Are we pioneers in a new art form?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, Jul 5, 2016.

  1. It's a different way of setting an old question. We were just discussing how everything has been done, etc., but this afternoon it occurred to me just how new photography is in the long sweep of history. Seeing us as pioneers is just another way of looking at it, since "new" and "old" are obviously relative terms.
    Two hundred years from now, I wonder how our generation(s) of photographers will be viewed by photographers looking back. Photography keeps changing, but the still photo will always be with us--if only because human beings will keep trying to hold onto the moment. I wonder if people from here on out will still be agonizing over how fragile our storage media are, etc.
    Thesis: We're early digital photography pioneers, guys. We're fairly early film photography pioneers as well.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    'Lessee, 5.5 inch floppies, 3.5 inch floppies, Flash drives, CDs and DVD, SDHC, back up drives, Cloud, etc., etc. -- back in time daguerreotypes, Glass plates, sheet film, roll film, miniature and sub miniature, negatives, slides, and binary -- and everyone sees myriad different things in the same photos. All the photo media (and I left out a bunch) as fragile as the "snowflakes", who won't care about them anyway unless they can be beamed thru their IPhone implants, and aren't too scary or emotionally / mentally taxing.
    bradleycloven likes this.
  3. With regard to quality I see wedding photos aren't going to look so dated like our old, yellowed photo albums created before digital. Now that the pioneering technology makes the wedding couple look like high end fashion models, 30 years from now will they be able to look back nostalgically at their high tech, now low tech photo albums.
    I can barely now distinguish stuff made in the '1990's from the 2000's.
  4. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    I spend a bit of time every month wandering through junk shops, antique stores, and flea market type places--looking for things that catch my eye. Almost without exception, there is some photographic 'ephemera' to be found. It may be an entire old album, a rack of old carte photos, or framed portraits. The who or where of these is mostly lost to time--unless something is written on them. But they have survived--and many have been simply discarded across time.
    "Back in the day" we dealt with small numbers. One shot, one negative. Then a roll of film--ranging from 8 to 36 exposures--depending upon format. Kodak's true innovation was not the science of the medium itself, but the ability of the ordinary person to capture small slices of the world around themselves. The individual would then collect and curate these little two dimensional representations as a physical commodity. Both the negative and the print could be stored away and retrieved many decades--even generations--into the future.
    Now, photography is not limited to 'Dad' with the Brownie in the back yard--or the prolific famed photographers. Everyone can generate thousands of images a day on all manner of devices. I fear that the bulk of these images--even those made by creative and professional artists--are even more ephemeral than the "classic" wet chemistry version. As Sandy notes, look at the changes in digital storage media over the past 30 years. How many of you can still access that 3.5" floppy, or that SyJet cartridge? And of more importance, how many of these old forms are still readable even with the proper drives?
    As we age, die, or technology changes--who will take responsibility or curate? The 'cloud' amuses me--as it is nothing more than a trendy name for someone else's server somewhere else. Not much new here... And this sort of storage comes with a cost--or risk of disappearance as time moves onward. We now have less permanence for more images--which the most of will not survive the life of the photographer.
    Then we come to the even thornier philosophical issue of authenticity in a photograph. With minor latitude in processing, a wet chemistry print was pretty much what was contained on the negative--and a fair representation of what was photographed. Many of us--even the smartphone crowd--are busily manipulating images far beyond what was captured by the lens. Will our photography--from simple photographs of people--to serious photography of the world and its happenings--all be idealized to present the "best" or vain interpretations? Will the world of photography revolve into changing old, fat Aunt Ethel with the warts on her face to a much more svelte, younger, and attractive version--because that is what we want to see? The tech is out there right now for even the most clueless smartphone snapper to accomplish this.
  5. "As we age, die, or technology changes--who will take responsibility or curate?...We now have less permanence for more images--which the most of will not survive the life of the photographer."
    Sounds right, that we have less permanence now than previously. But future serendipitous discoveries of our artifacts may (or may not) be enhanced by backups of the 'cloud' much as a current presidential candidate must have been surprised by the resurfacing of previously wiped data. Flea markets may someday have grab bags of hard drives for perusal.
    I can't help but feel a bit of empathy for your Aunt however....
  6. Lannie, before I try responding to your OP, can you please provide a working definition of "art form?"
  7. Michael, I am not sure what the OP meant in using the term "art form", as "hold on to the moment" rather than art was invoked in the description, but I think it is safe to say the topic relates to "communication or recording form". or "form of visual recording and/or communication".
    Lannie and others do question art at times, but there is much reference in these forums to art and photography and associated movements, but with little reference to what constitutes photographic art (or any art). I equally accept fault for this lack of rigor and curiosity.
  8. Maybe fifteen years ago when you were the only guy at the camera club with a digital you could call yourself a pioneer.
  9. Sorry, Arthur, for the delay in responding to your comments. I do suppose that one can address the OP without the working definition I requested. Here I go.
    Picking up on Sanford's contribution, the same logic would preclude those who originally shot photographs using wet plates being considered pioneers, since an earlier photographic device was first invented and used in there 11th century (as I confirmed by reading a Wikipedia article). It seems to me that this point of view is overly restrictive. Photography continues to evolve, perhaps day by day. In that sense, we all may be considered pioneers.
  10. Photographs have been manipulated since the very early history of Photography. And I do not mean just dodging, burning and contrast

    We have early example of HDR using more than one exposure. We have plentiful examples of early combinations of people from
    multiple negatives being combined in a single image. Images where sky and clouds are added in are plentiful. Painted images.
    Retouching of faces. Adding or removing items.

    What we do have as photographer is greater ease in using more powerful tools. But this is the whole history. At first you needed
    chemistry skills. Prepared plates, film, film of higher resolution and greater portability, color process. The cameras underwent a similar

    The amount of skill you need to develop to create a properly exposed picture which is in focus has plummeted. The conditions under
    which you can create a proper exposure has expanded. The rate at which you can accomplish these tasks has accelerated by orders of

    So I would agree that much has changed, but it has been on the typical trajectory of evolving technology. We are pioneers in the sense
    that all photographers have been pioneers--we all have to learn the craft amidst evolving technology.

    The basic problems remain the same: How do we learn to see? How do we learn to translate what we see onto a two-dimensional
    medium frozen in time plucked from a three-dimensional stream which rushes ever onward?
  11. Here's some definitions of "pioneer" both as a noun and a verb. From what I've seen on, except for a couple of instances I'm not sure anyone here qualifies to be a "pioneer". I'm certainly not. But then, developing an individual style, vision sensibility etc, makes everyone a pioneer, regardless of media, at least on a personal level.
  12. I see it as image making. Started with petroglyphs and has continued through oil painting on panel and canvas, film and now digital photography. All image capture means are in use today. Digital image capture is the latest development of a tradition that is thousands of years old.
  13. And, a century from now, photographers will be saying the same things about how those of us in the 21st made images.
  14. Michael I agree. To answer the OP's question: no. We (photographers) are not pioneers in a new art form. We are stewarding the art of image capture through the present era.

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