

    Here's the link: Commentary by John Stossel: You Call That Art?

    It's not specific to photography, but art in general. They did an experiment, mixing the works of famous abstract artists with things painted by 4-year-olds, elephants, etc, and asking various groups of people to identify the "real" art vs the kiddy art.

    It turns out that the kiddy art actually did better with the general public than the works of the masters. Artists also could not tell them all apart. Even an art historian, presumably familiar with the styles of these famous artists, mistook one of the paintings by small children for the work of a master.

    Here's a quote from the story: One artist, Victor Acevedo, described one of the children's pieces as "a competent execution of abstract expressionism which was first made famous by de Kooning and Jackson Pollock and others. So it's emulating that style and it's a school of art."

    At least one artist was more grounded. Says the article: An artist who calls himself Flash Light told me, "The function of art is to make rich people feel more important."

    This really parallels the conflicting opinions about photography that I've seen on this site.
     
  2. the arts havent really been one of Americas well, strong points.
     
  3. Well, I guess that proves it. People who take quizzes on websites really can't distinguish selected masters works from selected children's paintings by looking at thumbnail-sized images on the web.

    I admit though, those 4-year-old girls had a very cool painting.
     
  4. A big part of Friedlander's appeal is that it isn't "artsy".

    As for the childrens art thing, making art like a child is really hard for a non child. Take for instance Jacques-Henri Lartigue who's work as a child is brilliant, but his adult work never measured up to it.
     
  5. Sometimes you need background information to appreciate a work of art, e.g, Orwell's "Animal Farm" means little if you are ignorant of politics. I always say learn what you can from other people's work and pay no attention to popular opinion.
     
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The only problem is that most kids grow up and lose the abilities...

    If they kept them, we would have more great artists.
     
  7. Heh, you guys are really missing the point.

    There's nothing "great" about producing something any child (or, dare I say, monkey) could create at random. Nor is it in any way difficult. The greatness of this kind of work is completely imagined in the minds of art buffs and historians who get so caught up in silly trends that they forget about making things that are good-looking or emotionally powerful. Instead they focus on the "greatness" as defined by some goofball standards they picked up in art history class.

    And even they can't recognize that kind of greatness when they're forced to distinguish it from a pile of work by the "greats" and a pile of random works by children and animals. It doesn't exist; it's in their head. If they don't know that they're "supposed" to think it's great, they don't know whether or not it's great. That's not judgement.

    All of these avant garde trends are basically ways for people with no artistic talent to make it big if they get in with the right crowd. Someone may not be able to paint, draw, or take a photo worth a darn, but if he makes the right connections he can draw a circle and sell it for more than someone doing real work (artistic or otherwise) makes in a year.

    It's all just nonsense. That's the point.
     
  8. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Nobody's missing the point.

    Having seen what children can do with art when taught properly instead of in the American way, I can say that what happens is the creative brilliance is lost along the way. Only a few retain it.

    People who spend their time being hyper-critical of modern art are the ones that are missing the point. They have no spirit, no imagination, no creativity. Things have to fit in a specific box to be "good" or worthwhile" when it is them that have lost any value to the rest of the world.
     
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Here's an interesting quote on modern art, particularly "abstract art" of the type being derided by the original poster here:
    Hitler's process of "purification" began with raids on museums and galleries in which impressionist and abstract paintings, drawings, and sculptures were removed.
     
  10. What Jeff writes about children losing this ability is right on. This is done by well meaning parents that push their children into more serious, practical paths other then art as they grow older. A four year old throwing paint is charming, a 14 year old doing the same scares the daylights out of most parents. I was lucky to come from a family of artists. Dad, was a photographer, Mom was a painter, Grandma was a fashion designer and also a painter. Everyone took music lessons, attended museums, and so fourth. Nobody made a living from art, but works were often sold. I recall a time when I was in my early 20's (I'm in my mid 30's now) where I became obsessed with Cubism. I must have painted 50 canvases of portraits and still lifes in a cubist form. When I didn't get the results I liked I went into pure non objective works. Trust me, it is very difficult. One thing that all great artists have in common is that they make it look easy.
    I recall once my grandmother looking over my paintings and basically telling me modern art was a farce. She said it required no skill whatsoever. So I walked over to where some of her recent work was (which was large extremely detailed landscapes she painted from photographs from magazines like Arizona Highways) and told her she hadn't created anything new since this scene already exists. Her strength was in her craft whereas mine was in my imagination and drive to create something new even if I was drawing from the inspiration of great artists from the past. Besides, I even recall reading someplace that Picasso once said it was perfectly ok to rob the ideas of other artists and to put your own stamp on it. Remember, cubism was born from Picasso's interest in African art and masks.
    Cheers,
    Marc
     
  11. The article only stated that what's been stated many, many times here and elsewhere.

    "It all depends on which "White Elephant" is goring who's "Oxen." and whom is willing to pay for the show."

    Enjoyed the truth of the article as there are those who will deny and/or argue quickly, "What is truth."

    ------------------------------

    "Here it is on a plate, does the plate exist?"

    "That all depends on if I hit you with it or not." :)
     
  12. "This relates to the debate here about the difference between "artsy" photographers like Friedlander and those who choose instead to take photos worth looking at."

    I've always enjoyed Friedlander's photos. Maybe you could enlighten me with a list of photographers with work worth looking at? The best thing about art is how it's best when everybody is doing the same thing and thinking the same way. ;)
     
  13. I agree with Jeff.

    We fail our children's education on a consistent basis in this country. The first thing we cut, when it comes to education, is music and arts programs. Then we wonder why kids don't perform well. Maybe it has to do with extinguishing that spark of wonder every kid was born with. Maybe it's a failure to instill a value system based on something other than making a buck.
     
  14. The thing that strikes me about Frielander type photos is that they are only considered artistic because "he" shot it not because the actual image has any artistic value. If these photos were circulated without his name behind the image nobody would consider them of any value. Its only when someone says "Friedlander shot this" that people start to convince themselves that there is more to it than meets the eye. If a photgraph can't stand on its own and has to be coupled to a name or explained to death, than it does a pretty poor job of conveying a message in my opinion. All it takes is a few college professors or MOMA types to start praising someone and everyone else follows like lemmings. If Friedlander signed a photo I took of my kitchen wallpaper the "merits" of the image would be discussed ad nauseum and those who disliked it would be told they are ignorant, uncultured neanderthals who can't appreciate "true art."
     
  15. It's hardly surprising that the people who only accept the value of work that is conventional (which conforms to the "standards" which they've been exposed to most frequently) insist that those people who like something unconventional must only like it because those people are unable to think for themselves. When you're actually capable of independent thought yourself, it doesn't seem so unthinkable that others might also have that ability.
     
  16. Gary's post is spot on. Yanks have been producing, and consuming, grade-A shyte from day 1. It's not surprising they can't tell their artistic arse from their artistic elbow.
     
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    No.

    Mike's post is spot-on, as is Lee's.
     
  18. Mike's post and mine aren't mutually exclusive.
     
  19. Mike's post and mine aren't mutually exclusive.
    The problem is that you and Gary are using the same style of broad generalizations that was evident in John Stossel's garbage article. If the U.S has been producing only "grade-A shyte" as you say, then how do you explain Avedon, Newman, Arbus, Nachtwey, and many others? As Lee and Jeff pointed out, there are massive problems in U.S and (from my observations as a canuck)Canadian educational systems, especially in focussing on liberal and fine arts, but to make such asinine generalizations as you and Gary have is just as problematic.
     
  20. The majority of artists of whatever genre or style work their tails off, worry about bills, worry about recognition, have self-doubts, usually get less per hour for their work than a day-labourer, take side jobs, try to play the schmooze game in the hopes of being able to support themselves and their families, sometimes "make" it, mostly don't.

    None of them EVER have the assumptions or suspicions of other artists' work that either the producer of that show or some of the posters on this thread do. Because they've been there.

    The ABC production says more about the producer's view of [what would interest] his audience, than about art or artists.
     
  21. Stuart is more of a Damien Hirst man. Real art goes in formaldehyde, say the Brits.
     
  22. I think I found my way to photography after I realized I couldn't paint. I would like to make eye catching illustrations, have achieved a few, and like to keep looking for scenes to capture in ways most people don't see them. I really don't think of myself as creative.

    The picture on the home page that represents the featured portfolio was taken about a mile from my home. I wander that waterfront 3 to 6 times a week carrying a variety of equipment. My friend and I drive through there after breakfast 3 times a week and often stop to see what's moving on the river. If I had taken that image I'd have thrown it away. Looking through the portfolio one can see his interest in capturing people in ordinary settings and I wouldn't rate the images low, but I wouldn't bother to take them either. I don't wish to demean the man's work, it just doesn't interest me.

    When I read the rave critiques I'm always guessing are these people a bunch of sheep following a shepherd or is there some true art that is beyond my vision. The comments don't really relate the source of the admiration.

    Some years ago I wandered a few Art Museums in Toronto with an artist I dated a long time. I had attended openings for her art club's exhibits and had a sense of what her club members thought were good paintings. In the museum I saw a lot of paintings that were no where near as good as her club presented and she concurred when she sensed my disappointment. I do appreciate that hundreds of years ago these artists couldn't walk into a store and buy the equipment available today nor could they acquire the books or anthologies of art we can view. Many of the paintings I saw were of ordinary scenes in the artist life, buildings or events, marketplaces, family and the like. Not terribly creative but excellent as documentary material.

    In many of the forums at pn it is often suggested that the photography is not an art if it doesn't stick close to reality and I wonder if that means that post processing destroys it's documentary value even if it makes an image more artlike or creative. When I set out to put an image in my book or on my computer, I don't care if it is actually what I saw when I triggered the shutter. I don't mind taking elements out of a picture but I feel quite different about adding them. I've done it but I call them illustrations rather than photos. I want my photos to look true to life, even if I've altered them a lot. But then, I shoot to please me not a customer or critic.

    Getting better at photography means learning from somebody else's skill. I don't always like what I see on pn but I try to avoid low ratings if I don't like an image. Rarely does the person requesting a critique explain what his goal was when he set out to make the image. If I don't understand that I'm reluctant to comment or rate. I rarely shoot with a plan ahead of time. I'm go where I might find an interesting setting a see what I might capture. I'm sure there are a million other approaches to creation.
     
  23. A simple thought in regard to photographic art; Read and learn and create that what makes you happy.

    If you're not gonna show in a museum and you don't care what the curators think, then what the notables do, (learning,) doesn't matter.

    I haven't a clue how my recent education of the last three years has influenced my artistic efforts. I know that subconciously, like it or not and to what unknown degree I've been contaminated; my studies have influenced me.

    So if, in the end, one is not impressed with what's being shown in museums, then stop going and don't worry cause all the worrying in the world isn't going to change the status quo.

    Personally, I gave up on museums as the efforts being shown was laughable and not worth the continued effort. But this reaction is not to say that this behavior, on my part, should be the standard which others follow.

    If one think the artistic effort they're looking at is junk, it's junk. If one thinks it's a wonder, then it's a wonder and if the curator wants to do a show and "they" come, what difference does it make what anybody, outside those who go, thinks?
     
  24. It never ceases to amaze me that people who are ostensibly interested and even passionate about an art form (photography) should choose to remain ignorant and refuse to think about the specific issues of that form.

    Friedlander is not a would-be Salgado who just can't manage to point his camera in the right direction, but rather an artist who takes seriously the idea that photography is about photography - just as poetry is about poetry and not about trees or flowers. His work is informed by an exploration of what the camera alone can show, and that is often quite surprising. The pictures work by establishing a tension between how we see and how the camera sees, and winding up that tension as far as it will go (I will just add that I haven't seen any recent work by him, my comment only applies to his work from the seventies and eighties).

    As for the claim that a seven year old can produce abstract expressionist paintings, sure, he might be able to accidentally do so, or be able to do so because he has no other means at his disposal - simply because he is a child. But when a forty year old painter with a long development of his means of expression behind him and all the technical skills of the academy at his disposal produces an abstract painting or uses the idiom of childish painting, it should be evident that he is making a specific statement about how representation and the nature of painting itself. The two paintings might be superficially similar, but the painting by the mature artist is culturally inflected in a way no child's picture could ever be.

    As an example, if a photographer who has completely mastered his processes makes a series of out of focus pictures, then it should be evident that this is not in any way comparable to the work of an incompetent who cannot focus his camera.
     
  25. Real art goes in formaldehyde, say the Brits.
    Too true. Merely inspirational art is so last month. These days it also has to get you, sniff, sniff, stoned.
     
  26. Oh, hell's bells! It's become another "what is art?" thread. I'm from the Anything Goes School. It's art if you think it's art and it's crap if you think it's crap.

    As for the general public preferring the kiddy art to the "real" art, I don't see any controversy at all. The best "real artists" are those who are the most successful in getting back to that childhood vision of the world around them. The kid's are already there.
     
  27. I don't think it's ever been said better, than by Minor White...............

    "...innocence of eye has a quality of its own. It means to see as a child sees, with freshness and acknowledgment of the wonder; it also means to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child - with freshness and an even deeper sense of wonder." -Minor White
     
  28. That's beautiful, and so right.
     
  29. Matt is the only guy that even came close to subtly telling Jason he is full of bologne. Jason's four uploaded photos of insects makes him an expert on the work of Friedlander? I never want anyone to call me an artist because I think that 98% of people that call them selves artists are nuts.
     
  30. I love the Web as it allows one to research out that what interests them with but the entry of a few words and the movement of the index finger on the left button of the mouse:)
    Masters of Photography, article, John Szarkowski on Lee Friedlander: "Self Portraits." One can see from reading what John had to say, that Lee didn't like to talk, as is the case with many contemporary notables, about his photographic efforts.
    Much of what I've read on many, not all, of the differing contemporary notables is that their efforts were a bunch more superficial than many like to give them credit for. Many want to find some deeper meaning in the photographic efforts and when the artist is queried they'll either sidestep the question or say straight out, it's just a picture. Eggleston is well know for this sort of side stepping behavior in his interviews. Serrano is also known for straight forward answers as was the case of "Piss Christ."
    In Melbourne at the time of the controversy Serrano said:
    I started that work as an attempt to reduce and simplify a lot of the ideas and images that I had been doing up until that time. I didn't do it to be provocative, I did it because damn, the colours would look good, you know. [clapping and cheering] I mean, sometimes I just feel like what I do has the simplest answers, but they're not good enough. People want more of a story and I try to give them a story, but sometimes I have to say: look, you're reading too much into this.

    No deeper meaning, just working with color. The point, the public, in their need to create a deeper meaning, makes both the conditions and controversy, not the artist.
    This from the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego. Excerpt from the book The Model Wife, by Arthur Ollman, Director of the Museum of Photographic Art.
    Many comment on his symbolism but Lee himself states, for the record, that he's not into symbolism. But the public comments as to his deeper symbolism.
    A little bit of break to share a few of Lee's images, like them or not:)
    The key word to this link is documentary not art.
    This was an interesting link as many here find Walker Evans to be rather special and he has been so kind as to take the time and leave comment on this matter for us in regard to what he thinks of Lee Friedlander's efforts.
    But not all reviewers were so kind as to what they thought of Lee's photographic efforts.
    A rich source of biographies but lacks any personal commentary by notables. Surprisingly, Lee had very little to write/publish on his efforts as it's becoming painfully clear that he didn't want the world to know his inner thoughts on his efforts. Hmmmmmm.
    It is a shame that noteables are so anemic in their commentary on their efforts. It's as if they consider the general public to be lambs for the fleecing and if they speak true of their efforts, the enigma/mystique will be removed and nobody will want to purchase their photographic efforts.
    Maybe someone else can leave links to written efforts by Friedlander and his thoughts on his efforts; for what I came up with was cursory at best.
     
  31. A psychologist goes into a kindergarden and asks: "Who among you children is a singer?" All the children raise their hands. He walks up the hall to the 6th grade class, goes in and asks the same question of the 11 year olds. Only two kids raise their hands. The others have been told and believed that they were not singers.
     
  32. A polar bear, a giraffe and a penguin walk into a bar. The bartender, Jason
    Neuswanger, says, "What is this? Some kind of joke?"
     
  33. First, John Stossel is a moron and a fraud -- let's not forget his show about the dangers of organic food, the one for which he had to go onscreen later and apologize for fabricating the evidence. It's amazing he still has a career.

    Second, I wasn't crazy about "the Gates." I think it would have been more meaningful at the time it was conceived back in the 70's, when Central Park was a dismal crime zone. Nowadays, with the Park in its super-manicured heyday, it just looked like decorative pageantry, festive, fun and quite a spectacle but not much more than that. I really like some of Christo's other stuff.

    Third, I got 100% on the test! Does that make me artsy?
     
  34. Joan Miro often said (something like) his goal was to be able to paint as well as a child.
     
  35. Miro and Klee collected paintings and drawings by children. Klee, Jacques Doucet and
    others based some of their works on childrens' works.
     
  36. One part if this debate that I don't think is getting proper coverage is the role of the artist's popularity in defining the popularity of the artist's work.

    To make is point, John Stossel judges the selected art work outside of the context of the body of work of the artist. That's not necessarily unfair, but it misses the full explanation of why the selected art work was in the museums in the first place.

    Would a Picasso be as admired by any other name? Of course not. Isn't it just as silly to select a few of Friedlander's more questionable works and clique them as if each and every photo demonstrates his reputation?

    For any famous artist, there are some prominent works that helped win the artist fame, and there are some works where the artist's fame helps win the work prominence.

    --Joe
     
  37. "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect<BR> but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. <BR>The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."<BR>
    Carl Gustav Jung
     
  38. "kiddie art" teaches us all important things. I learn a lot by watching my children draw. My son is a compulsive artist, he won't stop unless you make him. Reproduced below is (a bad photo of) a detail from a much larger drawing he did at age 3 -- among other things, I find it fascinating how he represents "writing" without being able to write per se.
    00BU2x-22330484.JPG
     
  39. He obviously inherited your intelligence. Amazingly articulated universe he's got going there. Especially for a 3 y/o!
     
  40. "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." <BR>
    Pablo Picasso
     
  41. Siiiiiiigh!

    If being a kid is key to being an artist.....
     
  42. "The others have been told and believed that they were not singers."

    So the key to being a singer is raising one's hand?

    I raised my hand, now I'm a singer? Wow! After all these years. All I had to do was raise my hand. Go figure:)
     
  43. Jason Neuswanger offers John Stossel as proof that Friedlander sucks? Is that really the best you can do? I'm betting you weren't the highschool hero of the debate team.
     
  44. "When I was their age I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them."
    Pablo Picasso after studying an exhibition of children's drawings.
     
  45. Did anyone take the quiz themselves? I did, I got 60% correct. Interestingly, I got mostly the "not art" ones correct (i.e. I correctly identified those works that were by kids rather than "masters"- I don't really know if I agree with the designation "not art" for these works, but I see the game they were playing and went along with it for kicks. I am interested in the idea that of the four that I got wrong, one was by a "master" that I identified as "not art.")

    So I guess what I'm wondering is does this really tell us anything useful beyond the idea that there are some talented children out there (on the one hand) and (on the other hand) that some modern art has attempted to imitate icons of popular consumption (i.e. "pop" art) and that because of this cultural conditioning, we are prone to identify true artifacts of pop culture (such as items purchased at the salvation army store) as art? I don't think that it does.
     
  46. "It is a shame that noteables are so anemic in their commentary on their efforts. It's as if they consider the general public to be lambs for the fleecing and if they speak true of their efforts, the enigma/mystique will be removed and nobody will want to purchase their photographic efforts."

    More likely, they believe that their audience should put some effort into thinking for themselves.
     
  47. "More likely, they believe that their audience should put some effort into thinking for themselves."

    Geee! Fancy that.

    Or maybe, the artist needs to put something into the art, worthy of thought.

    Too bad what little the artists do write, don't agree with your above. That's why I posted links to what Serrano and Friedlander had to say on the matter.

    Maybe you can post a link to what artists have written that support you comment; or are you just guessing?
     
  48. Thomas, there is no need for me to defend Freidlander, an artist who has made a reputation over several decades. Nor would he want me to.

    I don't know what Friedlander says about his own snaps, except for two or three famous one-liners. Serrano I know nothing about except for the Piss Christ furore some time ago. My take on Friedlander is mine alone, as someone who has spent some time taking pictures and thinking about them.
     
  49. Thomas, it's ridiculous to say that someone's art is only as good as their verbal characterizations of it. Why should someone who has chosen a certain means of expression, photos, sculpture, whatever, have to do double-duty as a writer or orator? I've known a lot of brilliant musicians who are practically retarded when it comes to talking about their playing, probably because they've spent a lifetime learning to speak through their instrument. Same goes for artists -- if you want to understand their message, look at their art. Chances are, their talk is going to be more deceptive than helpful.
     
  50. "Thomas, there is no need for me to defend Freidlander, an artist who has made a reputation over several decades. Nor would he want me to."

    I'm not asking you to defend Friedlander, I'm asking you to support you claim. Otherwise your claim is just another subjective claim of convenience.
     
  51. In addition, Thomas, even articulate artists can have trouble verbalizing the complexity of their motivations, indeed, can have trouble even recognizing it. Herman Melville supposedly maintained that there was no symbolism in "Moby Dick." Bob Dylan, when pressed for an explanation of some line or other in a song, frequently would say that he just needed something that rhymed with the previous one. I suppose you think this kind of thing exposes Melville and Dylan as frauds?
     
  52. "Thomas, it's ridiculous to say that someone's art is only as good as their verbal characterizations of it."

    I'm not making that characterization.

    "Why should someone who has chosen a certain means of expression, photos, sculpture, whatever, have to do double-duty as a writer or orator?"

    When you have others prognosticating on someone's art, yes, the artist does have a responsibility of clarification.

    "I've known a lot of brilliant musicians who are practically retarded when it comes to talking about their playing, probably because they've spent a lifetime learning to speak through their instrument."

    I won't even go there.

    "Same goes for artists -- if you want to understand their message, look at their art. Chances are, their talk is going to be more deceptive than helpful."

    Then maybe they understand less about their own personal art then they're willing to acknowledge or their art is more shallow then they want to let on about. It really isn't hard to articulate a message, if indeed there's a message there to be conveyed. If there's not a message there, then it will be really, really hard to articulate a non-message and make it sound profound.
     
  53. "Herman Melville supposedly maintained that there was no symbolism in "Moby Dick." Bob Dylan, when pressed for an explanation of some line or other in a song, frequently would say that he just needed something that rhymed with the previous one. I suppose you think this kind of thing exposes Melville and Dylan as frauds?"

    You make my point. I doubt there was any "symbolism" in "Moby Dick" and it was nothing more then a good adventure tale. But others wanted to make it in to something it wasn't, against what Herman had to say.

    In the case of Dylan, I believe him. No fraud, just some guy writing lyrics that needs a rhyming word and others wanted meaning and there was none. This comments is similar to the one made by Serrano as to the gensis of "Piss Crist."

    A lot of what is made up about people's artistic efforts is more about the creator of the myth, then it is about the artistic effort.

    Didn't Freud say: "Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar." Everybody want's to find a hidden door to a hidden garden that will take them away from reality. There are no hidden doors, gardens or magic and there never will be.

    The Mama's and Papa's said it well with "Do You Believe in Magic" as the magic is in you and the magic is in me and when you realize this, you'll realize that you've been in the garden all along and that you never left:)
     
  54. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    The Mama's and Papa's said it well with "Do You Believe in Magic"
    It was The Lovin Spoonful. So much for accuracy.
     
  55. Thomas, just because an artist says there is no symbolism it does not mean (s)he is telling the truth! Artists absolutely love to be ambiguous.
     
  56. "It was The Lovin Spoonful. So much for accuracy."

    D'oh! My apologies for the error.

    Damn, I knew the hair was up on the back of my neck for a reason:)

    Either which way, we've never left the garden, which is the accurate point:)
     
  57. "Thomas, just because an artist says there is no symbolism it does not mean (s)he is telling the truth! Artists absolutely love to be ambiguous."

    Are we in the subjective realm again?

    You can show that either the comment that Beau alluded to by Melville or Dylan was not the truth in their comments?

    "Herman Melville supposedly maintained that there was no symbolism in "Moby Dick." Bob Dylan, when pressed for an explanation of some line or other in a song, frequently would say that he just needed something that rhymed with the previous one."

    You can show the comment I linked to of Serrano's was not an honest comment?

    When everybody else knows more about the purpose/meaning of an artistic effort then the artist themselves, that point alone should cause one pause as to the validity of the interpretations. If an artist says that they were just looking for a complimentary color, note, or word, who better to believe, the psychiatrists or the artist.

    Serrano really did do an excellent job of summing it up when he stated;

    "People want more of a story and I try to give them a story, but sometimes I have to say: look, you're reading too much into this."
     
  58. Thomas, I think you are defining too narrowly what the creative process is all about. Often an artist uses his or her medium to express things that they are unable or unwilling to grapple with consciously.

    Just an anecdote from my own experience writing songs: people used to write me letters containing interpretations of my lyrics. Frequently the meanings they found were far from what I was thinking at the time I wrote the words, but sometimes I would realize these people were nevertheless correct. They perceived something in my work that I had failed to perceive myself. I don't mean to say that they "mythologized" my songs in the manner you describe above; in some cases they identified meanings that were more homely and modest than the grandiose intentions I thought I had -- it can go both ways.
     
  59. "They perceived something in my work that I had failed to perceive myself."

    Not trying to be negative or offensive in my below.

    Or maybe they implanted an idea that you liked better then your original idea and you ran with the ball. A sort of psychosomatic thinking where you absorb their thinking and subplant your thoughts with their's as their interpretation sounds better then your's.

    Influence of thinking, in this case is easily within the realm of possible.

    I have trouble believing that outsiders understand another's art, more then the creator of the art, having never met and had indepth intimate conversations with them of a prolonged period. Are artists really this shallow in their understanding of their efforts? I have trouble accepting that these supposed great minds, don't even understand their own efforts. It seems a huge, over-arching stretch of the imagination for one to believe this.

    I think these folks know a whole lot more about their art then they want to let on about and I'm willing to bet that the truth is going to be very shallow indeed.
     
  60. "Just an anecdote from my own experience writing songs: people used to write me letters containing interpretations of my lyrics."

    Just an aside, I won't write poetry/lyrics as I find doing so too revealing:) So I'll stick with photography:)
     
  61. "...psychosomatic thinking..."

    What???!!! Do you know what either of those words mean?

    From my own experience writing, often a story develops quite far before you become aware of the way it builds on traumas in your own life - and no doubt there are themes in anyone's writing whose significance, even for themselves, they remain unaware of.

    However, to address, your point above, Thomas, culture is a collaborative construct, a sort of ongoing conversation with the past and the present. The artist puts something in, and what happens to it then is most likely beyond his control. However, his contribution must be resonant and timely if it is generate the conversation in the first place.

    As to why a photographer should say: I just take pictures, I imagine that this is often because he has no urge to hang his dirty laundry out for everyone to look at. His product is his body of work, not a mass of words about it. The process is not important (although certainly interesting), and indeed disclosure might well direct the "conversation" in ways that are not valuable to the work itself. Tp put it in terms of resonance, it might well limit the number of harmonics at which his work resonates, whereas it should be able to vibrate freely without constraint.
     
  62. "I'm willing to bet that the truth is going to be very shallow indeed."

    I think this is what the old psychoanalysts called "projection".
     
  63. If a buisness executive were to fill out a report in crayon or act out in some childish unprofessional way, he would be fired on the spot. But when a photographer like Friedlander produces imagery equivalent to a child's, he is praised for "being able to capture this feeling." This just proves how obsessed people are with adults who make a living doing what 8 year olds can do. How else do you explain Friedlanders status or the fact that professional athletes make millions playing a kids game. People love to live in a fantasy world and there are no shortage of "professionals" willing to cash in on this fact.
     
  64. "What???!!! Do you know what either of those words mean?"

    But of course. And I even took the time to try to explain my intentionally incorrect usage of the word.

    "A sort of psychosomatic thinking where you absorb their thinking and subplant your thoughts with their's as their interpretation sounds better then your's."

    Sorry if I didn't have a better word of choice at the ready.
     
  65. "I think this is what the old psychoanalysts called "projection"."

    I base the comment on that what I've read and posted links to; comments made by notables. So there's less projection and more fact but yes, the over-arching comment is subjective in nature, as I haven't done research on all photographic artists; just a few in which to base my comment on.

    A key factor here is avoidancy behavior patterns. If someone doesn't want to address an issue in a straight forward manner, then reasonably, the motive for this behavior should be called into question. Why? And if you have a group (birds of a feather) exhibiting this behavior then the fact that there's a collective avoidancy belies ulterior motives.

    The Mob. Politicians. Unions. Secretive groups of any genre. Religious groups. And yes, many artists seem to demand that they be part of this secretive behavior as to their artistic motives; Eggleston is a prime example.

    It's okay if folks want to seem enigmatic as it serves their purposes but it should be such a surprise that others see this behavior for what it is and not what it isn't.

    Straight answers to straight questions. Not to much to ask.
     
  66. "It's okay if folks want to seem enigmatic as it serves their purposes but it should be such a surprise that others see this behavior for what it is and not what it isn't."

    Oops! Mistyped a word. Should read:

    It's okay if folks want to seem enigmatic as it serves their purposes but it shouldn't be such a surprise that other's see this behavior for what it is and not what it isn't.
     
  67. "Other's" ?
     
  68. Great food for thoughts... but I'm willing, and mostly do, to think as a child and looking positively at artistic works and enjoy paintings, photographs, music.. whatever Art it is as long as money don't come in. that's when I get suspicious.
    That's why I love the Net and this wes site!
    I learnt that, often, not always, artistic career is a matter of liasons and public relations and... well, you know what I mean.
    that does not mean that "Arts" are not worth the effort and the "Effort" is not worth the art.
     
  69. I'm surprised that you folks let slide the importance of Minor White and Stieglitz and their willingness to discuss their early photographic efforts and the emotional impact they tried to imbue their images with.
    Minor White - Equivalents
    Alfred Stieglitz worked with "Impressionism" in his earlier photographic efforts before moving on to "Realism" and discussed this point in great detail.
    The point of my above is to show that earlier notables, Minor White and Alfred Stieglitz had no problem discussing their efforts. No enigma or need for the viewing audience to "have" to figure it out; the message was on the table for all to discuss. One has no problem locating writings by Ansel Adams which he writes as to what he and his images were all about; "Ansel Adams; Letters And Images 1916-1984."
    I'd love to see some links posted as to what contemporary notables, post 1970, Postmodern photographers, have to say, directly, about their efforts, much in the same light as earlier notables such as Stieglitz, White and Adams were so willing to do.
     
  70. Thomas, I suspect that one reason for the wordiness of White and Stieglitz is that both were the creators of movements in art, and therefore they wrote numerous manifestos. This is not the case with Friedlander, for instance, or most modern artists. Plus, I think nowadays not many people would be attracted by White's dimestore mysticism or the self-explanation of the pre-war avantguardes.
     
  71. "Thomas, I suspect that one reason for the wordiness of White and Stieglitz is that both were the creators of movements in art, and therefore they wrote numerous manifestos."

    Or, there's always the possibility.... they knew what they were doing and why they were doing what they were doing and they didn't find being an enigma valid.

    "This is not the case with Friedlander, for instance, or most modern artists."

    And this is your subjective supposition which excuses their lack of a willingnes to comment on their effort?

    "Plus, I think nowadays not many people would be attracted by White's dimestore mysticism or the self-explanation of the pre-war avantguardes."

    Ahhhh. No links to support your contentions; just a denigration of Minor White. From creator of a movement to "dimestore mysticism". That was a short journey.

    So far, unknown to you, your comments are supporting of the shallowness of contemporary artists. You lend depth to contemporary photographers by posting links to what they have to say, their personal thoughts, on their effort. Depth is not created by denegrating those from the past and excusing the lack of revelation on the part of contemporary photographic artist's efforts.

    Siiiiigh!
     
  72. "...or the self-explanation of the pre-war avantguardes."
    Just an aside. Could you let me know what war you're writing of as Minor White continued to produce well after the Korean War and died shortly after the Vietnam War in 1976.
    Let's explore this "dimestore mystic," shall we:)
    Post WWII you have Minor working with Ansel Adams and students in San Francisco in 1946. What Minor had to write about, in 1963, Post WWII and Korean War, at the beginning of America's involvement in South Vietnam, on Equivalence: The Perennial Trend. Here is a bit of discussion in regard to Minor's post Korean War photographic efforts, showing that he was a busy beaver, long after the pretense (pre WWII) of WWII came on the horizon of the European theater. And in the case of this link, one might want to pay particular attention to the final sentence in regard to communication.
    We'll let John Szarkowski, whom I'm not the greatest fan of, weigh in on Minor White, his photography, when he felt Minor White reached his creative maturity and a bit more on this mystic who held great sway over the photographic community, up to his death in 1976.
    Hope all the links work.
     
  73. The only intersting thing about John Stossel is the size of the check he gets from ABC for
    fluff pieces like this.
     
  74. I'm sure the links work.

    You bear a heavy burden Thomas, your siiiiiigggggh is testimony to this.

    Minor White took some interesting snaps. But the guru is always suspect, imo. His blather fit in perfectly with the pop Zen culture of the sixties (which threw up some interesting art - John Cage, Martha Graham in their own ways) and no doubt today's new ageness - if that isn't already passé.

    "Subjectivity" - I'm struck by your language - notables and so on. You are evidently looking for an authoritatively sanctioned view of things. I am not, I admit it freely - I have always preferred to think for myself.

    Good luck in your search for the ultimate link.
     
  75. Sorry - pre-war avant gardes - I was thinking of Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism and so on - the products of the "front generation". In European parlance the "war" generally refers to WW2.
     
  76. TG:"You make my point. I doubt there was any "symbolism" in "Moby Dick" and it was nothing more then a good adventure tale. But others wanted to make it in to something it wasn't, against what Herman had to say."
    I doubt that you have never read Moby Dick. I'm reading it right now for the first time in maybe 25 years. It is a very weirdly, wonderfully written, brilliant novel and it is absolutely full of deliberate symbolism. Symbolism used so deliberately that Melville, in the text, takes great pains in several places to point out to even the densest & most clod headed of readers.
    TG: "Bob Dylan, when pressed for an explanation of some line or other in a song, frequently would say that he just needed something that rhymed with the previous one.
    I've also met Bob Dylan (once and it was a very long ago), listened to his music, and read enough by and about him to come to the reasoned conclusion that it is not wise to take a single thing he says when asked about his lyrics or what his lyrics might " mean" to be construed as either the complete or literal truth about the subject.
    In short: Your arguments aren't just pseudo-intellectual Thomas, they are faux pseudo- ntellectual.
     
  77. I took the art test and only got 1 wrong. I don't think it was that hard to separate the kiddie art or faux art from the professional art, as the professionally produced work had ideas associated with it rather than just representational imagery and colors.

    As for art "experts," I'm currently working with an artist who creates his work digitally. He's taken his work to several well known galleries in Santa Fe, NM. Invariably, the owners/curators at the gallieries call his work "serigraphs."

    Any person who is familiar with ink based prints (lithographs, serigraphs, etchings) would never make the mistake that the prints are serigraphs - even though they have some aspects that look like serigraphs. If you truly know what a serigraph looks like, you'd know immediately that the work he is presenting is not a serigraph.

    My point is that I'm always suspect as to the real level of training, expertise, or total familiarity with art when presented with an "expert." I've run into too many of them that are appear to me to be interior decorators masquerading as art authorities.
     
  78. "I was thinking of Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism and so on - the products of the "front generation"."

    All three movements were pre-WW1 as opposed to WWII :)
     
  79. "I doubt that you have never read Moby Dick. I'm reading it right now for the first time in maybe 25 years."

    Every kid was forced to read that book in seventh grade and and again in Sophmore HS. It's symbolism was discussed ad nauseum.

    My comments were a reflection of Beau's comment in regard to Melville and Dylan.

    "Herman Melville supposedly maintained that there was no symbolism in "Moby Dick." Bob Dylan, when pressed for an explanation of some line or other in a song, frequently would say that he just needed something that rhymed with the previous one."
     
  80. Just a thought Ellis, you have links available as to Melville's and Dylan's intentions with their efforts to support your claim of symbolism on the part of "Moby Dick?"

    I just find it odd that everybody seems to know and understand the authors better then the authors and I also find that objectivity, supportive links, are painfully absent.
     
  81. I dig Bobby Dylan, and I dig Johnny Cash
    And I think Waylon Jennings is a table-thumpin' smash
    Hearing Joni Mitchell feels as good as smoking grass
    If you don't like Hank Williams, honey, you can kiss my ass
    'Cause I think what they done was well worth doin'
    And they're doin' it the best way that they can
    And you're the only one that you are screwin'
    When you put down what you don't understand.

    --Kris Kristofferson
     
  82. Phylo. Thanks for the link. Maybe others will take the time to do the same.
     
  83. Thomas are you still reading this thread?

    I really don't understand why you think there is shortage of "notable" photographers discussing their work. A few random resources:

    -I posted a link earlier in the Philosophy Forum, but here it is anyways, http://wfmu.org/special.php/SE

    A radio station in NY has interviewed several photographers including: Michael Light, Simen Johan, Mary Ellen Mark, Philip Lorca Dicorcia, Jeff Mermelstein, Jonathan Torgovnik, David Levinthal, Gregory Crewdson, Bruce Davidson, and others. Many of the interviews are at least one hour long.

    -Magazines like PDN (check out their website, including the Gallery section, which includes profiles and interviews with dozens of photographers), Aperture, and Blind Spot regularly feature interviews. Also Artforum has a section called "A Thousand Words" which often includes artist statements from photographers.

    -Photographers (especially those teach at universities and art schools) regularly give lectures and discussions at schools and museums. Since you live in the Bay Area, check out the events at CameraWork, PhotoAlliance, the local art schools SFAI and CCA, SFMOMA, and at the San Jose Museum mof Art.

    -Whenever a photographer has a book published, an artist statement or a lengthy conversation with a writer or another artist is frequently included.
     
  84. I really don't understand why you think there is shortage of "notable" photographers discussing their work. A few random resources:
    I say this because there is a shortage. If I were wrong, this thread would have been flooded with examples, just to prove me wrong:)
    -I posted a link earlier in the Philosophy Forum, but here it is anyways, http://wfmu.org/special.php/SE
    I missed this link. Thanks for the repost.
    A radio station in NY has interviewed several photographers including: Michael Light, Simen Johan, Mary Ellen Mark, Philip Lorca Dicorcia, Jeff Mermelstein, Jonathan Torgovnik, David Levinthal, Gregory Crewdson, Bruce Davidson, and others. Many of the interviews are at least one hour long.
    I'd love to listen to some of these interviews, if they're available. I'm in San Jose, so I don't have contact with NY radio stations. Do they have a web site with links to the interviews?
    -Magazines like PDN (check out their website, including the Gallery section, which includes profiles and interviews with dozens of photographers), Aperture, and Blind Spot regularly feature interviews. Also Artforum has a section called "A Thousand Words" which often includes artist statements from photographers.
    I'll check these sources out to see what the artist's statements are and what they have to reveal about the artist's efforts.
    -Photographers (especially those teach at universities and art schools) regularly give lectures and discussions at schools and museums. Since you live in the Bay Area, check out the events at CameraWork, PhotoAlliance, the local art schools SFAI and CCA, SFMOMA, and at the San Jose Museum mof Art.
    Thanks for the above suggestions. They do lack a certain practicality for a working stiff in San Jose running his own show and with the exception of the suggestion to check out the San Jose Museum of Art, they're all good suggestions. But do you have anything to suggest reading wise or some links?
    -Whenever a photographer has a book published, an artist statement or a lengthy conversation with a writer or another artist is frequently included.
    Of the many books by contemporaries that I've purchased and read, little if anything at all have the artists written about their efforts, just a lot of pictures, with no insight as to the photographer's thinking. The comments in the books seem to be by somebody else, other than the artist:(
    I still don't see why it is that folks, you included can't post links directly to what contemporary artists have to say about their efforts to show how in depth the thinking of these folks are. Instead others seem to do their talking without intervention. I can easily connect links to the Dadaists, the Fauves, the Surrealists (Andre Breton), Steichen, Weston, Imogen Cunningham, on and on ad nauseum for artists associated with the photographic arts, pre-1960 but the latest crop of photographers, somehow, for what ever reason, have forgotten how to write.
    Thanks again for the additional suggestions to check out.
     
  85. Here is the link with lots of audio interviews with wel known photographers.
     
  86. Among the photographers interviewed are : Eugene Richards, Martin Parr, Philip Jones-Griffiths, Mitch Epstein, Mike and Doug Starn, Susan Meiselas, Jeff Meremelstein, Elliot Erwitt, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mary Ellen Mark, Gregory Crewdson,...
    There are also conversations about photoexhibitions.

    This should keep you busy for a while...
     
  87. Oh, didn't realized that Matt C already mentioned those same audiointerviews...
     
  88. "This should keep you busy for a while..."

    Phylo. Thanks for the link. You're right about the link keeping me busy for a while:)
     
  89. Hi, I am a begiiner at photography and I love it, I want to learn how use a cable release next...... I think that any form of art gets better after practice, perhaps the only exceptions to that are:


    1) Artistic Savants, born with a very rare and yet difficult gift.

    2) Artistic Suckers, born with no abilities whatsoever.


    For the vast majority of us there is a very wide middle road, 99% grey. Like I said, I am a beginner and I'm happy that way.
     
  90. Thomas, there really is no shortage. While there are always exceptions, exhibiting photographers are constantly talking about their work. A few examples:

    1. Photographers are frequently invited as visiting artists and give presentations/lectures about their work at art schools and universities throughout the school year.

    2. Whenever a living photographer has a solo exhibit at a museum, the photographer will often give a talk followed by a question and answer session during the show's opening. The artist might also do press work by giving an interview on the radio.

    3. Even the newspaper, from time to time, profiles and interviews photographers (usually in the arts section).

    4. Galleries regularly include artist statements in a press release for an upcoming show, or on their website.

    5. Photographers are almost always required to submit an artist statement when they apply to an art program (especially grad school), for a teaching position, or for a gallery or proposed exhibit.

    Thomas wrote: "I say this because there is a shortage. If I were wrong, this thread would have been flooded with examples, just to prove me wrong:)"

    I don't know why this thread would have been flooded. Photo.net is a great resource, and there are many helpful and insightful people, but I've never gotten the impression that it was overflowing with people who were discussing contemporary photographers (other than the few that are already well established).

    Thomas wrote: "I'll check these sources out to see what the artist's statements are and what they have to reveal about the artist's efforts."

    You should be able to find PDN, Blind Spot, Aperture, etc. at a large bookstore, public library, or maybe a local university's library. If not, the libraries at CCA or SFAI should carry current and past issues of these magazines. And while no substitute for the real thing, these magazines do have websites:

    1. www.pdnonline.com

    Like I said in my earlier post, check out the "Gallery" section. You?ll find several profiles and interviews for various photographers, categorized by sections like "Masters" and "Emerging Artists." The magazine itself features interviews with photographers in every issue.

    2. www.aperture.com

    Aperture also regularly publishes interviews with photographers. Their website, however, offers only previews and excerpts.

    3. www.blindspot.com

    Blind Spot publishes interviews less frequently. You might be able to find excerpts from interviews from the some of the earlier issues in the "Back Issues" section on their website.

    Thomas wrote: "Thanks for the above suggestions. They do lack a certain practicality for a working stiff in San Jose running his own show and with the exception of the suggestion to check out the San Jose Museum of Art, they're all good suggestions. But do you have anything to suggest reading wise or some links?"

    I understand that it'd be hard to attend a lot of these events. My point, though, was that discussions and lectures given by photographers are going on CONSTANTLY at these types of venues, of which there are at least half a dozen (if not more) in just the Bay Area alone.

    Thomas wrote: "Of the many books by contemporaries that I've purchased and read, little if anything at all have the artists written about their efforts, just a lot of pictures, with no insight as to the photographer's thinking. The comments in the books seem to be by somebody else, other than the artist:("

    If you don't mind me asking, what are some of the books that you have purchased?

    Every year, hundreds of monographs and books by individual photographers are published. It's true that many of these books feature only an introduction written by a curator, writer, or another artist, etc. However, there are just as many books that also include an artist statement or interview with the artist. And even introductions written by someone else may feature quotes or other firsthand information.

    Thomas wrote: "I still don't see why it is that folks, you included can't post links directly to what contemporary artists have to say about their efforts to show how in depth the thinking of these folks are. Instead others seem to do their talking without intervention...the latest crop of photographers, somehow, for what ever reason, have forgotten how to write."

    As far as posting links directly, I don't know how to hotlink. And as far as links to "what contemporary artists have to say," there are just too many to list. In this post, I mentioned some sites that offer direct insight to several dozen contemporary photographers. And you also might want to check out my recent post in the Philosophy forum, "Tate Online Lectures with Photographers." However, in terms of direct insight from active contemporary photographers, websites can only offer so much (or little).

     
  91. "Thomas, there really is no shortage. While there are always exceptions, exhibiting photographers are constantly talking about their work. A few examples:"

    And when you google the names of contemporary notables, there's notta much to be found as opposed to doing the same with the older notables.

    Link me to the thoughts, where contemporary notables spell out what they're doing with their artistic efforts. I can find what others have to say about their efforts but I can't find much where the notables talk about their efforts in anything more then in a cursory light.

    Thank you for your efforts in what you wrote. I'm not trying to drag this into some sort of an argument. I do web searches and nada.

    As to books of recent readings, "Veronica's Revenge", "Stieglitz On Photography," "On Photography," "Crisis of the Real," "Post-Modernism: The Twilight of the Real," Within The Context Of No Context," Three of Eggleston's picture books, if that would count as reading:) "Camera Lucida" and many others.

    It just seems that I should be able to Google a name and pull up something of import. If I were to Google, as an example Henri Rousseau, I can pull a ton up on the guy. He was a huge influence on the Mexican painter Diego Rivera, who I can do a search on and pull up a bunch on as to what he had to say as to his efforts. I can pull up a ton on Andre Breton (Surrealism), or Picasso, Dali, Andy Warhol or many others. Heavens, even Che Guevara had a lot to say about his Marxists ways.

    Maybe I'm just Googling the wrong places:)
     
  92. "As far as posting links directly, I don't know how to hotlink."
    That's simple.
    write what you want here
    Example:
    You can learn more aboutLee Friedlander at this web site.
    And when you post, use the HTML tag instead of the "Plain Text" choice. You'll need to install paragraphy breaks at the end of each paragraph. A paragraph break looks like
    I'll post the first time using "Plain Text" and the second post using HTML.
     
  93. "As far as posting links directly, I don't know how to hotlink."
    That's simple. Here's a sample.
    write what you want here
    Example:
    You can learn more about Lee Friedlander at this web site.
    And when you post, use the HTML tag instead of the "Plain Text" choice. You'll need to install paragraph breaks at the end of each paragraph. A paragraph break looks like
    I'll post the first time using "Plain Text" and the second post using HTML.
     
  94. "Link me to the thoughts, where contemporary notables spell out what they're doing with their artistic efforts. I can find what others have to say about their efforts but I can't find much where the notables talk about their efforts in anything more then in a cursory light."
    Information that you can find on websites is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of artists discussing their work. However, if you really are interested in what various photographers have to say about their work, you could do a lot worse than the numerous websites (PDN, Blind Spot, etc.) that I've listed in this thread. The WFMU link alone should keep you occupied for a long time. In addition, Tate's online events has four or five talks given by photographers, which should also keep you busy for a while.
    I haven't read any of the books you've listed (they do sound very interesting though), but it seems like many are art criticism books. You're more likely to find artist statements and interviews in a monograph/book by an individual photographer (as opposed to a survey or compilation).
    Thanks for showing me how to use hotlinking.
     
  95. "Thanks for showing me how to use hotlinking."

    My pleasure and thanks for the web sites which you mentioned, I'll continue to check them out and see what I can find in regard to what contemporary notables have to say about their efforts.

    The reason reading what one has to say about their artistic efforts is that I get more from the written word, as to insight to one's thinking, then I do from looking at their photographic efforts.

    Maybe I should stop photographing and get into writing:)
     
  96. Just a thought Ellis, you have links available as to Melville's and Dylan's intentions with their efforts to support your claim of symbolism on the part of "Moby Dick?"
    That isn't a thought Thomas. Thought requires abstract reasoning.
    To understand Melville's and Dylan' s truer intentions simply requires reading or listening to their works. If you ever HAVE read Moby Dick then you'll instantly get what I mean: that Melville constantly uses symbolism. Indeed the novel, the tale of the voyage and the hunt, the description of scenes people and action, are so heavily freighted with symbolism that the story frequently seems on the edge of sinking itself. As I said above: in several places in the tale - Melville the author , through the voice of Ishmael the narrator takes great and careful pains to point out to the reader that you need to pay attention to such and such a detail becaue it symbolizes some larger theme. as a for instance there is the "Whiteness of the Whale" chapters or "The Mat Maker' chapter or the scene in the beginning of the book in the chapel in Nantucket.
    If you ask a creator of a work of art to explicitly say this and this is what I meant by this and this, I suspect you'll get an answer something along the lines of the poet's remark when asked by a journalist to explain a poem: "What, you want me to say it worse?"
     
  97. Thomas I notice in your bio/artist's statement that you write:
    Susan Sontag's extremely lucid and insightful "On Photography" which is a proverbial "Who's Who" of photography. Take of month or two with this short book and keep the broadband close at hand when you read this effort so as to get maximum potential/exposure. This gal's brilliant in her writings.
    Interesting. In the New Yorker magazine of 3/21/05, in an article titled "LOOKING BACK, Diane Arbus at the Met" ( on line at http:// newyorker.com/critics/art), critic PETER SCHJELDAHL holds the business end of the critical shotgun up to the late Ms. Sontag's head and pulls both triggers, reducing what you call her "brilliant writings" on photography to an eviscerated heap:
    SontagÕs notorious attack on Arbus, in an essay from 1973 that became the linchpin of her book ÒOn PhotographyÓ (1977), passed one test of great criticism. It asked the right questionÑabout photographyÕs claim to be a full-fledged and legitimate artÑat the right time, when ArbusÕs work had advanced that claim with unprecedented force. Otherwise, the essay is an exercise in aesthetic insensibility, eschewing description of the art for aspersions, often pithy, on the artistÕs ethics. ÒArbusÕs interest in freaks expresses a desire to violate her own innocence,Ó Sontag wrote. ThatÕs probably right, but itÕs incidental to photographs that transcend the interest and desire of their maker and, in the process, shatter the idea of ÒfreaksÓ as a stable category of experience. Sontag rushed to rescue the idea. ÒIn photographing dwarfs, you donÕt get majesty and beauty,Ó she insisted. ÒYou get dwarfs.Ó She noted with bemusement that in ArbusÕs pictures people who are Òpathetic, pitiable, as well as repulsiveÓ look Òcheerful, self-accepting, matter-of- fact.Ó She wondered, ÒDo they know how grotesque they are? It seems as if they donÕt.Ó They Òappear not to know that they are ugly.Ó ItÕs an interesting complaint, suggesting that people who look or behave in unusual ways merit sympathy from the rest of us only if they visibly assent to our disgust with them. Saying such things shows how far Sontag was willing to go in a campaign that aimed, beyond Arbus, at photography itself. She denied it the power, which she granted to literature, of altering conventional responsesÑand even the possibility of being creatively inspired. She wrote, incredibly, ÒThere is a large difference between the activity of a photographer, which is always willed, and the activity of a writer, which may not be.Ó
    It is also worth noting that towards the end of her too short life Sontag herself had decided that much of what she had written in "On Photography" was just wrong. See "On The Suffering of Others."
     
  98. Humpty Dumpty, was freely acknowledged that the nursery rhyme was intended to be and was discussed by the author to be symbolic, as Humpty Dumpty was political in nature as were many of the children's rhymes of the time were.

    Some like to make note of the fact that there are a lot of fences in my images as if they're symbolic. They're not. I like to make note that there are a lot of fences in the wonderful world of landscapes, which I choose to photograph. Hell, I can't take a pic of something sticking up in the air without some brainwashed freethinker coming along thinking "phalic symbol." What's with that?

    I'm happy to imbue my images with symbolism, when it's time and other times, there's nothing more there then the simplicity of Metaphysics.

    "Indeed the novel, the tale of the voyage and the hunt, the description of scenes people and action, are so heavily freighted with symbolism that the story frequently seems on the edge of sinking itself."

    Color me in any light of your choosing.

    Or the story could simply be a description of a fictional adventure story and nothing more but anyone is welcome to insert themselves into any story, in any manner to their choosing and that's just dandy. Doesn't mean that the interpretation is what the original intent of the author is.

    I prefer to read what the author has to say as opposed to what others have to say. I have no reason to doubt the brevity of your comments and don't challenge your comment in any way, it would seem, considering how much Melville's effort has been discussed, one should easily be able to show written word as to what he had to say the intent of his effort was. So until one shows me (not saying they can't) Melville intended his story to be frought with symbolism, I'm gonna go with the thought that "Moby Dick" was wonderful adventure story with no other purpose than entertainment purposes and any other interpretation is just wishful thinking.

    Seems rational to me. Please don't be upset that I don't want to go through the door. I'm making a resonable request for someone to provide a link to the author's own words supporting their contention as to symbolism. If it's not available, then it's not available.
     
  99. "Thomas I notice in your bio/artist's statement that you write:"

    "Interesting. In the New Yorker magazine of 3/21/05, in an article titled "LOOKING BACK, Diane Arbus at the Met" ( on line at http:// newyorker.com/critics/art), critic PETER SCHJELDAHL holds the business end of the critical shotgun up to the late Ms. Sontag's head and pulls both triggers, reducing what you call her "brilliant writings" on photography to an eviscerated heap:"

    Okay, we have a difference of opinion and I stand by my comments, unaltered. Now. Who's right and who's wrong?

    "Otherwise, the essay is an exercise in aesthetic insensibility, eschewing description of the art for aspersions, often pithy, on the artist's ethics."

    And it's an easy conclusion to come to, if you don't take the time to reread and understand.

    "It is also worth noting that towards the end of her too short life Sontag herself had decided that much of what she had written in "On Photography" was just wrong. See "On The Suffering of Others."

    It's also worth noting many things that Susan had to write towards the end of her life. Personally, I wasn't able to stomach the tripe that was in "On The Suffering of Others.", I hide my past sufferings and to read what she had to say, well, I just politely put the book down and continued in life, without condemnation. The book and it's contents hasn't changed my opinion of the woman which I doubt anyone would be able to, even if she had tried herself.

    I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this in regard to Susan Sontag as opposed to Melville's "Moby Dick and his symbolism."
     
  100. Mr. Schjeldahl most likely has a much stronger, better read, better informed, better tested
    view of
    Sontag's early critique of photography than you do Mr. Gardner. Among other things, Ms.
    Sontag wrote that book to make a name for herself as a serious thinker; she wrote it to
    draw attention to herself.

    You, by your own admission, are putting
    blinkers on -- you look for what you want to look for and accept only what fits your pre-
    established world view. An intellectually more rigorous and honest approach would be to
    say to yourself: "I know this doesn't fit what I hold dear but let me test my assumptions to
    see if those beliefs are true. And if they are not true, what is?"

    Quickly this type of argument is like arguing
    about the existence of God. I believe that God exists but know that God's existence can't
    be proved and that
    whatever conception or perception of God (including God's non-existence) that I or any
    other person hold is no more than an intellectual construct limited by my self. your belief
    may be absolute and you'll offer proofs. But as Joseph Campbell once pointed out: If you
    could prove that God exists then what need is there for faith?

    And you haven't re-read or even read Moby Dick, have you? If you haven't then all you are
    doing is repeating at third or fourth or fifth or twentieth hand what an author may have
    said about his
    work or to whom or furnished the context forthat alleged quote. And the same holds for
    what you claim Bob Dylan may have said. (if you have ever playedthe game telephone you
    can seewhere I am going) Therefore your claims and assumptions are
    untrustworthy.

    So yes, based on the evidence presented so far, I think you are wrong. I would like to think
    that what I think matters to other people but that is just a conceit on my part and so I also
    think it probably doesn't -- unless I can persuade someone to act, and to look at the
    world differently.
     
  101. "Mr. Schjeldahl most likely has a much stronger, better read, better informed, better tested view of Sontag's early critique of photography than you do Mr. Gardner."

    Check out how much of what he quoted, ascribed, came out of "On Photography." There is no such thing as a valid critic when it comes to "Art." This is borne out by history, it's not based upon personal opinion.

    "Among other things, Ms. Sontag wrote that book to make a name for herself as a serious thinker; she wrote it to draw attention to herself."

    I'll look forward to you posting link to confirm this above point but irrespective as to her motives, the book flies high in it's lucidity.

    "You, by your own admission, are putting blinkers on -- you look for what you want to look for and accept only what fits your pre- established world view."

    Putting blinkers on, at a proper moment, is not a bad thing. Who's right when it comes to matters of aesthetics?

    "An intellectually more rigorous and honest approach would be to say to yourself: "I know this doesn't fit what I hold dear but let me test my assumptions to see if those beliefs are true. And if they are not true, what is?""

    Yes. The wonderful world of dialectics. And the supposition has to be that I didn't carry out this Push/Pull, Ying/Yang, Good & Evil argument to arrive at my conclusions and all I did was jump to an incorrect, (by your standard,) poorly thought out, (by your standard,) without research to support my contention, conclusion. Would that be a fair assumption as to your view of how I came to my conclusions?

    "Quickly this type of argument is like arguing about the existence of God. I believe that God exists but know that God's existence can't be proved and that whatever conception or perception of God (including God's non-existence) that I or any other person hold is no more than an intellectual construct limited by my self. your belief may be absolute and you'll offer proofs. But as Joseph Campbell once pointed out: If you could prove that God exists then what need is there for faith?"

    And I submit to Joseph Campbell, whom ever he might be, You expect me to believe that existence just popped into being, without intervention?" I submit that that's an even bigger leap of faith on his part.

    "And you haven't re-read or even read Moby Dick, have you?"

    Twice was enough for me and no condemnation for those who wish to read it more that a forced twice which was required of me. I hope it won't upset you that I have no need to read fiction.

    "If you haven't then all you are doing is repeating at third or fourth or fifth or twentieth hand what an author may have said about his work or to whom or furnished the context forthat alleged quote. And the same holds for what you claim Bob Dylan may have said. (if you have ever playedthe game telephone you can seewhere I am going) Therefore your claims and assumptions are untrustworthy."

    As I reposted, I didn't make the claim in regard to Melville and Dylan, I played your telephone and quoted the original claimant.

    "So yes, based on the evidence presented so far, I think you are wrong."

    Sorry, third party opinion isn't a valid form of evidence in a court of law. And I must ask, I'm wrong based upon what evidence that you've provided by Melville himself? I'm happy to let someone fill their lives with fantasy and symbols but I'm only asking for a link to comments made by Neville supporting the contention of symbolism. He may well have meant his book to suffer interminably with symbolism but it seems that unless otherwise supported, to me it was just a good fictional adventure book.

    "I would like to think that what I think matters to other people but that is just a conceit on my part and so I also think it probably doesn't -- unless I can persuade someone to act, and to look at the world differently."

    Lofty goals for another discussion:)
     
  102. "Neville"

    No idea how he got in there:)
     
  103. I wrote a very similar quiz in September 2003. The date can be verified using the web archive. Over 20,000 people had downloaded it before ABC broadcasted their very similar quiz.
     

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