Have we reached 'Peak Photograph'? Will Self's view of the profligacy of photography

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by andrew_gardiner, May 1, 2013.

  1. http://will-self.com/2013/04/01/the-madness-of-crowds-peak-photograph/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=the-madness-of-crowds-peak-photograph
     
  2. Answer - no. People with too much time on their hands (like Will Self) have been bewailing the effect of photograph on mass culture, the public's ability to perceive and experience its environment, etc. ever since popular photography began with the first Kodak box camera in 1888. George Bernard Shaw said (possibly even before World War I):
    “A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.”
    Since then, technical development has made photography easier and easier - the latest manifestation of this is the camera phone. At the same time, people are under increasing stress and feel that they do not have time to take in new experiences fully face to face, so wish to take them home in the form of pictures. What Self describes with his usual sarcasm and hyperbole is not a new or dramatic development or one which I think is anywhere near its peak.
     
  3. I think you are right. Sometimes there are people who desperately deserve to be hit with a wet sock. Self certainly earned his clubbing with this:
    Whatever respect photography may once have deserved is now superfluous in view of its own superfluity. Amateur photographers may be disregarded – most professional ones outright shunned.​
    Self is one of those darlings of the undergraduate. Some time ago he said:
    “I'm going to end up like one of those old weirdos who lives in a network of tunnels burrowed through trash - yet I do not fear this.”​
    By Jove I think he was right. At least he is heading in that direction. No doubt one of us will snap him in black and white someday. With any luck he could make Nikon Wednesday. Then he would be famous for something meretricious if not original.
     
  4. Will Self might usefully reflect on his own trade, that is, writing. Consider the billions of words that have been written and continue to be written in ever increasing quantites - have we reached 'peak literature'?
     
  5. Do we ever get tired of new songs ?
     
  6. There is a lot of common sense in that article, and it goes beyond just going out and snapping images. Look at the lives most people lead? They get up in the mornings and go right to their TV or their computer. Then off to work, where many spend much of their day in front of a computer screen. Then home to the computer/TV again. It's not actually what I would call a life, and it's not experiencing reality.
    I only have a digital camera so that I can take pics of my film cameras when I sell them, or to show off a new camera on the forum. When I'm out using my film cameras, often much of that time (too much) is spent testing. The concern is about lens characteristics, how a new film is handling different light, etc. The photos that I do print and put on the wall, or go off to someone else's walls, are not 2 dimensional representations of a 3 D world, they're totally abstract and represent a vision, to use a much over used word. The photos are black and white, and I use old cameras that give a particular look that has nothing to do w/ what my eyes see. I'm creating an image, not attempting to capture one. That's the part that I just don't get about people out shooting 2 or 3 hundred images in a few hours on a digital camera. Most of my cameras require 10 rolls of film just to get 120 images, which means I have to change film 10 times! Now if someone is traveling they're just recording sights they may never see again, and that I do understand.
    We live in a time when technology has given many people just what they always said they wanted. Video telephones, instant "communication" w/ their cell phones, quick and easy ways to take a digital capture, etc. That is of course a fulfillment of the old Chinese curse. May you get what you wish for.
     
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Will Self peaked with 5ml Barrel. Unfortunately, the music companies refused to put it out in the US and it's hard to find. It is available for listening here. Brilliant stuff, not sure I care what he has to say about photography.
     
  8. Self apparently enjoys showing off how
    well he did in vocabulary class. He
    appears unable to communicate with
    most of us and I doubt he wants to do
    so. Steve that life so many people lead
    has been the same for generations,
    centuries maybe. It's just the
    technology that changes.

    Rick H.
     
  9. The problem is that he is trivialising 'picture-taking' as if this automatically carries a desire on the part of the photographer to create art or for that matter, the best ever work of art. The very personal momento that the individual collects from any outing in the old days may have been a diary sketch for those who maintained such litanies. Now that the mode has changed, words, no less important than images to me personally, have changed into snappy description on Jpeg file uploaded to a social media site. He is moaning. There is no great deconstruction there. It is a first world moan and one that goes some way to maintain his reputation as the sullen commentator of life. The pictures taken by those who were close to the object would be looked at for a while by the friends and families of the snapper. Self's words would be read by a few until the date of publication is so old and newer blogs take centre stage. There is very little difference here other than the fame his past words have afforded him to be part of a subject within this discussion forum.
     
  10. meh.
    I'd say Will Self seems to have attained the "peak essay" profligacy problem.
     
  11. Look at the lives most people lead? They get up in the mornings and go right to their TV or their computer. Then off to work, where many spend much of their day in front of a computer screen. Then home to the computer/TV again. It's not actually what I would call a life, and it's not experiencing reality.​
    Heidegger called this phenomenon technological "Enframing" in the pre-digital 1940's, and how apropos this metaphor has become today. People are literally living much of their lives within the frames of their screens.
    Is this electronically mediated experience inauthentic, as Heidegger would have argued, or is it rather the new authenticity?
     
  12. They get up in the mornings and go right to their TV or their computer. Then off to work, where many spend much of their day in front of a computer screen. Then home to the computer/TV again. It's not actually what I would call a life, and it's not experiencing reality.
    Fair point BUT - up to about the year 1700, life for most people consisted of emerging from their hovels at daybreak, working in a nearby field until the daylight went, staggering back to their hovels dead tired, and falling in a heap. I fortunately am able to make space in my life for more than just computer work, in fact my computer allows me to work in a rural setting where I'd otherwise never get a job, but given a straight choice between agrarian and industrial society, I know which I'd choose!
     
  13. "Look at the lives most people lead? They get up in the mornings and go right to their TV or their computer. Then off to work, where many spend much of their day in front of a computer screen. Then home to the computer/TV again"
    You forgot to mention the times they spend on their iPads & iPhones on their commute to work.
     
  14. Great read, going against the tide here....I think he is spot on.
     
  15. "Skirting the edge of throng"...
    ..."the world itself was being emulsified by so many exposures"...
    ..."while our once wondrous viewing of exotica had already become synonymous with tedium"...​
    Why do I feel like throwing up reading that? I couldn't read any more. It's more pretentious than folks thinking they're shooting art with their cell phones.
    Now I have to do some serious duck and craning with my ancient Pentax K100D shooting extreme handheld macro with my Quantaray 2x TC, 3 inch extension tube and 50mm prime that's been sitting in my closet for at least 5 years because I never could find the plane of focus (less than an 1/8 inch DOF) and thought it was just bad glass. How pretentious is that?!
     
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Will Self might usefully reflect on his own trade, that is, writing.​

    He does that in the article. Maybe you didn't read the whole thing.
     
  17. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    This is one of his most interesting published observations:
    "I'm a hack who gets hired because I do drugs."​
    He doesn't do drugs anymore, so I wonder if he is now a hack who gets hired because he doesn't do drugs.
     
  18. "Tautology of the Week" winner.
    "Great read, going against the tide here....I think he is spot on."
    Self seems to have an especially firm grasp of the obvious. No pun intended but just another "selfie," this one in print.
     
  19. "Maybe you didn't read the whole thing."
    Damn right.
    And proud of it.
     
  20. 8 All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
    The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.

    9 What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
    ,,,Ecclesiastes
     
  21. He didn't say anything new. He should have left it in the developer a while longer. Photographic "meaningfulness", for example, is happening right under his nose. His supercilious pose "peaked" with essay writers sometime before WWI. Reminds me of the comedy shtick of couples who's pass time is to wickedly critique anyone within sight.
     
  22. I was involved in road rage incident many years ago with Will Self, he got out of his car shouting and acting the tough guy, he soon got back in his car.
     
  23. Simon, what a small hostile world we live. Thanks for that anecdote, got a good laugh.
    From that incident do you think he'ld have enough rage to travel across the pond to come after me for what I said here about his writing style?
     
  24. It would seem he doesn't know too much about photography. As one of the most nascent art forms, it has barely begun to flower yet. I think he's confusing pop culture phenomena with photography and coming up very short.
     
  25. But no: they must have their own work of art, in this age of mechanical reproduction, and so they clutter up the cobbles. Skirting the edge of throng, I observe snidely to my Czech companion, “One of them is undoubtedly taking the best ever photograph of the clock” and she snorts snidely in turn. --Will Self​
    People are always going to want their own photograph of their own moment of experiencing something meaningful in their lives.
    I don't know why he doesn't just change his name to "Will Snide."
    --Lannie
     

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