Fantasy

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Norma Desmond, Nov 14, 2009.

  1. Photographs are often talked about for their ability to capture reality or truth.
    But I don't recall us talking much about fantasy.
    Words that are used in the definition of fantasy: imagination, chimerical, fiction, strange, improbable.
    I've been batting around a few questions. What role, if any, does fantasy have in making and viewing photographs? Does fantasy feel like something? Is fantasy at odds with reality or truth?
    I think pictures can and do open up a world of make-believe. That doesn't mean there isn't truth to them.
    The truth often seems familiar and that's why I respond to it when I feel like I see it in a photo. That might be the more universal and iconic truth we've discussed before, the kind of truth we recognize in symbols. But some truth is more improbable, and I seem to have an even stronger feeling about strange truths (also layered or slowly revealed truths). Perhaps the latter are more individual or personal truths, even more secretive truths we each hold.
    The "fantastic" can be captured with a gesture, a color or colors, blur, a pose, a streak of lighting, a particular juxtaposition, even a particular subject or subject matter.
    There often seems a sea-sawing aspect of "wish" involved, as if fantasies are about things we would or could want . . . even if we don't always want to make them come true. Do our photographs, or our acts of photographing, reflect wishes and desires?
    Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Opus 27 Number 2 is commonly known as the Moonlight Sonata because that's how a music critic described it at some point. The only thing close to a title from the composer is more of a stage direction, "Quasi una fantasia" (almost a fantasy). It's a fairly descriptive suggestion to the player of the piece. Every pianist who tackles it has to figure out how to play like a fantasy. And with the almost, Beethoven likely makes his own point. Is there an "almost" quality to all fantasy that makes it a fantasy . . . almost what it is or could be?
    I wonder about expressing almost in a photograph. Is "almost" already part of the nature of a photograph? Is it almost, but not quite, its subject? Is it a bit of fantasy about its subject?
    What does a fantasy feel like and do you feel it in your own and in others' photographs or in the process of making them?
     
  2. Do our photographs, or our acts of photographing, reflect wishes and desires?​
    I think so, Fred. I start with a given. That photographs do not or rather cannot capture reality or truth. Photographs to me, being partly the scientist, less so the artist, by temperament that is, are illusions mediated through the retina and the visual cortex. And then mixed with our cultural imprints and hormonal chemistry of our brains. Hormonal, powerfully in some, less so in others.
    We see a posted nude in the critiques. Someone comments "wow, she is hot, I like those buttocks." Another says "I like the play of light." Another enjoys the contrast of the demure face and the ample display of what nature has amply provided. Another says it is a glorification of the goddess in all women. And so on as we all appreciate..
    Sound in music is definitely all illusion. Sound engineers play with that electronically. Chords and major/minor keys are intended to play with emotions and elicit some kind of fantasy ( I define as an altered state in some cases) that more than one listener can relate to. Photographs are always reaching for some idea or feeling that one may or may not share but hope to capture. Some are so much individual fantasy or abstractions that we cannot begin to share, I mean without an explanation. To me, the latter denotes a failure of that communication that is lasting art, aural or visual.
     
  3. jtk

    jtk

    In the earlier "Jung" thread I speculated that some dreams may inhabit an "almost" space, perhaps like yours: Am I awake or am I dreaming? As well, Goldsworthy (another recent thread) may inhabit that space... less obvious in his books than in the video, Rivers and Tides, thanks partially to its elusive, ambient-derived musical composition.
    Just as your examples of "wish" and "fantasy" led immediately to your meditation on music rather than still photography, video may be more effective than stills in that fantasy realm.
    I've been exchanging prints with someone who just realized he has for a number of years repeatedly addressed childhood memories...those I've seen are soft-focus (both 8X10 film and digicam), sepia... he's using "dreamy" "nostalgic" technique... their subjects are all children's vehicles (rocking horse, pedal car etc). Someone else exchange a photo of trick-or-treat-fairy-winged girls with heavy flare...lens flare/soft-looking, selectively sharp (think Softar #3 overall, with more defined detail here and there). Historic photographers resorted to classical greco/roman god-themes to evoke academic reveries that probably wouldn't work for non-academics. For non-academics interested in deity themes, with a bit more zip, there was a 40s-50s Los Angeles porn photographer whose name I don't recall. As well, there's Fred Goldsmith's work...
    I don't find fantasy as poignent (as charged or operatic) as "reality"...my reality, when I'm alert, is full of cross connections and possible implications... my fantasies are more superficial, and I don't think my reality's implications live there.
    Incidentally, I don't think "illusion" is a phenomenon as much as it is a judgement call. In other words, the use of the term doesn't suggest perception as much as the operation of the standard Freudian version of ego.
     
  4. Interesting, to think about fantasy in the context of photography, which is viewed to be more tied to external reality. I do feel fantasy in my own and in others's photography but not in the way of a photoshop fairy-tale kinda fantasy, and not particular a wishful fantasy. But a fantasy that is as "real" as reality, being that I see it as a disguised reflection of outward reality.The fantastic photograph to me is a well balanced synergy between this internal reality, a fantasy, and external reality. From the moment something is conceived to be, it becomes a reality. The reality of a unicorn vs the reality of a horse distinguishes itself from the horse, not for it being not real, but for it being an internal reality. A photograph can show us both the horse and the unicorn.
     
  5. see Joel Peter Witkin.
    Michael J Hoffman
     
  6. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    A number of people from Julia Cameron to Kyle Cassidy use fantasy in their work. Some photographers play off of media images, or particular rhetorics of how things are lit. Could giving an object more significance through the drama of framing and lighting be a form of fantasy?
     
  7. I think all good photographers use fantasy in their work, by nature of looking at "plain" things differently, rather then showing fantasy things. Even a photographer like Jerry Uelsmann does this, looking at existing things ( internal or external ) differently rather then fantasizing about non-existing things.
     
  8. jtk

    jtk

    "Could giving an object more significance through the drama of framing and lighting be a form of fantasy?" - Rebecca B.
    Yes: Like "empathy," fantasy can be projection of something internal to the photographer onto the rendition of a subject: Printing, I make the image appear the way I "wish" (Fred's term) it to be. My "wish" might reasonably be called be a fantasy...which I do usually realize as reality. The same might apply to lighting or framing, or selection of moments, like HCB's.
    In that sense "fantasy" might describe all photography...which would make the term as useless as many other commonly wasted terms.
    Some actually "wish" their photography to be inconsequential, mere factual rendition..."factual" being yet another fantasy.
    Fred, what are your further thoughts on fantasy?
     
  9. I think that fantasy is falling out of your self into a space/time that is discontinuous with your own space/time. You can jump or you can be pushed.
    Fantasy that happens in other worlds (fairies, wizards, monsters, etc. -- probably not what Fred's interested in here) allows you to keep your self and this world separate from that world. Fantasy that happens in this world -- using real stuff and obeying real physics -- requires that your (real) self and your location/conception of your self in this world be stretched or reformed to accommodate it; to bridge the gap from your space to that Other. That can be disturbing. It's supposed to be disturbing.
    In any case, if the art is good, rationality won't stop you from falling.
     
  10. Julie--
    Yes. I wasn't thinking of fairies and wizards or, as Phylo noted, the photoshop fantasy supposedly created by the push of a strange filter button.
    Gerry--
    I like your idea of "reaching" and that feels like it captures some of the essence of what I was considering. Both wishes and fantasies seem to have that idea of a reaching beyond. I'm glad you mention hormonal, and even your (somewhat) sexual example is relevant here. Sometimes, it's those sexual fantasies that may not be what our photographs are about but that may allow us some extra juice (sorry) in exploring for our photographs. I mentioned secrets.
    How many photographers of the nudes you talk about allow themselves to actually fantasize erotically and admit to it, work with it? My sense is that there would be a lot more compelling nude photographs in the critique forum on PN if more freedom would be given to both honesty and fantasy and less emphasis were being placed on being taken seriously and finding "artistic" excuses to get a woman (or man) to strip off her or his clothes. I don't necessarily act on my fantasies when shooting nudes but I sure as hell have them, at least sometimes. If I were to say I always do nudes strictly for "art," that would be like trying to convince myself (or anyone else) that I browse through Playgirl . . . for the articles.
    John--
    Am I awake or dreaming? Yes. That kind of question. You mention making the image appear the way you "wish" it to be in the printing process. Sure, some kinds of wishes describe all photography. I agree, might be somewhat useless. I was thinking more along the lines of wishing my mother were still alive and that feeling guiding some of my photographs, especially the one I made recently of my dad. Even my wishes for him at the time. I was thinking about the energy sexual fantasies can play in a shoot. I've talked about theater a lot lately. "Pretending" (fantasy) to be on stage can really help establish a rapport with some people I photograph. Sharing fantasies (even to the extent of just pretending together and most often completely non-sexual) can create intimacy.
    One of the pianists I studied with, at a pivotal moment, had me sit and listen to Joan Sutherland singing Casta Diva from Bellini's Norma. Partly to inspire me, which it did. But more importantly to talk to me about breath and about reaching (there's that reaching again) with my piano playing for the tone, line, and smoothness that the human voice can achieve. This was about the potential that piano playing has, not about its limits. I talk about music a lot because I'm more fluent in references to music than I am to photographic references. But I also think there's something to using metaphors (and practical applications) from other mediums to describe and explore making photographs. For me, it's not about what music can do that photography can't (clearly each medium has its unique aspects). It's about making richer the photographic creation and experience through nuance. Aiming for the kind of fantasy that Beethoven might have been talking about or that can be achieved in a film is not to mimic those mediums or compete with them. It's just a way of helping me find all there is to offer in a still.
    Phylo--
    You really hit on one reason fantasy can be so effective in relationship to photographs. Photographs are, in fact, more grounded to that external reality you talk about and that we've all talked about quite a bit. Yes, the inner. I keep coming back to secrets. Revelation. It's why I so often reject (for myself) the strictly representational aspect of photographs. I want something else out of them, often.
    Rebecca--
    Yes, I think it could be lighting and framing. I think it's how you would approach that and how that would feel to you that would be significant. As John points out, taking a photograph, by definition, means lighting and framing. So I don't think it's just that.
    Julie--
    I think there are, or at least can be, disturbing aspects to fantasy. How often have people said to us, negatively, you are living in a fantasy world (followed by "wake up")? And, I do think some fantasies actually wake us up to some things about ourselves (probably not unlike dreams) that might not always make us comfortable.
     
  11. My own favourite fantasies are those exemplified by such as the Arthurian myths, or the Teutonic myths portayed by Wagner in 'Das Rheingold' or 'Tristan and Isolde': a time and place which may or may not have existed, or which may exist even now at this moment somewhere. They myth is at once nowhere, yet everywhere, in a realm outside time. A fantasy, for me, must contain a stong element of parable, concerning, as George Steiner put it, the 'exploration and communication of great and final things' - life, death, love and transcendent possibility.
    I offer this as an example of fantasy in my own work.
    00V0pm-190809584.jpg
     
  12. Fred Goldsmith [​IMG][​IMG], Nov 14, 2009; 11:34 a.m.
    Photographs are often talked about for their ability to capture reality or truth.

    But I don't recall us talking much about fantasy.
    Words that are used in the definition of fantasy: imagination, chimerical, fiction, strange, improbable.
    Fred, My reality is my fantasy.
    Here's an example....
    Bill P.
    00V0r5-190833584.jpg
     
  13. A photograph is anything but real. One instant in time that will never occur again, that hasn't been seen in that way before and which will never be seen in that way again. It always wears a cloak of fantasy, visible or nearly invisible, intended or not intended.
    However, some images do this better than others. I enjoy photographing dying or dead trees for their expressiveness and their ability to evoke in me feelings of fantasy. In photographing someone I never feel that I have either the ability or the possibility of representing them as they really are. The result, intended or not, is part fantasy.
    The last thing I wish to capture when photographing is reality. The strange or the improbable are greater drivers of my, albeit limited, imagination.
    The following photograph comes from a vacation in October. The fantasy of the scene counted more for me than a hundred more common views of the seaside place we visited.
    00V0s3-190845684.jpg
     
  14. Fred- "I wonder about expressing almost in a photograph. Is "almost" already part of the nature of a photograph? Is it almost, but not quite, its subject? Is it a bit of fantasy about its subject?
    I think that any image, wether a photograph or painting or otherwise, does embody the "almost"- any media for that matter. Any product that seeks to create a facsimile of life is inherently off- not containing that reality- the wholeness of a moment- the human element, and that goes to something existential. On a more humanistic level, we as viewers only fulfill the potential of imagery, thusly the "almost" must be part of creation- even if intent does not include it.
    "What does a fantasy feel like and do you feel it in your own and in others' photographs or in the process of making them?"
    Fantasy for me is a great part of photography. As a commercial fashion oriented photographer, fantasy promoted is essential to the imagery- any advertising for that matter. As an artist, especially someone working with an ephemeral type work as mine, fantasy is once again a large part of the work- 99.9999999999999% of people never see the actual installation, so the photographs of the works only serve to accentuate the fantastic.
    I think the greatest amount of fantasy however, is based in my reality. I look at my life and wonder where this fantasy of becoming a NY photographer actually happened. Its easy enough to see the reality of the situation and how I got here, but the fantasy actually exists too. There exists, in the world at large, a fantasy associated with being a photographer, and no matter how skewed that fantasy is from the reality of production, editing and hard work, it exists none-the-less...and I find myself squarely in the middle of it (although in my youthful version I was much richer:)) To that, my work (to me at least) always exhibits some sense of fantasy- not just the final image, but the whole production thereof.
    00V0sw-190857884.jpg
     
  15. Fantasy is, I think, an important component of the creative process. I travel about 25 Km (about 15 miles) when I choose to visit the local city, most of which takes me through pleasant farmland or close to busy river activity. When not engrossed in other thoughts, I like to visualize what I see in new and less usual ways. The subject may be a roadside cross (a local cultural icon), a farmer's roadside stand, Mexican part time employees picking strawberries, an old barn or chicken shack that resists fortune and time, the young teacher and her martially aligned pupils about to visit a local site or building...
    Rarely do I want to mentally see what I see in realistic tones or forms or compositions. I can happily abdicate that (nonetheless important activity) for the myriads of postcards or local newspaper photos. A house and adjoining tree becomes more than its physical reality. In the springtime, apple blossoms speak of renewal. The stones of an adjoining old house once lay in a farmer's field, each one of different shape and volume, awaiting removal and the mason's trowel. What is the more permanent, a three hundred year old farmhouse, or a day's old apple blossom? I don't see the house as a piece of architecture, however compatible it may be with the aspirations or vocations of those who live in it, or an apple tree as a simple incubator of fruit.
    Something more spiritual is apparent. The mental image is a fantasy of another vision.
    00V0vp-190897584.jpg
     
  16. Arthur, your image " Free Flight'' of deck chairs floating in the pool is a very evocative example of a fantasy inducing photo. We fill in the blanks to complete the scene as we choose. It allows the mind which needs that kind of fill in the blanks engagement to work to complete the scene, in its full dimension, all its imagined context. Nice semi- abstract play of light and surfaces all by itself too.
     
  17. Some great responses here.
    I want to offer something of a counterpoint to the well-formed ideas about fantasy (and lack of reality) seeming to be an inherent aspect of photographs. From Stieglitz:
    "Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality."
    There's a sense in which I can relate to this strongly as well. The photo is an object and a very real one. (We could get off on a tangent of the relative reality of screen images compared to the more tangible print but I'm content to consider the images on the screen a reality of the 21st century.)
    It's only when we measure a photo against something else that we consider it unreal or by necessity a fantasy. In and of itself, a photograph is quite real . . . to me.
    So, Martin, I agree with you that there are aspects and genres of photography that may be trying to render a facsimile of life, but I think there's also a sense in which some create new life with their cameras. Though, as Phylo often points out, "reality" is the raw material for a photograph, it may not be much a part of its purpose. Reality may be more of a material cause or aspect and less of a teleological or essential cause. I love your idea of the viewer only fulfilling some potential of the imagery. (Likely for the photographer as well because, as Rebecca has pointed out in other places, the work does indeed go beyond the maker.) Seen in that way, "almost" has a very dynamic quality. One that keeps us moving and continually reaching. There's a sense in which it's more process than product.
    I, too, love Arthur's pool and chairs photo and there is a fantastical quality to it that moves me. For me, the second photo is a fantasy of a much different sort.
    Myths are some of my favorite fantasies. I wish we could replace current Muslim, Christian, and Jewish notions of God and go back to Zeus, Apollo, and Athena. My guess is we'd all be a lot better off . . . but I digress.
    William, I get a lot from your picture. Not as much from your words, in this case.
    I am thinking also that there are two perspectives from which to look at fantasy. Seeing fantasy in a photo may, in some cases, be different from fantasies occurring in the making of a photo or being utilized to do so. It's too personal and dear to me to post here as an example, but the photo of my dad that I talked about above (in my portfolio if you want to have a look, the bottom middle picture in my portraits + folder) has a lot of fantasy for me associated with it, the making and the thinking about making, but I don't particularly think it comes across as a photo of fantasy or that would particularly induce fantasy-like imaginings in a lot of people. Actually, I think it's a very real photo, and captures something essential about my dad . . . and me, us. So, I think my fantasies go into the work but they don't read as fantasies, nor did I intend them to. I do sense a going beyond, however, but that feels distinct from fantasy, as I think about it now.
     
  18. jtk

    jtk

    "I wish we could replace current Muslim, Christian, and Jewish notions of God and go back to Zeus, Apollo, and Athena. My guess is we'd all be a lot better off . . ." - Fred G
    Fred, just do it. I've promoted that for a couple of years and you've laughed it off.
    Athena, in particular, is a delight (relish Mandelbaum's "The Odyssey of Homer" ...I prefer it to the Fagles translation). How many other deities are delightful? How many other deities have beautiful grey eyes, lovely ankles, and are soulful enough to demand BBQ in their honor? The senior Judeo Christian deity abandoned meat for crackers, matzoh, etc... to understand what he's about, see "A Serious Man" by the Coen brothers :)
    Please expand on your idea about theatre and portraits. In the "Jung" thread I commented on a relationship between dream and theatre... unlike static images (eg photo) and film, the theatrical audience can be near-tactile participant in small theatre productions, much the way we participate in our own dreams.
    Unlike our arguably non-relationship with static images (unless we project empathy onto them), we are/should-be actively involved with our photographic subjects...making portraiture, rather than portraits, like theatre.
    In your fantasy theatre, are your subjects aware they're actors? Do you ask them to assume roles...do they know what you're playing at or is this all in your head?
     
  19. Arthur's image with the chairs and the swimming pool has a surrealism to it, while the infrared and the image posted earlier by Chris also have a more impressionistic feel. Both evoke a certain fantasy. Intentional surrealism and impressionism though are not the only ways to bring about a fantasy ( or a reality of the mind as I see it ) in a photograph. The strictly representational in photography can trigger an "aura of wonder" or such feeling, as much as the intentionally searched and expressed non-representational. Atget as an example. The image by Martin is also, uhm, " slightly evocative ". But without taking anything away from this effectively evocative image, most fashion oriented photography doesn't go beyond the surface of fantasy, staying too polished, too clean, too predictable, too unreal even. A fantasy of the body and the strictly material, rather then the piercing mind.
    "What does a fantasy feel like and do you feel it in your own and in others' photographs or in the process of making them?"
    When the mind's tentacles are reaching out, grasping for ultra-reality, it may feel like a fantasy. The doors of perception ?
     
  20. John--
    I've laughed it off? Maybe context and/or misunderstanding played a role. Though I can fairly be accused of a lot, laughing off the Greek gods would be a new one for me. Likely some qualifying factor at play. You say Athena, I say Apollo, potayto/potahto :)
    My own sense of portrait theater varies. I do sometimes ask people to assume roles. More often not. A lot of it is in my head. But even then, and even if we don't talk about roles per se, I don't necessarily hide the fact that I'm creating something, often a scene rather than just a likeness. Even if the eventual photo will be a head shot or close-up my creating a scene, overt awareness of storytelling and including them in some of the photographic decisions and thought processes seems to help bring something out. It feels good to me and seems to feel good to many subjects for us both to feel like participants, like together we are doing something. Even if I want something "real" I would be hesitant to lay the "reality" trip on anyone. Fine, be as artificial as you like . . . I'll show you I can find the "real" in that somewhere.
    Yesterday, I was videotaped for a documentary. Fun being on the other end of the lens. I recommend it. I've done it before on several occasions. Without doing so intentionally, the videographer made me feel very much an object and very much not part of his process. I could see and sense his wheels turning but wasn't in on it. So I certainly felt a distance. He was clearly the craftsman and I the clay. Not that that can't work in some situations. But I tend to find it a bit limiting and even isolating. I haven't seen the results yet.
    Since photography is what I'm doing, I don't hesitate to sometimes (often?) make the shoot about photography. We may talk about it and play with it. With the couple of actors I've worked with as subjects of portraits, I've talked a lot about voyeurism and exhibitionism (of the non-sexual, mostly, kind) and how much overlap there is in those two. Getting an actor to act has been, in some cases, the route to catching him not acting. There's that momentary lapse of facade that may come at some point that is such a contrast to the acting mode that it can sometimes be the one moment worth catching . . . I think there are moments, also, when the actor and the person acting come very much together in one look, glance, gesture. Capturing that blending of person and "character" can be magical.
    I do want to point out that I have made some portraits I'm happy with where I didn't feel particularly actively involved with a subject. Stuff happens. Sometimes, a lack of involvement is just the ticket. Distance can be palpable and even distance can reach out and grab you. I sometimes genuinely feel and can express distance. Again, the key for me is the genuineness, not the specific emotion or quality.
    I'm even still moved by some of my own early disengaged street shots, stolen moments. It's not something I would keep pursuing, more because of how I feel than because of how the photos look. Though I was disengaged, I don't think I was pretending to be something else, and I think that combination can work. I'm not even sure I knew or thought about alternatives at the time. It was just what I did.
     
  21. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I have net acquaintances in London who do photo stories and short films with ball jointed dolls.
    This is one of theirs. I don't have at hand the urls to the stories. One of the student workers at Drexel found these doll photos way too creepy to look at, perhaps similar to what Julie is talking about, a fantasy that is eerie.
    Photos that dislocate reality in other ways come to mind -- if they're too obviously posed, perhaps we are more likely to dismiss them. Maybe try to catch moments where reality dislocates itself?
     
  22. "if they're too obviously posed, perhaps we are more likely to dismiss them." --Rebecca
    My take on it is this. If it's obviously posed and it seems or looks like it's trying not to look posed, that could and likely will be a problem. But if it's obviously posed and is not trying to be something else, I'll take it at face value and proceed from there. Lots of stuff is obviously posed and brilliant.
    Some surrealism feels too forced, some not. Some very obviously manipulated surrealist images work just fine for me . . . Man Ray.
    This one of mine came about quite simply. Just a guy I was photographing sitting on my couch when I noticed his reflection in the glass coffee table. No muss, no fuss. As you say, in this case, reality did seem just to dislocate itself. When I come across it like this, I really appreciate it. Sometimes, it's just a matter of paying attention. If it feels posed, I have no problem with that one way or the other.
    00V1C3-191059584.jpg
     
  23. Duplicate post. I hate this system.
     
  24. jtk

    jtk

    "You say Athena, I say Apollo, potayto/potahto :)" :) :) :)
    JK
     
  25. That is a creepy doll. I stumbled on a website once were there was a videoclip of a supposedly possessed doll, it just sat there on a chair with the camera pointed towards it, running for I don't know how long. Nothing really happened, but it was creepy as hell to watch, because anytime I expected it to move, however so subtle... But Rebecca's post reminds that a fantasy can be anything, any feeling. So again the question : "what does a fantasy feel like ?" I suppose it can feel like anything, from love to hate, from pain to pleasure,...A fantasy feels like the emotion, or mix of emotions, it is directed to.
    I've read that Edgar Allan Poe used to write at night and all the time with his back towards an open streetwindow imagining that any moment he could get stabbed in the back. Fantasy may be as much propelled by emotions as it can trigger them.
     
  26. To all,
    I have to clarify my position a bit- my last post with the lingerie photograph was not about the fantasy of the women in said photo, although this is a great part of the fantasy sought after by the general public, or at least placed upon it by the powers that be in the media world- it just happens to be one of the shots I made last week. It was about the fantasy I have associated with being a New York photographer with studio here and a career- the fantasy of the globe trotting, jet setting, party-hopping and pill popping man about town who sleeps with models and makes money by pushing a button- the fantasy that movies, books and magazines continually play upon. Of course I'm a married man with kids and the only pill popping I do is my daily vitamin, but.. I do have a career here in New York, I have flown on private jets to international tropical locales for work, rub elbows with billionaires and I do have a studio here- and sometimes I just don't believe it all! It's like a fantasy world! This isn't ego, mind you. This is about the fantasy that I and many have associated with great archetypal photographic characters. Of course the fantasy about the glitz and glamour of the industry is mostly over blown, but it does have its moments. The reality is that hard work can render one more opportunities to live your life as you choose- maybe this is the fantasy I truly feel. The fantasy that one can live out their dreams, actually.
     
  27. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Martin, what was interesting to me was the model's almost butch face, looking rather detached, above the fantasy body, surrounded by the fantasy hair. Woman posing as fantasy.
    Fred, yeah, I think it's the too forced trying not too look too forced that bothers me.
    Phylo -- you know about the Uncanny Valley effect in designing robots? If it's too close to human, we're creeped out.
     
  28. A friend I was in school with used to get creeped-out by something at roadside, a small, thin evergreen tree that resembled a shrouded figure standing. When I pulled up some image examples in classical art illustrating the shape as an archetype that seems to evoke something from the human subconcious, she 'got it' and got over being upset by the shape.
    I think there are a lot of things out there than can touch something deep within us, that set off either alarm bells (Roller Wilson, or Joel Peter Witkin or his brother Jerome) or happy things (Disneyland, the South Pacific, etc.). The image of chairs in the pool is mostly cast in that peculiar color of aqua/turquoise that seems to set people off to a happy place - I'd blame it on good times at the HoJo swimming pool, except it predates that (Paul Gauguin middle work).
    To the 'almost', I'm reminded of an Irish proverb that tackles the issue of 'almost' in a humorous way...
    Almost fell in the ditch, and almost didn't.​
     
  29. Does fantasy in photography force the photographer and/or viewer to a tipping point? If one suspends disbelief, it goes to a certain clear-cut level. But if it doesn't, it gets more interesting.
    There's a boundary layer where one doesn't fully embrace what's suggested in the picture, nor is it rejected, or put out of one's mind or emotions. We play along, as Fred alluded to when mentioning watching a play. A great example of this would be Julia Margaret Cameron's fantasy portraits, wherein with minimal props, she would suggest her sitters as characters from myth, literature (including the Bible) and more.
    http://www.geh.org/ne/mismi3/cameron_sld00001.html
    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/C/cameron/cameron.html
    As viewers, we know what JMCameron is doing, but we play along. We suspend resistance, not disbelief.
    Some fantasies are much more ornately staged. Take Sandy Skoglund's tableaus, for example.
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=Sandy+Skoglund+photographs&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=-lMBS6eFEovCngeS89QQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBIQsAQwAA
    These are not suggestive. Here we are ejected from the quotidian into fantasy forcefully (and without photoshop), though the means are "real".
    Chris Waller's picture is along these lines, though it involves more context as support than Cameron's greenhouse portraits, but nothing like Skoglund's. Arthur's chairs are a different order of fantasy. They're unfamiliar, yet "real", and photographed in a straightforward way. William P's overlay is, like Fred's carefully constructed, fusing mundane elements to create a surreal image. This type of image encapsulates questions for both maker and viewer. Martin's intent gets a little lost with this one picture (I doubt I would have gleaned it without his accompanying text).
    With a nod to the Greek mythology chatter, I'll throw in Baron Von Gloeden's fantasy portraits, which explore, like Martin's picture, multiple fantasies.
    http://www.artnet.com/Galleries/Artists_detail.asp?G=&gid=1050&which=&aid=669860&ViewArtistBy=online&rta=http://www.artnet.com
    [Personal note: Go cross-country running with the Meanads more often]
    Then there's the fantasist self-portraitists. Forget Cindy Sherman. Take genius and heroine Claude Cahun:
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=Claude+Cahun+%2Bphotographs&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=CFoBS-WQHcO9ngfC_Z0R&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBQQsAQwAA
    Last, but not least, the indomitable Contessa Di Castiglione:
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=Contessa+Di+Castiglione&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=S1oBS47iGIGknQfm7siRCw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBQQsAQwAA
     
  30. Rebecca- I agree with all that you said (I wouldn't go as far as "butch" maybe...) but you are going to the alternate fantasy- the girl- not me as photographer. I should never have used this picture (an early edit of a proud moment)- it goes too much towards an explicit fantasy that I wasn't necessarily addressing- however that opens the door to the subconscious and our decisions. Let me post a more appropriate photo- a lighting test for the aforementioned shoot- a beautiful photograph in its own right, in my opinion. The idea behind my OP was that I feel I am in a fantasy world- a world of opportunity, with the ability to do what ever the hell I want. If its a girl I want pictures of- I do it- if its a left over chair, so be it. That is the fantasy- I imagine it, I create it, its done- it has its own magic. Really though, how many photographers out there are fantasizing about being the one behind the camera on a lingerie shoot? - and I'm here doing it. Looking back at the photographs, I can easily say it feels unreal, or surreal. I get the same feeling sometimes when I look at my family- am I really this guy? - a husband with 3 kids. So maybe fantasy isn't just about dreams, or the fantastic, but looking from outside of one's self and seeing the story.
    Now that I've rambled I have to get to actual, non-fantasy work:)
    00V1TT-191277584.jpg
     
  31. jtk

    jtk

    While excursions into victoriana, porn, faux history/myth, surrealism/photoshop/grotesque/horror, and professional aspirations do relate superficially (IMO) to Fred's OT, the more interesting question has for me to do with the thoughts/emotions of photographer, and possible subject, while photographing...which seem to me, with theatre, the only direct fantasy that we've touched upon.
    I think photos that refer to fantasy are precisely what they appear to be: markers, stimuli...but as phenomena they're devoid of fantasy.
     
  32. Thanks John. It's a significant distinction.
    I'll piggy-back on John's comment. I said in one of my posts above:
    "I am thinking also that there are two perspectives from which to look at fantasy. Seeing fantasy in a photo may, in some cases, be different from fantasies occurring in the making of a photo or being utilized to do so."
    There are certainly the Wizard of Oz or Cinderella kinds of fantasies that may be represented in photos. But I agree with John that we may do a disservice to the notion of fantasy if we overemphasize the photographic depiction or "representation" of fantasy. Julie also hit on that distinction early on. I also meant it as a way of approaching the act and process of photographing. That's why I used the example of the photograph of my dad, which doesn't represent a fantasy nor does it really bring "fantasy" to mind or heart. Rather, that photo needed my fantasy in order to get made.
    Martin, I understand you to be saying that being a professional photographer and getting to do the things you do (the sort of "trappings" of being a photographer . . . plane rides, tropical locales, billionaires) is a fantasy-come-true. That, to me, is more a question of lifestyle and career benefits than photographic process, at least as far as you stated it. I have a feeling, having read more from you over the years and looking through your work, that there's more photographic juice to it. For example, does the fantasy fulfillment you express about the "job" of photographer actually inform how you work? If that happens, how so?
    Luis, do you see or surmise fantasy in the actual making of many of the examples you linked to? They seem clear depictions of what we consider fantastical. In many instances, I'm not made to feel that there was actual fantasy involved in the creation of a lot of those photos. The fantasy appears, to me, to be the goal of the content and not necessarily a factor in the process.
    Tom, you talk about certain images creeping you out and I understand and there probably are even physiological or certain cultural/psychological "reasons" for us being creeped out by certain types of things. Have you ever used, for example, the feeling of being creeped out, in the moments when you were in fact creeped out, to create a photograph (that wouldn't necessarily creep someone else out)? Have you let yourself go into the fantasies that fear can provide in order to photograph from that space without necessarily trying to portray or depict either the fear or the fantasies resulting from it?
    Others' thoughts on this aspect?
    It may simply be a distinction between fantasy specifically relating to subject or content and fantasy relating to photographic process and emotion. Surely there is overlap, but I think it's a key distinction.
     
  33. jtk

    jtk

    ...on the other hand, Joel Peter Witkin's work does inspire upset and curiosity for many. Perhaps the curiosity is fantasy? Beautiful prints..that was my equally strong response to a recent exhibition.
    ...and music, and sports, and presumably dance. I don't have the sense that viewing photographs is typically nearly as as particpatory as listening to music...and I think "participatory" is a significant part of fantasy...much different from objective responses such as "it's an allegory" or "it's a myth."
    I wonder if, when we identify a photograph's content as "fantasy" we are merely catagorizing , attaching that label rather than experiencing fantasy?
     
  34. Fantasy may be operating on three levels, the first two being (as John aptly suggests) that of the photographer or artist (and the process), and that of the result, of the image itself (in terms of what the photographer intended, or not). The third is the fantasy in the mind of the viewer. Barthe considers the viewer as an essential part of the communication, and he is probably not alone. That seems self-evident, if we consider a photo as being explicitly one thing or another, and capable of illiciting a viewer response. But is the image so explicit and invariable. Many responses are possible, including the most fantastic, as generated in the mind of the viewer. I may be tripping over my words here, or stating something already said, but I do think that fantasy in the mind of the viewer is important and can be triggered by certain images with different people, although not predictably.
    I think Fred's comment about some of the interesting 19th century photos brought to our attention by Luis is comparable to my own take on that. The authors seem to be giving vent to their fantasies, but the result is often only an explicit portrait that may not trigger 21st century appreciations of fantasy, and perhaps only mild amusement. Equally, it may be questioned whether fantasies in the mind of the artist really come out in the image, or are simply only a part of the approach (modus operendi?) which is invisible to the viewer. It would be nice to have an example contradicting this. Van Gogh's image of internees walking around in a circle?
     
  35. I've talked about music and dance as existing more in time than still photographs, and there's certainly something to that which I think you are recognizing, John. And I'm not doubting that you get a more immediate or intimate sense of participation from other mediums. But much of how I consider a still also has to do with time, particularly the unfolding nature of many better photographs. If I feel I've grasped everything there is to grasp in the first instant I encounter a photograph, that can sometimes be powerful but it often doesn't last. If, on the other hand, a photo makes me keep wanting to look, then time becomes essential to the viewing process, and not just the time it takes to view but the overall sense of time in which the relationship grows. This unfolding of a photograph is participatory.
    Some photos stimulate me to participate more deeply with myself or even with something like political or social issues. A photo that makes me feel something provides me with a sense that I am participating with it and with the photographer in a sort of dance, a coming together, a moving apart, even a rhythmic take. When my eye is led through a photo by light, composition, focus, or my eye is made to dart to and fro within a photo, there is a physical rhythm established that is not so different from musical rhythms. I've used the word "counterpoint" often lately in describing photographs and photograph making. Independent yet interrelated voices supporting and contrasting with each other. Counterpoint has always drawn me in. I'm a full partner.
    Perhaps also, but a little more extrinsically to the photos themselves, I find myself participating with stills in other ways.
    There is a kind of theater that happens with prints I have hanging around my house and studio. I routinely stop in front of them and my relationship with them grows and changes over time and when I'm in various moods and situations. I get a lot of varieties of lighting in my house, both natural and artificial. I have lots of glass, a skylight, glass bricks, all of which reflect light onto various of my photos at different times of the day. It's almost like music to watch reflections and crystal-like light refractions slowly take shape and "dance" across an image in the course of an hour or two. I think an essential part of prints is the environment in which I view them and the surroundings allow me to see more in the prints I view. These things may seem extraneous because they are extrinsic, but I don't find that to be the case. I can't view prints without context and environment just like I can't listen to a piece of music in one instant. Prints have to be seen in a particular light and most often are seen with different lights. The shadows of my hand as they fall across a book of prints I'm looking at allows me a way of participating with those prints. Even the turning of the pages is my participation, and not just from print to print, but the revelation of each print as the page is turned.
    When people visit, we often stand in front of some of the photos (my own and others) talking about them. Very participatory. They seem always to transcend their stillness.
    Screen images are quite fluid, actually. They fade on and off the screen, they pop up at me, they get bigger and smaller. I discuss and share them readily.
    Photos live, for me.
    P.S. Arthur, just noticed you posted while I was writing.
     
  36. Actually, Arthur, I didn't take those as examples of authors giving vent to their fantasies. I took them as authors creating a representation of "fantasy," not a personalization of it.
    "Equally, it may be questioned whether fantasies in the mind of the artist really come out in the image . . ."
    As I said, I think they don't necessarily come out at all as fantasy in the images themselves. But the fantasies enable the photographer or artist to get where he's going. And, while they may not stimulate the move to fantasy on the part of the viewer, the fact that the photographer has been in touch at this level may at least help the photo reach out to the imaginations of the viewers, which to me is significant. I don't think all imagination is fantasy, but I like to think that many better photos stimulate viewers' imaginations.
     
  37. By the way, Arthur, I agree with you about the viewer's importance and about the viewer often responding with his or her own fantasies. I like how you've addressed the unpredictability of a viewer's fantasy and how the photo can act as the trigger.
    It reminds me that some fantasies are not literal or verbal. One reason I've always disliked Disney's Fantasia is that it is so unmusical in its fantastical representations, so literal. Music doesn't ever put those kinds of images into my head. Perhaps more rapidly appearing and disappearing dream images, but certainly not those kind of storylike narratives. (Well, maybe some of the more programmatic type music does, but. . . . ) The viewer of photographs may as likely have impressionistic and expressionistic fantasies as storybook ones.
     
  38. Fred- "Photos live, for me."
    Yes. I find my fine art to have this quality, but that's built in to the work's style. Viewing prints is meant to promote thought- it is inevitable- otherwise thinking alone suffices. What is image about? Seeing it, right?
     
  39. I appreciate your discussion, Fred, on this most interesting topic. The Fantasia reference is right on. Somewhat like when we listen(-ed I'm afraid, in most cases) to radio serials, theatre or music, the imagination of the listener creates his own images and much more successfully and profoundly than simplistic visuals. There are of course excellent pairings of sound and visual compositions, but fairly rare.
    "....and while they may not stimulate the move to fantasy on the part of the viewer, the fact that the photographer has been in touch at this level may at least help the photo reach out to the imaginations of the viewers" - Fred
    Yes, and probably that is more important in the photographic creation of significant images than commonly thought.
     
  40. Moderator's note: This is not a show & tell thread. If you have a photo that illustrates a point you're making in the discussion, you can post it. It's not a thread for posting, "Here's a fantasy photo I took."
     
  41. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Can we do a W/NW parallel to this?
     
  42. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Philosophy of Photography ultimately leads to photographs, otherwise the discussions are about theoretical photographs, which is fine but kinda frustrating for me if the philosophy doesn't actually lead to taking pictures that reflect what we've been discussing, or developing a theory of work that leads to doing photography.
    This thread stimulates me to do a set of photographs with a wooden mannikin. The thread I started had me thinking about meta-sociological concerns, which are interesting to a certain extent, but hard to translate into photographs in the way that this one stimulates play with photographs.
     
  43. I believe that the following image illustrates one of the points that Fred and John were making and which I quite concur with - the mind of the photographer entertaining a fantasy about human existence and a street portrait of a woman relaxing in a southern USA cemetary. It's a fairly ordinary copy of a print series from in which another better print of this scene, also named "Life Cycle", had the honor of sitting aside other photographers and their work in a Canadian 1999 publication by Dr. Michel Lessard, art historian, celebrating 150 years of photography (....Accidents occur!).
    00V1mq-191469584.JPG
     
  44. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, try the Mannikin dancing with Mint Tea in my Mannikin gallery. I had a friend who put a toy cow in some of her travel photos, somewhat for scale, and somewhat for a sense of the ridiculous. One edge of fantasy might be whimsy; another edge might be horror. The shadow of the street light bisects the woman's neck in the photo above, and it's her head shadowed against the gravestone, not really horror, just a memento mori.
     
  45. jtk

    jtk

    Most efforts at "fantasy" seem overtly to be efforts: neither fantasy nor reflective of fantasy...like the "fantasy" so commonly connected with science fiction, merely cute.
    Fantasy seems inherently active, working imagination, perhaps a game underway...perhaps it's mutual, per Fred and his friends viewing photos ...not something visually assembled (not a painting, not a photograph in itself). Not similar to spacing out, not similar to visually wandering an image per art-appreciation/history instruction ("Looking down, I first notice the duck, the hunter, then the retriever..."
    Viewing a photograph one might fantasize...just as one might see the Virgin in a tortilla.
    It seems reasonable to call someone's photograph "fantastic," either as fatuous praise or to say that it stimulates fantasies...but I don't think photo holds fantasies any more than the tortilla does.
    A strong photograph is a stimulant, not an experience.
     
  46. "Most efforts at "fantasy" seem overtly to be efforts: neither fantasy nor reflective of fantasy.
    Fantasy seems inherently active, working imagination ..." --John
    I agree (especially when the effort is to make a photo conveying fantasy, though I'm sure that can be done well by some).
    Rebecca, I wrote some of my specific thoughts about the photo you referenced on your gallery page.
     
  47. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, my extended response to your comment is on the gallery page, but some of that was posed and some of it wasn't, and I think you liked the accidentals better than the deliberate parts of the photograph. Only the mannikin was posed deliberately.
    I think that the possible problem is that a fantasy that's based on other fantasies too obviously shows its lack of imagination. If we're part of the same community, we probably saw the originals. A more straightforward studio set up can be less obviously unoriginal because it's about the image more than the set of the image. Maybe fantasy is inherently more complex, so making it work takes a defter touch. We're making an allusion to the unreal which we generally map in prior images and language, as well as an image which has a certain reality about it regardless of the fantasy. In some of Julia Cameron's work, the children, bored now, undercut the fantasy.
    Certain images come preloaded with assumptions and allusions -- deer and flowers, for instance. They make nice targets to check camera handling skills, just like game cocks that are muffing (fighting naturally without the steel that makes the fights lethal), but they're loaded with symbolic meaning. I think some people are put off by nature pictures because of the contemporary semiotic load nature carries for us. My thinking now about deer, is "okay, I've got deer in focus. Now can I get deer while they're doing something interesting." Our culture has all sorts of built in associations with nature -- very hard to escape them. Likewise, for some people, associations with naked or near naked young women. I don't think I've seen the equivalent for women of your shots of older men, outside senior women porn shots (there's a group for that), which have a completely different focus and feel, just as silver daddies shots have (research for fiction).
    A plain photograph of a recognizable person can be seen naively: it does or doesn't look like the person, and the associations with the person make the photograph interesting or not for a lot of viewers of photographs. I don't think we can look at fantasy that naively; we have to bring more to the table as viewers unless the photo simply references other fantasy, which will make it seem too obvious to viewers who have seen the originals.
    Fantasy is loaded with symbols and allusions. The risk of being stale is perhaps higher because without some symbolic meaning and allusion, perhaps fantasies are impossible with those elements. So perhaps a fantasy is always playing at the edge of the sentimental or overdone.
     
  48. Again, I'm not concentrating on fantasies in photographs as much as I am aware that my own fantasizing informs my photographs, and it doesn't necessarily imbue them with fantasy.
     
  49. The origin of the word fantasy points towards almost photographic notions :
    *early 14c., "illusory appearance," from O.Fr. fantasie, from L. phantasia, from Gk. phantasia "appearance, image, perception, imagination," from phantazesthai "picture to oneself," from phantos "visible," from phainesthai "appear," in late Gk. "to imagine, have visions," related to phaos, phos "light," phainein "to show, to bring to light" (see phantasm). Sense of "whimsical notion, illusion" is pre-1400, followed by that of "imagination," which is first attested 1530s. Sense of "day-dream based on desires" is from 1926, as is fantasize.
    *early 13c., fantesme, from O.Fr. fantasme, from L. phantasma "an apparition, specter," from Gk. phantasma "image, phantom," from phantazein "to make visible, display," from stem of phainein "to show," from PIE base *bha- "to shine" (cf. Skt. bhati"shines, glitters," O.Ir. ban "white, light, ray of light"). Spelling conformed to Latin from 16c.
    Fantasy may be the play and tension between two opposites, fantasy being an " ersatz " of reality but also, fantasy allowing for a deeper meaning and understanding of reality because it can embrace the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand ( to paraphrase Einstein on "imagination" ). Like a photograph / photography almost.
     
  50. Thanks, Phylo.
    "To bring to light." That's a good one!
    What do my fantasies reveal? What about fantasies as a private reality? They are often that for me.
    A lot of these definitions, as John's pointed out, are active . . . to do something.
    I like a good escape. Sometimes fantasy is just that. I have a little postcard from my days back in college in NY. It sits on my Philosophy book shelf: I have abandoned my search for truth, and am now looking for a good fantasy.
    Photography is partly an escape (more benignly, an alternative) from the more logical and ordered side of myself . . . its liberating aspect . . . whimsy . . . capriciousness.
    I like the sense in which fantasy is mercurial.
     
  51. jtk

    jtk

    I think purported fantasy in photos is little more than decoration or allusion (eg aluding to a myth one's read about somewhere). Or it's simply a reminder of a fantasy.
    However...as Fred describes and I'll have to investigate, there seems potential for fantasy in relationship between photographer and subject, especially if the subject's a human being. ( I'm amused about claims of relationship with inanimate objects, though do relate to dogs etc).
    Actors regularly say they become their characters, not like their characters and not venturing out of character. I think this has to do with changed reality...which in turn is fantasy.
    An actress in the wonderful "A Serious Man" said the Coen brothers (directors) way of work gives the character to the player, leaving the player to be the character in full. The player is literally the character, there is no other in the directors' heads or in the script.
    I recently saw a spin on "Alice In Wonderland" in which the Mad Hatter et all fully existed on the stage, despite bizarre costumes and behavior. The fantasy existed in reality in front of 150 patrons.
     
  52. Phylo-
    I like your last paragraph. My example attempts to contrast in one image the mystery of the afterlife or simply of that unknown state of death with that of a very much living person, lost in her thoughts (I would love to know them) on a sunny late afternoon. In the better example of it (if I can find a digital copy of it I will post it), one can easily read the inscription on the gravestone, that of a very young soldier who died in battle in 1814 or 15. The shadow of the head is also more well delineated onto a very light gravestone. Light and dark. Light for the dead, dark for the living! The larger (world) implications of opposite poles in fantasy, as you and Albert say, are most interesting and worth developing.
    We are talking a lot about these notions. It would be great to concretize them and such concepts here with more good examples. Words are fine, but....
     
  53. Self-portraits done without mirrors are fantasies.
    What Fred seems to be wanting to talk about now (the fantasy in the inner workings of the photographer's mind) is always going to be a kind of self-portrait.
     
  54. "Self-portraits done without mirrors are fantasies." --Julie
    A wonderful and memorable line!
    Julie, do you think photographs made from situations where the photographer's fantasies are more at play are, by nature, more likely to reveal the photographer's "self" than photographs whose creation involves other, perhaps as intimate, methods? I'd have to think about it more, but offhand I think many photographs are self-revealing (self portraits) and being made in all kinds of ways. In keeping with the "escapist" possibilities of fantasy, I wonder if some fantasizing on the part of some photographers wouldn't be rather deceptive rather than self-portraitlike.
     
  55. Julie, agreed, but self portraits done with mirrors are also fantasies. Even when someone sits for another, he or she is not interested in showing the true self (probably recognizing that it is difficult to give that right to another), but some fantasy of oneself, or is not in a position of being natural. Personally, I think that good street photgraphers do much better than most portraitists in depicting others. It isn't real*, but it isn't acted.
    * assuming that you believe that few photographs, partly by their very nature (instantaneous, inability to capture THE moment), are not mirroring the subject's reality, but simple a photographer's whim (organized and deterministic, or perhaps fantasy-driven).
    But hey, people, let's have some good photographic examples of fantasy and photography, personal or borrowed. A confluence of philosophy and photography.
     
  56. Julie, do you think photographs made from situations where the photographer's fantasies are more at play are, by nature, more likely to reveal the photographer's "self" than photographs whose creation involves other, perhaps as intimate, methods?​
    What other methods (that dont' involve fantasy)? I'm not sure that one can claim to have an idea of one's self that is not at strongly stained by fantasy.
    If I set out to make a picture that is a fantasy, I don't "think" fantastically. What I am trying to do is to get into some space/time other than my own. When I do this, I am thinking quite non-fantastically; trying laboriously, to get into a space that is not mine -- that is "out there"-- that I have reason to believe is ... available. Obviously, necessarily, I start from myself, but the effort is outward -- stretching, bridging to the alien. It's really not that different from many other kinds of photography except that the objective is more exotic.
    On the other hand, if we're talking about "thinking fantastically" or fantasizing in the process of making pictures, it's pretty much the reverse. Such fantasizing happens in(side) one's own mental landscape, terrain, environment. You're "looking" inward; it's personal, utterly familiar. The struggle is to get it to come clear; to take solid visual form.
     
  57. jtk

    jtk

    We don't agree as a group that photos depict fantasy. See Fred Goldsmith's comments.
    Fantasy is not a graphic phenomenon, it is an active phenomenon.
    Symbols (such as shadows) are not fantasy, they're shorthand.
    Photos of people casting shadows don't depict fantasy they depict people casting shadows...the act of assigning meaning avoids fantasy.

    "Concretizing fantasy" = avoid fantasy
    IMO :)
     
  58. But hey, people, let's have some good photographic examples of fantasy and photography, personal or borrowed. A confluence of philosophy and photography. Arthur
    Yes, but isn't it that there aren't any good / better ( and therefore also not really any lesser ) photographs regarding fantasy when deliberately viewed in a fantasy showing and searching context ? > all of them would be more likely to mirror and project a fantasy rather then evoke it, which would leave us as viewers without a real basis for measuring and recognizing good examples of a triggered fantasy within photographs.
    I like the "Life Cycle" picture, too bad that the one posted here doesn't do the original as you describe it justice. Knowing that the inscription on the tombstone is easily readable, together with the shadow, definitely ads a more intriguing dimension to it. But if this info was there from the very start, to be almost instantaniously recognized with the viewing of the image, this fantasy you describe - this "strange effect" ? ( heh, Dave Berry was playing ) - would be more expandable of course, more beyond the words used to pin-point, describe and corner the fantasy, and this often only after the recognition or sensation of it.
    I think what I'm getting at is that a fantasy ( a strange effect, not a storytelling fantasy ) can only be experienced and felt instantly and without a preconceiving of it, and can not so much be postponed or deliberately searched after, it never remains in position.
     
  59. "Concretizing fantasy" = avoid fantasy​
    But from the moment a fantasy is recognized it is very concrete in its experience. It is made specific. How is this avoiding the fantasy ?
     
  60. "Photos of people casting shadows don't depict fantasy they depict people casting shadows...the act of assigning meaning avoids fantasy."

    "Concretizing fantasy" = avoid fantasy
    John, with all respect, you should re-read what I have said and you may understand that the importance is not the cast shadow as such (of course any photographic representation of an idea is going to require some physical indication of something or the other happening - that is the nature of photography), but rather the juxtaposition of elements that attempt to communicate something. The fantasy was in my mind and not in the photograph, which simply attempts to bring those thoughts to the viewer. If that is "assigning", then so be it. Of course, the viewer can be touched by those thoughts, or not. If what is communicated to you is just a shadow being cast, fair enough. One cannot dictate the response of the viewer, nor want to.
    By "concretizing fantasy", what I was attempting to say was that rather than simply discussing very personal issues of perceptions of fantasy, what I would be very happy to see would be some image examples from those writers, rather than lengthy statements that may, and sometimes do not, relate specifically to photography.
    It seems fairly easy to critique the attempts of others to portray fantasy in photographic examples, while not providing some "concrete" photographic examples of what one is (apparently) discussing. It is a forum on photography.
     
  61. Julie--
    There seems to be a (negative?) judgment implied in "stained by fantasy" but I'm not sure you meant such a judgment. Why would a fantasy stain something? "Out damned spot!" Now, there was one hell of a fantasy. And a disturbing one at that.
    "What other methods (that don't involve fantasy)," you ask, allow for revelation of self.
    Well, the documentary work I'm doing, for which and about which I don't fantasize, I think, is very revealing of me. (It's documentary that doesn't require the adoption of an objective stance.) I see myself in the work and I've been told, unsolicited, by others who've seen some it that they see it, too. These are not intentional "self-portraits" by any means, but they wind up telling about me and I created them, so . . . Many of us likely have that experience with our work.
    ___________________________________________
    "Photos of people casting shadows don't depict fantasy they depict people casting shadows" --John
    I think, for some viewers, such pictures may stimulate fantasies even if they don't depict them.
    A well-done photograph of people casting shadows doesn't necessarily make me want to assign meaning, at least not right away. It may, however, make me feel some way and it may cause my imagination to wander.
    I look at your photograph (terrific photo, by the way) called "Skeptical" . . .
    http://www.photo.net/photo/9811594
    . . . and I immediately feel confrontation but the kind of confrontation that makes me want to penetrate it. At once, I want to be involved even though I'm feeling shut out. Not long after, I am intrigued by the story and may or may not start fantasizing about what could be going on here. Not just using my imagination to guess at possible scenarios. But actually creating some very unrealistic scenarios . . . fantasies. I assume, had you wanted me to know more specifics, you would have included more information in the shot. But you didn't. And you titled it with a somewhat open-ended adjective rather than with something that might inform me of the nature of the event. So, there's room for guessing, imagining what the reality was and , for those who are inclined, fantasizing beyond what the reality might have been.
    Maybe there's a difference between your Virgin Mary example and other fantasies. Many who fantasize know their fantasies are unrealistic. The guy who sees the Virgin Mary usually doesn't. You and I may know he's fantasizing, but not him. I don't usually get fooled by my own fantasies into thinking they have a reality beyond my imagination.
     
  62. Every eye has its own view, but for mine: photographs, like all things wrought, are always defined at least partly by fantasy and that is that is part of their power.
    However ... I was prompted to write at this moment by a line by Robert Smithson, quoted yesterday on Julie Heyward's blog :
    "There is something abominable about cameras, because they possess the power to invent many worlds."​
     
  63. jtk

    jtk

    Fred...thanks...re my: "Skeptical"

    I don't like titles, like that one, because they bias the viewer's response...and maybe that one's not the best anyway...for my own purposes.
    The other titles on my P.N page are miminalistic code. With "Skeptical" I betrayed a principal, used a cheap trick: I labeled emotional content. Guess I couldn't help myself :)
    These men are bidders in an old-time livestock auction. I've digitally recorded the auctioneers but had only started to do the photography when, a month later, the project was terminated. The New Mexico Livestock Commission advised auctions to prohibit photos (nobody saw my work, I worked with full permission, the particular auction yard knew I was sympathetic with its history and practices).
    These good old boys are smalltime cattle/horse/goat/sheep ranchers, the real cowboys that still constitute the traditional American West: Sales of horse meat was about to be banned by Congress (horses seem like pets unless you respect them). Horse meat has always been the only economically workable, humane end of life for tired old horses: dogfood, Mexican and French human food. No horse meat= fewer genuine working horses in the West. Tension was palpable...Thousands of small-time family ranchers like these were about to be forced underground with their horse management, and/or be forced to abandon working horses for fuel guzzling Japanese machinery.
    So...I used the label like a tentative headline... the photo was part of a larger journalistic concept. The photo has little value for me outside that context. In fact, it's one of the few "street"- like photos I've made in recent years. The photographer (me) is engaged with his subjects: these aren't backs of heads and there's anger, not trite irony, and this is square-cropped the way a good editor might have (Hexar AF, Fuji Neopan 400@1200, Rodinal 1+200 :)
     
  64. jtk

    jtk

    ...and... my process was hard engagement, not lite fantasy. The photo touches an edge of a tragedy. By explaining it, as I just did, I hope to have eliminated as much fantasy as possible. I think hard engagement is what Robert Capa, for example, intended...and what characterises the best portraiture as well as most of the other photography I admire.
     
  65. John--
    Honestly, your explanation is as manipulative as those who share their deepest emotional attachments to their photos. In your self-conscious attempt to eliminate fantasy, your photo and you as photographer are undermined in the same way any "cheap trick" title would accomplish. (I agree with you about titles, by the way, including this one.)
    To "tell" your viewer how to experience your photo seems to me arrogant and mostly extraneous to the actual viewing of it. Providing information is one thing and is often essential and adds significant depth to a photo -- especially in a journalistic or documentary endeavor (and even in a learning environment like PN) -- but doing it either to ensure or eliminate fantasy seems more about the photographer's needs than the photographer's work.
    I looked at your photo and felt something. It's too bad if that disappoints you and you'd rather I just "stick to the facts, ma'am."
     
  66. Quotes from Avedon at Work: In the American West by Laura Wilson (2003):
    "I'm looking for a new definition of a photographic portrait. I'm looking for people who are surprising -- heartbreaking -- or beautiful in a terrifying way. Beauty that might scare you to death until you acknowledge it as part of yourself."
    ... The challenge for Avedon was to connect to people with whom he was unfamiliar ... "In the West," Avedon said, "I worked with very, very strong feelings. I photographed what I feared: aging, death, and the despair of living."​
    Fred, in my previous post I used the word "stained" because I wanted its sense of being not separable; being an integral part of the fabric.
     
  67. Hi Julie- Avedon did some fine portrait work on the basis of aging, death and the despair of living, most notably in the portrait of his very sick father (I believe it was a key image in Janet Malcolms book 'Nikon and me").
    He was much connected to reality and to portraying that, but fantasy?
    I think not (even in his series of hooded indigenous figures, but you can prove me wrong)!
     
  68. On another topic, I think I may start a post on the philosophy of the presence of enigma in photography. It is a first cousin of fantasy.
     
  69. jtk

    jtk

    "I looked at your photo and felt something. It's too bad if that disappoints you and you'd rather I just "stick to the facts, ma'am." - Fred
    Fred, I evidently wasn't clear enough: My operating intention is to make photographs that carry whatever it is they carry to whoever views them, hopefully with something related to my own appreciation of the image...and ideally with something that feeds back to me to advance my own understanding.
    That's the two-way thrill. To increase the thrill, I avoid labels: labels incline their viewers to a narrow response. Without labels the viewer takes more responsibility for his perceptions. In a way, yes, I'm trying to avoid manipulation. On the other hand, dealing with a factually-complex image that for me exists in a historic context, as "Skeptical," some sort of guidance can enrich. Instead of "Skeptical" I might better have used "Last Dance - Livestock Auction 2008" and provided some text. I'll do better next time. Didn't my extra commentary add something of interest?
    That I merely labeled my photo, rather than giving it context, diminished it IMO. The journalistic context provides, to my way of thinking, another perspective WITHIN WHICH the viewer (you) can re-evaluate. In other words the photo depicts something specific in a loaded context, and within that context something else is happening.
    Happily you saw that something else even without the context and despite my label. I'm sure that someone else saw rednecks, was horrified to think about horsemeat, and didn't like learning what happens to old horses. I know it's not PC here, but my photographic response ideal isn't limited to simple emotionals, fantasies etc.
    A secondary reason for providing journalistic background to "Skeptical" was in fact to demonstrate that your stated response came through independently from the title, muscled it aside in fact. You noticed something closer to my intent. That's because you're a skilled viewer.
    If you wish to consider this "manipulative," that's your call. I think of it as my own best effort, which is sometimes journalism related.
    If we forget that Robert Frank was doing a journalistic documentary, and that Magnum is devoted to journalism, and are unaware of that in Avedon's "West" or we fail to understand something at the heart of a lot of important photography. Those of us who think Annie Liebovitz's work had significance are probably aware of the journalistic and publicity back-stories behind the subjects. They aren't that significant on their own, if we don't know they're John and Yoko, are they?
    If I'd shown a photo full of crosses, and being a New Mexican I have many, someone would have found it necessary to comment on symbolism (as with the "shade" symbolism in another graveyard we've discussed). I think symbols, like titles, generally detract from appreciation of images. What about you?
     
  70. "If I'd shown a photo full of crosses, and being a New Mexican I have many, someone would have found it necessary to comment on symbolism (as with the "shade" symbolism in another graveyard we've discussed). I think symbols, like titles, generally detract from appreciation of images. What about you?"
    John-
    Why not show your crosses? If we decide to comment them less superficially than a number of you did in regard to my graveyard photo example, maybe we might see something a bit more than mere symbolism.
    The cover painting (A. Colville) of a recent book on the pychology/philosophy of Acadians, as observed by one of their intellectuals, shows a young woman poised on her horse, stopping and looking back at a fairly close roadside iron cross. More profound than mere symbolism - the image describes a whole people who have withstood the trials of co-habitation with colonial Anglo-Saxons, displacement, and renewal.
    One of the diseases of our modern times is that we want to quickly dismiss things as only symbolism.
    It is a convenient and well wrapped little package of thought that requires not too much effort. Of course, in a world of sound bites of news, and slick advertising of shallow content, I can understand where many might be coming from.
    The discussion on fantasy promised well, but is ending up in personal conversations and superficial evaluations, as well as hijacked topics.
    I will therefore take a pass on this thread and the (otherwise promising) subject of fantasy in photography.
     
  71. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, to the extent that it's relevant, I had the impression that this was Fred's OT. I don't think he addressed symbols or that symbols relate in the least to fantasy in his sense, which I think involves activity such as theatre rather than the graphic devices you've written about.
    I think symbols and graphic devices are not related to fantasy. I think they're primative signs that tell the viewer what he's supposed to think about an image. Something like my label.
    By contrast, back story and journalism bring a context to image. Learning that the skinny guy with all those teeth is Ralph Jagger, rather than his grandfather, might alter the perceived value of an image.
    Although, in a tiny online image, someone else may visually identify significant information in gravestones and attach it to their allegedly emotional response to shadows and a graveyard, thereby arriving at a bigger experience, I am afraid I did not.
    On the other hand, despite that un-noticed symbolic hype (my response), I can say that I did experience a sense of someone's loneliness (or perhaps anticipation) in your photo.
     
  72. Fantasy exploits reality, it thrives on it, there's not much fantasy without it. Photojournalism (the realistic photograph ) is an ideology in its choice of what to show as a representation of reality. Inevitably, there's also a choice being made in what not to show. As such, I don't think it is any less fantastic then fantasy. John's mentioning of the theatrical - in fantasy <> reality - definitely reminds me also of the Paul McCarthy exbition I visited in S.M.A.K., Ghent when it stayed there :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXuFW4vm3EM&feature=related
     
  73. Julie--
    Thanks for clarifying for me. I understand why you used "stain" now. Though Avedon, on many levels, is grounded and "realistic," the idea of photographing fear, aging, death, and despair would seem to admit of some fantasizing.
    John--
    "I think symbols, like titles, generally detract from appreciation of images. What about you?" --John
    I don't think symbols detract. Like clichés and idealism (universals) that we've talked about before, it depends on the usage. I'm not clear why you refer to them as "graphic" symbols instead of visual symbols. "Graphic," for me, objectifies or artificializes visual symbols unnecessarily.
    Having recently seen Frank's Americans at SFMOMA, I'm aware that his photographs are laden with symbols and icons. His Movie Premier 1955 is a photo of a blurred starlet. It's not about this starlet. It's about the starlet, symbolizing Hollywood, glamour, class, hero worship, etc. He uses the American flag symbolically. His diners are a symbol of something solidly American. The outstretched road he uses as a symbol. They just don't happen to be cheap symbols or ones used to make up for something otherwise lacking. Yes, symbols can be used as an excuse for lack of depth. They don't have to be used that way.
    Juliet's death would not be the same had she not used Romeo's penis (I mean dagger) to do it, especially after Romeo has already drunk from her vagina (I mean cup full of poison).
    Symbols communicate and they enhance. For me, they often provide a bridge between the individual and the universal, the ground and the transcendent.
    I wonder if fantasy isn't just part of that transcendence, though based very much on the ground.
    .
    The story of your photograph doesn't eliminate my fantasies. A good journalist/documentarian can provide a grounded view of reality and also allow for or encourage flights of fancy in the viewer's imagination. Yes, the story you provided interested me and added to my experience. That's because I cared about the photo already. The more emotional part of your photograph, for me, is that push-pull I feel when I look at it, confronted by the same eyes that fascinate me, amazed by both the strength and simultaneous passivity of the body language. The photo goes beyond the story you tell, which is why (I suppose) you took it and presented it. The story supports it. The non-verbal parts of the story . . . the visual clues, the photographic technique, the light, the focus, the perspective . . . have a different reality and different effect than the narrative you tell alongside it.
     
  74. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    What we bring to the photograph is as important as what's in the photograph, perhaps? Not quite sure that fantasy (which has a specific literary meaning for me) is quite the right word. We have a theory of mind when looking at photographs of other people, which can be mixed with our own projections rather than more or less accurate guesses about the interior state of other people. We have shared cultural symbols and signifiers (say, darkness, which seems to be pan human) to which we have individual reactions.
    Fred, you said you don't normally like nature photographs -- I'm curious about why not, was I right about the overburden of sentimentality? The fantasies people have about getting back to nature, about backpacking, ignore the reality that we carry the Industrial Revolution on our backs if we go into the woods with modern camping equipment, that we're no more getting back to our Paleolithic roots than the person who walks in an urban environment is. We don't have to make any of our gear and a match and modern miniature stove are different from starting a fire with flint and dried fungus. We're in Nature, but not living off of it.
    If the cultural symbolism is too far off or a defense against a more accurate appraisal of the situation that an individual viewer doesn't share, perhaps then the imagination's projections into the photograph are too obvious. Mannikin posed cf. real person posed. We'd have a denser texture with a real person, push/pull of the interaction or lack of interaction between the subject and the photographer. We also have the ambiguity of knowing there's a complex mind behind the subject and yet never being sure if our theory of that other mind was accurate or complete.
     
  75. I'm not so sure that photographing fear, aging, death, despair, etc. are indicative of some fantasizing. They could be. Most of what Fred refers to as fantasy I think of as creative imagination. A lot of it has to do with the eternal human problem of extinguishing responses, how we grow used (and often numb to) so many things in our lives, including some of the things (and people) we love most. Where is that refresh button? I see a lot of this fantasy as dealing with this desensitization problem, not at odds with either reality or truth, but at odds with our own limits. We often fall back on the all-too-easy defaults, the cliche's that make the difficult easier, numb the pain, and provide the illusions that function as moats, walls and parapets against the world. These are generic, insulated reactions.
    Journalism is not interchangeable with documentary work. What Robert Frank did was in the documentary style , as Walker Evans remarked about his own work.
    I am with Fred on symbols when used with intelligence, heart, art, and grace. Forced, saccharine, clumsy, drippy sentimental symbology (and/or the interpretation thereof) does detract from a photograph, but so do most forced, sappy, elements or approaches. "It depends on the usage" indeed. Robert Frank's Americans is laden with symbols. Frank's fluency in their language is one of the things that makes his pictures great. In those pictures there is a seamlessness between their parts that creates a strong gestalt within individual images and in relation to the book that is rare.
    When we view a photograph, 80% of that cortex input is still coming in from memory, so what we bring matters. Everyone reads photographs differently. For some, trying to figure out what the photographer was thinking is important, for others less so, for some, the same thing, for others separate things.
    If everyone that went to Yellowstone camped in the "Paleolithic style", the entire place (and the Tetons) would be denuded of every edible living thing and every tree in a matter of a few years. Thank God people understand the notion of impact on the wilderness they visit.
     
  76. Luis--
    I think you're right that I'm not sure where creative imagination ends and fantasy begins, though I think they may be on a continuum and "improbable" or downright "impossible" has to do with fantasy as does, perhaps, "wish". My guess is that fantasy is a subset of creative imagination. When I imagine different ways of decorating my house or even different ways of approaching a photograph, I'm not necessarily fantasizing. When I imagine myself in bed with Brad Pitt . . . well . . . (That's why I think John and I keep coming back to the fantasy being in the process rather than necessarily about the photograph per se, though I more than John relate fantasies to photographs themselves as well.)
    It's one of those things I'm usually pretty sure of when I'm doing it, though that doesn't seem to stop me or even want to stop me. Like I said, I like a good escape. What I like is feeling that my own fantasies can lead to photographs people find some truth in and some genuineness about. So, yes, I agree, fantasy is not at odds with truth. Maybe, as you suggest, we're more used to running from our fantasies . . . or "growing numb" as you put it.
    Rebecca--
    Too often, I find nature photographs just postcard-like, more captures than conveyances or expressions, and not revealing anything new or anything that speaks to me personally. Often, they speak to me of distance rather than intimacy. There are, of course, exceptions.
    I continually remind myself that we are nature, and I don't mean that metaphorically. It's only our insistence on being anthropocentric and hierarchical that suggests to many that we actually have a choice about it. Whether we rub two sticks together or use a match, it's helpful to recognize that every individual act affects the whole, ultimately. But I see both acts as quite natural. As a matter of fact, I find the urban environment as natural as the woods, though they're very different. People building cities, to me, is no less natural than birds building nests. We're using raw materials to create the kinds of homes that suit us. I don't want to deny the technological side of the human species and the many abilities we have to "create" certain kinds of environments for ourselves. At the same time, I'm mindful of the price we eventually will pay (are already paying) if we continue to ignore the ecological consequences of our actions. Just like we have the ability to build more sophisticated houses than birds, we have the ability to assess what we're doing and to apply reason to ways of adapting not only to our own needs but to the needs of the planet as well.
     
  77. jtk

    jtk

    "Journalism is not interchangeable with documentary work. " Luis G.
    Luis, I appreciate the conviction of your opinion, but it's not a universal truth.
    A distinction between journalism and documentary work might be interesting to nitpick on another thread, but few here seem interested in journalism, so that domain might be reduced the usual stars, neglecting thousands of equally fine photojournalists in newspapers, magazines, and webzines.
    Photographers interested in photojournalism or documentary work seem typically aware of several of these:
    www.poynter.org
    www.soundslides.com (or similar)
    www.lightstalkers.com (a partially professional social network)
    www.sportshooters.com
    Plenty of journalists (actual paid reporters, photo or otherwise) see their work as "documentary" and plenty of photo "documentary work" is accompanied by written or audio reportage, even if its after the fact (like Avedon's).
    Many art-school-degreed wedding photographers describe their work as "photojournalism" or "documentary." They're real photographers, they've gone beyond academics.
    Quoting photographers' purported intents and "meanings" can be helpful...or it can be a smokescreen..their words are reflections, tentative thoughts, abstractions, entertanments... not the photos.
    Academics are preoccupied by symbols in Frank's work (flags etc). By contrast, Frank was a photographer...and because many of us on this Forum are as well, we see more directly than do the analytics, what he photographed. We see directly and approximately what he, a sophisticated European Jewish exile, experienced. Yes, symbols are everywhere in his work, but they don't characterise it...except to people who are oriented that way.
    Luis, your posts usually center things you've read...quotations or, as in this case, academic art analytic technique. My orientation springs from the photo responsiveness taught by photographers such as Minor White. As a result, I try to state what I see. There's a difference between responding to an image and interpreting it. See Fred Goldsmith or Minor White on this topic.
    Otherwise, I generally agree with your psychological analysis of these matters.
     
  78. Without intent, there is little art. Without art, we are only left with realism, or our interpretation of it. Realism is ultimately uninteresting (except perhaps for scientists). Without fantasy, art loses. Whether a photographer speaks or not of his fantasy, or of that he senses is communicated in his art, is of little importance. The public will either understand it, or not. His communication is already established when the print is drying.
    I tend to agree that photographers and artists are best not to speak of their approach, or of their work. It is often unexpressible, even to themselves and it just sets up a moving target the attainment of which by exterior comments that can oftennegatively impact their purpose. Critics may speak of their work, but their opinions are often rather biased and affected by their own paradigms or by their perceptions of the artists that have gone before them, and often the former comments of other critics or academics (I have had several talented artists at my gallery who received critiques by the press that may have been laudatory in some cases, but not very accurate or perceptive in their own mind. It provided light amusement at our encounters).
     
  79. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, yes, we are nature. Too many backpackers are as problematic as too many humans in any fragile terrain. I've got the full kit of nylon, Delrin, and Dural, but I know that we've logged off most of the mountains I'm looking at and people used to have homes where we've now got the Shenandoah National Park and the deer have become near domestic what with handouts, illegal as those are. (And I'm very fond of cities, having spent much of my adult life voluntarily in them). The backcountry isn't what it was when people couldn't drive cars to the approaches. This is neither good nor bad except in certain environments. The East Coast of the US seems to be more robust at absorbing humans than some other environments, thus the deer, foxes, and coyotes in the backyards here (my landlord asked where the deer lived, meaning that he couldn't imagine the doe having her fawns hidden in someone's back yard 15 miles from DC). I'm interested in that and in documentation of the things I see, postcards not withstanding.
    My problem with a lot of natural photography is the fantasy that this is untouched, that editing out human artifacts like relay towers is good. Except for some small areas, none more than a couple hundred acres, all of the Southern Appalachians have been human-modified, and I can see it (I've seen a few places where it hadn't been and the trees are different there). One thing I want to do sometime soon is the Red Bank radio telescope; another a series on mountain climbers where the mountain has more teeth than average for landscape.
    What has landscape been in human art? We don't get landscape in the sense that we know it now until after the development of tube paints and photography. The mountains didn't become picturesque until after the Industrial Revolution.
     
  80. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur, I find there's a world of wonder that exists apart from "art" and "realism." I think most of the photographers we admire are engaged in that world.
    I know you mean to evoke to important phenomena with those two magical words, but as you know I don't think they apply to the best photography (perhaps they're not applicable to anything, anymore)...I think they're distractions, like symbols and labels :)
     
  81. Fantasy and symbolism are aspects of life and photography. Exploring them doesn't imply exclusivity. Discussing symbolism and posting examples of fantasy are nobody's way of reducing a photograph to them. I posted "Found" above to illustrate some things about it. The label "surreal" or the suggestion of fantasy is not a confinement, just a partial offering, likely just a beginning. That one recognizes the effective and ubiquitous use of symbols in Frank's work is simply that, a recognition. In my case, it was a direct response to a question. That recognition does not reduce the work of Frank or the elements in it to "symbolic." Recognizing the symbols as symbols doesn't detract from other significant aspects of the work or these elements.
    John, I appreciate your reference to distinctions I've made between interpretation and response and my skepticism (!) about many interpretations I hear. They often, I think, get in the way of a genuine response. That being said, interpretations, when they penetrate the surface and go beyond the obvious, can also enhance a response, especially over time.
    Symbols often work more immediately than "interpretation" suggests. There is something almost mythical (to bring it back to fantasy) in the way symbols permeate our lives and communications. They cause response instantaneously, without the need for a layer of interpretation. Yes, when we "learn" Shakespeare, we talk about the sexual imagery attending the star-crossed lovers. And I think there's merit in learning such things and reading and seeing Shakespeare with that kind of awareness. But his symbols work whether we discuss them overtly or not, whether we bother to think about them and interpret them or not. Even if we don't "know" it or learn about them, these conjured images work the way they do largely because they are, in fact, symbols.
    I don't think we have much choice regarding symbols, except when we overuse them. Symbols are. There's no escaping them.
    In the right hands, a symbol, like anything else, is a tool. If you hammer too hard, you'll split the wood or break a nail.
    Symbol:
    “Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.” --Mark Twain
    “All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.” --Oscar Wilde
    “You have to be born a sex symbol. You don't become one. If you're born with it, you'll have it even when you're 100 years old.” --Sophia Loren
    Fantasy:
    “When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” --Albert Einstein
    “In my sex fantasy, nobody ever loves me for my mind.” --Nora Ephron
    “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life's realities.” --Dr. Seuss
    “It's weird. I mean, he's a dream, a fantasy, and, if he becomes real, it's like he's not mine anymore.” --unattributed
    The last one is my favorite because it gets to the heart of the matter for me. I started out by talking about more personal truths, private, secretive truths. Those truths have power. Fantasy has this kind of personal power.
     
  82. Without art, we are only left with realism, or our interpretation of it. Realism is ultimately uninteresting (except perhaps for scientists).​
    Arthur, do you mean by realism, reality ( the scientifically measured and described ) ? Because realism also is a form of art. But reality, as it is investigated by scientists : cosmologists,...is anything but uninteresting. It is ultra-fascinating, teasing fantasy.
    Without fantasy, art loses.​
    Yes, but only with the knowledge that fantasy is always a derivative from reality and can't do without. So essentially without reality, art loses. i think it is primarily this search for reality, not fantasy, that keeps art gaining from time to time and that can keep it as contributing as science, with it not only being a symbol of what it signifies. And science at the highest level will increase in spirituality, making a bridge to art, which loses without spirit.
     
  83. jtk

    jtk

    Arthur...you've asked for photos that deal with fantasy. The link below is my best effort, but of course it takes a different direction.
    Also, as you run an art gallery, are a photographer and student of history (like Luis G in that respect), it's natural and appropriate that you see things through art lenses. I've been expressing ideas that work for me, and I've not wanted to dilute them. Everybody else's mileage may vary :)
    Rebecca ...in light of your ideas about nature, I suggest the work of Michael Berman. First, he sees "art" secondary at best to his photography, which serves another purpose (he has a Guggenheim grant, has done many beyond-conventional-photo gallery installations, and has taught "art" for decades in Arizona).
    Second, he actually does deal photographically brilliantly (beyond the best "nature photographers" I've seen) with what may be the single largest-scale phenomenon that most of us still have available in the continental US...the closest to wilderness (other than Alaska). And of course, he finds the desert relating to human evidence, actively blotting it out. He's interested in that interplay and the possibly-eternal nature of that particular environment.
    http://www.fragmentedimages.com/
    I have one of his large prints, as well as the powerfully written (Charles Bowden) and photographed "Inferno."
    There's plenty of opportunity to fantasize in Berman's desert, and that's what Bowden does, but Berman's images seem to me to be more profound than fantasy, most of them "realistic" and others hyper-real, in the Jungian "big dream" sense.
     
  84. John, I think one must see Berman's images full size andclose to them. The website images do not seem to bring out what you are referring to. I would have to look longer and closer at them to perceive fantasy at work. I have much to learn and a photographic mind and eye to water. Having an art gallery speaks only of a love for art and artists, not any credentials in art (my education was - not is - hopelessly devoid of that dscipline, so I don't get accepted for Canadian art council grants, and maybe they are right to refuse "outsiders").
    Reality (universal) and symbols (partly culture-dependent) are with us, we cannot avoid them. When I disdain reality it is not rejection, but simply that I believe it gets in the way of individual creation (which you might prefer to the word "art"). I guess I have to disagree with Phylo that the search for (physical) reality is what keeps art going. Bertynsky's work is often appealing because he relates reality to man's industries and the environment in a rather unique way.
     
  85. By the way, lot's of gems to be found in those TED presentations and talks, many also which run parallel to the original topic of fantasy, symbols, imagination, mythology, the nature of "things",... :
    http://www.ted.com/talks/devdutt_pattanaik.html
    http://www.ted.com/talks/willard_wigan_hold_your_breath_for_micro_sculpture.html
    And why not, here's another quote :
    "The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot, that God is at the center of the jaunt." Bono, U2
     
  86. Disclaimer - I just want to say that by refusing to respond to John Kelly's constant thinly-veiled insults, baiting, etc that it does not mean I agree with anything he says.
     
  87. One creates realities. Unless one feels they're stuck with them à la Sartre's "bad faith."*
    Fantasies are realities.
    IMO.
    * Sartre writes about a café waiter, whose movements and conversation are a little too "waiter-esque". His voice oozes with an eagerness to please; he carries food rigidly and ostentatiously. His exaggerated behaviour illustrates that he is play acting as a waiter, as an object in the world: an automaton whose essence is to be a waiter. But that he is obviously acting belies that he is aware that he is not (merely) a waiter, but is rather consciously deceiving himself in thinking he is just a waiter. Acting in bad faith is the waiter denying his own freedom and yet actively using this freedom at the same time. He manifestly knows he is free but does not acknowledge it.
    Reality is not some sort of confinement.
     
  88. Fred, yes, I would only put it slightly different : one creates realities within reality.
     
  89. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Arthur, what is realism in any art? The experience that inspired the art, if there was one such an experience, had more dimensions than can be used in anything other than a full time reenactment of the thing itself. All mimetic art has more in common with other art than it does with "reality." A photo I might take to document a flower is attempts to show its identifying features, but identifications and the whole scientific apparatus around binomial nomenclature is an abstraction -- some of the creatures out there escape our definitions of species rather fluidly.
    Journalistic photography is particularly weighted with the associations around it: it's not someone reenacting Kent State and pretending to be a body, but the actual body is long since gone -- we recreate the event in our heads. Some iconic photographs, the colonel executing the Vietnamese spy, for instance, weren't intended to mean what they came to mean.
     
  90. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    John Kelly, one of the writers I met who taught in university (in the UK) felt that writers approach reading differently than academics, so his goal was to get his students to read as writers. I think I tend to want to know what people have done before taking them all that seriously. Theory can be excellent stimulus to practice -- Samuel R. Delany's work being an example in fantastic literature -- but the problem is that some academics tend to substitute theory and manipulating student needs for real work.
    Fred, yes, fantasies can be more useful representations of what matters than any thing else, a short cut through the blithering confusion of what we think is real life. To make a metaphor, we select the curve we're going to ski, adjusting for conditions as we find them. Sometimes, we decide to sit down in the snow and go back up and try again. The whole of reality needs a path through it, choices of what to select for our attention.
    I think the practice of an art is circular -- that what I see in photographs informs what I'll try to do in the next photograph, that letting chance in can be useful. Same for writing -- letting things happen, then moving on in that direction. And in other piece, trying to plan everything out. The end result matters to any audience, but how the work happens in this instance leads to the next work.
    Maybe we have to imagine the work to come, though for me, that's more of a felt sense than anything like a pre-visualization. Mental images inform my fiction more than my photography, at least so far, though I wish I could find the large black man I saw Monday in Standardsville, Virginia, and photograph him against the 19th Century houses there. I can sort of see some possibilities of people with the stone houses in Bolivar, West Virginia, just need to find the people to suit and talk them into letting me set up the shots.
    Fantasy or imagination? Do we go with the mind's eye or find the shot that's a slice of time that we didn't imagine before framing it? I like to find things, but pre-visualized or not, the photo is a choice, not all that was there in the time the shot came from.
     
  91. jtk

    jtk

    "I think I tend to want to know what people have done before taking them all that seriously. "
    I hope I'm misreading that. It seems to demand that a writer to have popular recognition before taking her/him seriously. That would seem to be self-defeating to a writer who none of us have read outside this Forum (I suspect).
    My personal discipline involves trying to take people seriously. It's not always easy because I'm not always sufficiently respectful. But I don't stoop to demanding fame from someone before I respect them.
    Taking people more seriously than they do themselves can lead to conflicts, of course: some people aren't as serious as the claim (imo) about their lives and photography. I hope I am, but there's always the problem of the "Veil of Maya." And no law decrees that we must be serious :)
     
  92. jtk

    jtk

    "Fantasies are realities." Fred G
    ...which does seem to nullify the value of either term. A good thing, IMO.
     
  93. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    John, yes, you're misreading. I'm not talking about fame here.
    What we do speaks more for us than what we say about it, especially in graphic arts, not that theory is a bad thing if it leads to more interesting work.
    It's the putting the work to the name thing that I'm talking about, not being or not being famous. What Fred has to say interests me because I found his work interesting.
     
  94. jtk

    jtk

    Good, that's what I hoped (regarding fame). It's easier to mislead/be-misled online than in print, I think. A generation thing, perhaps.
    I think I was initially interested in Fred because of things he said. His subsequent sharing-of-photos confirmed my initial impression of his significance to me. In other words, he was significant to me without his photos, but his photos fleshed things out.
    There are people here who are significant to me, who may not be photographers (have not shared images). Click various links.
     
  95. Rebecca, on the topic of literature and the UK (I'm glad you had that experience, I felt it was a great place for academic studies... or was it really the impact of London on me), do you think Wyndham, Orwell or Huxley (Aldous) wrote their science fiction from a reality base (that is, by projecting reality into the future, a logical or scientific approach) or from a pure fantasy viewpoint? I am not a writer (I don't include my technical writing in that category, although my fellow scientists and engineers raise their eyebrows when they comment that I have a "way" with words), but I am fascinated by their creativity and approach. Might that shed some light on the actions of other artists?
     
  96. "Fantasies are realities." Fred G
    "...which does seem to nullify the value of either term. A good thing, IMO." --John
    No, it doesn't. Fantasies are a subset of realities. Kind of like rectangles are a subset of polygons. One might say "rectangles are polygons" and that would be true. And still, a "rectangle" is a four-sided figure and a "polygon" is a multi-sided figure. "A rectangle is a polygon" does not render each term meaningless.
    See, it really does make a difference what the meaning of "is" is! :)
    Realities aren't just persons, tables, and chairs. Brain states are realities.
    We really, really do have fantasies even though the contents of those fantasies may not exist, except in our minds. I can have a very real idea of a unicorn even though unicorns don't exist.
     
  97. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Arthur, never studied in the UK, have never been there (used Google, Google Earth and friends who had lived there as research for something set there) just knew someone who taught there (he was at Gaylaxicon in the DC area which is where I met him).
    Fred, fantasies are a kind of reality, just as the concept of species is a kind of fantasy.
     
  98. "Fred, fantasies are a kind of reality, just as the concept of species is a kind of fantasy." --Rebecca
    Not sure what you're getting at here, Rebecca. In what way is categorizing species a "fantasy"?
     
  99. Before you were a son, daughter, sister, brother, father, mother, doctor, lawyer, indian chief ... photographer, artist you were ... not. Between then and now, you were trying out, trying on, making yourself up and being made up. You occupy many, are more than one, but you dream up and then leave ... thousands (if you have an imagination; if you were ever a little kid).
     
  100. Ahh, gotcha Julie. Thanks. Didn't think of species the way I think of roles and identities. Probably what Rebecca had in mind and a good addition.
     
  101. I wasn't really responding to Rebecca's post, though, in hindsight, it kind of works as a response to her. I was thinking about whether -- in the mind -- fantasy is a subset of reality or if reality is a subset of fantasy (we test out or conceive of far more states of possible being than we end up acting upon or acting out). If we don't have ways to verify reality, then reality is simply the most nearly verified of many -- but then we change and we use more than one ... (Down to the most subtle differerences; I am a certain kind of friend to one person and a somewhat different kind to another.)
     
  102. "I was thinking about whether -- in the mind -- fantasy is a subset of reality or if reality is a subset of fantasy . . . " --Julie
    I love it. I can switch back and forth. It's a little like those foreground/background tricks whereby you see the image as two vases in black or a white profile of a face. The trick there is that once I get stuck on one way of seeing it, it's often hard to switch my perspective. It is a fascinating notion of reality to think of it as a sort of honed view of fantasy. Thanks!
     
  103. Wow, Julie, Fred, Rebesca, John et al. Reality as a subset of fantasy, or fantasy as a subset of reality.
    Sounds like a meeting of academics! Classify the subject - Relate it to others - Present a pretty organigram indicating its relation to other phenomenon or other disciplines (theatre, writing, etc., etc.).
    Fred's initial post was good, but I fear it has moved from one of examining fantasy and the art of photography and the examples of its presence in the mind of the artist as well as in the image and the mind of the viewer to a much less hands-on interpretation of the philosophy.
    Correct me if I see this discussion wrong, but should we not be relating fantasy to photography and (I know few wish to) present some convincing examples. We technical people tend to be somewhat pragmatic.
     
  104. Arthur--
    I don't see that there's a right or wrong way to see any of these discussions. They are what they are and they go where they go. Sometimes, one of us does get extremely off track and the rest will kind of remind that person to stay on topic. I don't see that happening here. I find a lot of value and stimulation in what many of us have been exploring. You may not, but that's OK. We don't all get benefit from all of these threads. It's the nature of the beast.
    As for your wanting examples, yes, you've repeated it many times here and I've thought about how to respond but haven't really known what I wanted to say. But I don't l like not responding, so . . .
    First off, Mike Dixon put a damper on the posting of examples with his earlier comment and deletions in the thread. I have thoughts on that action and his statement but won't share them because we're not supposed to publicly question or comment specifically on moderators' actions.
    More significantly, I was finding many of the examples posted or linked to trite. IMO, they were mostly superficial looks at the idea of fantasy, including my own (as it relates to fantasy). I felt that posting examples risked placing too much emphasis on what we see in the photo as opposed to what I was more interested in, which was exploring how my fantasy life (our fantasy lives) affects what and how I photograph. I can't show examples of that, I have to talk about it. For me, it's about process more than product. It's about who I am and how that affects my making of photographs, in this case, rather than the photographs themselves. That's why I brought up Fantasia. Sometimes "showing," even in discussions about photography, doesn't work. Some things, for me, can be covered better by talking about them than by trying to show visual examples of them. Fantasia's visual examples are distracting to the essence of the music and I was finding the photographic examples distracting to a penetrating discussion of fantasy. The visual examples, in this case, tended more to lead me astray and the verbalizing has gone much further in developing the ideas and their significance to how I work, in my opinion.
    I admit to loving philosophy. Sometimes talking philosophy (even in the abstract) stimulates my juices for photographing, but with rather loose connections. It all goes into my photographs, but I can't always use the photographs to illustrate the ways it happens.
     
  105. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Species is a human construct. The map is not the territory, Fred, and the official rules for what a species is have changed a lot since I was a girl. See lumpers and splitters. Binomial nomenclature is a mental construction that attempts to be a useful box, but type site fish collected 80 years apart aren't necessarily inter fertile (appears to be true of one of the killies). Stuff evolves.
    Me, today I was out photographing and ran into a furniture restorer who let me set up tripod and Hasselblad and the pictures may not come out because I set the ISO on the meter to 160 instead of 100. Oh, well, I have his card and can do back. Lovely shop, probably should bring flash or shoot high ISO black and white.
    How we describe the universe is an act of mind that trims to fit. Fantasy is putting together the scraps that don't fit, perhaps.
     
  106. "Species is a human construct."
    Yes, Rebecca. I understand that. Most things (even boy/girl, masculine/feminine, to an extent) are human constructs. But I don't identify human constructs per se as fantasies. Species is a construct but why would it be a fantasy? If the dictionary is even close to correct, and fantasy has some level of "strange" and "improbable" why would species be more than just a construct? Why would it make the further leap to fantasy?
    If we're going to call all constructs fantasies, then I think we are risking what John has been protesting against, that fantasy itself starts meaning everything and thereby starts losing its meaning. I don't mind seeing fantasies as a subset of reality or reality as a subset of fantasy, and thereby kind of opening up the notion and recontextualizing it. But if I equate fantasy with reality or equate fantasy with the notion of category or construct, I do kind of neuter it.
     
  107. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Species as it was traditionally defined doesn't exist in nature, or is unevenly distributed (the concept works reasonably well for mammals except bovines, felines, and a few other things, not so well for birds, and fish tend to not even pay that much attention to fixed sex all the time, much less species) and plants, not so much, either. We won't get into bacteria and one-celled organisms that may or may not reproduce by exchanging genetic information.
    Fantasies are a subset of categories that don't have to map onto anything "out there." Species as we think we know it is a fantasy about how subsets of life organize themselves. Trying to impose the same concept of species for falcons, which appear to have hybridized naturally more than once (gyrfalcon and Sakers appear to be a superspecies) or orchids (which have hybridization patterns that defy neat concepts of what's a hybrid and what's a species) as you have for um, weasels, perhaps, is not to get what's going on, but it's a useful enough construct to start learning what's out there.
    Most of us believe in species as some sort of biological reality unless we've been among orchid or fish breeders, or know that American bison will breed with domestic cattle and be completely fertile. Yaks seem to be fertile with domestic cattle if the male is always of one species and the female of the other, but not fertile if the species are reversed in the pairings.
    Species as it's taught in schools is a fantasy that serves cognitive ends, developing perceptions about distinctions (whether the creatures that have these distinctions see them as important or not).
    Off on a tangent perhaps, but I suspect a lot of what we believe doesn't map as neatly to what is as we imagine. I'm currently reading a book on early Renaissance art and they believed things that few of us believe at that level today.
     
  108. but should we not be relating fantasy to photography and (I know few wish to) present some convincing examples. Arthur​
    "I have no idea where this picture gets its hallucinatory, threatening power. Perhaps it has something to do with the apparent counterclockwise cant of the picture, although the verticals are erect; perhaps it is the brilliant sky, shaped like a sheet of half-burned note paper; or perhaps it is the low vantage point, that suggests that we are crawling toward the stairway on our hands and knees, pulling behind us an intolerable burden." John Szarkowski
     
  109. Phylo, I love Szarkowski's comment and share that feeling. Your analysis of the fantasy aspects of the Atget-like photo is appropriate.
    I also feel an impact of the light grey shapes in the otherwise white sky as unsettling, together with the black area to the left of the stairs which is opaque to our curiosity, and also the staircase to nowhere. Chiaroscuro effects about the main subject. Not a beautifully crafted photo, but in some ways a powerful one, I agree.
    I have a series of B&W photos picturing stone staircases (remnants of WWII gun emplacements on the Georgia coast) that lead up to the top of a dune area that one has to imagine as it is unseen. They are not threatening as this example is, but rather just mysterious and incongruous.
    I won't post them here as they will probably appear too trite to critics on this thread.
     
  110. Yes, Atget's photographs embody as none other what I would like to view as the paradox of photography, or the medium's unique connectedness with both the purely descriptive and the highly interpretative. Atget's work ( and the re-discovery and recognition of it ) is very much the quintessence of photography, the alluding to both fantasy and realism.
    I see no use or need to call some photographs more trite then others in their alluding to a fantasy, as every photograph, no matter with how much realism made, is equally inescapable to this very paradox in which it is always defined. Of course by this I'm not saying that every photograph is equal to an Atget, quite the contrary,...
     
  111. As for the examples from your own photographs to fantasy, I would say just post them, here or as a link ( temporarily ) in your gallery.
    I guess I have a few examples of my own also, but, one of the reasons to photograph is that I don't have to talk it and describe it as much as just showing "it", regardless of how it's viewed afterwards...
     
  112. "I won't post them here as they will probably appear too trite to critics on this thread." --Arthur
    Arthur--
    You asked at least four times for people to post more pictures. No one did. Finally, though I had consciously hesitated to avoid any misunderstanding or hurt feelings, I offered you my honest reasons for not posting any more myself and not personally seeking any more posted photos. Perhaps I offended you, in which case I wish you had been direct with me about it, as I was in giving you my reasons, rather than simply referencing it like this in your answer to Phylo.
    When I included my own photo in the triteness comment, I was trying to make clear, and will try here again, that I don't consider these photos trite as photos. I found them trite in trying to illustrate what I was talking about and what the main thrust of the thread had become. I love the photo I posted (it's one of my favorites) and I happen to like very much the photo you posted of the graveyard. But I keep looking at my own photo and wishing I hadn't posted it here because it honestly does seem to make it seem trite to talk about it somehow exemplifying fantasy.
    I certainly hope you know I respect you enough and appreciate your participation enough not to intentionally hurt your feelings and I don't think these forums are a place to start critiquing each others work. That, I was not doing. I was critiquing these photos' usefulness in furthering this discussion and I will stand by that opinion, though I fully accept that you might disagree.
    Phylo--
    I agree with you that anyone who wants should and should have already posted their photos and made their points visually. I waited and waited before saying what I said purposely because I did not want to deter anyone from doing so if they wanted to. Finally, as I just said to Arthur, when it was brought up for the fourth time, I gave my reasons for not posting myself and not soliciting any more posted photos on the topic.
    I disagree with you that certain photos are not any more trite than others in alluding to fantasy. Just like I find Fantasia more trite than many films in alluding to fantasy, I find some photographic examples also trite in that respect.
    I don't fully understand what you're trying to say. You seem to feel Atget's work worth singling out on this level of allusion to both fantasy and reality and then in the next breath claim that all photographs illustrate this equally. That seems contradictory to me. It seems there's something about Atget's work in particular that made you choose it from among all the other work you could have mentioned, so that tells me that not all photographs equally partake in this phenomenon or at least not all photos equally illustrate what you're talking about. That's really what I was getting at. I didn't find our examples successfully illustrating at least what I had in mind regarding the subject.
    I apologize to both Arthur and Phylo if the word "trite" is disrespectful. I didn't mean it that way. My dictionary defines "trite" like this:
    lacking the freshness that evokes attention or interest . . . applies to a once effective phrase or idea spoiled from long familiarity.
    That's what I was getting at. The examples, including my own, were showing me expected and familiar illustrations of fantasy (especially fantasy as result rather than process) and I was looking for new ideas and a little less tried-and-true thoughts on the subject.
     
  113. Rebecca--
    Thanks for the explanation. I understand you better. I have this gnawing feeling that there's a difference between the kind of fantasy that suggests to me that I might go flying around my neighborhood or that I will win the lottery and the kind of fantasy that we have regarding a false belief in the biological character of species. Yet, I too, would use the word "fantasy" in all these cases. Got it.
     
  114. Fred-
    It is to your honor that you describe the context of your remark and seek respectful exchanges. I for one appreciate that, as well as the knowledge and experience you bring to these topics. My response regarding trite may have been a bit glib, not arising from hurt feelings, but a frustration that we do not often seek to match various perceptions of the philosophical theme (in this case, fantasy and photography) with examples from our favoured medium of expression. I am glad Phylo posted the image he did, although I am not sure my response to it, different from his, is very accurate.
    There are downsides to presenting personal photographic examples in a philosophical discussion, of course, like the possibility of overly personal reactions of the presenter and the viewers and a consequent derailing of thought, but I think we might recognize also, without wishing any restrictions on freedom of thought, that philosophical discussions can easily get off track. But that is a "beau risque", an acceptable inconvenience in welcoming free expression of opinions.
     
  115. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I think we have to have a fantasy to reach out to the flux outside. Coming up with a reasonable explanation for the patterns we find takes refining the fantasies -- I'd like to know about cases where data suggested the theory, though. I suspect those exist along side the visual images that helped various scientists make sense of organic chemistry. Some fantasies don't work in the real world, but work powerfully in dreams, like flying around the neighborhood. Lotteries depend on most people's fantasies about winning them being untrue, but they also powerfully depend on one person actually winning.
    As far as posting fantasy images we've made, I don't know the history of this forum, but I've had to scrape people out of my LJ from a link that implied I wanted to talk about children's literature. If past experiences showed that people who didn't actually follow the conversation would start posting photos if there were too many photos here (from sampling the forums), then perhaps restrictions on photos aren't a bad thing. If this hasn't happened in the past, our moderator may be over zealous.
     
  116. I don't fully understand what you're trying to say. You seem to feel Atget's work worth singling out on this level of allusion to both fantasy and reality and then in the next breath claim that all photographs illustrate this equally. That seems contradictory to me.​
    Fred, what I was getting at was that all photographs are equally tied to the paradox of photography. This paradox, of photography being a medium capable AND inescapable of pointing to the purely descriptive ( "realism") as well as the highly interpretative ( "fantasy" ), and this all in one and the same photograph. This wasn't me saying that all photographs are equal to Atget's output, it was rather saying that Atget's work illustrates this so distinctively, yet uniformly to photography. The recognition and influence of this by major photographers after Atget ( who in turn where influential ) being very significant for photography's further history of this play between reality <> fantasy. Therefore, worth singling out.
     
  117. "I see no use or need to call some photographs more trite then others in their alluding to a fantasy"​
    What you said, Phylo, is this. I disagreed. But I now have a qualification having thought about this quite a bit in the last day or so.
    There likely is a significant way in which all photos allude to fantasy, as you're suggesting. Just as there is a significant way in which all music does.
    It may be in the illustrating part that we risk being trite. Fantasia's trying to illustrate or point to music's fantasy, to me, became trite. That doesn't mean that the pieces Disney chose to "narrate" and fictionalize were, in fact, trite themselves in their own inner musical references to fantasy. It was Disney being trite, not the fantasies in the music itself. (The fantasies of music have nothing to do with fawns in the pasture or birds chirping. They are richer, more personal, and more elusive than that. These were caricatures of the kinds of fantasy we are now talking about.)
    Maybe I misspoke when I said the photos "were trite in trying to illustrate what I was talking about." It might have been we (including myself with my own posting), like Disney, who were being trite in using the examples the way we did. We seemed to be choosing the obvious. Sort of choosing the easy, commonly-thought-of literal almost picture-book translations of fantasy. The upside down world I chose, the death/graveyard world Arthur chose, the mythical-like figure (in the graveyard) Chris chose: things fairly universally accepted as fantasy (almost clichéd fantasy, if I dare say it!), as if the world of fantasy is limited to the kinds of things Disney produces.
    Fantasy actually takes all kinds of shapes. We've actually significantly broadened the discussion, in my opinion, about the reaches of fantasy and the non-mythical, non-fairy-tale-like aspects of it since that point in the thread when these examples were posted. I think our examples concentrated on the usual suspects rather than the much broader, more profound, and more individualized aspects of fantasy.
    There likely is the kind of fantasy you're talking about in all of the photos posted, but I don't think we were really discussing that or discussing what it means for each of us and where it takes us and how it actually affects not just what we photograph but how we photograph. Instead we focused on the upside down, the myth, and the shadow . . . too easy, in my view.
     
  118. "Instead we focused on the upside down, the myth, and the shadow . . . too easy, in my view."
    I agree it was easy to achieve, although the thought and the juxtaposition of life and death had not entered my mind in that manner before I positioned my lady friend in front of a gravestone to capture her shadow on it (she had been sitting on the bench before that instant, ignorant of my work and deep in her own thoughts, but was not in a position to cast her shadow on the stone). Then, in thinking of the potential, it made sense to create a death prophecy or life cycle argument.
    Cliché or not, the fantasy I tried to communicate does not appear to have been photographed in my manner before. I have sought in the intervening years to discover similar examples amongst known photographs (e.g., Time-Life series, various photographic journals, photo books, art books) that might have been made before mine. Although easy, it seems to defy photograhic precedents.
    I found none other that was similar. I'm still looking, as it would be interesting to know if anyone else had thought to produce a similar image or content (I will try to find a jpeg of my better image. It is one that I am happy with), how and why.
     
  119. Arthur--
    I seem not able to make my point clear or understood. I'm sorry.
    I did not say your photograph or my photograph was easy to achieve. What I found easy was what we were focusing on in the discussion and examples of fantasy. The discussion and the view of fantasy seemed easy, not the creation of the photographs.
    I also did not say the photographs were cliché. I don't think either of our photographs is cliché. Our discussion of fantasy was becoming cliché. We seemed to be focusing, as Disney did, on obvious examples of fantasy, as in myth, death, and flying upside down. For me, there's more to fantasy than dream and death images. It's a state of mind, to a great extent, not the repeating content of fairies, shadows, and surrealistic juxtapositions.
    That certainly does not mean I have anything against photos of fairies (I have . . . ahem . . . lots of them) or of shadows. I have used shadows to my heart's content in many of my photos, dramatic, etc. But I think using them as an example of fantasy doesn't move us deeply enough into the potential of fantasy regarding the making of photographs. I would not accuse myself of using shadows in a negatively clichéd way in my photographs, but were I to use those photos as examples in this forum, I think that use would be clichéd.
    Theater seemed a direction with more potential and breadth to me.
    I'll be honest here and tell you, and I'm by no means immune to this myself, this is a good reason for not posting photos in these discussions. We wind up defending our visions rather than addressing the issues.
    Again, I was NOT critiquing your photo or my own, by any means.
     
  120. Point of clarification regarding my statement: "Theater seemed a direction with more potential and breadth to me."
    I do not mean making theatrical photos or taking pictures of or in theaters or taking pictures of actors.
     
  121. Yes, I realize what you were saying, Fred, and your Disney example is a good one of supeficial fantasy (the music being effectively run over when the imagination of the listener is imposed upon in that manner). I realize also that the fantasy that I was harbouring at that moment was one related to my existence, to the elusive and temporal quality of that, as others far greater have asked (what is it to be, or to not be?). As for the homonym of Disney's flying creatures, I prefer the interactions of humour, intelligence and culture with several friends of that so-called appelation.
    I think that the written word or those spoken and acted (as in theatre) have a great advantage over visual art and photography as platforms and vehicles of their authors fantasies.
     
  122. If fantasy is a state of mind, which I agree it is, then fantasy is simply consciousness. And how can you measure or grade consciousness to anything outside of it ? Theater has no more potential for pointing to consciousness then the fairy tale cliché-photograph, or a rock, or a snail crawling, or anything else out there has potential for it.
     
  123. jtk

    jtk

    "Species as it was traditionally defined doesn't exist in nature, or is unevenly distributed (the concept works reasonably well for mammals except bovines, felines, and a few other things, not so well for birds, and fish tend to not even pay that much attention to fixed sex all the time, much less species) and plants, not so much, either. We won't get into bacteria and one-celled organisms that may or may not reproduce by exchanging genetic information."
    That is absurd and false. Species is easy to precisely define, in ALMOST all instances, quantitatively by genetics...species has become increasingly precisely definable ever since Linnaeus .
    http://www.nndb.com/people/292/000087031/
    While I appreciate that we often find it amusing to use words poorly, or for special effects, I think it's good every once in a while to be reminded about the elegance and precision that's possible with language, co-existing with shifts and evolutions in the language (eg teen language). People with scientific educations, and English speakers, do still exist.
     
  124. jtk

    jtk

    Vladimir Nabokov has passed, but we still have Bruce Chatwin, for example.
     
  125. "If fantasy is a state of mind, which I agree it is, then fantasy is simply consciousness."​
    I don't see it that way.
    A fantasy is one kind of state of mind, like a rectangle is one kind of polygon. Just as I say "a rectangle is a polygon" and don't imply by that they are identical, I say "a fantasy is a state of mind" and don't imply by that that fantasies and states of mind are identical. There are many states of mind that are not fantasies. Thinking about the appointment I have at 2:00 is not a fantasy. If someone wants to call that a fantasy, fine. I would simply tell them that's not the kind of fantasy I'm talking about in this thread. Thinking about waking up next to Brad Pitt (Ok, let's try Jude Law this time) at 2:00 is. Among lots of others.
    There are a variety of modes of consciousness: instinct, intellect, intuition. There's self consciousness and unconsciousness, intention, desire, dream, belief, knowledge.
    And there's fantasy.
     
  126. Why do your (anybody's) pictures often (almost always ... ) not match what you thought you saw through the viewfinder when you pressed the shutter release?
    You look and you look and what you see in your mind is not what you get in your photographs. There is a whole lot of wishful thinking going on between your eyeball and your visual cortex or whatever sweet spot you're working from.
     
  127. Actually, sometimes -- more and more as time goes by -- what I see (and I suspect what other more experienced photographers see) in my/their mind is not what I see on the ground and is closer to what I get in my photograph. That's a matter of previsualization, which I think is significant though I am by no means fluent in it or even close yet.
    I do try to translate what I see through the camera as the eventual photograph. And, if I'm reading you right, that's the sort of fantasy I'm talking about. And it is related to wish. The wish not for the scene to be something else or for the picture not to be what it is, but the wish to create this vision I'm having, and to create it by means of a photograph.
     
  128. Fred, the variety of modes you're talking about I view as being conscious of...They point to the faculties of consciousness, which in most expected circumstances reflects on itself as one rather then a variety of...
     
  129. Yes and yes! The problem is not with seeing the "out there." It's learning how to get the mental picture, the "in here" to "come clear; to take solid visual form" as I said somewhere above. When you can do that, you can know one from the other and then you can work from them, with them on them ... or whatever. It's good. It's hard to do, but it's a wonderful thing when you can.
     
  130. Well, Phylo, if fantasy = consciousness, then I could have labeled this thread "Consciousness" and my guess is that it would have been a very different thread.
     
  131. We have trouble understanding our subconscious, our invisble signature, and I don't subscribe to the fact that we can in any way utilize it. Accordingly, most of our approach as photographers is based upon our conscious perceptions and willfull actions. I think one of the most important chalenges in photography (I am not a reporter except in the loosest possible sense) as an art form is to interpret reality as we "feel" it (not just see it), and as we might like it to be (as fantasy, or as some creative manipulation). When I maintain that I often choose to reject reality (hence open some windows of fantasy in my mind), it is in this manner.
     
  132. [My previous post ("Yes and yes!") was directed at Fred. Phylo posted while I was writing that.]
    Just want to add that what went on in Beethoven's head from the first germ of its conception to the completed black-and-white-notes-written-on-paper Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Opus 27 Number 2, commonly known as the Moonlight Sonata -- is not unlike like what a good photographer does. Getting from nothing to something.
    Out of a wish ...
     
  133. Julie--
    Yes it is, a wonderful thing when you can. Even just when you try, or you don't try and it just happens a little . . . or a lot ;)
    Arthur--
    I sense we're saying similar things about reality, etc. just in somewhat different ways. Your last post conjures up a picture I can relate to well. I guess my terminology would differ to the extent I'd not always be interpreting reality and sometimes really feel like the photograph is and I am creating the (new) reality. That enables me to see it as an embracing rather than a rejection, but I think that's a minor semantical point and probably not a practical difference between us.
     
  134. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Short version, since the long version was clipped, is that species is not as crisp as John Kelly is saying, and if my reply to him is taken out, then his being abusive should be deleted, too. Thanks.
     
  135. Fantasy defined:
    Frederic Bach's absolutely sensational short film, "The Man Who Planted Trees". I was waiting to see a re-showing on art TV (ARTV) of that film classic "Cinema Paradiso", with Phillipe Noiret (former Oscar winner of best foreign language film), when Bach's superbly drawn and animated drawings and the Phillipe Noiret recounted story appeared as a half hour pre-cinema short film. I am seldom moved as I was by such power of expression. Multiply the best of Disney by maybe 1000 times, and you may imagine the (unslick) fantasy and the poignancy of this great artist, and whoever penned the poetic text (I missed that credit).
    I have no better example, certainly not photographic, of the fantasy of the artist's mind. The world is finally acknowledging, while he still lives, the beauty of his fanciful mind and brush. Try to see it. You may agree.
     
  136. "The "fantastic" can be captured with a gesture, a color or colors, blur, a pose, a streak of lighting, a particular juxtaposition, even a particular subject or subject matter."

    But it's just fantasy the Roman Emperor dressing his slaves to play a part. Yes, he might capture some real moments of suffering which can be tuned to he's desires.

    But it’s just fantasy which takes us away form the real world just a plaything for the rich and idle, Fred understands just as Ancient Rome.

    While the emperor is playing out his fantasies real people were dying in the gutter do to he’s greed and indifference....a today fantasy.

    Superb works of Art were created depicting these fantasies…
     
  137. Fortunatily there were Artists in those times who seperated fantasty from fiction.
    Our understanding of those Ancient times comes from these honest writers and Artists. In modern times History follows the same pattern the rich and idle much the same declaring Art and the people creating the real Art based on the truth.
    History repeating itsef.
     
  138. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Some work has the flavor of being about professional photography techniques rather than a personal vision or a framing of something visually arresting (though without a sense of what makes an image arresting, the photographs probably won't be that visually arresting. Only part of what makes an image arresting is sensing its connotations.
    Fantasy that feels false may be the fantasy that's imitations of other photographs or art, not something coming out of the mental space that invented the fantasies that became cultural icons, but a reworking of representations of the cultural icons, though, with some irony, those can be fun.
     
  139. Never mind, all.
    Said something not really worth saying.
    Glad I had the 10 minutes to take it back.
    This continues to be a fascinating thread in almost every way imaginable . . .
    . . . or fantasizable . . .
     
  140. Allen Herbert,
    Fortunatily there were Artists in those times who seperated fantasty from fiction.​
    What does that mean? If you're trying to say the reverse (fact from fantasy) I'd like to know who those artists were. Names please.
    You find no fantasy in The Blues? Or you find The Blues to be untrue? Less true than ... ?
     
  141. John Kelly - " Vladimir Nabokov has passed, but we still have Bruce Chatwin, for example."
    No, we do not. Mr. Chatwin passed away on 18 January, 1989 at the age of 48.

     
  142. “What lies behind us and what lies before us are
    small matters compared to what lies within us.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
    and for Frédéric Back's film:
    http://www.fredericback.com/cineaste/filmographie/lhomme-qui-plantait-des-arbres/index.en.shtml​
     
  143. The initial post makes the following assertion:
    "Words that are used in the definition of fantasy: imagination, chimerical, fiction, strange, improbable ."
    Well, maybe, somewhere, by someone. I would categorise this statement as pointless and partially false. Chimerical? You might well use the word "fantasy" in the definition of Chimera or chimerical, but not vice versa I think.

    Here is the New Shorter OED entry for "fantasy" (omitting phonetics, attributions etc)
    1) Mental apprehension of an object of perception; the faculty by which such apprehension is made.The image impressed upon the mind bya n object of sense.
    2) A spectral apparition, a phantom; an illusory appearance.
    3) Delusory imagination, hallucination; the fact or habit of deluding onself by imaginary perceptions or reminiscences.
    4) (A product of) imagination; the process, faculty or result of forming mental representations of things not actually present; (an) extravagant or visionary fancy. An ingenious tasteful or fantastic invention or design. (Mus) a fantasia. A mental image. A daydream arising from conscious or unconscious wishes or attitudes. A literary genre concerned with imaginary worlds and peoples; a composition in this genre.
    5) A supposition resting on no solid grounds; whimsical or visionary speculation.
    6) Caprice (NB: not necessarily the bra model), changeful mood; an instance of this; a caprice, a whim.
    7) Inclination, liking, desire.
    I suggest using a dictionary before beginning a post with such a vague and poorly supported observation.
     
  144. Roy, I believe you are more than slightly off-base in your comment. If you ignore the definition chimerical, your OED definitions of 4 through 7 describe well the mental processes and the products of fantasy in art and photography, as have been, and are being, discussed in this thread.
     
  145. "Fantasy that feels false may be the fantasy that's imitations of other photographs or art, not something coming out of the mental space that invented the fantasies" --Rebecca
    This reminds me to come back to "wish" and "secret." The former is usually about something not yet and the latter is personal, even hidden. I don't think to use fantasy in creating photographs necessarily means exposing something hidden. But it can mean using something hidden or deep within in approaching making the photograph. About seeing more than we look at.
    As for reworkings, I'm cautious there. So much great art is a reworking of something. But I guess we do want to feel as if something new or unique has been brought to the table. We might consider Gus Van Zant's remake of Psycho (I haven't seen it). He evidently tried to match Hitchcock shot for shot. So there's a whole lot of imitation going on there. Yet, there is perhaps something very worthwhile (and artistic) in simply wanting to recreate someone else's iconic work as close to the original as possible but with modern tools. There seems to be worthwhile historical and aesthetic dialogue in that even though it is very much about direct imitation.
    Arthur--
    I wonder if maybe I'm resisting examples of fantasy in favor of looking at its results. The results (photographs) may not explicitly show, represent, or exemplify fantasy per se, though they certainly can, I think. But photographs may nevertheless owe their existence to it. That seems to be what Julie and I have been batting around. I will try to check out your link today. Thanks for including it.
     
  146. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I think if we recreate a work, we can understand how the original achieved its effects, but too often it's more a copy/pale imitation. To go head to head with a great work, to attempt to equal it takes a different sort of mind than the mind that is so in awe of the original that the imitation is not thoughtful but slavish. I don't know much about Gus Van Zant, but I suspect he has the ego to go head to head with Hitchcock. The saying in writing is that mediocre writers borrow; great writers steal.
    What did Hitchcock do in Psycho is an interesting question for a director. If he thinks in the medium, not in abstractions, then he figures it out by remaking it. Artists used to make copies of paintings; I've had one creative writing class in high school where we were asked to write imitations of various writers. At least one writer typed out books he really admired because he could pay more attention to what the choices felt like that way.
     
  147. It was Picasso:
    "Bad artists copy, great artists steal."
    http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/3500
    Makes sense to me.
     
  148. That is a memorable quote from a revolutionary artist. It reinforces the opinion of some that evolution as opposed to revolution can be equally significant (Mozart is a good example, in respect of his musical style).
    Picasso also said the following:
    "I begin with an idea, then it becomes something else."

    "There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun."
    The two may speak to some degree of the presence of fantasy in the artist's mind.
     
  149. To steal, in Picasso's quote, is to make something your own. To copy is to enslave oneself to another's idea.
    Roy, I, too, had some initial apprehensions about Fred's use of the word, but soon understood what he meant by it.
     
  150. If there is Truth, then by it's very deffinition in has to be absolute and black and white and immutable. If is isn't, then the word means nothing and we're simply changing it's meaning to suit our idea of what it ought to be and not what it is. The Truth is that rock that everything we see is built on so it's natural that what we see should project that Truth (some things more forceably than others the nearer to the Truth they are) and find a spark of recognition and even yearning within us. What we choose to project that truth through colors our perception of it.
    Fantasy seems to open up a way to view what we feel about things without the confines of the rules of our natural world. A wonderfully kind lady may be much more a fairy princess in truth than what she is allowed by this world. A woodland glade may be much more full of magic than our "advanced" minds comprehend.
     
  151. "If there is Truth, then by it's very deffinition in has to be absolute and black and white and immutable." --Nicole
    There are many theories of truth, most of which don't suppose that it's absolute and immutable, for example pragmatist theories like Richard Rorty's and also coherence theories. Many believe that we can't dismiss context and so any notion of truth that claims immutability is basically meaningless.
    I, myself, have a major aversion to anything that claims to be black and white, except a good photograph ;)
    As for what you say about "fantasy," it's beautifully written and strikes me as a stimulating way to see it:
    "A woodland glade may be much more full of magic than our 'advanced' minds comprehend." --Nicole
    Yes. I think that says something both about truth and about fantasy. "Natural" and "true" are different.
    Photographs and photographers can find the magic sometimes.
     
  152. Unless the thing is immutable it can't be truth, or we must change the word we are using to something else. If the deffinition of truth is constantly changing or in flux it is a meaningless word or else we aren't talking about the same thing. What context (and let's also say emotional state, which can be greatly influenced by mood and tone and context of a photograph) you view the truth through will color the way you see it, but context doenst change the fact, only our perception of it.
    I keep thinking of the famous Cottingly fairies. Through the lens of a camera the fantasy of a little girls mind was made manifest.
     
  153. Nicole--
    Not an argument I want to have here. Thanks for your thoughts on fantasy.
     
  154. Truth may exist, and may be invariable and immutable, but I doubt whether many, if any, humans can perceive it. We exist and operate on a much more empirical and relativistic level. Any concept of truth or approach to it is limited by the subjective judgements of his fellows, who may be no more able to contemplate truth than himself.
    When a human conceives, envisions, imagines and externalizes his thoughts, whimsies or caprices, he may be creating fantasy or may be driven by it. Truth has little to do with it, I think, and in most cases is not an objective of either the approach or the creation. Art is not bound by truth.
     
  155. Fred, I hope you didnt think I was trying to start an argument! Just relating that my ideas of fantasy are really closely linked with my thoughts on truth and the one makes a difference in how I see the other. If I believed truth to be a changeable thing my thoughts on fantasy would be different than they are. Still, point taken. Mouth zipped. ;)
     
  156. Nicole--
    Sorry. I didn't communicate well. I was thinking about philosophical argument, not that you were starting an "argument" in the negative sense. I've learned that discussions of "truth" and "reality" don't usually go well on PN and they more often get us away from the topic at hand. So I just didn't want to go there at this point. I sensed that we are both pretty set in our different notions of truth, so I figured we should just leave it at that rather than trying to convince each other of something so basic.
     
  157. Fred, that's very true. It's been a while I guess. Agreed!
     
  158. jtk

    jtk

    John Kelly - " Vladimir Nabokov has passed, but we still have Bruce Chatwin, for example."
    No, we do not. Mr. Chatwin passed away on 18 January, 1989 at the age of 48. - Luis G

    Right.
    I was thinking of Jonathan Raban. I confused him with Chatwin...their work seems related, as does Alan Moorhead's, Eric Newby's, Peter Matthiesson's and John McPhee's. I think novels can bring an extra dimension to "fact," even extra "truth." But I especially love writers who can address "fact" with both clear non-novelistic eyes and literary beauty, the way that bunch does.
    Photographers are sometimes able to do both....

    http://www.jonathanraban.com/
     
  159. Clear political and social analysis seems to come in waves, as that of Britain's Angry Young Men novelists of the 50s and 60s, between valleys of silence. People like Raban probably help to increase the height of those waves. Interesting journalist and writer, living in an important period for his country.
     
  160. jtk

    jtk

    Raban's country is the USA. He moved to Seattle intentionally after a long search for the perfect town (tentative locations included somewhere in Alabama). Personally, I'd have chosen another city (did choose), but Seattle's a good bet for oysters, smoked salmon etc.
    Raban, Matthiesson, and Theroux have had a lot to say about issues confronted by people in various parts of the world..most especially by lumpen Americans and rednecks (Raban), American Indians (Mathiesson), and Africans (Theroux's "Dark Star" especially).
     
  161. Raban, huh? Ssss-sure... I find Raban hard to confuse with Chatwin, specially in terms of politics.
    BTW, If John was thinking of the guy who wrote In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, Shadow Country, The Snow Leopard, etc. It's Peter Matthiessen, without an "o". Unless, of course, John's thinking of someone else. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Matthiessen decades ago. What a learned, congenial man he was, and I suspect, still is.
     
  162. I think fantasy is part and parcel of who we are as individuals and as 'artists' (including photographers). To deny it's influence in our photography is to lose a part of the photo's essence. As I see it, the perception of our immediate world is governed by our interpretation of it (and so an element of fantasy is inevitable). Fred, you ask what a fantasy feels like...to me it feels like an expression, a release, a interpretation of my perceptions. Its the feeling of creating something that may be obvious, in it's interpretation, or sublime, yet always present in how I see my immediate world. Do I feel it in my work? yes always, I choose to make it a part of it unless of course I decide to use photography to document the world say....like a photojournalist would, but even then the element of fantasy is ever present all be it far more sublime
     
  163. (fantasy is) "yet always present in how I see my immediate world" (Art X)
    That is a very much too sweeping condition in my own case. I engage in, or evoke feelings of, fantasy only at special moments, certainly not always. It is a precious companion and instigator of my perceptions of the world, arising not on command, somewhat mysteriously, but often triggered in my imagination when certain things "align".
    That "alignment" may be related to particular past experiences, to philosophical positionning, to present feelings or sensitivities that may have been aroused by the object or by other non-photographic interactions, to the partcular axis of the sun and how light may be related to objects, to how I perceive those objects as things quite different from their technical (realistic) description and to their relation to other things around them, to the effect (feedback) of my perceived vision, and to fanciful interpretations in my mind of what is seen, to how the object affects me, and other factors).
    At times, the consequences of my act of photographing when so affected is not even conscious to me and is revealed later (sometime much later, as silver negatives or electronic images can be passed over) when I look at my contact prints or enlarged straight prints and realize what I was doing. Further fantasy is sometimes created in enlarging the negative in the darkroom or modifying the image in the lightroom. This may be fantasy compounded upon original fantasy, or fantasy enacted on a negative or image that is devoid of fantasy in its realisation, or in its visual content.
     
  164. "I engage in, or evoke feelings of, fantasy only at special moments, certainly not always....triggered in my imagination when certain things "align"." (Arthur Plumpton)
    I see where you're coming from here Arthur, I guess I see fantasy as a "precious companion" (well said btw) more often than not in my perception of my immediate world. You say it's something you experience "only at special moments". More than likely, but do you think that no matter how we perceive the world, whether in or out of those 'special moments', an element of fantasy (which to me is influenced by past experiences, culture, social and economic factors etc...) is ever present? i guess what i'm implying here is that for me, fantasy and realism often interact with each other in how i perceive the world and so that perception is expressed in my photography.
     
  165. Art -
    I understand your approach. I guess that in my case, I experience different reactions depending upon what I am doing or how I am feeling. In a simple case, if I am documenting an object to show someone later or to permit its sale on Photo.Net or to show a product to someone, I am not engaging any fantasy (except perhaps an imagined benefit of the sale!). That is quite different from an object (or scene), animal or person that moves me, whether I am observing that or attempting to construct a an imagined composition. Fantasy often plays some role. However, as much as I would like it to be, my imagination is not always that active, and may be fighting too familiar paradigms I created in past photographic experiences or approaches.
    Fantasies are often experienced, I find, when thinking outside of the box.
     
  166. I don't have much control over my fantasies.
    They seem to come and go as they please.
    Many of the fantasies I have that affect my photographs don't necessarily happen in the moment of photographing, though they can. They may have happened the night before or a month before.
     
  167. I hope it's okay for me to throw in a series of binary/either/or questions about fantasy that I've been entertaining myself with. They're a little bit silly (you could quite reasonably answer "both" to all of them).
    Is fantasy:
    • access to, or escape from?
    • a way in or a way out?
    • an unnecessary (though often enjoyable) diversion, or a useful and often necessary means of growth?
    • the peel, the shell, the dreck, dross, that needs to be cleaned out, scraped off, and gotten rid of in order to reach the good stuff; or is fantasy itself the very beginnings, the germ of the good stuff which takes bizarre and unexpected form because that's how things look, are conceived of, when we don't yet know how they look or how to conceive of them (embryonic knowledge; embryonic actions).
    -Julie
     
  168. Julie--
    Not so silly. I could and would answer both to the first two questions. Which answer I might provide at any given time would depend on mood and context.
    For me, fantasy is more of an escape. Escape from the typical way I hold myself, the public persona. Escape from limitations I may feel. Access to a world of transcendence. Ungroundedness. Flights of fancy. Giving myself permission.
    A way out of the mundane and into the significant, recognizing that the mundane can be significant from a certain perspective. A way out of habits. A way out of roles (sometimes right into new ones). There's a genuineness to fantasies that I'm drawn to. They seem unfiltered and unfettered. Personal. Individual. Sharing them or working with them can be liberating and intimate.
    Useful. Probably necessary for me.
    The beginnings, the germ. Nothing is dreck if I attend to it in a meaningful and/or positive way. Even table scraps can be used for compost.
     
  169. jtk

    jtk

    This seemed relevant on the Tanyth Berkeley thread, but I think it relates as well here..re "reality" vs "fantasy."
    I just saw Pedro Almodovar's "All About My Mother" last night. Fabulous film. It's partially gender-themed...addresses universal issues ...seems almost Shakespearian that way. Almodovar prefers women to men as actors because he sees them as more entertaining (I think he uses a more subtle term). One of his Shakespearian-seeming (to me) characters, Agrado, addresses "authenticity" in a way that it gives great reality-weight to what most would call fantasy. Agrado's monologue has gotten a great deal of attention in literary philosophic discussions and I think one of its lines will be with us forever in the way some of Shakespeare's will (Shakespeare was also concerned with fantasy):
    http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/allaboutmymother/laagradosmonologue.html
     
  170. "A way in, or a way out ? Acces to or escape from ?"​
    What the hell, lets throw in another picture for this one.
    00V6PA-194569584.jpg
     
  171. '
    My answers to Julie's questions:
    Is fantasy:
    • access to, or escape from?
    Both, depending on one's vector.
    • a way in or a way out?
    Both, depending on your starting point.
    • an unnecessary (though often enjoyable) diversion, or a useful and often necessary means of growth?
    It could be both for this one, too, except in the context of this discussion, which would favor the lattter.
    • the peel, the shell, the dreck, dross, that needs to be cleaned out, scraped off, and gotten rid of in order to reach the good stuff;
    Maybe if you've been overdoing it and feel a swing back to terra firma is in order?
    • or is fantasy itself the very beginnings, the germ of the good stuff which takes bizarre and unexpected form because that's how things look, are conceived of, when we don't yet know how they look or how to conceive of them (embryonic knowledge; embryonic actions).
    It can be. Of course, good old boring reality has in it sometimes folded dimensions that often go well beyond anything we can imagine. In that sense, perhaps fantasy fulfills a dual role. One, what's been posited, the other, escape not from the fetters of reality, but as a mediated retreat from, or way to filter its mind-numbing, marvelous and terrifying nature. I think at times it can be like the bars that allow us a close look at a lion in a zoo without trekking to its habitat, or chancing being on the menu.
     
  172. jtk

    jtk

    My impression is that Fred thinks of "fantasy" in terms of personal experience, whereas most others here think of it as an abstract theoretical concept (explaining the complexity of responses, struggles to communicate sensibly). Personally, I'm more interested in dreams and imagination...which seem to me to have substance.
    I think of fantasy in terms of "flight." "Flight of fantasy." A voluntary or involuntary excursion. Like other experiences it may hold potential photographically. Not particularly important, of no more value to me than ordinary walking-around-reality, but illuminating sometimes: may provide a different perspective. Probably not as useful as dreams (my subjective evaluation: IMO).
    "Fantasy" can be intentionally pursued, at the risk that anything "trippy" or distorted will be assigned extra weight...which may be a burden if the intent is obvious (wings on kids, psychedelic bric-a-brac, symbolism). "Obviousness" may be a sort of deal-killer, distinguishing fantasy from hype.
    Just some thoughts.
     
  173. John-
    Pedro Almodovar dedicated his film "To all actresses who have played actresses, and to all women who act." He also dedicated it to men who act and become women, and to all persons who want to be mothers. And, to his own mother.
    European nations and some other small nations (Sweden, Denmark, Canada (+Quebec), Australia, Iran, New Zealand, Afghanistan, etc.) produce films that are not always great box office successes, but are wonderful ventures into fantasy and the profound (the two are often, but not excusively, related). Shakespeare is far from being alone in that sense (even though he and his fellow writers were initiators). I understand that "All about my Mother" was one of Almadovar's most successful at the box office (His films over the past ten years are all great), grossing about 55-60 million dollars worldwide (about 8 million in the US). The tansvestite prostitute, former lover of the principal character (the mother), is a person of both fantasy and profundity. The British stage subsequently presented a re-write of the film to very good reviews. The film has mostly been celebrated in Europe.
    Fantasy in European films (and other smaller worldwide productions) is one pillar of cinematographic art. Yes, they produce a lot of inane blockbusters, too, but the repertory or art cinema is in my mind THE benchmark of great cinema. Much relates to fantasy that is often unpalatable to the larger audiences.
    I think fantasy is not just a "personal experience" or part of our being or lives, that then can or cannot be present in our photography, but rather a key "process" within the photographic approach of some, some of the time. You can choose to make a photograph as a realistic representation, or you can imbue that design with your imagination and fantasies that the real world provides as only an original, and soon to be overseen or rejected, base.
     
  174. jtk

    jtk

    "You can choose to make a photograph as a realistic representation, or you can imbue that design with your imagination and fantasies "
    Sure. But that "imbuing" sometimes involves imposition of symbolism (crosses, allusions to the heavens, psychedelic conventions like multi-exposure)...and symbols specify meaning. In other words, they're intended to end questions rather than raise them. I think there's more excitement in "questions" than "answers": I'd rather a mystery than a morality play. Questions create tension, answers reduce it.
    Like religious art, haiku are built out of symbols (in English these might consist of references to season, pine trees etc)...contriving to arrange a large experience within few (popularly 17) syllables. A photograph, by contrast, rarely springs from that much discipline.
    Haiku spring from a discipline that treasures both paradox and an unexcited state. Photographers, by contrast, seem generally to be uncomfortable with paradox... and seem to seek excited states. Those are just my impressions: some photographers love paradox and doubt (I do) and some photograph in intentionally meditative states (I don't).
    Fantasy, as most seem to use the term, implies stepping away from sense of reality, perhaps actively attempting to create a sense of unreality (eg make something look mystical). I don't think that's similar to experiencing...I think it's what Buddhists call "striving."
     
  175. jtk

    jtk

    ...some folks do look for symbols to access understanding...maybe it's genetic.
    ... others want impressions, patterns. Maybe we're lazy :)
    Some like concrete music (alludes to phenomena like "Spring" or "The Grand Canyon" or "anxiety" or "gates of Moscow"), others like jazz (ain't it got some swing? where have I heard this before? a bebop reference! love that grrrrowling bass!)
    We've talked about film and music in relation to photography: Literature may relate as well. I've read James Joyces Ulysses four times now...the last time aloud with a group. I joined a group to hear other voices read it, and to read out loud myself. I didn't seek to "understand" it any more than I seek to "understand" life.
    Some in my Joyce group are more interested in the author's symbology...it peppers his fantasies: my impression is that they don't hear the music, don't recognize the poetry, don't revel in the humor (Ulysses is riddled with it). Me, I don't find the symbols any more important than the signs on store fronts (which some photographers love :) But I do laugh while I read, and some readers seem incapable...
    Joyce himself chuckled nastily that some readers (academics) would get distracted by his constant play with symbols.
     
  176. James Joyce and music ? Ah yes,...makes me fantasize again about the good old days playin' bands like Therapy.
     
  177. John -
    From your first response to my last post:
    "....."imbuing" sometimes involves imposition of symbolism"
    Agreed, but the keyword here is sometimes. I personally do not use symbolism as a regular element of fantasy, only sometimes and when I think it may be useful to the visual communication.
    And from your conclusion:
    "Fantasy, as most seem to use the term, implies stepping away from sense of reality, perhaps actively attempting to create a sense of unreality (eg make something look mystical). I don't think that's similar to experiencing...I think it's what Buddhists call "striving." "
    I am not familiar with Buddhist thoughts about fantasy or stepping away from a sense of reality. But to my mind, experiencing and communicating that experience to photographic art are perfectly consistent with each other. One is personal only, the other is interactive, being a creation involving fantasy that is hopefully shared with the viewer. The shared experience is an objective of photography.
     
  178. John -" ...some folks do look for symbols to access understanding...maybe it's genetic."
    ...and maybe it's not.
    JK "... others want impressions, patterns. Maybe we're lazy :)"
    Maybe. Who knows?
    Some want both, and what would they be? Greedy? Lazy? Genetic? All labels, right?
    JK "Me, I don't find the symbols any more important than the signs on store fronts (which some photographers love :) But I do laugh while I read, and some readers seem incapable..."
    And some can do both. Don't you remember the thing you mentioned about the blind men "reading" the elephant? It applies to all of us.
     
  179. For me, symbols are about the interplay between the particular (individual) and the transcendent (universal). Symbols, when used well, are evocative, not determinative. Even back in High School Shakespeare, we argued more about the symbols than we agreed. Good teachers encouraged that. Symbols will bring up as many questions as they answer, unless they're used simplistically or understood only superficially, which kind of defeats the purpose of a symbol.
    When I read or listen to the spoken word, I don't do so either lyrically or interpretively. If I did only one, I'd be missing half. Here, I agree with Luis that it's not an either/or matter. Were I in a reading group with some people only interpreting symbols and other people listening only to the texture and rhythm of the words, I'd just figure I was having a more complete experience by doing both. And I suppose each group might feel I was missing something by not paying complete attention to one or the other.
    A nod to Phylo, by the way, for posting a relevant and moving photograph. I see it as lyrical and symbolic.
     
  180. Thanks Fred, I thought it represented in some way, even quite literally, Julie's questions of fantasy being a way in or a way out, an escape from or escape to. Fantasy deals also with being receptive ( which you also pointed to ), besides being a deeper understanding or affirmation of ones uncomplete but already well established thoughts. As for the picture itself, it is reality, meaning that anyone walking by there could have seen it - the tree's reflection aligning with the door inside - if they wished to look and stop for a second, and positioned themselfes to the exact spot where the reality of the tree's reflection together with the reality of the door becomes a possibility for considering something else.

    I don't run away from symbolism, I embrace it. Doors are symbolic, suggestive portals...As are trees. But each tree has a distinct character, each one communicating something different then the next. Wanting to photograph the character instead of a tree has something to do with fantasy, even though the character is very real.Seeing the character is natural and without limiting consequences but photographing it isn't. The camera's objective eye puts consequences to the *fantasy*, what makes it in a strange kinda way all the more fascinating.
     
  181. jtk

    jtk

    "And some can do both. Don't you remember the thing you mentioned about the blind men "reading" the elephant? It applies to all of us." - Luis G
    Luis: Yes, of course.

    However... remember that each of the blind men had his own unique perspective...like some here...especially in their photos. Unique perspectives may be more scary than normative ones. Or, for others, recognizing and exploiting their unique perspectives may be the best possible way to see things.
    The blind man who felt the elephant's trunk described it accurately...he wasn't trying to describe an elephant after all.
    Based on my own personal responses, not have had normative responses, I addressed the Fantasy topic....like each of the blind men..perhaps more scientifically than "correctly".
    Luis...Do you have personal responses to the topic ?
    There are Victorian pen/ink cartoon illustrations for that blind man/elephant parable: Except for the leader, each blind man hung onto the previous blind man's coat tails until they got to the elephant. Then they took risks, honestly describing their experiences. The parable had more to do with drawing "right" conclusions than with best effort experience (which is my first concern for reasons of scientific orientation or genetics :).
     
  182. jtk

    jtk

    "For me, symbols are about the interplay between the particular (individual) and the transcendent (universal). Symbols, when used well, are evocative, not determinative. Even back in High School Shakespeare, we argued more about the symbols than we agreed." - Fred G

    Fred, that "symbols are about" is a unique perspective, as you recognized ("For me") so I don't need to disagree...though I will point out that it seems unique word usage.
    And....I think you've used "when used well" for wiggle room (please parden my unique perspective :)
    I think its unusual for symbols to be "used well" in photography... for example, I don't think unicorn/photoshop images are "used well" to suggest imagination or fantasy or that gravestones "used well" in photos to address loss (except in insurance company ads). But YMMV :)
     
  183. jtk

    jtk

    "I am not familiar with Buddhist thoughts about fantasy or stepping away from a sense of reality. " - Arthur P
    Arthur, as I admit regularly, I'm a "faux Buddhist" at best. But...my understanding of the Zen spin on Buddhism is that "reality," such as it is, is the concern. The most direct possible experience, rather than direct pursuit of "elevated states." Minimally intermediated with thoughts
    I distrust symbols because they're someone else's non-perceptual devices, they try to tell me how to respond. Fred mentioned high school arguments about Shakespeare and symbols...but I'm not aware of important symbolism in Shakespeare (other than in sonnets): I think he usually wrote specifically to grip an unsophisticated audience by the balls, not to lead them further into their own heads..but I'm not well enough versed in Shakespeare to deny symbolism fits in somewhere.
     
  184. Allen Herbert,
    Fortunatily there were Artists in those times who seperated fantasty from fiction.
    What does that mean? If you're trying to say the reverse (fact from fantasy) I'd like to know who those artists were. Names please.
    You find no fantasy in The Blues? Or you find The Blues to be untrue? Less true than
    Back in the times of Rome writers satirists like Juvenal write fantasy but based on the truth of the times. Petronius wrote about people who had become rich. Juvenal wrote about emperors who indulged their fantasies. Humorous and always to the point but always accurate.. They offer us information about their time as well as revealing fantasy of the times.
    “You find no fantasy in The Blues? Or you find The Blues to be untrue? Less true than”
    The blues were very much based on hard truths….why would you imply I would think they were other than truths?
    “I distrust symbols because they're someone else's non-perceptual devices, they try to tell me how to respond. Fred mentioned high school arguments about Shakespeare and symbols...”
    I agree.
    Shakespeare created fantasy for his audiences; however, the fantasy was based on reality. Using metaphors he created a deep sense of reality from the fantasy…
    “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth” a wonderful example.
     
  185. Allen Herbert,
    Fortunatily there were Artists in those times who seperated fantasty from fiction.
    What does that mean? If you're trying to say the reverse (fact from fantasy) I'd like to know who those artists were. Names please.
    You find no fantasy in The Blues? Or you find The Blues to be untrue? Less true than
    Back in the times of Rome writers satirists like Juvenal write fantasy but based on the truth of the times. Petronius wrote about people who had become rich. Juvenal also wrote about emperors who indulged their fantasies. Humorous and always to the point but always accurate.. They offer us information about their time as well as revealing fantasy of the times.
    “You find no fantasy in The Blues? Or you find The Blues to be untrue? Less true than”
    The blues were very much based on hard truths….why would you imply I would think they were other than truths?
    “I distrust symbols because they're someone else's non-perceptual devices, they try to tell me how to respond. Fred mentioned high school arguments about Shakespeare and symbols...”
    I agree.
    Shakespeare created fantasy for his audiences; however, the fantasy was based on reality. Using metaphors he created a deep sense of reality from the fantasy…
    “O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth” a wonderful example.
     
  186. Jeez, i hate repeating myself.

    Thought this was amusing....

    Emperor Domitian summoned his top advisers to solve a ludicrous problem – how to cook a fish too large for any pan.
     
  187. John - " The blind man who felt the elephant's trunk described it accurately...he wasn't trying to describe an elephant after all."
    He had no idea what he was describing. I've participated in this forum whenever I feel I have something to contribute. In this particular thread I didn't feel I had a lot to say that hadn't been said already.
    All I was saying, as Fred correctly detected, was that one POV doesn't necessarily exclude the possibility of holding others simultaneously. Some people are even capable of giving them equal weight.
    JK- " I distrust symbols because they're someone else's non-perceptual devices, they try to tell me how to respond."
    Are you saying you only trust your own devices?
    _______________________
     
  188. John--

    You find the formulation "symbols are about" unique but don't tell me what bothers you or what you find odd about it, so I don't know how to address your concerns. I didn't think beginning a sentence about how I think symbolism works with "symbols are about" was so strange. The point was more in the latter part of that same sentence, beginning with "the interplay between . . . " Did you find that part "unique" and, if so, could you talk about it. I really don't know what you're thinking.
    As for wiggle room. Not really. You said you found that symbols provide answers. For me, badly used or badly conceived symbols provide answers, not all symbols. I thought you were categorizing all symbols (photographic, literary, etc.) as providing answers and I was merely saying that, for me, that characterizes only some symbols, and it is not in the nature of symbols per se to do that. Quite the contrary, I think.
    "I think he usually wrote specifically to grip an unsophisticated audience by the balls, not to lead them further into their own heads"
    I don't respond to Shakespeare the way I think he may have intented audiences to respond. I respond to him the way I respond to him. Audiences have changed since the time of Shakespeare. I believe art lives, and that means it is adaptable beyond its milieu. It's why I can listen to Beethoven on modern-day instruments and enjoy it. But there are many varied ways to read, see, and respond to Shakespeare, none of which are more suitable than another. Same for photographs.
     
  189. jtk

    jtk

    Fred and Luis...
    Yes, of course it's theoretically possible to make good use of symbols in photography, ...both as photographers and as viewers. It happens that I don't believe photographers commonly do. I think they're most often badly used (to use Fred's phrase).
    Its been well known for decades, by by brain surgeons, psychologists and life insurance actuaries, that some people are more symbol-preoccupied than others (insurance actuaries call them "engineer types"). Some folks need symbols more than other folks.
    Feel free to use symbols in your photos any way you want. I'm not trying to tell anybody how to work or what to think, I'm simply describing my evidently non-kumbayah perceptual/responsive experience.
    As for Shakespeare, yes, it's possible to find symbols in his work...just as symbol-oriented people find them in their soup :) But I don't think Wm S was an engineer type...nor do I think engineer types enjoy James Joyce quite the way he had in mind.
     
  190. jtk

    jtk

    ...I think Allen Herbert hit the nail close to it's head, referring to Shakespeare's fantasies based on reality. And his mention of metaphor was long overdue in this thread...it's amazing that nobody mentioned it earlier.
    Metaphor is more poetic than symbol, less crude. That's my story and I'm-a stickin' to it.
     
  191. "Methaphor is more poetic than symbol"
    Then you might as well say that metaphor is more symbolic than symbol since a poetic understanding and use - of language, concepts and communication - is always more symbolic then not, by definition of being poetic.
    And what else is a photograph other then a symbol for, or a representation of...anyhow.
     
  192. Oh, I let that for the viewing stage. You realize that people still have to fill in a lot of blanks, make their own connexion for a piece to work. At least that's how a lazy bum like me like to see things. :)
     
  193. "In the naked bed, in Plato's cave, / Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall, ... "
    -- first two lines of the poem, In the Naked Bed, in Plato's Cave by Delmore Schwartz
     
  194. "I'm not trying to tell anybody how to work or what to think . . . "
    But you are Blanche, you are.
     
  195. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, you make a point of denying that you hold any angular views of your own. You prefer ambivalence: positioning yourself as a normative spokesperson. I do of course admire your approach to photography, but your posts often disparage individual perspectives on that basis alone, irrespective the ideas being expressed.
    To make this more personal...your discomfort with new ideas (such as mine re distracting symbols) becomes obvious when you state that they come close to to the heart of the Shakespeare you may have read. If you really did have long discussions about Shakespearian symbols in high school, you were missing the heart of the matter...which supports my point about symbols in photos.

    I seek engagement rather than agreement. I'm content to be thought wrong and I'm content when someone else seems wrong, though will try to point out where we differ. For example, Rebecca and I seem to agree on some key points related to Tanyth Berkeley...but she's got strong related views with which I disagree. I'm glad to know she's there, bored by the ideas of people who don't bother to consider what she's saying.
    In this Forum I am regularly "corrected" by urgent expressions of the prevailing normative, "settled" view, which is almost always the view for which you seem the most determined representative. That's OK...it's the "norm."
    Phylo, by attempting to reduce poetry and metaphor to "symbol" you are denying the implications of both terms...and it's the implications that define them. I suspect you read even less poetry than I do...which would be fine except that in this case a good analogy would be me expounding on nuclear physics, a field in which I'm entirely ignorant.
     
  196. John--
    I see it differently. By using phrases like "non-kumbaya" to describe your own way of looking at things (in contrast to the ways of others), you seem to be putting others down. I could easily be wrong, but much of what you talk about in terms of your own personal way of doing things or seeing things often goes hand in hand with a swipe at the other way of doing things. Others can correct me if I'm wrong, but I constantly feel like many of us are simply trying to let you know that you can do it or see it however you want (you don't want to read Shakespeare with symbolism, don't), but we wish you'd stop belittling the ways we do things when asserting how you do them. It's really as simple as that and maybe it's all a big misunderstanding, but it seems to happen over and over again. I mean, what's the crack about the understanding of symbols maybe being genetic for? How does that further your desire for closer engagement?
     
  197. . "I could easily be wrong, but much of what you talk about in terms of your own personal way of doing things or seeing things often goes hand in hand with a swipe at the other way of doing things. Others can correct me if I'm wrong, "

    I would like to correct you, Fred.
    You are making a personnel attack in my opinion....i also dislike the use of the word "we” and what you imply with it.
    John has he's style of writing and that is all there is to it. I have never found him personally offensive despite many heated hard discussions. He also makes some valid points in a direct way which often goes against the flow….it’s called having an opinion.
     
  198. jtk

    jtk

  199. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, my comments about genetics are founded in brain research. Loci in the brain that specifically identify symbols (eg letters) have been identified. It follows that there are genetic variations in their significance to perception. For an easy resource, the ongoing and entertaining Charlie Rose special programming on brain research touches that point (www.charlierose.com).
    People are not interchangable despite the political/philosophical urge to normalize them. I was speaking of science and real differences, not making a "crack."
    You've just attempted to justify attempts to "correct" my thinking (rather than addressing ideas). That some become anxious when non-normative ideas are expressed is OK from my perspective...it's background noise, generally tolerable but sometimes deserving mention. Your high school Shakespeare experience made my point better than I could ever have: you and your pals distracted yourselves with symbols at exactly the time in your lives when Shakespeare's juice might have been most compelling.
     
  200. jtk

    jtk

    A tip o' the hat to Allen Herbert :)
    Fred... I have no " desire for closer engagement." I want ACTUAL engagement....some give and take, more logic, more flow of ideas, less ideosyncratic use of what should be shared terms, less automatic acceptance of what we've been told, less sealed-off thinking. I want more perspectives, I don't want everybody to be content with what we think we believe.
    It doesn't seem commonly recognized here that some are elderly academics, others are professionals with and without studios, others are happy poseurs with berets, others have strange corporate backgrounds, others are teens with what are often unfairly called "sophomoric" concerns. When we take core ideas as "givens," attempting to normalize, we sell each other short...we're all bozos on this bus, but we're not all the same.
     
  201. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Me, I was last employed working on the Great Wall of China (actually something similar but the fantasy with a touch of Kafka is better than the official description). I've been a dogsbody teacher of freshman composition, a mid-list science fiction writer, and I walked around my neighborhood today with my Border Terrier and an F3.
    I have no problem with people having different views.
    Fantasy gets at things that mere logic misses. Reality is what we know now by logic. Fantasy is what we might know, what we used to know, what escapes logic but can be much more true.
     
  202. Allen, I disagree with you. Fred's handled this with kid gloves, in a gentlemanly way, never lowering himself to giving John the due he richly deserves.
    John Kelly frequently engages in Personal Attacks and constant (overcompensating) put-downs of both the overt and covert kind here, gleefully breaking the Terms of Use. Many of those comments have been cleaned out, so you may have missed them. He's done it to several people in here besides Fred and yours truly.
    John says stuff like: "I want ACTUAL engagement....some give and take, more logic, more flow of ideas, less (sic) ideosyncratic use of what should be shared terms, less automatic acceptance of what we've been told, less sealed-off thinking. I want more perspectives, I don't want everybody to be content with what we think we believe."
    Guess what? People here are free to express themselves, participate or observe, share or sit on ideas, accept what they want, seal-off thought, or be content -- or not -- as they wish, as long as they adhere to the Terms of Use that John himself often disregards.
    If John wanted engagement, then he should be engaging , instead of combative, polite instead of snide, and gentlemanly, instead of dictatorial.
     
  203. [Addressing the original topic of Fantasy]
    There is an interesting quote from the very end of this Paris Review interview with Annie Proulx, where she's talking about response to the movie made from her story, Brokeback Mountain:
    ... So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that "Brokeback" reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends—they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it. I can’t tell you how many of these things have been sent to me as though they’re expecting me to say, oh great, if only I’d had the sense to write it that way. And they all begin the same way—I’m not gay, but . . . The implication is that because they’re men they understand much better than I how these people would have behaved. And maybe they do. But that’s not the story I wrote. Those are not their characters. The characters belong to me by law.​
    She starts by saying that she thinks, "it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience" and yet she ends by sayiing, "The characters belong to me by law."
    I wonder how possessive others feel of their own fantasies or at least the images or stories made from or of them. Do you intend to "leave spaces" for the viewer? Or not? Or do you not even think about it one way or the other?
    With my own composite images, I like it if people elaborate or extend my idea (as I intend it) but I don't like it if they "get it all wrong." Which means I give them some space, but not very much. Of course, in fact, they take as much space as they want.
     
  204. As an aside, I've heard the "I'm not gay, but" line a lot from straight guys who like my male nudes. I can't think of a time I've ever commented on a female nude and started out saying "I'm not straight, but . . ."
    Her reaction reminds me of the things Josh Dunham-Wood was saying in the Empathy thread. He talked about the difference between initial response and then how we handle that response. Annie has done her job and the guys reacting the way they do have understood her story quite well and have been touched in just the way she wanted them to. It's how they handle their reactions she's trying to control and she will always fail at that. Hers is a surprising reaction to me. If people came out of the movie whistling and smiling, she'd have something to worry about, because that kind of reaction might mean she totally missed her mark. But wanting Ennis to meet someone is so in keeping with their own empathy for the characters, an empathy that her writing goes a long way in creating, that it's hard to imagine her being upset about it. They haven't missed her point, they're responding personally to her point. They're wishing . . . because of her point.
    I discussed this movie at length when it first came out with lots of people and no one I know had the kind of reaction she describes. Perhaps because I talked to mostly gay men who are all-too-familiar with this kind of tragedy associated with being gay, we all accepted the ending as quite genuine and real and never fantasized about happier endings. Many real-life gay endings have been, in fact, not terribly happy. I don't know if Matthew Shepard is the household name it should be. I also know many straight guys who stayed away from it, not because it was gay-themed but because it was a love story, a "chick flick" as the saying goes these days. Their loss.
    The movie was as much Ang Lee's piece as Annie Proulx's. I'd be interested to hear of his reaction to the phenomenon Annie was talking about.
    Many interpretations I read of my own photos strike me as fantasy. Though I talk a lot about my photos in the critique forums and even in the interview I did recently, I prefer to talk about process and, sometimes, general mood or what I might have been thinking, but really try to stay away from interpretations of my own work. I respond to some of my own photos with thoughts of meaning and interpretation but wouldn't want to risk influencing anyone as to how to react to a photo of mine. That is their experience to have, as a viewer. Occasionally, people will suggest I do this and that to a photo, a different crop, black and white instead of color, and I may tell them why I made the choices I did. I also think there's a difference between "critique" and viewer response. Were a critic or a fellow novelist suggesting Annie change the story to "make it better," I could understand her negative reaction. But viewers responding that way is a different matter, to me.
    Recently, there was a bit of controversy over a portrait I posted where I had done a bit of "over-the-top" processing to what was called an otherwise "quite beautiful" and "striking" portrait. A couple of people really wanted it done in a more straightforward way. They felt it could be a much more beautiful portrait without my added processing. That meant they were getting something that was in it for me. I didn't want it to be just another beautiful portrait. Regardless of their desires for how I should have presented it, I knew they were seeing what I saw and their negative reaction was somewhat built in to my own handling of the portrait. I didn't intend it to be a "strikingly beautiful" portrait. I knew they got it even if they were wishing to see something else. That's fine with me.
    Ambiguity can often motivate fantasy. One can even take strong stands in their work and still be ambiguous about some things or allow for some amount of ambiguity in a response.
    Thanks for this addition, Julie.
     
  205. I'm also surprised at Proulx's reaction. The only thing I can think of is that I feel that there is always a foundation myth behind any fantasy and that backstory is sacrosanct; absolute -- so that the fantasy will hold water; so it can "stand up" -- not be so amorphous that it won't hold its players.
    Maybe for Proulx, the ending is part of that necessary structure, though I find it hard to take an ending as part of the foundation.
    When I was a little kid, I had some incredibly elaborate fantasy games that I played -- for years -- my little sister and a bunch of my close friends. We had all kinds of mysterious and invisible (to non-players) rules -- and god help any outsider who tried to join in and broke the rules.
    Obviously, now, in making pictures or otherwise creating something to communicate what I have in mind, I am now not only inviting outsiders to join in, but it's part of my job to make the structure of the origin-myth known (however rudimentary) to those not in-the-know. I still think that the foundation, at some level, has to be fixed, but within the framework, play is invited, not discouraged.
     
  206. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Julie, Annie Proulx is a wonderful writer, but anyone who gets upset in public about fans reappropriating their characters needs to understand a whole lot of things. First, if a writer uses cultural stereotypes, then they're not hers in the first place. Her characters were in some way against the cliches (the beautiful doomed blonde; the seductive and slightly sinister brunette, normally found in lesbian pulp fiction) and an use of the cliche of the "and (s)he died because society/lover was too cruel." When the movie came out, I was hanging out on the net with a bunch of gay folks, and their sense of what happened was that Proulx transformed some of cliches, but that she didn't escape the pulp ending (required in the 1950s to have any gay fiction out in print and which many gay people simply rewrote in their own minds, knowing what the convention was, and probably knowing the legal reasons why everyone had to die in the end).
    Fred, the original story makes far more of the two men being not attractive and rather gawky farm boys than did the film. I think Proulx's point was that the glamour and romance of beautiful boys wasn't the main concern. When Danny Overstreet was murdered in Roanoke by a homophobic crazy who shot up a gay bar, people pointed out that Overstreet wasn't going to get the press that Matthew Shepard got because Overstreet was a fat guy in his 30s rather than someone beautiful in his teens. Proulx's good point is that people who aren't classically YAVIS and who aren't educated can have this great pain too.
    But in commentary on the film and on Proulx's site, people pointed out that they'd known people in those places who were gay and who didn't have that level of trouble from the communities they were in. Where I lived in rural Virginia, pretty much everyone knew who was gay and while there was homophobia, probably less acting out of it since various people were various other people's kin. When the Phelps people threatened to picket Overstreet's funeral, the Roanoke and Salem police told Phelps's daughter that they couldn't protect Westover Baptist Church pickets. No pickets showed up -- I suspect the gist of that phone conversation was that if the Overstreets wanted to make mincemeat of the Phelps, the cops would be helping the Overstreets, that nobody would see causing pain to a family that had lost a son as anything decent people would protect. And the killer was a drifter, not someone local.
    And nobody's done that story because America's general cultural cliches about Southern cities would find it unbelievable. The Roanoke Pride Festival went from being a furtive private event to having major banks as a sponsors and a website. (One of my fantasy projects would be a photo documentation of Roanoke gay life, complete with dates at NASCAR races).
    So, was Proulx accurate? Do readers/viewers seeing cliches repurposed have a right to rework the story? For "the love killed him/her," of course they're going to provide a different ending since that's the way people learned to read those books from the 1950s on, whatever the doomed love: gay, interracial, wrong class (remember Love Story). People used to give Shakespeare happy endings in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Tacky in those cases, and overly sentimental, but an always unhappy ending is as much a cliche as anything else, and as sentimental. If it's there to sneak by the laws against positive representations of gay romances, of course, even the author would expect the readers to provide more realistic endings: two old men cooking for each other, two old women arguing about who lived with who when.
    If 80 percent of what we see is our brains filling in the gaps, then I suspect that we all more live in fantasy worlds than most of us would like to believe.
     
  207. Julie--
    Yes. What you're saying makes sense to me . . . that you have a self-imposed obligation to make sense of what you're doing and to communicate what you want to the viewer of your photos. I, too, have intentions behind many of my photos, and will use the photographic tools at my disposal to communicate those foundations you refer to. Some photographs demand more of me along those lines than others. We each have to draw the line for ourselves where our control begins and ends. That's part of showing your work to others. I often see lack of good photographic technique and bad use of photographic and communicative tools used as an excuse. One can overplay the hand that says "every viewer sees it differently." Sometimes, the viewer doesn't get it because the photographer blew it or didn't show what he thinks he showed. And, sometimes what the viewer does has more to do with the viewer than with our photographs and we do well to recognize that.
    Rebecca--
    Some excellent points. I had forgotten, until you reminded me, that some friends of mine make that point over and over again. They are tired of seeing gay stories end in tragedy. I understand their point.
    I didn't watch this movie with a notion of accuracy. So whether or not these things happen where Proulx claimed they happen doesn't much matter to me. And, despite some anecdotal information to the contrary, I suspect there is enough homophobia in these towns for there to be some relevance to the story.
    I actually saw Brokeback Mountain as a Western. I love Westerns, and I liked seeing some of the subtle homoeroticism to be found in films like Red River (Montgomery Clift and John Ireland comparing the size of their guns and their shooting abilities . . . with Walter Brennan looking on amused) come to fruition here. I think Ang Lee took on the tradition of the Western quite beautifully. I don't fault him for using handsome leading men. It's what's done in Hollywood. I accept it. Going against that type allows me my own photographic voice at times.
    For me, and as we've discussed before, good art straddles the line between stereotype and iconic or representative figure and also between cliche and significance. These characters, to me, were individuals as well as universally relatable, very human and also types, as I think we all are to a certain extent. We are constantly escaping and defying roles because roles exist. This story was about these two guys and it was about me and it was about a lot of gay men, all at the same time.
     
  208. One of my favorite movie endings, is the one in Spike Lee's The 25th Hour. The viewer gets to see the fantasy, while in the end only left to "fantasize" about the inevitable reality, as it always is...
     
  209. I liked Brokeback Mountain, and saw it as more about American Rigor Mortis intolerance, going well beyond gayness. When I first came to this country, a few years after Robert Frank had finished The Americans, I had this unreal Modernist idea of America as a beacon of freedom and equality for humankind. A few weeks after arriving, my aunt took my mother, sister and I to Sears for the first time. I was awed by the variety of goods, their egalitarian (to me) attitude, and the large size of the fishing section. My sister needed to go to the bathroom, and I waited outside while all of them went in. I walked to the water fountains, and noticed there were two sets of bathrooms and water fountains. When they came out, I, unable to read English, asked my Mom and Aunt about this, and they very politely glossed over it with nervously saying something about how Americans don't like black people, so everything is separate. I remember my heart falling out of my chest, in slow motion and shattering on the floor. This was how I related to Brokeback.
    I love Proulx's style. She did a great short story in which photography plays a part called Negatives , which is great reading.
    I can't speak for her choices, but if I wanted to convey an unmistakeable, monolithic message (and I don't), photography would not be my first choice. I'd go with something akin to a telegram.
    I am grateful whenever someone spends more than 7 seconds looking at one of my photographs, and I welcome their reading of it, whatever it is (as long as it doesn't harm someone else). If what I was feeling comes across, great, if the picture sparks someone else to come up with their own reading and feelings, that's as good as it gets. I would rather leave space and sparks for the viewer to synthesize something out of his own psyche and carry it forward. If it only meets my expectations and fantasies, that's very limited. If it acts as a breeze in a dandelion field, all the better.
     
  210. Well, I must admit Luis, you sure do a good job of sparkling my fantasy regarding your own photographs without even having seen them, but only having read many of your meaningful posts about everything photography. I mean, you say you're glad, grateful, if someone looks at one of your pictures for longer then seven seconds and bothers to read something in it, and yet...you don't wish to show at least a few of them here ??!! Not making any judgement call, just saying that I'm truly curious what sort of photographic style goes behind all the words...
     
  211. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Phylo, the only photographer Luis G I could find on line seems too young to be our Luis G (the last segregated bathrooms I witnessed disappeared in the late 1960s, perhaps a bit later, but would have been unheard of by the mid-1970s and the on-line Luis G is in his 20s).
    With any art, having some sense of how much this reading/interpretation can be blocked, and how much leaving ambiguity here would be useful is part of the skill. I think that works that attempt to force one and only one interpretation tend to be stultifying. Anticipating possible ranges of interpretations and playing with them is part of what makes the artist interesting. Most interpretations of Hamlet don't take into consideration what people believed about ghosts in Shakespeare's day -- and knowing what they believe makes Hamlet a descent into damnation, Horatio not withstanding. And that's a very different play than the reading I knew about when I was younger, before people had worked with the popular texts about the dangers of ghosts.
    We might read that young Mapplethorpe self-portrait differently now that we know the end of the story than how Barthe read it without knowing how the story ended. Similarly, we might read Annie Leibovitz's photo of Lennon and Ono against what happened a couple of hours later. For Richard Powers, who used the photo's title as the title for one of his novels, WWI frames Sander's "Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance."
     
  212. I'd like to echo Phylo's sentiments. Luis has contributed greatly to these forums and often puts things into a concise perspective that stimulates me and often seems to lead to some new way of seeing something, almost as if I thought it was always there but it wasn't. And that happens, even when I disagree with him. I, too, would be very curious to see some of your photographs, Luis, but, like Phylo, I respect whatever reasons you may have for not sharing them.
     
  213. Phylo and Fred, thank you for respecting my privacy. I took down my aged website to re-do it with the promised help of my only website-designer friend. He married & moved, is now super-busy as a new dad, and I haven't gotten around to finding someone else to help me with putting something new up. When I do, (and I may just end up donning another handle and putting up some new things on Flickr) I will let you know in private. Thank you for the kind words.
    Geez, Rebecca, you Googled me? :) Oh, to be 20-something again.
     
  214. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, you've elected to be non-private in your opinions of others. The rest of the active participants here are out there with works on line for better or worse. My writing name is in my profile.
     
  215. Rebecca, I understand where you're coming from on this. I am enjoying myself here, and will continue to do so as long as I don't get warned and/or booted. BTW, my writing name is not in my profile....wait, I did not elect to put up a profile...Oops, I didn't do it -- again . I haven't reviewed pictures _publicly_ here either, though I'm sure everyone else has. If you check by my name, you'll see the three rolls of film, indicating that I contribute my share to this site, and not just in this and the off-topic forum
    As a Wise Man said about the BB (Bozo Bus, which as far as I can tell is the Keseyan spiritual vehicle for the PoP forum), a great bit of fantasy in itself (boomeranging back on topic here), each of us is different .
     
  216. I would like to give two quotes that I think may get to the crux of the disagreements about the role of fantasy in photography. This is taken from an essay about sexuality and photography; The Pleasure of the Phototext by Jane Gallop that first appeared in AfterImage in 1985:
    ... Photography is art like sex is fantasy, desire, imagination. It is one's own ideas projected onto the world, shaping and distorting the world, framing the world and making it into an object of art or an object of desire.
    ... I am pursuing the idea of a relation between sexuality and the medium of photography, which is not sexuality in photography, but is something like the sexuality of photography. In August 1984 I heard Leslie Bellavance, a Milwaukee artist and teacher, make a similar point: "Erotica and photography have what seems to be parallel paradoxes. The erotic paradox is the meeting point of dependence and independence. The photographic paradox is the meeting point of nature and art." Bellavance's paradoxes resemble Barthes's statement that the punctum is what I add that is already there. The erotic paradox is this strange combination of dependence and independence. In order to be erotic, the object must depend on the viewer, on the aroused one, on our fantasies, our imagination, our constructs, our framing, and yet, the object must also remain independent, still real, still other. Eroticism itself is a relation to something that is very much part of our imagination, our projection, our desires. Our eroticism is what is most narcissistic or most imperialistic in our relation to the world, and yet, there is also some relation between our desires and something that is really out there, that is independent of our fantasies.​
    This is more about the relation of the viewer to the completed photograph, but I think it also is about how or what the photographer will use "out there" to make visible his own internal fantasies.
     
  217. I relate to the dynamic as more active than passive. In that respect, I am more inclined toward the first quote.
    Both quotes suggest a too strictly psychological approach to sex, however. Certainly, imagination and fantasy have roles to play in sex. But so does the physical act itself. Sex can be as animalistic as it is erotic.
    What I would also add to these quotes is something about sensuality. I like dictionary.com's first two definitions:
    pertaining to, inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the sense or appetites; carnal; fleshly.

    lacking in moral restraints; lewd or unchaste.
    I think particularly the notion of "lacking in *moral restraints" may be relevant to fantasy. It's why I emphasize the secret nature of many fantasies. We are free to be as immoral as we want in our fantasies, without fear of repercussion. That can be liberating. Fantasies are not governed by the same rules of propriety as actions (except, I suppose, where religion is involved).
    There is a factor of exhilaration missing from both these quotes.
    *Moral considerations around art are probably worth a whole other thread. But I think morality has a different relationship to aesthetics than to other aspects of our lives. Then again, as we see in discussions about street photography, about privacy, about shooting homeless people, photography can be used as an excuse for lack of morality as well.
     
  218. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    The reading suggestions are interesting; most of what people says comes from what they've read more than an interaction between what they've read, what they've photographed, and what they've thought about extending what they've read. I don't know who suggested Camera Lucida to me or in which thread, but that was worth the trip.
    Fred, I always think of the Ten Commandments as a list of things to avoid if one doesn't wish to be killed or beaten by one's neighbors. Morals and manners are for getting along with other people in particular cultures.
    Aesthetic pleasures can be sensual. But there's a big argument in writing as to whether pornography, strictly defined as material aimed at stimulation for masturbation, can also be art/literature. W.H. Auden said that it couldn't be. Samuel R. Delany has been writing things that prove one can get very graphic and still produce something that's more than a stroke book. Or perhaps things that graphic aren't stroke books.
    The erotic fantasy is one kind of fantasy, though I think Freudians would argue that all pleasures are erotic at their core.
    The other side of fantasy is wondering how much of the pleasure of a work is dependent on the culture and subcultures we live in, the pleasure of sharing a common experience, or an uncommon one? Do we imagine more than is there because a work pushes certain culturally determined buttons for us, or that if we like this, we're like people we admire? We fantasize a role for ourselves as appreciators of this art that people we would like to be or be with like. Style and taste as identity, perhaps. This came up in the other thread on Berkeley -- how much is something good because it's accepted to be good by people we want to identify with?
    I don't like Yoko Ono; I think she's a derivative rich girl who fucked her way into various art circles, and will bite anyone suggesting that I can't stand her because I'm petit bourgeois -- I think a lot of "you don't like that because you're petit bourgeois" is coded dislike for the poor who don't have time for doing small audience art -- real petit bourgeois in Marxist terms are shop owners and wedding photograhers, not lumpen proles like adjunct composition teachers). I think she's a fantasy for certain kinds of guys, and the vigor of their defense of her tends to more make me think they're aware at some level that they're identifying with the money, the beauty, and the connections, and that they're creating an imaginary Yoko. If her art is being the blank canvas for male imagination, then she's done that well, and I think that is part of what she's done, the art of the courtesan for which I'm not the audience.
    Maybe all art is a seduction of the viewer, listener, though, getting the viewer or reader to put himself or herself into the spaces the work suggests?
     
  219. Yoko does, indeed, push buttons.
     
  220. This is more about the relation of the viewer to the completed photograph, but I think it also is about how or what the photographer will use "out there" to make visible his own internal fantasies. Julie​
    Nan Goldin on The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, wich deals explicitly with dependence and independence in individual and socially constructed relationships :
    " Real memory, which these pictures trigger, is an invocation of the color, smell, sound, and physical presence, the density and flavor of life. "
    The quote is also applicable to fantasy, real fantasy. Memory being as much dependant on the external facts as it is on fantasy because of it - memory - being internal. Fantasy being that key-moment when one remembers to remember > a quality often evoked through photography.
    http://www.artbook.com/0893813397.html
     
  221. I was actually more interested in the paradoxical parallel than the sexual angle. Dependence/independence; nature/art. The conundrum of using what happens in your head while working from/in/on the real. Wanting to keep the real real, but wanting to make it work in or with the fantasy. If not a direct depiction of one's fantasy, then at least a derivative of it -- its direct descendent.
    How to make a picture that, out of the everywhere and anytime of the world, says "Stop! Hey, something is happening here." It's an artificial, invented construction (only the construction is artificial; I'm saying nothing about the content or meaning), an instant playing field that invites the viewer to come on/in and join the game. I think that when making such photographs, one is aware (I know I am) of making a space for others, of hoping people, (preferably many thousands, even millions of screaming fans) ... will "feel" the space that I've made and will play. With me. The completion, fulfillment of my fantasy-into-photograph requires the participation of others. Confirmation that the space has been made and that the game is recognized -- and of course irresistably cool. (Goes without saying.)
    I feel that the Tanyth Berkeley photographs that we all looked at in John's thread were a good example of a made space that invited us in. For me, Fred's and Phylo's pictures are very strongly inviting; to come into the space they've made. I also get this from some of Rebecca's pictures.
    I think that many kinds of photgraphy do not do this. Many photographs seem to me to demand passive observation or at least that you stay outside the frame; don't mess with the goods. Oddly, to me, Nan Goldin's photographs are this way. I don't feel welcome. But that's probably just me.
     
  222. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Only in the nervous breakdown of the species that was the 20th Century did anyone care about the artist (I'm exaggerating -- other periods of cultural hysteria have also been high periods for romanticizing artists). William Butler Yeats said that this change happened around WWI, before poets were people with certain incomes and educations; after, they were something far more romanticized.
    What people care about is their own fantasies, any one artist/poet/photographer being only the midwife to what's on their minds, something that brings their fantasies into fuller apprehension. Most of their response to any given piece of art is from their own heads, which is why culture and the arts are constructs built on earlier work, and not sui genesis, a variety of shared consensus and communication, not satori. "Shakespeare in the Bush" is a funny lesson in cultural relativism and the arts.
    Fred, I followed Ono one New Year's Eve reading at St. Marks Poetry Project. Charisma, yes, but that's an actress's game, and we have a context for her that we wouldn't have for a poor Japanese girl who crashed the reading and held out a rose. But then all art is context dependent.
    For me, a photograph is an intersection between what the camera can do, what I can see, and how what's out there can be chunked, and the choices I make in how to chunk it (collage can use photography, but it's a different beastie than photography). For the viewer, if my ideas are obviously more important than what they'll make of the photograph, then I'm just in the way, rightly or wrongly. The trick is to get them to use their own imaginations. Allure is possible; pedantry falls flat.
     
  223. The conundrum of using what happens in your head while working from/in/on the real. Wanting to keep the real real, but wanting to make it work in or with the fantasy.​
    Julie, yes, I think it's inherently a matter of letting the things you look at change by changing the way you look at them.
     
  224. Rebecca--
    Yoko has made herself a force. I admire that sort of energy.
    Julie--
    My process of relating to viewers is ongoing and evolving. It is sometimes sufficient but doesn't always seem necessary. Yes, empathy with my viewers and bringing me closer to them is a valuable part of the experience of photographing, but I'm not sure I need it . . . all the time. Giving space to my subjects seems equally rewarding and joining them in that space is significant for me.
    Phylo--
    I feel like sometimes it's not really about what I'm looking at any more than a painting is about the paint per se. (Although, of course, to an extent all paintings are about the paint.) What's there, reality, is the raw material to create a vision . . . a photograph. But it may not be about that reality or even an altered view of it. It may be about something completely different than the reality I use to make it. Reality may simply be what's at hand. But I'm not sure of this . . .
     
  225. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Yoko was born with money. Money is a force amplifier. Arts in our lives are signals of having surplus money, therefore erotically appealing as a sign of having access to goods beyond mere survival. Being Thomas Wedgwood, the business owner and patron was more significant than being William Blake to most people.
    A lot of art is about fantasy -- the fantasy of being on the cutting edge with Ginsberg and the Beats for me as a South Carolina teenager; the fantasy of being part of Yoko Ono's floating world where the avant guard met popular music that wasn't intellectually embarrassing for the people who follow Ono now. I'd rather be Patti Smith, whose life isn't so utterly impossible for me to imagine being. Smith earned her life, and had to work for a living, unlike many of the people floating around on money from home at that time, and paid her dues in NJ bars where she played music for three years between the first appearance at St. Marks and the serious money from performing.
    But a lot of what art does is create an imaginary relationship between the artist and the audience -- a fantasy. Schnabel, for one, plays overtly with the high fashion magazines having articles on him and his latest wife every three years or so, the bare chested artist with the bathtube on a dais so he can watch his latest wife bathing. This is closer to Van Gogh's ear than anything else -- many of the women who read these magazines are imagining being with such an artist. Part of the fantasy. Me, I'm just there for the clothes.
    Ono's money is from the period of Japanese imperial expansion. She's a female Mishima, all the trappings of peace now aside. I find Mishima more interesting, even thought Mishima was no more interested in women than Ono. Smith does open space for me in her work, not that it isn't just as imaginary space. I suspect that Ono would be uneasy if I did like her work. It's for a certain rarified sensibility in males, not for other women. She's a Queen Bee (most of the Fluxis women were; Wakoski is quite a bit more generous to younger women writers than ususal but men were still more important than women in her life). Straightness or gayness plays no part of it being for the guys rather than for other women. I've never liked Edna St. Vincent Millay, either -- the work is for men, always and only. Guys, straight or gay, are still guys. Women, straight or gay, are still not guys. Difference between Marisol and Annie Leibovitz -- both gay, one for the guys, didn't hang out with women socially (and Gertrude Stein was a bit like this, too); one much more open to women, straight or gay. These women affirm that guys are the most important ones and want an exception to be made for them. Of course, guys love them if they're beautiful and feminine and not big fans of the wives. For a beautiful woman to get an audience of other women, the strategies have to be significantly different. I don't think this is just female jealousy; plenty of non-elite writing women are quite attractive, but then that fantasy is different, too.
    Jonathan Franzen was upset that Oprah Winfrey chose one of his books for her T.V. book club. People fantasize about their audiences all the time. I had a fantasy about what the S.F. audience was that collided rather hard with the reality of it.
    I think fantasy and reality are a dance -- and for complex social creatures, sometimes fantasy leads, sometimes it follows, and maybe all our lives as complex primates who build complex societies out of manipulated symbols is always more than a bit fantasy. The geeks who created the economic forecasting systems were less surprised by their failure than the men who hired them to do the work or sold the concept to clients. Our ability to reify or even to make real some of our fantasies makes it hard to separate what's fantasy from what's not. What may be real interpenetrates what may be fantasy. We all bring much if not most of the art to the art object or the latest business model.
     
  226. When I was very young, before kindergarten, I loved to read comic books. I fantasized about Superman, rarely about being him, but wishing he was real, that he was just busy going about his work in the US. I desperately hoped he would read about us in a paper or see us on TV, and that he would come down to make things right and take away the despot du jour, violence and terrorist street bombings that were going on at the time. Maybe he could find a moment's rest afterward to enjoy our beaches, music, and cuisine before returning to the never-ending fray. Shortly thereafter, when I understood this to be a fiction, the fantasy of Superman as Savior, closely paralleling the Catholic upbringing I was experiencing, lingered for months.
    _______________________________
    I don't know what to say to Rebecca's post, except that I disagree with the Yoko Ono part. Interesting that Rebecca mentioned Mishima, because he was in the same class as Yoko when they were children in Japan. So was the child who would later become Emperor of Japan.
    Some class that must have been...


    For other opinions, read this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/05/arts/art-yoko-ono-s-new-bronze-age-at-the-whitney.html
    I do not think Rebecca is a petit bourgeois. I found it curious that she would preempt imaginary attacks; their (also imaginary) focus, and preemptively stereotype the motivations of any member of the male gender who might disagree with her argument.
    Name-dropping fourteen people in one post? I think that's a record for this forum.
    ______________________________________
    I must be missing a gene or something, but I've never fantasized about being another artist, save for Margot Fonteyn and Elvis*. I have fantasized about what it must have been like for many artists from what I know.
    Strangely, other people fantasize (more like hallucinate) about me looking like an actor. Even though I don't see it or fantasize about it, I must look more than a little like Jack Nicholson, because several times a month, sometimes a day , total strangers stop me to tell me I do. Many people have asked me to pose with them and have our picture taken. I always oblige. It just happened again this very morning, this time from a new UPS guy. The waitresses at one of my favorite breakfast joints and a couple of clerks at Office Depot call me "Uncle Jack". Weirdly amusing. Must be the vintage Ray-Bans or what I am told is my cat-that-ate-the-canary smile.
    [No, I have zero interest in becoming a Nicholson impersonator.]
    ________________________________________
    Julie's point about some pictures being "inviting" was...er...well, inviting. One thing that Fred and Nan Goldin have in common, besides doing portraits, is that they both tend to focus on what Goldin refers to as one's tribe , which according to her, "is the only thing you can photograph". I find Goldin's work unabashedly visceral, humanistic, and in an old-school documentary style. With her, I always get the feeling that I am being not so much invited as ushered in. Her world feels strangely familiar. These are uncommon people, but they're often pictured doing everyday quotidian things. There's tension and energy in that. I loved what Goldin said about Arbus wanting "...to be anyone else but herself, and trying on everyone else's skin". That's another kind of fantasy.
    [I think Goldin's remarkable jiggly night land-and-city-scapes are underrated (and under priced). ]
    ___________________________________________
    * Just kidding.
     
  227. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, this wasn't an imaginary attack. It was an attack somewhere else. I was rather harsher there about Ono than I've been here -- the initial question was would we care about a 70 something year old woman screaming as a performance piece if she wasn't The Widow Lennon. She does come wrapped with money, a sense of entitlement, good education, and exotic good looks, which is coin of most realms that don't require sufficient bridge or working code.
    I think there are artists who speak only to their gender or mostly to their gender (Sylvia Plath, perhaps only to her gender at a certain age); some to the opposite sex (Ono, Edna St. Vincent Millay, the fashion photographers that we don't hear about because they didn't go beyond fashion, certain singers. Not all fantasies are open to everyone. Fashion photography is generally quite accomplished, just not always able to break out of its role as presenter of fantasy images.
    Most of the people I know or know of who find Yoko Ono fascinating are male. It's a pretty straight forward observation, though not a world wide survey.
     
  228. Speaking of superheros we fantasized about, mine was Robin. Holy tights and speedo, Batman! ;)
    I find Goldin's work also to be intimate. I think the fantasies I'm thinking of related to making photographs have elements of intimacy.
    As far as Yoko Ono, who comes "wrapped with money, a sense of entitlement, good education, and exotic good looks," I've heard judgments and assumptions made about people who are poor, with a sense of disadvantage, lousy education, who are ordinary looking and I'm not moved by those stereotypes either. There are plenty of exotic looking rich people who haven't walked the paths that Yoko Ono has. Yoko didn't have to become who she did and she didn't have to do the things she did. One may be given a voice by circumstance. Then one has to use it. That's freedom.
    I saw Patti Smith at Winterland in San Francisco, 1978. Actually wrote a review of it for a local newspaper. Very memorable and inspiring. On the top of my list of all-time best concerts I've attended. Raw.
    Luis, I wonder if you'd say a little more about the difference between being invited in and being ushered in. Is there less distance between you and the photographer when you feel "ushered" in? There seems to be a more proximate or immediate, perhaps even more active role (even more active than what Julie had in mind with "inviting"?) in someone ushering. Might lead to a good thread on the kinds of relationships photographers consider with their viewers and as viewers we consider to be having with photographers, and photographs. From presenting to ushering . . .
     
  229. Rebecca- " Luis, this wasn't an imaginary attack. It was an attack somewhere else."
    How was one supposed to know that from reading this?
    RB- "I don't like Yoko Ono; I think she's a derivative rich girl who fucked her way into various art circles, and will bite anyone suggesting that I can't stand her because I'm petit bourgeois -- I think a lot of "you don't like that because you're petit bourgeois" is coded dislike for the poor who don't have time for doing small audience art -- real petit bourgeois in Marxist terms are shop owners and wedding photograhers, not lumpen proles like adjunct composition teachers). I think she's a fantasy for certain kinds of guys, and the vigor of their defense of her tends to more make me think they're aware at some level that they're identifying with the money, the beauty, and the connections, and that they're creating an imaginary Yoko."
    I still see no hint that there was indeed a prior attack, and/or that you were referring to it, which is why I thought you were talking offensively defensive about an imaginary potential attack. Methinks you may be stereotyping what men think about Y.O.
    Rebecca , I respect your opinion, but I certainly don't recognize Ms. Ono because of education, wealth, being "The Widow Lennon" or "exotic" looks (I don't even have yellow fever). People like that are dime a dozen. I see this as pre-loading, trivializing and stereotyping the range of possible reasons why anyone (me, in this case) might disagree with you.
    RB - "Most of the people I know or know of who find Yoko Ono fascinating are male."
    That's funny, because most non-arts oriented men I know seem much closer to your position on Yoko's life and work than finding her "fascinating", let alone attractive.
    Fred - I used "ushered" for Goldin because I feel like she takes extreme care not just with her subjects, but with her viewers as well. She doesn't brickbat the viewer with the members of her tribe. By this I don't mean her imagery is watered down in any way, but that she's not being sensationalistic about her subjects. She is being serious, and in spite of the uncommon subjects and their subculture, Goldin is not trying to exploitatively draw contrast between them and her viewers. She is exploring many aspects of and themes through her tribe.
    They are not freaks, but family, with all the baggage that entails. She is portraying them lovingly, truthfully, strong and weak, loving, fighting, and dying, warts and all, doing things we all do. The overarching effect to me is that they are me and I am them, that we're much more alike than we are different, and that the differences are a magnificent reminder of the human spectrum. Her subjects pay a dear price for identity, living courageously.
    Goldin visually escorts the viewer, introducing him to this tribe of passionate people she is a member of and knows first-hand, maybe like the lines of her hand, ultimately revealing this is who we are, and this includes the viewer, too.
     
  230. Thanks, Luis.
    I think Goldin's approach to color and the style of her photographs have much to do with how I feel about her people as well.
     
  231. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, one of the reasons people in general have relatively little respect for the arts is that much of the arts does appear to be self-hypnosis and group think.
    Or I could be envious of Ono because she doesn't seem to be that different from me, just with the leisure to do what she wanted to do.
    One of the things that photography does is give us the illusion that we're sharing the light of a prior experience, that we're in the scene. The field has been fraught with exoticism since the beginning and tends to take off where the 19th Century Orientalist painters left off, just with different senses of the exotic. I'm not sure Goldin is playing with that or against that. The whole abstract expressionalist movement could be seen as a hypertrophied form of exoticism, if you squint, going somewhere never gone to before.
    I'm almost to the point of saying that if context and content matters to a photograph, it's not art. If content is the most salient point of the photograph, the photograph is unbalanced as art. If focus is obscured to avoid context and content, it's unbalanced as a photograph and fails to respect its medium. Might have well have used paint or a lithography stone.
     
  232. Rebecca--
    I take photographs of what matters to me, often. And that content matters to the photograph. Sometimes, on the other hand, as I said to Phylo recently, I just use "reality" to express what I want and the subject really doesn't seem to matter to me as much but I can't deny it still matters to the photograph . . . because it's there. I wonder, if the content and context of what I photograph ever stops mattering to me altogether, will I put my camera down? I don't know. I'm still evolving. Maybe someday, I'll find situations or set up situations that mean nothing to me and shoot them and find expression in that. It actually sounds like an intriguing way to go, if it's actually possible. Right now, I'm not exactly sure how to separate content from art or from the supposedly other more salient aspects of a photograph.
    On another matter, are you saying that liking Yoko Ono shows that one is self-hypnotized or deluded by group think?
     
  233. I am not an exclusionist when it comes to what is or isn't art. If the author calls it art, it's art. I'll leave the drawing of the lines of demarcation and the pronouncements that usually follow to others.
    Fred - In no way was it an oversight or disregard on my part for Goldin's color and style. I hadn't touched on Goldin's use of color or anything else, because the question was about why I'd used the word "ushered" instead of "inviting" and I was being specific, but Fred's right, they're an integral, irreducible part of her pictures and their gestalt.
    RB - " one of the reasons people in general have relatively little respect for the arts is that much of the arts does appear to be self-hypnosis and group think."
    Oh, please, this is a risible argument. Like the arts have a monopoly on "self-hypnosis and group think"? It happens in all human endeavors, including those commonly thought of as the most objective. Look back at what the latter term was coined around.
    That just shows to me that the real reason is ignorance. I've never heard anyone who would qualify for "people in general" even mention either of those reasons for their contempt for art, though I have heard those stereotypes from others... used against people of other races, orientations, ethnicity, etc.
    All "access" pictures can be said to lie in the shadow of Orientalism, and sometimes it seems like Goldin is tiptoeing around, but not stomping that line. She has come closer to doing that lately, much less so in the early work. Orientalism is a relative term. It has as much to do with the photographer and the content, as it does with the viewer and where it is being seen. It is undeniable that "access" pictures have that forbidden fruit/voyeuristic aura that most lay people and more than a few who should know better find irresistible. As the interview with the guy from Getty made clear, this keeps more than a few mediocre photographers gainfully employed. In all fairness, there are some great photographers who do "access" pics.
    I would not call unusual, brilliant work streaming from a powerhouse intelligence (and no, I do not necessarily mean Goldin) Orientalism.
    Goldin has walked a perilously high and loose tightrope. It is easy to find in her work what appear to be first-year art school student tropes. Or undertones of Orientalism. She is openly romantic, sometimes dangerously so, but usually does not edge too deep into sentimentality and rarely into the saccharine. I would consider her edits counterproductively self-indulgent, but hers is a longitudinal form of storytelling, a largely autobiographical epic with its own stylistic demands. She's been described as using the snapshot aesthetic , and the documentary style, yet there is ample evidence in the work of fluency in art history. It was a touch of genius to adopt the two traditional "family formats" of the snapshot and the slideshow, a way of presenting the rare in a very common, ur-format that directly reaches -- and includes -- her viewers in the work.
    People have characterized her as a JAP. To me, she comes across as more of an Earth-Jewish Mother. A lot of people have said she was a pioneer in color. She wasn't, but she learned the lessons of the those who preceded her, made them her own, took color to a different place and uses it beautifully in the work. Nevertheless, it is at a precarious place, where it sometimes flirts with the decorative. In all fairness, the poetic use of color is one of the least understood things in photography, even after Kandinsky.
    There are two kinds of photographers, those who work in discrete projects, and those like Ms. Goldin, whose work is a lifelong project cut into chapters. This cohesion can pay off, but it is risky business, and not the conventional gallery business model. Her initial Ballad of Sexual Dependency was an extraordinary departure from other work at the time, but like many others who work in this fashion, the difficulty of reinventing oneself within a longitudinal channel becomes asymptotically difficult across time. Goldin juggles identity, loss, mortality and the moments that are the antidotes to it, both the chop wood, carry water, and the weightless, ecstatic kind, as few can.
    In nuclear physics, there are four kinds of forces. The strongest is imaginatively named the Strong Force. It is only effective at very short ranges, and it is what holds nucleii together. When I see how intimately close Goldin is to her subjects and photographically to herself, how conscious she is of the duality of public and private, the need for, and potency to be found in sculpting or discovering one's identity, no matter how extreme, and the fragility, alienation, and frequent tragedy that goes with that, and so much more, the Strong Force comes to mind.
     
  234. I think the closer the fantasy touches hands with the reality the more real the fantasy. For instance the girl/boy next door can be a fantasy with some hope of it becoming a reality feeding the fantasy. Fred gave an example, in another thread, of his awakening and fantasy of older folk…. a fantasy with a base of reality for him.
    “It is easy to find in her work what appear to be first-year art school student tropes”
    Probably but she can write a good story to help the art along.
    “The strongest is imaginatively named the Strong Force. It is only effective at very short ranges”
    Sort of fits Yoko.
     
  235. Allen - " Probably but she can write a good story to help the art along."
    What story is that? Can you provide an URL?
     
  236. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred. Basically, photography has characteristics that allow us to use all sorts of things -- realism, context, technical effects from lens/film/developing(postprocessing -- as part of the photograph. Some uses of film are closer to other contemporary art forms.
    I was wondering elsewhere if the whole concept of ART in the sense of something that has value outside the uses of religion/propaganda/visual souvenir didn't rise as art as a craft began to be mechanized -- first with the camera oscura to help with copying and various tools for laying out perspective in the Renaissance then to the rise of Western European non-representational art with the rise of photography. Lace went from being a luxury for men as well as women in the 18th Century to being utterly devalued when many forms of it could be machine made (some still can't be but nobody outside of fairly specialized textile circles is that good at spotting it across a ballroom). Things that come dear are more valued than things that come cheap.
    Insisting that people like Yoko Ono or be considered ignorant is a sign of an art boor. Me, I don't like her.
    Photography still doesn't always know what it wants to be when it grows up. It can't make representation hard, so it has to work with and around this reality of the medium.
    Luis, economically, I'm an unemployed lumpen prole according to Marx, not even up to being one of the masses.
    Larry Clark's Tulsa predates Goldin's work. Clark's Tulsa was like nothing else then that I knew anything about, though I didn't know about Frank's work then. Various fashion magazine photographers did masterful things with color, whatever the motivations.
    The more experimental arts have been around for a century now. I'm not sure that ignorance really is why many people prefer television and the movies. The acting in movies and the production values tend to be first rate even when the story is brain candy.
    The thing about some other human projects is that the bridge has to agree that it's a good bridge for the money, and completely imagining that a bridge or circuit is an impressive advance in their fields tends to get corrected by things that are not impressed by human charisma. Art is about human charisma and self-manipulation. And sometimes, there's no there there. See The Forger's Spell.
    We look at a sheet of paper with patterns of colors, black, white gray, and we see things in it. Very few animals can do this, or invent religions or decide that listening to silence makes it a musical composition (and I respect what Cage did with that), and I've walked out of movies where the film esthetic continued into the street. I was seeing things Truffautishly.
    Goldin illustrates a view of the bohemian world that has been with us since Our Lady of the Camellias, maybe from Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets. People really do live those lives, and some of them do die. And we get to watch or read about it at a safe distance. The lives that aren't like that aren't such good voyeur food -- people who lived as artists, raised children, worked the day job until the museums started buying, don't make for the same sense of pleasure in seeing someone else wreck his life more thoroughly than we've done. We can pretend that the photos are less framed and distanced that Live of the Poets, but the reality is safely years away and far on the other side of the paper.
    Like Ginsberg said in the 1950s, death to Van Gogh's Ear.
     
  237. "Insisting that people like Yoko Ono or be considered ignorant is a sign of an art boor. Me, I don't like her."​
    I'm sorry, Rebecca, but you've now created a straw man, and I'm not buying it. No one is insisting you like Yoko Ono. You have, however, made some controversial and rather extreme statements about her and about the people who like her. You deserve heat for those statements and are getting it. No one has suggested you're ignorant for not liking her. That's your own creation.
    "Me, I don't like her" is a fairly simple statement with which I never would have argued. It's your paragraph upon paragraph elaborating on that statement, your adding sociological and gender-stereotypical rationale for your dislike of her, and your critique of her as a person and, more so, as a type of person, that is being reacted to. I'm not reacting to your taste.
    Otherwise, I'm sorry, but I don't know what you're talking about. You originally made a somewhat-unclear-to-me statement about content and context not mattering to a photo. I responded to that. I find your latest comment, presumably about content and context not mattering, unclear. Can you simplify it? I am not able to follow you.
     
  238. Rebecca - " Insisting that people like Yoko Ono or be considered ignorant is a sign of an art boor. Me, I don't like her."
    It could be, but that's not what I wrote, nor what I am, thank you. What I said was that the stereotyping of those who disagree with (or are not like) you is a sign of ignorance. It is a simple mistake to think that I am proselytizing, making a case for Ms. Ono , or that she's a personal favorite (Or Goldin or Serrano, for that matter). I know well your mind is not open on this subject, and I was not and am not trying to change it. Your anticipation of an attack that isn't coming, and putting up a needless, constant offense is a waste.
    RB - " Photography still doesn't always know what it wants to be when it grows up. It can't make representation hard, so it has to work with and around this reality of the medium."
    Photography's heyday has come and gone. The relatively facile representation did nothing but shift arts' problems away from hand-eye coordination and towards the conceptual level. Many thought this would kill painting, but in fact, it liberated it from one of its biggest yokes.
    RB " Luis, economically, I'm an unemployed lumpen prole according to Marx, not even up to being one of the masses."
    My heart goes out to you, Rebecca. I hope things get better soon.
    For me, art is about a lot more than human charisma and self-manipulation. If I ever thought that was all there was to it, frankly, I'd get out and never look back.
    There's a there in the viewer's mind and heart.
    In Vasari's Life of the Artists, there's an account of a mural Leonardo painted on the side of his house, I believe. Vasari tells how it was so realistic that birds tried to perch themselves on the trees in it.
    RB " (and I respect what Cage did with that)"
    And Cage held Yoko's performance work in high regard before Lennon, btw.
    RB - "I've walked out of movies where the film esthetic continued into the street. I was seeing things Truffautishly."
    Me too. I had the same trouble David Byrne did with Eggleston. He grew on you way too easily, and the only way out was to work through it.
    I never said or thought that Ms. Goldin was unique, or was born whole, without ancestry. How do you compare Larry Clark's Tulsa to Goldin? Or color found in 1988 fashion to Goldin's color? When the Ballad came out, there had been other bodies of work connected to people living below the ice, but there was nothing like her work. If you think there was, I would love to see it.
    Goldin's work is, IMO, more closely related to Cindy Sherman's than any of her contemporaries.
     
  239. Fred, the metaphor is the principal appliance of poetry, it can be defined as a play on words in which one object or idea is expressed as if it were something else, something with which it is said to share universal features.
    “What story is that? Can you provide an URL?”
    Just for you Louis cause I’m that sort of helpful dude.
    http://fototapeta.art.pl/2003/ngie.php
    Although Nan’s work does not really work for me in a” top draw” way as a person she is certainly my sort of gal. Love Nan’s thoughts and the story which is revealed.
    “If I want to take a picture, I take it no matter what”

    “You were one of the few photographers who started to take color pictures. How did it happen?
    I accidentally used the roll of color film in my camera. I thought it is black and white, but it was color”. Nan
    “that you do not need material, financial success, but you have to be driven”.
     
  240. Indeed, Mr Shakespeare was the master of Mr Metaphor who answered to he's every whim and deed.
    The dude gives you an inferiority complex in every way.
     
  241. Allen H. typed - " Probably but she can write a good story to help the art along."
    Allen, do you write "good stories" to help your art along? If not, is it because you can't/don't want to write, or because you feel your work, unlike Goldin's, doesn't need it?
    Thanks for providing it, I was wondering what you were referring to. You cherry-picked two of the dumbest-sounding quotes in the interview to make your point, but they end up making the opposite point: That her text is self-effacing, revealing, & honest, not promotional, as you claim.
    I was thinking that Rebecca probably read it, too, from her citing both Larry Clark's work and the use of color in fashion.
    Goldin has also written articles about other photographers, that have nothing to do with her own work.
    Thanks again.
     
  242. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Re Ono, and even John Cage, these are from older battles and the heat wasn't appropriate here. At the last Cage performance I saw at St. Mark's Church, he was viciously heckled. And this was supposedly an audience more likely to be friendly than not. I understand from what I've read that the same thing happened at Naropa.
    I think we live in contexts whether we're interested in doing that or not. I began to feel that I was more accepted in the poetry world for being in the poetry world than for what I was writing, which may or may not have been an accurate assessment. We do frame how we see things by cultural contexts -- and I'm not sure (today) that one can escape that.
    I suspect a good bit of my reaction to Yoko Ono is envy, and my friend who sat me down with a large book on the psychodymanics envy would be happy to know that I've raised my sights. "What, can't you be envious of Allen Ginsberg; why be envious of all these minor poets?"
    Regarding Larry Clark's Tulsa, that was one of the first things I saw in New York after starting to go to the workshops at St. Marks, which had a couple of Tulsa poets teaching in them. So, which Tulsa was the real one? I suspect that it also had history, and that Clark knew the works of HCB. It was the book of photographs of anything that brutal, that revealing, this side of the photos the cops found on one of the local drug dealers (which was later and which I didn't see, just heard about).
    I don't think we can create anything without it being in a cultural context, that people have to have experiences with arts that lead them to believe it was do something for them, enough to learn more about it.
    Goldin's texts, which I've read since the start of this discussion, aren't self-promoting, but the texts about her come across as ad copy.
    Luis, on the economic front, I also have $20K and unemployment, and in May, I can start collecting social security, thought not much. I'm more tempted to try to never work again full time than anything else. I loathe giving up my time to most of the jobs I've had and teaching creative writing strikes me as joining the biggest pyramid scheme in the country, and some of the students are dangerously insane (see Cho). But I'm not sure my current plan makes sense, so I'm particularly uneasy about self-destructive life styles. Goldin illustrates that people die younger than they should because of self-destructive choices (the drug users, not the people who died of sexually transmitted AIDS before anything much was known about it). I may be more moralistic than compassionate, but then I suspect that if I impoverish myself by refusing to do a job of work for money, nobody will really have much compassion for me, either.
    I don't think that human charisma and self-manipulation are particularly bad things (I know a poet who claims poetry is interesting when the poet is an interesting person). The tools for self-manipulation survive the death of the charismatic artist, though.
    Basically, art is a pleasure -- and if it's not fun, not a pleasure, an excitement, then it's not really going to have much of an audience. Humans take pleasure or find excitement in graphic or literary representations of things we'd flee from in real life? It's obviously part of the human condition.
     
  243. Rebecca " I don't think that human charisma and self-manipulation are particularly bad things..."
    Nor do I, but they're not nearly enough for me. There's no denying that a charming character doesn't hurt in the art world, but there's a lot more to it than that. For poets, there's no denying that a good reading voice helps, but 99.9% of the readers will never attend a live reading of most poems they read.
    "Basically, art is a pleasure -- and if it's not fun, not a pleasure, an excitement, then it's not really going to have much of an audience. Humans take pleasure or find excitement in graphic or literary representations of things we'd flee from in real life? It's obviously part of the human condition."
    I think pleasure is a part of it, but there's a lot more to it than that. A huge majority of art, even that on the web, has a minimal audience.
    As you've probably guessed by now, I'm not one for these dogmatisms about art. Most art has to appeal to people. But that appeal is not always about pleasure. It can be about anything that makes us human -- or the lack thereof.
    "Humans take pleasure or find excitement in graphic or literary representations of things we'd flee from in real life? It's obviously part of the human condition."
    You're right: The things that we might flee from in real life are but a part of the human condition. There are things we'd run to, or with, or dance to/with, that spur our curiosity, or make us feel, wonder and think, in short things that address, expand, define and help us understand our own and the human condition -- and much more. Gauguin, titled his large last masterpiece "Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" These are some of the fundamental questions of art and being human.
    To boomerang back to fantasy, here's a little video that obliquely gets tantalizingly close to the core (at 5:12):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3bfZmX4TMM
     
  244. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    and, despite some anecdotal information to the contrary, I suspect there is enough homophobia in these towns for there to be some relevance to the story.​
    Thing is there's relevance to that story in any number of big cities, too. I know people who were gay-bashed in New York and in Boston, and I know that people have been murdered because they were gay in London. Washington, DC, has a gay cop detailed to help with gay homicides, not that most of those aren't people getting killed by bar pickups they've misjudged, though that might be homophobic at its core, too.
    Proulx's inspiration was watching an older guy looking longingly at young guys playing pool. Was the man's real life was what Proulx imagined it to be? One of the editors I know said that writers tend to imagine all sorts of complex things and believe in them -- that's kinda an occupational hazard, but most of us put more of ourselves than anyone else into our work, not necessarily even a significant part of the real people who triggered our fantasies.
    Probably nobody can see the real life of any other person. We construct a mutually satisfying narrative of who we are to each other, or we cease to want to be in contact if the other person's narrative of us feels like an imposition or an insult.
    Fantasy can be one of the reasons for taking this slice of time, light, and shadows. Another reason might be purely esthetic. Third reason might be to document something, to make this identification, to show this action, to give the viewer this experience, and the esthetic concerns would be in the service of better documentation.
     
  245. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I think pleasure is a part of it, but there's a lot more to it than that. A huge majority of art, even that on the web, has a minimal audience.​
    One thing about this species is that we pay money to go on machines that scare us. Thrills and terrors are a pleasure to humans. If art isn't as good as a roller coaster, I dunno. The big questions strike me as utterly imaginary -- we're born; we get accultured to our tribe, we try a narrative or two on, we accept or reject the narratives laid out for us, we die and go away. What matters is contributing to the general distractions from that blank wall we all hit eventually, the blank wall before and after our own personal lives. We make our meaning out of raw thought. We like being scared -- this is something uniquely human, I think. Dogs certainly dislike being scared and will avoid anything that scares them. Same for horses. Cats will check out odd things in their environments (one trap bait for wild cats is a shiny thing over the trap jaws -- but that never works for canids).
    Perhaps we wouldn't buy tickets to rollercoasters if we were descended from creatures who had to brachiate or die. The ones who loved being slightly scared survived, who took joy in flying through the air between branches yet holding the fear in mind to sharpen the physical skils; the ones who refused to learn to brachiate because you could get hurt died. We also pay good money to go climbing and skiing. Thrills in the arts maybe come from the mirror neurons and from our passion for the slightly dangerous that was part of our evolutionary history (some of the cave paintings are of confrontations between men and a bear over a carcass that the humans killed and that the bear wants). We were so smart that if we didn't find pleasure in the dangerous, the difficult, we'd have died of fear millions of years ago.
    A huge amount of art has a minimal audience because it doesn't please anyone, not even the artist two weeks later. And some art will always have a small audience but will have huge impact through that small audience. The joke about The Velvet Underground's first album is that only 500 people bought it and all of them started rock bands.
    Interesting about Arbus and the boy in the photograph. I always found Arbus a genius but creepy.
     
  246. "Thing is there's relevance to that story in any number of big cities, too."​
    Yes, but Proulx wasn't writing about the big city. She told a story about gay American cowboys. Did you want her to write a different story? That would be a step beyond even those who wrote letters to her wanting a different ending.
    I've always lived in big cities, never worn chaps. I could relate personally to Proulx's story. Empathy? Her story is universal enough even though it's about particulars. And the American cowboy gay love story was, in some sense, at least for me, at least one of the essences of her story.
    This line of thought began with your questioning Proulx's accuracy and suggesting that Southern small towns weren't completely homophobic. Do you think Proulx, with her story, was suggesting all places outside big cities are homophobic? Do you think she was telling "a" story or "the" story?
    Bringing it back to photography (and fantasy), sometimes my photos and my fantasies are personal. They are not necessarily "accurate" in some sort of cultural/sociological/political study kind of way. I shoot middle aged gay men a lot because I'm drawn to doing so. I supposed I could be accused of leaving women and straight men out. Some might even go so far as to interpret why I am leaving 90% of the population out and they might even suggest there's a statement about straight people being made in my omission of them (which is, of course, not true . . . I do shoot straight people). While they were doing that, I'd continue making photographs.
     
  247. Rebecca - " The big questions strike me as utterly imaginary -- we're born; we get accultured to our tribe, we try a narrative or two on, we accept or reject the narratives laid out for us, we die and go away."
    Wow....suddenly, it's all so clear...a little accretion, partying with the peeps, choosing from the cafeteria, trying on a few outfits in the dressing room, a funeral, and it's back to Worm Chow. I guess we can close the PoP forum now.
    Rebecca - "So, which Tulsa was the real one?"
    Both, of course. Tulsa is not a one-dimensional place. Both representations of Tulsa were also fictions.
    Clark has mentioned as his influences Dorothea Lange, Eugene Smith, Eugene Metz, Bob Dylan, Walter Sheffer and Lenny Bruce. Although Clark likes to give the impression that he was uneducated, self-made, and not exposed to the art of others, the fact is that he attended what was, at the time, one of the top art schools in the US for two years, before joining the army (which might explain where Clark picked up his Modernist compositions).
    Clark has more than a little P.T. Barnum in him. He has, from the beginning, hawked himself as the analog of an icebreaker to bull----t, but unlike ice, the latter is sticky.
    His first show was with Imogen Cunningham.
    Goldin, while in her mid-teens, was already photographing her tribe at about the same time Clark was finishing what would become Tulsa, before she heard of him, or Tulsa was published. Clark's work was essentially unseen, except by a few friends, for years.
    “...f---ing in the backseat... the fat girl next door who gave me b--w jobs after school. I treated her mean and told all my pals. We kept count up to about 300 times we f---ed her in the 8th grade. Once when I f---ed her after Bobby Hood (ol' horse dick) I was f---ing hair and air. A little rape.”
    --- Larry Clark explaining his motivation to photograph what would become his self-published book -- in order to relive his teen experiences. From the introduction to Teen Lust.
     
  248. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, philosophy is another great pleasure. Like you said, you're posting because it's fun. Anxiety is fun, too. Dying is something we share with other animals; using the internet isn't.
    Both Clark and Goldin are from fairly privileged backgrounds then, and Clark grew up with a mom who was a photographer.
    If these were straight photographs of people not doing exotic things, or if they had their clothes on or if they showed more genitalia than I've seen in Goldin's photos on line, would they be good photographs? If content is everything, then access to things that are interesting is required for being a photographer. If context plays a role in how we see things, which I suspect that it does, how much do the photographs require the framing narrative?
    Vermeer went from religious art, which has a strongly conventional narrative, to the things we remember him for which were much less conventional and which were domestic scenes that wouldn't have been exotic in his day. There's often an implied narrative in the Vermeers, but it's framed by the slightly distorted perspectives (I once applied what I'd learned from Visual Perception to a Vermeer in the Frick). The narrative isn't what the painting is about in the way that School of Athens is.
    A straight snap shot of stuff doesn't attract attention; a shot of inanimate objects has to be posed and lit to be interesting. The implied photograher is our craftsman, who arranged otherwise not particularly interesting things for us.
    Clark and Goldin are playing with implied photographers, though Clark more obviously and disprovably. The snapshot taken with something less than a first rate lens has an anonymous photographer, no fun in that. The carefully framed shot taken with first rate equipment has a different sort of implied photographer without any other information necessary at all. I suspect that if I blew a focused Hasselblad/Zeiss shot to 24 by 24, regardless of subject matter, it would be looked at more closely than a similar but less sharp and creamily toned 10 by 10 crop from a 35 mm point and shoot. Even people who didn't know cameras would see that the something about the photograph was different. Certain looks imply photographer who has a quality camera. The photographer who is photographing her tribe is yet another implied photograher. Would these photographs get the attention they've gotten if they weren't framed with the meta-narrative of the implied photographer? Cops find pictures of people doing drugs all the time, just not taken with first rate cameras by people who learned about art, so it's not just the content, obviously. How much of it is the context? Goldin's narrative? Esthetic values? The content?
    So we've got the implied photographer vs. the photographer who took the pictures vs. the person who takes pictures and has a whole rest of their lives to deal with -- what's the important one? When I was doing photography for the weekly paper, I wasn't in words when I was shooting, and nobody cared about me as the photographer at all. It just had to be framed not badly. The point was the subject of the photograph. All that was required of me was that the photos didn't suck.
    Meta narrative would be part of the context of a work of art -- and in some cases, an important part. The context of a photograph of Civil War dead is different now than it would have been five years after Appomattox. If we were living in a culture where the transvestite was accepted as part of the culture (as was the case in certain native cultures), Goldin's photos would look different. Go back to Wilde's day and those photographs would have be criminal offenses, hidden. So the context that allows us to see Goldin's photos all required legal changes, and the context is also one where our narrative is that we're beyond the bigotries that destroyed Wilde,. But enough people aren't free of those bigotries so viewing them is a different act than it would be if these were from a culture that had cross dressing as generally accepted feature. Clark's narrative looks less interesting as a sentimentalization of tough macho men who use women as objects of their lust fades.
    I don't think anyone does art without being influenced by other people doing art -- that Larry Clark wants to pretend that with a photographer mother and art classes that he was untrained says a lot about the culture we're in.
    I think you want to say Goldin's work was essentially unseen, except for a few friends, for years.
     
  249. "If content is everything, "​
    Who thinks that?
    It's about more than content and context.
    The difference between Goldin's pictures and the cops you mention looking at lots of drug photographs is Goldin's use of style and technique to present her stories. Art is often to be found where content and form (style, etc.) meet. Goldin's voice is embodied in her work, whether I know anything about her or not. The photos the cops find are, for the most part, voiceless. They represent people and scenes.
     
  250. RB- "If content is everything, then access to things that are interesting is required for being a photographer. "
    I certainly don't think that is true. If you want me to cite photographers that photograph publicly available quotidian subjects, I can. It is a mistake to confuse access or content with quality. If you require access for your pictures, get it.
    It's not just about what's in the frame, but how you look at it.
    One glaring example comes to mind. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pictures of Gloria Swanson were made during her lifespan, but the one Steichen took of her through a veil stands out. Same content as all the others, but not the same.
    http://artdecoblog.blogspot.com/2008/08/edward-steichen.html
    http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&source=hp&q=Gloria+Swanson+photographs&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=h3gdS5H6Ftywtgfi_uXkAw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBwQsAQwAA
    RB - "If context plays a role in how we see things, which I suspect that it does, how much do the photographs require the framing narrative?"
    I do not think they require it, except to convey a very specific meaning. One of art's greatest stengths is precisely in escaping from a fixed meaning. It becomes a psychic generator, like a letter that gives up specificity in order to carry much more information than its envelope can hold. It uses the viewer's energies to create bespoke secondary narratives in each user's mind. One thing that hasn't been touched on here is the polyvalency of symbols. Those who misunderstand them think they're like signs, and they're not. The best art seems to read the viewer in the same way a barometer can tell air pressure. That kind of art grows with you. It renews itself every time you look at it, not because it's changing, but because you are, and it mirrors the slightest nuance.
    RB - " The carefully framed shot taken with first rate equipment has a different sort of implied photographer without any other information necessary at all."
    It's not the quality of the hardware, but the quality of the photographer.
    RB - " Certain looks imply photographer who has a quality camera."
    Wow, another affluent photographer. Yawn. That only matters on Photo.Net and other techno-oriented sites.
    RB - " Go back to Wilde's day and those photographs would have be criminal offenses, hidden."
    Funny you would say that, because one of Goldin's photographs (owned by Elton John) was taken down a few years ago for being kiddie porn, but a judge ended up seeing it as art. Times haven't changed that much.
    Clark revels in reinventing himself and revising his own history. It's part of his hucksterism. Look at what he did when he invaded the skater culture. He acted and dressed like he was 13. The older he got, the younger his subjects became. Both Clark and Goldin's work was unseen for years, but Goldin took hers out into the public in her own way and channel, the slide show. Clark is a Modernist, much older-school than Goldin, and he held out for conventional venues. There's interviews where Clark bemoans how long he had to wait, and how slow the networking was that led to "Tulsa".
    I also think Clark's grandiose revisionisms are not nearly as much as a sign of the culture (because they would then be pandemic, and they are not) as they are a sign of Clark's need to claim he created himself and ego (which is why included that sordid paragraph in his own words on why he did Teen Lust).
     
  251. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I think that context plays a large part of why Goldin hangs in galleries and not some of the porn I've seen that was actually rather memorable, and well-done. Goldin's work is wrapped in a narrative beyond the style and technique used.
    Would the same style and technique produce pictures that were as memorable with different subjects? Jane Bown took pictures that I remember as being remarkable before I was interested in who the photographers were. If I learned more about Bown, would that change how I saw the photographs? I don't think so. With Goldin, I think the meta-narrative is part of the art, just as with Van Gogh entered popular culture more because of the narrative about him than did Renoir, who was just a fairly stable guy who painted. Other examples abound. The meta-narrative shapes how many people see the art. In some cases, it is part of the art.
    The question is if Goldin's tribe were the women and men who ride horses and fly falcons in Middleburg, Virginia, even with the same technique, would she have gotten this much attention? I don't think she would have, not that she shouldn't have.
    I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I've put it in and probably edited it out a couple of times. A friend of mine who lived in rural Virginia went to an exhibit of Appalachian photographs. She noticed that the focus was on the poverty, the marginalized in Appalachia. We used to call these the people who'd ignore eight brick ranch houses to photograph one unpainted frame building in need of repairs.
    If Goldin keeps up her reputation and style as she shifts to less extreme subjects, good for her. If she needed the extreme subjects to get the attention, I do have some concerns about this. And I think she did and I do.
    The other question is should art have an obvious ego -- an implied artist -- behind it? There are traditional that say no.
    Art today, perhaps art always, is an interaction between form (technical ability, eye, style), meta-narrative (the artist's story -- the artist who must be a shaman as one gallery owner told my brother), and content. I think when we start focusing on the biography, we've proven that meta-narrative does play a part in how we see work. I know writers who lie about their biographies (the meta-meta-narrative of one of them is that he is a compulsive fabulator); I've had people writing about me make *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* up because they liked their narrative better than any of mine (child born on the most beautiful street in Louisville stolen away to academic small college town in backward South Carolina, escaped to New York, made the mistake of leaving; and other variations).
    I don't know if you know the Language Poets, but refusing narrative seems to me to be part of their art. They tend to lead fairly conventional lives, as poets go.
    We don't know with the photos the cops seize. We assume that the photographs are more likely to be bad than good because we're assuming that the kids who took them didn't have art training or cultural experience. This may be like the professor who assumed that Rowling couldn't have had a classics education because she was a mother on welfare when she started the first Harry Potter book. It may be that people turn to drug dealing because they can't make a living at art and do fabulous photos without caring to share them. I've never actually seen them, just heard about them.
    Goldin took photos with a camera that leaves a very distinct signature, the sharpest lenses in 35 mm format with out of focus background to die for, the right amount of grit/grain for her subject matter. And the marriage of implied narrative in the photos/titles (two naked people in my bathroom in Paris is very different from two people in their bathroom in St. Louis) with the meta-narrative is very tight. Even here, with mostly relatively sophisticated people, we can't avoid the meta-narrative. Goldin has claimed these people as her tribe. Unless we absolutely never read anything about her, the meta-narrative is part of the art. Part of what she's being sold as is the bohemian bisexual woman who flirted with destruction, the rehabbed junkie. This isn't all of what she is, but I think it would be naive to say that at least part of the interest in her is because of that.
    I used to find my fighting cock slides would get me in doors even thought I didn't get assignments. They weren't typical of what women were photographing in the early 1990s.
     
  252. "The question is if Goldin's tribe were the women and men who ride horses and fly falcons in Middleburg, Virginia, even with the same technique, would she have gotten this much attention?"​
    I can't abstract technique from subject like that. For me, it's not like you simply apply a given technique you've come up with to whatever subject suits your fancy. My subjects and a lot of other factors help dictate my style and my style sometimes helps me choose my subjects. I don't think either content or style rules and the other follows. They feed off each other. Many unsuccessful photographs I see on PN are ones where the style simply seems to be applied to whatever content comes along, willy-nilly. It's when I feel that the style comes forth from the photographer because of or at least in relationship to the content that I am usually more moved.
    I understand that there are schools of thought which suggest that everything is political, art is about who you are and who you know, etc. That stuff has limited sway for me. Honestly, not because I don't think it has validity, because I do. More because I find it a distraction. I'd much rather look at photos and get what I get from them. If that's because I'm being told by culture or some meta-narrative to appreciate it, OK. I still experience what I experience. Many philosophers tell me there is no reality and that context dictates everything. Some scientists are attempting to reduce what things feel like to each of us to particular brain states. Life may well boil down to chain reactions of scientific events determining exactly what's going to happen. Maybe I'm a puppet and God is pulling the strings. As long as I feel like I'm free, I'm doing fine. For whatever reason, as long as I think I like what Goldin is doing, even if I don't really like it, I'm also fine.
    I know very little about Goldin, although I've looked at her photos carefully. A friend turned me onto her a couple of years ago because he thought some stuff I was doing related. I was immediately drawn to her work. I've learned more about her personally in this thread than I've known for the last couple of years. I had no idea she was a bohemian bisexual until you just mentioned it. Wouldn't have guessed it. Or at least it just didn't occur to me to even think about it. I've been mostly focused on her use of color, her unique way of bleeding colors into highlights and shadows and each other, and the expression she seems to create with her subjects and their environments, also the intentional snapshot quality she often seems to get. I've even worked up a couple of photos in her style as an exercise and because it got my juices flowing to do so. I can genuinely say there's been precious little meta-narrative going on for me. Haven't even actually read a review of any of her work. I've learned a lot about color, shading, and pose from looking at her photographs and not really a thing about bisexuality or bohemianism.
    "I think when we start focusing on the biography"​
    I don't think we are. I think you are. I'm not faulting you for that. I find a lot of what you say interesting and it's a perspective I can learn from. But I doubt it will change the way I look at or make photographs.
    "We assume that the photographs are more likely to be bad than good because we're assuming that the kids who took them didn't have art training or cultural experience."​
    Another we statement I won't join you on. I'd be more likely to assume the kids who took them didn't have consciousness or intention behind them and that they would therefore lack both a substance and style that would move me aesthetically.
    As for Goldin's camera, I have to admit a lack of schooling in distinct signatures of various lenses and cameras. I have a more intimate connection to various technical matters associated with music than with photographs. I am learning as I go. I tend to think more about the intentions of other photographers at this point and what decisions they might have made to get the results they got, but I rarely think about their gear . . . because of ignorance as much as anything else. Honestly, I have not once noticed the title of one of Goldin's photographs. I rarely think to look at names of photographs. Sometimes, I realize I'm missing out on something when I discover a particular title. More often, titles may as well be gibberish to me, for all the good they do.
     
  253. RB - " Goldin took photos with a camera that leaves a very distinct signature, the sharpest lenses in 35 mm format with out of focus background to die for, the right amount of grit/grain for her subject matter."
    Rebecca, what exactly are you getting at? The notion that Goldin's Leica lenses, often used wide-open, usually hand-held are producing their optimum performance is at best, not realistic.
    Worse, I hate to break this to you, but I checked, and from the time she started doing her work, almost out of high school in 1968, until Oct. 1990, none of her work was done with a Leica. That includes the seminal series The Ballad of Sexual Dependency and all the pictures for "The Other Side" and "I'll be Your Mirror". Those were mostly done with a Nikon and Nikon lenses. In the documentary "I'll be your Mirror", you can see her working with Nikons.
    What does that mean? It means that what you thought you could tell, you in fact, could not, and that it doesn't really matter.
     
  254. The photographer who is photographing her tribe is yet another implied photograher. Would these photographs get the attention they've gotten if they weren't framed with the meta-narrative of the implied photographer? Cops find pictures of people doing drugs all the time, just not taken with first rate cameras by people who learned about art, so it's not just the content, obviously. How much of it is the context? Goldin's narrative? Esthetic values? The content?
    Not sure if I understand you here; it seems like you want to seperate the narrative from the content from which it's being derived. That you are making the narrative the thing that superficially gives the content its "needed" context, needed in order for the content to be seen as having more value ( compared to the pictures found by cops of people doing drugs,etc... ).
    To me the content shows action as the lifestyle Goldin's involved in, and which is hers. While the action may be strongly determined, her reaction to it ( as a way out <> in ) is completely her own, fundamentally free. This reaction includes photography; the making of photographs of the action and circumstances. Photography itself becomes the context, in which the pictures infer what the photographer has implied through her reaction.
     
  255. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    You are unusual if you don't look at photo captions at all, I suspect, though it's probably a better way of approaching art. I used to think Andrew Wythe would have been better served if someone had stolen the titles of his painting and substituted numbers.
    I think one of the things about Goldin is that while photographs of that life style may be unique, there's been enough of a demand for written material about it to have spawned two fakes in the last couple of years. While you may be ignoring that framing, it's fairly obvious that Luis hasn't ignored it (most particularly in the post about the lives of her subjects struggling bravely to be free).
    I'm thinking like a fiction writer, and I'm even more thinking like a fiction writer who spent an hour trying to locate a notebook for a possible project that I'd started earlier which involves making some meta-narrative decisions.
    In Goldin's case, the meta-narrative, which is where the captions and the beaten face come in, is a redemption narrative. She almost died but she didn't. Her friends died. She went to rehab. Only luck, deciding to snort heroin rather than inject it saved her. As a Real Life Story, it sells quite well in a number of different media.
    The meta-narrative is how she's presented to the public by her galleries and by the interviews (perhaps I am too much of a word person).
    Agree with you on the first paragraph, by and large. I'd saw that most of the accomplished but boring work tends to be technically accomplished only, and a fair chunk of it draws on its exoticism. I'd like to see one shot of a wolf scratching its behind on a tree trunk, not looking like The Wolf.
    Why would the kids taking photos of their lives not have consciousness or intention behind them? I think we have far more interesting art in all medias that we can pay attention to, so we limit what we pay attention to. The discriminations can be kinda rough at times, lopping off whole genres. We all have only so much time.
    Photography is a collaboration between gear and photographer -- the technical is part of it, whether it's just the one camera and mostly the one lens or mastering a range of different cameras. I suspect that one thing that also helped Goldin is that she learned how to draw for the training in seeing.
    As for the political stuff, I think that it's not completely political, but that most of the political concerns are why some works don't get attention in their day. In poetry, Emily Dickinson is the extreme example. She didn't appear to have any interest in talking about what she was doing and it's taken people the better part of a century to figure out what she did which probably seemed utterly obvious to her. The political concerns can work against aristocrats as well as against people who weren't, as my brother puts it, born to the club. I've met art collectors who were concerned with fashion, with keeping up with the latest trends (my brother's mentor said he'd been discovered several times in his life though it didn't appear to him that he'd been lost). I suspect that these people can be marketed to as effectively as any other group in our culture. I don't think the context pressures are completely predictable, either, but I think that it takes a massive education in the minutia of art to develop a resistance to the social pressures -- and the people with the time for that are generally either academics (and it's rare among the liberal arts people and sometimes found in the scientists who do follow the arts) or the rich, who have their own biases but can sometimes overcome them (and haven't generally if they simply start ranting in favor of the left).
    Look at shots taken by Leica 50mm f/2 Summitars and then by Nikon 50mm F1.8, particularly the out of focus areas. If you don't see a difference, then maybe I've got a case of Leica Hypnosis.
    For you, Goldin's work has interest independent of the meta-narrative. Galleries don't apparently trust that there are that many people like you out there (one gallery told my brother that what the buyers are looking for is connection to a shaman -- my brother's story is that he has an MBA from Wake Forest and quit a sales job to become a fairly traditional landscape painter and part-time drawing instruction and part-time financial consultant).
    I suppose I would be a better person if I didn't pay any attention to the meta-narrative.
     
  256. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Phylo, the implied artist concept here comes from literary theory about implied authors. The idea is that the work has an implied author, who may not be the author as he is in the future or was in the past, or even was when he was photographing/creating the work. Some implied authors have been actual inventions -- and people created implied authors for works I've done. Nobody is completely in the creation.
    Goldin was doing landscapes before she showed landscapes because the implied photographer she was wouldn't have been expected to do landscapes.
    The implied creator is the one we imagine creating the work. We use clues in the photograph to build an image of the photographer. One of the fun things to do with this is create an implied photographer that conforms to cultural cliches and then walk the viewer over a cliff, totally break the sense of the implied photographer, and forcing the viewer to look at the earlier work more cautiously. People have done this in fiction quite a lot with the implied writer, even some in non-fiction. We build the implied creator from what's in and what's not in the work.
    The implied photographer in Goldin's work would never shoot the horse and falcon shots in Middleburg. What if she did? Can you imagine Arbus doing it? I can, but perhaps not Goldin, though the Kate Moss on a horse is suggestive of a somewhat different implied photographer.
     
  257. Ah, kinda like John Malkovich stepping outside the implied by suddenly and very seriously becoming and presenting himself as a puppeteer in Being John Malkovich, : ) . While ofcourse it's the implied of the one - the "author" - inside his head, played by John Cusack.
     
  258. RB - " Look at shots taken by Leica 50mm f/2 Summitars and then by Nikon 50mm F1.8, particularly the out of focus areas. If you don't see a difference, then maybe I've got a case of Leica Hypnosis."
    The point is that you couldn't tell between them. Goldin established her rep using Nikkors through the first three books. Goldin now uses Summiluxes, btw. Maybe we should step away from whatever this is and go back toward fantasy?
     
  259. Maybe I shouldn't have casually brought up Nan Goldin, her quote that is... What about Richard Billingham's cheap drugstore prints of his family ? Non Leica, slightly out of focus,... Just kidding, forget I mentioned him.
     
  260. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I was thinking about two shots I'd taken with the two different lenses, not Goldin's work.
    Flickr tend to have people using lenses as keywords, so that's a fairly good place to see if there are differences without esthetics getting in the way. People also have posted various sample shots using both Leitz and Nikon lenses here.
     
  261. RB - " I was thinking about two shots I'd taken with the two different lenses, not Goldin's work."
    Uh-huh. So, let's conveniently leave NG behind, and assume you can tell the difference. What's the significance of that in your work, or anyone else's? I trust this is not edging into the usual Photo.net lens porn droolfest.
     
  262. jtk

    jtk

    They're favorites of a subset of older photographers and writers, but I don't think Goldin or Clark, as startling as they were decades ago, are nearly as relevant to photography generally, or fantasy in particular (the OT) as the run of work in Flickr. This is especially evident in cellphone photography.
    Both Goldin and Clark illustrated (past tense) particular vintage cases of a reality William Burroughs addressed earlier: http://books.google.com/books?id=8U...esnum=11&ved=0CCUQ6AEwCg#v=onepage&q=&f=false
     
  263. Rebecca--
    Perhaps there are two things being discussed here: art and meta-art.
    One can focus on the latter, the "art world," galleries, biographies, how art gets recognized and becomes popular.
    I know that stuff is there. It's fascinating to read and think about. Hell, I've taken enough Aesthetics classes to last a lifetime.
    But, this stuff is not what I see or experience when I look at a photo by Nan Goldin, or most others.
    "Fantasy" is significant to me as part of my photo-making process, not as part of my becoming well known or "successful." I don't know how this became about who wins and who loses.
    Perhaps the next thread ought to be about "what is success." In this thread and in Arthur's current Less Is More thread, I'm seeing a conflation of what each of us wants to express with what is "better" or what sells. What's the goal here . . . to make the winning (best/popular/recognized) photograph or to make the one we want?
     
  264. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    I'm not sure I can tell the difference; I think I can tell the Summitar's signature, and older lenses like the Summar are pretty obvious.
    Thing is that the equipment and now the coding plays a big part in what we can do.
    Photography gives us a range of effects, something like the way Chinese brushes give us a range of effects (and Chinese brush effects are what makes Chinese brush painting something amateur gentlemen scholars do rather than court painting. So with lenses and film -- we have a range of interactions between the film and the lens and the shutter to choose from -- various ways to make focus easier, various ways to handle tonality, various ways to develop film or post process digital files. Some lenses have different OOF renderings than others, some obvious, some perhaps so not obvious (that Old Leica Glow effect).
    Translating theory to practice is as indirect as translating raw camera gear into practice is. The ideal for me is that the end work doesn't obviously display its theory; likewise, the end photograph shouldn't have to display its little v's. or its PhotoShopping (unless it's a photo collage or something where the Photoshopping is the point). If I look at a work and think it's highly improbable that the poses just happened, then is knowing that a distraction? If I see something that is out of focus and have to think about whether that was a chosen effect or an accident, then I'm not as pleased as when it's immediately obvious that this works for this shot. If the signature of the process -- platinum prints, say, with the brushstrokes uncropped -- are hanging out on the print, did this have to be platinum process (I've seen some platinum process prints that I quite loved). Big Lights -- if the first thing that comes to mind is an analysis of the lighting set up, then something may be missing from the photograph.
    Fred's comments about the merger of subject and style are appropo here, but the camera is part of the style. We work with cameras. Lenses vary both as to sharpness and to how they render out of focus areas, some more than others.
    The end of all of this is the work. If the theory helped the work, and it often does, yay. If the equipment helped the work (and for photographers, it's impossible to do the work without a camera), then knowing the equipment is critical, including knowing what is and isn't a real effect from the lenses. I think one shot of mine is a typical Summitar shot (the woman in the park in the Leica section of my gallery). Would my 105 f/2.5 Nikkor have as good an OOF rendering? Different on film than on digital DX frame? I don't have the Summitar anymore, so I can't do a head to head comparison.
    I think there are differences in how my 105mm f/2.8 renders things compared with how my 105mm f/2.5 renders things (both Nikkors, one a contemporary lens; the other from the 1980s, I think). I should do a head to head on film, just haven't gotten around to it yet. My subjective impression is that the 105 f/2.5 does slightly less vivid colors, better flesh tones on digital, and is a better portrait lens, is perhaps less contrasty. The 105mm macro lens seems to be more contrasty, harsher OOF areas, not as good with flesh tones, perhaps, apparently sharper. I don't have the 105mm lens that does the manipulations that definitely create different sorts of effects. Macro, has to be the VR 105 f/2.8, since the f/2.5 doesn't do close focusing. Portraits, the f/2.5. Without the tests, this is perhaps rather subjective.
    One photographer friend has several different 50mm lenses, all of which he believes do different things.
     
  265. "If I look at a work and think it's highly improbable that the poses just happened, then is knowing that a distraction?"​
    It's not a distraction to me . . . unless the poses themselves or the way they're photographed are a distraction. But that a pose looks posed is often obvious and part of the photograph. I've sometimes found that more obvious posing, even exaggerations, work quite well in some of my work. As you said with blur, it's when it's done in such a way that distracts the viewer into thinking something is a mistake that it's problematic. Problems come in when you try to pose someone so they look like they're not posing and you don't do it well. But intentionally working with poses that don't just happen is one of my favorite things to do. And sometimes, it's my intention for them to look like an obvious pose rather than something that just happened.
    I'm not a candid sort of guy, necessarily. And I draw a distinction between "candid" and "spontaneous." I can be spontaneous without shooting "candids" and I can get off being quite deliberate as well as spontaneous. I think "candid" and "unposed" are way overrated. So many good portraits look obviously posed, and they go beyond just that. The good ones just don't look self conscious. Occasionally, one does look self conscious but may work because it's supposed to look that way.
    Good way to get back to fantasy. I think there can be a lot of fantasy at play in the poses we strike and I know there is in my own process of asking people to pose*.
    *"Pose", in this case, is to be taken two ways. First, as in the initial "will you pose for me?" And then as in, "let's try a different stance" or "can we do something with your arms and hands?"
     
  266. Rebecca: Okay, I have a much better idea of what you were addressing regarding the hardware (there were other things you said that seemed to point in another direction).
    I do not have a blanket ideal for my (or others') work. There's a huge amount of not-so-recent and contemporary work that (more or less) obviously displays its theory in a self-referential way. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes unwittingly or subconsciously.
    I also agree that the end photograph shouldn't have to display anything.
    It doesn't matter to me whether the people in the picture were posed or not, in terms of distraction.
    I also don't think in terms of a work having to be in a particular print medium. I love Gilpin's prints, but had she chosen to use another method, while they would look different, I doubt I would think they sucked.
    The work is the sum of all choices made by the artist, and if there's synergy, much more than that.
    RB- "knowing the equipment is critical, including knowing what is and isn't a real effect from the lenses."
    I disagree that it is critical. I may want to know what was used for a multitude of reasons, but they have little to do with my understanding of the picture. On the one hand, you don't think we should have a PS history of a photo, but we should know the lens? I do not understand.
    The theory, if it's integrated in the artist's mind, is an inextricable part of the work. Otherwise, it's a lumpen addition.
     
  267. Fred - " there can be a lot of fantasy at play in the poses we strike and I know there is in my own process of asking people to pose*.
    I think this is true for a lot of photographers, and often, the fantasy and poses flow from the model(s), too.
    http://www.artnet.com/artwork/424706910/117186/imogen-cunningham-and-twinka.html
    Sometimes collaboratively, other times spontaneously. Photographers also influence the subjects' attitude and subsequently, their poses, in various ways, not all the conventional directorial instructional kind.
    Sometimes wordlessly, by striking the pose we want, explicitly directing, or via reinforcement ( for many situations or subjects, coming out from behind the camera, and flashing a smile or wordlessly cooing, ooohs, Hmm-hmmmm, etc can work as well or better as the usual "YES!") and successive approximations, and for those with an open mind, unexpected variations and transitional poses are popping in and out of existence, a banquet of possibilities for those willing and fast enough to seize them.
    Even with candids, or people I've just asked to take their picture on the street, one can subliminally direct poses. Depending on what you project (attitude, muscle tone, posture etc), the subjects will react, usually, but not always, in predictable ways (and often the unpredictable ones are best). One can shift subjects, simply by moving into their space while talking with them, or get them to move to a different background, with which they'll often interact, by walking around them. They'll turn to face you.
    All of this takes being a few moves ahead with the fantasizing, of course.
     
  268. In fantasy, the whole world seems to join the pose. Not just the people -- whether they actively pose or are posed by what you do with them -- but also the furniture, the walls, the ceiling, the trees, the sky, the clouds -- always those strange clouds -- the random but meaningful bit of trash, insects ... and knife blades of light or white clouds of light or little random speckles of light ...
    When you say "can you do something with your hands?" you don't take whatever they choose to give you. You wait until you see what you want. You want the buffet to include a wider variety; you're not happy with what's there already.
    Circling back to a much earlier bit, self-portraits are poses. For example David Wojnarowicz's buried face with just his nose and mouth above ground. Buried alive.
     
  269. Julie typed: " In fantasy, the whole world seems to join the pose. Not just the people -- whether they actively pose or are posed by what you do with them -- but also the furniture, the walls, the ceiling, the trees, the sky, the clouds -- always those strange clouds -- the random but meaningful bit of trash, insects ... and knife blades of light or white clouds of light or little random speckles of light ..."
    It's true. The Axis of Strange mysteriously seems to respond, or worse, correspond. Slipping and sliding into solipsism here...I'm glad you mentioned those damned clouds...I thought it might just be me...
     
  270. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis G,
    If knowing what the equipment does is integrated in the artist's mind.....
    The drills for photographers should internalize what the equipment does, what situations call for this or that. Some of the differences are obvious and not all all self-hypnosis; some may be self-hypnosis, but then there's always the placebo effect if you believe a lens can take the best portraits. I was very grumpy about the Summitar when I owned it, but looking back on some of the things I took with it, not as grumpy.
    Learning about a lens doesn't end with shooting what I call box tests (of a particularly detailed carved box I have sitting behind my computer) or bricks, or test grids. But I do box tests on every lens I can use on a digital camera (not on the Hasselblads because film isn't that cheap and the old Zeiss glass doesn't focus that close except for the 50mm one and what they do unique to them is a lot more clear cut than with zoom vs. prime Nikkors.
    Fred, if I look at something and immediately think about how it was done rather than react to the image, either I'm getting to be way to close to being a dedicated photographer (dedicated poets read differently than do people who aren't) or the picture wasn't compelling enough to keep me from wandering around it thinking technical thoughts. I can always find ways to entertain myself with a work of art if the work of art I'm looking at/reading doesn't do the trick itself.
    Also, were you saying that context is so obvious an influence on how we perceive things that it's not worth worrying about or were you saying that you didn't think you were influenced by context particularly? The first may be saner than second guessing one's enthusiasms and hates.
    Platinum prints do some things that nothing else comes close to. I keep reminding myself that when I see things on line, I'm getting the photographic equivalent of a Reader's Digest Condensed Book. I need to get into DC and spend some time at the museums.
     
  271. "Also, were you saying that context is so obvious an influence on how we perceive things that it's not worth worrying about"​
    I wasn't saying precisely that because a discussion of the influences of context requires more depth than I want to give it here but, yes, that's the general drift.
    I'd liken too much thought about context and how Nan Goldin got to be where she is to your being distracted by looking at something and going immediately to thoughts of how it was done. I agree with you, by the way, that if I immediately go to thoughts of how it was done, it often turns out not to be all that compelling (though there are many exceptions where how it was done is part of the essence of the statement or vision and becomes relevant to the gut reaction I have). A reason for that is that it takes me outside of the experience. Dwelling on meta-narratives takes me outside the experience as well. I may know the meta-narratives are there, just like I know photographers often construct (not in the sense of collage, but in the sense of creation) even if they're good enough where I don't wind up thinking about the means of construction. But if either meta-narrative or construction is what I wind up thinking about or talking about, then I figure I wasn't involved with the art enough . . . either because the artist didn't draw me in or because of my own ability to distract myself.*
    *As a photographer, of course, at some point I may very well engage with thinking about how a photograph was done and that will, in fact, become part of my experience of the photograph, and a significant one. I am by no means dismissing technical knowledge and practical awareness of how photographs get made.
    I see a difference between responding automatically negatively to an overt or non-candid pose and responding negatively to something not well done that winds up making you conscious of the construction when that wasn't the intent. The former seems like a prejudice and the latter seems like an artistic intention that likely went unfulfilled. In most cases the latter happens because of a mistake by the artist or a lack of experience or expertise. The former, on the other hand, seems like a limit being set on vision and/or method.
     
  272. Julie--
    I think because I feel more of an empathic (and other kinds of) relationship with the people I photograph, their poses (their very beings) do feel more a part of my fantasies than the walls, furniture, and other objects that are also very significant to my photos. And, yes. Light and shadow for me, a lot, but still less so than the people themselves. Of course, I'm just speaking for myself. I imagine others have very different fantasies and very different objects of fantasies, etc.
     
  273. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I'd be curious to see what you could do with a view camera, which is a very formal medium but with considerable ease of separating photographer from the camera. The camera to the eye makes for a different interaction than you'd get with either waist level finders (generally medium format) or view cameras. Everything taken with a view camera is posed, and the results range from cliches to rather marvelous.
    I came up with a sound bit after thinking about all this. My former day job forced to me to teach literature to people forced to read it. Today, I realized that trying to change people's tastes is like trying to change their sexual orientations. People can be introduced to things they might not like at first viewing, encouraged to try the material again (non-coersively and grades are coercion). People tune out academics because many of them tend to sound like they're advertising what they're promoting, trying to overwhelm by rhetoric. The explanations of what I was supposed to like despite my own inclinations was framed in similar language. I was supposed to be fulfilled by teaching or marriage. I was supposedly not capable of knowing what was good for me, even what would give me a satisfying life.
    I always leveled with my students that I had to teach the course and they had to read the poetry, but they didn't have to like any of what I assigned, just explain why they did or didn't like it, and I'd grade them down if I felt I was being conned. And they, mostly, tried to con me anyway because that was the strategy that worked with high school teachers. (They were writing journals and whining about having to take the class --- obviously were too cynical to believe I actually read the journals, but the journals were the most fascinating writing they did).
    One kid attacked poetry as being useless in one classroom discussion that went on for around an hour or more in a two hour night class. He was terrified the next day that I was going to grade him down because of that (I loved it, honesty, felt that we were both respecting each other, and I felt I was hearing objections that the other students weren't making). His terror, unfortunately, wasn't that paranoid because I've heard of people getting F's for having the wrong attitude in various other classes and disciplines.
    I do trust that you do like Nan Goldin because you gave me specific reasons that weren't part of the Romance Of Art. Much of the support of Goldin comes across like the Romance of the Arts as Human Roach Motel (attract crazies to the arts, addict them to drugs and kill them before they breed, then teach them in colleges, glamorize the risks and idealize art as something worth dying for to to make sure new crazies take the same route). I don't think the Art as Place of Sacrifice meme is that cynically thought out, but that's how it often functions. People in metropolitan areas tend to find less toxic models, but those artists aren't well known (as they're not great news items) in the provinces.
    Prejudices are like rust, they give an interesting texture to people.
    00VCuv-199043684.jpg
     
  274. Rebecca Brown typed: " The drills for photographers should internalize what the equipment does, what situations call for this or that."
    That's another formula and a hoop for you to jump through, but it's not for everybody. Joyce Tenneson began her now famous portraits (and, no, she's not a personal favorite) with what she had, an Olympus OM-1 and a 50mm (similar to Jane Bown's kit, btw). She didn't do drills, she did portraits.
    http://www.tenneson.com/jt/jt_book_1.html
    Weston bought the lens with which he made the majority of his best-known work at a Mexican flea market. He didn't drill, he went to work.
    http://www.edward-weston.com/edward_weston_original_11.htm
    Garry Winogrand carried two identical Leicas and 28mm lenses. He worked more often than almost anyone else.
    http://www.morehousegallery.com/print/garry-winogrand/san-marcos-texxas/7845.aspx
    The extra one was in case he didn't have time to reload.
    Atget owned one lens.
    http://www.masters-of-photography.com/images/screen/atget/atget_tree_sceaux.jpg
    Josef Koudelka used three identical Leicas, with identical lenses, each pinned to a particular focusing distance (with a toothpick!).
    http://www.hasselbladfoundation.org/josef-koudelka/en/
    I can go on and on, but it has nothing to do with Philosophy.
    When lens choices are made, they are not always dictated by the situation, but by theory, emotions (Exactly the way Hiro said he chose from his extensive collection of lenses), capriciousness, what's on hand, or vision.
    Having said all that, I'll let you in on something: I personally drill with new cameras & lenses. I don't do lens tests. Instead, I use them and see how they interface with my own vision. My drills have to do with the feel and controls of the camera/lens. My goal is to become so intimate with the gear that it becomes like breathing -- and gets out of the way. I do that, but in no way preach or advocate it for others.
    As to working with view cameras, I did thousands of portraits (and other work) with them, and unlike your rigid ideas, many of the exposures were made with the agility and speed of street work, once set up, taking advantage of a fleeting gesture. Many, many other view camera users have done the same thing (once films became sensitive enough to do this in daylight, and specially after electronic strobes).
    I think Fred would do well with a view if he chose to use one, and doubt his pictures would look very different (aside from the technical aspects).
    Interest art conspiracy theories, btw. Loved the Roach Motel one.
     
  275. jtk

    jtk

    What's the "philosophic" difference between fascination with Leica lens subleties and fascination with Roach Motel snappers (Clark & Goldin)?
    It's not like Clark, Goldin, or Leica buffs are important "photographers" more than the average Walmart minilab customer..is it?
    It's not like either enthusiasm is related to photo "philosophy" any more than information about the prices of wedding photographers in Peoria, Iowa, is it?
    I remember a brief, perverse kick from Clark and Goldin. They're Roach Motel versions of Bill Owens. Owens had the poetic gift to underline things most Americans saw, but didn't appreciate. All Clark and Goldin did was thrill sheltered aesthetes.. TV "reality shows"? Or soap operas?
     
  276. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis. The technical aspects are part of the art. And some people do use their cameras as recording devices rather than for the production of things geared to have emotional impact (and some people collect cameras). I've used my cameras for all sorts of things, including recording stuff and simply trying to frame it in non-bad ways. Those photos are about the thing I'm taking a picture of.
    As for view cameras, my scanner doesn't do 4x5, so I can't show you what I did. I shot Tri-X. Unless you were using something radically different from what I was using (old battleship gray Calumet with a cheap Caltar lens), you weren't going to get in focus motion shots moving toward or away from the lens, so you're talking about catching fleeting expressions. For me, focusing on the ground glass, then putting in the holder, pulling the darkslide and standing around talking to the subject until I liked what I saw was how I did things. The focus at the time of committing to the shot was what it had been in the ground glass before I put the holder in, seconds or minutes earlier. I had one shot that I blew badly because I didn't nail the focus. If my subject moved out of the plane of focus, I didn't have an autofocus lens on. (Autofocus on a view camera would be lots of fun). If you were working with a Speed Graphic with a rangefinder or had one of those autofocus lenses, I'm sure you could catch action shots just fine. I didn't have that, so I had to shoot people who were basically still except for things like facial expressions.
    The reason for box tests rather than merely shooting with the lens is that I don't get seduced by the subject matter (though I believe both my boxes are beautiful and useful). The boxes are either behind me or about five feet away. The cameras and lenses are in arms reach. The catch on the casket box is always going to look the same, the carvings on the Indian box, ditto. I don't do bricks and test patterns, but I am comparing catch to catch and carvings to carvings.
    I have friends who are fairly serious about their photography who are poorly matched with their gear (they have good enough reasons to want to use the cameras they use, and one is learning to take the pictures that will work with his camera), so I do think about this because I'd rather like what they post to their LiveJournals than not like it.
    The romantic position and teaching style, the Dionysians, are well represented in the Academy at this time. The Apollonians tend to be more toward the commercial end of photography than the art end. John Shaw probably represents the Apollonian in contemporary photography. He has been writing books on technique and shooting since the 1970s at least. I don't follow all his prescriptions -- they're a bit too Apollonian even for me.
    Not that one can't have crap in either camp. Both are points on a continuum, too.
    I see something in Fred's work that suggests that he might have a blast with a large format camera and a box of Pro Tri-X, but since I'm not in SF and not rich, I can't put one in his hands. Or this may be what I would shoot with Fred's subjects. Large format does textures very well.
    Fantasy on my part, perhaps.
    Goldin would not be so famous if she wasn't living the Romantic fantasy of the Self-Damaging Artist, from Whose Pain Great Art Comes. I realize, too, that without the art and the recognition, Goldin would have been just another crazy working at a desk job, or another house painter/artist like the people who lived in the warehouses in Philadelphia, or married to someone indulgent, so, maybe the art didn't do that to her. She might have been a worse fucked up mess without it, but I also know people who got away from dangerously fucked up scenes. With the arts, the questions is whether one is exorcising ones demons or exercising them.
    Do we shape the fantasy or does the fantasy shape us, to bring it back to the original question.
    I suppose I could name drop Pierre Bourdieu here, but I haven't read Distinctions yet. It's on my list of things to do.
     
  277. Isn't it ever just about looking at the photograph?
    I've been learning to see . . . despite even my own inclinations to judgment and taste.
     
  278. Fred typed: " Isn't it ever just about looking at the photograph?"
    For me, first and foremost. And I want to experience the gestalt of the image whole, not cut up into pieces.
    Rebecca typed: " Luis. The technical aspects are part of the art."
    Thank you. Who knew?
    The hypotheticals demeaning Ms. Goldin do not merit comment.
     
  279. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, I think the best of your posts (of anybody's) involves descriptions of your own experience and process....not abstract ideas. This distinctly has not entailed references to other photographers.
    By far, IMO, the best of your best has been your interview. I think there's a lesson in that.
    Expanding on what you meant, above, by "learning to see," how you're approaching that learning, will be just as instructive and important. Please take that further.
     
  280. John--
    Thanks for the question and interest.
    What I meant by the short post at 3:15 is that I've been able to experience more and more a kind of non-judgmental and taste-free way of seeing. Now, of course I am aware that nothing is 100% and I'm quite sure that my own built-in prejudices and proclivities influence what and how I see.
    But I am able to look at photographs by Goldin, Steichen, Avedon, Warhol, my friends, myself, you, Leibovitz, and genuinely not dwell on whether I like them or not or how they compare for me to the photographs of others. So I feel like it has opened me up to a new way of seeing. I am trying to see things for what they are . . . if there is such a thing. I'm at a point where I have so much to gain by accepting (rather than judging) the way other photographers see the world and I am honestly more curious than I am critical. It's not that I'm never critical and certainly I'm not suggesting that I give up approaching photos with a critical eye, but it has its (limited) place and "critical thinking" (in its many senses) can be, certainly for me, a distraction.
    As I'm writing, I kind of realize that it makes sense within my own approach to my photographs. Ten years ago, I likely would have thought that, given the opportunity, I would choose male subjects who I was physically attracted to in a rather superficial way. The hot guys. There's ample opportunity in San Francisco and I've done some of it. Instead, though, what's happened, is that I have become attracted to the people I shoot. I have come to see aging male bodies as expressive and as sensual. As a matter of fact, to a great extent, younger, firmer, smoother, less worn bodies have become somewhat uninteresting to me visually. They're a little vanilla and a lot of them seem alike. What is more stimulating photographically has become more stimulating period. I am seeing beyond (and also within) what I used to see. I am seeing more in the same things I used to see less. As importantly, I am feeling a stronger connection to what I see. It's less about attractiveness (or attraction) and more about willingness to be open and then to do something about it. To make something of it.
    So it feels like my taste has become more and more influenced by my intrigue rather than either what I've always been comfortable with or what I've always told myself I liked.
    And there's a nuts-and-bolts aspect to it also. I find it fascinating to dissect how Goldin works with colors and what causes me to be moved by her color use, how it interplays with her lighting and subjects, etc. Looking at her technique teaches me about some things I can do with these relatively new tools I have at my disposal. Her style intrigues me and I find that exploring by taking some of that in various directions advances my own vision. Looking at her work helps me learn about incorporating design and style into my own portraits, even if I wind up doing it differently.
    _____________________________
    I very much appreciate your starting the thread on "Equivalence." There's a lot to digest and discuss. I've read through a couple of times and am formulating some thoughts to add to the discussion over there. It's great stuff!
     
  281. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred, I don't think it's ever just about looking at the photograph. Arnheim's book on visual perception is interesting if you haven't already read it.
    My thinking that the real trick isn't just to see other people's work without blinders; it's seeing our own work without blinders, and being able to see what's actually working in our own work, not just the faults, to see the traces of ways of doing the work that lead us to doing better work.
    Romantics think classicists are rigid; classicists think romantics are self-indulgent. We're all just whistling against the dark, hoping that someone will remember us after we're gone. I suspect that for most of us, this is a fantasy.
    If you have no interest in textures and playing with planes of focus, don't bother with a view camera.
     
  282. Rebecca--
    I am interested in textures and planes of focus, and assume I will try a view camera at some point. Thanks for your thoughts along those lines. I don't have enough experience with a variety of lenses or cameras yet to know in what ways the differences will affect my seeing, shooting, or results, but I imagine it will be an eye-opening experience.
     
  283. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, the key word in your recent post (thanks) seems to me to be " intrigue ." Along that line, I like doubts, anxieties, mysteries, questions, even confusion...closely related to intrigue. Answers, solutions, labels, and certainty seem steps on a death trip.
    Although you've made a point (labored IMO) of referring to another photographer, you seem to be freeing yourself from referential frameworks...certainly from theoretic boxes.
    Theories tend to be boxes...sometimes we even label them so we don't forget to use them when something unusual floats by, that might otherwise stimulate pausing and reflecting.
    The White/Stieglitz notions of Equivalence are interesting enough to me that I respect them as questions. Treating Equivalence as theory might make it part of a box system: I might start force images into symbols-boxes the way some of Minor White's commentators have treated his images (as in one of the links I provided). I think the thing to do with theories is to laugh at them while we toy with them.
    Thoughts and two questions: I doubt you actually hold the two-sided (ambivalent) views you usually express. I don't think you're really as normative as many of your posts. I think you're more like the guy in the Fred interview. 1) Does that make sense? 2) How am I mistaken? :)
     
  284. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Fred --
    This is a photo/not a photo of me smiling slightly.
    View cameras with movements really aren't like other cameras. You might not find uses for the movements, but if you do, you can get effects that you can't get any other way this side of a focus stacker program that would let you tilt and selectively set the plane of sharp focus, if such a program exists.
    I think what we shoot with is part of how we see ourselves as photographers -- that the equipment has a certain charisma. Shooting with classic cameras can be a way to connect imaginatively with people who used similar cameras in the past. I don't need the Hasselblads, certainly not for web work and certainly not two of them, but they have their charm. My brother's gift of an F3 and lenses connects me with my memories of the F3 I used to have, with the whole history of that camera, its longevity. I noodle more with the DSLR, though.
    With a Speed Graphic, I would be one with the people who photographed WWII and the Hindenburg burning, the last of the photographers who used them in the 1960s, the new ones still for sale in the shop where I bought my first used SLR. The screwmount Leica has its own evocations. The Hasselblad and the F3 are Blowup, the fashion photographers of the 60s, the camera that went to the moon, going to war in Vietnam. My first F3 was a pro's beater and looked like it has been to war until Nikon had it in for a shutter repair and beat out the dents in the prism housing. One of my Zeiss lenses is from the sixties. The Leica lens I used to own was older than I am.
    All kinds of fantasies in photography. I find the equipment an object of fantasy as much as the preconceptions about what I'm going to photograph. And when I owned the screwmount Leica, I took all sorts of macro shots of its bits.
     
  285. John--
    I think you can get a fair picture of me from reading the interview, looking at my pictures, and reading what I write both in critiques of others and in responses to comments on my own work. As for my posts in the Philosophy forum, they aren't about me to that same extent and they are more theoretical, often by design, because that's how I see Philosophy. I don't see "theoretical" negatively, and I think much Philosophy is by nature more theoretical than would be a personal interview or a discussion of my own photographs. Of course, there is overlap.
    I'd want to know what you mean by "ambivalent" and "normative". I see them as two distinct matters. I am, in some cases, ambivalent. At the same time I recognize that one man's ambivalence is another's open-mindedness.
    I won't answer the kind of generic and abstract question you ask about me. If there's a specific post, statement, or position of mine you want to question me about, I'll be happy to deal with that. I would find that more grounded.
    I suspect that some of what you're reading as ambivalence is more naivete on my part (because I'm so new to being a photographer and really haven't formed opinions on some stuff yet). Also, I go through exactly what you mention . . . doubts, confusion, mysteries. As you say, answers and certainty can be dangerous.
    As for referring to other photographers, it's not so much that I'm freeing myself from referential frameworks, it's that I don't even have some of the academic frameworks to begin with, to the extent others in these discussions do. I've always loved films and photographs. I've "studied" films more. I also "grew up" with an influential photographer friend. I've been exposed. I haven't done that much serious reading about photography or by photographers and I'm not nearly as fluent in references as you and many others in the forums. But, as I said above and you picked up on, I have looked.
    I think it would be fair to say I know photographs much better than I know photography.
     
  286. Theories only look like boxes to people that love to box things in, and/or fear being boxed in. Just like a map looks confining to those that can't simultaneously hold the idea of hundreds (or more) square miles of territory and map (let's not even get into projection in maps) they hold in their hand simultaneously. Or words, a GPS coordinate, nationality, gender, or anything else. Concepts exist because they are useful, and there's no denying that they often outlive their usefulness as well. When one thinks of them using cowboy logic (fence it in) they, and everything else, become corrals, (or boxes, traps, etc). This is also often used to attack others. Most children in 3rd grade really understand that a globe is not a perfect little model of the earth, that there aren't lines drawn across the world, and that countries do not come in colors, but it's a useful conceptual device.
    I'm not saying John is wrong per se in his personal formula: theory=boxes, I'm only saying that his view is not a universal one. It's obviously true for him, and I respect that. For many other people, theories are extremely useful, even liberating, and in a context where their usefulness has little bearing, they can be put away. They do not possess everyone. It's like a pocket knife. You bring it out when you need it, then you fold it and put it back in your pocket. In John's boxy theory of theory, the pocket knife owns you.
    By any measure, the Stieglitz/White Equivalence is a theory, one I and many others, including John himself, find liberating and useful.
    For the record, as of 1962, White was talking about both visualization and previsualization. How do I know this? Because, I too, was a friend of, and mentored by, someone directly connected with MW. I was given a (yet unpublished, except in part in a magazine in 1983, and not on the web) bound set copy of notes from multiple MW workshops -- which were checked over, corrected and approved by MW. There are several copies of this floating around. I've found some in private libraries, and a few have made their way into universities' permanent collections.
    There is a latter, much larger unfinished collection (written both by MW and his students) of extremely detailed notes, about 300 pages' worth, in two volumes (though I've heard reports they also come in one) that MW was reportedly working on when he died. I only got to hurriedly leaf through one copy for an all-too-brief afternoon, not allowed to take notes, & sworn to secrecy. It was then unexpectedly offered to me at a price that seemed outrageous then (more than the car I was driving was worth), a steal now. To my regret, I passed it up. A few copies exist, one with MW's archives at Princeton, I think.
    MW came with all the advantages and liabilities of any charismatic leader.
     
  287. Rebecca: Don't get the wrong idea about me. I own more than three dozen lenses and 30 cameras, including a few on extended loan, and I don't collect. These accumulated over the years, and while others came and went, what's left is what I liked. I have tested with targets, and have a friend whose business at one time had an optical bench, and he delighted in testing lenses. Nowadays, I simply do situational subjective testing. Funny, how on the same forum, one can be labeled a gearhead and a gear-averse naif.
     
  288. jtk

    jtk

    Luis, I don't think of Equivalence as "theory," I think of it as "possibility," "approach," "experience," "discipline." That, incidentally, seems to relate closely to zen practice, which is also "not theory".
    Educators risk losing the hearts of their subjects through scholarly distractions. That happened with some of Minor White's teaching offspring: became heads of "art departments" etc. Photographers, on the other hand, seem to concern themselves more with their own work.
    We can't all die at our photographic peaks. We may start as aspiring students (self-taught or otherwise...equally good), grow into photographers, perhaps come and go, possibly morphing into former photographers with all sorts of expertise and accumulated mental images. It's not a bad thing to be a former photographer: mental images are the only kind of images anyone has ever produced or experienced.
     
  289. jtk

    jtk

    Fred Goldsmith seems to me to be Fred Interview, an acutely gifted photographer... Fred Forum seems someone else, nowhere near as close philosophically or in practice to photography as is Fred Interview. IMO this has secondarily to do with the relative writing approaches and personal confidence of the two Freds.
    That is not intended as a negative criticism (some find as much substance in Fred Forum as in Fred Interview), but I do think we miss a lot when someone with richer capabilities defines philosophy narrowly, seemingly diminishing subjective experience, psychological, and perceptual ideas (and spiritual ideas, for those so-inclined).
     
  290. John--
    A lot of the difference in the way I come off in my interview vs. here has to do with the fact that the interview was pretty much a monologue guided by very open-ended questions.
    These forums are a dialogue, very different in nature. The forums are driven by all kinds of personalities (and conflict), personality quirks, competition, obsessions, distracting crap, projections about others, selective quoting, misunderstanding due to writing quickly and not seeing facial expressions, etc. I'd say, for the most part, especially here in the Philosophy forum, we do a very good job of working through, around, or above all that stuff, and we get a lot accomplished. But the stuff is there, and I suspect it affects the way we all act and the way we are all perceived by others. Here, our own words and attitudes may very well be reflecting who we're talking to and what we're responding to as much as ourselves.
    I'm OK with what I offer to this forum and what I take away from it. And I'm OK with how that relates to who I am, which is sometimes context-driven and not a static, set piece.
    I don't want to continue this focus on me in this venue.
     
  291. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Luis, I shoot fantasy fighting cocks in my mind and print them as imaginary platinum prints and the photographs are just stunning. Want to buy one?
    Fred, I'm allergic to certain commonplaces of the day, and tend to think that people who utter them without thinking about the person on the other end of the commonplace are living in a fantasy world.
    My accomplishments in my other medium are neither clearly superior nor were they nothing, but I have had a lot of experience with people who at various stages in various art forms were sure I should listen to them and that they were or were going to be superior to me and that I should really care about their advice.
    One of the wonders of Google was finding out twenty years later just how wrong they were. I wish I could have learned that earlier. I think for women and young gay men, there's a further issue of people playing with their ambitions for ulterior purposes that range from fairly innocent attention-getting to seduction (and this give a slightly different tone to Wilde's problems with the object of his flattery, Lord Alfred Douglas; Wilde was not utterly innocent in that game). At my age, I'm no one's fan or acolyte, and my successes and failures are mine.
    Anyone who tries to impress others is presumed unaccomplished until proven otherwise. The proof is in the art, the practice, not in what they say about the practice. If a teacher, in what the students do.
    The best advice people get is blunt and brief. My brother painted along side an old retired Pennsylvania Academy art instructor for two years of weekends, and what he got was the modeling that Luis talks about and the comments like "that's working" with a pointing to a section of the painting.
    What I see in your work suggests working with large format and serious lights. I could say more, but it's one of those things that doing it will say more to you than any amount of my telling. May not work for you at all; may be the love of your life or bring you the loves of your life (one of the women I know who does fan slash fiction said she did quite well with it since it attracted a really great girl friend).
    For me, photography is a vacation from words, a different way of thinking. At various times in my life when I was shifting gears in my writing, I did things that were non-verbal: bicycle time trialing, spinning and knitting (the blue sweater in a recent photograph is handspun and handknitted, which would have been more obvious in a larger format image, preferably one where the plane of focus caressed the knitting).
    Ultimately, I think the practices, whether we call them arts or meditations or whatever, are about exploring our minds in different ways -- and any work can be that, too (going through a security investigation is a very curious thing that took me places that hanging out at St. Mark's Church Poetry Project didn't). Some of that exploration is is discovering how what we do resonates in other minds. I'm not sure we can ever escape seeing things through our own needs -- the vicarious winning experience, the hints of things that we'd like in our own work, the "there but for the grace of God" compassion, the human curiosity over someone else's emotional trainwreck, a need for beauty, sometimes the egotistical need to feel that our taste is superior to what's on television.
    We start with an image of ourselves that we haven't achieved yet. Some people do the work and modify the self-image as needed to fit the accomplishments; others create amazing defenses of the self image when it failed to lead to the imaginary work; others learn that they're capable of more than they imagined (and that is really fun).
    I think claiming to be an artist may be both useful and a defense, as well as a fantasy, to sort of tie both monster threads together. But being poor on artists grants is quite different from being poor as a baby photographer making $9 an hour. Most of the people who manage the first have what I understand Bourdieu called cultural capital -- they're from families with ties to academic resources, they've gone to school with people who end up on museum and grant boards, they've had teachers who recommended them to galleries. One of my teachers who'd been on grants committees described them as horse trading over giving money to one's colleagues and students and then having a grant left over to someone who was a stranger to the committee.
    Yale has the highest success rate of art MFAs going on to have careers of any graduate art program in the country -- it would be tremendously demoralizing to attend Yale and fail to make it. Yale also has no financing for its fine arts MFA programs, so for the kids who don't come from monied families, it's a $60,000 plus debt. The next highest ranking art school comes in at about a third the success rate that Yale has. The kids who work at the baby picture places love what they're doing, love photography, but don't generally have the cultural and social capital to get into Yale, to even know about grants in the arts (one of my National Business College students was working part time at such a studio). I suspect that the passion and ability to shoot pictures is more evenly distributed than the ways to have the freedom to explore the medium fully. Going the art photographer route isn't a choice that my National Business College student would have fantasized about much because she was a realist and sane. She could work as a photographer, though.
    I think that we fantasize about art being a way to keep our passion hot. Through art, we'll always be discovering new things about our passion. If we do this commercially, we'll be stuck in routines that are often not even what we'd chose to do.
    One side of me says that I should stop being silly and just do the YA s.f. and fantasy without being precious about it, regardless of whether that matches my fantasy of who I am. The other side of me points out that people who were sure of themselves or appeared to have been sure of themselves were massively wrong about me in the past, so why should this assignment from outside be right now? But the only thing that gives me the luxury of not going with the first or office work or adjunct teaching again is that I have some money. I can decide to pay myself $20,000 for time to write the books I want to write. If I didn't have that, I'd be totally hat in hand, profusely apologizing to anyone I'd offended, writing things that other people thought would have an audience or were useful.
    Likewise, if I had to make a living with a camera, I'd be shooting events in DC, working in a camera store, and shooting for Bella Pictures, and living in a share in Manassas. It probably doesn't make any sense now, but would have been the way to go if I'd begun in my early twenties.
    And there's a point, based on one's cerebral vascular health and other aspects of neurobiology, where we've done is what we'll have ever done, and the regrets over the things we failed to do are often be both profound and silly. My mother was showing the effects of what looked like early stages of Alzheimers by her late 70s, and with dementia setting in, that's the line draw and the total of what her life was in our memories of her.
    I think we have a fantasy that knowing in word translates into knowing in visual arts. I think that for the visual arts, the knowing is developing the seeing (I think we're in agreement on that one), but the seeing is shaped by the culture we're in, which includes words.
    The more I hang out here, the more I think about writing more fiction. Maybe in fifteen years my brain turns to mush. Maybe it's turning to mush now. It may be that the visual mind outlives the verbal one -- more painters continue on into old age than do writers. Maybe in old age, one comes back to what one loved as a child.
    Maybe it's all a fantasy.
     
  292. John, how very kind, or as you say about yourself, generous, of you to worry about what educators may or may not be losing. Hardly Zen, btw. Don't disparage others, pigeonhole or stereotype them, as you are blatantly doing to Fred above. This path does not lead to the engagement you claim to want.
    As you are always telling the rest of us, tell us how and what you think. That's the interesting part. We all have much to learn from you, but it is a lot more pleasant if laid out as a banquet before us than crammed down our throats, forcibly washed down in greasy faux authority by using it to disparage opposing ideas or ways of being, or attack others. You're a bright and interesting guy with a broad range of unorthodox ideas. Please share that with us.
    ____________________________
    Equivalence is theory . Where you fall short in your arguments is that they're often fantasy-driven, in the destructive sense of the word, not reality-based. For example, when you tell me Equivalence is not a theory, you do so because you do not wish it to be. Unfortunately for you, Minor White himself referred to it as a theory in the very article you gave the URL for. Here:
    1) "I will treat here of a tradition, a concept and a discipline, namely the concept or THEORY called "Equivalence," by which any style, fashion or trend may be worked through to something beyond the conformism of competition."
    and, if that wasn't enough...
    2) "As a consequence THE THEORY is in practice now by an ever increasing number of devoted and serious photographers, both amateurs and professionals"
    and....
    3) "To outline this THEORY (we hardly have space to discuss it), we will refer to "levels" of Equivalence."
    and...
    4) "To be concrete, and leave off THEORY for a moment, we can return to the photograph of a cloud mentioned above."
    and...
    5) " The THEORY of Equivalence is a way for the photographer to deal with human suggestibility in a conscious and responsible way."
    last...
    6) "With the THEORY of Equivalence, photographers everywhere are given a way of learning to use the camera in relation to the mind, heart, viscera and spirit of human beings."
    Had you actually read it, instead of blindly and rabidly launching yet another attack at anything I have to say & trying to blow smoke rings up our collective skirts, you would not be experiencing this embarrassing moment.
    Now, can you tell us how Minor White boxed himself in with this theory? And if he didn't, why not? Because you said: "Theories tend to be boxes..."
    JK- " Educators risk losing the hearts of their subjects through scholarly distractions."
    John... does the bullflux ever stop? I hate to break it to you, but Minor was nothing if not an educator. Do I really need to list the places he taught? Did he lose the hearts of his subjects?
    _____________________________________
    If we don't assume you're being transparently snide here, we can only assume you are speaking from your own life experience when you write:
    "We can't all die at our photographic peaks. We may start as aspiring students (self-taught or otherwise...equally good), grow into photographers, perhaps come and go, possibly morphing into former photographers with all sorts of expertise and accumulated mental images. It's not a bad thing to be a former photographer: mental images"
    That's a deep personal revelation, John.Thanks for sharing it with us. Mental Image.




     
  293. Rebecca typed: " Luis, I shoot fantasy fighting cocks in my mind and print them as imaginary platinum prints and the photographs are just stunning. Want to buy one?"
    I'll do a fantasy money transfer today. :)
    On the rest, what the Stones said:
    "You can't always get what you want
    but if you try you just might find
    you get what you need"
     
  294. jtk

    jtk

    Luis, I use "theory" in the way scientists use it. A workable idea or a place-holder for something we think we may come to "know." I don't think Minor White used the term well, nor was he consistent. But that's just me: I'm not a "Bible is literal word of God" type of reader: I read for my own understanding. That's why I rarely quote "famous photographers."
    I'm sorry you have are not happy with my ideas. I think you've mist that I am ALWAYS and ONLY expressing my own ideas. I don't always try to make everybody comfortable by apologizing ("IMO") for every thought. And I'm not surprised that my perspective is at odds with other perspectives: Hopefully we're all our own individuals.
    I'm also sorry you took my references to academic interests to mean that I think them inferior to photographic interests. I think "academic" is vastly different from "photographic," even when the subject is nominally photography. Why should that be disturbing? It's like comparing auto mechanics to house carpentry.
    Elsewhere you said you found Minor White's photos more appealing than his teaching methods. By contrast, I think his various photo experiments, successful and not, and especially his teaching methods, were his greatest legacy. For better or worse, I had one deeply influential Minor White-taught teacher and friendships with dozens over a ten year period. I never studied photography in an institution...maybe that's at issue?
     
  295. jtk

    jtk

    Luis, a bit more... You quoted me, but evidently missed the point:
    _______________________________
    JK- " Educators risk losing the hearts of their subjects through scholarly distractions."
    John... does the bullflux ever stop? I hate to break it to you, but Minor was nothing if not an educator. Do I really need to list the places he taught? Did he lose the hearts of his subjects? - Luis G
    __________________


    Luis, please re-read. I specifically said "scholarly distractions." I didn't say anything negative about you or scholarship generally. Apples, oranges. Careless misreading is the root of some of our differences.
    Seems to me that Minor White's greatest legacy was his teaching of teachers, along with introduction of certain serious ideas, that his scholarship was a vaguely interesting distraction (though his attention to Thomas Eakins might appeal particularly to Fred), and that only a percent of his photographs (I've seen many) were as notable as those of many of his students.
    That you didn't find White's teaching techniques fully satisfactory is not surprising, whether or not he directly taught you. He himself didn't find them fully satisfactory, they remained a work in progress, like his life.
    From the little I've seen first-hand his teaching techniques may have wanted face-to-face passing-of-wisdom, much the way gypsies teach guitar :) Some things may be too evanescent to be passed any other way:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkN3EL68dYo&feature=related
     
  296. mizore

    mizore A Gringa in Nicaragua

    Like I said, Luis, common places of the day. No work to show for it.
     
  297. John ...we have very real differences. I've already stated my feelings about you: "You're a bright and interesting guy with a broad range of unorthodox ideas. Please share that with us." I will clarify the rest in the Equivalence thread.
     
  298. Hi Fred. there are some interesting takes here. I did not read all. I apologize for any redundancy.
    My photographs are in a significant way, a fantasy fulfilled, a 2 dimensional world I imagine. Without fantasy my creative world would be homogenized. Part of my self awareness/evaluation is attributable to my fantasy. It is in part how i differ from others and they from me. I think fantasy can lead to inventiveness, originality.
    "It's a fairly descriptive suggestion to the player of the piece. "
    I like picking up on suggestions from photos. And to use them. Not only the creation of a photograph but the viewers experience of a photograph is influenced by my own fantasy. As a photographer and as viewer I think this can be tapped.
    I often choose to imagine in order to create a photograph. The image in my mind and lens most often requires that use imagination and fantasy to create my photo. To take from the 'real' world in front of my camera and process it to an alternative viewing medium requires fantasy for me. The process works best for me when I recognize or simply allow my fantasy to engage. Sometimes very subtle sometimes fantastical. The more I allow for my fantasy to run free, the more effectively I can distance or use the norm that resides in me. A choice, one more dimension that I can use.
     
  299. "The more I allow for my fantasy to run free, the more effectively I can distance or use the norm that resides in me." --Josh
    Very stimulating thoughts.
    I'll tell you a bit about myself. I'm Fred. I do things in a Fred way a lot. I have a long history of being very much like myself. By that, I mean, I've tended to be neat, orderly, academic, philosophical, a good son. Sometimes I say that, with my budding interest in making photographs, I'm changing. But some of that is actually being more myself. Like you, I'm not afraid to recognize a personal core and distance myself or move toward it. I'm not the kind of person who's afraid of myself.
     

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