New York/East Coast bias in photography considered to be art

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by justinblack, Mar 19, 2007.

  1. I have grown accustomed to the fact that top landscape and nature photographers, particularly those
    who photograph relatively pristine landscapes, are not recognized or respected by the East Coast
    dominated "big A" Art world. This is despite the fact that many of them have arguably had a greater
    impact on society and the art of photography than the "fine art" photographers who tend to be
    exhibited in museums of modern art. As hard as it may be to believe, I would argue that the ultimate
    reason for Ansel Adams' acceptance in the "Art" world is because he made a deliberate effort to
    schmooze influential curators. This strikes me as a pathetic paradigm, that holds the art in lower regard
    than the connections of the artist. What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?
     
  2. "Pristine landscape" photographs are not popular in the art world today because they have been done to death. Thousands of photographers do these types of photos and they are (artistically) boring. Ansel Adams and other earlier pioneers of photography are considered artists because they were the first to do such things and came close to inventing the genre. A large part of what makes art is originality and it is very difficult to make this type of photo original (not impossible, but difficult). If a painter today painted, say, cubist paintings he would simply be copying other more famous artist (most notably, picasso).
     
  3. Pray tell, who is it that determines for the rest of us what is artistically relevant and
    interesting? While I recognize that there is a great deal of cliché landscape and nature
    photography being made today, it is my impression that it is all essentially written off as a
    genre without being honestly evaluated for artistic merit. I think there is aa great deal of
    orthodoxy in curatorial and critical circles that has predetermined, without sound reason,
    that photographs of pristine nature can't be art, regardless of their content and execution.
    Curators are too concerned with outdoing each other with "edgy" exhibits that ironically
    end up conforming to a sort of curatorial conservativism, whereas they rarely recognize
    the work of top artists working on genre that they have deemed too traditional or
    vernacular to merit attention.

    I just watched an interview of Taryn Simon, a 32 year old New York photographer who has
    been embraced by the fine art establishment and the PBS/NPR/BBC media (of which I am a
    fan by the way). She is a fine photographer with something perfectly valid to contribute
    and I wish her the best, but it is also clear that she, like other photographers who seek the
    favor of the "Art" world, goes out of her way to come up with projects that are designed to
    appeal to the particular preferences of that community (which among other things, tends
    to regard social commentary as meritorious, while commentary on the unique qualities of
    nature is considered either naïve or cliché). This makes her work seem rather contrived to
    me, despite the fact that I also find it well executed and visually interesting. Compare that
    to the work of photographers like Galen Rowell, David Muench, and Jack Dykinga, who
    create original and magnificent compositions of rarified moments in nature because the
    subject matter is important to them and compells them arrtistically. The latter group
    seems much more artistically honest to me. They have also individually made their own
    visual and stylistic discoveries and statements that are as fresh as anything in New York
    galleries if only people take the time to look at their bodies of work and really see. I think
    one issue is the volume of work they create and the way it is marketed. The second it is
    published in a calendar or a coffee-table book that isn't affiliated with a museum exhibit,
    it suddenly becomes too mainstream for the art cognocenti.

    By the way, this is a subject that I have been trying to get my head around for some time,
    and I don't claim to have all the answers. Mostly, I have a lot of musings, and I'd like to
    hear yours.
     
  4. Beautiful, perfectly executed landscapes of pristine areas are a joy to look at and a subject
    matter near and dear to my heart, but as far as them covering new ground, I have the
    same feeling about them as I do an 'American Idol' winner, that is even the most
    celebrated are copying someone else's style and material. They still look nice and have
    their place but there is nothing profound in how they depict their subject. Perhaps
    curators are trying to showcase talent that is at the very least trying to seek new ways to
    express itself and break new ground, in my experience even if it fails it stimulates me
    more than seeing competent execution of a familiar style. If you were a record company
    would you rather sign a great Beatles cover band or the next act that could create their
    own genre? The impact on music and on your reputation for discovering them is
    potentially so great you might take the chance, I think this is how art evolves. I look at the
    excellent landscapes and bird shots and nudes on Photo.net all the time and puzzle over
    their perfect originality ratings which in truth are a mockery. Similarly I look at even my
    own admittedly less accomplished work, even the best of it and say 'so what", the world is
    full of 'formula plot movies', clone stamp spy novels, musical bands copying their hero's
    style and the wealth of it is shockingly mediocre.......landscape photography is subject to
    the same paradigm, easy to be popular but will have a hard time being considered as
    anything other than another pretty picture.
     
  5. I don't think the established "Art World" has a bias, per se, against landscapes
    photographers, but as Jay alluded to, they tend to seek out new concepts over the tried
    and true. They also favor artwork that makes strong statements, and preferably has
    unique points of view.

    As much as I love and admire Galen's landscapes and find them visually stunning and
    unique, for a collection of his work to be exhibited at a major modern art museum like the
    Whitney, I think it would require coming up with a central and compelling theme to the
    collection that would be exhibited.

    As an example, a compelling collection of Galen's work centered on Tibet could become an
    exhibit that could interest the East Coast art world. Or a collection centered on
    mountaineers and their struggles, challenges, and rewards of scaling the world's highest
    mountains could be the basis of another exhibit.

    In regard to Jack Dykinga's work, a collection worthy of an art exhibit could be built
    around his photographs of endangered Sonoran Desert plant life.

    I think the key is to come up with an exhibit that the East Coast "Art Establishment" would
    find BOTH artistically and intellectually compelling AND also unique. A collection of
    exquisite and unique landscape photographs by themselves (with no central unifying
    theme) wouldn't be enough.

    BTW, I do not think the acceptance Ansel Adams in the East Coast art world was because
    he made a deliberate effort to schmooze influential curators, but more likely because very
    early in his career Adams gained a very important and influential supporter of his work,
    Alfred Stieglitz, who helped promote Ansel's work to the East Coast art establishment.
     
  6. A lot of them aren't so much shmoozing as just travelling in the same circles and have similar tastes.
     
  7. "What are your thoughts on this phenomenon?"

    I don't believe that "this phenomenon" actually exists.

    There's no conspiracy to exclude the genre of landscape from the art galleries of the
    world, it's just that work like Galen Rowell's isn't strong enough to make the jump from
    the pages of a calendar to the walls of MoMA. There's no shame in being a solid
    photographer producing work that graces the pages of NatGeo, but, equally, there's no
    compelling reason for that work to be given the status of art. If there was such a downer
    on landscape photography it would be difficult to explain the current success of figures
    like Richard Misrach, Robert Polidori, and Alec Soth (who all, to a greater or lesser extent,
    work with the land).
     
  8. Perhaps it's more valuable to examine how the audience for the work comes by their taste? Do the curators create the audience's desire to see (and hopefully buy!) work of a certain stripe, or are they responding to the market as they see it?

    As a resident of the East Coast, and a guy with a wife who is a fine art printmaker who sometimes prefers creating "traditional" representative fare over the sort of commentary-pieces that seems to flood shows and dealers, I do sympathize with Justin's musings. I agree that many venues skew towards the pretentious, the shocking, the politically aligned, and I do see the irony in it. I'm reminded of the sort of "Goth" phase that many young creative people go through, where they insist (as they adopt a deliberately provocative look meant to get under the skin of their parents, and in doing so, are joining a team of untold thousands that look exactly the same) that they are non-conformists/non-traditionalists. At some point, capital-A Art that relies on the same provocative sensibilities to get gallery wall time is just doing the same thing, and it too will evetually feel just as cliched as (for some) a perfectly executed landscape.

    As a guy who's looking to produce material surrounding things that happen out in the field (literally, in fields!), I can really appreciate the hard work that goes into a challenging landscape work. I think that stepping out your front door into the street and concocting something provocative with a homeless person on your block is the height of laziness, rather than artistic vigor, and indeed, some curators fall for it. Alas! OK, done ranting.
     
  9. Justin, I just looked at the photos on your website. They're far from being "pristine" landscape photos, at least here on Earth. They're overly Photoshoped images that look like the covers of science fiction magazines from a generation or two ago.
     
  10. Not sure that I agree witht hepremise of the question. I would say that serious galleries and collectors DO collect landscape artists and respect their vision. Michael Kenna, John Sexton, Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee all have their work in major art collections around the country (I am sure I have left out dozens of others). I do think, however, that because this work is in a tradition that dates back so far, and has been addressed by so many of the medium's masters, the bar is a bit higher for recognition -- once you have examined the work of Adams, Weston, Strand, etc., you have by definition raised the bar very high indeed. The contemporary artists I have listed above, IMHO, have made it over the bar....and of course it is possible for others to do so as well.
     
  11. I found the last two comments by Matt and Al an interesting dichotomy of opinions.

    "I think that stepping out your front door into the street and concocting something provocative with a homeless person on your block is the height of laziness, rather than artistic vigor, and indeed, some curators fall for it. Alas!"

    "They're overly Photoshoped images that look like the covers of science fiction magazines from a generation or two ago."

    In-ter-es-tink! :)
     
  12. In reading the above answers, a thought came to mind: who is the real beneficiary of the creation of art -- the artist or the viewer? Commercial considerations aside, we've discussed in depth the benefits to the artist in terms of self-fulfillment and all the other reasons we make our photographs.

    If we're fortunate enough to be able to follow in the footsteps of the great landscape photographers and render our own versions of The Great Places, and if that gives us great personal satisfaction, should we care what any group of elitists happen to think is currently in vogue? In reality, Adams, Weston, White and the other greats wouldn't have a chance in a typical camera club contest against a cute snapshot of a puppy in a boot. If the Eastern establishment has a bias against Western landscapes, it would seem much the same. If you want or need to succeed in that arena, you have to play by their rules or stay our of the game

    Sure, it's nice to get good gallery space and receive recognition for our efforts, but that's really about increasing the prospects of financial reward, isn't it? If an amateur follows his own course, creates his art with honesty and devotion and simply lets it find its own level, isn't that enough?
     
  13. There is also the fact that with (your example of) Taryn Simon, she has a very clear message. Her art is not just pretty, but has a lot of underlying meaning and almost a philosophy behind it (at least a world-view). While the other photographers that you mentioned dont ('nature is pretty' doesnt really count).
     
  14. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I'd like to see Matt justify that statement. What curators have given shows of new work of the homeless on someone's block?
     
  15. "If an amateur follows his own course, creates his art with honesty and devotion and simply lets it find its own level, isn't that enough?"

    To a point as that's my current dilemma and why I've had to put the camera down; introspection as to "The why of photography."

    Like my efforts, don't like my efforts, viewer's choice but what's a photographer/artist to do, after forty-five years of doing it for love and not money or fame? At a certain point it seems that one "has to" enter the game of competition/money/notoriety (renewed purpose/intensity) or the candle burns out and the act becomes just another picture; who cares.
     
  16. "Pray tell, who is it that determines for the rest of us what is artistically relevant and
    interesting? "

    No one does. Only you determine what is artistically relevant for yourself. And you
    certainly don't speak for anyone else.

    On the other hand the major critics and curators from around the world probably see a lot
    more work than you imagine they do; if you are able and willing to step outside of
    your own prejudices for a moment or two they can and can lead you to seeing what a
    photograph can be, to your seeing in new ways. Might you disagree with them sometimes?
    I
    hope so. Do they sometimes make silly choices? Of course: see the hype surrounding
    Sherry Levine and Richard Prince for example.

    In fact you are just flat out wrong in your initial post. Michael Kenna, John Sexton, Robert
    Adams, Stephen Shore, Marilyn Bridges, Robert Glenn Ketchum, and many others who
    work primarily with the landscape as their primary subject are well respected and have
    thriving careers in the art world. AOn the other hand, try to ape what Ansel Adams did
    sixty years ago is more than a little dishonest. But taking what Ansel did, and what others
    have built off of that foundation, even if they are reacting against it, as a jumping off point
    for your own work is both desirable ,
    honest , and honorable.

    There is plenty of room in photography to appreciate the dozens of main paths in
    photography.
     
  17. Why not call it a school of esthetic/market rather than bias?
     
  18. To a point as that's my current dilemma and why I've had to put the camera down; introspection as to "The why of photography."
    Perhaps it is time to paint and sculpt. But the subtext to your frequent posts about your musing seems to be "why is my work not speaking to anyone?" The declarations that one SHOULD not care seem to affirm the fact that you do care - a lot!
    So stop SHOULDing on yourself. Find the community of peers who share your vision. The world is smaller than ever now.
     
  19. Interesting thoughts everyone. Some have mentioned landscape photographers who are in
    fact recognized in the fine art world. However, with the exception of John Sexton and Paula
    Chamlee, most of the photographers mentioned (Kenna, Misrach, Shore, Robert Adams,
    Glenn Ketchum, etc.) have tended to make their mark photographing landscapes which
    have been modified visibly in one way or another by human activity, whether it is through
    deforestation, development, landscaping, etc. In other words, they represent the sort of
    social commentary work that I've mentioned above, which can of course be very valuable
    and perfectly valid in its own right (and I particularly love the aesthetics of Kenna's work).
    Also, while Sexton is a remarkably good landscape photographer and printer, what is it
    about his work that goes beyond rehashing what's already been done (a la Adams, Weston,
    et al) and makes it artistically relevant?
     
  20. I think of Sexton's work as being a little more intimate, and a touch more formal, than Adams....I certainly don't think of him as a rehash...
     
  21. ...And, Pico makes a good point when he asks, "Why not call it a school of esthetic/market
    rather than bias?" The school of esthetic/market in the Western U.S. is very different, and
    seems to be much more open to the idea that photography appreciating the unique
    esthetic qualities of wild nature remains a valid genre with something meaningful to
    contribute artistically, and socially for that matter.
     
  22. BTW, not entirely sure that this is an east/west thing at all. Look at Paul Caponigro's work -- much of which is set in Connecticut or Maine, and which fits very precisely into fine art landscape. There is a whole school of New England photography which he was a part of.....(Fred Picker et. al.......) Also, Paula Chamlee and her husband are long-time residents of Bucks County, Pa......
     
  23. "Also, while Sexton is a remarkably good landscape photographer and printer, what is it about his work that goes beyond rehashing what's already been done (a la Adams, Weston, et al) and makes it artistically relevant?"

    I don't know if it does go beyond other then to "maybe" expand upon the idea; if indeed it does expand as in; "Where's the color?" "Where's the contemporary edginess of it all?" Nothing wrong with f/64 but to me, that was then and this is now.

    http://www.anseladams.com/content/contemp_photographers/johnsexton_intro.html

    http://www.anseladams.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=44

    If you will, make note of the subject matter of the color photographers at the gallery.

    http://205.178.161.74/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=14

    It seems the intent of this genre is to sharpen one's skills to the level of a hypodermic needle but image the same subject matter, over and over and over and over and over and over..... ad nauseum.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing but where's the growth; lack of rehashing as it becomes another blurry (all blurring together) portfolio of highly skilled efforts of many pretty pictures with nothing to stir things up, in-between.
     
  24. Not sure of your point, Thomas. Are all of Sexton's images merely rehashes of Adams? I think not. They have a very different feel, in my view. Indeed, I am not sure I have ever seen an image by Sexton in the vein of "ain't nature grand" -- the sort of Adams images that Weston used to laugh at (affectionately, of course....)
     
  25. The "Art World" is business. Everybody in it has to make a living or move on. I don't understand why people take exception to it and complain about it. "Art" is what you think you can sell, what you think will earn a commission, what you think will toggle eyeball and bring in paying foot traffic.

    Landscape photography is designed *not* to be "edgy". Landscape photographers clone out anything edgy to the point unreality, or they photograph protected things (waiting for the contrails to dissipate) that's why there are a billion photographs of Delicate Arch, even though no one has brought anything to the subject since Josef Muensch photographed it.

    Decades ago I took a Cultural Geography course. The instructor had a mnemonic for it: forms on land made by man. We and our works are part of the landscape -- except in the fantasies of Landscape photographers, who these days prefer the "pristine wilderness", something that doesn't exist, just parks.

    I try not to encourage them.
     
  26. Rather than the "East Coast" call it what it is: New York. Fairly small group who talk to and at each other, have to create new vocabularies to impress, and who won't look at you if you show up in last year's Prada (sp?).

    I don't make any attempt to sell my work, so I have no need to pay attention to them...do you?
     
  27. There's a couple of concepts mentioned which, to me, seem incompatible:

    - pristine landscape

    - intellectual honesty

    There's very little pristine landscape around us, and to go and seek those views out and carefully compose an image which is probably a 20 degree turn from a building or strip mine, seems intellectually DISHONEST to me. Those images are selecting the one bit out that hasn't been touched from a landscape which has been altered on all sides by the activity of mankind. Eggleston's work is much more honest, to me, in all of its banal attention to the details all around us. That's where people really live.

    As other's have mentioned, the art world is about more than beauty. In fact there's been a radical movement away from beauty for the last 150-200 years, so it's hardly a new or "East Coast Art World" trend. Art is much more conceptual and more about the intellectual engagement of the viewer than it ever was under the influence of the Renaissance aesthetic. The fine art photography you mention is centered around a theme, an idea, and the images are used to express and convey that theme. Sometimes it means individual works wouldn't stand on their own, but it's the larger work which is being presented, not each individual image.
     
  28. "Art is much more conceptual and more about the intellectual engagement of the viewer than it ever was under the influence of the Renaissance aesthetic."

    Not so. The painting of the Renaissance is intensely intellectual, intentionally so. We just don't know how to 'read' it anymore, but art historians and philosophers do beginning with Vasari. They aren't making it up.
     
  29. I'll take your word for it, but you don't find Renaissance art where the concept carries the work without a beautiful subject, which was my real point.
     
  30. ...is a documentary which will be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, FL at 2 pm on Saturday, March 24th. "Award winning filmmaker Peter Rosen will lead a discussion following the screening." (This came in today's mail.)

    RSVP and information 305-893-6211 www.mocanomi.org

    The Museum is located at 770 NE 125th Street in North Miami.
     
  31. A favorite slight of landscape and nature photographers has been that they are pollyannas
    who delude themselves with their quest to find wild, pristine, and sublime subject matter
    when the harsh "reality" of the modern world is one of human impact and the remaking of
    the landscape. However, both points of view are "reality." While I agree that we are not
    artistically informed by more photos of Delicate Arch (unless interpreted in a radically new
    way), there is still a surprising amount of territory around the world (even outside of parks
    and preserves) where the landscape is wild, human-induced climate change and the
    occassional power line or road notwithstanding. Vast swaths of Northern and Central Asia
    come to mind. In any case, I don't think of the landscape as a series of spots or vistas on a
    checklist that are to be catalogued and then eventually disregarded as "done to death."
    The great thing about photography is that there will always be new ways to see and
    photograph the world.
     
  32. It's funny that sometimes the people who accuse others of being snobs are usually the actual snobs. You'll rarely find the supposed "east coast snobs" actually attacking pretty nature scenes from California unless they're ASKED for an opinion. But us "city folk" are always open to attack for doing the things we simply want to do. You ask us, we give you an opinion. Perhaps we're simply not interested in the same old thing done to death. One asks for an opinion, and when they get one, they don't like what they hear so they accuse that person of being a snob. Interesting.

    Think about it. Next time you are hanging out with a group of people, watch how people always accuse those "city folk" of being such snobs and how they can't stand them because they are such snobs. Oh those city folks and their unfair snobby arrogant ways. We should never associate with those snobby snob snobs!

    It's funny when you realize this... you realize it's not always the city folk that are snobs.
     
  33. "A favorite slight of landscape and nature photographers has been that they are pollyannas who delude themselves with their quest to find wild, pristine, and sublime subject matter when the harsh "reality" of the modern world is one of human impact and the remaking of the landscape."

    I think the real problem is that they cannot see the modern world as anything but harsh reality, and never sublime. If anything human makes it into landscape photography, it is "picturesque", like a ruin, otherwise, it is all enviro-aware stuff anymore, expressing a longing to ctrl-alt-del the human.

    This was not always the case. Older landscape photography seems to be a lot less delicate about the real world.
     
  34. Don, that's a very good point and you're right that many landscape photographers avoid
    evidence of humanity in pictures as if it were some as a kind of rule. However, one reason
    photography of "wild" nature interests me is that it deals with natural phenomena that are
    bigger, more enduring, and more universal than humanity - geological forces, the physics
    of light, natural cycles, order and chaos, etc. I don't believe for a second that humanity
    ought to be excluded from landscape photographs, but does it need to be included in
    order for landscape photography to be taken seriously as art? Since we interpret any
    photograph in relation to our own human experience and consciousness, it seems to me
    that nature photography can make some very powerful statements about humanity by way
    of saying something about nature.

    Oh, and Jeffrey, though I live in the Sierra Nevada now, I'm an east coast city boy who grew
    up in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC, and studied in an east coast
    art program at George Washington University. I'm actually rather fond of city folk.
     
  35. Justin,

    If you start with an idea, and make images around that idea, I think you'll be more successful in art whether those images are landscape, portrait, etc. The idea is the central tenet of the art world now.

    The problem I think you'll run into with expressing your idea via nature photography is that, as people become more and more disconnected from the pristine natural world, images of that natural world become more and more disconnected from the viewers of the images and any emotional or intellectual content tends to fall flat because it is not understood. You'll have to re-invent and re-define a language to communicate what you're trying to communicate, because it's not people's common experience anymore. Making it even harder is the familiarity with the works of great landscape masters like Ansel Adams and how your work will be interpreted in relation to their work. It's a heavy burden for a current landscape photographer to carry, and it's a reason that a lot of new landscape work I've seen has started to be more abstract, to break that relationship with the old.
     
  36. I guess it's easy for me to say but shoot what speaks to you. If others want to hang it on their walls or galleries - be them east coasties or west coasties - and pay you for it, well that's just gravy.
     
  37. For the record, I'm a Pittsburgh boy born on dream street who now lives a few miles from Delicate Arch. I know several landscape or nature photographers and cine-photographers, at least one whose work you've seen on TDC and in NG. I also hike off-trail in the national parks and forests.

    One thing I've learned is that if you can walk there, someone was there before you. They settled there, hunted there, mined there, knapped tools there, strung wire there, made drawings there (maps and cartoons, mostly, I think, 'Kilroy was here'), left tin cans there, built fires, built hunting blinds, broke pottery, chopped down trees for firewood, and if it is in a 'national' anything, they left survey markers, stakes, sensors and camera kit. Below Delicate Arch is a treasure-trove of lens caps.

    All the above things are there in the landscape in the common framing we see in photographs of Delicate Arch. I know they are there because I've photographed them. When I find Fremont-era pottery and knapping sites above Courthouse Wash, I can reconstruct the scene, create a narrative, even. I know with fair accuracy what happened then.

    The landscape is full of human presence lingering in the sand and rock. My brief against the common run of landscape photographers is that they are uninterested in just what is in the landscape they photograph. The "main subject" is all for them, excluding everything else. They do not see.

    Landscape has become as pretentious a genre as whatever it is that some refer to as bum photography in NY.
     
  38. ""Who Gets To Call It Art?""

    In all seriousness, I do, you do and anybody who wants to, gets to, but in "acceptable" terms, I would have to say the gate keepers of the contemporary artistic aesthetic are the MoMA curators.

    After putting a great deal of personal effort into understanding this aggrandized word, "art," which somehow has obtained mythical stature, I found that it's really a term of pedestrian pedigree; a skilled product of an artisan or craftsperson; nothing more; artisan, "art" for short. For purposes of aggrandizement, some have chosen to elevate themselves (this term) above the pedestrian roots of it's reality. Aaaaah, the fragilities of the human condition, egocentricity. :)
     
  39. I realize that I am coming very late to this discussion. One thought that comes to mind is that the terms of the question are inaccurate. The division is between urban consciousness and rural consciousness, not between East and West coasts. Art has historically been an urban activity, with artists and their audience making trips in the country for vacations. Urban people not only have a hard time understanding rural and wilderness situations, they often are frightened by them, just as rural people are frightened by cities. The fact that rural populations are considered by city-dwellers as ill-mannered and stupid only adds to the miscommunication. Artists who live outside cities often feel that the art-world of cities is populated by Martians. Cultural misunderstandings are very hard to overcome. They often operate at the level of first assumptions and emotional habits.
     
  40. This discussion has reminded me to make the photographs that have meaning for me,
    regardless of external factors. Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    Hey Don, say hi to Foote for me the next time you see him.
     
  41. [​IMG]
    Unfocused patch of grass with nothing much happening
    These are sad times indeed for the struggling artist. The big As of the "big A art world" continue to ignore masterpieces like "Unfocused patch of grass with nothing much happening" (hereinafter referred to as UPOGWNMH) and yet it is little consolation to have to hear once more how other great artists (such as myself) have met their demise penniless and unappreciated, only to be lauded for their work years after they have started to smell so bad that nobody could bear to be in a room with them to laud them anyway.
    In this era of trendy fads and celebrity for its own sake, UPOGWNMH has been sadly overlooked in spite of its carefully crafted mediocrity and the fact that it is a truly savage indictment of something or other that sorely needs to be savagely indicted. Still, Sysiphus-like I continue to toil in my wilderness, hoping that my voice will one day be heard and regretting my decision to roll such a heavy stone while wearing open-toed sandals. Adieu!
     
  42. Gordon, Gordon, Gordon, you didn't use the right vocabulary to describe/explain/elucidate/obfuscate your masterwork here (I personally see the juxtaposition of the..sorry, my last years' Pradas wore a blister, got distracted) . Get the latest criticisms from the Times et al, cut and paste an essay, resubmit
     
  43. Just thank god that this country is so large and diversified that Art is not as unified Mac
    Donalds, Holiday Inn and all the rest of the crap that promises that wherever one is in the
    USA it can look the same as long as one is indoors. It IS NOT THE SAME. But those who wish
    it to be so, will see it so. And they are just bloody stupid.
     
  44. I say good ones don't care the schmoorz or no schmoorz, they just do. True art is not a intelectual product backed up with smart strategia, it is a ultimate maifestation of beauty, harmony or truth in context of humanity. Then Art occur true it has naive ability to go thorough all the security of establishments appealing to the best part of common human nature universaly. I has much greater value then any kind of judgement may be passed on it. Cut thorough like a diamont.
     
  45. There's a lot more to the west besides landscapes.
    00KQus-35606084.jpg
     
  46. A few final thoughts:

    - Gordon, I think your park photograph makes a statement regarding the contemporary
    urban greenbelt monoculture. ;) Thanks for posting that - hilarious!

    - Someone said that Galen Rowell's work isn't strong enough to make the leap from the
    pages of the Geographic to the walls of MoMA. I think it more or less meaningless for an
    individual to make a statement like "his work isn't strong enough" about one of the most
    influential, insightful, and widely respected photographers of the 20th Century who at 42
    years of age had a major show at the International Center of Photography curated by
    Cornell Capa. You may or may not like his work, but it is certainly "strong enough." There
    is plenty of photography that makes it into modern art museums that is not particularly
    strong or that fails completely in the eyes of many sophisticated viewers, though the
    curator has decreed it to be fine art.

    - To Al Kaplan, who saw fit to belittle my own work when I didn't even bring it up once: If
    you had the opportunity to review my prints before making ad hominem attacks, you
    would find that they look like my original transparencies, and aren't "overly
    Photoshopped." They are in fact actual moments in nature. I do not remove or add content
    or alter colors away from what was on the film. The prints are appreciated very much by
    those who see them on the walls in the gallery and they sell well. I do think that the
    images on my website look a bit punchy on some monitors, especially PCs, and I am in the
    process of addressing this issue.
     
  47. Justin, your last comment demonstrates that there is in fact NOT a bias in "the East Coast dominated "big A" Art world." If Galen Rowell got a solo exhibition at ICP then clearly there cannot be too much of a bias in the East.
     
  48. Justin - Thanks for a very thought provoking thread. I think that art often does get institutionalized just like pretty much every other human endeavor. There's always an "elite" ready to plant their flag and claim the territory as their own.
     
  49. "They are in fact actual moments in nature. I do not remove or add content or alter colors away from what was on the film."

    And would you be using Velvia or other "saturated" films by chance?
     
  50. "And would you be using Velvia...?" One of these days I'll have to shoot a roll of that stuff just to see. Saturday, it was very bright...
    00KSCa-35631184.jpg
     
  51. We prefer something else.
    00KSCd-35631384.jpg
     
  52. :D

    Thank-you! :D

    :D
     
  53. Been working on Saturday's photos and here's what I'm satisfied with. I don't think it a false representation of the light, but it is not painful to view either :cool:
    00KSTk-35636584.jpg
     
  54. Great shots don't miss no nothing. Gentlemen.
     
  55. If I had to chose between being a good photographer or being a good photographer who was also awake enough to learn to "play the game" I would certainly choose the latter. Seems to be a more rounded person who sees what bind spots exist in the "business" part of art and endeavors to fill them with usable knowledge.. Its a development of another part of the art world. Sort of "value added" skill.
     
  56. "Someone said that Galen Rowell's work isn't strong enough to make the leap from the
    pages of the Geographic to the walls of MoMA. I think it more or less meaningless for an
    individual to make a statement like "his work isn't strong enough""

    That someone was me. I don't think it's remotely controversial or insulting to suggest that
    Rowell's work isn't "art". Rowell, like Steve McCurry, was a crowd pleaser rather than
    someone pushing the boundaries of photography. The very reason he's popular with
    amateur photographers is that his work is like their work - if only they had a little more
    graphic sense and a lot more application. There are a few photographers who've worked
    for Natgeo who're more ambitious, and whose work could legitimately be considered "art"
    - maybe Alex webb - but they're few and far between. Rowell was a successful
    photographer who did what he did well, but it's more fitted to gracing a jigsaw puzzle
    than a gallery wall.
     
  57. Compare that (Taryn Simon)to the work of photographers like Galen Rowell, David Muench, and Jack Dykinga..."
    How can you be so shallow? Apples? Oranges? Hello? It's obvious you didn't hear a word the woman said, either. All of these people choose subjects that interest them. Galen, Taryn, Jack and Sexton... all of them. WTF is wrong with that? They photograph what interests them... get it? And if you don't like it, SO WHAT? At least she's not just imitating Elliott Porter... which is what seems to interest you.
    And I don't think Ansel Adams photographed the freakin Space Shuttle, so back off John. He's head and shoulders above any wonk that's weighed in here on this absurd topic. sheesh.
    And Boris, thank's for tipping me off. Now I know what to expect from you... t
     
  58. "And Boris, thank's for tipping me off. Now I know what to expect from you... t"

    ?
     
  59. "Rowell, like Steve McCurry, was a crowd pleaser rather than someone pushing the
    boundaries of photography."

    You will find that a body of work like Galen's did not exist before he came along. He
    absolutely pushed the boundaries of photography, and took us to places (physically and
    visually) that very few could ever even venture much less routinely come back with
    beautifully made photographs of a sort that had never been seen before. He spent his
    career continuously growing as an artist, and he created and mastered the genre of color
    adventure photography in the world's high and wild places as much as Ansel Adams and
    his ilk mastered the genre of formal black and white landscape. Perhaps Galen shouldn't
    have been as generous with his insights as he was. If he had kept to himself everything he
    knew about photographic seeing, human visual cognition, the physics of natural optical
    phenomena, the role played by physical fitness and self-propelled mobility in the
    landscape, etc., etc., no one could confuse his work with that of any of the many followers
    who came after and had the benefit of the easy road he paved for them. But Galen was too
    generous to keep it all to himself, and so honest that he openly shared every aspect of his
    approach and technique. To many, his work stands out prominently in a visual society that
    his generosity helped to crowd.

    This raises another issue. The fact that work is appreciated by "the crowd" does not by
    definition mean that it does not rise to the level of fine art, despite what some seem to
    think. There exists, for instance, the relatively small bunch of self-appointed cognocenti
    who think that Cindy Sherman is a genius (to me she simply seems like a narcissistic
    sensationalist who takes advantage of the American tendency to prudishness - that
    certainly would have been a groundbreaking approach in 1692), and the masses who enjoy
    the works of Van Gogh, O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Galen Rowell because they find the
    work inspiring, interesting, narrative, or deeply beautiful. Popularity on its own does not
    cause a work to be great art, but the fact that many people like a piece of art or body of
    work does not preclude it from being great art either. Whether or not Galen's work is
    venerated in the long term remains to be seen, but I see no reason that it must not be.
     
  60. Justin, this comes across as nothing but a pr puff for the company that you appear to work
    with. I'd encourage people to take a look at Rowell's archive:

    http://mlstock.com/gallery_front.shtml

    Mainstream travelogue of a type that's been around for decades. Nothing that "pushed the
    boundaries of photography", and nothing that's even in the same ballpark as "art".

    "Whether or not Galen's work is venerated in the long term remains to be seen, but I see
    no reason that it must not be"

    It'll be acknowledged as the solid, mainstream work, that it is. You do Rowell a disservice
    by attempting to pass off his work as something that it simply isn't - art. Why not stop
    raging against the effete east coast aesthetes and get on with the task of keeping his work
    alive in the areas it was always destined for?
     
  61. "...and nothing that's even in the same ballpark as "art"."

    There's only art which one likes and art one doesn't like; it's pretty black-n-white.

    The word art, in of itself, is an aggrandized term of no defined meaning. In order for one to say what isn't art, one must, in the same breath, say what art is. Sans a accepted definition, "anything" of a skilled or purposeful nature, is art.
     
  62. Justin, who among the nature photographers of our day have as the reason for an exposure making a fine art print?

    Above you mention several photographers who are "recognized in the fine art world"...how many of them produce fine art prints? How many of them produce b&w prints? Among the famous nature photographers who are not so "recognized", how many of them have a body of work that can be called "fine art prints"?

    Consider "fine art" to be a style or a genre itself, rather than a level of critical acceptance. In order to produce a fine art print, the photographer must have that intention. If they don't, no matter how good they are technically, no matter the unique subject, the difficulty in obtaining the exposure, no matter its beauty or rarity, if the photographer doesn't intend a fine art print, it is not fine art.

    The nature photographers who understand this spend at least part of their time with a large format film camera or full frame digital shooting for the fine art print.
     
  63. You had me until you started talking about large format cameras or full frame digital... That has no bearing on fine art. It's the intention, not the methods or materials. There's probably as many fine-art photographers using disposable cameras or Holgas or other toy cameras as there are using large format. Probably more.
     
  64. Jason, landscape photographers prefer LF or full frame digital. I was not speaking of all fine art photography.
     
  65. ...and I am certain some prefer MF or even SF, to avoid the counter examples.
     
  66. Yes I agree Justin, same old same old. Photography has a long history of being ignored by the mainstream art world. And photographers of all sorts here in the West have a long history of being relatively ignored by those to the East. To rise to some level of recognition, a western photographer almost always needs to set that foundation out here first in the West. Ansel spent much of his life struggling with little notice until he ventured east and began publishing photography books. Quite a number of others that have much in the publishing world to their public credit never rose much past that. Probably much of that is to be expected due to the vast distances and resulting cultural insulation. It really isn't a bias against we Westerners but rather against nature and landscape photographers wherever. And of course in the art world there has always been countless unknown artists of all media types fighting to find a path towards public awareness and recognition with galleries and museums often in the middle of that battle zone. Black and white prints took many years to gain some credibility which occurred in part because it became a financial plus to some galleries that displayed such prints.

    Color photographic prints as art have long been rejected in part by the art world due to deficient longevity of media and relatively flawed processes between film and print. Although that may no longer be true, the rest of the mainstream artworld is not likely aware of that or interested that it has. So what! From the perspective of art museum curators and gallery directors, just because something is aesthetically worthy of art doesn't mean they ought to be interested in displaying such to the public. Thus they will continue to choose what they show and keep a finger up in the breeze to sense the current media their small community chooses to offer the public.

    Another thing working against photography is the usual discussion as to whether or not it is art? Just what is photography? Some genres of photography are certainly art worthy but others like news photography and most of what is nature or landscape photography of the natural world is in a gray area. Personally I would prefer not to include what we do as art because art people immediately start holding photography to usual art critique standards that really ought not apply. To the mainstream art folks, landscapes or nature subjects are labeled "done to death" or "cliche" or "socially boring" regardless of whether an image can be rendered in fresh ways. With nature, the vast variables of weather and light make for myriad possibilities. And so what that technology has vastly improved the processes that now deliver compellingly beautiful prints. But to the usual urban art mind, little of that matters. Given their shallow usual experience to anything beyond the urban world it all looks the same to them. To those who regular enjoy experiencing natural places on our planet Earth, to those who enjoy images of the natural world, the subtleties of natural are apparent so it does matter. Thus a cultural disconnect that is likely to continue unless they ever notice a financial benefit of embracing what we offer.

    ...David
    http://www.davidsenesac.com
     
  67. Boris,

    You do the readers of photo.net a disservice by misdirecting them to Galen Rowell's STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY archives, instead to the archives of Galen Rowell's FINE ART PRINTS, which is the more relevant archives for this discussion.

    Since googling for "Galen Rowel fine art prints" (or any similar phrase) brings up the CORRECT URL for his FINE ART PRINT archives at the VERY TOP of the search results, it seems that you went to great trouble to misdirect the readers of photo.net to the wrong archives.

    Do you have an axe to grind with the late Galen Rowell or Justin Black? To me it appears that you do.

    BTW, those who are interested in viewing the fine art photography of Galen Rowell (and not his stock photos) can go the correct URL: http://www.mountainlight.com/gallery.html
     
  68. Boris, for my own understanding, could you please give an example or two of some current photographers that are "pushing the boundaries of photography", with an explanation of what boundaries are being pushed.

    Thanks.
     
  69. Peter,

    I looked at the gallery you linked. Yawn. Sunsets, zooms on animals, etc.. These are what you think is pushing the boundaries of photography and art? These are what make you think deep thoughts and ponder life, art, etc?

    Doesn't do anything for me. It's all so much stock photography.
     
  70. "Since googling for "Galen Rowel fine art prints" (or any similar phrase) brings up the
    CORRECT URL for his FINE ART PRINT archives at the VERY TOP of the search results, it
    seems that you went to great trouble to misdirect the readers of photo.net to the wrong
    archives"

    But I'd only google "rowell + art" if I considered his work to be art. I don't. Anyway, thanks
    for the link to you provided - it strengthens my assertion that his work is nothing but
    travelogue.

    "Do you have an axe to grind with the late Galen Rowell or Justin Black? To me it appears
    that you do."

    Why does it appear so to you? This is a discussion forum. By definition people are going to
    offer conflicting views. Justin even began the thread by asking: "What are your
    thoughts...?". I, along with others, offered my views.

    "Boris, for my own understanding, could you please give an example or two of some
    current photographers that are "pushing the boundaries of photography", with an
    explanation of what boundaries are being pushed."

    Nels, I'll give you some links to work that I think is pushing forward (or at least not
    retreating backwards), but I'm not giving you a written justification for them. The images
    will either connect with you or not, and it's unlikely anything I say will alter your
    perceptions.

    http://www.yossimilogallery.com/artists/lise_sarf/

    http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/boris_mikhailov.htm

    http://www.tate.org.uk/magazine/issue7/graham.htm

    http://www.alecsoth.com/

    The last is to satisfy those who yearn for the days of sheet film, insanely large tripods, and
    tortuous technique. Ask me the same question tomorrow and I'd give you links to entirely
    different photographers....
     
  71. O.k. Boris. Here are my reactions to the photographers you listed, all of whom I
    approached with an open mind.

    - Yossi Milo: THIS hasn't been done before?... to death even? Yes, it meets the art student
    standards for what art photography is supposed to look like, but it really isn't anything
    new and interesting. This style has been conventional at least since the 1980s.

    - Boris Mikhailov: Exploitative and further victimization of the subjects. There are better
    ways to make insightful and enlightening commentary on the social victims of the
    continuing changes in the former Soviet Union. Oh, yes, it's edgy and shocking and
    therefore meets a stereotypical art world standard, but that does not give it merit. If
    people in the west were better informed as to what has gone on in the FSU over the last
    decade and a half, this wouldn't even be interesting. It would simply be run of the mill
    photojournalism if he didn't ask the subjects to disrobe, and because he does, I feel it is
    disrespectful of people who need help, not voyeurism for art's sake.

    Paul Graham: His "Blinded Man" is aesthtically interesting, but the others are classic
    examples of mundane images that are put out there as art. Graham is well
    established in the U.K. art scene, so he can get away with this. An unknown photographer
    presenting these images would be disregarded. There are only three images shown on the
    Tate site, which is a shame, as I can't believe that it fairly represents the exhibition. At
    least I hope they don't, because if they are representative, Graham's work doesn't
    represent "a powerful meditation on race in contemporary America." I think this project is
    strong in original concept and pedestrian in execution, but he got a curator and a critic to
    consider it worthwhile.

    Alec Soth: This is a body of work that displays a gift for photographic seeing with a point
    of view! It isn't contrived, it doesn't rely on shock value, it makes me think... beautiful
    work! I'll readily call this art worthy of recognition.

    Now, here's another one for you, Boris: name four landscape photographers who tend to
    photograph apparently wild nature (as opposed to lands that bear obvious human
    presence and impact) who are pushing the boundaries of photography. I'm sure you can
    do it.
     
  72. "Here are my reactions...Yossi Milo: THIS hasn't been done before?"

    As you haven't looked closely enough to clock the fact that Yossi Milo is the name of the
    gallery rather than the photographer - Lise Sarfati - I'm tempted to ignore your response,
    but...Sarfati's work is anything but derivative, she's one of the few photographers working
    today whose images are instantly recognisable. Before writing her off i'd suggest you make
    the effort to look at her work from Russia - you can find it on the Magnum site.

    "Boris Mikhailov: Exploitative and further victimization of the subjects. There are better
    ways to make insightful and enlightening commentary on the social victims of the
    continuing changes in the former Soviet Union. Oh, yes, it's edgy and shocking and
    therefore meets a stereotypical art world standard, but that does not give it merit."

    So what are these "better ways"? I think it achieves it's purpose.

    "If people in the west were better informed as to what has gone on in the FSU over the last
    decade and a half, this wouldn't even be interesting. It would simply be run of the mill
    photojournalism if he didn't ask the subjects to disrobe, and because he does, I feel it is
    disrespectful of people who need help, not voyeurism for art's sake."

    But people in the west aren't better informed are they? I think this work, along with
    Delahaye's Wintereisse and Sarfati's Acta Est go a long way to helping people understand
    (or at least notice) the tragedy of modern Russia. You can read all the words that have ever
    been written in the last 15 years about the degradation of life for many ordinary Russians
    and not glean as much understanding as you'd get from a single Mikhailov image. Whether
    or not it's "disrespectful" doesn't impact upon whether it's powerful or not. And
    "voyeurism" has been everpresent throughout the history of photography (and art in
    general).

    "Paul Graham...is well established in the U.K. art scene, so he can get away with this. An
    unknown photographer presenting these images would be disregarded."

    He's well established internationally, but he wasn't born that way. He's earned that regard
    over a period of more than twenty years, and, outside of the "art scene", he was even the
    recipient of the Eugene Smith Award in the late 80s.

    "Alec Soth: This is a body of work that displays a gift for photographic seeing with a point
    of view! It isn't contrived, it doesn't rely on shock value, it makes me think... beautiful
    work! I'll readily call this art worthy of recognition."

    I'm pleased you like it.

    "Boris: name four landscape photographers who tend to photograph apparently wild
    nature (as opposed to lands that bear obvious human presence and impact) who are
    pushing the boundaries of photography. I'm sure you can do it."

    I'd have no difficulty naming four people who photograph landscapes who I'd consider to
    be credible artists. The only issue is that most interesting photographers are, one way or
    another, commenting on the human condition whether or not their images depict people
    or their traces.
     
  73. Boris, with the exception of Alec Soth's work, I have not seen others' works in print format, so it would perhaps be unfair to comment on the works you linked based on simply seeing it in tiny JPG format over the web. But my initial reaction is, none of this appears to be ground-breaking or boundary-pushing work.
    Personal impressions aside, in what ways does the art world consider these works to be pushing the boundaries of photography? Besides some individual good to excellent images (mostly from Soth), I detect cheap sensationalism, shock value, kitsch, banality, and many other similar elements commonplace in a B grade hollywood movie where watching the first few minutes of it gives away the remainder of the plot and the ending, and nothing ever surprises you there after. Even the jokes are predictable, and rarely funny. Seeing a handful of images of the photographers you linked was enough to make the rest of their work appear utterly predictable - and I did take the trouble to review their works on other sites as well. But none of it appears to take photography to a new level. I am curious and mystified. Perhaps you have other examples.
     
  74. They can of course be commenting on the human condition. I think that even
    photographers who believe that they are only depicting nature are, in fact, commenting on
    the human condition. So, I am very interested to know which photographers you would
    choose. The only rule is that they have to photograph natural subjects that tend not to
    depict apparent human impact.
     
  75. "none of this appears to be ground-breaking or boundary-pushing work"

    Well, I did qualify this by describing the work as "at least not retreating backwards".
    Having said that, I think each of the photographers I linked to is moving forward. The
    movement might be small, but it's there. Photography isn't a medium that lends itself to
    great leaps forward.

    "I detect cheap sensationalism, shock value, kitsch, banality, and many other similar
    elements commonplace in a B grade hollywood movie where watching the first few
    minutes of it gives away the remainder of the plot and the ending, and nothing ever
    surprises you there after."

    There's nothing inherent in any of the values that you describe that cancels out the validity
    of their use. I understand the reference to "sensationalism" and "shock" with regard to
    Mikhailov, and the reference to "banality" with regard to Graham, but I don't see any of
    your referenced attributes in the work of Lise Sarfati. Do you really see no merit in her
    work? And the lack of surprise? Is surprise the key to art for you?

    "Even the jokes are predictable, and rarely funny"

    I'm not aware of the jokes. Maybe you can point them out to me.

    "Seeing a handful of images of the photographers you linked was enough to make the rest
    of their work appear utterly predictable - and I did take the trouble to review their works
    on other sites as well"

    OK, point me in the direction of work that you think is credible? That merits the art tag.

    "I am curious and mystified. Perhaps you have other examples."

    I have many other examples, but I doubt that they'd satisfy your curiousity and demystify
    things for you.

    "I am very interested to know which photographers you would choose. The only rule is that
    they have to photograph natural subjects that tend not to depict apparent human impact"

    Your rules are way too restrictive for me. Why the need to restrict things to the
    "untouched"? Do you really look at a Sophie Ristelhueber or Richard Misrach image and
    think: "Nice, but shame about the human impact"?
     
  76. Boris, come on... I mean for the purposes of this discussion. I'm not suggesting that
    landscape photographs have to be of pristine nature in order to qualify as art, but I would
    like to hear which photographers of (at least relatively) pristine nature you consider worthy
    of serious consideration by fine art museums. By the way, I think Misrach is great, but that
    is beside the point.
     
  77. Boris, Sarfati's work doesn't do enough for me to comment on her merit. The reference to jokes was made in connection with the predictability of some movies. Though surprise and humor are not necessary ingredients for art-worthy photographs, for any photographer deemed worthy enough to be pushing the boundaries of photography, at some point, in some of their images, you'd expect to see them. At least I would. The sheer predictability of the vast majority of the works from the photographers you link is boring, for me.

    Among the current photographers, thanks to your mention of Pinkhassov elsewhere, I think I've found at least one whose work I'd consider to be credible and inspiring. Some of it is definitely art-worthy in my book. His "Sightwalk" is my latest acquisition, and his "Nordmeer" is on the way from some bookseller in Berlin - because it's not available in this land of milk and honey.
     
  78. God? Please forgive me for writing truth.

    Oxygen, light, sex, food and water pretty much sums up what's important. Turn the tele off, stop reading the newspaper and one finds out what's really important whether it's about art, sports or politics; I'll give science a pass.

    When one doesn't have a clue, it sounds like it in their blather such as is the case in the above. Wax on silver moon but the boundaries aren't being challenged on anybody's part other than to see who can shove who's thumb the furthest into the eye of the opposition. You guys have no idea how empty your above is.

    "It's black!" "No, it's white!" "It's black!" "No, it's white!" "It's black....."

    And then the disinterested reaches over, flips the switch off and .........

    It's all about taught thinking: bias and you guys don't have a clue.

    What are "you" guys doing to push "your" boundries with all your "perceived" awareness? The heck with the notables and what they did in the past or are currently doing in the present.
     
  79. I hate to say it, but Alex Soth is head and shoulders above the rest, with the possible exception of Paul Graham and that's because I only saw 3 images of Graham's. Not enough to get it.
    Sarfati's work looks like ego centric student work too heavily influenced by Nan G and the coddling of art school. I'm surprised that so much is invested in the making of those photographs. The significance and value of time invested is much more evident in Alex Soth's work in Niagara. Lauren Greenfield does teen aged (yes teen aged) girls way better.
    The homeless work may be well intentioned, but had me thinking "shooting fish in a barrel". He even says "...I often feel guilty of things I see and take pictures of". Mikhailov should do something about that or it will eat him up. Something about that reminds me of Serrano.
    Now Misrach is a guy I can admire and have for many years. And if you want to see a guy with a great landscape portfolio that's pushing boundaries, check out Rolf Horn, but you'll have to tolerate the occassional path or bench... t
    (and the Appalachian portfolio of Frank Hunter, whose work that engages human activity is worth seeing, too.
    This is a weird thread.
    And whoever is prepping Galen Rowell's photos for web display should be shot... t
     
  80. "This is a weird thread"

    Weirdness is the only positive possession that photonet has.
     
  81. Tom, I see in those artist's images the stylized imagery that is common among today's contemporary standard; posed eye candy; graphic, hard, in your face.

    If that's what one wants, cool, but pushing the envelope.

    Thanks for the links, I'll revisit and spend time with them later today, tomorrow as work currently commands my attention.
     
  82. The east coast / west coast line is more a reflection of urban versus rural differences or indoors versus outdoors.

    The biases that I've seen tend to be more along the lines of edgy vs aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately B&W versus color.

    Too many of these variables in the responses above to make sense of it all.

    Although I'm not much of a nature photographer, I have to comment on Don E's uploaded landscape shots and remarks made by others about manipulation and say that some of you never seem to have had the experience of rising before dawn to go to a "tripod holes" location when the weather is right. Everyone should do it at least once. Velvia doesn't get all the credit (or blame.)
     
  83. Velvia..... photographic steroids? :)

    Should Velvia be banned or at least should it be stated up front that Velvia was used in the creation of the image being view and what you're seeing is not a representation of reality. :)

    Parents, be warned, if your budding young photographer starts using the Hue slider to it's max or want's bricks of Velvia for Christmas instead of a bike, skateboard or a BB gun. :)
     
  84. Don said he might have to shoot a roll, just to see. Shall I add you to the list? (For the record, I used Provia, mostly, but that's beside the point.)
     
  85. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I think that stepping out your front door into the street and concocting something provocative with a homeless person on your block is the height of laziness, rather than artistic vigor, and indeed, some curators fall for it.
    I know this thread has moved on, but it's really annoying to see statements posted like this that nobody bothers to justify. Maybe Matt can give us some insight into which curators are "falling" for this.
     
  86. Jeff, tell me if you think this qualifies.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/essays/vanRiper/020524.htm
     
  87. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Carl, that looks like interesting documentary work rather than someone stepping out your front door into the street and concocting something provocative with a homeless person on your block but it's closer than anything that Matt has come up with to back up his statement.
    The funny thing is that a nature shooter like Richard Misrach can walk out his back door and shoot there every day and have curators all over the world turn it into a show. Why doesn't that bother Matt?
     
  88. So much of what is seen as "pushing the boundaries" is just a lot of maintenance art designed to provoke a reaction but signifying nothing other than that. I could barf on your table and call it art and then say, as Boris apparently does, that you just don't like art, or don't know it when you see it.

    Someone photographs their S and M session and puts it up in the Museum in Chicago, and that's art, but Rowell's magnificent photographs, taking during daring climbs aren't art? And isn't "pushing the boundary"? You will forgive me if I don't regard so much of this "shock art" as passe, and Rowell's contemplation of the sublime and immortal as slightly more timeless.
     
  89. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Can you give a few examples of what you are ostensibly slamming? Slamming something in the abstract isn't particularly useful here.
     
  90. I don't know why you need examples if you understand the concept; certainly you can think of them yourself. Robert Maplethorpe was one slightly talented artist who did a lot of this. There is no shortage whatsoever of this kind of silliness and those who regard it as art. You ask yourself the simple question; what will stand the test of time? Photography wasn't accepted as art for a long time. How much art exists whose simple purpose is to bring beauty into life?

    A lot of this east-coast, shock schlock speaks of the saddening spectacle of man at variance with man, and narcissism. I guess I just don't find such art so fascinating that I would regard landscape photography as less worthy of attention. Even that which isn't very shocking, but man sits at the center, reeks of anthropomorphism.

    The east coast publishers do basically run things. And so much of it is fantastic it's hard to complain. But let me give you one example of what happens.

    I worked in Yosemite for over a year and was browsing this guidebook, written by a woman from the east coast. In it was a photograph of a waterfall, identifying it as a completely different waterfall that anyone even vaguely familiar with the valley would know.

    In other words, the east coast establishment is like a mill that churns out product by well-connected and utterly clueless people who we are supposed to accept as worthy of merit because of the fact that they are in a book, or a gallery, or whatever. I can definitely get the feeling when I'm looking at a piece of work that it is the result of "who you know rather than what you know".

    So I guess the debate over "people vs. things" isn't nearly as interesting as the question over how the east coast establishment controls a lot of what we see and hear. It's like the clearchannel of art.

    I guess if you really want to "push the limit" (whatever that means) why are you using a camera?
     
  91. And I apologize if that sounds disrespectful.
     
  92. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    You don't seem to have any examples, other than Mapplethorpe, which is the example everyone uses, even though Mapplethorpe did some terrific portraits, CD covers, flower shots and other photos that everyone ignores in their attempt to make him the one "bad" example. And one mistake in one guidebook hardly seems like enough to draw any kind of conclusion.
     

Share This Page