Compartmentalisation

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by aplumpton, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. A very simple post, based upon a very simple, yet I hope observation of some significance. Like our photographs that follow established trends we have adopted, we tend to compartmentalise (or compartmentalize, for some) our thoughts. Case in point. When a thread has attracted comments for a certain time, it becomes moribund. Dead. Nothing new is added, and weeks go by without rebuttals or new elements, yet the subject often remains as dynamic and as open to discussion and question as when it was first posted. Why is this?
    Is it a sign of our times that when one has posted his or her opinion there is no need to reformulate or revise it? Is it a consequence of our age, our impatience or disdain for the continued probing of ideas and our satisfaction with simply moving on to others? Do we also tend to compartmentalise our manners of photographing, to just repeating the same approaches we have grown with? Is our aesthetic and objectives compartmentalised, hermetic? How free a photographer and thinker are you? I fight with this sense of "completeness" that I know keeps me from seeing things differently. Do you?
     
  2. jtk

    jtk

    I think you're reading too much in to the limiting technical structure of these Forums. The issues that you say concern you aren't any more "signs of the times" than they would have been with published article, snail mail, or telegraph. ... - - - ...
    As well, I think you're neglecting the diversity of writing skills and intentions here, which span scatter-brained-bloviation, argumentation-for-its-own-sake, grumbles, sniping, and cheery vapidness, along with occasional flashes of brilliance.
    Given all that, this Forum explores some interesting turf. Threads properly die.
    I don't see any virtue in being "free" of the values and ideas we've developed painfully, joyfully, and with the help of others, not to mention our own intentionality.
     
  3. Philosophy has always been, for me, a stimulant rather than a fulfillment. My follow-up or answer to many of the discussions here is in my photographs. Philosophy and such discussions have always left a gnawing hole in me . . . in a good way. The sides taken and the solutions posed were always of much less interest to me than the arguments themselves and the elegance and profundity of the smaller ideas presented along the way. It's why I first sought out music, then making photographs as my response to the bigger questions that seemed ultimately unanswerable.
    These discussions are like Escher prints or Bach fugues. They advance through various levels and twists and turns only to seem to wind up where they started. Yet there is a sense of a journey having taken place, perhaps one without a destination. Even the bickering provides a certain energy that can be useful and productive. That energy gets filtered back into my own photographic process. I think discussion itself will always become moribund after a time. That's when the discussion can appear to rest quietly on the page but a different kind of energy can take over. Perhaps I don't really DO philosophy. I USE it.
     
  4. Arthur,
    what I like about our "philosophical conversations" is the fact that they develop, regress, deviate, get abstract and then concrete again.
    I very much agree with Fred's positions: having come to the conclusion that in photography we don't have a Cartesian way of getting answers, reading through each thread leaves little, "sticky" concepts and ideas in my thoughts.
    Nothing rational, nothing (too) conscious.
    But in the end these little "sticky" ideas stay in me and pop up.
    I'm not a philosopher like Fred, so I don't claim to "do" philosophy. But I definitely "use" it!
    This is combined with my "crafting" experience (Fred, thank you for that marvellous thread!) changes my photography in directions I like.
    One of them is consciousness.
    In addition to John Kelly's post: let's not forget the cultural diversity, which impacts on approaches and opinions. My Italian background is different from the American, the Canadian, the Dutch and it has a bearing on how we see and how we react. And on how we conceptualise.
    And then there is our own personal background and attitude.
     
  5. Arthur, all of the above, and the structure of the software of PN. You're right, while responses cool, and the thread fades, by no means is it exhausted as a topic. Maybe we are. If you go back over the PoP forum archives, you'll see the same topics pop up again and again. One could say that we're behaving like locusts, or spending our energies on a topic, and after a while we come up for air, and a new thread or two appear. Seems natural to me.
    Lucas' point about cultural diversity is significant.
    As to your last question, I believe in creative cycles and petite mortes at the transitions. Historically, I also have some idea of the transience of ideas and technology in photography. Some truths about ourselves, human nature, the medium, etc. do linger or seem useful. While it's nice to think we could morph into anything, we're still who we are at any given moment, specially when releasing the shutter -- or writing a post.
    Growth is a process of accretion and erosion. While many of us would like to be totally free, many photographers of note have openly acknowledged this was not true in their case. Ernst Haas (who btw said that he used Leica because the lenses "were not too sharp, like the human eye") remarked on a compositional trope he came to realize he used over and over. So did William Eggleston (though many thought he was joking). Ansel Adams said near his death that he had only had three (maybe it was four) good ideas in his lifetime re: photography.
    [This kind of admission seems to bear some relation to the size of one's ego at the time.]
    With too much baggage, it's impossible to travel, with too little, one is unprepared.
     
  6. JK - "As well, I think you're neglecting the diversity of writing skills and intentions here, which span scatter-brained-bloviation, argumentation-for-its-own-sake, grumbles, sniping, and cheery vapidness, along with occasional flashes of brilliance."
    Nice riff, John. :)
     
  7. jtk

    jtk

    Nice flash, Luis. :)
     
  8. Louis, next time someone starts a thread let's opt for "cheery vapidness" sort of contributions and nothing else. I might then understand what that is for a sort or fish!
     
  9. jtk

    jtk

    "creative cycles and petite mortes" ... Yes.
     
  10. Yes, using philosophy, rather than making or doing it, is good for photography. Perhaps it offers one option to decompartmentalize our approaches that might otherwise remain static or too much conditioned by society, rules, etc.
    Luis' expression "creative cycles and la petite mort" is interesting, but ambiguous to me (perhaps I am missing the knowledge of its original context). I think he is referring to the latter definition below, and if so, it has something to do with decompartmentalizing or freeing of one's spirit (in the sense of disambiguation) after (or by) a period of creativity.
    Apart from the feeling after sexual intercourse (original definition?), one definition of "la petite mort" is wrapped up in Sondheim's song: « Every Day a Little Death ».
    "Every day a little death,
    In the parlor, in the bed,
    In the curtains, in the silver,
    In the buttons, in the bread.
    Every day a little sting
    In the heart and in the head.
    Every move and every breath,
    And you hardly feel a thing,
    Brings a perfect little death"
    The other definiton of the expression "la petite mort" seems to be related to "disambiguation" or "the clarification that follows from the removal of ambiguity", or the action "to make (an ambiguous expression) unambiguous", and usually applies to writing, but is possibly also applicable to the state of mind of the photographer in "the removal of ambiguity." Create and dis-am-bi-gu-ate.
     
  11. This forum *could* be titled The Philosophy of Philosophy of Photography Forum, with a subforum or two on Writing about the Philosophy of Photography Forum and about The Philosophy of Philosophy of Photography Forum, and maybe also a Critique on Writing in The Philosophy of Philosophy of Photography Forum forum for enhanced compartmentalization !
     
  12. Anders - "Louis, next time someone starts a thread let's opt for "cheery vapidness" sort of contributions and nothing else."
    A cheerily vapid tread might be interesting in a banal, PoMo manner. I doubt we could do it. What a challenge, a humorous, self-mocking thread on PoP?
    [BTW, Anders, it's L-u-i-s.]
    _______________________________________
    Arthur, there is no referent for my wee deaths, because I muddled it up myself. This may belong in a separate thread, but after studying the lives of artists, and what many have written about the process, I'm with the 'cycles' camp, and the transitional deaths (one can think of them as partitions and/or gestations between cycles) are what one might call a 'rite of passage'. The postcoital glow, er...in my post, is a far better kind of passage (is that something we can finally all agree on?).
    It was tied to the baggage quote, which I stole from someone so long ago, I've forgotten who. The death part refers to the artist reincernating part of himself to start anew on another work/project/series. Going back to your original theme, the cyclical nature of the process could be regarded as 'compartmentalized' (but it's not).
    _________________________
    Phylo, Yes, like artery-clogging, stacked pancakes, teetering and syrupy.
     
  13. Sorry Luis, for mispelling your name? Don't be frightened though. I will not start numbering you - Louis XIX ! ! you would risk your neck !
    May I suggest that we come back to our core concern, as far as I have understood it.
    Are we going to treat these threads as listening to Bach's fugues, as Fred so precisely described them and "compartementizing" them thereafter to be forgotten about as Arthur writes in this thread , feeling good because we have been through a process of exchanges, or are we going to take up the challenge that somehow came out of the good/bad discussion of Luca. I would suggest to opt for the latter.
    Who volunteers for starting a thread by uploading a photo so that we can test our ability to exchange appreciations and analysis. I would suggest that I do not start - you would risk that I come back with my abstract of a dome....
     
  14. On these light notes, how about creating co-existing MoM and PoP forums, the former vapid and cheery (pleasant but maybe nonetheless a Mastery of Meaninglessness) and PoP as a modern day religious confessional for philosophy and the devils of intentional photography? I think compartmentalised can refer not only to a linear thought processes, not always progressive if not freed of paradigms, as well as to the circular process of Luis, unless the rebirths after little deaths are imbued with freshness of thought and so become "decompartmentalised."
     
  15. As soon as I can figure out how to combine "photographic appropriation" and "video as the future of photography" I intend to simultaneously resurrect and kill two birds with one scatter-brained bloviation.
     
  16. Anders, have you seen Francois Girard's film of 1993 (screenplay by Girard and Don McKellar of "The Red Violin" fame) entitled "32 short films on Glenn Gould". An interesting photographic (cinematographic in large part) essay on the greatly missed pianist (especially as a Bach musician), inspired by the "32 variations".
    If you or someone goes ahead with your thread suggestion elsewhere, it would be good to have an option of presenting an image without prior analysis by the photographer himself, such as to leave the viewer unencumberd by the "other" view. After all, once our image is out there (as a sale, or by someone spontaneously appearing on our site to critique it), we are not in a position to influence the interpretation of the viewer. I believe that to be important. If an image cannot speak for itself to the viewer it is often not the best sign.
    Anyways, I am off topic on my own thread...(not a good example of compartmentalisation)
     
  17. Arthur, by virtue of your own topic starter, maybe a good time to reformulate, revive and revisit, now that even you went off topic? ;-)
    (in fact Luca's first reply mentioned Dutch, I felt called upon. I've got nothing useful to add, but could not resist all the same)
     
  18. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, in your OT I had the sense that you were dancing, not-so-cheerily, around a photographic version of "writers block." Your use of "free" suggested that.
    Yes? No? Maybe?
    By "petite mortes" ("les petites mortes" ?) I thought Luis was referring to the necessity of termination to rebirth.
     
  19. John Kelly - "By "petite mortes" ("les petites mortes" ?) I thought Luis was referring to the necessity of termination to rebirth."
    Exactly. And, Arthur, cyclical does not necessarily equal circular. For example, a wave has cycles, but may not be a circle.
     
  20. [Arthur P]: "...When a thread has attracted comments for a certain time, it becomes moribund. Dead. Nothing new is added, and weeks go by without rebuttals or new elements, yet the subject often remains as dynamic and as open to discussion and question as when it was first posted. Why is this? ..."
    Because of the unique software used by photo.net, this is not the best example to use for the point on compartmentalization that you are addressing.
    Specifically, it looks like no one has mentioned the fact that that threads in the forum index pages of photo.net are ordered by date of thread inception, not date of last post. This is unlike ANY other Internet forum that I have ever participated in. The consequence of this choice is that all threads are guaranteed to roll off the bottom of the forum thread listing after a very short period of time. Unless you have signed up to receive email notification of activity in a thread, no one casually skimming the forum listings will have any idea the thread ever existed, even if the thread is still very active because of continued discussions among the original participants in the thread. Another consequence of this is that the same questions get asked (and answered) over and over again.
    In a private discussion with Josh on this subject, he stated some reasons for this choice, but I'm not sure I could do justice to his arguments, so perhaps he might chime in.
    Tom M
     
  21. Tom Mann - "Because of the unique software used by photo.net, this is not the best example to use for the point on compartmentalization that you are addressing.
    Specifically, it looks like no one has mentioned the fact that that threads in the forum index pages of photo.net are ordered by date of thread inception, not date of last post. This is unlike ANY other Internet forum that I have ever participated in."
    Tom, I agree, re: the effect on compartmentalization. I thought the same thing, and although I did not go into detail, I alluded to it here:
    Luis G [​IMG], Aug 12, 2010; 06:47 a.m.
    "Arthur, all of the above, and the structure of the software of PN." (Italics mine)
    It's one of the core bits of DNA in PN.
     
  22. jtk

    jtk

    "By "petite mortes" ("les petites mortes" ?) I thought Luis was referring to the necessity of termination to rebirth."... JK
    "Exactly...cyclical does not necessarily equal circular. For example, a wave has cycles, but may not be a circle." ... LG

    Yes. To infer "circular" from a dead thread suggests hope...hope for something one has not received from the thread: perhaps has not received the agreement for which one was fishing.
    Threads end because most of "us" have tired of them.
    Often, the Original Question was actually a sort of "push poll" ...a secret question is buried in a "word salad" that seems intellectual but is ultimately intended to push an idea.
    I prefer intellectual honesty:
    "Here's what I think: ...." or "This has been on my mind: ...."
    "What do you think?"
     
  23. John
    "I thought Luis was referring to the necessity of termination to rebirth."
    Can you clarify this, so I can better understand better what you are saying in regard to "Les petites morts" (note the unnecessary dropped "e"). I have trouble with the inclusion of "to" in this sentence, which gets roadblocked in my humble brain.
    Do you mean "....the necessity of termination prior to rebirth", "...the necessity of termination of rebirth", "...the necessity of termination rather than rebirth", or "...the necessity of termination and rebirth". Each has a different meaning. Not meaning to nit-pick, but it makes a difference to the meaning of Luis' sentence.
    No, a personal creative block is not my reason for my discussing "approach paradigms", but rather what I think is our need to renew one's viewpoint rather than compartmentalising a constant photographic approach. This is the aspect of compartmentalisation in the OT that is for me the more important one to address, but having said that I do acknowledge (Luis' point) that photography's notables have not needed to have too many tools in their mental accessories bag. That statement may skate around the issue, but may also be very true (notwithstanding the bias a big ego may have in making such statements).
    Wouter,
    you are definitely not wrong in admonishing the tangential or off-topic repartee. However, in answer to your question, the only thing I can do at present in reformulating this rather clumsily stated OT is to simply state that my feeling is that ideas and photography are essential bedfellows and that compartmentalisation or limiting of such ideas may be something we should be fully aware of.
    In the other sense of the OT, I was perhaps a little discouraged to see so many good threads evaporate in mid-life. Fred is absoutely right about the fact that philosophy does not provide ultimate answers (and that is not what is valuable in the discussions) and that PoP allows us instead to add or receive little slices of thought or argument that marry well with our photographic approaches or intentions. Confronting different positions is valuable to us. When "the game is called for rain" and a continuing discussion is put off, or dead before its time ("mort-né") it is surprising. But as one of us has said here, these discussions are recurring.
    Tom and Luis,
    Your points about the software of PN and the manner of referencing former discussions, and the diminished ability to search the archives, is no doubt a good one, although I must admit I was unaware of it. I guess I do not research former discussions enough (except for the PN search tool, prior to posting an OT), but I was impressed at how dead certain OTs were in the currently visible listing. If philosophy does not have an end point it would seem that certain posts, even a month old, might entertain on-going discussion. I've tried that on occasion, only to find that most if not all of the posters had already tuned out. The fact is not important, but rather the question of why we feel a need to compartmentalise (or limit) our attention to the most recent posts.
    Luis,
    You're right, I erred in comparing a circular process to your cyclical example, although I did appreciate the importance of a cyclical process in the stepwise evolution (often by iteration) of the photographic approaches and work of a photographer. It is important, replete with it's "petites morts" and readjustments and regenerations.
     
  24. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, yes, my "to" was part of a contorted sentence. Also, thanks: "les petites morts"
    Rebirth is impossible without death. I think both Jesus and the Buddha would agree (to escape the "eternal meat wheel" I think a Hindu also wants to escape that circularity). In PC terms, sometimes one needs to reboot and do a disc cleanup. More personally, I've found that good things may be birthed when I, at long last, quit . It's a gamble to quit, but the relief that's usually won can be refreshing (can allow rebirth).
    Death or having quit are not mere points on a circle, IMO.
     
  25. John,
    Just saw your last comment. Thanks for the clarification.
    In reply to your former post, I think we all have our different manners of posting a question or opinion. Whether one says "I think" or not, is essentially unimportant. That form of statement doesn't provide any guarantee of intellectual honesty, or not. Nor does its absence.
    There are no diabolical messages or unstated intents in the so-called "salad" that you see. When I am suggesting my real concern about compartmentalisation in the two examples I stated, that's it.
     
  26. Arthur and others, it was exactly because philosophy, or the approach to philosophy that is practices mostly in this forum, does not have (ultimate) "answers" that some of us tried to find remedies to the situation so that it became more relevant for improving our understanding of photography and eventually our photographic skills. I don't think the reference to earlier debates on the forum will help as much in that respect.
    My follow up to the suggestion I made above has been deleted by the moderator (hope you enjoyed Bach at least!) so that was obviously not the way forward either.
     
  27. jtk

    jtk

    An editor would suggest shorter sentences, more periods and question marks. That would allow readers to engage more effectively.
    "Word salad" is a psychological term, but I used it to refer to an approach to writing.
     
  28. jtk

    jtk

    Just prior to this thread I had listened to (and copied) my library's scratchy CD of Glenn Gould 1955 Goldberg Variations.
    Poorly educated in such things, I finally realized on my own that these were 32 discrete pieces (they range from 2min/17sec to just 37sec). They do of course relate to each other, just as these threads and posts do, but each variation is stated with crystalline clarity...each is done in full, all by itself.
    The variations seem very much like traditional still photography...though there are only 32 frames, not the full 36 :-(
    When I first heard that recording I'd also borrowed it...cc 1969. An LP set, it was full of scratches and pops, but I listened many times before the library bus returned.
     
  29. Back to music. Good idea of your.
    I know the 1955 registration and agree it is divine. You can Google it and listen to extracts.
     
  30. Sorry to go off topic, but I can't let this pass since it's been so discussed.
    IMO, Glenn Gould is awful. Though revered by many and very popular, most pianists and musicians I know think his interpretations of Bach are vile. At best, they are eccentric, at worst simply a mess. He approaches the keyboard as if it were a staccato mechanism. His tempi are often so awkward that you can barely follow a musical line. He is coarse in his approach to the keyboard, lacking a fluid legato and delicate touch where warranted.
    Compare these two recordings of passages from Bach's Italian Concerto. Particularly note how choppy and accentuated the chords in the left hand are from Gould compared to Sviatoslav Richter's playing. With Richter, one can follow and appreciate Bach's musical line. Gould's left and right hand are so equivalently emphasized, brutally so, that it's more like a ton of bricks being thrown at you than a melody and accompaniment. Also note Gould's typically slower tempo, which is very plodding and all but destroys that melodic line as well as the overall structure of the piece. As well listen to how Gould's notes sound like little pin pricks and hear the fluidity in Richter's playing. Note the subtlety and nuance of Richter's dynamic (soft/loud) playing and changes. Listen to the obviousness of Gould in terms of dynamics. Especially listen to the more delicate and refined dynamic shift after the first 35 or so seconds in the Richter compared to Gould's hatchett job on that shift which takes him about 45 seconds to get to.
    Richter
    Gould
     
  31. jtk

    jtk

    Gould was dedicated to his own recording. In 55' he might have had a Roberts reel-to-reel tape recorder and did have excellent mics and skills. Wasn't "digital quality" in 55', but I've yet to hear a rendition as moving. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but later recordings I've heard are further from jazz, therefor further from Bach (IMO).
    The CD I copied was too scratched to be copied directly by my CD drive, but I was able to dub it from an inexpensive audio CD player to SD card via patched-in Olympus LS-10, thence to CD. The result was perfect...parallel to use of a diffusion enlarger for scratched neg (I lack the audio equivalent of ICE, which would have lost nothing but the scratches).
    I don't believe audio and visual can be equivalent, but I do think they can speak to each other. Perhaps that relates to "compartmentalisation."
     
  32. Since this thread touched on critique, perhaps there's more relevance here than meets the eye. "Moving" is not a terribly compelling musical description any more than the brand name of a recording device is. Had The Dead been the recording aficionados they were and been recording crap music, it wouldn't have made the music any better, though I might still have respect for their recording skills.
    Do we critique with purely subjective descriptions, like "moving," or do we critique by noting musical and/or photographic elements and qualities and actually discussing how they work in the piece we are discussing? What's the difference, as has been asked, between "I like" and "It is good"? "I like" needs no justification and really makes not much of a commitment. "It is good" requires some practical and knowledgeable assessment and the ability to stand up.
     
  33. Fred, you will have to let things like that pass. You are welcome to disagree and you do that in a very articulate way that is appreciated by us all. I happen to like both interpretations, Gould and Richter.
     
  34. Anders, sorry, but no I don't have to let things like that pass . . . not at all. I see it as relevant to a lot of what's being discussed here, and I made my case for that in my post just above yours. You may let it pass if you like, but not me. As I said, there's a significant difference between what one likes and what is good. I appreciate that you like Gould. Saying you like it, however, has little relevance to music.
     
  35. You might be interested in reading the comments you can find under the Richter link Fred gave us:
    "think it really boils down to the fact that Richter didn't care for Bach to the extent that Gould did. I also feel Gould spent more time associating with the baroque mindset, despite the fact that, out of choice, he ignores many (not all) of the principles that go along with that mindset for the sake of his highly valued individualistic interpretation."
    No, it doesn't boil down to "who cared more for Bach". The point is that both approaches are valid and unique. One can prefer Gould, Richter, Landowska, Yudina or Feinberg... The question is "what (or whom) do you like more" and not "who plays better". At this level the question of "playing better" doesn't exist.​
     
  36. I don't find that sort of anonymous layman's internet dialogue about the unimportance of who plays better at a certain level terribly compelling, Anders. I'm sure we could find similar internet dialogues about photos and photographers and they would be as unpersuasive. What is persuasive is a comparison of the two in terms of musical elements and qualities. It's about a whole lot more, at this level, than "what do you like more." I subscribe to Luis's understanding of critique as he expressed it in the "What is Good" thread: "Some people are far better at critiquing than others, some tell you much more about themselves & their likes than about the work in question, and on top of that one has the 10K hrs effect in criticism as well. All critics are not created equal, either."
     
  37. jtk

    jtk

    I'll chime in here to say that it's amazing and fully consistent that Fred loves the Grateful Dead (as he so often reminds us) and hates Gould.
    I've listened to a lot of Dead, heard them (as Warlocks) from the outside of Longshoreman's Hall (couldn't get in), lived down the block from them in the Haight, but they never did anything to rival their 1967 recording http://www.thebestofwebsite.com/Bands/Grateful_Dead/Studio/The Grateful Dead.htm.
    In particular, their live performances were sludge, stone ripoffs, tho the drugged-up fans that followed them around the country were beyond caring...there for non-musical reasons.
     
  38. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Just a minor technical point:
    threads in the forum index pages of photo.net are ordered by date of thread inception, not date of last post​
    For many years, photo.net has had a "New Responses" page for both the site, via the Unified Forum View, and each individual forum. The New Responses page lists by date of last post.
     
  39. Grateful Dead has never been part of my heritage - so count me out!
     
  40. jtk

    jtk

    ..as well, to Fred's point about "all critics not created equal," I'll mention Minor White again. He recommended sharing photos with totally unknown people on the street in order to learn their responses. Bach isn't owned by snobs, any more than are photos posted for "ratings" on P.N.
    Few have turned-on totally-unknown-people as effectively, without drugs, as did Gould. Many have commented that Gould achieved popularity among jazz fans, a tremendous accomplishment. Does anybody really believe JS Bach would have written for Richter's audience?
    I don't think "moved" is nearly as weak as a response to music as, inherently, is criticism. Many of us have wept at performances.
    How adult or perceptive is it to turn a discussion into "who's the greatest?" Is Steven Shore greater than, say, Dianne Arbus?
    This demonstrates the "compartmentalisation" that Arthur asked about.
     
  41. John, you incorrectly seem to think I'm talking about who's the greatest. I'm talking about critiquing the playing of music. I was into The Grateful Dead 30 years ago. A lot about my tastes and me have changed since then. You're funny, John, because I know you know that yet you make an issue of it here as if it were relevant. I make no apologies for what I was into when I was 20 years old. The Grateful Dead are no more my unquestioned heroes than Minor White is yours, right? Sorry if I'm not adult enough for you. When you're disagreed with, you resort to words like "adult", "anxious" and your most current little lovely "narcissistic". It's the best you've got . . . and it's not terribly "good".
     
  42. jtk

    jtk

    Sorry Fred, but when music (or anything else) "moves me," it's significant. I don't have to shop for exactly the right "critic" before expressing my response.
    I didn't suggest the Dead were anybody's "unquestioned heros," I pointed out that they were mentioned regularly and with love. Jerry was a lousy guitar player, outside the Dead. Compare to Clarence White or Birelli Lagrene :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WI5P9REpiPM
    Fred, This is a photo forum. Your now-denied "who's the greatest" comparison didn't even hint relationship to photography.
    I mention Minor White because I was indirectly influenced by him, only when he's relevant (as here), and because he was an important teacher to many. You post specifically seeking critiques. Good for you. White advocated that sort of thing.
    Gould's recording technique is relevant here because it's directly comparable to the technical work upon which all photography, save digicam/jpeg, relies.
     
  43. jtk

    jtk

    "I appreciate hearing how one of my photos "hits" someone and I love being moved by the photos of others " ... Fred G.
     
  44. John, this and a couple of other recent threads have talked about critique. That was the mode I was in when discussing Bach. Since Gould had already been discussed at length, with no indication of why he was liked, I figured we could address specifically the difference between liking and looking/listening. When I am in a critiquing or learning mode, being hit and moved is not enough, though, as you accurately quote, I do appreciate hearing about those things as well. I critique others' photos (and appreciate my own being critiqued) in order to help refine seeing, both theirs and mine. It's why I go beyond "I like it", "nice shot", or "it brings me to tears". Gould's work is often accepted popularly as inspirational. I was presenting a comparison to a different way of playing in order to approach listening with a little more refinement and nuance, just as I would approach how I talk about someone's photos. I looked at it as an opportunity to learn something about listening to music, not a competition over who's better and not so we could discuss who we like better. It was about listening to the music, not the individuals, personalities, or personnas. Instead of taking the opportunity to actually listen and discuss listening, you took it personally and responded personally (adult, etc.), unfortunately very similarly to the way many PN photographers respond to photographic critiques of their work.
     
  45. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, just as with photographers, the musician that counts is the musician that moves us...in whatever way that means.
    Gould wasn't mentioned to "talk about critique." Anders wanted to share something he admired..a happy diversion. Arthur followed suit, contributing several ways. Neither was "about critique," both were "off topic" (re photography and compartmentalization) and recognized it

    You know I admire your photography, substantially appreciate (to my ability) your writing about photography, and value our long online relationship. You don't need to justify yourself, nor do I.
     
  46. [Glad I missed out on a lot of this...]
    I see nothing wrong with someone saying an image or other work is "moving". It beats silence, to be sure, but is not far removed from the like/don't like thing. If the person who claims it "moved" them can elaborate a bit and perhaps give an inkling of how or why it moved them, the quality and quantity of the human connection, communications, and feedback goes up exponentially (for both parties, btw).
     
  47. I agree, Luis. That's why I elaborated to the extent I did in my original post about Gould and Richter. Thanks.
    John, agreed. BTW, I join many discussions here on PN that are just about taste, and I will still take it to a critique level, intentionally. Sometimes it's appreciated, sometimes not.
     
  48. Arthur,
    My first response was more a joke and tongue in cheek. But, I agree with your reply to me, and I cannot simply add much to it. However, regarding how that works out on the internet, John's very first reply nailed it for me: it's the nature of a forum. Threads go mute after a while. Even a question on the best lens for a wedding asked in 1986 could still be a lively thread today, as new products appear. And the same as we gain new ideas and insights. But either the question gets asked again, or we chew on it in silence. The lack of further discussion does not mean the topic is dead.
    Anders, for reasons, my Glenn Gould Bach CDs and boxed. Don't make me miss them more, please ;-)
     
  49. jtk

    jtk

    Agreed, agreed.
    cc 1969, when I first heard Gould's 1955 Goldberg Variations, I was a teacher, working in a beautiful "ranch" with institutionalized ("insane") adolescents. Rustic cabin..no electricity, wood heat, twenty feet from a creek up which salmon rose to spawn every year.
    I ran a 20' extension cord to my van, where my "stereo" was kept dry. In good weather I listened outside. I remember an autistic teen circling all of this to the Variations and happily yammering. That memory has something to do with why I'm "moved" by Glenn Gould. Perhaps if I'd had the Richie Valens or Stanislaw Richter versions I'd be moved more by them :)
    Just to keep this photographic, I'll mention that my main camera of the era was an 8X10 Agfa Ansco. Foolishly, I didn't make any images of the kids or where I lived...don't have much photography to show for the era.
     
  50. Fred, by the way, I like the Gould recordings because they are eccentric. It's not really Bach, it's Gould-Bach. Maybe a touch beyond interpretation of music, like Stokowski recordings can go well beyond that line. Some highly regarded musicians can stretch or compress notes to shape music to their idea (Mahler symphonies tend to get these treatments, thinking for example Barbirolli's 6th). It's tricky, but the better musicians pull it off, stay to seem genuine and can make eccentric interpretations that fascinate. However, something happens, for me, and yes, that is a matter of taste. But ultimately, it is what I look for - to be touched, moved, to see new things.
     
  51. John, keep in mind that many people are "moved" by pictures of pretty sunsets and aloof naked women with high heels and wine glasses. That offers me something of value, for sure, but doesn't tell me much about photographs.
     
  52. Fred,
    I am not a musician, but I love music (which may be put on the same plane as liking something?). I seldom analyse it in detail, although I respond greatly to it and can distinguish easily betwween conductors on same symphonies or concertos and between some pianists or other soloists, and particular the vocal artists (I have also never heard the cello played so eloquently as I did during Rostropovich's London recitals, but then I never heard the earlier cellist Casals). I can hear value in some Stokowski, as in his wild Berlioz Symphonie fantastique, just as I can in the subtle beauties of the Britten War Requiem, that of Fauré, or a Schubet song cycle by Ameling or Janet Baker or Norman (wow, I am dating myself, but I was quite young then). Gould was a fascinating pianist, not precise and technical like a Marc André Hamelin or a Richter or Tarraud, but a valuable interpreter, and many professional music critics of his time also thought that. He was also a very great countryman, who worked tirelessly at interpreting the north to other of his countrymen, in addition to his intense music commentary programs on radio and TV. We loved him for that, as well as for his individual approach to musical compositions.
    Try to see/hear the "32 Short Films..." by Girard and McKellar - I think you may be surprised at the beauty and the calm of it and even Gould's Bach playing in it.
    What really surprises me is that you have spent so much energy here criticising Gould, on a subject outside of the thread, and however well you do that in regard to your own musical aesthetic, but you seldom, and I would even hazard a guess, never, criticise in that manner the usually quoted and too often quoted icons of photography, who in my humble opinion, are often deserving of as much critique as is a long dead major musician. Perhaps we need some outspoken critiques of some of those photographic holy works as well.
    But that might be decompartmentalising our respected photo heritage, by speaking outside the accepted confines of the box?
     
  53. jtk

    jtk

    "32 Short Films..." played here in Albuquerque for a record-setting 6 months, first in a second-tier first run movie house, then for its final month in our only local art house...which had to cancel much of its long-anticipated and elaborate schedule to accommodate.
    It was a wonderful film, the 32 referring to the 32 Goldberg Variations.
    The only rival locally has been "Ice Runner," an Eskimo film. Amazing. (I hope "amazing" isn't too crude for this Forum's high-altitude aesthetics :)
    ...Arthur failed to mention the most glorious of his country's music:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clPYfaTvHT0
     
  54. Oh John, why such frivolity, here I was expecting that your link would link to Leonard Cohen, songs of musical and lyrical wizardry evoking all kinds of images.
     
  55. Well Python beats Rose Marie, and Leonard may be as eclectic in imagery as Gould, but the anglo music of the lumberjacks in the great north is now more like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNfWC4Sgkcs. But where its really happening, is on the French Canadian scene.
     
  56. Arthur, if someone like John or Luis were to do the kind of in-depth and elemental comparison between two photographers, one of whom I liked and was popular, the other of whom was less well-known to me and others, I hope I would sit up and take notice rather than simply arguing that I liked the guy I liked. Because I'm more intimately familiar with music, musicians, and musical history, I feel confident making the kind of assessment I did. I wasn't expecting the blind responses I got. Now, I will say, John, that you struck a very genuine chord there in your last post, one that is really worth emphasizing. What often happens is that people are actually moved by Bach's (or any composer's) music, not by Glenn Gould or the particular performer. It is through Gould that many have come to appreciate Bach. (Not talking about people in this forum, necessarily.) Often, the rendition of a piece of classical music that is heard with regularity comes to feel like it IS the piece, and other versions (even better ones) don't sound quite right. I think you may be onto something, John, and completely understand your associating Gould with other things going on in your life at the time and being moved by that combination of events. I'm sure that happens with photographs as well. The time is right for us to see them and appreciate them and the circumstances around our seeing a photograph can have a lasting impact on how we feel about it.
    Wouter, I, too, like some eccentric classical musicians. Evgeny Kissin is one of my favorite pianists and his interpretations are certainly out there! I've been thoroughly moved every time I've seen him. Horowitz, on the other hand, I could easily live without. Too strong a personality getting in the way of the music and too quirky a style, particularly his rubatos and especially his own choppy approach to legato. So, eccentricity, in and of itself, does not really persuade me one way or the other. It depends where it's taken and what it winds up sounding like. I do appreciate your thoughtful response, which obviously went deeper than "I like it."
     
  57. John wrote (13th. 14.27)
    Gould wasn't mentioned to "talk about critique." Anders wanted to share something he admired..a happy diversion. Arthur followed suit, contributing several ways. Neither was "about critique," both were "off topic" (re photography and compartmentalization) and recognized it​
    So, maybe after this interludium, that has its own quality and that some of us maybe have enjoyed, we might come back to where we came from. Reference to music was done because of an earlier mentioning that listening to music had the same effect as participating in discussions in the Philosophy and Photography forum. One feels good afterwards and somehow, somewhere, after the thread has been "compartmentalized", it has an impact on our photography.
    We were some that argued that maybe, if there was a willingness, we could do more than that and reach a level of discussion where direct critics of photos could make us reach higher levels of photographical excellence - if you accept the term. (sorry John, long sentence!)
     
  58. Late to the Gould discussion but I just want to add the following from Richter's personal notebooks that he kept all his life:
    "... The country [Russia] gradually opened up to the outside world and Moscow started to receive visits from foreign musicians. Glenn Gould came in 1957. I attended one of his concerts. He gave a stunning performance of the Goldberg Variations, but without the repeats, which took away some of my pleasure. ..."
    "... Glenn Gould, 'the greatest interpreter of Bach'. Glenn Gould has found his own approach to Bach and, from this point of view, he deserves his reputation.
    It seems to me that his principal merit lies on the level of sonority, a sonority that is exactly what suits Bach best.
    But, in my own view, Bach's music demands more depth and austerity, whereas with Gould everything is just a little too brilliant and superficial. Above all, however, he doesn't play all the repeats*, and that's something for which I really can't forgive him. It suggests that he doesn't actually love Bach sufficiently."
    [next Richter is comparing recordings of Bach Partita no. 1 in B flat]
    "Anatoly Vedernikov. An integrated scrupulous approach to Bach. The music is the main thing.
    "Glenn Gould. Absolutely brilliant, very individual tone. Here it's the pianistic element that's the main thing. (He doesn't do the repeats*, which is bad.)
    "Dinu Lipatti. It's Lipatti who wins the day."
    [then a comparison of recordings of Bach Partita no. 2 in C minor]
    "Anatoly Verdernikov. A scrupulous approach to Bach, and this I find convincing.
    "Glenn Gould. Not sufficiently scrupulous (here too he ignores the repeats*), but it's so artistic, so interesting and so striking. Even so, it's not my Bach."​
    *Richter was adamantly opposed to any kind of interpretation. He believed that the composer's instructions (to the extent that it could be known) should always be followed, thus his complaints about Gould skipping the repeats. Given that attitude, it's ironic that he speaks of "my Bach."
     
  59. So, eccentricity, in and of itself, does not really persuade me one way or the other. It depends where it's taken and what it winds up sounding like.​
    Very true, and eccentric interpretations seem to run more risk to polarise.
    Not too hard, from this point, to jump back to photography, though. Some time ago, somebody showed me the photos of a gradutation project of a Dutch art school student (if I recall well). It was showing contrasting objects in one frame. People dressed wrong for the environment they're in, in strange poses. A bit scattered, hard flat lighting.
    To me eccentric, and kind of nonsens too. But it had no implied reference (for me!) to any other works. No visible base idea. Technically, as for light, choice of angle, focal length etc., it was nothing special at all. It had to me no technical merit, and I could not detect the artistic one. It left me totally cold. And others liked it, maybe because it made them remember something, or because of other personal references.
    I've seen plenty of photos where I can detect either the technical merits (can still be a boring photo) or the artistic merit (can still go very wrong). I can appreciate them, or even deeply like them, for those merits. Yes, they will be somewhat eccentric choices, because they fail as a whole - but they manage to touch and convey something. To me, these flawed performances are often better at that.
     
  60. Julie, I didn't google or research anything to know what the music I was talking about accomplishes, though your doing so gives us a chance to take another step, so thanks. I did an actual listening comparison of the music. If a listener's relationship to and appreciation of the music requires an authority such as Richter to give it his stamp of approval, then something important has been accomplished. Were I critiquing a photo, or offering my opinion of one, I'm not sure I'd google or otherwise research out-of-context quotes about the photo from famous photographers, even photographers whose photographs (as opposed to their taste in photographs) I loved. I really prefer to assess them myself by looking at them (in the case of music, listening to it). But, as recent threads have convinced me, to each his (or her) own.
    I specifically avoided the question of how strictly the spirit of a composer's own take on his music should be followed, how true to the historical era, etc. they should remain. It's its own can of worms with regard to classical music. I preferred to compare the two pieces not on whose I thought was the truer interpretation of Bach but on how each sounded. Thus my response to Wouter about eccentricity. My observing Gould's eccentricities was not because I think there's something wrong with moving away from the original intent of the composer but because I think Gould's are generally more self-conscious than others' eccentricities. It's like photographs in this regard. When I become more conscious of technique than I do the rest of the photo or when the technique does not seem related in some significant way to other elements of the photograph (i.e., content and perspective, etc.), then the technique employed doesn't usually work for me. Technique for its own sake, without some kind of internal harmony, counterpoint, or obviously-intended discord, seems vapid. So does eccentricity without coherence within the given work. (Wouter, I appreciate your description of the graduation project above in this regard.)
    I suppose there is some irony in classical musicians who try to access an interpretation of old music that is true to the original intent of the composer and who also make it their own. But that's actually the brilliance of so many classical musicians. And it's the reason listeners keep wanting to hear new performers perform their favorite pieces. I guess I don't really find that much irony in Richter referring to my Bach even though he tries to stay true to the original intent to the extent he can. On some level, he must feel as if he owns the era as well, by virtue of his own understanding of it. But most importantly, the rise and fall of every note and the breadth every musical line, the musical color he brings to the keyboard, the love with which his fingers depress the keys and feel their own enormous depth, the sensuality of that key hitting its pad with varying strengths, the action of those keys against his fingers, and his love for and appreciation of the score itself, all make it Richter's (or anyone else's) Bach.
    This is not just about musical interpretation (any more than critiques of photographs are limited to content and subject matter). This is about how the music sounds, much like an appreciation of a photograph is dependent upon or at least influenced by how it looks.
     
  61. We may be off topic, but the discussion is very good and I am enjoying the points raised by Anders, Fred, Wouter, John and Julie.
    However, there seems to me to be one imporant thing that is being ignored in discussing Bach interpreters and photography (listening experience and looking experience) and the relationship between the two arts. Yes, I know, originally there was none proposed by Anders, but simply a nice musical diversion delivered a bit tongue in cheek before a slowing discussion of the questions of the OT. What we may be ignoring is that musical performances are an interpretation. A photograph, however fine or simply banal it is, is a creation. It didn't exist tangibly before the shutter was fired. An interpretation of the previously created musical composition can (is) certainly be performed in an artistic manner with the peformance creativity appended to the original creativity, or simply (although it is far from simple) performed exactly as the composer created it. However, we are critiquing the interpretation and not the original creation itself. The distinction is that one can critique the performance of the musician without critiquing the composition or the creation. At the end of the concert, or well before that, we can sometimes (but I think not often) choose to analyse and critique the composer, in view of our previous understanding and formed opinions of his music (before critique), or our realisation of its brilliance or shortcomings as made communicated through the interpretation. The sole analogy I can think of in photography is how well presented an image might be in a gallery or museum, by its framing, lighting and so on (the performance of the photograph) - I exclude printing of the negative or numerical (digital) data, as that too is part of the creation process before "performance".
    Are we compartmentalised in critiquing music by the presentation and not by the creation? Is it easier to critique the player, rather than the creator of music? I think so.
    In photography, and especially the photography of the well-known practitioners (Adams, Boubat, Brandt, Atget, Penn, Brassai, etc.), are we also "paradigmed" into a compartmentalised state of awe or collective admiration? Why, as practitioners of the same craft or art, are we so reticent to see limitations in their work? I chose to criticise (kindly) Fred for a very strong critique of Gould (but not for the content of his opinions), whereas I might rather hear a strong critique from Fred of one of photography's elite. How many feel free (of opinion, or of reproach), or feel the need, to criticise the work of the master photographers, not because we might "not like" there work, but because it does not convince us for various reasons. John has occasionally criticised Yousuf Karsh for his type of portraiture, which I think makes sense to me, despite my interest in his type of studio light manipulation.
    Art I believe should disturb, stimulate, exaggerate, deflate, elevate, change human feelings and aesthetic, amongst other things. If we think these important, why do we accept so many "paradigms of the collectivity" regarding what has constituted the good and best in photography? If you think Brandt and Adams technically portrayed their differing subjects with panache, but leave you cold otherwise (and why so), why not manifest those thoughts? Many of us are happier citing the works of the well-known rather than our own, so it would be instructive at the very least to analyse and criticise those familiar works. Or are we happier with the compartmentalised collective apppreciation?
     
  62. Arthur - "In photography, and especially the photography of the well-known practitioners (Adams, Boubat, Brandt, Atget, Penn, Brassai, etc.), are we also "paradigmed" into a compartmentalised state of awe or collective admiration?"
    I don't know about "we", but not me. Most of luminaries were aware of their weaknesses and strengths. Idolatry takes us back to like/dislike. OTOH, one does see this with some photographers, notably the inexperienced.
    AP - "Many of us are happier citing the works of the well-known rather than our own, so it would be instructive at the very least to analyse and criticise those familiar works."
    Which is what I long ago proposed we do instead of dealing with members' photographs, & having to hopscotch through the minefields of PN egos. That way none of the usual suspects gets their knickers torqued, complains that they're overlooked -- or looked at too closely, protests that we have it wrong, brings up the review canard, or anything else. It sidesteps a whole lot of BS. And it doesn't necessarily have to be all leading lights. Remember the woman that did portraits of subway riders we discussed here some time ago? There were a lot of good points raised, and we could have chosen one picture in particular, or a short set to look closely at.
     
  63. Yes, Luis, and just look how smoothly an honestly-felt and genuinely-articulated critique of a couple of well-known (non-PN) musicians went! LOL
     
  64. It actually brings up something interesting. Are we as invested in our taste (those artists/musicians/photographers we love) as we are in our own work? Are our egos involved when those we like are critiqued in a similar fashion to the way our egos may be involved when our own work is critiqued? I know, for example, that when John has said certain things about Annie Leibovitz, I've taken it very personally. What's that about?
     
  65. Fred,
    I think most of us respected your comments on the Gould and Richter interpretations of Bach even if we didn't fully agree with them. I didn't disagree in a musically qualified manner, which in any case my technical inexperience in music would not allow, but simply provided an impression as a music devotee. Whether that is equal or not to a technical critique is perhaps questionable (although the presence of an elite listening class is a partially problematic one to me), but finally of little importance, as it is how the music sounds to my ears.
    In photography, I think we are in a different realm of critique as virtually every member of PN has some photographic knowledge and experience, and a critique of photographs (and the most familiar ones to all of us as well, as Luis has proposed) would bear fruit, notwithstanding a supposed mine field of defensive, or prodigiously exercised, egos.
     
  66. "Are our egos involved when those we like are critiqued in a similar fashion to the way our egos may be involved when our own work is critiqued?"
    Probably so, and especially if we identify with what the other person is trying to accomplish or who maintains an aestheic or oulook that we have either/and tamed and accepted as our own. But ultimately I think it doesn't matter in the sense that discussing something and maintaining a particular view is good for us personally and good also in the sense that it receives counter arguments that may or may not allow us to develop in a different direction. Egos apart, that is a process that permits consolidation of ideas or change of ideas and both are useful to us. Both allow us a certain decompartmentalisation or possible release from personal paradigms. Whether photo critique or philosophy critique, that is a good characteristic of this forum.
     
  67. "which in any case my technical inexperience in music would not allow" --Arthur
    Interesting point, Arthur, and I do wonder about that. I don't know if anyone listened to the two versions with my specific comparisons in mind, but I was (and still am) very curious about whether some of the things I mentioned (which are so blatant to me) could actually be heard by others (regardless of which version is preferred), especially those more technically inexperienced. I know that some things that were pointed out to me about photographs (my own and others) early on gave me an inkling of something that I wasn't yet developed enough to actually really see. As time has gone by, I think back on what was said at the time and am really struck by the idea that I could not then see those things and how apparent they are to me now.
     
  68. jtk

    jtk

    "What we may be ignoring is that musical performances are an interpretation. A photograph, however fine or simply banal it is, is a creation." --- Arthur P.
    That is a hypothesis seemingly based, like so many of our assuptions, entirely on artificial semantic constructs, having nothing to do with "facts on the ground."
    Consider (if you will :) :
    No matter what Richter or Gould might claim (perhaps they'll post here), we only hear recordings of their performances, never anybody's "Bach." Bach doesn't exist apart from performances, written material, and assumptions...his purported "existence" is always and only pretended. Richter and Gould could each be said to have "created their own Bachs," but there is no Bach that can be interpreted.
    Musical recordings seem far more like photographs than like "interpretations." The same applies to live performances.
    Playing experiences, the sound of the music, were Gould's and Richters, not "Bach's"...all three created, none interpreted. It doesn't matter if they imagined that they were interpreting. They were musicians, not sematicists.
    Is the King James Bible an interpretation? No. It was produced at King James' 1604 command ...the elements that "translated" Greek and Latin had historic roots, but the whole and many of its passages were outright creations using both new and recycled (translations of translations) materials.
    A photograph never "captures" anything: it "interprets" light and shadow into the technology's photochemical or digital frame of reference...which can only be translated (interpreted) into a visual that is reflected in various biased versions by the technology (some robots like contrast, others like smooth skin etc).
    Click: the digicam itself, the robot, does most of any alleged photographic creation... save for the bit role played by the sunset/kitty-kat/girlfriend/flowing-creek/fireworks selector that also operated the initial credit card.
     
  69. Fred,
    What I hear in Gould's playing, with my non-technical music training, is somewhat akin to what I am hearing when Furtwangler conducts (I have only heard him on LP records, never in concert), slow, introspective and seeking to extract more from the music than a more rapid playing would provide. I also hear from Gould different tonalities and emphases in various musical passages, that others (and perhaps Bach) don't provide in the same way. The music breathes in that way for me under his fingers, although Gould's "singing" during his playing still puts me off (in polite terms). I think you feel he exagerates, or takes too much liberty with, the original score, and that might well be true. Bach's music is so well composed that that argument has some validity too.
    John,
    I couldn't disagree more about the photo not being a creation (an individual act, however banal in some cases, including some of my own) and your proposal that Bach's music does not exist as a creation without hearing a performance or performer. If that is the case, the written music to you has no value as a creation (which can be read), like Bach's scores, and just as an unread book is not a creation because it hasn't been read by a certain number of persons, even one, apart from the author and friends prior to publishing in a more generally transferable document. Beehoven could only "hear" his later scores by reading the manuscripts.
     
  70. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, Bach, like Beethoven, obviously did write..did "create" various things (their actual playing, their written compositions... and yes, they surely did "hear" what they wrote in their heads, as do many musicians...which may be analogous to Zone System :)
    Bach's scores are no more "Bach" than are Shakespeare's scripts and stage directions "Shakespeare." Performers, working from scores or scripts, create their own work, not translations of Bach or Shakespeare. To say they only "translate" is to sell them short and, as in this discussion, to compartmentalize.
     
  71. The camera translates, the photographer creates.
     
  72. FG - "Yes, Luis, and just look how smoothly an honestly-felt and genuinely-articulated critique of a couple of well-known (non-PN) musicians went! LOL"
    I get your point, but what's the alternative? With this PoP gang, someone, please tell me what goes smoothly, besides the occasional gratuitous pat on the back for a newcomer, or potential ally during a brawl? Would it really have been smoother had it been a piece of music written by a present PN member? OK, let's use a member's picture instead. Or not. I have no horse in this race.
    FG - "It actually brings up something interesting. Are we as invested in our taste (those artists/musicians/photographers we love) as we are in our own work? Are our egos involved when those we like are critiqued in a similar fashion to the way our egos may be involved when our own work is critiqued?"
    Possibly. Geezus, by now we could have found out the answers to these questions several times over.
    (I think my PoP cabin's decompressed.)

    FG - "As time has gone by, I think back on what was said at the time and am really struck by the idea that I could not then see those things and how apparent they are to me now."
    ...and there are a myriad things Fred-- and all of us -- are still blind to...and what a great thing that is.
     
  73. "I think you feel he exagerates, or takes too much liberty with, the original score" --Arthur
    No, Arthur. I'm not talking about his exaggerating or being eccentric relative to the original score. I am talking not about eccentric interpretation. I am talking about eccentric playing, period. This is not about interpretive eccentricity. It is about pianistic eccentricity. I hope that is a clear distinction.
    As I said in the 2nd paragraph of my post at 8:01 this morning, it's not about eccentricity with regard to the original intent of the composer. It's about what I consider to be self-conscious pianistic gestures, regardless of the music being played, technique that seems to be done for its own sake rather than bearing a relationship to what's going on musically. A pianist might interpret Bach very "strictly" and still display "unsightly" eccentricities in doing so. A fractured legato, strange tempi, and rubatos that are painstaking needn't make an interpretation not in adherence to original intent, they just make for a weird pianistic sound.
    I like John's analogy between classical music and photographs. It reminds me of the endless discussions about whether photographs represent (interpret) reality or how close they come to presenting what was "real." That's a similar discussion to whether or not a performance adheres to original intent. I do think there's a big difference, though, in that classical music has a score that's written and followed (no matter how loosely). Even the most loose interpretations of Bach rarely, if ever, change the actual notes, though they may fiddle with written dynamics and tempi. I don't know what would be comparable in the making of photographs to a written and followed score.
    In music, there is a composer and a performer. I suppose God could have been the composer and the photographer could be the performer when talking photographs. Since I don't believe in God, that could present a problematic analogy. ;)))
     
  74. jtk

    jtk

    "... the written music to you has no value as a creation (which can be read), like Bach's scores.." --- Arthur P
    Arthur, that's a twist worthy of Fox TV or King James :) Mistranslation at best.
    I didn't even hint that written music or unread books "have no value as creation." They are one kind of phenomenon, different from the phenomena in the minds of their authors...just as are the phenomena in the minds of players using scores or readers in their armchairs...and just as are the recordings of Richter and Gould .
    BTW, because I attend a lot of live music I know that "singing" like Gould's is very common among instrumentalists..it's uncommon in recordings because the technicians and producers avoid it through ignorance, marketing prejudices, or technical limitations.
    Gould happened to be a better technician than many studio recordists, having better technology at his disposal, fewer prejudices and constraints, and better piano-recording skills.
    Fred, I commend to you last night's Charlie Rose interview with Christopher Hitchens (already on www.charlierose.com) as well as other Rose interviews with him, as well as recently on www.fora.tv and MSNBC. Politics aside, Hitchens addresses some of the core, non-photographic issues that I think we both care about.
     
  75. "I don't know what would be comparable in the making of photographs to a written and followed score." (Fred, in agreeing with John's analogy between classical music (-performance) and photography)
    No Fred, that is a non-issue in my mind, unless you wish to place the score in the head of the photographer (in his brain cells and and written into his memory, at the moment of, or perhaps even before the photographic creation). Photographic works and paintings are not performances of some pre-existing score like music, but intended works or spontaneous creations that occur once, uniquely, although they may be reproduced mechanically or electronically, with or (often) without added creative efforts.
    All this discussion between music and the visual arts has very nicely avoided the issue of the OT of paradigms (one aspect of compartmentalisation) in photographic approaches and viewing. I am a bit tired of pushing that question and hoping for responses to it, so will take a short rest (to finish up a late report). I will happily wander back when the question turns up some thought provoking replies.
     
  76. Arthur, that's why I said "I don't know what would be comparable" in photography to a written score. I liked John's analogy and can relate to it, but was also suggesting a variance between photography and music when it comes to the written score, in that I don't think photographs have something comparable.
    Although, on further thought, perhaps something comparable would be when a master printer prints for a photographer who doesn't do his own printing. The viewer is being brought the photographer's vision (composer's piece of music) via the printer (musical performer). I'm sure this analogy, as most, breaks down at some point as well.
     
  77. John, thanks. I'll try to catch the Hitchens. He's one of my favorite people to listen to, mellifluous no matter what he's talking about. He recently spoke at a memorial for Daniel Pearl that was on YouTube. A fascinating look at worldwide anti-semitism with a special homage to Mel Gibson!
     
  78. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, when you return I hope you will (perhaps again..I missed) provide examples of the "paradigms" you have in mind.
    You seem (to me) to have associated "paradigms" with "compartmentalisation" and seem to see them as walls, constricting factors...perhaps you will explain how you experience that. Earlier you denied this was similar to "writers block," but you didn't explain how it was different so were unconvincing.
    btw music is distinctly not "performances of some pre-existing score" except in the minds of the most constricted classical players. Even the average-good are not automatons. And of course, there's jazz.
     
  79. John,
    I thought I was clear, but if not, here are the relevant lines again from the OT:
    "Do we also tend to compartmentalise our manners of photographing, to just repeating the same approaches we have grown with? Is our aesthetic and objectives compartmentalised, hermetic? How free a photographer and thinker are you?"
    This doesn't imply anything about an equivalent of "writer's block", but more about not shaking our approach paradigms and exploring new approaches, of "getting out of the box" (or compartment, if you will). It requires some honest appraisal of what and why we photograph, individually.
    The ball is in your court, or that of others interested to respond to that. I will, too, when I see interest shown.
    "Ta ra" for now, Arthur
     
  80. jtk

    jtk

    "Photographic works and paintings are...spontaneous creations that occur once, uniquely, although they may be reproduced mechanically or electronically, with or (often) without added creative efforts." --- Arthur P (with my hopefully-not-distorting excision..JK)
    1) very little famous/fine photography has ever been finished before that "added creative" stuff (as provided in music by people like Richter and Gould) that you are diminishing. Digicam snapshots are digicam snapshots and will always be recognized as hints-at-best. Salvador Dali's pre-mortem-contrived, post-mortem knock-offs come to mind.
    2) Paintings, unless dashed off by Japanese brush painter types, are rarely if ever "spontaneous" ...they typically entail preliminary sketches and iterations (unless knocked-off for tourists)...they often take weeks or months, are often painted-over again and again. Paintings are typically light-years from "spontaneous." In any case, "spontaneous" is a fantasy...it supposes zero previous experience..."the lights are on but nobody's home."
     
  81. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, without examples or descriptions of your personal experience I do not think you can be "clear" about this sort of topic.
    Of course you do not intend to "imply" a creative block, but you very distinctly hint at that with your "compartmentalisation" diagnosis.
    That you find nobody addressing your concern should not be blamed on them...it seems aversion to their struggles to understand.
     
  82. John,
    I regret that you are not able to take sincere statements for what they are.
    You seem to keep aggressively wanting to shut down the discussion through one of your objections or side issues (like your idea of my writer's block) or another, rather than simply contributing to it.
    The OT, again reiterated above, and to which you have not responded to, was very clear. I was not giving personal experience (I first asked that of others, and what is wrong with that. I've given personal experience and discussed personal viewpoints on many occasions) but seeking the ideas and personal perceptions of others on the matter. Apparently you don't want to contribute anything to it, and worse, are simply attempting to sabotage any attempt to get it going.
    That lack of any interest and minimal respect on your part yields but one result : Good night.
     
  83. Compartmentalization is isolating certain thoughts and actions from a more organic whole. If one has a moral code and justifies breaking it in a specific instance by some rationale outside of that moral code, one has compartmentalized.
    I prefer to concentrate and focus, not compartmentalize. I have concentrated on portraits and particularly on portraits of middle-aged men. That concentration can also transcend itself -- and I try consciously to do this -- when I universalize this more specific part of the world by treating these men as human rather than mascots. Were I to compartmentalize, I might isolate what I was concentrating on from the bigger picture.
    A dangling thread is not compartmentalization. It is often a temporary break in a longer discussion. When we let a thread rest it doesn't suggest we've completed it. These topics and themes repeat and develop over series of threads. The interrelatedness of threads is like a photographer's body of work, often more significant than individual photographs. Treating each photograph as an isolated entity separated from the body of work could be a form of compartmentalization.
    My concentration on middle-aged male portraits is not the act of ignoring landscapes, not a conscious act of avoidance. If I don't mention something in a post, that is not an active rejection. It is concentrating on what I am talking about and not qualifying it by covering all other possibilities. I am not ignoring those possibilities. I simply didn't address them. It's what I do with landscapes and what I do with threads that seem simply to have run their course . . . for now.
     
  84. jtk

    jtk

    Thank you Fred. I think you've answered most of my questions.
     
  85. Do we also tend to compartmentalise our manners of photographing, to just repeating the same approaches we have grown with? Is our aesthetic and objectives compartmentalised, hermetic? How free a photographer and thinker are you?"​
    To photograph and make photographs is to compartmentalize, perhaps more than any other form of *expression*, so I don't know how much it would matter whether or not we tend to compartmentalize our manner of compartmentalizing. It seems inherent in the quest of seeking and seeing.
    I'm free to the extent that I want to be influenced by what and how others before me have sought and seen and expressed, this wanting is of creative potential. Of course I can never be free from me, or from my own photographs, even if I can learn to outgrow old ones by making new ones, they'll still be me, mutations from / of my reality.
    I don't understand your use of hermetic here, if a work's aesthetic is indeed hermetic - suggesting freedom from an outside influence - than why question the freedom and independence in its creator's thinking ?!
     
  86. jtk

    jtk

    Phylo, good questions.
    I think the enemies of "freedom" include inaction...even evil can be free, certainly "creative". I've not read Sartre well, and not in a long time, but he struggles with this.
    I don't see how any of this relates to "compartmentalisation," as Fred has explained the concept...
    Writers write, painters paint, photographers photograph. The catch is that we can inadvertantly over-define ourselves by such simplistic labels. HCB, after photographer, took on new labels.
     

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