Imaging and Imagination: How Are They Related? Reflections on Creation v. Discovery

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by landrum_kelly, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. A torn rotator cuff is going to restrict my own contributions to this thread, but I will toss the question out anyway in hopes of getting to read others' opinions--and in hopes of stimulating conversation on what appears to me to be a potentially interesting and worthwhile topic.
    "Image," "imaging," and "imagination" all derive from the Latin root imago, but common etymological roots can be both helpful and treacherous at the same time. We know that we use our imaginations in photography in various ways, but I was thinking this morning about the very different ways that such photographers as Marc G., Ken Williams, and Fred Goldsmith typically tend to generate many of their photographs compared to the method(s) typically and perhaps almost always used by persons such as myself.
    I, for example, rarely have much of an idea of what I expect to shoot when I go out, except in the limited sense of knowing (most of the time) what my destination is in the sense of some idea of what the subject is going to be, what the lighting probably will be like, what angle is likely to be most promising, etc. That is, as often as not I tend to discover the images when I go wandering about, and I often remember what I have seen and decide to go back later for the actual capture. I rarely, that is, create a photo in the strong sense of setting up a photo from scratch, which is to say that I rarely use too much imagination to conjure up a shoot that I am going to do from what seems to be virtually nothing. I enjoy myself and get respectable results some of the time, and I at least do not have the world's worst eye. That is, I am reasonably good at spotting a good potential photo amidst the chaos of the entire visual reality that confronts me at a given moment. All of this is to say that I can at times generate some artistic value even in documentary shots (which most of mine are in the general sense), but I do not in general think of myself as an artist.
    I am not saying that my typical approach requires no artistic or other kind of imagination, but I do not see myself as being in the same league artistically as those who go out with the intent of bringing back a particular image, or who set up an image from scratch, as in still lifes, model shoots, etc.
    What if not imagination are the true photographic artists using or doing when they go out to shoot? How much more do such persons rely on imagination in their photography than I and others do, and why? There are a lot of related questions that I hope that others will explore, but what I have said is the gist of it. In any case, I hope that what I have said so far is enough to kick off the discussion, since my shoulder is already starting to act up.
    I realize that I have set the problem in terms of a bit of a false or at least an over-simplified dilemma or dichotomy, but the two extremes will do for a start: what is the creator doing that the discoverer is not?
    --Lannie
     
  2. "...what is the creator doing that the discoverer is not?"
    And vice versa.
     
  3. Creating or discovering, are you implying that the former is of greater value than the latter? Is this so?
     
  4. If we stay on psychology of vision theoretic state of the art its hard to think to spot something that in some ways was unattended. I think that the difference you are about has more to do with the consciousness and duration of the process.
    "Inventio" may be an interesting word to add to you etymology. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventio
    You may also find interesting "the treatise on Painting" by Leonardo Da Vinci where he spends several words on the concept (translated as invention) found here: http://www.archive.org/details/treatiseonpainti001974mbp
     
  5. jtk

    jtk

    A creator applies some sort of skill or craft, in the course of which s/he may discover. Or some sort of discovery (eg related to lighting or location or opportunity) may inspire creation.
    The discoverer's skill or craft may or may be irrelevant, s/he may simply blunder into the discovery. That person presumably has to be awake enough, skilled or unskilled, to say "a-ha!).
    It's not a photograph until skill or craft have been applied, even if the photo is made by the most stupid, but adequately skillfully set-up automatically clicking camera (eg surveillance or "game tracker" camera).
    Concept isn't photograph, just as photograph isn't concept.
    I think it's common for commercial documentary photographers (as in sports or catalog of all levels) to create, which typically calls for discovering an image opportunity of some sort, perhaps an angle on or position in relationship to the subject or a way of lighting or the result of having discovered a benefit from a particular focal length...
     
  6. How can we do without imagination?
    I think it is inextricably intertwined with photographic images: photographing is putting a frame around something we see, or using a frame to exclude what we don't want to have in.
    The eye comes first and imagines the framed - or the excluded. Then comes the camera and the picture.
    And even before that we imagine the places where we go to imagine photos which we then shoot.
    And discovery is based on imagination too.
    In the end photographing means representing reality in some way which we believe contains a visual message. We imagine this visual message - consciously or not - and produce a photograph.
     
  7. It's not discovery versus creation, but the intelligent use of each. They often go together.
    Ex-photography example: Robert Lepage, producer of tonight's Met opera (Das Reingold) has created with James Levine and his team Ex Machina a new visual space to accompany the music, theatre and song. He has solved problems of applying the initial creation in the second constituent opera, Die Walkure (to be performed next spring), and is presently facing problems in marrying the set and opera in Siegfried, the (later) third of the 4 operas of The Ring. He is not sure how he will get around the problems of creating in it a viable music-theatre-visual experience, but he is sure he will discover a way, as he has in the Valkyrie portion.
    Discovery and creation go hand in hand, in stage art as in photography. What else can one say? I often discover interesting photographic subject matter, but turning that into the subject and the photograph requires some creative input, with the creativity often a greater challenge than the initial subject matter discovery.
    But "versus" does not make much sense to me. Unless of course one is of the school that creation and interpretation involved in that and in the viewing of the product is somehow unimportant, and only some discovered content is.
     
  8. I am not saying that my typical approach requires no artistic or other kind of imagination, but I do not see myself as being in the same league artistically as those who go out with the intent of bringing back a particular image, or who set up an image from scratch, as in still lifes, model shoots, etc.​
    Someone who goes out to bring back a particular image, etc., might be creative, but these could also be the attributes of a technician. Like some of the other commentors, I'm not sure about your creator/discoverer dichotomy. The discoverer who has a story to tell becomes a creator.
     
  9. I'm sorry that my name was used in this post because I'd prefer not to be associated with this dichotomy. When I "create" a photo, I also do a lot of "discovering."
    I like being both deliberate and open to surprises, accidents, new insights, and an alternative even to my own plan. Whatever "plan" I may have usually comes with a willingness to explore as well.
    There are different skills (John K. rightly mentions this) involved in shooting planned portraits and in shooting candids on the street. But each photographer can approach his genre and subjects with creativity and with an eye toward discovery. Each can also fall into ruts and rely on the genre and its history to guide him rather than pushing toward something that is his own. A lot of street shots and a lot of planned portraits look boringly alike.
    A question to ask here -- especially if one is comparing their work to others or wondering about the effectiveness or skill or art in their own work -- is about the balance between commitment and curiosity. No matter the genre, and no matter the level of plan or spontaneity, pose or candor, photos may or may not show a commitment (to subject/content and technique/style) as well as an offsetting sense of curiosity. Commitment to one's work can be seen and felt. Commitment without questions could lead to a kind of blindness. Made richer by questioning, commitment is one of my core values.
    Lannie, one can photograph exactly the way you describe and still not discover. One could simply capture and display. And one can plan -- think things through and "start from scratch" -- and still not discover or create. They could just spin their wheels.
    You talk about being in a "league" and I'm pretty sure I understand what you mean by that. I wonder if it might be helpful to think in terms of voice -- which entails both commitment and questioning -- rather than to set up an extreme dichotomy between two qualities or values that are so sympathetic and symbiotic.
     
  10. I realize that I have set the problem in terms of a bit of a false or at least an over-simplified dilemma or dichotomy, but the two extremes will do for a start: what is the creator doing that the discoverer is not?​
    I don't know what to say, guys. As you can see in the above quote, I told you up front that it was "a bit of a false or at least an over-simplified dilemma or dichotomy." As far as I am concerned, that was fair warning that I was starting with polar opposites just to set the question at the outset.
    So, the thesis and antithesis are there. Give me a Hegelian synthesis, if you can.
    This question stands: "what is the creator doing that the discoverer is not?"
    ---Lannie
     
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    This question stands: "what is the creator doing that the discoverer is not?"​

    If it's a "false dichotomy", as you put it, who cares? Why chase rainbows when there's nothing to chase?
     
  12. Creating or discovering, are you implying that the former is of greater value than the latter? Is this so?​
    Daniel, as one who almost never sets up a picture, I have to say that I am quite comfortable with discovery--but I am the romantic at heart. Discovery to me implies something about finding out about the natural world instead of creating an artificial one. (So there is yet another dichotomy for you guys to hack at: the distinction between Nature and Artifice. It is not perfect, but a lot of thinkers have gotten some miles out of that dichotomy.)
    I yet to have to admire the creative imagination of those who can at times seem to be conjure up an image in their minds (seemingly, but only seemingly, out of nothing) and then go out and make it happen. I cannot do that any more that I can write a work of fiction (and goodness knows I have tried).
    In other words, let us not let the words take us away from the very differing strategies that persons actually do employ when they go shooting.
    --Lannie
     
  13. If it's a "false dichotomy", as you put it, who cares? Why chase rainbows when there's nothing to chase?​
    Jeff, I happen to think that positing problems in terms of polar opposites can sometimes be a good starting point. Again, look at Nature v. Artifice, a distinction attacked by Mark but extolled by many others.
    In other words, some rather flawed dichotomies have had some heuristic value. Take "matter" and "energy," for example. (Newtonian mechanics got some real mileage out of that one, and even Einstein had to use it as a jumping off point for speaking of "matter-energy.") I am hoping that in the present case "creation" VERSUS "discovery" can set the extreme position as a point of departure of a fruitful conversation, not the end of one. That depends on what other participants bring to the table.
    I taught two philosophy classes today, one in the philosophy department and one (in political theory) in the political science department. One dichotomy introduced in the political theory course was "rationalism" versus "empiricism," along with a priori versus a posteriori, not to mention "analytic" versus "synthetic." A question discussed in the Intro. course was "Can language determine how we think?" (It was more or less a chapter title.) There we discussed the dichotomy "black" versus "white" in Anglo-Saxon racial discourse. Is it nonsense? Yes, of course, but we (in the process of transcending the dichotomy) still managed to have a fruitful conversation. We also discussed Gilbert Ryle's analysis of the dichotomy of "mind" versus "body" as found in his The Concept of Mind. One never knows what will start a good conversation and what will not, but I just keeping casting the bait out there until some big fish finds it interesting enough to hit it and run with it. I don't know any other way to go fishing for ideas and interesting philosophical conversation.
    Sometimes the magic works and sometimes it doesn't. All too often it doesn't--but I keep trying.
    --Lannie
     
  14. Again, look at Nature v. Artifice, a distinction attacked by Mark but extolled by many others.​
    Marx, not Mark. Sorry.
    --Lannie
     
  15. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Jeff, I happen to think that positing problems in terms of polar opposites can sometimes be a good starting point.​
    If it's a false starting point, it's false. No point in continuing...
    There we discussed the dichotomy "black" versus "white" in Anglo-Saxon racial discourse. Is it nonsense? Yes, of course,​
    Actually it's not. It's a political distinction. As someone who lives in both the "black" and "white" worlds, I can tell you it's not nonsense. It's easy for a bunch of white people to sit around and think that this isn't true.
     
  16. If it's a false starting point, it's false. No point in continuing...​
    Gosh, Jeff, if Newton had only known what you know, then we would never have even gotten to Planck and Einstein.
    Black versus white:
    As skin color, it is nonsense. It has some residual utility now as shorthand for cultural differences, etc., to be sure.
    Jeff, my "black" students seemed to get the point, and the discussion was rather lively and informative. (I teach at an African-American college.)
    --Lannie
     
  17. stp

    stp

    I think it's an interesting question, and while it's not an "either-or" situation, there are differences between the two approaches that make the distinction legitimate (IMO, of course, all the way through this response). My primary interest in photography is that it helps me see and experience the natural world more intently. I most enjoy the process of finding a combination of elements that, to me, represent the essence of a landscape I'm experiencing. I want that combination to be aesthetically pleasing as well. I see many such photos here on photo.net in the forum in which I spend most of my time, that being landscapes. I generally go out to places and at times when I can expect a landscape to be "at its best" with respect to aesthetics, but I'm always searching for those combinations of elements, light, and camera equipment/settings at my disposal that will produce the aesthetic, representative photograph of that place. Usually (but certainly not always) the resulting photos need only "standard" processing to deal with sensor filters, limitations of film/sensors to respond to wide-ranging amounts of light, exposure errors, white balance errors, and the like. The result is hopefully an aesthetically pleasing image and a real reminder of an experience I've had.
    I see this as different to a degree from creating a photograph by starting with a base image and working with darkroom manipulations or computer software to create a photograph that represents an artistic interpretation of a landscape. While it may remind me of the experience, the intensity of the experience wasn't the primary purpose; the artistic interpretation of the experience was the primary purpose. An aesthetically pleasing image is again produced, but it may be quite different than what had been experienced with the eyes.
    These are not mutually exclusive, either-or approaches to photography. They differ in their emphasis. They also differ in the degree of processing after the initial photograph was made. There is no bright line between the two, and certainly no agreement where even a broad stripe may occur between the two. Indeed, they are two ends of a continuous line that differ only in degrees, not in absolutes. Some people tend toward one end of this continuum, while others tend toward the other end of the continuum. In my own portfolio I can point to photographs that essentially came straight from the camera and other photographs that were created on my computer which no one (including me) has ever seen in real life. I can also point to photographs in my portfolio that lie somewhere in the middle.
    Personally, however, I have the deepest appreciation for those photographs that were discovered (the experience) rather than created (the artistic endeavor). Some photographers feel as I do, many don't care one way or the other, and still others have the deepest appreciation for the artistic endeavor. The only approach that I don't care for are those who say they are producing a photograph of a real experience but relying on extensive processing to get to the image; honesty is needed. Finally, I don't ascribe to the notion I often see here that art is above criticism simply because it is an individual's interpretation or the individual's creation. There is such a thing as good art and bad art (no, I'm not going to try to define those -- that's another question, and probably beyond my limited capabilities -- I'm a biologist).
    My preference toward "discovery" often influences the way that I see photographs of other folks, and I sometimes have to remind myself that my way is not the only way, the best way, or the preferred way. It's just a way among several other ways of approaching photography. I'm often moved by the artistic interpretation of a fellow photographer of a landscape. Just please don't lie to me by saying an artistic interpretation created through extensive processing or key processing was pretty much straight from the camera as the eyes saw it, as some folks are inclined to say or to imply.
    The process to arrive at a photograph (or, if you prefer, an image) is important. The process may sometime be just as important as the product. Please don't discount the process, as some folks are inclined to do. The process of discovering a photograph can be very different from the process of creating a photograph, even if (theoretically) the two resulting photographs are essentially the same. I do care how an image was derived; my emotional response to a photograph often differs if the photograph was largely discovered compared to if it was largely created, and the reason is that experience is of paramount importance to me. Experience may not be of even minor importance to someone else. I think that's where the differences (sometime striking, sometimes subtle) between a "discoverer" and an "interpreter" probably originate.
     
  18. Schiller: "That is not an observation from experience. That is an idea."
    Goethe: "Then I may rejoice that I have ideas without knowing it, and can even see them with my own eyes."​
    I discovered that quote and have made creative use of it here in this forum thread. One could make an argument that all photography is visual quotation.
     
  19. Photography as visual quotation! I like that, Julie.
    The exchanges in the No Words forum come to mind as well--what great "conversations"!
    --Lannie
     
  20. I have been well over twenty years developing my personally poorly understood photographic insctincts. I just had a computer crash. Luckily all my photos on the hard drive were backed up on Carbonite. The digitial pictures on my computer hard drive numbered in the thousands. Before digitial my pictures because of my business and newspaper work numbered in the thousands. Taking all of these pictures, I think, helped me develop certain visceral photographic instincts. My reactions when framing a picture many times totally lack any conscious analysis. They just happen based upon those years of conditioning. A friend of mine is a Professor specializing in brain function at a large university. He tells me that action without awareness of mental process is common. For instance I have typed this without being aware of how I am typing. This same is true in decision making in airplanes if the process of flying is deeply imbedded in muscle memory. One can have a close near miss without ever consciously deciding how to immediately maneuver the airplane. Your arms and legs just respond. What I am saying is that sometimes, a lot of the time actually, I take or reject a picture without having the slightest idea of why I did so until I think about it post action. Anyway, my friend tells me and he has studied this stuff extensively and as far as I can understand him he agrees with what I posited here. He does a lot of stuff with sheep's brains because they resemble humans only smaller and he can easily acquire them. So most of my photography is knee jerk reaction to what I am seeing at the moment. I have set up pictures for weddings and newspaper photographs. I have done some product stuff like clothing and studio portraits where I did set up pictures but that's necessary to get paid. I also did a lot of candids at weddings where I just randomly and spontaneously took pictures. I become calculating when I am waiting on a subject to evince some kind of expression or emotion before I take the picture. I immediately know when I have it and maybe I will react quickly enough to get it before it fleetingly disappears into the ether. BTW my instincts are not good enough to keep me from throwing away a lot of bad instinctive reactions. Enough turn out good enough to keep me coming back.
     
  21. I have always beleived (and still do) that having a good subject is half the battle, for example anyone visiting Yosemite would have to be a pretty poor photographer not to come back with good images. This is just a general example, I apreciate the complexitys involved in different subjects and various conditions which may arise. I often find it challenging and a good exercise to go out and try to get great images from everyday mundane situations/locations. Imagination plays a key role in the end product, as the eye sees differently compared to how the Lens/camera sees things.
     
  22. Julie, you've quoted Schiller and Goethe. You suggest an argument whereby all photographs are quotations. There's something very appealing about that idea and I think it captures something significant. But I don't think it quite works. Schiller and Goethe said something original. You then quote them. They used words and grammar, the building blocks of language, to say what they said. One wouldn't say they quoted something by using words and grammar. Another photographer may "quote" Robert Frank by adopting and adapting something from his imagery. But I don't think using the building blocks of photography (images from the world) is quoting. A photograph can be as original as the statements made by Schiller and Goethe. A photograph is not analogous to your quoting those two.
     
  23. all photography is visual quotation --Julie​
    Fred, but isn't it a beautiful metaphor nonetheless?
    The Goethe-Schiller discussion sounds like a very good entry into the epistemological debate, if anything: reason versus observation (another dichotomy, one that Goethe seems to be challenging).
    --Lannie
     
  24. jtk

    jtk

    Discovery requires being alert at the right moment. I recently watched hermit crabs (Point Lobos, CA) making discoveries, but I doubt mushrooms or semanticists can do it.
    We, people, are less likely to discover than to create because creation doesn't demand good luck or alertness...it's work. Like other laborers, photographers and painters et al often call their products "the work."
     
  25. jtk

    jtk

    As to Black Vs White (where did that come from?), I live in a world with all kinds of white folks (Ohio-whitebread to Texas oil patch expats) , a couple very different varieties of American Indians (Navajo and Pueblo may be more like me than like each other), and perhaps the same percentage of black people as San Francisco (ranging from homeless to CEO, like everywhere else).
    Seems to me that they all create and discover. I can provoke anybody by making false proposals, and I do provoke by habit, but I'm actually rewarded more by asking them what's on their minds. I'm not particularly interested in what's on the minds of college students or children...whatever it is, is transient and I'm not in a position of authority over them.
     
  26. Lanny,
    Your way of working sounds much like mine. But that's about where the similarity ends with regards to this thread. You seek synthesis between the discovery and creation, and I think quite some answers already revealed that there is no need to hunt that synthesis. Regardless of the starting point is wrong (I think it is), you oppose things that are not exclusive to each other. I think you're hunting words, more than ideas, this way.
    When I go out with my camera, I typically do not know what kind of pictures I'll make. If it catches my eye, I'll try to get capture it in the way it caught me. The latter, to me, is no different from creating. It may take a a split second, but framing, choosing settings, envisioning how the result would be etc. is as much creating as planning a shoot with controlled lighting in a studio. Whether we discover while creating or create after discovering, that's more a way of working than a serious difference.
     
  27. you oppose things that are not exclusive to each other.​
    No, Wouter, but I think that discovery and creation are factorable, if only conceptually.
    --Lannie
     
  28. Guys, let's get real here: you don't really "discover" things like this, do you?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10548876
    I know that I do not--not in my universe.
    This photo by Marc G. comes much closer to pure creation than anything that I have ever shot--or seen!
    Conceptual distinctions and dichotomies are only more or less useful, not absolutely true or false, according to my way of thinking--and I happen to find "discovery" and "creation" darned useful as polar opposites, even though the psychological processes of creating certainly do depend on prior discovered observations--and something like the reverse is true as well.
    The psychological literature is full of allusions to this distinction. "Creation" and "discovery" are "ideal types," to use the language of Max Weber. They are, that is, limiting concepts that have demonstrated some utility, which is why we use the darned words in the first place.
    --Lannie
     
  29. Here is something from the realm of science and mathematics:
    Does mathematics have an existence independent of our physical world? Do mathematicians discover theorems, rather than invent them? Such questions have exercised the minds of philosophers and mathematicians since the time of Plato, and many books have addressed the issues.​
    Here is the link, in case anyone is interested:
    http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=161513&sectioncode=1
    --Lannie
     
  30. Discovery and creation go hand in hand, in stage art as in photography. What else can one say? I often discover interesting photographic subject matter, but turning that into the subject and the photograph requires some creative input, with the creativity often a greater challenge than the initial subject matter discovery.
    But "versus" does not make much sense to me.​
    Thank you, Arthur. Notwithstanding your last comment, you indicate that you are capable of factoring out the two mental processes of discovery and creation. That is gratifying.
    When we say "versus" in philosophy, mathematics, and physics, the usual presupposition is not that we are saying that the two ideas being counterpoised are necessarily absolute polar opposites, rather that they can be fruitfully compared or even emphasized in contradistinction to one another.
    This is such a common way of speaking that I am surprised at the reaction to the word "versus." This is not a legal proceeding, where one party must be right and the other wrong--or one word must be right and the other wrong. "Versus" functions in these contexts merely to counterpoise and contrast two concepts that differ in some significant respect(s). In other words, a simple distinction is being made.
    As to the extent to which discovery and creation are absolute opposites or not, that for me is a mildly interesting semantic and philosophical question, but it was not the point of this thread, which was about photography: some photos are more nearly discovered, and others are more nearly created.
    That was intended to be the take-off point of the subsequent discussion, which was unfortunately derailed early on.
    Here are the Online Dictionary's definitions of versus:
    1. Abbr. v. or vs. Against: the plaintiff versus the defendant; Army versus Navy. 2. As the alternative to or in contrast with: "freedom of information versus invasion of privacy" (Ian Hamilton).​
    Might it be possible to get back to the original question:

    Imaging and Imagination: How Are They Related?

    --Lannie
     
  31. jtk

    jtk

    Lannie, I don't think you've established a distinction between "discover" and "create."
    You've asked if a photographer "created" or "discovered," but neither can be the case until you explain what you mean by the terms.
    "Create" and "discover" remain words, not concepts, until you/we link them to something more substantial than you have done..a definition or, if necessary (because of something more subtle) a poem.
    A picture can illustrate a word but cannot define it. Individual words rarely "mean" anything out of context. The word "two" means nothing until it refers to something such as "two dollars." A picture cannot define "dollar" or "two dollars," but can illustrate. That might instead illustrate two pieces of paper or "some money."
    Given other ideas and concerns you've addressed, I wonder if you have something theological in mind when you use "create" ?
     
  32. Given other ideas and concerns you've addressed, I wonder if you have something theological in mind when you use "create" ?​
    Thanks for the humor. I'm not a"creationist," John. I haven't thought about any possible theological implications of these terms.
    By the way, you used the same terms in your early comments on this thread. I think that you understand the terms "discover" and "create." Most people do.
    As for "two," of course it means something if not attached to particular objects. The IDEA of two might first require that it be seen with respect to apples, but it can then be applied intelligibly to oranges a priori or anything else--before one sees them, that is.
    Definitions are yet generally meaningless out of context. That I will gladly concede.
    --Lannie
     
  33. WHAT A LOAD OF BULL!
     
  34. Lannie,
    Versus can apparently also mean "towards' as much as "against" in Latin, so I do understand your objection to an apparent definition of discovery against creation. In any case I meant to suggest not the latter but rather that both are important and inter-related ("towards") and that therefore the "against" definition doesn't make too much sense to me, at least in the way I try to work.
    To get back to the original OP of imaging and imagination, as you rightly request, it is true that imaging can often be made synonymous as much with discovery as with creation. It all depends I think (and you mention) who is doing the imaging, and why. Imagination is a component part of any creative process, although many apply imagination in the act (event) of discovery. Like discovery and creation, imaging (a process of capturing an image) and imagination (a mental capacity) often are tied together. I don't think that is anything particularly novel.
    That some photographers seem to use less imagination when imaging may be so, but if one removes the layers of their approach, as punctual as that act may be, there are often contributory elements to why the photographer chooses to photograph subject matter in a particular way and why he activates the shutter at a particular moment in time that are related to the way he or she imagines the subject and/or imagines the outcome of the photographic act. The degree of application of imagination varies. At the other extreme we have purposely set up, or "theatrical", scenes, in which the imagination of the photographer is especially privileged and often brought into use in a more measured way and less instantaneously.
    It reminds me of the simplest of phase diagrams of physical chemistry, where two substances (A and B, spontaneous unimaginative imaging* and imagination) are completely miscible in each other over the full range of A (0% top 100%) and B (100% to 0%). Spontaneous unimaginative imaging at one end, through to the situation where the subject matter becomes subject and is 100% imagined as an image. I guess that most of the time most of us are thinking, pre-visualising (however instantaneously) and shooting somewhere between the two extremes.
    (* if such really exists, apart from a randomly operated automatic camera viewing a continually variable and unpredictable scene)
     
  35. jtk

    jtk

    "It reminds me of the simplest of phase diagrams of physical chemistry, where two substances (A and B, spontaneous unimaginative imaging* and imagination) are completely miscible in each other over the full range of A (0% top 100%) and B (100% to 0%)."
    Canadian response to Lannie's pilfered nude?
     
  36. I agree with Tim. I don't know why I tried to contribute here. I have learned my lesson.
     
  37. I agree with Tim. I don't know why I tried to contribute here. I have learned my lesson.​
    Which part is the bull, Dick? That's the question.
    By the way, I enjoyed your comments last night, but never got around to responding. I think that most of us here have from time to time sworn off this forum, but, like fools, we come back again for another round.
    Stick around and you can play the fool, too, from time to time. If it gets too bad, you can retreat to the No Words forum for a week or so, as I did just before posting here, for rest and recuperation. I was thought that I was ready to return, but I miscalculated.
    --Lannie
     
  38. The degree of application of imagination varies. At the other extreme we have purposely set up, or "theatrical", scenes, in which the imagination of the photographer is especially privileged and often brought into use in a more measured way and less instantaneously.​
    I like this, Arthur, along with your comments about miscible substances. (Acetone and water come to mind: mutually soluble in any and all ratios.)
    So, of course you are right, even though there surely is no realm of pure imagination and creativity, nor any realm of pure observation and discovery. We all operate somewhere in between--in [almost] any and all ratios, so to speak. I simply tend toward the "discovery" extreme, although whether out of lack of creativity or simple laziness I am not sure. Or maybe it is because when I go out to shoot I just want to relax and get my head out of a book or out from in front of a computer screen--I just want to look, and occasionally capture what I see, but what I see certainly is affected by my imagination.
    It was intended to be a playful post, but it got heavy in a hurry. You guys play for keeps over here. I think that it is safer over in No Words.
    --Lannie
     
  39. John, I like the idea of the "pilfered nude." In fact, I actually like more than the idea of the pilfered nude. I like the picture--so much in fact that I am going to pilfer it over and over, starting right now:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10548876
    I feel better already, atlhough, if I ever "discovered" such a thing in my neck of the woods, I'm pretty sure that I would feel even better.
    Even so, "Nothin' gonna match my sweet little imagination; everything looks worse in black and white." --Paul Simon, "Kodachrome"
    The nice thing about images of naked women is that, once seen or discovered, one can then summon them up at will over and over again and re-create them in the imagination (which I think was Paul Simon's point). The image or fantasy will never quite match the dich an sich, however. If I could conjure that up, I would just give up on photography altogether--I wouldn't need it anymore.
    Of course, after Kant, we can't even discover the "thing in itself," can we? We can only conceptualize it.
    --Lannie
     
  40. My reactions when framing a picture many times totally lack any conscious analysis. They just happen based upon those years of conditioning. A friend of mine is a Professor specializing in brain function at a large university. He tells me that action without awareness of mental process is common. For instance I have typed this without being aware of how I am typing. This same is true in decision making in airplanes if the process of flying is deeply imbedded in muscle memory. One can have a close near miss without ever consciously deciding how to immediately maneuver the airplane. Your arms and legs just respond. What I am saying is that sometimes, a lot of the time actually, I take or reject a picture without having the slightest idea of why I did so until I think about it post action. Anyway, my friend tells me and he has studied this stuff extensively and as far as I can understand him he agrees with what I posited here. He does a lot of stuff with sheep's brains because they resemble humans only smaller and he can easily acquire them. So most of my photography is knee jerk reaction to what I am seeing at the moment. I have set up pictures for weddings and newspaper photographs. I have done some product stuff like clothing and studio portraits where I did set up pictures but that's necessary to get paid. I also did a lot of candids at weddings where I just randomly and spontaneously took pictures. I become calculating when I am waiting on a subject to evince some kind of expression or emotion before I take the picture. I immediately know when I have it and maybe I will react quickly enough to get it before it fleetingly disappears into the ether.​
    Well, Dick, that is one way of looking at it: a good, down-to-earth practical kind of way. Aristotle rules the forum tonight. Plato, Hegel, and Kant can just scram for at least this one evening. I'm not in the mood for anything too ethereal tonight.
    To drive the point home, let's see what John Kelly calls the "pilfered nude" one more time:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/10548876
    I could swear that she gets better the more she gets pilfered. Remind me to drop Marc G. a thank you note.
    In all seriousness, I was actually thinking more of contrasting photographic styles than competing theories when I posted the question. After a day and an evening in the classroom,. I was not in the mood for anything too heavy.
    Posting around here is like stepping off the curb and getting hit by a Mack truck.
    --Lannie
     
  41. Posting around here is like stepping off the curb and getting hit by a Mack truck.​
    Lannie, is that "our" fault for challenging your post? If we disagree and try to substantiate why we do, are we being harsh on you, or on your statement? I'm really puzzled here. You seem (here above) to agree with those who've claimed that the responses here are nonsens... while they are responses to YOUR question. As several times before, I get this feel you ask questions wanting to hear specific answers, and when those answers do not come, you seem disappointed. That way, yes, the Mack truck will run over you several times.
     
  42. No one is being faulted for challenging my post, Wouter. I am a political philosopher. I am used to controversy. I actually thrive on it.
    Even so, no, this is not a hospitable place to be at times--for anybody, not just the persons who post the questions.
    I am not so sure that we should expect much more from an internet forum, however. The internet seems at times to bring out the worst in people--even in moderators.
    --Lannie
     
  43. Fred said: "I don't think using the building blocks of photography (images from the world) is quoting."
    That's not what I meant. The (whole) photograph quotes the world; it doesn't quote other photographs/photographers.
    Another [text] quote, this one from anthropologist Tim Ingold:
    "[The] combinatory view of creativity, as the endless generation of first-time novelties through the rearrangement of elements is deeply embedded not only in biology and psychology but in many other fields of academic discourse as well, not least in anthropology. For example, it underlies Levi-Strauss's celebrated notion of the creative mind as a bricoleur that is for ever engaged in the novel assembly of structures of thought out of the bits and pieces of old ones. And in linguistics, it reappears in Chomsky's notion of 'rule-governed creativity' as the capacity to construct an infinite variety of comprehensible expressions from a finite repertoire of lexical items. Yet this view has always existed side by side with another, less mainstream perhaps, which would deny that there is anything intrinsically creative about the recombinatory generation of novelty.
    [ ... ] Alfred North Whitehead insisted that the creativity of the evolutionary process was to be found in something other than the mechanism of variation under natural selection. For the world we inhabit is not made up of static and discrete bits and pieces that may be connected up in myriad ways into ever-changing patterns. It is rather a movement, or flow, in which every element we might identify is but a moment. Creativity, for Whitehead, lay in that very movement of becoming by which the world, as it unfolds, continually surpasses itself. Whitehead's term for this unfoldiing was 'concrescence.'"​
    [That quote was all within one paragraph; I added a break for onscreen readability.]
     
  44. It would be quite difficult, although immensely original, to create a photograph or a painting that originates in the mind but which is not taken from the World, or more specifically, from the world of our cumulative visual experiences to date. That creation might be something as I suggested in regard to the immaterial that may be present in an image, with the exception that the premise for that OP supposed the material, and not a thought which may be of the immaterial.
    However, in the realm of imaging and imagination based on the much more normal material subject matter, the situation is otherwise. Any element that we introduce to create or imagine the subject of our image, in addition to the subject matter appearing before us, derives also from the visual world (as in using the subject matter in a particular way, by using a differing angle of light and shadow, with differing filtration of light, by composing the elements differently), or comes from that introduced from our prior visual experience (and operating in the realm of our imagination), being our recognition of something else that the subject can communicate (spiritual, erotic, moralistic, etc.), or something that we can imbue to it by intention. Often, the latter will include symbolic elements or compositions. What I mean here is the application of a necessary visual language in order to convey the product of our imagination.
    We may borrow from others (which might be called building blocks, like those of our other prior visual experiences) or we may not, but whatever we do with imaging and imagination is not in the written world of grammar and phrases, but in the visual world we know and use in making an image. We use our experience of the visual and material world, a constraint not so strong in some other forms of creation (writing, philosophy, music).
     
  45. Julie, I understood what you meant. What I was saying is that I think one photographer can quote another but I don't think all photographs "quote" the world. When we quote someone, we are quoting it because it already says something, already makes a very particular kind of sense. We are usually keeping that sense and relaying that information to others by quoting the original source. When I take a photograph, I am making a kind of sense out of the world, not relaying a sense that already exists.
    Using the word sense here is probably controversial, especially in light of recent discussions about meaning. So let's say I'm showing (rather than telling) a kind of visual sense that was never there before. Framing is a creative act.
    I agree with Whitehead that the world continually surpasses itself. A photograph surpasses the original content and context of the world with much more fluidity and difference than a quote surpasses the original statement made. Think about school. When you write your first papers, the teacher tells you not to rely on too many quotations and, when you use them, to add something of your own. Explain them, put them into context, make something of them, etc. The photograph, if it is like a quoting, is simultaneously that addition of the something more the teacher is asking for, so it's more than the quote to begin with. The putting into context, the making something, has already been done. The quote is much more barren (in terms of a utilizer's input) than the photograph is. The quote usually needs more. It needs something from the quoter. The photograph needs no more.
     
  46. Addition: A quote is not just an arrangement of words, it's a recreation of a statement (and making that statement was the original act of combining the words and grammar). To me, the photograph would be much more comparable to the original statement than to the quoting of it.
     
  47. "That creation might be something as I suggested in regard to the immaterial that may be present in an image, with the exception that the premise for that OP supposed the material, and not a thought which may be of the immaterial."
    Allow me to make a correction for those reading the above in my preceding post.
    After the term OP, read:
    ".....supposed the material as the basis, and not a thought or idea, the latter two being in the realm of things immaterial in nature."
     
  48. To me, the photograph would be much more comparable to the original statement than to the quoting of it.​
    Fred, this is not quite the same thing, but it is a question that just popped into my head: I wonder to what extent a conversation could be conducted through the posting of pictures. Not all conversations would be possible, of course, but some interesting ones might.
    --Lannie
     
  49. It would be quite difficult, although immensely original, to create a photograph or a painting that originates in the mind but which is not taken from the World, or more specifically, from the world of our cumulative visual experiences to date. That creation might be something as I suggested in regard to the immaterial that may be present in an image. . . .​
    Arthur, perhaps I am misunderstanding, but it sounds like the old philosophical quandary as to whether or not we could have any thoughts or ideas to begin with if we did not first have actual experiences in the physical world (in this case the experiences being images).
    Even some rationalists concede that thought begins with experience, but they go on to make claims about what can be known through reason alone. "Knowledge through reason alone" that is not first grounded in some kind of experience (including images) is a bit hard for me to understand. It sounds like it is even going beyond Kant's posited "a priori synthetic" statement--one of the most difficult and controversial problems in modern philosophy. (The writings of W.V.O. Quine come to mind--very heavy stuff.)
    Of course, I might be going off in a direction that was not at all what you were getting at, but you have definitely offered some provocative thoughts here.
    --Lannie
     
  50. Here is one link to the issue in philosophy proper:
    http://www.nutters.org/docs/kant-sap
    What possible relevance it might have for the philosophy of photography is open to debate, I suppose. (What isn't?)
    --Lannie
     
  51. Phylo, thanks for the links to Rauschenberg and his photos "quoting" Atget. For me it is especially interesting because I have lived for many years in one of the houses shown. I didn't even know the original of Atget of the place. The text of Rauschenberg is also very sharp and passionating to read. Thanks again!
     
  52. Lannie,
    It appears that Gardner put the tangible back into the mind of Kant, but I am just guessing. I kan't read Kant at the moment (but I will later, thanks for the reference) as I am under the gun to get things ready for a family do tomorrow. Sort of a final or nearly final opportunity for an outdoors-indoors party befiore everyone husks down for the winter up here in the boonies.
    I realize that my sentence you quoted is impossible, as whatever the mind can throw out is somehow imbedded in/influenced by past experiences (how's that for a Juliean phrase), including visual ones. But I was wondering if one could create an image, probably abstract is easier (as it would be difficult to emulate Escher with semi-real objects), which somehow pays little attention to what we have in our "image bank" and more to our "image futures" (or an unbridled visual imagination). A second aspect of this might be the creation or imagination of photographic images that represent how we might feel or how are ideas appear to us.
    Maybe this is sort of like the Sunday museum adult art courses where she asks the participants to put their hands into little cloth bags full of odds and ends (beads, marbles, rough objects, slippery things, etc.) and then draw what they think that encounter represents. Maybe this analogy to what I was trying to say is as crazy as that of a fellow (but eminent...) metallurgist of India a few decaeds ago, who believed that metals have souls, ostensibly because (but maybe not exclusively because) when you take a slim bar of pure tin in your two hands, and bend it, it emits a cry. I think I have just nicely obfuscated the discussion....just as well, perhaps, before the whip meets my back. But it may be worth continuing.
     
  53. "I wonder to what extent a conversation could be conducted through the posting of pictures." --Lannie
    The No Words forum is an example of such a conversation. I'm hesitant about analogies of photographs to verbal matters such as quotes* and conversations. Photographs are more sense-driven/perception-oriented/sensual . . . more erotic (as Sontag puts it) than meaningful.
    A problem with the No Words forum is how literally the themes are taken. The threads are subject matter driven. Photos have the power to be metaphoric and reducing them to literal representations of a particular subject or using them as a means of literal conversation undermines that powerful non-literal way they can operate. The best postings in the No Words forum are the ones that take a more creative approach to the stated topic, a less literal and more metaphorical approach.
    One might have a visual conversation that has nothing to do with representations and subjects, nothing to do with words or ideas. The photographic conversation could, for example, center around shadows and the way they move, contrasts and they way they change, focus and the way it obscures and reveals . . . not a "meaningful" conversation . . . a visual one.
    __________________________________
    *I didn't get the sense that Julie brought up quotes in order to suggest that photographs are as literal as quotations. I think her analogy was emphasizing other matters.
     
  54. Photos have the power to be metaphoric and reducing them to literal representations of a particular subject or using them as a means of literal conversation undermines that powerful non-literal way they can operate. The best postings in the No Words forum are the ones that take a more creative approach to the stated topic, a less literal and more metaphorical approach.​
    I think that you are really right about that, Fred. Thanks again.
    --Lannie
     
  55. I agree that Fred is right about the fact that the No Words forum can be used in a more creative way than what mostly is the case for the moment. It can be used for I'm sure it is open for that but much depends on those that use it and especially on those that introduce themes. A theme like: "contrasts ... and the way they change, focus and the way it obscures and reveals" is such a subject, waiting to be introduced. For the moment if you ask for a bicycle, you get bicycles.
     
  56. A quote -- one that stops me, makes me scramble to write it down on any available surface -- delights me, enriches me, moves me into a condition that I was not and would not have been in or found before or without it. It's not about agreement; it's not about recognition -- its about enrichment and expansion. Also, it's about a sensation of being present with that other person; of sharing a common mind with the souce of the quote. A sense of closeness, across space and time.
    But that's just the beginning. Then, (as I said in my original post above) I USE the quote; I weave it into my own experience. I make creative use of it.
    If I am listening to a solo singer or musician and suddenly a second (and third and fourth, etc.) musician(s) joins in, in harmony but with a different track, I get this same kind of sensation. A feeling of enrichment, expansion, a development of a fuller web.
    When I am out wandering around with my camera, and I suddenly "discover" something that is "in harmony" with but/yet at the same time beyond what/who/where I am at that moment in my life, I feel enriched, expanded, a development of ... whatever you want to call your ongoing persona. An "Oh! I see!" moment in the fullest metaphorical sense of "see (more)."
    On creativity and discovery, I would suggest that those are words about historical origins. Creativity is to do with escaping history; discovery is embedded in history. Various kinds of art have various degrees of freedom with respect to history. I would suggest that photography is deeply entrenched in/with/to history such that it weights the scale heavily to the side of discovery. Every thing, every kind of light, every behavior depicted always arrives in the camera embedded in and with its own history.
    However I do not in any way think that this degrades photography's claim to artistic worth. For me, the power or value of an object as art is tied to its ability to make and contain,and to make transportable across time (with apologies to the "happenings" artists), experiences that enrich or expand my mind [ this space left empty for the black hole of "what is art" questions].
    Note that there is always a degree of creativity in such a "containment." After discovery there will always be some amount of effort taken to frame and choose. Note also that in creativity there is always some discovery that must have happened before. Creativity might be described as a circling back and then, only then, a making of something beyond history. An active stripping out of (or amplification or other kind of distortion of) history.
     
  57. [I've been overlooking this thread...]
    Fred - "The No Words forum is an example of such a conversation."
    I am not so sure that it is, because the elements of the "conversation" are already extant. It's as if we went to a cafe to meet a friend. each of us carrying a set of written responses, done well before we meet, and we "speak" exclusively by reciting from those snippets only. It's a kind of exchange, but not anything I would call a conversation.
    W/NW could be totally different if it was limited only to new photographs taken only in response to those already up & the theme. Yes, I am well aware that such a requirement would make for a s-l-o-w "conversation" compared to what we have now, and might encounter serious resistance.
    _____________________________________
    Julie - [ this space left empty for the black hole of "what is art" questions].
    Thank you. If nothing else does, that alone will make my day. I was just asked: "why are you smirking?"
    Beautifully written, Julie. Good points re: history.
     
  58. Very well written Julie (7.06 a.m.). A pleasure to read.
    History or rather time is surely an inherent element in creativity and discovery because of the simple fact that we are talking about something new - new in relation to what was known or done before. I would however rather use to terms like innovation (new ideas applied successfully) and invention (new ideas made manifest). Both demand creative individuals or groups of people carrying qualification, skills and competences like: autonomy, flexibility, preference for complexity, openness to experience, sensitivity, playfulness, tolerance of ambiguity, risk-taking and risk tolerance, intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy and wide interest and curiosity.
    So what has that to do with the interesting basic questioning of Landrum. In my view we are taking a wrong approach if we believe that those that actively construct scenes of photography necessarily are making anything that comes near to neither innovation, nor inventions. You can actively construct setups and scenes to shoot without having made manifest any new ideas or succeeded to make new applications of old ones. On the other hand you can as Landrum describes it make images of reality without moving a leaf or asking people to smile, and abruptly, without warning, new ideas are manifest for all by the very fact that reality ends up in a photo composed and seen by a creative being. So, creativity is as far as I see it not in any way related to neither active or passive approaches (bad terms, I know!) of shooting photos. Both approaches are equally creative, or not, depending on the "artist" - mostly not, in fact.
    As far as I have seen, noone have referred above to the demiurge - the creator of the universe - half divine/half craftsman) that Hume extensively discusses and not least Karl Marx (the young one!) uses for denouncing industrialism and the destruction of the skills of the craftman. It might be relevant in a discussion like this to be aware of the relation between the creative skills mentioned above and the mastering of the technical tools we have at our disposal: our cameras, lenses, lights etc - and our mastering of them. Too often in my eyes do we forget and even reject the importance of our technical skills as photographers which to a certain degree defines what creative initiatives that are at our reach.
     
  59. Luis, I don't think only something else can make threads in the No Words forum into conversations. Many, if not all, of the threads are already "conversations" between photographers based on their existing portfolios. There is a place for "conversations" where we exchange whatever we have of shots of locomotives or cathedrals or any other subject matter that is proposed. I find the result interesting because we are photographers of so many different background and cultures. We can meet across these barriers in such simple exchanges of shots on subject matters and not least the approach permits that a maximum of people can contribute. A more select approach would definitely discourage some.
    That the No Words forum also could be something getting nearer to "conversations" that invite for for example metaphorical approaches is as mentioned to be promoted in my view. We have regularly themes like "shadows" that could open up for such an approach. It only demands that someone takes the initiative.
    Such themes should be explicitly announced in the title and the theme should be "pictorial" - not to be subject to editing by Walter, as far as I understand the way it functions now.
     
  60. Luis, nice refinement of "conversation." A good conversation requires new input, not just reciting snippets that we've pre-made. In talking about going out and making new photos for a conversation actually to take place, you seem to be suggesting that these new photos would not be like those already-prepared snippets. It sounds like the new photos wouldn't be like quotes.
    Julie, I, too, love your description. I learn a lot about your way of photographing from hearing such a description. My own would differ, as it should. I photographed two guys on Friday. John has a big house, incredible lighting, wonderful spaces. We "got to work" by getting to know each other, talking about all kinds of stuff, and walking around the house. I "discovered" things about the house . . . and the guys. I had a couple of visualizations already considered in advance. So I was looking for ways to realize them and was also open to new stuff. Sometimes, a "sudden" instant would happen and I'd shoot it. Sometimes, I'd approach a room and see a combination of furniture and light and then use the two guys to form a scene around it. There weren't clear distinctions of method behind each shot. The lines of approach were sometimes clear, sometimes blurred.
    I wouldn't describe the majority of the day as "wandering around with" my camera. We were mostly making things happen. I was eliciting different responses, expressions, and gestures, either by asking for them or by saying things or setting up a dynamic that I figured could result in something worth photographing. They were also offering different sides of themselves and different dynamics, "playing" along with me. Ian, in particular, sees his role as collaborator. The process felt much less entrenched and more free than what you're describing, Julie. "Now take off your shirt." "Can you sneak up on him?" "Look away, then suddenly look back." "Walk quickly toward the door." "Open the door with a jerk." And, while you're taking off your shirts, I'll shoot the in-between moments. I'll still shoot while you're taking a break. There were "Oh! I see!" moments. There were more "Wow! We did it!" ones.
     
  61. A good conversation requires new input, not just reciting snippets that we've pre-made.​
    I think you underestimate in both qualitative and quantitive terms the portfolios of many photographers here on PN. The No Word forum is one of the most active and successful forums on PN and it fulfills clearly already in its present form an important role. For those that are not very active contributors to invest time and efforts in the forum by uploading photos and it might become even better.
     
  62. Anders, I understand what you're saying. My purpose here is not to discuss, and certainly not to denigrate, the No Words forum. It came up as a side issue. I think Luis is right that a verbal conversation requires not simply reciting old lines that have been used before. But I think the No Words forum operates quite well when the participants utilize already-existing photos.
    My main point is that, for me, photographs are not like quotes. I don't take them that way and don't view them that way. Julie's describing her process and my describing mine, I hope, relates to Lannie's questions about creativity, discovery, and also gives insight into how Julie's and my imaginations work.
     
  63. Fred I believe you are right. I took the reference to the No Word Forum too literally.
     
  64. Reference my imagination, my work speaks for me.
     
  65. Julie not withstanding the quality of your work, which I have admired at several occasions, we could all agree to state that "our work speaks for us" - and we would not anymore have the pleasure of reading beautiful text as the one you just wrote above.
     
  66. Thanks Anders and Luis (so much butter!!).
    Below is some further creative quoting:
    "... In ordinary observation ... all too often the observer simply gets a general impression of the forms of bacterial colonies growing on the gelatin plate -- and then, on the basis if this cursory look, declares that he is done with his investigation. In a photograph, this frequently unjustified winnowing of the "important" from the "unimportant" will not stand. Reexamining the photograph can lead the scientist to reevaluate what is actually in the image. The photomicrograph acts pedagogically by extending -- in fact revising -- the process of observation. In short, the photomicrographic trace becomes an archive as a drawing could not; the photograph is a resource for further inquiry." [1]
    "... The presentation of man's natural setting had been one of the achievements that justified the existence of the movies next to the theater. Naturally, the silent film also had often shown the actor in close-ups. But more importantly, it had created a union of silent man and silent things as well as of the (audible) person close-by and the (inaudible) one at a far distance. In the universal silence of the image, the fragments of a broken vase could "talk" exactly the way a character talked to his neighbor, and a person approaching on a road and visible on the horizon as a mere dot "talked" as someone acting in close-up. This homogeneity, which is completely foreign to the theater but familiar to painting, is destroyed by the talking film: it endows the actor with speech, and since only he can have it, all other things are pushed into the background." [2]
    "... In Rorschach's test, it is imperative that the patient not be given any instructions about what to see or how (or how little) of the image to report. [ ... ] Essentially, the examiner (E) should speak without saying anything, presenting the subject (S) with a studied calm that put the card in the light of apparently unmediated presence:
    S: Can I turn it?
    E: It's up to you.
    S: Should I try to use all of it?
    E: Whatever you like. Different people see different things.
    S: Do you want me to show you where I see it?
    E: If you like.
    S: Should I just use my imagination?
    E: Yes, just tell me what you see. (It is more appropriate to use the word see rather than reminds you of to questions of this sort, stressing perception rather than association.)
    S: (After giving a response) Is that the kind of thing you want?
    E: Yes, just whatever it looks like to you.
    S: Is that the right answer?
    E: There are all sorts of answers.
    S: Does it look like that to you?
    E: Oh, I can see a lot of things." [3]​
    [1] Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison; Objectivity (2007)
    [2] Rudolf Arnheim; Film as Art (1957)
    [3] Peter Galison; "Image of Self" (2004)
     
  67. Fred - "In talking about going out and making new photos for a conversation actually to take place, you seem to be suggesting that these new photos would not be like those already-prepared snippets."
    Yes, I was suggesting that the new photos would be different. Like a conversation, sans words, the exchanges would be closer to real time, evolve in a bespoke fashion, not generically, and more.
    Anders, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the current W/NW as it stands.
    _______________________________
    Anders - "History or rather time is surely an inherent element in creativity and discovery because of the simple fact that we are talking about something new - new in relation to what was known or done before. I would however rather use to terms like innovation (new ideas applied successfully) and invention (new ideas made manifest). Both demand creative individuals or groups of people carrying qualification, skills and competences like: autonomy, flexibility, preference for complexity, openness to experience, sensitivity, playfulness, tolerance of ambiguity, risk-taking and risk tolerance, intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy and wide interest and curiosity"
    The above is almost classical 1950's Modernism. I do not think it "a simple fact" that we're talking about something new. In a way it can be said that every photograph is "something new", but it is obvious that in other ways very, very few are. And some deliberately aren't. The past is sticky on both sides.
    ______________________________
    Julie - "(so much butter!!)"
    [Can't hep it]
    Those quotes are a sumptuous breakfast unto themselves. I can only imagine what your library (or list of bookmarks) must be like.
     
  68. Inspired by Lucie's gracious offering of reading material, maybe the short text below could be read as an input to the discussion above on complexity of: thematic dialogues by/through images.
    The text is on how "works of art" support thinking (no need to define "art" - just read "photography", even when "theatre" is mentioned).
    Nothing is more annoying than the ease with which it is said for example that theater presents "the problem of politics" simply because it puts people together in one room or that such work poses the problem identity and borders because it takes as material, flags ... Any effort put in relation with the problem itself remains to be done and the words "subject (or theme)" means basically this lack of thought that links the work of art to the act of thinking that it is supposed to initiate.
    No, that's not how contemporary art "thinks", nor that anyone thinks of anything. It is necessary that the problem arises in the very work of art itself, in the logic of its production so that the work of art in itself is a treatment of the problem, likely therefore of substantiating a problem or leading to other treatments of the problem, treatments that usually begins heterogeneously, because they pass through concepts, symbolic writings, experimental research ....
    A main thought of inspiration has guided us: art, not as objects of thought, but as a tool for thinking ... Opportunity not to think of art, or even from it, but to think with art...
    The text is very freely translated from French and therefor in it's English version not in quotation marks. If it is not readable, shoot on the translator!


    And here the original French text for those that can appreciate it
    "Rien n'est plus agaçant que la facilité avec laquelle on dit par exemple que le théâtre "pose le problème du politique" tout simplement parce qu'il se contente de mettre des gens ensemble dans une même pièce ou que telle oeuvre pose le problème l'identité et des frontières parce qu'elle prend comme matériau des drapeaux... Tout l'effort de mise en relation avec le problème lui-même reste à faire, et le mots "thème" désigne au fond ce manque à penser qui relié l'oeuvre a l'opération de pensée qu'elle est censée effectuée.
    Non, ce n'est pas ainsi que l'art contemporain pense, ni d'ailleurs que quiconque pense à quoi que ce soit. Il faut que le problème se pose dans la matière même de l'oeuvre , dans la logique de sa production que celle-ci se présente à sa manière comme un traitement du problème, susceptible à ce titre de s'étayer sur ou de dériver vers d'autre traitements du problème, traitement qui se présente d'abord comme hétérogènes, parce qu'ils passent par exemple par des concepts, des écriture symboliques ou des recherche expérimentales .... Un mot d'ordre nous à guidés: l'art non pas comme objets de pensée, mais comme outil pour penser... Occasion non pas de penser l'art, ni même à partir de lui, mais de penser avec l'art, de créer avec la recherche théorique." (Critique (Août / Septembre 2010 page 761)​
     
  69. Luis, I have difficulty of seeing any use of words like creation and discovery / innovation and invention without "novelty" somewhat being in play. The term "novelty and new" can be relative and restrictive but whatever definition some different from what previous was practiced or known would have be involved.
    I find it interesting that you refer to Modernism because I have often the impression that what is at stake in many of our discussion is in fact the continuing confrontation (if I dare use a word) between Modernism and Post-modernism. I might in fact to a certain degree have affinities to the first more than the second. One can of course be a trustful follower of Christie's and Sotheby's who in 1998, after common agreement, made the commercial announcement that since 1960 everything "arty" in the world would be to be considered post-modernist. We are some that resist. Modernist and post-modernist art and artist are both active.
    By the way the concept of art that is used in the previous post of mine is a genuine post-modern concept, which I would fully support.
     
  70. An alternative, giving some indication of why I don't accept likening photographs to quotes* and am more often suspicious of them than persuaded or moved by their use . . .
    _________________________________
    *To be clear, I often appreciate the original statements that were made. I am generally more suspicious of the second-hand use (quoting) of those statements. And, no reminders necessary, I am well aware of the irony of my using the following quotes to make my point! ;)))
    "A quotation, like a pun, should come unsought, and then be welcomed only for some propriety of felicity justifying the intrusion."
    -- Robert Chapman
    "Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
    -- Emerson
    "He wrapped himself in quotations- as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors."
    -- Kipling
    "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."
    -- Oscar Wilde
    "It's like a quote: it's the nearest any of us gets to being in the movies...."
    -- Nick Hornby
    "In its grossest and most servile form quotation is a lazy folly; a thought has received some signal or notorious expression, and as often as the old sense, or something like it, recurs, the old phrase rises to the lips. This degenerates to simple phrase-mongering, and those who practise it are not vigilantly jealous of their meaning."
    -- Walter Raleigh Style. (1904)
    "If, as we who study ourselves have learned to do, every one who hears a good sentence, would immediately consider how it applies to his own case, he would find that it is not so much an excellent saying as an excellent blow at the usual stupidity of his own judgment; but we receive the precepts and admonitions of truth as directed to the common people, never to ourselves; and instead of applying them to our morals, do only very ignorantly and unprofitably commit them to memory."
    -- Michel de Montaigne. "Of Custom" Essays (1575)​
     
  71. Julie, one more thing: I think I understand and like the quote concept. Like all analogs, this one falls short at a certain point, but it is useful.
     
  72. After having read the comments of the past few days, I am inclined to believe that many of us are not only searching too hard for subtelties in creating our work, but perhaps even more so in attempting to describe the processes of imagination, creation and discovery. In the final analysis, it is hardly what we write, or how intricate, elegant or gilded that may be, but what we photograph, and the personal creativity and sense of discovery (each being unique in each of us) that we bring to that table.
    For Einstein and many of us lesser scientists, the goal was/is one of simplicity. He finally could not describe the universe in a unified field theory, as he had wished, but he did recognise the beauty of that simplicity of approach and that ultimately the greatest ideas will be found to be the simplest (although perhaps not the "42" of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe). When I reflect on the often pretentious, pompous and to a large degree nonsensical descriptions of artistic approach verbalised by many artists I have come across, or by their critiques in our local "high level" art magazines, I am glad to seek recourse of the simpler views, as those of an Einstein.
    Lannie may be relaxing his shoulder injury and writing arm, but I would suggest to him, as to others here, that they will have a best idea of imaging and imagination, of creativity and discovery, by simply spending 5 or 10 minutes in the portfolios of their fellow contributors. There, the thoughts on these subjects of others are more directly materialised, helped also if one goes to the image with a relatively free mindset and a desire to understand the position of the photographer. Apart from what they may say in writing, which often is the theory that the practice does not always emulate, I have learned more about others by those observations and hope to privilege that activity more in the future. Some photographers show the usual paradigms of approach or subject in many images, but sometimes provide the flashes that show what is their creativity (or whatever term you may substitute with that and imagination).
     
  73. Are we quoting ourselves in our photography, is that what you are asking Arthur ? In most cases the answer is probably yes, but can it be seen directly by others or are ambitions always, by definition, beyond our present abilities ? That is what ambitions are for. Ambitions provide directions and inspiration.
    This brings us back to the infamous small novel "The unknown masterpiece" (Le Chef-d’œuvre inconnu)
    of Balzac on the painter Frenhofer and his unreachable search of perfection.
    Let me quote a small "simple" text of Paul Barolski on failure and artistic work that also refers to the novel of Balzac.
    We should not forget that 99 percent of all art-making attempts are failures." Thus declares Phillip Lopate the essayist in his recent book, Portrait of My Body. Although the phrase "art-making attempts" offends one's sense of prose style, Lopate's statement seems reasonable enough, and we accede to its apparent truthfulness—even if we do not have the faintest notion how many works of art are in fact failures. We think of art and failure together, however, precisely because their conjunction is one of the deep themes in the history of modernism, one of its commanding plots, especially in the writings of artists themselves, authors of imaginative literature who anxiously but tellingly return time and time again to the theme of the failed artist. Born of the historical circumstances in which it is written, inevitably given form by them, fiction is true to these circumstances and thus helps to shape and define our understanding of history.
    Balzac's "The Unknown Masterpiece," a central fable in this larger story, is the tale of the aged, deluded, indeed quixotic, painter Frenhofer who labored for 10 years on a portrait of a courtesan which, when it was finally revealed, emerged as a confused mass of color and jumble of lines, a work the artist burned when he came to see that, in the end, it was "nothing." Filled with "doubt," as Balzac said, Frenhofer aspired to the absolute, to the realization of what was "unknown" to painters, to what was beyond their ability to achieve, an artistic perfection impossible to realize in the modern world. Associated by Balzac with both Satan and Prometheus, Frenhofer is no less a transgressor, himself a Faust among painters, seeking to fathom the very secrets of his art.​
     
  74. Well, darn. I don't have any quotes from Satan or Prometheus. I'll have to make do with Little Red Riding Hood. [Anders, I enjoyed your quote; mine that follows is meant tongue-in-cheek, just for you (and Luis, too, of course).] Because it reminds me of posting in this forum in this kind of thread ...:
    "In one version, the grandmother eats the wolf from the inside out. In another, the wolf strips the girl of her clothes, and she rides on his back into the woods. In yet another, Red ties the wolf up and cuts him into pieces. But the most telling vignette is the first one, in which every time the girl gets out of the wolf’s stomach she finds herself back en route to her grandmother’s house, headed for danger: “After Red cut her way out of the wolf’s belly—after she wiped the gore off her hood and cape, her dress, her tights—she again found herself standing on the path that wound through the forest toward her grandmother’s house.” The characters can’t escape their myth; the story outlasts its participants."​
    -- from The Believer
     
  75. "Are we quoting ourselves in our photography, is that what you are asking Arthur ?" (Anders)
    Quoting ourselves, Anders ? Do I understand that you believe the unique function of a photograph or work of art is that? No, I rather think there is really a lot more to derive from pictures, and looking at them, than what the author of them may put into print. Or are you are suggesting there is some inverse relationship ?
    If you really enjoy reading of ambition and failure in art, I can quite recommend to you Gabrielle Roy's "La montagne sacrée", the fictional account of the life long search of Paris trained Québécois painter Pierre who cannot adopt current trends (because no doubt, he IS an artist, and is bored by collective trends - It's possible to think that Riopelle and/or "Le Refus Global" of the 1940s may well have inspired Madame Roy, winner of the Le Prix Fémina de France literary prize) and spends years travelling the wilderness, in search of a splendid sacred mountain in the far north (Ungava), known to only a few indigenous people. That ambition, his obsession, and his ultimate failure at the end of the novel (a Camus type ending, a heart seizure upon realising his dream) would perhaps be of interest to you, and perhaps even Julie and Luis, who it seems, show an interest in artists being locked into ambition or myths.
    However, as fun as that may be, why not just choose to relax, "breath through the nose" (sorry, bad translation from French) and start enjoying each other's attempts at creative photography, which I predict, without any uncertainty whasoever, would be a worthwhile exercise within the forum. Amongst others, I applaud Fred for attempting to do that at times.
    How many good photographs have you lately made with words ?
     
  76. Lucie you can enjoy this delicious story below on Prometheus while I re-read your story of daily horrors to be grated with this small wonder of a sentence "the characters can't escape their myth; the story outlasts its participants". Prometheus is such a myth:
    PROMETHEUS was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was entrusted with the task of moulding mankind out of clay. His attempts to better the lives of his creation brought him into direct conflict with Zeus. Firstly he tricked the gods out of the best portion of the sacrificial feast, acquiring the meat for the feasting of man. Then, when Zeus withheld fire, he stole it from heaven and delivered it to mortal kind hidden inside a fennel-stalk. As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora (the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man, or as a way to cheat mankind of the company of the good spirits. Prometheus meanwhile, was arrested and bound to a stake on Mount Kaukasos where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating liver (or, some say, heart). Generations later the great hero Herakles came along and released the old Titan from his torture.
     
  77. Julie of course !! I don't know how Lucie becomes involved ? I'll ask her to keep herself out of it. Sorry
     
  78. Arthur, I will surely try to find "La montagne scare", thanks.
    If you read the Balzac novel you will understand it's attraction, like by the way all impressions and post-impressionist artists did in the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, and who were kept awake at night by the cold fear that Frenhofer was themselves. In fact Cezanne was generally believed to fit well into the role of Frenhofer as expressed by for example Zola or Picasso. The latter owned for years the estate in Paris, Rue des Grands-Augustins, that is the scene of the novel.
    No, the interest for the search for the "sublime" as modernist painters would call it, at least in French, is more related to the Taoist tradition and writings - but that is yet another story. If you go to Julie's photos, take the road towards Tao with you at least as an intellectual inspiration, if not spiritual. "Relaxing" or "breathing through the nose" is part of the game, I can ensure you.
    I don't think any of us have lost the connection to our photography. We are all speaking about exactly that. For most of us, I feel sure, photography is a whole: doing it and reflecting on what you have done and how to improve it. There is no such thing as "going back to photography" - it is one and a whole.
    My experience in this forum tells me that this is not the moment to upload a photo for supporting the argument!
     
  79. Anders said : "I don't know how Lucie becomes involved."
    It's okay. A little variety is nice; why should one be stuck with the same old name day after day ...
    [Wondering if I remind Anders of Ms. van Pelt, or of that really, really, really old skeleton.]
     
  80. Julie, it must be: "Lucie in the sky with diamonds", that inspired me; "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes".
    It is all a question of photography. :
    Picture yourself in a boat on a river
    With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
    Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
    A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

    Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
    Towering over your head
    Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
    and she's gone

    Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
    Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
    Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
    that grow so incredibly high

    Newspaper taxies appear on the shores
    Waiting to take you away
    Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
    and you're gone

    Picture yourself on a train in a station
    With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
    Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
    The girl with kaleidoscope eyes
    (Shortened version by my hand)​
     
  81. Arthur another of the horrors of automatic spelling checker and the 10 minute threshold: "La montagne sacrée" !!
     
  82. Thanks, Anders, I didn't see that one coming from my francophobic English checker. However, the "scarey" mountain may be some sort of feedback to me about my own "photographic monkey" (I keep procrastinating on a number of no doubt quite inconsequential photo projects). A "sacrée problème!"
    Love the L.S.D. song, which is equalled perhaps only by "A Day in the Life".
     
  83. Can't find the text but here is the song. I agree Arthur the song has mark many of us more, but I don't find the lyrics more inspiring than Lucy and her psychedelic eyes allthough I know the story behind.
     
  84. Arthur - "How many good photographs have you lately made with words ?"
    I think Arthur is channeling John K., but Julie's Little Red Riding Hood quote proves it can easily be done. That second version with a naked (but not nude) Ms. Hood astride the bounding wolf (pant, pant) on her way to join the pack made a good image in this mind. I love that in a minute, she's already domesticated the wolf and is riding it literally bareback on her way to take over the entire pack. Nice feminist twist.
    "The characters can’t escape their myth; the story outlasts its participants."
    How true. We see this in rituals, in which the story (performance) outlasts its own relevance and meaning.
     
  85. Image: Rapunzel twisting slowly, slowly in the wind, hanging by her hair from the castle wall in the moonlight

    Maybe we should start a No Photos forum: verbal images only.

    --Lannie
     
  86. Sound pictures:
    "Wail, wail, wail" set disk wicket woof, "Evanescent Ladle Rat Rotten Hut Wares are putty ladle gull goring wizard ladle basking?"
    "Armor goring tumor groin-murder’s," reprisal ladle gull. "Grammar’s seeking bet. Armor ticking arson burden barter an shirker cockles."
    [later]
    Ladle Rat Rotten Hut entity bet rum, an stud buyer groin-murder's bet.
    "O Grammarl" crater ladle gull historically, "Water bag icer gut! A nervous sausage bag icel"
    "Battered lucky chew whiff, sweat hard," setter bloat-Thursday woof, wetter wicket small honors phase.
    O, Grammar, water bag noisel A nervous sore suture anomalous prognosis!"
    "Battered small your whiff, doling," whiskered dole woof, ants mouse worse waddling.
    "0 Grammar, water bag mouser gutY A nervous sore suture bag mouse!"
    Daze worry on-forger-nut ladle gull's lest warts. Oil offer sodden, caking offer carvers an sprinkling otter bet, disk hoard-hoarded woof lipped own pore Ladle Rat Rotten Hut an garbled erupt.
    MURAL: Yonder nor sorghum stenches shut ladle gulls stopper torque wet strainers.
     
  87. In air wont a tank liver buddy fur alder calm ants hinder angush languish,
    Asp parsley cuss marm hunts to munch window trot alright.
    Sin surely,
    anomalous wicket woof
     
  88. Hi there !
    In another thread they are presently drinking "Moosehead Lagers", what are you up to ?
     
  89. Lay Knee,
    Mayor see! Oh rave war.
     
  90. Day knot uh, Jew lee.
    Just trying to discover and/or create a bit here--not sure which, which leads us back to the original question.
    --Lannie
     
  91. In another thread they are presently drinking "Moosehead Lagers", what are you up to ?​
    Anders, I'm getting high on the anguish languish, thanks to Jew Lee.
    --Lannie
     
  92. Yam on ored tubey a monks grate tall endt
    Ta-ra.
    Betty buys
     
  93. Oh rive war
     
  94. Da mum spay ling Czech her, I meant "oared", not ored!
     
  95. [Taking pity on Anders for whom Anguish is his third language]
    "Anguish Languish" = English Language. For example, the title of this thread, in Angush Languish might be:
    "Him Munching Can Dim Itchy Nation: Our there elated?"
    -- and I might sign my name, "Chew Woolly"
     
  96. A quote from my compatriot Søren Aabye Kierkegaard
    Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.
     
  97. Another Kirkegaard quotation especially for Julie (Keep your name it so much easier to remember)
    “Once you label me, you negate me”
     
  98. Anders, I love it! (the first quotation of your compatriot). A remark completely free of any obfuscation.
     
  99. Anders said: " ... facts ..."
    Shall we discover or create this unlabeled Julie-thing?
    "One must believe that there was someone over there. But where? Not in that overstrained voice, not in that face lined like any well-worn object. Certainly not behind that setup. I know quite well that back there there is only "darkness crammed with organs."... The other, in my eyes, is ... always on the margin of what I see and hear, he is this side of me, he is beside or behind me, but he is not in that place which my look flattens and empties of any "interior.""
    -- Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Prose of the World (1973)​
     
  100. Although it is a singular quote like the one above, and while admitting to virtually no experience of the writings of the Marxist French philosopher, the translated following passages (from Merleau-Ponty, "The Structure of Behaviour") may contain some interest for the photographer:
    "to understand the relations of consciousness and nature: organic, psychological or even social, humans and our world are interconnected: neither causes the other, instead we shape and are shaped by our environment. Furthermore, we have both a natural (predefined) existence and the ability to change that nature via conscious choice."
    And as commented here in a primer on the works of the philosopher (http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist/merleau.shtml)

    "Phenomenology, as proposed by Merleau-Ponty, is concerned primary with physical existence. The human body, and its perceptions, is the way we relate to and understand existence. Merleau-Ponty suggested meaning therefore begins with perception. Because meaning begins with perception, Merleau-Ponty found it necessary to discuss how perception works. Perception starts, according to Merleau-Ponty, with the preconscious moment the external comes into contact with the body. The conscious interpretation of input, as neurologists have affirmed, follows the experience by a significant lapse.
    About the only thing clear in Merleau-Ponty’s view is that nothing can be certain. We struggle to define terms like “self” and “body” which are the very basis for philosophy. If we cannot define “person” without creating a tangled web of relationships, then nothing else can be reduced to an ideal. It would seem the one thing we should know, ourselves, is impossible to know."
     
  101. "How many good photographs have you lately made with words ?"​
    To make images with words, images fading in and fading out by and with them, that's poetry.
     
  102. If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes -- Picasso​
    This very nice (though problematic) quote appears as the caption of a photo on a thread in the "No Words" forum, a thread which combines a photo with a quotation:
    http://www.photo.net/no-words-forum/00XOyD
    --Lannie
     
  103. Just for the sake of "facts", Picasso, and Cezanne, are the great exceptions among the great painters of the 19th and 20th century when it comes to words. Cezanne, mainly because he "was not there" (Paris), but painted alone in the forest and mountains around the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence, and Picasso because he never manage fully to master the language used among the artist around him, French. Apart from those exceptions, the spoken and written language and reflection on the works of art was a central aspect of everything that happened around modern art from the mid 19th century and until at least the second world war. Reflections and putting words on works of art have however another relation to artistic expression since the postmodernist movement started moving. Maybe because the Americans to a certain degree took over!
    As mentioned, earlier in this thread, when we take quotations out of there context, they can be used for supporting any argument.
     
  104. By the way as Landrum rightly refers to the fact that Merleau-Ponty never wrote directly on photography but he surely wrote on art (mainly paintings. See the doubt of Cezanne ("La doute de Cezanne" for example) and not least "perception" as Julie so often has referred to.
     
  105. Last small comment, and I stop for the moment, Merleau-Ponty is the perfect example of a philosopher that turns sociologist and anthropologist in his writings and thereby becomes directly relevant for making us understand not only the artist, but also his subject, reality, the world around us. This is why he so often is mentioned in relationship to the writings of Alfred Schütz, who teaches us to detect social reality by the actions and signs of human behavior in social contexts: the social construction of reality. The two citations of Landrum above are perfect examples of these two dimensions in the work of Merleau-Ponty, the social and the "individual" (perception) in lack of a better word. I clearly get more out of the discourse on the social dimension. My photography is almost only that.
     
  106. "... what is the color of your own skin? The odd thing about skin color is that, in contrast to the ease with which we can name the colors of everything around us, no adequate color term seems to apply to our own skin color.
    " ... Skin color seems qualitatively uncolored. What could be the reason for this? Consider an analogy with taste. What does your own saliva taste like? It does not taste like anything, really. And the same is true for the smell of your nose, of course -- it does not smell like anything.
    " ... the apparent "uncoloriness" of your own skin is just like the lack of perceived taste, smell, or temperature of your own body. Your skin color, like these other senses, has been calibrated to zero by your color perception system, and this lets us more easily see color deviations away from zero, i.e., away from the baseline color. So just as we are designed to taste minute changes from the baseline taste of our own saliva (we can taste only a few molecules of salt), or feel even tiny changes in our baseline temperature, our difficulty in perceiving and categorizing skin color changes away from the baseline.
    "And why might this be useful? Probably because one's skin color can change depending on one's mood or overall state, and being able to sense these moods in others can be a strong advantage. Uncolorful, uncategorizable skin tones are just what we'd expect if color vision were intended for mind-reading through the window of skin."
    -- Mark Changizi, The Vision Revolution (2009)​
     
  107. Anders, it was Arthur, not I, who responded to your remarks on Merleau-Ponty.
    --Lannie
     
  108. Yes I see, sorry to both you and Arthur.
    Anders
     
  109. In photography, the world is not only the medium but also the author of our ideas, whether they're created or discovered by and through the world, us. A photograph may deal not only with the nature of truth but also with the truth of its nature, which can be both imaginative as well as strictly descriptive imaging.
     
  110. U-Li - "Your skin color, like these other senses, has been calibrated to zero by your color perception system, and this lets us more easily see color deviations away from zero, i.e., away from the baseline color."
    I wonder if this is "calibrated", or merely habituated...and in the case of color, it is worse. Unless one is near a neutral background, color is mercurial and affected by neighboring colors & light temps. It is not absolute, but co-dependent and relative.
     
  111. Currently on the off-topic forum, there is an entry on optical illusions, which relates to relative motions and the effect of foveal and peripheral vision on how we perceive them. While photography can suggest but not transmit motion, optical illusions can be created by color and pattern. I wish I could remember the artist, but several hangings in the Albright Knox Museum of Buffalo (seen about 30 years ago) were abstract compositions of lines, forms and complementary colors in close prioximity, which created such optical illusions or tensions in part due to the way the different colors (differing wavelengths of reflected light) interact in our eyes and visual cortex. Such co-dependence and relativity is also seen in the abstract geometrical paintings of the 20th century Hungarian artist, Vasarely (http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-artists/victor-vasarely.htm). I believe that such illusion and relativity may either accept or deny a point of reference.
     
  112. Luis,
    Are 'calibrated' and 'habituated' different in this context? What I was thinking about with that quote was the total absurdity of Lannie's Picasso quote, "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." Setting aside the obvious (those gelatenous marbles don't work by themselves), and going to the way that people seem to want to think that we developed sight in order to let in some light. Add a few holes in the front of our heads and it will be so much brighter in here! When the reality is that vision developed for very specific reasons and is a process conditioned by what/where/who you are. Think about how absurd/meaningless it is to say of taste "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our tongue."
    However, or in spite of that, it's interesting to think about why people might (want to) say (and quote) "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes." It's as if there is something comfortable, natural, usefully informative about "clean" vision. As if any contamination by an "I" makes it suspect. This leads to -- from a purely functional point of view -- the feeling that discovery in the sense of an (impossible) untouched (by the brain) reception is contrasted to creativity which becomes equated with manipulation, deception and trickery.
    Which seems to suggest that the person who quotes "If only we could pull out our brain and use only our eyes" feels that all that you need to know is available on the surface of the (silent, scentless, touchless, timeless) visible world as it is discovered absent any intention by a picture-maker. That there is nothing beyond or behind or unclear or otherwise hidden from view that might be or that needs to be "handled" to be made visible or to be brought into the visible. That there is nothing to be revealed, to be learned from anything other than what is "naturally" exposed to the eyes.
     
  113. Arthur, concerning optical illusions, in the Merleau-Ponty text on "Cezanne's doubt" one find a whole shows on the canvas, or a photographer shows in a photo.
    "He (Cezanne) makes a basic distinction not between "the senses" and "the understanding" but rather between the spontaneous organization of the things we perceive and the human organization of ideas and sciences. We see things; we agree about them; we are anchored in them; and it is with "nature" as our base that we construct our sciences.
    Cezanne wanted to paint this primordial world, and his pictures therefore seem to show nature pure, while photographs of the same landscapes suggest man's works, conveniences, and imminent presence. Cezanne never wished to "paint like a savage." He wanted to put intelligence, ideas, sciences, perspective, and tradition back in touch with the world of nature which they were intended to comprehend. He wished, as he said, to confront the sciences with the nature "from which they came." By remaining faithful to the phenomena in his investigations of perspective, Cezanne discovered what recent psychologists have come to formulate: the lived perspective, that which we actually perceive, is not a geometric or photographic one. The objects we see close at hand appear smaller, those far away seem larger than they do in a photograph. (This is evident in films: an approaching train gets bigger much faster than a real train would under the same circumstances.) To say that a circle seen obliquely is seen as an ellipse is to substitute for our actual perception what we would see if we were cameras: in reality we see a form which oscillates around the ellipse without being an ellipse. In a portrait of Mme Cezanne, the border of the wallpaper on one side of her body does not form a straight line with that on the other: and indeed
    t is known that if a line passes beneath a wide strip of paper, the two visible segments appear dislocated. Gustave Geffroy's table stretches into the bottom of the picture, and indeed, when our eye runs over a large surface, the images it successively receives are taken from different points of view, and the whole surface is warped. It is true that I freeze these distortions in repainting them on the canvas; I stop the spontaneous movement in which they pile up in perception and tend toward the geometric perspective. This is also what happens with colors. ....
     
  114. "whole paragraph that"...shows !!!! (to understand what I tried to write above.
    One could continue on the question of "interpretation" of the artist with this paragraph below, again from the same small text of Merleau-Ponty on Cezanne:
    We live in the midst of man-made objects, among tools, in houses, streets, cities, and most of the time we see them only through the human actions which put them to use. We become used to thinking that all of this exists necessarily and unshakably. Cezanne's painting suspends these habits of thought and reveals the base of inhuman nature upon which man has installed himself. This is why Cezanne's people are strange, as if viewed by a creature of another species. Nature itself is stripped of the attributes which make it ready for animistic communions: there is no wind in the landscape, no movement on the Lac d'Annecy; the frozen objects hesitate as at the beginning of the world. It is an unfamiliar world in which one is uncomfortable and which forbids all human effusiveness. If one looks at the work of other painters after seeing
    Cezanne's paintings, one feels somehow relaxed, just as conversations resumed after a period of mourning mask the absolute change and restore to the survivors their solidity. But indeed only a human being is capable of such a vision, which penetrates right to the root of things beneath the imposed order of humanity.​
     
  115. Julie - "Are 'calibrated' and 'habituated' different in this context?"
    To me, the difference is significant, because calibration would mean there is a standard or index against which all is compared, and habituation means no such standard, no additional mechanism, just an extinguished response. One that can shift as our skins tan or wrinkle, because if you have a standard, if it is not frozen, then it will need a way of changing. Desensitization is a very familiar issue for most humans. But in the context that you follow with, no, not that much difference.
    I read Arthur's quote and thoughts as a kind of reductionist, fundamentalist longing, a turn towards (over)simplification. (I can hear Occam's Razor being stropped as I type this)
    Arthur's thought is not an unusual thought on this forum. There are images made just through the eyes of deceased animals, and they are nothing like what we see, let alone some kind of purified vision.
     
  116. I meant to add animals "and humans" above. And, no, I would not expect the eyes of the deceased to be the equal of those of the living.
    I think Julie pegged it with: "As if any contamination by an "I" makes it suspect. This leads to -- from a purely functional point of view -- the feeling that discovery in the sense of an (impossible) untouched (by the brain) reception is contrasted to creativity which becomes equated with manipulation, deception and trickery."
     
  117. Luis if this is the case , then according to the quotation of Cezanne made by Merleau-Ponty above, discovery related to painters would equal "painting like a fool" (not "savage" as written in the English text above) and the work of art of an artist (read photographer) would always be creativity. Sounds reasonable to me.
    Cogito, ergo sum (Descartes)
     
  118. Luis,
    Don't you think there might not be a significant distinction between "simplification" (in the researcher's and often artist's sense of "a separation of garbage (the unnecassary) and things of value") and "over-simplification" (whatever that sometimes subjective judgement may signify). The simplification of a multitude of apparent relationships apparent in a vast amount of data, including that found in much written and visual information is often the required path to a much simpler and more meaningful relationship between all the data (also the Einstein objective).
    From a Wikipedia chapter: "(The) sense that Occam's razor is usually understood. Simplest is not defined by the time or number of words it takes to express the theory; "[simplest] is really referring to the theory with the fewest new assumptions."
    I might add to the concept of simplist in regard to theories by adding to that "and the fewest irrelevant suppositions or information".
    You do have me puzzled about your statement:
    "There are images made just through the eyes of deceased animals, and they are nothing like what we see, let alone some kind of purified vision."
    Y
    ou may be taking this from a quote. Would you care to clarify it, or the source? Thanks.
     
  119. Seeing with the eye or with the I are two ways of looking at ( and through ) one thing. Either way, the camera doesn't care.
     
  120. Anders, Descartes's original statement was "Je pense, donc je suis," and meant for a larger audience than his Latin speaking colleagues (He translated the expression to Latin later on). Being (I am) is not very fruitful for a human, without the thinking aspect. Of course, the mere fact of thinking does allow reasonable proof for "I am".
    Phylo is right that the camera doesn't care, as for the case of the painter's brush. How much art can be created without thought of one sort or another? "Discovery is not like a camera", it is hardly a thoughtless event ("I chose to look in that direction"...etc.).
     
  121. Arthur, you are right but I thought that I had already uploaded enough i French and that a change would clean the air. The latin version is so frequently used, so why not?
     
  122. AP - "Don't you think there might not be a significant distinction between "simplification" (in the researcher's and often artist's sense of "a separation of garbage (the unnecassary) and things of value") and "over-simplification" (whatever that sometimes subjective judgement may signify).
    I understand the value of simplification. Shedding everything from the optic nerve back seems like an over-simplification to me.
    AP "From a Wikipedia chapter: "(The) sense that Occam's razor is usually understood. Simplest is not defined by the time or number of words it takes to express the theory; "[simplest] is really referring to the theory with the fewest new assumptions."
    I have no idea why you included the above, as I never said, or thought, anything resembling it. I anticipated someone would invoke Occam (and Descartes). There are many kinds of simplification. One consistent kind of simplification is to leave out smaller, more numerous phenomena, and focus on epiphenomena. This kind of simplification makes it possible to study many things on an economical basis, money-and-time-wise, but sometimes it proves to be an oversimplification. For example, for decades what the individual neurons were doing was let go for many reasons, not the least being their numbers, and that they're assumed to be parts of information loops. Recently, an experiment revealed that in one neuron a subject had the capacity to identify one particular human face. This possibility had been overlooked, and discovered by accident. I'm not saying that this is the case with every instance, but that it does happen.
    AP - "You do have me puzzled about your statement:
    "There are images made just through the eyes of deceased animals, and they are nothing like what we see, let alone some kind of purified vision."
    You may be taking this from a quote. Would you care to clarify it, or the source? Thanks."
    No. If I had, I would have quoted it. I do not plagiarize. Remember, I'm the guy that used to get accused for quoting too much. The above is mine. There were experiments done concerning taking photographs through the eyes of recently executed men (and animals) for an unrelated idea, that of capturing the latent last image on the retina (used in fictional literature many times).
    Of course, we're dealing with at least two things here, one the processing part, and the other being the endemically rewired synapses due to our visual history, genes turning on and off, memory, etc, that determines what we can see. I believe Arthur is referring to the latter.
    What I was referring to, which is a sideboeard to this discussion, are optograms and pictures taken through the eyes of deceased humans and animals.
    http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F60B13FB395B137B93C1A8178ED85F438784F9
    http://www.slashseconds.org/issues/002/004/articles/dogbourne/index.php
    http://www.college-optometrists.org/filemanager/root/site_assets/museum/eyes/Untitled789.jpg
     
  123. Luis,
    I appreciate your clarifications and neuroscience information.
    "Of course, we're dealing with at least two things here, one the processing part, and the other being the endemically rewired synapses due to our visual history, genes turning on and off, memory, etc, that determines what we can see. I believe Arthur is referring to the latter."
    I was perhaps referrinbg to the latter in regard to the optical illusions and Op Art, but not entirely in regard to imaging and imagination. Discovery is not like a camera or painter's brush, it is hardly a thoughtless event. I believe that process is involved in art (photography) creation, with imaginatiion being a major part of it. I guess if that correlates with the "I" in a photographic approach, then imagination is as important as discovery, often more so, and it can also be a part of the latter.
     

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