FYI: David Hockney article in Guardian

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by william_hahn|1, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. See:,11711,1161737,00.html

    at bottom of article is link to interview with Hockney.
  2. Interesting article, and the Guardian is an excellent publication. But I think Hockney's opinions are his own done from a pedestal. Perhaps he needs to use a digital camera for a while and then needs to be re-interviewed. It would be very interesting to see if his opinions would still be the same. BTW the Guardian is not only excellent, it has some terrific links to some exhibitions and supplies samples of the exhibitions, so you did me a great favor by showing this link. Thanks, John F.
  3. It seems as if Hockney is mostly disturbed that his place in the world as an artist is jeopardy because now just about anyone can manipulate a photographic image. Perhaps he sees a reduction of value in his, "skill of the hand". Read his book, “Vermeer’s Camera: Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces” where he claims the early masters used lenses to create perspective. His current thoughts are somewhat of a continuation of that premise. But you might note that he didn’t claim that painting was dead, when he used a photocopying machine to create a body of work.

    His point regarding the Elton John picture is ridiculous in that since the beginning of photography images have been altered. Images in advertising or record album covers were altered long before digital technology. Anyone remember the airbrush?

    He does have a valid point regarding potential problems in photojournalism and in the courts. And although he didn’t state it this way, photography is in the midst of a sea change that is not yet over.

    Hockney has always been opinionated and that is part of what makes him interesting.
  4. Hockney's cubist-like Polaroid constructions (which he called "joiners") from the mid 1980s
    are didactic in the best sense -- beautiful and instructive. But his photography work was
    always within the realm of traditional fine art in that his works were one-off pieces that
    could not be reproduced, let alone reptined with the push of a button.

    His comments in the Guardian article are that photography has become "boring" (most
    always has been, so what?), but the claim about lacking truthfulness seems rather arcane
    for him, and confusing when you think about it. It's all right for him to manufacture alien
    landscapes based on real photos (the reality being based on a specific color palette found
    in one Polaroid instant film), but to actually be able to have the same creative options found
    in ... painting, say ... is somehow to doom photography?
  5. ·[·Z,

    I think your comments are right on target. I have some recollection of seeing photo constructions a la Hockney’s before he did his. Do you know which photographer might have been doing that work?
  6. Experimentation in photocollage and photomontage first took off in the 1920s, but I'd never before seen any Polaroid photocollages that resembled and predated Hockney's, like this one
    Hockney's photocollages were attempts to strictly infuse three-dimensional cubist techniques into 2D photography, and I don't recall his unique approach being utilized widely before him.
    But I just did just perform a quick search and according to Peter Marshall, the guide to's photography site, Images of a scene created by a number of smaller prints often overlapping and at angles rather than the simple straight line of a segmental pan are usually known as 'joiners'. Such images had enjoyed a long history in both professional and amateur photography long before David Hockney popularised both the method and the term in the early 1980s. Hockney was the first well-known artist to sell such compound images for high prices, but there was nothing original in the concept although some of his examples are interesting.
  7. •[•Z.

    I'm aware of the early photomontage stuff a lot of which was political. If you can find it, check out, "Dada Photomontagen" --Kestner-Gesellschatt Hanover. The reproductions are not great, but there are tons of facinating images by Kurt Schwitters, Breton and many others.

    Hockney's stuff got a lot of attention due to the imprimatur of the fine art community.
  8. The reason people are less trusting of photography now is less because of digital photography and more because of the FX in movies. In a single movie we go from completely real photographic images to computer generated ones with no perceptible transition. This continuous blurring of the line between real and synthesized is the problem.
    Yes, photographic manipulation was practiced right from the birth of photography, but it was generally not presented to us as reality. In a movie
    though, the idea is to convince you that the fake is the real thing.
  9. jbs



    I haven't trusted a photo to tell me the truth since I saw a cool cut-n-paste on "Mission Impossible". ...;)...J
  10. Much as I admire his painting, I find his opinions on photography simplistic.
  11. Ironic that a painter is arguably the greatest photographer of the 20th Century.
  12. Off the cuff, negative rant below. If this stuff bothers you, don't read further!
    The more I deleve into contemporary photographic art, the more I realize how much insanity there is and how little sanity exists within the venue. I can't believe that anybody would read this tripe agree with it and then with a straight face, try and say they're an indepentent thinker.
    David Hockney, the celebrated pop artist who has worked extensively in photography, has fallen out of love with the medium because of its digital manipulation and now believes it is a dying art form.
    The poor dear:) I do agree with the dying part but I like to refer to it as a moribund malise. Same thing, just a bit more poetic in nature.
    In an interview with the Guardian, Hockney says he believes modern photography is now so extensively and easily altered that it can no longer be seen to be true or factual. He also describes art photography as "dull".
    I can't agree with the dull as some are doing things with photoraphy, but the cool stuff being done, is outside the "Art World". The question of integrity, in regard to a photographic image, is an old debate that's been going on for some time now. Canon has addressed the digital issue with their certification equipment to attest to the unaltered, authenticity of a digital negative for legal purposes. Charlatans, rascals, thieves, liars, cheats, deceivers and in general, people of bad reputation have existed since the beginning of time and (surprise, surprise) this group no-goods is going to continue existing in all societies until the end of time. Oh well! :)
    When has art, of any sort, ever been about truth and honesty? And yes I know about Photorealism in artistic efforts. When was the last time anybody felt they could trust what they were reading in a newspaper article to be unbiased without a newspapers slant added? Considering newspapers have been distorting reality in their biased, incomplete, intentionally slanted news reportage; well knock me over with a feather that someone might do the same with an image:) Gee, people even still read newspapers?! I know the local rag about these here parts are as LeftWing slanted as they can get and have made their paper unreadable because of this known bias.
    Newspapers have been distorting news since they first hit the streets, however long ago and it's well known how they, for what ever reasons, have distorted reportage and headlines to suit their commercial purposes. So to do the same with an image is nothing more then an expected continuation of past similar behavior.
    Distortion of a scene has been the rhelm of artists since time began and now a contemporary artist has their shorts in a bunch because they can't trust an image? Knock me over with that same feather again and again and again. "I'm shocked":) (Ala Casablanca)
    Today you can't trust your government, politicians, religious leaders, neighbors, medical practioners, hairdressers or the cop on the street and geeeeee, now we can't trust the truthfullness of an image?! There's that surprised look again:)
    Well, if anybody want's to buy into this worried concern or high school drama if you will, they're welcome to. Me? This time, I'm staying inside, where's it's warm, dry, out of the rain, wind and nuttiness.
    I guess I must be entirely missing the point of the post:) Thanks for the laugh:)
  13. You need to read the actual interview where Hockney is more interesting and makes a lot more sense than the sound bites. If you dont read the whole thing then just read last few paragraphs, starting with the one which begins "The libertarianism of the 1960s is still there in Hockney, and still challenging"
  14. James.

    Thanks for the thought.

    I read both the cover article and the interview article. I purposfully stayed away from David's interview in that his comments were a bit telling about his nature. My thoughts below, but they will be a bit inflamatory, toll like if you will, as I'm clearly on the other side of the issue and don't buy into this sort of nonsense. I've found over the last couple of months that being on the otherside of an issue, in regard to it's philosophical or moral content is going to draw very hateful and venemous attacks.

    My rant, or commentary was more along the lines of people being surprised about digital manipulation and the deception of image manipulation. This is an old story of controversy going way back as opposed to being a contemporary debate started by David.

    As to the guy locked up, I'll call that the "Michael Jackson Defense" :) I wouldn't expect a self-admitted hedonist to see this sort of behavior as wrong as they're part and parcel of the human expoloitive problem.

    I could go into a long winded disagreement about authenticity of image; imagined as opposed to actually recorded, in regard to Goya's renditions of the 1908 scenes.

    "By contrast, Goya's image of the executions of May 3 1808 has a truth that transcends whether or not he was an eyewitness. Hockney thinks Picasso, when he painted his extremely anti-naturalist Massacres in Korea in the 1950s, was making this very argument against photography: instead of random glimpses of violence, Picasso's painting presents his understanding of the war."

    The above is artistically self-serving. How. It removes reality and interjects personal bias, sensitivities or interpretations as fact; fantasy. The vision of the artist is more accurate then the actual unmanipulated capture? Have contemporary artists detached themselves so much from common sense that they believe this nonsense of made up, interpretive reality over reality and consider this to be a valid, independent thinking process? This is detached, arrogant, social anarchist thinking. Sort of like the bozo that says change the channel. Until this same bozo has successfully contaminated all channels, they won't be happy.

    Interpretation of a scene, when rendered artistically is cool. Fine, put your spin on an image. But to project a person's bias's as fact is utter nonsense. In order for one to buy into this sort of thinking, one must join a cult and follow the leader unthinkingly like a robot. I don't think so!

    The further I deleve, the more I read, the more I realize that these people are not right in the brain and could use some couseling to help them with their self-serving insecurities. They really, in all honesty, have jumped over the edge.
  15. i dont understand the question here. the posterer may speak it out.
    thank you
  16. .. or is it some kind of jazz-debate?
  17. I was the original poster. There was no question, simply
    a reference to an article about a person of interest to
    some people on (In fact, years ago on
    there was a quote from Mr. Hockney on the home page.)

    My supplying the reference merely indicates that I thought it
    was of interest. (FYI = For your interest) It doesn't imply
    that I agree with/disagree with/even understand the article.
    And sometimes such a posting pays off, like with the kind
    words of John Falkenstine....

    Cheers, Bill H.
  18. Thank for your reply. It seems i missed the FYI declaration. Sorry.
  19. Hi Thomas, you don't have to agree with Hockney. Although I find his joiners interesting (someone said they were polaroids, they're 35mm and 110 film actually), and try to copy the idea, I'm not a huge fan of his work. But even when I disagree with Hockney, I find his views thought provoking. He says that people thought "the camera never lies", which was wrong, but thanks to the ease of digital manipulation it is now OBVIOUSLY wrong. He says that you with a painting you it is possible to put in more than you can get with a single frame of photography. [Doh! the same is true of video, or his joiners]. Then there's the guy in prison because *he* saw innocent beauty ("art" you or might call obscene) but writing swear words on a newspaper cover is "art". In that kind of world it's valid for people to ask questions about what is art. (Something I think you and I batted back and forth a while ago).

    So I got something out of the full article. The soundbites version just makes Hockney seem a bit of a nutcase.
  20. Hi James:)
    Hi Thomas, you don't have to agree with Hockney. Although I find his joiners interesting (someone said they were polaroids, they're 35mm and 110 film actually), and try to copy the idea, I'm not a huge fan of his work.
    I might too find his joiners interesting but his philosophy of life leaves much to desire:) I find people too willing to hold these people in high esteem and because they become a notable, feel their philosophy on life is somehow valid as opposed to the status quo's philosophy being unimaginative or invalid.
    But even when I disagree with Hockney, I find his views thought provoking. He says that people thought "the camera never lies", which was wrong, but thanks to the ease of digital manipulation it is now OBVIOUSLY wrong.
    I guess that sort of thinking goes along with naivete:) Manipulation of image has gone back as far as the beginnings of photography. It's hard to believe that people don't know about how easily images can be manipulated as we all know how easy forgery of any kind is:) The movie industry has been lying to the public since the beginning and we go back each week to be lied to some more and encourage this behavior:) I can't believe people even think this is even an issue considering the amount of manipulating that's been going on in people's daily lives, let alone what has been reported of late as to what's happening with the NY Times:) I guess this is what happens to one's thinking, immersed in the photographic process, such as myself. Because of being wrapped up in the process, I figure everybody knows. My mistake:) Wadda ya mean you don't know about layers in PhotoShop? :)
    He says that you with a painting you it is possible to put in more than you can get with a single frame of photography. [Doh! the same is true of video, or his joiners].
    Can you? Or are you just distorting reality more in painterly art then the actual act of putting more in? I think his commentary was very self-serving in nature as it makes him and his buddies sound like they're something special because "they're better" then photography in of itself. I do like the magical paintings of Mexico but with effort, you can do this with photography as in a montage of images blended together with masking layers. PhotoShop is leveling the playing field as to injecting distorted content into an image.
    I'm agreeing with you in my above as I'm just running with the ball a bit further up field.
    Then there's the guy in prison because *he* saw innocent beauty ("art" you or might call obscene) but writing swear words on a newspaper cover is "art".
    As to the act of writing swear words on a newspaper cover, one has to ask the question as to this need to be shockingly disruptive and why this need to splatter this brand of behavior everywhere it's not wanted. If people don't want this behavior, they should be able to say so. And if someone wants to form a society of their own as in... say a nude beach, they're welcome to. That way, if somebody is offended by this nude behavior, they can go back to their own kind; a public beach. And if someone wants abnormal behavior, that's fine also, in their backyard. It's reasonable for the commingling of ideologies but it's also reasonable for the dominent morality to predominate others. That's what culture and value systems are based on.
    In the meantime, there's a reasonable reason, because of exploitation, for the prevention of certain perverted behaviors, normal feelings or otherwise. I feel sometimes, reason gets left out of the conversation and it becomes heavily weighted to one direction. Hence why I felt compelled to speak up. You'll notice the noted art world is dreadfully lacking in conservative values and ideologies. You'll also notice David was an avowed hedonist and his father was a Stalinist. Unless the letters were asking Stalin to step down before he killed more Russians.
    In that kind of world it's valid for people to ask questions about what is art. (Something I think you and I batted back and forth a while ago).
    I won't say it's invalid but I do know that a lot of conversation, which wraps around the question of "What is art?", is a bit egocentric in nature as in; "Let's write the rules and word the conversation to better serve "our" needs.":)
    So I got something out of the full article. The soundbites version just makes Hockney seem a bit of a nutcase.
    The full article confirmed it:) The commoner likes to make themselves sound grand. The grand like to make themselves sound unique but artists like to make themselves sound enigmatic because it makes them look cool:)
    I just figured a little bit of perspective needed to be interjected into the content of the two articles as the reporter was woefully one sided.
    Thanks for the polite and insightful commentary:) I must say, it was quite entertaining and refreshing:)
  21. Am surprised to be finding myself in disagreement with Hockney (probably only equaled by my shock in being in agreement with •[• Z!!) as I have always admired his work (Hockney's that is ... sorry •[• Z) but ...I believe that digital as an art form is still in its infancy.

    At present we are still wrenching it away from its connection with film but once the cord is broken I suspect we will treat the two as very separate genres of art. Of course they have many similarities but contrary to Hockney's surprising naiveté, both have always been open to manipulation ("faries" was an amature attempt but fooled many of the time). Hockey's' sister can probably weild a paintbrush in a similar slap dash manner to her enthusiasm with her digicam pics and graphics programme - but there the comparison to the artist stops.

    So "painting can do things photography can't" well I guess so ... and my dad is better than your dad! The full article does give a less bludgeons view ... but could it possibly be that the media (the Guardian even ...shock horror!) may have been manipulating a tad for effect here?

    Entertaining read nonetheless William ... thanks for posting link.
  22. Joel Sternfeld responds the the Guardian article, in another Guardian article:,11710,1165870,00.html
    ...any time you put a frame to the world, it's an interpretation. I could get my camera and point it at two people and not point it at the homeless third person to the right of the frame, or not include the murder that's going on to the left of the frame. You take 35 degrees out of 360 degrees and call it a photo. There's an infinite number of ways you can do this: photographs have always been authored.
    "And nor is anything that purports to be documentary to be completely trusted, anyway," he says, referring to Hockney's assumption that, in the past, war photography was rightly regarded as having claims to veracity. "The Hockney argument is as simplistic as saying that any non-fiction book is truthful. You can never lose sight of the fact that it's authored. With a photograph, you are left with the same modes of interpretation as you are with a book. You ask: what do we know about the author and their background? What do I know about the subject?
    "Some of the people who are now manipulating photos, such as Andreas Gursky, make the argument - rightly - that the 'straight' photographs of the 1940s and 50s were no such thing. Ansell Adams would slap a red filter on his lens, then spend three days burning and dodging in the dark room, making his prints," says Sternfeld, referring to the processes of adding or withholding intensity to a print. "That's a manipulation. Even the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, with all due respect to him, are notoriously burned and dodged....."

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