In the end the appreciation of photography is completely subjective

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by lar, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. As is the qualification and appreciation of art.<br>
    This does not mean that there can be some sort of "collectivisation" of subjectivity, i.e.: when an individual appreciation is shared by
    many different people, also many of them, masses.<br>
    But it remains subjective.<br>
    I think that Barthes is right when he says that photography, in the end, is unclassifiable. Of course, each of us can develop their own
    classification.<br>
    But the "universalisation" is on the one hand based on subjectivity, and on the other "democratic" in some way.<br>
    Recalling Barthes again, a photograph can never be separated from what it represents. And the perception of the represented object is
    subjective, even if "collectivised".<br>
    Of course there can be opinion leaders, trend-setters, who are recognised and capable, and who will bring forward their subjective
    judgment and give it a collective value. But still subjective.<br>
     
  2. So...what's your question?
     
  3. Noooo....really?
     
  4. This is true of essentially all forms of expression and communication, and seems a forgone conclusion, really. Well, sort of.

    I wouldn't say that it's completely subjective, in that it's possible to produce output using photographic processes, but to deliberately have that output be so lacking in information content that it defies parsing other than as a deliberate stick-in-the-eye aimed at people who try to categorize things. In which case it's more a bit of performance art than a photograph, per se. Say, a solid white or solid black print, purposefully unable to communicate anything via image, but instead to communicate through the artist's willingness to be impenetrable.

    But such theatrics live around the fringes of all arts, and don't really bear on the discussion as most people would have it. Otherwise, this is like discussing opera, and expecting someone who only understands and has seen Wagner to comment intelligently on classical Chinese opera. It's pointless without context, a shared vocabulary and cultural familiarity. Photography is a process of communication and it's just as silly to imply that appreciation of it can be objective as it is to say that about "writing."
     
  5. The attention always seems to go to "subjective" whereas I'm thinking (at least in the last five minutes) that "objective" might be more interesting to consider. It seems to me (given five minutes of consideration) that there are (at least) three ways that one can conceptualize "objective" relative to photography:
    1) The photograph has a truth independent of me that I can get from it.
    2) The photograph has a truth independent of me that I cannot get from it because my subjective perspective interferes.
    3) The photograph does not have any truth independent of me.
    a. And/or there is no such thing as "truth" therefore objective/subjective means ... what, again? Okay ... so we won't call it "truth," just call it Bob. Bob is there in the picture. *Something is there, for Pete's sake!
    [Luca, sorry for bringing the T word into the discussion, but if you pull up the objective/subjective carrot, there it is! I can show it to you in a photograph!]
     
  6. I think what Julie has alluded to is the fact that, of all the art forms, photography is the one which is subjective when intended as art, or objective (hopefully) when intended as evidence, such as forensics and photojournalism. These are fields where Julie's three "T"s apply. This is not to say that the objective intent can't be corrupted, or that individual subjectivity never comes into play when viewing those photos (just ask a lawyer.) But, photography as art is totally subjective, always has been, always will be, always should be.
    The lines between them sometimes blur. Some photos intended as documentary work have such a resonance that they become a kind of transitional art. Dorothea Lange's "Migrant Mother" and Joe Rosenthal's Iwo Jima flag raising photo come to mind.
    Anyway, as one line of an old Irish folk song says,
    Truth is a fix-ed star...
     
  7. Luca, what does "subjective" mean to you and how does it supposedly exclude what you think is "objective"?
     
  8. Luis
    In summer 2010 we had a long discussion here on what makes "good" photos.
    No response or conclusion really.
    When one ventures into photo critique, it often happens to be rebuffed.
    Rules do not help.
    This is a sort of conclusion drawn.
    The implicit question is: "what do you think?".
     
  9. Leslie,
    So you seem to agree!
     
  10. What I think is that the fact that opinions vary about a whole world of things has nothing to do with there being such a thing as subjectivity. Opinions are formed not in some sort of homonculus-like inner self, like the insulated bag in your vacuum cleaner. They are culturally-influenced, genetically-influenced, experientially influenced. You are NOT alone. Surely, we all have opinions which vary. Just as surely, that doesn't create a subjective-objective distinction.
    _________________________________
    Additionally, I consider that, while opinions and judgments may vary, there may be less variation in terms of a certain aspect of our responses to photos. It's often what we DO with and how we FEEL about those responses that vary, while I often think the responses themselves are much more similar among folk, who don't notice that because they get caught up in their "unique" and "subjective" feelings.
    We see a cross, we all know what a cross is and it's hard for a cross not to be tinged with its religious connotations. Then we move to the level of having been molested by one of those darned priests and our ultimate feeling about the cross starts to individualize. But we are not unmoved by our already-formed thoughts/biases/prejudices about the Catholic church, which we likely share with a whole lot of other people.
     
  11. Matt
    purposefully unable to communicate anything via image, but instead to communicate through the artist's willingness to be impenetrable.
    What would be objective in this case?
     
  12. Julie
    I'm ok with truth.
    But what is truth in photography? How do we know it is truth? How many truths are there in photography? Can't everybody find their own truth in photography?
     
  13. William,
    So we too are in agreement.
     
  14. I like to browse around old photos sometimes at a thrift shop. I will pay a quarter for a good one. Basically I just like it or I do not kind of thing.
     
  15. Fred
    Subjectivity.
    I've been considering this aspect extensively. I was advised to read Barthes' Camera Lucida and some of my unstructured ideas I found there.
    We also discussed it at length in this forum in summer 2010.
    The individual's perception and the relationship with the image, which is unseparable from what it shows us, seems to be always the main driving point of the image's appreciation.
    Be it through studium elaborating knowledge, sensations and feelings, without an emotional entanglement, or through punctum, the emotional "sting".
    It seems to me that according to this, any photo can be appreciated or not appreciated starting from the individual and subjective factors which inform the studium or the punctum.

    Of course
    Opinions are formed not in some sort of homonculus-like inner self, like the insulated bag in your vacuum cleaner. They are culturally-influenced, genetically-influenced, experientially influenced,
    But still the viewer's "self" is both the driver an the connector of all these influences and thus informs the way they are "structured" and build the relationship with a photograph.
    The subjective drivers and connectors in the end can expel any objectivity.
    This does not mean that different subjective perceptions and appreciation of photography cannot converge, or be based on common denominators, thus creating a "shared" subjectivity.
    Which is not objectivity, though.
    __________________________
    This also applies to your example of the cross, where a subjective and condemnable personal experience determines the appreciation of a symbol which, distilled, is a symbol of love. But let's stick to photographs, ok?
     
  16. I was talking about photographs of crosses, so I was sticking to them.
    The "self" is overrated. Just the other day, I had a great shoot with someone I've photographed before. I got very annoyed with the person's bossiness and unwillingness to compromise and share the experience, almost to the point where I wanted to call off the shoot. I muddled through. I came away with some of the best results from one shoot, about a dozen out of a hundred images that I consider will go into my portfolio eventually. I think it's because I got "outside" my "self."
    One of the characteristics of art I appreciate the most is transcendence, which includes of me. When I am NOT the driver, I am often much better off. Think of Muses in this context.
     
  17. The "self" might be overrated, but still it comes through each and every time.<br>
    From observation I still believe that it is a key determinant in appreciating a photo, if not the only one.
     
  18. I just disagree. No biggie.
     
  19. 4. The photograph is a tutti-frutti truth like a massive multi-layerd, multi-flavored, multi-frosted Birthday cake -- which, upon being viewed, renders unto/into each of us, one slice (maybe I'll have two).
     
  20. Yes, but not all subjectivities are equally well informed by objective facts like that it is a fact that this photo is good or this one is bad.
     
  21. Appreciation of art at the individual level is purely subjective. That explains the Elvis on black velvet paintings.

    An historical and academic appreciation of art is more complex.
     
  22. Elvis on black velvet paintings is not art. It's kitsch.
    ______________________
    Now there will inevitably be some who disagree with me and think Elvis on black velvet painting is art. Some will think it's good art and some will think it's bad art. None of that makes it subjective.
    Disagreement of parties doesn't make what they're disagreeing about subjective.
    Scientists disagree all the time. Doesn't make science subjective.
     
  23. Luca - "In summer 2010 we had a long discussion here on what makes "good" photos.
    No response or conclusion really."
    As I recall, we had quite a few responses, and thankfully no conclusions. The moment we have a list of what makes a "good photo" those things will become goalposts and photographty a mere game. That's leaving art out of the equation.

    Luca - " When one ventures into photo critique, it often happens to be rebuffed."
    Ain't it grand?

    Luca - "The implicit question is: "what do you think?".
    Purely subjective? Only in the minds of those who are inexperienced in the arts. Nor purely objective. I would put it as a kind of informed subjectivity, and we are all not equally informed, experienced, observant nor intelligent.
    _______________________________________
    Fred G - "The "self" is overrated."
    Amen to that. And to the "unique" and precious crap.
    Luca, I also disagree with you that it is the only determinant.
    [BTW, with uncooperative subjects, I let them have the reins and direct until they spin themselves out. Once there's gaps of silence between their directions, I step in. By that time, they're a lot more tired and docile.]
    _______________________________________
    Luca - " Can't everybody find their own truth in photography?"
    As long as you stay incommunicado. Truth extending beyond yourself is an agreement.
    _______________________________________
    Luca - "to communicate through the artist's willingness to be impenetrable."
    There are artists that are transparent. Many viewers, I would say the vast majority are visual illiterates, thus unable to see much in the art itself, thus they assume the art/artist is impenetrable.
    _________________________________________________________-
     
  24. 'The individual's perception and the relationship with the image, which is unseparable from what it shows us, seems to be always the main driving point of the image's appreciation."

     
    I would agree up to a point however an image has life of its own and can be read in many different ways. A photograph is not a factual statement but a personal Interpretation of what the photographer may think they are seeing and communicating.
    So, in that way a image is always subjective to the viewer and indeed the photographer on reflection can also see it in a different perpectives. The real beauty of photography is the fluidity of its nature which is difficult to grasp and define with mere words as it has own defined comminication skills.
     
  25. A photograph is not a factual statement but a personal Interpretation of what the photographer may think they are seeing and communicating.​
    I agree with a photograph not usually being a factual statement. Some documentary work, forensic work, catalog work, etc. is at least as factual if not more factual than a statement could ever be.
    I don't view photographs necessarily to personally interpret what the photographer may think they are seeing and communicating. (Yes, I do this sometimes.) I view photographs more because I want to see what has been shown, in all its aspects. The photo is usually more important to me than my projections about the photographer.
    When looked at from the view of the photographer, which is what Allen may have been thinking, rather than viewer, I don't see my own photos as interpretations of what I think I'm seeing and communicating. I see them as expressions and as displays. They are not what I think I'm seeing and communicating, they are what I am seeing and communicating. I will sometimes interpret, though I generally tend to leave that to others. Interpreting is different from analyzing or assessing or critiquing, which I tend to do more of.
     
  26. "That explains the Elvis on black velvet paintings. "

    Sorry, but nothing explains that. But, that's just me, being subjective... ;-)
     
  27. 'I view photographs more because I want to see what has been shown, in all its aspects. The photo is usually more important to me than my projections"
    I would agee to the last part of your thought,however, you are not aimlessly clicking the shutter you are communicating what you are seeing to both yourself and the viewer The numerous variables on taking the photo distinctly put your personal stamp on it.
     
  28. you are not aimlessly clicking the shutter you are communicating​
    I didn't suggest I was aimlessly clicking the shutter and I am most certainly communicating, yes.
     
  29. you are communicating what you are seeing to both yourself and the viewer​
    No, I'm not. I respect the fact that you may be. When I'm photographing I'm putting my energy toward my subject, may be communicating with my subject and may be in touch with creating a communication with an unknown eventual viewer. The more in tune with what I'm doing I am, the less I would be communicating to or with my "self." I may be thinking, analyzing, considering, or more fluidly in the moment. But I am rarely in a self dialogue. That's because self dialogue, for me, usually winds up in some sort of guilt, shame, or second-guessing. I'd rather be photographing.
     
  30. "That's because self dialogue, for me, usually winds up in some sort of guilt, shame, or second-guessing. I'd rather be photographing."
    I don't understand the guilt.
    As the photographer you are putting your personal take on the photographs...there is no escaping that simple fact. It seems to me you are are trying to remove youself, going to a different place,;but that is not true. It is Fred with the cam, Fred is communicating with his subject, and it is Fred taking the photo with his own personal take.
    That is how I see it; perhaps I'n not understanding.. if so what what part of the picture is mssing for me?
     
  31. I don't understand the guilt.​
    You don't have to. It's my guilt.
     
  32. It seems to me you are are trying to remove youself​
    Never. I'm just not having a dialogue with myself about it and I think my photos are more (for viewers) than their interpretations of what I may be thinking or feeling. I hope my photos speak for themselves. They come from me, they don't necessarily speak for me. If a viewer is too worried about me, my motivations, what I'm trying to do (other than making a picture) he might miss what's in front of him, which is a photo. The way I see it, I serve the photo. My photo doesn't serve me.
     
  33. " he might miss what's in front of him, which is a photo."
    I agree with you. But it is still all abou the influence of Fred and what he is seeing.
    Back to the original post.
    A photograph is not always subjective, some are easily understood by all...
    00aDBw-454373584.jpg
     
  34. it is still all about . . .​
    I find it's rarely all about one thing or another. I try to avoid absolutes. They're fool's gold. The stuff of wars, religion . . . and Plato, whom I both admire and deplore.
    Photography is way too multi-faceted and fascinating for it to be all about anything.
     
  35. "Photography is way too multi-faceted and fascinating for it to be all about anything."
    Again, i agree with you Fred. But you cannot remove the photographer from the equation.
    That is all i'm really saying.
     
  36. Platos wife he called a crocodile.
    Must have motivated him to escape the jaws and explore other things.
     
  37. But you cannot remove the photographer from the equation.​
    I haven't been trying to. Please re-read carefully and thoughtfully.
     
  38. Coincidentally, I went to the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) Photography Show today. It's in the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan - last day is tomorrow if you're in the neighborhood. Good show - there were about 75 galleries from around the world showing their clients photos. B/W color, Ilfachromes, C prints, other stuff as well. This is the first time I've been to such a show. I strongly recommend you go to a few galleries where you live to see what others did and are doing. Some of my impressions as I walked around:
    1. Big is better. Many of the pictures I've seen on the web and in books and magazines, are ho hum. Pictures get a lot better when you see them bigger. Even bad ones or those that appear uninspired when smaller.
    2. There's no accounting, by me anyway, for price. I saw two Ansel Adams Moonrise over Hernandez, same size. One dealer wanted $65K the other for the same shot in his gallery $165K. I was standing next to a guy looking at the one for $165K who was complaining he paid $250K for his. ???? One thing about Ansel. He's not afraid of black blacks. Details aren't so important necessarily. Many other photographer's prints went for $20K to 40K and in the 5K to 10K range. Guys like Kertesz, Bresson, Adams, Avedon of course command the most money, but there are very good prints by people I never heard of.
    3. Names sell. Many of the pictures I saw were nothing special but the had name recognition, if not to me, at least to those collecting and selling.
    4. Steve McCurry's Afgan Girl looks amazing in 20x24". It's great to get up real close to it eye ball to eye ball.
    5. Shoot what you like. Don't feel you're not doing well enough. Print large, get a good rep, die and you will be famous too.
     
  39. 'You don't have to. It's my guilt."
    But it gives an interesting perspective to our discussion. However, if it is personal I will walk.
    "I haven't been trying to. Please re-read carefully and thoughtfully."
    Hmm, if you say so.Why do i get that feeling i've just been told off. Perhaps because I have.;)
    Anyway, time for other folks... i think we reached the end of our chat.
    Be happy Fred, and God bless.
     
  40. Sage advice from Alan Klein - " Print large, get a good rep, die and you will be famous too."



    Obviously, Alan picked up heavy insights while at AIPAD. Why does another thread come to mind?
    "Money for nothing, chicks for free..."
     
  41. Or, I use the word appreciation when I am being objective about the merits of a particular photograph that is not in accord with my own subjective taste.
     
  42. Luis
    The long discussion in summer 2010 provided anwers in the sense of statements and opinions, but non which could really help discerning a good photo.

    What I mean with "rebuffed" is that often diverse opinions do not develop into an articulate discussion. It's not aiming at homologating or "the unique opinion", but rather at open reasoning.

    The concept of informed subjectivity is pretty much what I was replying to Fred. However I still believe that the individual, subjective perception of the photograph is still prevailing when it comes to it's appreciation.
    I see a photograph, it causes the most diverse emotional, rational, reaction in each individual viewer.
    The type and the direction of this reaction depends on the viewer. Of course not only on the viewer as an individual, but the viewer as the bearer of a "bag" of experience, relations, wounds, thoughts, which influences how the photograph is seen and which reaction(s) it causes.
    What I am determines what I see and how I see it. Call it "self", call it subjectivity, or whatever you like, but you will have to accept it at least as an empirically ascertained fact that, when a photograph is viewed the "I" is always central.
    Reactions to photos always incorporate "me", "I"' my opinion. Subjectivity prevails.

    Luis, can you bring an example of a photo which speaks an universal truth? A truth which does not depend on relations, but simply is there recognised and acknowledged? Where nobody can say "that's nothing for me".
     
  43. but you will have to accept it at least as an empirically ascertained fact that, when a photograph is viewed the "I" is always central.
    Reactions to photos always incorporate "me", "I"' my opinion. Subjectivity prevails.​
    Luca, this is your world view and you are welcome to it and I am glad to hear it. But you are absolutely wrong when you say "you will have to accept it at least as an empirically ascertained fact . . . " I don't and I don't have to. Call it self, call it subjectivity, or whatever you like, I see it more as a dependency and mythology than I do as any kind of ascertained fact!
     
  44. Fred
    Fine.
    But where are these objective elements, which are these objective elements?
    I've been looking for them, asking for them for very, very long time.
     
  45. Luca, I don't know. I don't see the world in terms of a subjective/objective dichotomy so it's not a framework I care to engage, especially when it comes to art. I tend to take a much more holistic, more cultural, more context-driven, more fluid approach.
    I'm not looking for objective elements. I'm looking for challenging photos and challenging situations which will yield photos I want to create, look at, and share. I'm looking for new insights. I'm looking for release.
    I'm not looking for a shopping list or a laundry list.
    I don't want to make photos that are like being poured into molds that have been pre-defined "objectively" as good or bad. I want to have a say in making the mold, while also being aware of the many molds that have come before me and influenced me.
    Luis has mentioned this before. There may be limited rewards in discussing art, good photographs, bad photographs, photographs I like, what makes a this and what makes a that. There may be greater rewards in discussing specific photographs or photographers, what we see, how they look, how they work, even our own. The more generically and universally we draw these discussions, the easier it is to lose sight of the tasks in front of us.
     
  46. What I am determines what I see and how I see it.​
    As does what you are not, as does what we all have in common.
     
  47. Fred
    Fine!
    Luis is absolutely right there
    Purely subjective? Only in the minds of those who are inexperienced in the arts. Nor purely objective. I would put it as a kind of informed subjectivity, and we are all not equally informed, experienced, observant nor intelligent.​
    this concept of informed subjectivity is what I was actually thinking of.
    It's ok with me to move on and develop this informed subjectivity which also includes a shade of doubt. in fact it's the complete absence of doubt about our points of view - our informed subjectivity - which really disconcerts me.
    And like-minded people can support the development of their shared informed subjectivity and so support the growth of their photographic communication capabilities.
     
  48. Who are you? Are you your beliefs? Are you your emotions? Are you your skills? I would say no. Is your thruth in a given moment in time the summary of your beliefs, your emotions and your skills? I would say yes. Until it is not. I believe that the photo will be a reflection of the photographers thruth as it was at the moment of exposure. I believe that how the photo is perceived by the viewer is a reflection of the viewers thruth at the moment of watching the photo. A photo can be watched again and again, and the same viewer might perceive the photo differently each time, since the personal thruth is not a constant, it is in constant change.

    About guilt. As I see it, guilt will do no one any good. It will only keep you from living a full life in the now. One can make a conscious choice and forgive one self. Jump in there, watch it, release it, patch yourself on the back because you did the best you could at that point in time. You also know that your thruth is different today. Hopefully your thruth today will guide you in a better way and lead you in a better direction than it did back then. Anyways, it is time to patch yourself on the shoulder! Yes it is!
     
  49. Luca, I just arrived at this post. No less than 47 responses in 1 day suggests that this age old and essentially irresolvable* subject is very appealing to most, like that of an equally essentially irresolvable* question (in terms of a single answer) of "what is art?" The responses have been previously rehearsed and enunciated by many of us in many cases (I know mine are) and in regard to past considerations. Have any answers here shed a new light on this subject?
    If one posts instead a question or remark about something specific to the approach or philosophy of making photographs, or the photographer's raison d’être or challenges, or regarding the compositional or emotional content of a type of photography, and it would be amazing to see as many as ten responses in that short period. I think you realised beforehand the reactions that your question would provoke, which probably will be the same that occurred two years ago or that will occur two years forward.
    What is the right or nearly true answer to your question? There is probably no perfect answer, except that the parameters of subjectivity, and also of a certain informed objectivity, are part of it. So all I would add here is that it is not completely subjective, just as the evaluation of music compositions or works of literature do not display some completely random and/or completely subjective result.
    * Meaning the lack of a response acceptable to most, including neophytes through to the highly informed
     
  50. The guilt discussion (which I suppose I stimulated) gives me some ideas about viewers.
    I tend to be a fix-it kind of guy when it comes to emotions. When friends tell me of their woes, my first instinct is to try and help them fix it. As I age, I'm coming to realize that sometimes acknowledgment, empathy, acceptance, and a good ear can be a good companion or alternative to a proactive kind of fix it response. Bad feelings sometimes must play their course. Art can be a catharsis for that. I'm OK dealing with the negative aspects of life and don't need to be constantly running away from or moving beyond them. Guilt, after all, is part of a Jewish mother's love, a cherished love! :)
    This is part of the reason I dislike the notion of the completely subjective viewer. It's not all about the viewer. I, as a viewer, do well to get beyond my own needs, desires, prejudices, tastes and learn over time to accept the photographer's vision as one outside myself, as one that I don't have to put my individual mark on. What if I can soak it in without so drastically imbuing it with my own stuff? What if I maintain some degree of so-called objectivity? Acceptance. I believe I have to. And I believe we all have to, because as I said above I don't think we get to separate subjectivity and objectivity. But even if you believe in some sort of important role for a distinct subjectivity, I might consider letting it go for a spell when looking at others' photos. That might make a different sort of connection . . . bond. Just like with friends and lovers. They don't always need your advice. Sometimes they just want you to be there for them.
    Be there for the photo.
     
  51. No, they don't need advise. They need someone to listen to them and show a little support. A little bit of humour can also be of help. If they need specific advice they will ask for it.

    The personal truth is in a way both subjective and objective. The more knowledge you have about a topic the less subjective you might be. But it depends on whether you are buying the things you learn about the topic or not. If it is not your truth, then it is not your truth. To pretend that the truth of others are your truth will just make you lose track of who you are.

    The guilt will stop when it is not your truth any more. It can still be your mother's truth though.
     
  52. No, they don't need advise. . . . The guilt will stop when it is not your truth any more. It can still be your mother's truth though.​
    Thanks for the . . . ahem . . . advice . . . but . . .
    I don't want it to stop. I understand you may.
     
  53. I suspected that. That is okey, it will serve it's purpose, until it don't.
     
  54. Luca - "Luis, can you bring an example of a photo which speaks an universal truth? A truth which does not depend on relations, but simply is there recognised and acknowledged? Where nobody can say "that's nothing for me"."
    Luca, I think you are laboring under some misunderstandings that keep you occupied with thankless, unrewarding errands. You want the truth of accountants and non-theorists in the sciences. Probably the most common, somewhat universal truth in photographs is some kind of affirmation of life. It can be found in most family albums and many photographs at all levels of photography. How that helps is beyond me, because it seems too obvious, as meaningful as the aether.
    _____________________________________________________________
    Guilt, in spite of all the negative associations, is just one more form of psychic energy. A savvy artist that can tap into that can use that energy source to great advantage. Just last night I was talking with a South American rapper. When he was thirteen and walking home from the market with his mom, where they both worked, he cutting ice, on payday, a man held them up. His mother resisted, screaming that they would starve without the money. The robber punched her in the face, pushed her to the floor, and began kicking her. The boy, panicked and desperate at seeing his mother about to be killed, pulled out one of his ice picks and stabbed the man repeatedly until he died. He told me "I had become a killer, but not a murderer". He was thrown in prison for seven years until the local bishop interceded. He told me he used the considerable guilt he felt about taking the man's life in his art, "and I used it up until it was gone". Guilt has its asset aspects. It's all on how you look at it.
     
  55. A wise man. That somehow made it through the prison years without loosing his soul.
     
  56. Luis,
    I would like to recall that this is a philosophy forum and thus includes speculation.
    To reassure you, I am not labouring. As you started off
    So...what's your question?​
    you know that this is not really a question and that there is no clear-cut answer to it, as there was no answer in the 2010 thread. Many answers, but no "answer" to the question.
    A bit more careful reading of my posts (like the one about doubt in response to Fred on April 1st at 1:34pm) could help, and also avoid mis-quotation of statements: this one
    "to communicate through the artist's willingness to be impenetrable."​
    is by Matt Laur, not by me.
    I am not looking for truth, nor for "accountant's rules" to look at photographs, because I know that there aren't any. Photography is life and as such there is no universally accepted truth about life.
    Otherwise philosophy would not exist.
    I am surprised of certain things
    1. if this topic were without sense, why are so many people considering it?
    2. why are there so firm opinions on the existence or non-existence of truth? When I read certain posts I have the feeling that the adjective "nuanced" is temporarily forgotten.
    3. mentioning "universal truth" did not mean a quest for a universal truth. It was just a counter-factual attempt to investigate the subjectivity matter.
    __________________________________________
    My consideration on subjectivity is related to empirical observation of viewers (or photographers) when considering photographic works. To say it clearly, of course I do know that the path between pure subjectivity and universal truth is extremely nuanced.
    What struck me and still strikes me is seeing that there are a lot of viewers who de facto seem to completely ignore the aspect of nuancing.
    I am not surprised of "rebuffed criticisms" per se but by the fact that positions and statements heard and read everywhere tend to be formulated in an extreme and absolute fashion. Opinions seem most of the times be finite and definitive.
     
  57. Fred,
    This is part of the reason I dislike the notion of the completely subjective viewer. It's not all about the viewer. I, as a viewer, do well to get beyond my own needs, desires, prejudices, tastes and learn over time to accept the photographer's vision as one outside myself, as one that I don't have to put my individual mark on. What if I can soak it in without so drastically imbuing it with my own stuff? What if I maintain some degree of so-called objectivity? Acceptance.​
    It seems to me we have still an issue with the term "subjectivity".
    I did not mean that in photography all starts and ends with the self and is limited to the subjective. By no means.
    To that end, Luis' notion of informed subjectivity is extremely to the point.
    It embeds two elements: the self as a driving force of the relation with a photograph and the internal push to share one's subjectivity and to increase it's content of information. It's what I previously called doubt, or drive towards sharing, towards obtaining more information, towards discussing what seems to be consolidated.
    In brief, I would confirm the start from the individual sphere and then breaking out, also if this means returning to the initial position. The important thing is to challenge it.
    I think this is what you refer to when you mention the homunculus-like inner self.
    However, looking around, it seems that often the homunculus-attitude often sadly prevails.
     
  58. Arthur,
    What is the right or nearly true answer to your question?
    I hope my answer to Fred somehow sheds light on this.
    We can further elaborate on it, though.
     
  59. the self as a driving force of the relation with a photograph and the internal push to share one's subjectivity and to increase it's content of information​
    I get what you're saying. I'm saying something different. I'm asking, "What if you could let the photo be the driving force?"
     
  60. What if you could let the photo be the driving force?​
    But this is the foundation, the root, the starting point. We (I) always start from the photograph, otherwise we would be talking about something completely different.
    What I mean is the the self reacts and develops a relationship with the photo, which I see as the primal driving force. From there all possible extensions.
     
  61. What's the actual point? You've now rejected your original statement that it's completely subjective and I don't really know what you're driving at. You seem to be saying it's subjective except it's not. You say the self is the driving force and then you say, of course it's not, we start with the photo. You've lost me.
     
  62. Is it now a relationship between self and photo that is the primal driving force? What is a primal driving force anyway? Do you get to go back to some beginning, before you were influenced by your culture and genetics? What's primal about this? My experience of photos starts from the here and now, includes history, mine and others, and moves toward a future.
    Does the subject of a photo play a role or just the photo itself? Do the referents in the photo play a role? The context in which you find the photo? Whether it's in a book or on a museum wall? Whether it's framed and hung or someone hands it to you to look at? On a monitor?
    What about the photographer? Where does he or she come in? Current trends in photography? Where do they fit into the primal relationship between self and photo?
     
  63. Luca - Perhaps I misunderstood you, but your OP was a statement that looked like it left little to nuance, speculation, and seemed set. I wondered what it was about. Sorry about the misquote from Matt.
    Here, there's a tremendous emphasis placed on defining what art is, while the frisson from that quest produces just enough smoke to neutralize the enterprise. I am most interested in the doing, the dynamics, intercourse and interactions involved.
    I leave the big, spectacular questions, things like the ultimate, primal and essential, to the deep thinkers of PN.
    My preferred philosophy is at ground level, with the beautifully imperfect, gooey, smelly, hairy, hazy, morphing things that make us human. I believe there's a lot to be learned, even about the big questions, from individual work.
    People aren't one of two things. They're thinking, acting, and photographing at many levels -- simultaneously. It is a very complex space.
     
  64. What's the actual point? You've now rejected your original statement that it's completely subjective and I don't really know what you're driving at.​
    Not really.
    The self comes out in relation to a photo, that's what I'm talking about.
    The photo is there, not separable from what it shows. It is always - since we are talking about photographs - the driving factor.
    As I wrote before (Mar 31, 2012; 12:51 p.m.)
    Opinions are formed not in some sort of homonculus-like inner self, like the insulated bag in your vacuum cleaner. They are culturally-influenced, genetically-influenced, experientially influenced,
    But still the viewer's "self" is both the driver an the connector of all these influences and thus informs the way they are "structured" and build the relationship with a photograph.
    The subjective drivers and connectors in the end can expel any objectivity.
    This does not mean that different subjective perceptions and appreciation of photography cannot converge, or be based on common denominators, thus creating a "shared" subjectivity.​
    I used primal in the sense of "originating".
    I do not exclude the factors you mention
    Does the subject of a photo play a role or just the photo itself? Do the referents in the photo play a role? The context in which you find the photo? Whether it's in a book or on a museum wall? Whether it's framed and hung or someone hands it to you to look at? On a monitor?
    What about the photographer? Where does he or she come in? Current trends in photography? Where do they fit into the primal relationship between self and photo?​
    these can be there, these play a role.
    What I am saying is that the "self" is the only unifying and stable element connecting these factors, when placed in front of a photograph, and mediating their interplay, and the driver of appreciation.
    I'm not making it plain and simple, but rather complex and very articulate, and do not exclude any factor or interplay.
    I'm just saying that, when the viewer creates these connections.
     
  65. OK. Well, then, stick with it. I tend to view the world the way Luis just described.
    The search for foundations is not for me. You may not feel as if you're doing that but when you find ONE unifying factor like the self, you have suggested a foundation. IMO, art and making photos is not about foundations.
     
  66. Are you making art without your self, Fred? If that is so, with what are you making art and photos?
     
  67. when you find ONE unifying factor like the self​
    What do you mean by unifying: homologating? a common key of interpretation?
    How do you define foundations? a common element? a common root?
    To me the self is a driver and a connector, but by definition it cannot homologate. It can help interpretation only if you know the person, and even in that case there is huge room for variation.
    The self is probably the highest characterisation of the individual. But in its root is not a unifying element, rather very much the opposite.
    There's where I am aiming at.
     
  68. Are you making art without your self, Fred?​
    No, Ann. I'm simply not using me as the center of the universe, the unifying factor, or the most "complete" (to use Luca's word) factor when it comes to appreciating photographs.
    For Luca and Ann, even if this were the case, that the self or some notion of subjectivity were so essential to appreciating photography, what's the relevance of that? What does it mean? Why is it important? How does it affect the actual looking and seeing? The creating? How does it affect how others relate to photographs and how you discuss them?
    .
    If that is so, with what are you making art and photos?​
    Experience. Life. Both of which go well beyond me.
    I see this "self" as a remnant from the 17th Century. It's a barrier. It's a closet! Experience is a web and it is shared and it is ongoing. It is not MINE. It just is. I am a part of it, it is not a part of me.
    A number of years ago, a wonderful piano teacher of mine taught me how to let go. In playing the most difficult passages, the tendency is to tighten up, to work hard, to use tension to try to play faster. But letting go, almost to the point where you feel you no longer have control over those fingers, where they could run away along the keyboard, became the way I could play those difficult passages most fluidly and most musically. It's scary, giving up that much control. But it works! It's hard to understand but, once I got the hang of it, it became easier and easier to get to that place.
    This notion of self I liken to that control and fear of letting go into the experience itself. I want photography to be that kind of experience . . . unmediated, and unbounded by a "self".
     
  69. The last post in the "Barriers" OP is one in which my rather amateur prose (in guise of poetry, but simply spontaneous and not intended as such) explores the letting go of personal barriers in photography, and which, although it is not labelled as such, is a thought related to the decreasing of one's subjectivity in the photography process and a response to outside factors and ideas to be explored with a lesser subjectivity.
     
  70. I know what you mean, Fred. Even if I don't play the piano.

    But I believe that the power is both within us and outside us. No one is detached from it. But it seems like you have to let go and be present in the moment to "make use of it". The same thing goes for sex. You have to let go to know how "divine" it can be.
     
  71. Fred,
    it seems to me that we (you and I. Don't know about Ann) might want to get to an understanding what each of us intends by "self".
    For me self is not about control, subjectivity is not about control.
    I see it as just "being" including the conscious, the subconscious, the rational and the emotional.
    Of course there is also experience and "life", but not only. It's a barrier or closet only insofar we shut out all the rest, also out "inner rest". I use "self" in a holistic way, and many, if not most of the factors are beyond my control.
    How can you isolate experience? I would rather say that isolating experience is an attempt for control.
    I'd like to understand better how you equate "self" and "control".
     
  72. Who said anything about isolating experience?

    You started the thread saying that appreciating a photo is a matter of complete subjectivity. You are now saying that doesn't mean shutting out the rest. Then what in the world is complete about it? Complete subjectivity means your are binding subjectivity away from everything else. It means you lose objectivity. It means nothing is real and everything is IDEAL. Complete subjectivity is the accepted definition of IDEALISM. When your inner self determines reality or determines meaning or determines what a photo is, that's a form of control, as I see it.
    I am not trying to pose the opposite extreme from what I consider your absolute and extreme beginning to this thread, and I can't tell if you've backed off from that or not. All I'm trying to do is open things up and include more. Simply stated, in the negative, IMO, "the appreciation of photography is NOT completely subjective." What I'm getting at is that photographic appreciation is multi-faceted and depends on context. It is not and cannot be completely subjective, according to any understandable and meaningful idea of subjectivity.
     
  73. Fred,
    I mis-read you in respect to experience, sorry for that.
    It seems to me that, apart from the sweeping generalisation at the start, I have introduced concepts such as doubt, consideration of the conscious and the unconscious, of the rational and the emotional.
    I am not backing off, because in my intention, subjectivity is as open - or as close - as the subject and its self is.
    Maybe I am not capable of properly expressing this. Again, sorry for that.
    Has been fun, though.
     
  74. In the end the appreciation of photography is completely subjective​
    I disagree. There is a subjective aspect to it obviously. It is an art form after all. But when I go to an art gallery I look at the objective qualities of the image. I exam the quality of the materials used. Is it a an inkjet print? Is it a Cibachrome? Is it fiber paper? I look at the technical quality of the print. Are highlights blown? Are shadows blocked up? I look at the technical aspects of how it was taken. Did the photographer stop down and/or use movements to achieve increased depth of field in a landscape. Or were they just lazy and shot the picture with high speed film hand held with the aperture opened up?
    The objective technical aspects help me tell whether I am looking at fine art or someone's vacation snap shots. And yes I've been to an "art" exhibit by a very famous person which was utter crap. They were not a professional photograph. They were just a famous person who also took some photographs that were now being passed off as "art."
     
  75. To James Smith's questions, I'd answer, So what? So what? So what? So what? So what? And his answers to So what? would necessarily involve his subjective preferences/values.
    The appreciation of a photograph as art -- of art as art -- requires an emotional response. Whether or not that therefore completely contaminates the perception (Is subjective like being pregnant? Can you not be a "little bit" subjective?) is debatable. (That debate would involve subjective opinions -- and turtles.)
     
  76. would necessarily involve his subjective preferences/values.​
    So what? So what? So what? So waht? is exactly right! Here, the word subjective is useless. What's the difference between a subjective preference and a non-subjective preference?
    I sense what James is talking about is being able to set his taste (preference) aside and assess how something is made, the aspects of technique and craft that are used to make it. He's able to take in a bigger symbolic picture, a bigger cultural picture, recognize the context of his viewing, etc. He sees beyond his own narrow little world. He's not a dusty old bag lost inside a vacuum cleaner. He's got a choice of various perspectives to adopt. In short, he's an educated adult, not a blindsided child.
    A dependence on subjectivity does remind me a little of a turtle, with a shell as thick as can be, impenetrable, unwiling and unopen, isolated, and in denial about the nature of experience.
    This quote has to be looked at from a variety of angles and is somewhat layered. But it's worth considering in relation to "subjectivity" and the stifling effect I see it having on thinkers, viewers, and creators.
    "(Good) taste is the enemy of creativity." --Pablo Picasso
    There's a whole wide world out there that's NOT about you and that allows you to transcend even your own ("subjective"/redundant) preferences.
     
  77. Fred's response, above, was a perfectly wonderful example of a purely subjective response. Thank you Fred.
     
  78. Julie, that, too, is meaningless, and I suggest you know it. Because according to you everything one does and says and feels and thinks is "subjective" so by your thinking, of course, anything I say is subjective. Who cares? You've neutered a word and a concept. You're looking to pin your own myopia on me. I'll have none of it. Thank you Julie.
     
  79. At some point, rhetorical tricks, repeated "so whats", strings of words/phrases/statements divided by endless slashes, and tortured and extended metaphors have to give way to substance or we begin to think there is no there there.
     
  80. Wow!! I'm getting a reading of eleven on the Subjectivity Meter for those last two posts of Fred's!! I thought the meter only went up to 10! It would be awesome if he'd go for a 12! I wait with bated breath!
     
  81. To James Smith's questions, I'd answer, So what? So what? So what? So what? So what? And his answers to So what? would necessarily involve his subjective preferences/values.
    The appreciation of a photograph as art -- of art as art -- requires an emotional response. Whether or not that therefore completely contaminates the perception (Is subjective like being pregnant? Can you not be a "little bit" subjective?) is debatable. (That debate would involve subjective opinions -- and turtles.)​
    Julie Heyward, looking at the objective technical aspects of a piece of art does not preclude "an emotional response." There is no reason the two cannot happen at the same time. The Space Shuttle is objectively the most complicated machine ever built. It evoked "an emotional response" from me ever time I saw it launched.
    Something could have very high technically quality but fall short on the subjective side. And the reverse could be true. I look at the whole work of art. Sometimes the subjective quality of the piece of art makes up for major deficits in the objective technical aspects. Sometimes an image may have nice subjective qualities but what really makes me appreciate it more than similar images is extraordinary technical quality.
    I have shown amateurs or people who have only used digital, images taken with different films. They don't notice the grain or grain structure right off the bat. But once I point out the difference to them between 50 ISO film and 400 ISO film in an 8x10 print they are blown away. It's funny to watch them obsess about grain there after. They want to control it. Most of the time they want to eliminate it. The rest of the time they want to use it for an artistic effect. Either way they appreciate that objective technical aspect of the art a lot more.
     
  82. James Smith - "I look at the technical quality of the print. Are highlights blown? Are shadows blocked up? I look at the technical aspects of how it was taken. Did the photographer stop down and/or use movements to achieve increased depth of field in a landscape. Or were they just lazy and shot the picture with high speed film hand held with the aperture opened up?
    The objective technical aspects help me tell whether I am looking at fine art or someone's vacation snap shots. And yes I've been to an "art" exhibit by a very famous person which was utter crap. They were not a professional photograph. They were just a famous person who also took some photographs that were now being passed off as "art."
    The above is a perfect illustration of the difference between photography and art. That slavishsness to technical standards is classic, and a complete misunderstanding of what is passed off as art amongst photographers.
    Here's just one example of an artist who uses a POS camera, knows nothing about f/stops, often has blocked blacks, blown highlights, shoots hand-held and breaks photographer's formulaic rules to great advantage, and is renowned as an artist:
    http://www.horvatland.com/pages/entrevues/03-giacomelli-en_en.htm
    http://www.iiclosangeles.esteri.it/IIC_LosAngeles/webform/..%5C..%5CIICManager%5CUpload%5CIMG%5C%5CLosAngeles%5CPretini_web2.jpg
    http://www.samhaskinsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/giacomelli-01.jpg
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_-lAUHP6JTAM/TVEok8AMSFI/AAAAAAAACQM/-Ha7DyImf3I/s1600/mariogiacomelli32320020.jpg
    http://www.mariogiacomelli.it/photo/paesaggi/09.jpg
    _____________________________________________________
     
  83. James Smith - "Sometimes the subjective quality of the piece of art makes up for major deficits in the objective technical aspects."
    I do not see those as deficits, but qualities the artist has chosen, sometimes subjectively, or accepted and incorporated into the gestalt of the work.
     
  84. The Sam Haskins is a real classic of photographic art. I guess what really contributed to the chiaroscuro effects was a post exposure lightening of the space at and around the boy and beneath the woman in the foreground. A beautiful image. The works of the other two artists are also remarkable. Thanks for showing them. I wonder how they, or photos like them, would be perceived if chosen as POW on Photo.net, although I suspect they wouldn't even be chosen in the first place.
     
  85. Arthur - " I guess what really contributed to the chiaroscuro effects was a post exposure lightening of the space at and around the boy and beneath the woman in the foreground."
    Yes, what many have labeled ham-fisted dodging. BTW, it's all Mario Giacomelli's work, even in Haskins' blog post. Giacomelli used film, did his post production the old-fashioned way. Glad you liked them, but I was simply citing them as one (and there are many) example of an artist leaving behind the usual photographic conventions.
    [I want to make it clear that I do not disregard the technical aspects of an artwork. In my production of, viewing and writing on art, this is an important consideration -- in the context of the whole work.]


     
  86. Yes, and whether a photo was dodged and burned, and what exposure was used, and whether there are blown highlights, and whether they are black and white or color, and whether they were made from film or digitally or some combination, what year they were made, who made them are all objective matters, matters of fact. Yes, there can sometimes be disagreement about matters of fact, but usually these things are verifiable. These are just some of the important non-subjective aspects of photos, including the cultural environments in which they were created, the (perhaps) historical and aesthetic influences that may show in the photo. Why a photo was dodged and burned or highlights were blown and how that "makes us feel" will be more of an individual matter, one that will also be heavily influenced by culture, symbolism, and other less uniquely personal matters. There is a reason why many people react similarly to a noir film or photo vs. a bright and colorful sunrise and those reasons are not as subjective as we might be snookered into believing. We are a part of something big and denying it may soothe our enormous egos and stroke our sense of individuality but it is, in fact, denial. That's not to say we don't have individual characteristics and reactions, but it is to say I don't choose to make a dichotomy or competition between the so-called subjective and objective.
     
  87. I can accept the fact that the existence of the "objective" is something like an act of faith.
    But I have never seen a line of thinking here leading to any "objective" factor.
    • good taste could be an objective approach to photography. But it has been rejected;
    • there are no rules: look at the thread in summer 2010. I was insulted at a certain point when I asked for rules;
    • each and every "statement" on a photograph can be rebuffed. And is rebuffed. Fine with me.
    And these are not only theoretical affirmations: they can be empirically observed in any photography critique forum.
    What I find a real pity is that Fred seems to believe that subjectivity equals to isolation. His metaphor of the dusty vacuum cleaner bag he has repeated twice.
    And I have to say that, since this post stems from my thoughts and reflections, I find it subtly insulting. As this one:
    A dependence on subjectivity does remind me a little of a turtle, with a shell as thick as can be, impenetrable, unwiling and unopen, isolated, and in denial about the nature of experience.​
    I am proud of my subjectivity. My subjectivity embeds my experience and my culture and connects my feelings, my emotions, and also my rational. It embeds also my openness, my questioning myself when I study. My questioning when I discuss with other people, here and in other places, and my openness to other's opinions.
    My subjectivity is opening up my thoughts and changing my mind if appropriate.
    Subjectivity for me is not rigidity, nor isolation. My subjectivity grows, mainly through the confrontation with other people.
    And then
    These are just some of the important non-subjective aspects of photos, including the cultural environments in which they were created, the (perhaps) historical and aesthetic influences that may show in the photo.
    But we have no evidence that the original mover of a cultural environment does not stem from an individual, subjective initiative.
    Which can be shared, discussed, but still originating from the individual subject.
    And I still believe that subjectivity can be shared.
     
  88. Luca, please note that my responses were targeted at statements not made by you. I didn't invent the turtle analogy, I was merely picking up on its use in the thread. And I was responding to other thoughts I considered much more unrelenting than yours. Thanks.
     
  89. P.S. I think however that I should not have used "completely" in my caption.
     
  90. Most photographers (like Winogrand and Wessel) that put time between making the exposure and processing/printing the image claim it increases their objectivity in judging the image. I suppose it could be argued that it's just detachment from the original feelings at the moment of exposure, but subjective nevertheless.
     
  91. I'm late to the party. There's precious little, if anything at all, which we can know objectively (I lean towards the none at all idea). If that's true, it only leaves two other possibilities for knowing the world, subjectively and subconsciously. Of the two remaining, I think the first is what leads us to discussions of blocked shadows, and other terms of technique we know about. The second is what leads us to want to look longer at a particular photograph.
    The subconscious is the hidden machinery that animates our life. Pouring the emotional chemicals into the bloodstream, so to speak. Anything coming into the senses goes right to the base of that machinery. Sounds, smells, pictures and the rest, trigger complex activity of this machinery and it is usually not possible to know why for each specific stimulus (e.g. specific picture). People spend many years in therapy trying to get at this machinery and usually are not terribly successful. A cloudy picture at best.
    Appreciation means to assign value and worth. Value and worth are subjective and relative. This is more valuable than that. But the fulcrum of that scale is contained in the subconscious machinery. When you gaze a photograph then, your subconscious machinery pours in the chemicals to establish emotion, then your brain derives some value equation and creates chatter by which you try to speak about the photograph. The chatter is subjective, the motivation is subconscious.
     
  92. Value and worth are subjective​
    I don't think so. We learn what we attribute value to, and a lot of of it is cultural and some of it is genetic and physical. Instead, we prefer to attribute a lot to fairies, who do deserve credit for much but certainly not everything.
    Look at the top-rated photos on PN. Then tell me it's a matter of subjective or subconscious coincidence that the majority of raters have such a similar (and narrow) view of what's valuable in a photograph. Like lemmings to the slaughter.
    Now, plenty of us like to think of ourselves as non-lemmings and I take that into account here. But even the outliers have their influences and many of those influences can be assessed in the light of day, not relegated to the hidden ghost inside the machine.
     
  93. Fred G.,
    "We learn what we attribute value to, and a lot of of it is cultural and some of it is genetic and physical."
    Staying within the realm of art and photography (e.g. let's eliminate the value of food and water) what specific values are genetic or physical? I don't want to say much until I know what is meant by that. Can you flesh that out for me?
     
  94. There are physically-based emotional responses to color that we share. As a matter of fact, much about our emotions is now being studied from a physical standpoint. As the mind-body distinction evaporates, the subjective-objective distinction does, too.
    Western music is decisively different from Eastern music and we are in some sense "programmed" by the culture we grow up in for certain arrangements of sounds (notes) to sound good (value) to us.
    Many of these things are not subjective at all. As I said way above, I'm not making the case for these things being objective. I am making the case for the traditional subjective/objective dichotomy, as being used in this thread, to be an anachronism.
    Suggested reading: Wittgenstein, Rorty, Dennett
    I can get behind a use of objective, such as Luis has provided in his last post, where it is a kind of artistic distance, which can be very helpful to a photographer's vision and voice. Being able to step back is an important skill, often not employed.
     
  95. M, obviously I don't expect you to read what I mentioned above, but would be curious to hear your response to the phenomenon of similar value (as in the case of PN ratings)? If appreciation is a matter of value and appreciation is either subjective or a matter for the subconscious, what explains the similarity of value placed on certain photos and certain types of photos? It would seem to me that it's got to be something beyond the subjective or the individual subconscious.
     
  96. How on earth do you conclude that Wittgenstein, Rorty, and Dennett (!!) would support you claims?
     
  97. Fred G.,
    "There are physically-based emotional responses to color that we share. As a matter of fact, much about our emotions is now being studied from a physical standpoint. As the mind-body distinction evaporates, the subjective-objective distinction does, too."
    If you mean that emotions are driven by chemical process, I agree entirely. That makes it a physical phenomenon. Which means the process is physical and real, but our e-value-ation of that is none the less subjective. The words we eventually attach to the emotion arising are subjective assessment based on all the usual cultural and psychological fabrics that make up the self.
    An example: I look at a photograph of a Paris street. A flood of emotions arise triggered by chemicals. These emotions are mapped against the fabric of my specific life experiences and sum of all inputs and outputs, dreams and thinking. I then attempt to describe in words how I exactly value this photograph against all others. it is in fact ineffable, but I will attempt to put it in words anyway. I may jabber on for half an hour about the photo and I will be using a subjective process because neither me or the listeners can access any objective measure - any yardstick or instrument - in which we would all share the same conclusion. That's why it is subjective.
    By contrast, I pick up a stick and declare it is 12 inches long. We can all use rulers and measuring things to confirm or deny that reality. That would be objective valuation.
    And finally, I don't know what lies beyond objective, subjective, or subconscious evaluation. Not saying there isn't something, but I don't know a word for it.
    Changing gears: I don't know much about the "top rated photos on PN" issue. I'll see if I can go understand it. I assume you mean there is some sort of consistency about it? I'm ignorant at this point, but I will see what it means.
     
  98. Top Rated Photos
    Ok, that didn't take long. I can see in a few pages the gist of it. By and large these are a selection of beautiful and pretty looking pictures as you would see in National Geographic magazine or on calendars. There is a distinct lack of the personal, the emotional, the human, the tragic, the ironic, or any significant social commentary (please note, I am being general).
    I don't know how "top" is arrived at, but if it is by voting of any kind, the results make perfect sense. Take a look at the results of elections, or the results of purchasing. Take any Interstate highway exit, and see what people have voted to be the best food, to use another example. Extreme social commentary, to use one category, is generated by maybe 0.1% of the population - or maybe even far less. Not much voting power there! If you just walked the streets and asked people to vote on what should fill up the local museum, you'd see a museum chock-a-block with Thomas Kincaide and Bob Ross paintings. Look at the NYT Best Seller list.
    The other quality of these pictures is technical expertise. Really flawless craft, that sort of thing. Makes sense, because the audience is well studied in these crafts.
     
  99. M, part of art and photography is communication . . . sometimes through a visual "language." Though there will be exceptions and nuances and though this won't be the case absolutely universally, reds are warm and blues are cold. Why? Is that subjective? If Brahms wants to compose a lullaby, which he did, doesn't he have to expect that most people will be quieted by certain types of chords, rhythms, and combinations of notes?
    Yes, we will each have our associations with quiet music. Maybe our mothers sang us to sleep liltingly and that will come to mind as an association when we hear Brahms's lullaby. And, except for my brother, no one else will have a similar association to my particular mother. And still, Brahms counts on a non-subjective consistency of emotional response in composing a lullaby at the same time he understands all the individual reactions that will ensue beyond that consistency. He will expect that, though some surely will not, most people will be soothed and placated by what he is writing rather than wanting to get up and dance frenetically or become violent in reaction to this particular music.
    People don't generally shoot sunsets to be controversial and they don't present photos of people with blood spilling out of their skulls in order to relax their viewers. We may have different individual responses to those sorts of photos but there is also an important "objective" response.
    Art is every bit as much communal and shared as it is individual.
     
  100. Fred G.,
    I agree with you. There are some common associations, reactions, feelings to art - at least statistically. I can't myself categorize that as an objective response, but I can see how it could be considered that way depending on how strictly one defines objective.
    I don't need everyone to agree with me on this, but I consider an objective criteria to be one that can be duplicated by others with some precision. Some would go further even and say than an objective observation must be a truthful one. So that 12 inch stick can't be 14 inches or 10 inches depending on who is viewing it. Photographs can't even flirt with the truth, so I can't really see any basis for developing an objective (aka truthful) value around a photograph. I am open to seeing it happen, but on the surface I can't imagine it.
     
  101. Take Edward Lorenz's rounding error and compound it and compound it and compound it (there's space, time, the five senses, etc.) and you should see the problem with "objectivity."
    On the other hand, stand Edward on his head, round everything to whole numbers, and you get Top Rated Photos. Perfectly round.
     
  102. Why not take it empirically?
    At any level it seems that subjectivity is the main driver: when any photographer on photo.net defend their work and call it "art", when John Szarkowski offers a show at MoMA to William Eggleston against the opinion of most photography critics of the period, when somebody pays millions for "Der Rhein II".
    Of course the background for all of these positions is subjective, to a varying degree it is "informed subjectivity" as Luis G. said.
    It can also be "shared subjectivity" when the same people come to the same or similar point of view.
    At the same time I could not find any positive evidence for the existence of "objectivity".
    Objectivity requires some form of categorisation and ranking, according to universally shared values.
    It doesn't seem to me that any evidence has been produced for the existence of anything like this.
     
  103. PS I do not think that "shared" equals "objective".
     
  104. when any photographer on photo.net defend their work and call it "art" . . .​
    . . . it is often a misuse of the term "art", often defensive, and most often rings hollow and comes across as the photographer having a lack of perspective and using art as an excuse not to listen to criticism, which is an irony in itself. When one's work is being criticized, the response, "It's subjective" is more often an excuse than part of a sophisticated or artistic interaction.
    .
    when John Szarkowski offers a show at MoMA to William Eggleston against the opinion of most photography critics of the period . . .​
    . . . it may be because he had an uncanny knack for seeing and knowing what others didn't. That's what visionaries and leaders do. John Szarkowski was one of those experts we've talked about.
    .
    when somebody pays millions for "Der Rhein II" . . .​
    . . . they have earned or just as likely inherited enough money to play the game of the marketplace. The marketplace determined that the price should be in the millions, not just the buyer. And my guess is that in many cases the marketplace and the high price also determined that the buyer supposedly "liked" or "appreciated" the photo, not the buyer's "subjectivity." Buying art worth millions can be more a matter of investment than of taste.
     
  105. Ok, for the sake of argument, let's temporarily agree with Luca and say it's 100% subjective. Instantly the word loses all meaning. Now what? How does that change things?
    _____________________________________________
    Luca: "At the same time I could not find any positive evidence for the existence of "objectivity".
    Nor is there any scientific proof whatsoever presently for the existence of free will. Do you think that exists?
    ________________________________________________
    " So that 12 inch stick can't be 14 inches or 10 inches depending on who is viewing it."
    According to Relativity, depending on the speed differential between the ruler and the observer 12 inches can look very differently. Ask any woman about man-inches...
    _______________________________________________
     
  106. Fred G - "Buying art worth millions can be more a matter of investment than of taste."



    True dat. And, objectively speaking, if that is at all possible, not a bad investment compared to other, more conventional ones, even for work costing only tens of thousands.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2006/06/painting_for_profit.html
     
  107. Fred,
    I 100% agree with all your explanations.
    But it seems to me that they do not exclude subjectivity. And does not directly hint at objectivity.
    • "Subjectively" photo.netters claim the qualification of "art"
    • "Subjectively" John Szarkowski, who must have had his share of criticism, pushed through his vision and the results were appreciated. By some.
    • "Subjectively" the millionaire buying Der Rhein II decided that to him owning it was worth spending several millions.
    (BTW, there is nothing such like an abstract "marketplace". The marketplace is always a space where supply and demand meet - or don't - and where one purchaser, or millions of purchasers, are willing to pay a price, and one seller, or millions of sellers, are willing to accept the price offered in exchange for the traded object)
    The question arises:
    • are there any objective criteria according which photo.netters can define their work as art, or Szarkowski has used to "discover" Eggleston against the opinion of mainstream critics, or to establish the price of Gursky's work?
    _____________________________
    Luis,
    I do not see why the term "subjectivity" loses its meaning once we hypothesise that it is true. If we assume this hypothesis, we just know that to "read" the subjective judgement or position, we need to look at the individual, or the group of individuals sharing this subjectivity.
    Free will is different from subjectivity. Subjectivity comes before free will and determines it: "subjectively the action of free will is determined".
    _____________________________
    In respect to the theory of relativity, normally photographs are pretty fixed (on a wall, in a book, on a poster, on a screen) and the viewers don't move at the speed of light when they look at them, do they?
     
  108. Objectivity requires some form of categorisation and ranking, according to universally shared values.
    It doesn't seem to me that any evidence has been produced for the existence of anything like this.​
    My disdain for the remnants of a 17th C dichotomy that pits subjective against objective should not be understood as a rejection of subjectivity in favor of objectivity. It's not about making one of these primary or universal, it's about rejecting the grammar or at least the competition to begin with.
     
  109. Luca, I asked on Apr. 2 at 8:51 a.m. and Luis just asked again why this matters, how it affects your viewing or making of photographs, what is the actual import of this question. That can be way more significant than various answers can be. Since you haven't answered either of us, here's my brief impression from reading some posts on this thread.
    Subjectivity seems to be important as it provides an excuse, as Luca showed in his post about photo.netters' responses to critiques, or a protective shield around the person who asserts his or her subjectivity . . . or it's an egomaniacal possessiveness, as Julie has shown . . . or it's everything that's supposedly not scientifically measurable, as M seems to suggest. These all fall short, for me, of anything that helps in a meaningful discussion of photos.
     
  110. Well, those last several posts registered 12 on the Subjectivity Meter! Awesome!
    Maybe Luca is just sick and tired of being bullied by other people who think that their subjective opinions are better than his subjective opinions. Because in the absence of any objective evidence -- which I am not seeing anywhere -- is exactly what we're seeing done here.
     
  111. "Buying art worth millions can be more a matter of investment than of taste."​
    I have always seen it as a (subjective) taste for investments in what ever has proven objectively to yell profits in the past.
     
  112. objective evidence​
    Redundant rhetoric. What is it you'd like "objective" evidence of? What claims are being made that would require evidence?
     
  113. Please. Luca is being partially disagreed with, not bullied. You may have overlooked that he openly agreed with my "informed subjectivity" on more than one occasion, and with Fred on others. He, and all the other proponents of the 100% Subjectivist School, have now been twice asked the question of "To what end?" and so far nothing but a deafening silence. How are we to take that? That this subjectivist thing is a pointless assertion? Surely there must have been something leading to it, and to be derived from it. What?
    Come to think of it, skip the above. The question's been already answered.
     
  114. Yes. Yes it has.
    Your unsupported subjective opinions , which are all that we've seen in this thread, are no better than anybody else's. Isn't that wonderful? Group hug all around!
     
  115. Fred, you can surely objectively prove that investments in certain types of art have been profitable for investers. To invest in arts is however always a question of "taste" for that sort of gambling.
     
  116. "Subjectivist"!
    What is this Subjectivist School? And in Photography? (I'm only interested in Photography Subjectivity).
    To what end?
    • Because it stems from empirical observation here and in other places, and I liked to discuss it;
    • Because after a lot of theoretical and empirical research on how to look at photos, how to appreciate photos, how to appreciate art, this is the empirical conclusion I have reached, and I liked to discuss it (over a hundred posts, including mine, shows a certain level of interest)
    • Because being aware of the importance of subjectivity helps me to be aware that I need to understand the photographer to understand the photography, and
    • that I need to understand the critic to understand the critique.
    But the reason for this debate - which might be just for the sake of the speculation - in my view has no bearing on the the empirical observation of the subjectivity vs. objectivity.
    I don't like
    1. the insinuation (the deafening silence) that I do not respond to the "why?" question, for whatever reason. It's a completely different matter than the debate I am interested in;
    2. being placed into categories;
    3. being pushed into the "17th century dichotomy". I do not know how it applies to photography (any photographs in the 17th century?)
    4. the principle of "objectivity" presented as a matter of faith;
    5. the non linearity of reasoning: what are the "objective" reasons for Szarkowski on Eggleston, provided that most affluent photographic critics of the period heavily spoke against it. Definitely not an universal appraisal, even if Szarkowski was Szarkowski.
     
  117. I never thought what Julie attributed to me, but to make the point of this 100+ post thread a personal thing about one person seems petty. It is also (you guessed) your unsupported subjective opinion, and thus...no better or worse than the background radiation....yawn.
    ___________________________________________
    Luca - "I did not mean that in photography all starts and ends with the self and is limited to the subjective. By no means."
    "To that end, Luis' notion of informed subjectivity is extremely to the point."
    ____________________________________________
     
  118. Luca, I question most of your assertions. I'm particularly in disagreement with these . . .
    "being aware of the importance of subjectivity helps me to be aware that I need to understand the photographer to understand the photography"
    First, I don't know that understanding photography is all that important to me as other ways of relating to it. But let's forget about that nuance and just talk about my relationship to photographs. That will be impacted to some extent by knowledge I may have of the photographer, but rarely will that knowledge of the photographer be decisive in determining how my relationship is with the photographs. I like photographs because they are visual and they are in front of me. I will often be interested in their makers but that is usually secondary to me. The same feelings would apply with regard to the critic. I can assess what the critic has said about a photo or body of work without knowing anything about the critic. Information about the critic may be enlightening or not, but again will rarely be decisive in terms of what he's written about the work itself.
    "being pushed into the 17th century dichotomy' "
    My feeling is that you haven't been pushed there at all. You've adopted it and I've pointed it out.
    "the principle of 'objectivity' presented as a matter of faith;"
    You probably missed the part where I have said, at least twice, that I don't find the subjective/objective dichotomy useful, so that I am being accused of having faith in the principle of objectivity is somewhat strange.
    You have throughout the thread attempted to justify your belief in the primacy of subjectivity by claiming it is empirical, as if it is readily experiential to anyone who's around. It's not empirical. It's your spin, a spin you share with some great thinkers, by the way, but one I don't happen to adopt. Empirical is that we see the sun rise each morning (though we know it's the movement of the Earth). Empirical is NOT your view that the most important aspect of photo appreciation is subjectivity.
     
  119. Luis,
    I do not get your points, sorry.
    _____________________________
    Fred,
    Browsing through your post I find at least one point with which I agree, but I need some more time to read through it. Flash responses often do not allow the proper reading of what I am replying to and also introduces mistakes and inconsistencies in my responses.
    I still cannot think, empirically, of a discussion on a photo where a critic has changed his/her mind on the photo itself on the basis of some objective arguments.
    However, if we want to agree that there is - as apparently - no element characterising objectivity, but that this discussion actually has no point, I'm fine with it.
     
  120. there is no element characterising objectivity​
    I find it more useful to look at photos, let them make me feel a certain way, consider what I'm looking at, consider it's and my own influences, consider some of the cultural embeds that are working in it, consider what, if any, are the ways it works with those embeds or, alternatively, it flouts those embeds (and usually it is some combination of both being influenced by them and flouting them) and I don't divide those things into subjective and objective, because I know of the cross influence of all these things on my experience.
    I don't think this discussion has no point. As a matter of fact, I think it's important.
     
  121. Luca, there's nothing "17th century" dichotomous about your thinking. It's unsupported verbal fluffery.
     
  122. Fred, you can surely objectively prove that investments in certain types of art have been profitable for investers. To invest in arts is however always a question of "taste" for that sort of gambling.​
    Anders, what I'm trying to say here is that I don't think it's useful to divide the world or as small a portion of the world as art buying and selling into subjective and objective aspects. I think many things influence such activities and I think that where "I" begin and "the world" ends is not a distinctive point and and not a difference in mode of being, and I don't think the character of taste can be completely separated out from other things either.
     
  123. Luca, there's nothing "17th century" dichotomous about your thinking. It's unsupported verbal fluffery.​
    Julie, maybe you could quote someone who would explain why Luca's thinking isn't dichotomous, because you seem only to have the ability on your own to make pronouncements without explication.
     
  124. Luca, I was being sarcastic about the Subjectivist School. Mea culpa. Of course, there's no such thing, and as you know, you already made it clear that you do not think it is all subjective. By no means.
    The "deafening silence" on my part is my wondering if this has any direction, vector ? Was there anything that lead to this ? For Julie it was about Fred and I. Was that it for you too?
    Is it going anywhere, or are you meandering around the topic aimlessly? That's OK, too.
    To understand a critic: I do not think you have to know the critic, which opens its own can of worms. If all you get is an edict, without any description or justification based on the work itself that undermines the opinion. I look for a well-articulated opinion, with references to the work, maybe some insights into the medium, too.
    How do you know the person you stop to ask directions when lost is trustworthy?
    Regarding Szarkowski, do you seriously think that someone who studies a subject for a lifetime's opinion is the same as someone who is ignorant? Was your subjective opinion of your daughter's older first boyfriend the same as hers? Why not?
    Or is it informed by experience, accumulated knowledge, understanding of life, etc.? (assuming you weren't an overbearing father!) Plus, anyone who knows photo-history knows that Szarkowski did not just see the future once. He did it with the show "New Documents", again with "William Eggleston's Guide". All of the artists in those shows were initially attacked. After years, all were lauded. If all subjective opinions are equal, why did the choices other photographic curators made never have remotely the impact on the medium -- or attendance -- his did? No, no no and no, I am not saying he was infallible. He "missed" lots of influential artists (also far ahead of their time). Redefining Walker Evans and Atget, the Mirrors and Windows book & show (which is widely misunderstood as a dichotomy). Either he was informed , knowledgeable, ahead of his time, exceptionally lucky, all of the above, or whatever. If you want validation by numbers, then we can fall back to the number of solo shows, number of galleries repping the artist, book sales, and market numbers. Or you can invalidate everything, and chalk it up to luck or randomness.
     
  125. "photography is completely subjective"
    Lets be a little bit practical. Simple.
    Some photos are are generic they appeal to all and are not particulary subject to individual tastes.
    The photo I posted is ( a posed street photo) is a photograph of a smiling young lady which to my mind is open to to any viewer... and not particulary subjective to individual tastes.
    To claim all photos are completely subjective is nonsense.
     
  126. I'm getting the strong vibe from the OP's statement here that being subjective means that despite that "there can be opinion leaders, trend-setters, who are recognised and capable, and who will bring forward their subjective judgment and give it a collective value" all photographs are "equal." I don't believe all photographs are equal because "it is all subjective." Perhaps the art market is subjective when it comes to pricing and sales, but humans are wired to respond to certain things that elicit emotions, everything from certain compositional forms, to subject matter. This is not entirely subjective, even though it may vary from person to person.
     
  127. "Equal"? You have a yardstick for subjectivity? Or maybe you want to borrow my Subjectivity Meter. I think you've pretty much totally missed Luca's point-- that one's responses to a visual event are NOT MEASUREABLE. They are precisely neither equal nor not equal because "subjective" does not deal in common units.
    My subjective response to a photograph does not include an accountant's checklist, a robot's checklist, a totting up of facts and figures. It's not sex with Spock.
     
  128. I think Julie got me right.
     
  129. Then why not say one's responses to photographs are not measurable? What does subjectivity have to do with it?
     
  130. Is being aware of having a headache subjective or objective? When we have a patient who reports being in pain, we can't get into their heads and feel it first hand, so we give them a qualitative scale (the PAT) in the form of the 1-10 tool with the faces. It gives a comparative idea of what they're feeling. If I look at two lengths of string side-by-side lying on a table, even if I can't bring a ruler, I can use one as a yardstick to compare against the other to tell if they're equal or unequal, and if so which is larger. Do you need measurements and numbers to gauge how long a traffic light has left to turn vs. the distance/speed you are traveling to negotiate traffic? Most normal people do not, and do so betting their and their loved one's lives on these judgments on a daily basis.
    Of course, when it comes to art, all of those abilities are deemed not valid.
    __________________________________________________________
    To someone without a mental database of art for comparison, or the structures of art history, knowledge of types of art, etc. Every feeling about art is apparently totally subjective, if not bewildering, to such a person. And in the Postmodern Age, subjectivity is the current dominant paradigm.
    _________________________________________________________
    A few weeks ago, I saw a movie by Redford on TV about a guy named Buck who is a horse whisperer. He has the additional problem of dealing with another species' psychology. To many here, that might seem impossible, given the comments about art, yet man and horse interact effectively in the measurable world. If that can be done with another species...
    _________________________________________________________
    It is at best an oversimplification (one that, as Fred pointed out was thoroughly addressed long ago) to think that objective and subjective are complete opposites or mutually exclusive. Or that there is no subjectivity in science, or articles of faith in mathematics, etc.
    _________________________________________________________
    This takes us back to Szarkowski,Winogrand, and that seminal essay by Sontag which we discussed at length here. They leaned in the direction of objectivity in art via description.
     
  131. When I look at a photography, my response, my appreciation, and therefore my value of that photograph is subject to a host of internal and external variable conditions. Therefore, my response is subjective. That's how to arrive at the subjectivity claim.
    What are the variables? You might be better to ask, what aren't the variables! To begin with something, I'd say my knowledge of the subject, understanding of the POV, sympathy with the perceived or real beliefs of the artist, interest in the subject, belief in the techniques used, and naturally time of day, and have I had my coffee yet.
    I don't understand how it could be different than that?
     
  132. "It's not sex with Spock."
    Um....how do you know that?
     
  133. There are variables in the weather and in photosynthesis. That doesn't make either of these subjective.
    I expected that subjective was being used to mean . . . well . . . subjective. So maybe some of the misunderstandings in this thread have to do with usage and meaning.
    Here's an idea of what subjective has traditionally meant, and what I was imagining was what people still meant by it.
    Subjective
    existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject ratherthan to the object of thought (opposed to objective).
    pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; personal;individual: a subjective evaluation.
    placing excessive emphasis on one's own moods, attitudes,opinions, etc.; unduly egocentric.
    Philosophy. relating to or of the nature of an object as it isknown in the mind as distinct from a thing in itself.
    relating to properties or specific conditions of the mind as distinguished from general or universal experience.​
    No mention of measurability or variability. So it seems maybe you guys haven't been talking about subjectivity at all, which makes a lot more sense to me. We've gone from completely suggestive to not completely subjective to, well, not really subjective at all in the span of a hundred or so posts. Not bad.
     
  134. The title of the thread was: In the end the appreciation of photography is completely subjective
    The subject then is the appreciation of photography. Appreciation can only be endowed by some consciousness. That appreciation is "subject to" all those variables of the conscious appreciator.
    The mere existence of any photograph isn't I presume of any importance here, right? I mean, yes, photographs exist objectively, but to what purpose unless to be appreciated by some consciousness. I think everyone was using "subjective" exactly this way.
    The objective value of any photograph is about two bucks in money terms, and probably substantially less in utility.
     
  135. The mere existence of any photograph isn't I presume of any importance here, right?​
    Why not? And why is the existence of a photograph "mere"?
    I think the existence of the photograph entails when it was made, how it was made, in what context and culture it was made, whether it is black and white or color, what kind of film it was made with, etc. And all of these will impact the consciousness that attends to it. As a matter of fact, unless we think consciousness IS a lonely and isolated vacuum cleaner bag -- which we seem not to want to -- then all these things are a part of this thing called consciousness.
     
  136. Stop changing the subject. Stick to "appreciation of." That's what this thread is about.
     
  137. Luis,
    To someone without a mental database of art for comparison, or the structures of art history, knowledge of types of art, etc. Every feeling about art is apparently totally subjective, if not bewildering, to such a person.
    I am building, and I am using, my mental database of photographic comparison every day. It's my way and in my (subjective) opinion the only way to appreciate a photograph: your informed subjectivity.
    But is this database objective? Or is the process of database population first and of database query rather subjective?
    They leaned in the direction of objectivity in art via description
    Fine. But who is describing? Are we sure that such description can be objective? That there is an objective choice of terms of reference and an objective choice of the elements of a photograph t be described? and an an objective selection of the words which describe?
     
  138. Julie, I will approach any subject any damn way I please. Is that clear enough for you?
    One can't "appreciate" what's not there. Part of appreciating an object is the existence of that object and what the object brings to the table. Appreciation of something is not all about me. Much of my own sense of appreciation has to do with empathy.
     
  139. You feel (oops!); you *know* that empathy is not subjective? You've gone to Empathy School and have a certified degree in Empathy? Or you have an Empathy Meter? Or maybe there's an Empathy button that you push and get an Empathy reading on your Empathy display?
     
  140. Yes, Julie, all of the above. You're faltering here, resorting over and over again to being facetious or what you may perceive to be ironic in the absence of any substance.
    What you do is attack the ideas of others with no substance behind the attacks, just attitude. You present no coherent views of your own. But I'm glad you do. You provide a kind of style-only foil for the rest of the forum.
     
  141. Why thank you! The feeling is mutual.
    I always enjoy your responses to my posts.
     
  142. Fred,
    but is there "objective empathy"?
     
  143. is there "objective empathy"?​
    Luca, I can't seem to get the point across that I don't find "subjective" and "objective" useful terms. I may empathize with certain photos because of subject matter, presentational characteristics, how they look, how they make me feel. When I consider empathy in relation to photos I make, it's because I consider a sort of unspecific viewer who may well respond certain ways to certain things, whose eye may travel a certain way directed by the light or composition, whose emotion may be stirred by a certain use of visual language, including but not limited to symbols.
    When I made one of my earliest portraits of a guy my age standing in front of his own baby picture hanging behind him on the wall I was aware that the sunlight and shadow connected them and sensed that such a connection would move me and move viewers. The picture almost seeming to look over his shoulder at me drew me as I was considering and setting up the shot. I think it helps connect the viewer. I knew not precisely where it would take each viewer and liked hearing from viewers where it did take them. But no viewer saw the person and his picture as disconnected. Someone might come along and see them as disconnected. They would be the exception. I was amazed, since it was early in my learning how to post process and what a vast difference some quite subtle shifts could make, how some small changes I could make in the lighting on his face could increase the intensity of my own response and likely the responses of others and how a shadow here or there or a lightening of a shadow here or there could make his expression seem alternatively agitated or placated. Now what I'm calling agitation might be referred to by another viewer as anger, upset, disappointment, depressed, what have you. And placated could be serene, harmonious, engaged, spiritual, etc. But expressions are communicative, not randomly interpreted. By working an expression, one can start to feel empathy with one's subject and one's photo simultaneously and I think that can be passed to a viewer.
    Whether this empathy is labeled "subjective" or "objective" doesn't matter a hair to me. I'd rather talk about empathy and photos than continue to ramble in a very unspecific and vague manner about subjectivity and its relevance to photos.
     
  144. Fred wrote, "Whether this empathy is labeled "subjective" or "objective" doesn't matter a hair to me."
    I'm sensing a lack of empathy for Luca and his thread, the subject of which is, "In the end the appreciation of photography is completely subjective."
     
  145. Luca - "But is this database objective? "
    Parts of it are. The dates, names, photographs, commentaries made by others, etc. Is it all one or the other? No, and I don't care very much either way, except in an operational way.
    Now that I've answered your question, allow me to ask one of you: What difference does it make both to you personally, and in general to art, were it to be all subjective? That is what is important to me in order to understand you.
    Luca - "Fine. But who is describing? Are we sure that such description can be objective?"
    Two more questions which I will willingly answer, hoping you will answer one of mine to three of yours.
    Who's describing? Photographers and critics, and this is important because it escapes the realm of one person's head, and enters the world at large, where others can thus be informed, compare experiences, descriptions, and add their own commentaries or artistic dialogues.
    Are we sure the description is objective? You can compare their description with your own. At least now it's out of one person's head.
     
  146. Luis,
    :)
    Clearly: none. No difference whatsoever, because there will be no universal way to appreciate a photograph. I cannot convince anybody that my point of view is more objective than his/her. As I did not manage to explain what I mean with subjectivity in this thread.
    It happens.
    I roughly know my approach to photography, and roughly know my objectives. For the rest I am building "the database" of my informed subjectivity (perfect term by the way, and perfect synthesis).
    By now I know that no obedience to a rule or a canon can make my photos any better, unless the application of said rule or canon is important to me when creating my image, and that makes it better "for me" at least. And I have to face the fact that a smaller or larger portion of the people I interact with might disagree.
    And then there's the "fierce" subjective me, who most likely will consider the vast majority of the photos I make objectively not good.
     
  147. I'm sensing a lack of empathy for Luca and his thread, the subject of which is, "In the end the appreciation of photography is completely subjective."​
    Julie, I wouldn't be so sure. Does empathy require a reaction of agreement? I don't think so. Can one empathize and be critical? I sure hope so. If someone is about to head off the side of a bridge, does one empathize by joining him in going into the cold, cruel waters or does one try to redirect him? Luca has already rejected his own OP formulation, several times quite clearly and emphatically. So, I'm not sure what your point in quoting it verbatim is at this point.
     
  148. Julie said:
    My subjective response to a photograph does not include an accountant's checklist, a robot's checklist, a totting up of facts and figures.​
    Well, I'm not so sure about that. When people find out how much a certain photograph goes for in the art market, I would bet that that has an impact on their subjective response to that photograph. Its human nature to be influenced by other people's responses towards something. That's basic sociology.
     
  149. Ok, thank you Julie and Luca for clearing up my feeling that the OP might be considering all photographs as “equal” if everything was subjective.. So, what about a continuum? On the more objective side we have medical photography and scientific photography where things are recorded as accurately as possible for the purpose of research and science. For example, in college I worked in a lab where we carefully measured the pupil size of infants (from photographic negatives) who were responding to various stimuli. We have photojournalism and news photography, which often are attempts at objectively recording things such as the damage of a tornado on a town, and that sort of thing. Then on the more subjective side we have the arts, where practically anything goes. I am seeing both an objective and subjective quality to photography.
     
  150. Steve, while I agree with you that forensic photos and news photos can be more "objective" than art photos, I am particularly interested in not relegating the world of art to an overabundance of "subjectivity." I have sensed that too much emphasis on subjectivity allows art to be defined by mere opinion, haphazardness, and often leads to an overlooking of craft and expertise, which is very significant regarding much art. It can also lead to the "whatever I think is art is art" syndrome, which I think does art a major disservice.
     
  151. I did refer to the arts as being more subjective, because I think it certainly is, as you say, often "defined by mere opinion, haphazardness", etc. It gets "messy" though. There are photographers who are very competent in their craft, but who by design create works that appear haphazard, and there are photographers who are not very good at the craft who's best efforts are "haphazard." I've seen it. The lay person often does not know the difference.
    Fred, is art not more open to the subjective than, say, news photographs? In news we are trying to show something that is actually happening. With art we are in the territory of the emotions, the symbolic, even the unconscious. Isn't that really making the whole thing much more subjective by its very nature?
     
  152. I would suggest that what Steve calls haphazard (or in the case of Eggleston, banal) is simply a different kind of intelligence.
     
  153. No, I don't think symbols are mostly subjective. I think symbols rely on lots of external factors, especially history of use and a shared recognizability.
    Think of a red octagon which can be a symbol for STOP. It doesn't work as a symbol if it is too subjective a matter. Red octagons are not necessarily very artistic but we can say something similar about the cup Romeo drinks from or the sword with which Juliet kills herself. Crosses are used symbolically and rain can be a symbolic baptizing only because these things aren't subjective.
    Yes, if you want to put it in terms of subjective and objective, art is more subjective than news. I already said that. What I'm saying is that it's not as subjective as a lot of people make it out to be.
    I want to be clear in stating that I think art is not defined by mere opinion or by haphazardness. When I look at a painting by Monet the last thing I see is haphazardness. Or a painting by Renoir, or a photo by Weston, or hear a symphony by Beethoven. Jackson Pollock, yes. So I don't eliminate haphazard elements from some art, but I certainly don't think art is defined by them.
    One of the most important aspects of art, for me, is its history, the dialogue it has continued through the ages. That goes well beyond the subjective.
     
  154. Fred,
    it's interesting.
    Could it be that you associate subjectivity with "everything is possible" or "everything is justifiable" or "everything is art"?
    Of course, and I think we have shared this already in the past, I am perfectly on the same page with you on this aspect.
    Photographs are by no means "all equal", and, again as we shared before, there are some objective elements related to the making of photos, as the innovation, creativity, and craft are concerned.
    And of course the statements on a photograph are not equal. I think skill, vision, knowledge and experience are extremely important here and explain the value of the choices, intuitions and statements by someone like Szarkowski.
    This extended discussion probably came about because I, and Julie and others, think the subjectivity is a main driver for the appreciation of a photograph.
    But none of us have stated the the actual value - in expressive, technical, visionary, craft terms - of a photograph is subjective.
    To me (subjective) Eggleston's (or Parr's, or Shore's or Cohen's) have a value and contribute to photography as art (objective).
    But I can't impede that somebody subjectively comes up saying that Eggleston's craft and art are just snapshots (as has happened in the recent thread, where somebody stated that Eggleston has made his mother's snapshots being appreciated as art).
    Concluding, I still believe that appreciation of photographs is subjective, but that by no means makes the actual value subjective and thus
    "defined by mere opinion, haphazardness"​
     
  155. Luca, if the appreciation of a photo is subjective, what stops Mr. A from appreciating any photo he wants as art?
     
  156. Steve, I have no argument with your subjective response to knowing the price of an image; it's almost certainly different from my subjective response to knowing the price of the same picture. Similarly, I have no problem with your subjective response the the craftsmanship of a picture -- which, as you can see, is different from Luis's subjective response to varieties of craftsmanship.
    Though I think it's a departure from the core subject of this thread (the "APPRECIATION OF" ...), here are some snips about objectivity in science, from the book Objectivity by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison (2007):
    "He lit his laboratory with a powerful millisecond flash — poring over every stage of the impact of a liquid drop, using the latent image pressed into his retina to create a freeze-frame "historical" sequence of images a few thousandths of a second apart. But by bit, beginning in 1875, the British physicist Arthur Worthington succeeded in juxtaposing key moments, untangling the complex process of fluid flow into a systematic, visual classification. … Worthington’s compendium of droplet images launched a branch of fluid dynamics that continued more than a century later. For Worthington himself, the subject had always been, as he endlessly repeated, a physical system marked by the beauty of its perfect symmetry.
    … [later, however] Worthington wrote, "I have to confess that in looking over my original drawings I find records of many irregular or unsymmetrical figures, yet in compiling the history it has been inevitable that these should be rejected, if only because identical irregularities never recur. Thus the mind of the observer is filled with an ideal splash — an Auto-Splash — whose perfection may never be actually realized."
    … he belatedly came to see his fallible, painstaking efforts of twenty years to impose regularity as counting for less than "a mechanical record," a kind of blind sight that would not shun asymmetry or imperfection. Now, unlike before, he regretted the all-too-human decisions required to retrieve the phenomenon masked by variations. And only now did that judgment strike him as treacherous.
    For two decades, Worthington had seen the symmetrical, perfected forms of nature as an essential feature of his morphology of drops. All these asymmetrical images had stayed in the laboratory — not one appeared in his many scientific publications. In this choice he was anything but alone — over the long course of making systematic study of myriad scientific domains, the choice of the perfect over the imperfect had become profoundly entrenched. … But after his 1894 shock, Worthington instead began to ask himself — and again he was not alone — how he and others for so long could have only had eyes for a perfection that wasn’t there."​
    Further:
    "… for Rorschach, the imagination is not the principle object of inquiry, though he expected that his subjects might think so [ ... ] It is true that the test aims to test imagination, but it does so among many other characteristics: "The interpretation of the chance forms falls in the field of perception and apperception rather than imagination."
    This raises a point of immense theoretical interest to those of us conversing with talking things. For nearly a century, the great centerline of philosophy of science has been the demarcation of "seeing" from "seeing as." Fundamental to the Gestalt psychologists, this division shaped discussions throughout the long run of neo-Kantian philosophical psychology all the way from Ludwig Wittgenstein and Thomas Kuhn through recent work in the sociology of science. Rorschach’s intervention demands that "seeing" and "seeing as" be taken not as fundamentally alternative relations of perceiver to perception but as limiting tints at the edges of a full-color spectrum.
    … The crucial point: Rorschach concluded that "the differences between perception and interpretation are dependent on individual factors, not on general ones; that there is no sharp delineation, but a gradual shifting of emphasis; and that interpretation may be called a special kind of perception." For brevity I use "apperception" as a shorthand for Rorschach’s claim that perception relates to interpretation as genus to species. Setting aside for the moment the ultimate status of the Rorschach test (Is it"objective"?), it is possible to pursue some implications of this claim for apperception. First, it marks a shift in the logic of the self: from aggregate powers manipulating specific contents to a framing disposition in which experience is necessarily situated — self as form, not content. Second, using Foucault’s language in a different context and now in ways that tie them together, it means that the functions of subjectivation (how subjects are formed) and objectivation (how objects are formed) enter at precisely the same moment. To describe the cards (on the outside) is exactly to say who you are (on the inside).
    … The Rorschach test presupposes a very different ontology of self. There is no atomistic separation between any of the faculties or powers. Take imagination. In Rorschach’s inkblot world, imagination simply is not a well-defined power; nothing in the test presupposes an organ, so to speak, of imagination. Indeed, for Rorschach, imagination manifests itself in the experience frame of the introversive in a way very different from that of the extratensive. For the introversive, who perceives reality more clearly than the extratensive, there is a tone of pleasure to the interpretative act: interpretations are complicated, the task is a game. For the extratensive, there is little pleasure here — perhaps a triumph, because of the brilliance of a performance as received by others — because the extratensive (in the limiting case) may not even realize that he or she is interpreting; the act may more resemble confabulation."​
    And finally, still talking about objectivity in science:
    "… Objectivity is neither inevitable nor uncontested. Indeed, juxtaposed to alternatives, it can even seem bizarre. Why knowingly prefer a blurred image marred by artifacts to a crisp, clear, uncluttered one?
    Why, then, is objectivity so powerful as both ideal and practice? How did it come to eclipse or swallow up other epistemic virtues, so that "objective" is often used as a synonym for "scientific"?
    … All epistemology begins in fear — fear that the world is too labyrinthine to be threaded by reason; fear that the senses are too feeble and the intellect too frail; fear that memory fades, even between adjacent steps of a mathematical demonstration; fear that authority and convention blind; fear that God may keep secrets or demons deceive. Objectivity is a chapter in this history of intellectual fear, of errors anxiously anticipated and precautions taken. But the fear objectivity addresses is different from and deeper than the others. The threat is not external — a complex world, a mysterious God, a devious demon. Nor is it the corrigible fear of senses that can be strengthened by a telescope or microscope or memory that can be buttressed by written aids. Individual steadfastness against prevailing opinion is no help against it, because it is the individual who is suspect.
    Objectivity fears subjectivity, the core self.
    … This is the reason for the ferociously reflexive character of objectivity, the will pitted against the will, the self against the self. This explains the power of objectivity, an epistemological therapy more radical than any other because the malady it treats is literally radical, the root of both knowledge and error. The paradoxical aspirations of objectivity explain both its strangeness and its stranglehold on the epistemological imagination. It is epistemology taken to the limit."​
     
  157. Fred,
    Luca, if the appreciation of a photo is subjective, what stops Mr. A from appreciating any photo he wants as art?​
    Nothing. (supposedly Mr A is anybody, undefined)
    Why do you ask?
     
  158. As happened here
    The best thing about Eggleston, for me, is he has made me come to realize my mother was a great photographer.​
    This is a proof of un-informed subjectivity, because it shows a complete ignorance of the subtleties in WE's work.
    To the poster WE is definitely not an artist, but a snapshooter.
    Can we oppose that WE is an artist objectively?
    I do think that he is, but in the end I might not be able to convince all those who believe the contrary.
    Wandering around in photo.net I could find hundreds of examples.
    I made an experiment recently: I presented a photo by Eggleston to a group of photographers without naming him. It was the Lady in blue with the chain pole (can be easily found). One of the comments was about her cut foot ...
    What I try to say is that de facto, subjectivity is pervasive.
    Not that all the subjective statements are correct and right and understand the value of a photo. But nevertheless we are presented with them all the time.
     
  159. Luca, you're drawing a conclusion, "To the poster WE is definitely not an artist, but a snapshooter." from the statement, "The best thing about Eggleston, for me, is he has made me come to realize my mother was a great photographer."
    I think one could just as easily draw the conclusion that WE's work makes that commenter feel the way he felt when he first experienced his mother's pictures -- when he was a little kid; which was the last time he looked at pictures frankly and with fresh eyes; the last time he didn't think (didn't know to think) that pictures should conform to some existing, established standards in order to be good -- or the work of "great photographer."
    I think that commenter may be, inadvertently, being perfectly honest about a connection that he feels between looking at WE and his memories of looking at his mom's photos.
     
  160. Thanks Julie,
    you may be right. Also reading into statements has some degree of subjectivity.
    Who knows? Knowing the commentator better, we would have some key for interpretation of this statement.
    :)
     
  161. Luca, you asked, "Could it be that you associate subjectivity with "everything is possible" or "everything is justifiable" or "everything is art"?"
    I was answering YES by way of asking you the question, "Luca, if the appreciation of a photo is subjective, what stops Mr. A from appreciating any photo he wants as art?"
    When you answer NOTHING to this question, you seem to be agreeing that this subjectivist view of art leads to "everything is art" which to me debases the very idea of art.
     
  162. It could also be a conclusion born out of ignorance, of mistaking Eggleston's snapshot aesthetic for his mother's snapshots, and without any understanding, but sensing some parallels, thinking automatically his mother was 'great', thus still conforming to the standards for greatness, albeit unwittingly. Then there was the respondent who mentioned that after seeing W.E.'s work he thought his drunk uncle was a great photographer. Both are possible, but more than highly unlikely. Much more likely to be a put-down of Eggleston's work.
     
  163. Luca's conclusion of what Richard Sperry was saying in that thread about Eggleston seemd based on all his statements in that thread, the quote he isolated was somewhat illustrative. Based on this one isolated quote, Julie might well draw the hypothetical conclusion she drew. That's why it's best not to draw any conclusions, hypothetical or otherwise, from isolated quotes or quotes taken out of the context in which they are written, without first absorbing the spirit of the whole or the "gist" of what someone is actually saying. Reading the thread in its entirety, it becomes pretty clear what Richard was and was not saying about Eggleston and I think Luca's conclusions are fairly reasonable and informed while Julie's hypotheticals really have no basis in what Richard actually said.
     
  164. Fred,
    When you answer NOTHING to this question, you seem to be agreeing that this subjectivist view of art leads to "everything is art" which to me debases the very idea of art.​
    I consciously answered nothing and I agree that not everything is art.
    It does not seem to me that this speaks against the subjectivity of the approach.
    Sticking with the two examples we have made:
    • John Szarkowski spent a lifetime studying and photographing. Not by chance he was the Director of the photography department of MoMA. His subjectivity is highly informed, so far that he was a trendsetter. He could tell why a photo is innovative, why the creativeness is particularly high or why the technique of particular artistic or communication value;
    • Richard Sperry (thank you Fred for enriching the context of the statement I elicited) is probably on the other extreme. He is seemingly unable to understand the way WE divides space, uses colours, uses printing techniques to create art.
    I think there we have it: subjectivity does not equal subjectivity, and I think this is implicit, even if not tautological.
    Now, if we if we want to debate whether we want to call it subjectivity or someway else, I'm ok. My concept of subjectivity can contain openness or closeness, cultural richness or poverty, year-long study or improvisation. These are all different forms and nuances of subjectivity, but still driven by the "self".
    John obviously did study, Richard probably does less (or not).
    ___________________________
    What I have learnt these years is that I do not want my photography to be just tripping a shutter pointed at some scene. For me, subjectively, it would be like giving a camera to a monkey with infinite film and infinite time: I'm sure that some interesting compositions would come out.
    But, subjectively, this is not my way.
     
  165. What I have learnt these years is that I do not want my photography to be just tripping a shutter pointed at some scene. For me, subjectively, it would be like giving a camera to a monkey with infinite film and infinite time: I'm sure that some interesting compositions would come out.
    But, subjectively, this is not my way.​
    To see why I am disenamored of this notion of subjectivity, let's rewrite what you said just above, leaving the word subjectively (which you used twice) out, and see if anything changes. If not, it seems to be a superfluous descriptor.
    What I have learnt these years is that I do not want my photography to be just tripping a shutter pointed at some scene. For me, it would be like giving a camera to a monkey with infinite film and infinite time: I'm sure that some interesting compositions would come out.
    But, this is not my way.​
    What you seem to be saying, to me, is that you want to shoot with intention or at least somewhat deliberately, rather than haphazardly, randomly, or without some degree of consideration. I don't know what that has to do with subjectivity but it seems like a worthy goal and one worth discussing.
     
  166. I understand Luis's concept of informed subjectivity and I think there's merit in it and it would be interesting to discuss it further, especially the INFORMED part. But I wouldn't want to chalk art up to this (and I don't think Luis would either). There are lots of people who can recognize and respond to art who aren't necessarily informed and there are lots of people who can reject Eggleston without necessarily being ill-informed or lacking a kind of understanding.
    There are many, I've seen it a lot, who like to pretend they don't GET certain types of art, particularly modern, contemporary, and conceptual art. They poke fun at it condescendingly. Some of them I give credit for being informed, knowing just what its purpose and place is, and simply playing a game of condescending and annoying behavior about it, because it's not what is their notion of "traditional" art, not like a Matisse or Cezanne. They're not so much uninformed as they are acting like class clowns . . . because they can. Some class clowns are pretty smart, it turns out. Of course, some understand it but just don't GET it and are being genuine in their dismissals.
    Anyway, along with informed I would want to include intuitive. There are many viewers who really aren't terribly informed about art, art history, art theory, etc. and yet have an intuitive sense about art and its appreciation. They "get" it even if they aren't well informed about it. I think there are intuitive photographers as well, who haven't learned much about photography, don't know its history, don't know much about their tools, aren't technically all that proficient, but who show an acute visual sensibility that is more exciting than many more studied folks. And of course there are more qualifiers that informed and intuitive that we could add to the mix.
     
  167. Intention = pure subjectivity
    Intuition = subjective response
     
  168. Yes
    What you seem to be saying, to me, is that you want to shoot with intention or at least somewhat deliberately, rather than haphazardly, randomly, or without some degree of consideration. I don't know what that has to do with subjectivity but it seems like a worthy goal and one worth discussing.​
    But this applies also to my photography viewing and appreciating.
    You don't like the S@#*€%£^*ç°Y term and that's fine.
    Let's call it however we want, but it's still the driver of everything, in my view.
    And information - study if you want, research - is one of the keys.
    As is doubt: if I already knew the truth about everything how could I develop?
     
  169. Luca, I understand that you apply this to viewing as well. I, too, like to view both intuitively and with intention and deliberateness, with a sense of influence and history, etc. It's not that I am looking for another word to use beside subjectivity. It's that I don't think there is "a driver of everything." That sounds too foundational for me and probably also has a somewhat religious tone . . . prime mover, God. I find different drives and different drivers at play in different situations and no one driver drives everything, certainly not my "subjectivity." Often my photography is driven by my subjects much more than by me, and sometimes my appreciation of a photo or body of work has been driven by what a more experienced photographer has said that drove my reaction or made me think or feel differently about the work
     
  170. If "intention = pure subjectivity", does that mean it has no place in (objective) science?
    If "intuition = subjective response", why does one constantly hear about the "intuitive approach"? Wouldn't that be proactive rather than responsive?
    ___________________________________
    So now subjectivity is like Morgan Freeman in the movie "Driving Miss Daisy",
    I am curious as to how you know it is the sole chauffeur of the Arts, or...no humor...er... intended (is this fast becoming Merit Badge-worthy Gordian knots all the way down, or what?). By what means do you rule out objectivity, unless, of course, you do so subjectively?
    ___________________________________
    "... the autonomy of the objective world around us was once more to be enjoyed; the wonder of matter that could crystallize into objects was to be seen anew" --- Franz Roh.
    When Photography emerged from Futurism and Expressionism, both of which conform to a point with Julie's & Luca's construct on this thread, it was around the 1920's that the movement commonly known as the "New Objectivity" arose in European art through many media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, architecture and literature. Through the work of Albert Renger-Patzsch, August Sander and Karl Blossfeldt, this entered the photographic mainstream.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=renger-patzsch+photographs&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=t3OAT_LfCor30gGMn5HrBw&ved=0CCMQsAQ&biw=1024&bih=496
    http://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/augustsander/
    http://www.karlblossfeldtphotos.com/photos_list_live.asp?ID=14
    This movement was crushed in Europe with the rise of the Nazis. For the record, a lot of it was included in the landmark show "Degenerate Art", but the cat was already out of the box and running, subjectively speaking, of course. Berenice Abbott had caught, kept, and further developed that flame, and brought it back to the U.S. in 1929, along with about half of Atget's plates.
    She shows them privately to her friend Walker Evans, who immediately connects not just with Atget, but with the New Objectivity as well, synthesizes them with his own aesthetic, which emerges in full pseudo-documentary bloom during the heyday of the FSA, and is later adopted by the Photo League, which like the original Euro New Objectivity was crushed by the American brand of Fascist Terrorism in the form of Mc Carthy, and its best and brightest cleverly folded into the service of corporations in industry and news, bringing in objectivity into the latter.) as well. The rest are dispersed, and we lose geniuses like Strand to Europe, or many more like Aaron Siskind, intimidated soundly into never doing documentary photography again, spends the rest of his life photographing rocks and graffitti (with a few famous exceptions, like the divers).
    Evans visits Hale county during his FSA forays and with Agee. At the time William Christenberry is a baby, but when he grows up, becoming a photographer, he becomes obsessed with the places Evans photographed around where he lived, and photographs them himself, in a superficially very straight, Evans-like docu style, some with color film. Years later, William Eggleston visits Christenberry and sees the tiny 3.5x3.5" drugstore prints tacked on the walls of his office, returns home and begins running Kodachrome and color print films through his Leicas. Not so many degrees of separation.
     
  171. *sigh*
    Intention and the object of intention are not the same thing. My intention to eat or to grow an apple is not an apple.
     
  172. Julie,
    Intention = pure subjectivity
    Intuition = subjective response​
    I agree.
    And I also agree on the apple metaphor.
    Fred,
    The driver is always the individual. Here I am not thinking at all of a prime mover. I don't think God has directly much to do with photography. As a Jesuit friend of mine says, God is clear but not concrete.
    So nothing foundational, universal here.
    My thought is that the self, the individuality, the person is the driver of the individual action.
    I have always in mind the human being, never an external force, but always internal forces.
    Often my photography is driven by my subjects much more than by me, and sometimes my appreciation of a photo or body of work has been driven by what a more experienced photographer has said that drove my reaction or made me think or feel differently about the work.​
    Sure.
    You may well be driven, but always within a relationship. And you drive the way you "are" in a relationship where you are driven. I am firmly convinced that in a relationship - when you photograph - you may well be driven by the other (the subject), but the way you are in the relationship - how you photograph - is driven by you, even if you are "pulled" by the subject.
     
  173. The driver is always the individual.​
    Luca. That is foundational.
    It doesn't have to be an "external" God to make it foundational or to make it seem religious. It just has to be a sole driving force that's the driver all the time, always. That's what foundational means. No, you don't believe in an external God but you seem to be turning subjectivity or the self or the individual into a substitute for God, only operating from within instead of without. It's fine. But it is what it is, and it's a very different philosophical view from mine, which does not look at me, myself, or I as the prime mover or the driver.
    We come closer to my own view with the notion of relationship. A relationship can develop whereby that relationship goes well beyond each individual and is not driven by one or the other at all times. That relationship can be between people, among groups of people, and between people and the world they live in.
    When man stops considering that he is the driver of Earth, for example, Earth and man will be much better off.
    I like to approach photography in a similar manner . . . SOMETIMES!
     
  174. Fred,
    I was just speaking of photography.
    Let me try an example:
    Your subject asks you to be photographed. The drive is so strong that you are told everything about equipment, lighting, poses, etc.
    The subject is the driver.
    But still it is your choice when you release the shutter.
    So you are a driver at least in two moments: when you accept to be driven and when you decide to push the shutter button.
    It's just what it is and it's a very different philosophical view than mine, which does not make me, myself, or I the prime mover or the driver.​
    This sounds very universal. But it is not what I mean.
    What I mean is that I am the driver of what I am in the photographic relation, or of how I see in the relationship with the photograph.
    Not necessarily the driver of the relationship, but surely the driver of who and what I am in the relationship.
    It's not a matter of determining, but just a matter of being.
     
  175. Luca - "Your subject asks you to be photographed. The drive is so strong that you are told everything about equipment, lighting, poses, etc.
    The subject is the driver.
    But still it is your choice when you release the shutter.
    So you are a driver at least in two moments: when you accept to be driven and when you decide to push the shutter button."
    One can see that as exclusionary, two disconnected drivers, like petty dictators, taking turns at the wheel. I see it as a human interaction, or as Fred put it, a relationship.
    ________________________________________________
    Intention = apple? WTF? Sorry, but I never thought/suggested/implied that for one instant.
     
  176. In another forum and thread, someone yet again, came up with the canard of all art is only opinions.
    Let's say your first-born male child gets seriously ill. High fever, spots, horns growing out of his head, etc. Whose opinion do you seek?
    A) A bookie.
    B) A lawyer.
    C) Open up a post on PN and survey opinions.
    D) A freshman at University taking pre-med.
    E) A doctor.
    Why would you choose E)? After all, it's only another opinion. Because all opinions are not equal, even if subjective. And if the news is not good or seems impossible, what do you do? Seek a second opinion. When you want an opinion on art, all opinions are not equally valid, which is not to say that everyone doesn't have the right to speak theirs.
     
  177. What I mean is that I am the driver of what I am in the photographic relation​
    Not to me. Who and what I am has a lot more to do with than how I feel about or see myself. I view myself a certain way, others view me a certain way, history will view me a certain way, and my impact on the world will also effect who I am, in a more objective sense. One could say many things drive who one is, including circumstance and accidents. JFK is, at least in great part, who he IS because he was assassinated. Before that, he was who he was because in some part because of his father's worldly influence and money. Though that's not specifically photographic, I would say the same applies to me as a photographer.
    I suspect that many of my portrait subjects have a very different idea of who I am as do many of the viewers who see my photos. Their "who I am" is no more or less valid than my own "who I am" and who I am is some amalgam of all of them, including what people will think about me years from now just from viewing my photos and maybe even reading some of my PN posts. While I have certain personal privileges regarding Fred G., I certainly don't see myself as determinative of who I am, photographically or any other way.
     
  178. This seems somewhat relevant to this thread...
    "“The limits of the “subjective” and “objective” worlds become for the first time really clear. One of the essential tasks performed by the general critique of knowledge is to ascertain the laws governing this delimitation in the purely theoretical sphere, where it is effected by the methods of scientific thought. This critique shows that the “subjective” and “objective” were not from the very beginning strictly separate spheres, fully defined in content, but that both became defined only in the process of cognition and in accordance with its methods and conditions. The categorical distinction between “I” and “not-I” proves to be an essential and constant function of theoretical thinking, whereas the manner in which this function is fulfilled, the boundary between the “subjective” and “objective” contents varies with the level of cognition. For theoretical science, the enduring and necessary elements in experience are “objective”—but which contents are said to be enduring and necessary depends on the general methodological standard applied to the experience and on the level of cognition at that time, that is, on the totality of its empirically and theoretically assured insights. Seen in this context, the way in which we apply the conceptual opposition of “subjective” and “objective” in giving form to the world of experience, in constructing nature, appears to be not so much the solution to the problem of cognition, as its perfect expression.” (Cassirer, The Philosophy of Symbolic Form, pp. 90-91.)"
    and...
    " Art can no more be defined as the mere expression of inward life than as a reflection of the forms of outward reality; in it, too, the crucial and characteristic factor is to be sought in how, through it, the “subjective” and “objective,” pure emotion and pure form, merge with one another and so gain a new permanence and a new content.” (Ibid., pp. 92-93.)"
     
  179. Fred, you say "I don't see myself ..." Hmmmm ...
    Luis, art is the apple. That's a metaphor -- which are themselves quite interesting subjective instruments.
    This thread is about "the appreciation of."
    The. Appreciation. Of.
    THE APPRECIATION OF
    THE APPRECIATION OF
     
  180. Fred, you say "I don't see myself ..." Hmmmm ...​
    Yes, I do, indeed, say that. "Hmmmmm" right back at ya. It's like we've graduated to The Sarcasmo Junior High School of Attitude here. You just continue the snarkiness unabated. I'd rather have more of your tortured metaphors and ill-contextualized quotes. Please, a quote. As long as it's got a different voice!
    For the most part in this thread, Julie, especially the latter half, you've provided one-liners full of juvenile inflections and no substance. It's noteworthy that Steve, Luis, Luca, and I have shared some pretty interesting ideas with each other and moved the discussion, bringing our own thoughts and relationships to photographs and photography into it. You, meanwhile, keep punctuating the discussion with sighs and goofball attacks, the equivalent of sitting in the back and launching spitballs across the room.
     
  181. Fred wrote: "Please, a quote."
    "The epistemic possibility which we cannot rule out comes to this: colour experiences do indeed track categorical properties of objects, but no colour properties presented in those experiences are themselves categorical properties which the experiences track." -- Jim Edwards, 'The Simple Theory of Colour'​
     
  182. Thank you.
     
  183. Luis,
    One can see that as exclusionary, two disconnected drivers, like petty dictators, taking turns at the wheel. I see it as a human interaction, or as Fred put it, a relationship.​
    I see it as a relationship, too. I have never said the subjective drivers are exclusionary. Nor that it means taking turns at the wheel.
    I see subjective drivers as concurrent and reciprocally influencing and influential.
     
  184. Fred,
    Not to me.​
    It seems to me that we have a huge lexicological problem.
    Every time I use a word (subjectivity, self, driver) you receive it in the most restrictive conception possible, and in the most linear way possible.
    Since here I am interested in the relationship of human beings with photographs my intent is to use these words in the widest sense possible and accepting all the non-linear connections.
    I am much more interested in being rather than determining. And dynamically. Not statically.
    It's not a matter of determining, but just a matter of being.​
    Before being influenced I am, and what I am is influenced by the relationship(s).
     
  185. Let's try to solve that problem. What exactly do you mean by non-resrictive, non-linear subjectivity?
     
  186. Luis,
    Because all opinions are not equal, even if subjective.
    I don't think any of us in the "Subjectivist School" here has ever said that all opinions are equal.
    It's not our purpose here to level everything in relation to photography, but rather to look into possible patterns of relationships with photography.
     
  187. Before being influenced I am
    And I would say you're not. You only "am" once you're already influenced by a whole lot of things. Your am-ness is, in part, to be already influenced. You are not at any point an empty container waiting to be filled or just lying around being. There is already much determination by the time you "are."
     
  188. Luis, sorry, posts crossed.
    Let me try, it's not easy.
    I see subjectivity (in photography) as something like an instant state of being, which can sum up any determinant of being (experience, culture, genetics if you want) and at the moment it is exposed to a relationship or situation (photographic in this case) can, or can not, evolve to another state of being, according or not according to the relationship or the experience it is exposed to.
    This state of being is subjective, even if only fleetingly, or permanently, depending on the individual.
    It is important to see this state of being as instantaneous potentially, but nevertheless marking the way I am in a relationship.
     
  189. And I would say you're not.​
    At the moment of exposure (to a relationship) I am not what I will be after I am exposed.
    But definitely I am something. Not an empty container - I don't think I have ever said this - but an evolving being.
     
  190. It seems to me that we have a huge lexicological problem.
    Every time I use a word (subjectivity, self, driver) you receive it in the most restrictive conception possible, and in the most linear way possible.​
    Nah. IMO, there's not a lexicological problem at all and it's not a matter of semantics and it's not, as you've suggested a couple of times, that I just don't want to call it subjectivity (and that another word would suffice if we could find the right one). It's a substantive philosophical issue on which we differ. That's OK. But it's a big difference and it isn't just about our use or understanding of words.
    Let's take what you might consider our lexicological problem of whether we call it subjectivity and that I might be interpreting it narrowly or linearly (and, like Luis, I'd love to hear what that means to you). The problem is not with the label but with the IT. IMO, there is no IT.
     
  191. I do not agree.
    I have responded to the question on my conception of subjectivity, talking about experience, agreeing to Luis' "database", and also made the link to "being", while subjectivity is constantly mixed up with controlling, haphazardness, arbitrariness. And I have repeatedly said that being - in photography - does not mean controlling.
    And subjectivity itself is not arbitrariness, but leads to arbitrariness.
    You have made numerous statements which are subjective, strongly subjective, but still deny subjectivity.
    I do not really see our point of philosophical disagreement because I still believe that we are talking about something different. This is evident when you mention the primal driver, which in photography I am not even thinking of.
     
  192. There's a difference between opinion and subjectivity, at least for me. And there's a difference between strong opinion and subjectivity, for me. And there's a difference between talking about myself and adopting the notion of subjectivity as it's being used here. And there's even a difference between talking about oneself, because we are to some extent limited by the grammar that we've used throughout history, and a belief in the self as an it or as a subjective entity.
    As to "driver", you used it and not me. I did say it reminded me of a prime mover, but let's take that back and let's even say I over-reacted (and, if I did, I apologize). But I and Luis have spent a bunch of time talking about NOT being the driver. What we're saying is that many of the kinds of photographic experiences we have are interactions, or relationships. And there is a merged sense of driving (if we'd call it driving at all). There's a one-ness. And, just as often it is a being driven . . . by circumstance, by situation, by the moment, by the world, and is not any kind of proactive driving at all.
    In terms of appreciation, what I do to appreciate is often allow the photo I'm looking at to drive and sometimes even imagine the photographer who created it as a driver. More often, I don't much consider that and assume there is a multi-faceted relationship ensuing or building among me (the non-subjective me), the photo, the subject of the photo, the photographer, other photos, history, knowledge, feeling, and other stuff that is like a swirling web, which doesn't have a fixed identity and isn't up to me to drive or not drive.
    I may project, I may emote, I may flinch and feel yell and shout and jump up and down. That's all part of experience bigger than any one aspect of it, my "self" included. It neither starts nor ends with me or any one other part of it.
     
  193. I would like to interview the other parties in these relationships/interactions -- to see if their experience matches yours -- because, frankly, I'm not seeing this in the discussions here on photo.net.
     
  194. Tough. You can't.
    Since we're talking photos and if it were anyone else challenging me thusly I would recommend they look at my photos for signs of the kind of interaction and relationship I'm talking about, but I don't trust you enough to do that since I have come to expect you would twist it in any way your little subjective mind would want to at the moment in order to suit your particular agenda of that moment, much like you use quotes.
     
  195. But what I am trying to say is that my conception of self is not "one aspect".
    On the contrary, it's extremely varied, multifaceted and - as important - dynamic: I see it changing over time.
    The same applies to "driver". Not one "push", but varied and manifold interacting stimuli.
    But honestly, after attempts, I don't see any chance of making myself understood.
     
  196. "I would recommend they look at my photos for signs of the kind of interaction and relationship I'm talking about"
     
    Bottom line Fred's photos ares speaking for him. Tough argument to challenge. Why, because when we reach the end of the road in any discussion it is always about the photos;because that is what photography is all about...the bottom line...the photos.
     
    They walk alone, they have no care for any thoughts, they exist just all on thier own.Take what you want from them.
    Julie,you are a very creative mind.
    Sometimes I have to agree with Fred.
     
  197. Lucas.
    Subjective, yes,hard and fast rule,no.
    Rules don't exist in Art or Photography...they both make thier own rules which are always subject to the flowing rivers of change.
     
  198. Lucas, with respect, you have totally ignored the photo I have posted to offer a point of view.Is it beneath you?
    A photo of a smiling young lady is not particulary sublective....it appeals to all.
    A smile given, is often a smile given back...nothing subjective about that.
     
  199. "Julie,you are a very creative mind."
    However, you need to move on with your photography, you have the ability.
    I hope you understand,not a crit...but just a helpful suggestion
     
  200. Allen,<br>
    I think nothing is beneath me.<br>
    Just being here on and off.<br>
    Cheers.
     
  201. "I think nothing is beneath me."
    Throw away words.
    Not an answer.
     
  202. "Lucas, with respect, you have totally ignored the photo I have posted"
    Throw away words.
    Not an answer!
     
  203. Elvis on black velvet paintings is not art. It's kitsch.​
    My youngest son is off to college and I was cleaning out his closet and there was a Velvet Elvis in there. I took it to the Thrift Shop for donation along with James Dean and a bunch of other stuff. I belong to the either I like it or I don't club and I do not care for Velvet Elvis that much. I like Elvis the real guy ok, but not enough to buy a record.
     
  204. Allen Herbert - "
    "Julie,you are a very creative mind."
    However, you need to move on with your photography, you have the ability.
    I hope you understand,not a crit...but just a helpful suggestion
    The usual barbarisms and rude, unsolicited advice aside, Allen...two questions:
    1) What exactly makes you think Julie needs to change anything in her photography?
    2)And how does it fit into this thread on subjectivity?
     
  205. usual barbarisms and rude​
    Not "rude" and especially not "barbaric" !
    Banal, yes.
    We all need to "move on", if we have the ability, including Luis, Julie - and surely also me.
     
  206. Not "rude" and especially not "barbaric" !
    Subjectively (haha) speaking from personal experience, yes, but I'll leave it to Anders to lead by example, and pull this out of its present quagmire. I'm sure the rest will follow.
     
  207. Luis I'm dreaming of a moment where all these marvelous people in Photonet, you included, stop shying away from openly formulating their very subjective appreciation of what others are doing in the field of photography. Only by that revolutionary change will we learn from each other. The rest is small-talk. Friendly, comfortable and slightly boring.
    No, no, no ! I did not write that. Don't bother !
     
  208. I wouldn't mind a substantive critique of any of our work, though the Philosophy forum is NOT the place for that. However, I'm not so sure about trying to masquerade a put-down as a helpful suggestion, which unfortunately is what I think Allen did. Making a generic suggestion that another photographer needs to move on with their photography without giving more specific insight or substance doesn't seem terribly helpful to me.
    I would also question criticizing someone's work because you disagree with the philosophical points they are making.
    As to thinking that my proposing we look at my work for clues into what I've been saying about interaction and relationship somehow means that "they walk alone . . . without any care for thoughts", that's kind of far from what I had in mind. I suggested my photos precisely as accompanying illustrations of what I was saying, not in this case to be just looked at in isolation. This is a Philosophy forum, not a gallery. So using photos as examples can tie into the ideas we're expressing and aren't just being paraded as art. As a matter of fact, the moderators have reminded us over the months that's the purpose of uploading photos in this particular forum.
     
  209. Anders, if you had only thrown Allen into your dream-list, I would not have said a thing. Again, I await your lead.
     
  210. >>> The rest is small-talk. Friendly, comfortable and slightly boring.

    Yup. And I'd add entertaining. Also, the best oblique and backhanded insults of any of the forums!
     
  211. Oh, geez. The icing on the cake just got even thicker.
     
  212. I don't eat cakes and don't care.
     
  213. Addressing the original topic, of subjectivity in appreciation of photographs:
    Of course. Agree. Even more: what is "objective", after-all? Is a rose objectively red, or subjectively? Is it not that "red" itself is but a particular wave-length sensitive to human eye, hence subjective? Was rose still "red" if humans, in the process of evolution, didn't end up with eyes?
    Rose is red because we are around. Rose is separated from the surrounding leaves, because humans noted it (for bees to be there to pollinate, etc), and attached an air-vibration (sound) on it.
    Without humans, there were no nothing. Even God is there because we put it there.
     
  214. Nozar, that's a very anthropocentric view of things. Roses don't depend on humans for their existence. Without humans, there is plenty! A whole universe of things. It's time humans recognized they don't dominate this universe.
     
  215. Fred
    It is a delicate issue. It is the language.
    Rose and mountains do not "exist" without humans, because the very word "exist" is subjectively ,manmade.
    Put it this way, lets assume entire spectrum of energy (all wave-lengths) did exist without humans, then, who were around to be sensitive to the particular band that we, humans, define red?
    In another way, assume humans evolved with another set of members, without eyes, ears, no hands to grab. Then do you think the thing called "nature" on which we are "objectively" discussing now, was the same? Our talk was the same? Did we still talking "subjective" and "objective"? Rose, mountain?
    Again, my point is not that roses did not exist independently, but that "exist" itself is a subjectively and a human concept. So are other things, and feelings, and notions, and concepts. Things are, because we "talk".
     
  216. Whatever. If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it . . . ? I simply disagree with your claim that without humans there were nothing. That's an existential claim and a false one, IMO. And if it feeds into the notion that everything must be "subjective," I find it even more objectionable.
     
  217. Fred - thanks for the argument.
    We know that some of us are born without eyes functioning (blind). And we know if we talk to these poeple, and if in out sentences we use words such as "beautiful" and "red", they understand. In fact, they very likely, and "objectively" may say, or rather admit, that, they can not see red because they can not see. But here, the delicate point is that, they use the word "see" quite inteligiently, and in proper context. Now, they agree that Red exists, even though they can not "see", but do not agree (very very important point here) that they do not understand "see". otherwise how come we could continue talking about it with them. The same is with us, the seeing, whenwe use, thje word "exist". yes, I know what you mean by that, and you know what I mean by that, but this word "exist" is aonly a convention between us.
    Ludvig Wittgenstein makes a nice example. He calls it Beetle experiment. He gives identical boxes to ten people and tell them that what you have in the box, is a Beetle. One can have a shoe, the other a key, one can have two eggs, and one can have empty. But they all are told, what they have in the box is a beetle. Now he used the word, the way we use it. Says, all with beetle in their bpox come here; then all go there. etc. Like that is my perception of consious, and pain, etc, that only I have seen, but we all talk about.
    I use this example, and story, to say how we make words. The only test of correctness is if it works, like a beetle. I know what exist means, and you know that too. But this is only an agreement between us. It is between humans.
     
  218. And what exactly is subjective about an agreement among humans?
     
  219. It is our common experience that is different from that between dogs and horses. We share a same body, hence requirements, functionality, and therefore same relation with whatever we call "outside world". We use common words, as tools, to live easier together. Again, as Wittgenstein said: if a lion could talk, I couldn't understand; how do I know what a lion's world looks like?
     
  220. I don't know what any of that has to do with so-called subjectivity. But, honestly, I grew tired of this thread days ago and don't really want to get into again, because I don't see its relation to photography.
     
  221. Fred
    Just in case you came back to see, and anxious to know:
    The thread is on subjectivity (or not) of photography. I made the example of a (born) blind knowledge of the word seeing. If to 'see" as I said, is subjective, then what is objective?
     
  222. "P.S. I think however that I should not have used "completely" in my caption." Lucus.
     
    Yes, that I agree a step a bit too far.
     
    "Julie,you are a very creative mind." Allen.
    However, you need to move on with your photography, you have the ability.Allen
    I hope you understand,not a crit...but just a helpful suggestion Allen
     
    Jeez, i didn't really want to give some folks the vapours.
     
    We all would like to " move on with our photography"...Indeed who really wants to stay in the same place until the end of time.. If someone tells you have a creative mind and have ability....I would see it as a friendly comment...particulary as they have made it clear that it was not a criticism...admitedly it could have been worded better However, some folks look into twisted mirrors and will quickly jump to the most negative connotation they can put on anything particulary if they have a axe to grind.
     
    "I would also question criticizing someone's work because you disagree with the philosophical points they are making." Fred.
    What a mean comment based on the supposition of a few words without even asking for clarification.. It makes you wonder where that meaness was really being directed.
     
  223. Allen, you, and a few others are a breath of fresh air. Thanks...
     
  224. [Crickets chirping]
     

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