Passion, Ecstasy, and the Heart-o-meter: The Way of Dionysus.

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by luis_g, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. We lean towards the Apollonian here. Rational, logical, evidenced, framed in fact, justifiable, etc. Yet the photo world is glutted with well-crafted and lit, perfectly dull, lifeless pictures devoid of any apparent passion, let alone ecstasy. Mud that hasn't been breathed on is just mud. I am talking about passions and ecstasies of all kinds, and of the photographer, subject(s) viewers and reviewers. Passion and Ecstasy can be metaphysical, intellectual, sensual, sexual and more. They can emanate from their opposites and also some very dark places in the recesses of our existence. For the record, I am not advocating the abandonment of everything else.
    Do you value passion in your own work? Ecstasy? How do you achieve, and/or impart it? Do you know when it's happening? Can you see it in your own work? That of others? Its absence? Can you link to images you think are passionate?
     
  2. You bet your ass I do Luis. I don't show people here on PN but for the years I have done portraits and weddings and head shots trying to breathe life in every picture I do. My most abject failure was a wedding I did years ago when the whole wedding party showed up so hung over they could barely stand for the ceremony. It was a dour group when I previously met them, anyway. I got no joy because there was none only mild hostility that I tried not to capture among the principles until they later got to the reception to get a liquid recharge. Then I got a bunch of recharged fuzzy feeling, drifty people. It was out of doors by the sea on a beautiful day but I got only a bunch of somber, pained faces in all of that sunshine. I failed. I thought I could make anyone react but on that day I could not. But outside of that I think I do pretty well with people. I do a little street stuff that I don't show and I have a forlorn but colorful woman outside a coffee shop on a ten degree day freezing while trying to drink her coffee and smoke while through the window there was a non-smoking couple regaling themselves in that very close warmth but oh so far away. I like that picture and someday I might post it. I used to take great delight in photographing local politicians at their very worst when I could capture. That was my passion.
     
  3. I think we have to be careful here. It's a great subject but also a specific one. Not everything human is passionate or ecstatic. Not everything intimate shows passion. And most importantly, just because a photographer may approach his work passionately doesn't mean he will show, convey, or his photos will embody passion in any way, nor should they. I think passion is incredible when found in a photograph or painting, sculpture, etc. I also think it's extremely rare. I think many photographers are quite passionate about their work but not really trying to and certainly not succeeding in showing passion. Not to dump on Ansel Adams again but I'd guess he was extremely passionate about his photographing and darkroom work and yet his photos come across as passionless, though because of the level of craft he achieved we can imagine the kind of passion with which he must have done his work.
    I strive toward it but haven't yet achieved it, I think. I associate passion and ecstasy with something religious/spiritual/transcendent. In a sense, it's where the spiritual and sexual (maybe sensual) meet. For me to achieve what I'm after in the way of passion will require more abandonment. That will require more comfort with my tools, for one. But more importantly, it will require getting out of my head, and a kind of letting go. It's more about orgasm than foreplay. It's less considered and less of all the things Luis mentioned. The only thing I'll say there is that I've wondered, being somewhat philosophical and logically bent myself, if one can be passionate about those things and, not just feel it or be it, but SHOW IT photographically.
     
  4. Sorry Fred. I am obviously in over my head. I don't think I am on your level. What I have felt is a passionate commitment to many of my brides and a strong emotional bond that allowed me to fall in love for one day to get expressions of real emotion from them that truly showed in their pictures. I don't post those.. I will leave this discussion to those more qualified to discuss it.
     
  5. I recall nodding my head while first watching the 1984 film "Amadeus." The villain (not counting Mozart's own self-destructive rock star ways) is Antonio Salieri. A workmanly classical composer, he's enthralled by music and can identify passion and greatness in others' works. But he finds he's not been equipped with the spark, the skills, or whatever inner vision and ability it is that allows his ridiculous, punk-like peer, Mozart, to - with a breezy lightness of spirit - whip out masterpieces like a casual burp after a gratifying dinner. Salieri notes this irony (Mozart does not appear to appreciate his own DNA and circumstances) with a sarcastic thank you to capricious divine providence. Grazie, Signore. He's cursed with knowing passion and easy ectasy and great expression when he sees it, and with being observant enough to know he doesn't himself have it, nor will.

    This is why I never have nor ever will personally dance. But I sure like to watch when it's done right.

    But I think I can see some light at the end of a very long tunnel. It's the germinating, inkling beginning of an awareness of what it will feel very good (perhaps even ecstatic) to express, via photography. But like Salieri, I know my artsy limits (even if I think they will expand, yet). And so I for now still deliberately avoid what I expect would be a sourly disappointing stumble in the direction of publicly seen, passion-driven, ectasy-minded expression that would surely fail my own standards. So I stick with the more workmanly stuff, and it sticks with me.

    But unlike the film's fictional-liberties-taken Salieri, I make no attempts to bump off those young punks who come by it all so naturally. :)
     
  6. As Fred was saying, there is a difference between being passionate about your work and showing passion in the work. I can say that I have always been very passionate about my photography. When I am working at it I try to achieve a balance between the “craft,” which takes conscious thought and deliberate decision-making, with letting the creative, inspirational part of me control what I’m doing as well. I find that when I work this way I get the most satisfying results, at least for me. This means I also have to “trust my unconscious” because I’m letting that part of myself into the equation, so when I press the shutter it is often during moments that precede any conscious recognition of what I’m doing. Its just part of the "flow." This whole process feels very spiritual to me and for that reason, passionate as well. I don’t know if people see this in my work but that’s the way it works for me.
     
  7. Passion is important in the creative person, I think, because it acts to disrupt the rational cognitive process and effectively drives the person, often against a pre-defined will, in directions that he might not otherwise take. It may be a component of making a work that embodies passion or ecstasy, but I believe that that result can likely also be created by someone who is not particularly passionate yet may have a particular talent and insight for creating passion in a work.
    I don't fully know how a work embodying passion is created. It is probably not just the result of showing persons in passionate disposition or displaying the emotion of passion in some common way. I think the passion or ecstasy has to arrive by a much more subtle and powerful route. I see some passion in Boubat's photo of the little girl draped with fallen leaves in the Jardin du Luxembourg of Paris, or in his photo of his girlfriend (Léla?), or in Capa's falling soldier in the Spanish revolution, or in the photo of HCB near the end of his life with his favorite little granddaughter by his side (I forget the photographer). These are just quickly remembered examples that may be superseded by others more powerful, given more time to think about it.
    I think we may be more apt to produce the quality of passion or ecstasy in images that are of people or places that are closest to our experience, if only because that familiarity can lead us more decidedly to explore in greater depth and curiosity our chosen subjects. Yes, exploration and the desire behind it is probably key in the quest of some images exhibiting passion, but I don't also ignore the wild and non-Cartesian approach of a highly passionate person as leading to a similar result. In one of Moravia's books, a spy acting counter to his supposed allegiance, in betraying a girl from his side, is overcome with uncontrolled desire for the girl and cannot take his eyes off her, prompting the girl to think "he never took his eyes from my bosom...I think that those two dark spots at their end were enough to make him forget Tsarism, revolution, ideology, political thoughts and betrayal. Such sexual passion is but one of many types of passion, physical or intellectual, that can also be integral to passages in a book, poem, musical score or picture. Probably very few images or their creators can achieve that, or may do so occasionally by improvisation or accident.
     
  8. I've been searching my mind for photos that are passionate/ecstatic. Not coming up with anything right away. My storehouse of photographic references isn't nearly as clear to me as with music and painting. So, I'll offer THIS, by Goya.
     
  9. I wanted to add, and I'm sure this isn't universal, but I would tend to look at color work for passion.
     
  10. I think we lean towards the Apollonian when discussing here - I'm not sure whether that extends by definition to our actual photos or intents in making photos. Or, for that matter, describing how one experiences a photo (or any piece of art) - it's still considerably different from the actual experience.
    Though, in my case - I think the Apollonian applies. Passion and ecstasy ring bells which for me do not find their way to my photos. As Fred, I think colour, but also a richness, dynamics, lightness, abundance, joy; something that radiates a lot of energy. While I tend to end up with solitude, austere, mathematical and structured, frequently dark and not overtly happy, I think.
    Would I value it, if it was there? I think I would - if one manages to transmit that passion, the exstatic feel, it would be incredibly powerful communication. I do not see myself arriving there any time soon, though, and not a lot of photos come to mind. But I think I see it in this photo (exstacy, that is). And a non-photographic example.
     
  11. Eeek!
    ... clutching my pink chiffon nightie to my neck at the sight of Luis right outside my window with a HUGE ...
    .
    .
    ... pair of binoculars.
     
  12. Well, I suppose a lame, sexually tinged visual, the likes of which uttered by a male to a female would be grounds for claims of harassment, is better than a quote from Barthes.
     
  13. Probably not a good copy, but here is one of Boubat's photos that I think exudes passion (for life, freedom and individuality, beauty, and how he viewed his then girlfriend). Most of his impressive images are in black and white, although he might well have used color with the passion of Haas or others.
     
  14. And his photo of the little girl with the string of dead leaves (1947), where the out of focus background is of little importance to the subject and the feeling exuded by the image (in my opinion). I think these two images are also the result of instinctual and not a rational process, like I think are many of Boubat's photos.
     
  15. "Without passion, all the skill in the world won't lift you above craft. Without skill, all the passion in the world will leave you eager but floundering. Combining the two is the essence of the creative life." -- Twyla Tharp
    Having started this post, I want to clarify something. Under definitions of 'passion', one of the meanings is "strong desire or devotion to some activity" or "strong enthusiasm" for the same. Under that, we could be snowed under with testimonials by individuals asserting their own passion for photography. Without narrowing down this too much, I want this thread to go further than that. Further than my initial questions of: "Do you value passion in your own work? Ecstasy? How do you achieve, and/or impart it? Do you know when it's happening? Can you see it in your own work? That of others? Its absence? Can you link to images you think are passionate?"
    ____________________________________________
    Passion and Ecstasy are to me, a form of intense psychic energies. Like all energy, if its flow is contained or interrupted, it acts on that vessel or obstacle, and/or cools off, becoming a forgotten dream. As an analog, the pressure in a pipe when the flow is at/near zero is at its highest. The faster the flow, the lower the pressure gets to zero. If we think of ourselves as a conduit, by allowing these energies to pass through us, and using/channeling them (and letting them use and channel us) the flow continues. I think this is what makes it seem easy, or the product of luck, the right DNA, etc. But if one assumes this is the result of practice, effort, intelligence, etc., then we have to acknowledge it is not simply being born to the right parents, or other form of luck. This may be one of the more difficult things to do in art.
    _____________________________________________
    I also want to say that if we only mention the work of geniuses, we'll fall into the trap of the spectacular. This ends up being a self-defeating gesture, because things are hard enough without comparing oneself to people of a very rare brilliance, which should be a different thread.
    _____________________________________________
    We are talking about at least four different aspects here: 1) The passion of the artist/photographer, 2) Possibly the passion/ecstasy being depicted in the subject itself, 3) The encoding of passion into the work and 4) The ability of the viewer to see it in the work. Numbers three and four are the most fascinating to me.
    Plus there are different kinds of passions and ecstasies. From throb-lust to intellectual passions to those on the Cross and many more. Anything looked at long enough becomes everything, but this is one thread on an internet forum, which imposes limitations on the breadth of the discourse.
    ____________________________________________
    I do not think the expression of passion in photography is rare. There are bits of it to be found on a regular basis. It's a matter of degree.
    _____________________________________________
     
  16. Well, I wasn't going to because I am hoping to achieve more, but the one photo I've made that I would say has the makings is this. Now, there is a literal aspect here, but I don't necessarily think that's a disqualifier. And interestingly, it is black and white.
    00Zxby-438849584.jpg
     
  17. Arthur,
    Please do not upload images to photo.net that you yourself did not make.
    I have yet to see a situation on photo.net where a link to another photographer's work would not suffice.
     
  18. Thanks, Josh. I have to remember how to do that link (not so much putting an http reference, which is easy but sometimes fails, but the practice of associating a link with a word, like "here").
    Very glad to see Luis' essay/guidelines on passion, especially the types 3 and 4, which I wholly agree with. Fred, an interesting and creative image, but not one that I get any perception of passion or ecstacy from. Passion can be quite narrowly defined as a personal perception (which doesn't make it any less valuable), but it is hard I think to create one that speaks in that manner universally (or to many viewers). Some of my personal photo examples speak of a certain passion to me, but I think also that they may well not not convey that embodiment universally. This is partly why I suggested that a photo that embodies passion (other than the common case of a subject that is expressing passion or emotion) is, if not rare, not very typical.
     
  19. As I said, Arthur, it's not there. I see elements for potential, that's all. I think the tear against the cross, the upward angle move it toward passion. It's fine if you don't see it. It can still serve as a guidepost for me. What's lacking for me is that I think passion requires some sense of movement, and the photo I posted may be too still. Both Luis's pipe metaphor and my reference to orgasm suggest a bursting. That, I think, is missing in the photo, but perhaps if the tear seemed more emergent or were even caught blowing in the wind, that would help, perhaps if the head were suggested to be rising up . . . I'm not suggesting this should be a different photo. I'm quite content with it as is. It was simply an honest attempt to find what I consider to be my closest attempt toward what we're discussing.
     
  20. Yes, I would agree that out of Luis' four aspects the third and fourth (and really, aren't they the same? if a viewer doesn't see passion in a work, is it really encoded there?) are the important ones.
    The first one, photographer's own passion -- if it does not carry over into his work -- is basically his own business. It's hard to talk about it because unless you know that photographer personally you don't see it. People might claim that they have it, but people claim many things...
    The second one, images *of* passion, are easy to find. For example, if you look at pictures of porn, sports, or war. They are not all good images of passion, but attempting to represent (not express, but represent, capture) passion and/or ecstasy is part of the brief of these genres.
    But the real thing -- when a spark jumps at you from the image and stuns you, when the energy sweeps out and buries you -- that is very hard to do. One can pull on very basic hardwired emotional triggers, but these are mostly tied to negative emotions -- pain, grief, loss.
    Maybe one reason why transmitting passion is hard is because the photographer is typically an observer, not the doer. And if you're just an observer then your own passion is necessarily limited and curtailed, you're constrained to attempting to transmit the passion of the doer, the subject, and that gets us back to number two -- images of someone else's passion. Could it be that for a really passionate photograph the author needs to be the doer himself? and be intimately involved in whatever happens in front of the lens?
     
  21. Arthur,
    If you just paste in the URL, the photo.net system should automatically make it a link. Go mess around a bit in the testing forum until you feel comfortable, if you like:
    http://www.photo.net/test-posting-forum/
     
  22. While I, too, am more interested in passionate photos, I think there is a correlation between the photographer's ability to be passionate and a passionate photo emerging. I don't necessarily think it works both ways. In other words, a photographer may be extremely passionate about what he's doing and not make a passionate photo. But I think it's likely that if someone makes a passionate photo, it's because they've been able to achieve a kind of passion* in life and in their photograph-making.
    *Here, I think what Luis said is very important. It's more than just a kind of enthusiasm. It's that pent up bursting energy he described so well with his metaphor. I've always seen it as religio-sexual, though I imagine others may not.
     
  23. . Kaa - "Yes, I would agree that out of Luis' four aspects the third and fourth (and really, aren't they the same? if a viewer doesn't see passion in a work, is it really encoded there?)"
    I think it is possible -- and commonplace -- for viewers to not see things that are encoded in the work (and this sometimes includes academics and connoisseurs), for viewers to see things in a print that they project onto it that aren't there, and for viewers to see things in the print that the photographer hadn't noticed. To me, these are not identical.
    I once showed a close-up image of some vibrant green shoots emerging from the blackest soil in a slide show. A young woman in the audience audibly gasped, held her hands to her chest, and rose out of her seat, mouth agape, then sat back down. Later she told me she thought that was one of the most erotic things she had ever seen. I had read the things in the frame as being strongly about the life force and incarnation. Did something else encode itself into the picture on its own? Did I miss that interpretation? Did she project her libido onto it? I'm not sure, but think it is good that images manage to exceed their makers' imaginations and have secrets of their own.
     
  24. I think it is possible -- and commonplace -- for viewers to not see things that are encoded in the work (and this sometimes includes academics and connoisseurs), for viewers to see things in a print that they project onto it that aren't there, and for viewers to see things in the print that the photographer hadn't noticed. To me, these are not identical.​
    Yes, this is true, of course, but then I'm not sure about the "encoding" part. When you say that passion is encoded in an image, do you mean that the author consciously and deliberately imbued the image with passion? or that some of his energy bled through to the image and stuck to it without him necessarily controlling or even recognizing this process? Must there be intent in encoding?
    It still seems to me that in order to claim that there is passion encoded in an image, at least *some* viewers, other than the author, must recognize it. If no one feels it, well then, the author has failed and nothing is encoded. On the other hand, I am sure that there will also be some viewers who will see and feel nothing, who won't be able to access this energy for whatever reason.
     
  25. . Kaa - "When you say that passion is encoded in an image, do you mean that the author consciously and deliberately imbued the image with passion?"
    Not necessarily. A lot happens subconsciously.
    "...or that some of his energy bled through to the image and stuck to it without him necessarily controlling or even recognizing this process?"
    That's possible.
    "Must there be intent in encoding?"
    No.
    . Kaa - "It still seems to me that in order to claim that there is passion encoded in an image, at least *some* viewers, other than the author, must recognize it."
    Not necessarily, at least not in the present. If the artist is sufficiently ahead of his time, it may take a long time before someone does.
    A few quickly chosen images from memory I see as passionate...
    http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/beltran/2009/07/24/Tina_modotti_wires447x625.jpg
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2585/3909819651_4a41372a95_o.jpg
    http://www.sevensevennine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/dougie7.jpg
    http://www.bobdelevante.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/eggleston2.jpg
     
  26. Not necessarily, at least not in the present. If the artist is sufficiently ahead of his time, it may take a long time before someone does.​
    Hmm... Not sure how you'd be able to tell what comes from the author and what comes from the viewers projecting.
    As an aside, we must be wired quite differently. I don't feel passion coming from the images you linked to. From the first one, for example, I feel sorrow, probably sorrow for a lover gone. Interestingly enough, I can't come up off the top of my head with images I feel exude passion. I'll try rooting around...
     
  27. Luis, can you please explain what makes these three images exude passion or ecstasy and why? Like .Kaa, I have difficulty perceiving that, although perhaps one must look at them and think about them longer than, say, 30 seconds. The two Boubat images, or Capa's falling soldier, rendered some of those qualities more quickly and stronger for me, albeit complemented by or aided by symbolism which worked to amplify the passion. Goya's monster eating his son also does do it, I think, for different reasons, but the emotion it communicates or is perceived by the viewer may not be ecstatic. I am a bit surprised that we are not debating/critiquing the visual examples given to date (the what, why and how).
     
  28. This has nothing and everything to do with this thread.
    I received an unexpected call from an older artist yesterday. It had been almost a year since he had mentioned I should come by his studio. This time he said I should come immediately. We see each other regularly at art openings and have had coffee and long talks a few times, but that's it.
    I pulled into his driveway today. It was by the side of a beautiful beach cottage in a gem of a beachside town. He had the only white picket fence on the block. We sat at a small table by a bayside window. "First, there's something I have to get out of the way. After ten years, my lung cancer has returned, and it's at stage IV. It's apparently metastasized to my bladder. They give me ten months. This is why I never went to a fortune-teller".
    He made coffee and pulled out a very large ring binder notebook. There he was as a young college student with a very famous Modernist, his mentor. His early works, then others. Another notebook followed, and it was too much all at once. I kept thinking I would never be able to remember all this, that it was slipping through me. More notebooks, his art changing, in different countries, emphatic lacunae in his stories. He did not want me to know he is gay, which made me sad, and brought to mind how I wish I could somehow bring Fred and this guy together for a portrait session.
    His paintings and sculptures are as passionate as they come. Torrents of color, bold energized lines. Barely bridled emotion. I'd written about his work before, and he kept asking me what I thought and felt about the works depicted in the photos in the notebooks. A lifetime of work passed before me... I was riffing poetically off the work, free-associating.
    Then he took me into his studio and showed me some smaller finished works. I was shocked to find out that this now infirm old man, in the grips of chemotherapy, having trouble finishing some thoughts, had done these. The energy and passion hadn't flagged one bit. We talked and talked, then we walked into another room where all of the works were emphatically marked "unfinished". He didn't want anyone to mistake them for finished works. Golden light slid noiselessly along the floor. He pulled those works out, and I begged him to photograph them, "For me, just for me, I want to remember this, and hopefully when you finish them I could use them as backstory when I review them." He agreed. I photographed with a small P&S with great care, getting goosebumps with every work he pulled out. I realized his life was likely to end at the peak of his artistic powers.
    Then he said he had two things for me. He gave me a DVD, and said that it was his favorite movie, and that it would help to illuminate his life and art. After that, he reached into another room and brought out a print of one of his works, one that I had reviewed more than a year ago. It was one of five. "I wanted you to have it". The shaft of now orange light was narrowing. We hugged and said good-bye.
     
  29. A touching story and a fortunate encounter for you both. Despite all the communication likely implicit in his work, your meeting was no doubt an important one for him (as well), possibly cathartic for him at this stage of his life. Bravo.
     
  30. . Kaa - "As an aside, we must be wired quite differently."
    Perhaps we are, and/or our experience differs.
    "I don't feel passion coming from the images you linked to. From the first one, for example, I feel sorrow, probably sorrow for a lover gone. Interestingly enough, I can't come up off the top of my head with images I feel exude passion."
    That is very interesting, that you can't come up with one passionate image from memory.
    ____________________________________________________________
    Arthur, this may be asking too much, but I want you to mull over these images a little longer before getting into them. I deliberately picked relatively unknown images, without obvious drama (I do not see much passion in the Capa soldier, but plenty of drama-rama). Boubat is a great Romantic. I got zip passion-wise from the girl with the leaves, more from the shot of his girlfriend, but that's also kind of easy, similar to Lartigue's pics of Bibi and her friends, albeit stronger, IMO.
     
  31. . Kaa - "From the first one, for example, I feel sorrow, probably sorrow for a lover gone."
    http://www.sfgate.com/blogs/images/sfgate/beltran/2009/07/24/Tina_modotti_wires447x625.jpg
    This image was made by Tina Modotti...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tina_Modotti
    ...Italian photographer and muse extraordinaire. It was made in Mexico, at a time when electricity was beginning to make inroads into the outlying parts of the country. Today we take for granted what a modernizing revolution that was, bringing an impoverished country and a people who had just risen from serfdom up to the standards others had enjoyed for some time. Tina was a revolutionary spirit, always championing the common man, against Fascism, and she loved Mexico. The power lines in this picture represent a better future, and here they are depicted in a Modernist fashion (think of Paul Strand and his films about NYC), For me the passion lies in the (for the time) wild shrillness and power in the formal elemnts of this image. The way the wires seem to come from and anchor the poles to the ground, and burst upwards, out of the frame into the sky. I read that as passionate in an unusual, conceptual, political, content and formal manner.
    Here's another...
    http://www.lensculture.com/webloglc/images/frank_1.jpg
     
  32. In my interpretation, passion in the act of making a photograph means to be completely lost in the sensations of the eye. And this is not necessarily a good thing (nor a bad thing). For me, the first few pictures Luis has linked meet that description, but the Eggleston does not quite (the hands are a little too considered) and the Frank (ditto the arrangement). I would suggest most of Peter Fraser's work as exemplary of someone who loses himself in the visual.
    Dionysus, if you'ver ever met the guy, is not into making things. It's about drowning in sensation. Sort of all dessert and no meat and potatoes.
     
  33. That is very interesting, that you can't come up with one passionate image from memory.​
    It is intriguing, I admit. Though I must say I set myself a high threshold -- there are no problems with finding an image which depicts passion, and I also can come up with high-energy images as well. But I thought we were talking about images where the passion of the (wo)man behind the camera comes through the picture and you can see it in the image itself -- not in the artist biography, or in the context, or in the story about the picture. And the passion comes from the author, the subject is just transmission medium.
    And yes, Dionysus is definitely not into making things :) As an aside, the Apollonian - Dionysian contraposition, I think, is less about passion and more about rationality and the rejection of it. About deliberate lack of planning, living in the moment, going with the flow. Well, and sensual pleasures, of course :)
     
  34. Um, I did give background, but the Modotti picture sings to me of the photographer's passion. A high threshold? Can't think of one? At least Fred and Arthur did. I'd be interested to see what you -- and everyone else -- see passion in.
     
  35. Associating Dionysian with passion, I think, can give us some clues in what to look for. Apollonian is the more structured, more formal, and more individual side of the coin. Dionysian is intoxicated, emotional, and whole rather than individual.
    It seems to me that photos where structure is less obvious, composition is less formal and contained, and where the content or subject somehow goes beyond the individual or individuals depicted might strike us as more passionate.
    A Dionysian would eat meat and potatoes, voraciously, while drinking red wine straight from the jug. And then, even if full, would force down a big old cream pie without using a fork, getting the pie all over his face and the floor in the process.
    Passion gets spent outside the lines and the rules. It spills over.
    The images I'm thinking of do depict passion. They have to. Otherwise they're not passionate. They don't have to be literal though they can be, as in the case of Wouter's submission of Piss Christ. It's not, for me, just about the passion of the author coming through. Adams's passion for technique comes through, Frank's passion for Americana comes through, HCB's passion for the street and the moment come through. Yet there are few passionate photos, IMO, coming from these guys. A passionate photo depicts passion. It is there to see.
    Fukase.
     
  36. "Dionysus, if you'ver ever met the guy, is not into making things"
    That's true. He makes people whole, not things. Doesn't he do the winemaker thing?
    Julie, are there any URLs for this Fraser person? (Too lazy to Google).
     
  37. Nietzsche used the Apollonian and Dionysian sides extensively in talking about art and particular Greek drama. Nietzsche actually believed artists used both sides in combination. I think that's a bit of what Twyla Tharp is saying.
     
  38. Fraser was featured in Aperture not too long ago. I *could* scan and upload some of his pictures ... but, nah, I don't think I'd do that for you.
    Another suggestion would be most of Huger Foote's work.
    Easier to "get" and surely easier to find online would be most of Ernst Haas's work -- though to my mind, he's sort of Walt Disney passion -- imitation real; his commercial roots always seem to show through.
    I think that some of Nachtwey's work qualifies, though I'm pretty sure he, and photojournalists in general, would take that as an accusation and not a compliment. I think W. Eugene's, and Salgado's work is too manipulative to qualify as passionate.
    Pop quiz for Mr. Kaa -- why isn't Joel Peter Witkin's work Dionysian? (I really just want to have Kaa write about Joel Peter Witkin ...)
    Do my examples mean that photos of random, meaningless stuff is passionate? Nope. It would be hard to find more random, meaningless stuff that Uta Barth but I think she is precisely, intentionally, anti-passionate (I like her work very much, but one needs to be in the mood for navel-gazing when looking at it).
    Ms. Barth says that she wants to "look at the finger, not the moon" and "to see negative space, the air instead of the trees." <<< [Barth quote]
     
  39. For Arthur, Caravaggio's Bacchus
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/91/Bacco.jpg/300px-Bacco.jpg
    OK, I looked up Fraser, skimmed through three of the portfolio samples on his site. Interesting, democratic (in the Egglestonian sense of the word), out of the box, but self-conscious, not at ease doing it. Somewhat passionate, but I am not seeing the wanton, over the top nature of extreme passion.
    http://www.peterfraser.net/
    My "threshold", to use a . Kaaiian term, for passion seems to be lower than many here. That may be because I see passion as one quality in relation to others in a photograph, not as something isolated, or that a photograph has or has not. I am not in any way saying that I think my view is the correct one to the exclusion of all others, but for better or worse, the way I see it (today). Nor do I believe that what looks passionate in one culture, say, ours, is what looks passionate to all, or that everything that passes for passion in art in our time is applicable across all time.
    The reading of the Apollonian and Dionysian as isolated or mutually exclusive is a misunderstanding of the concept as Nietzsche (and others) envisioned it.
     
  40. Some of us are saying our passion may be no more than simple enthusiasm for making pictures. I agree, passion is a rather large rubric for a single piece of work. We need visceral and aesthetic dividers to think about it. The gamut of sensual passion runs from maddeningly subtle to extreme chaos. Passion's aesthetic dimensions are readily accessible and expressible with photographs.
    Real passion demands some sort of psychological change in the passionate. Performances are most likely to arouse passion in the performer and the audience. Music, without doubt tops the list, at least for its comprehensive sensuality. Literature may have an advantage over the visual arts. Writers can frankly state their own passions, have passionate characters and themes, or point to examples of it. But it is really the book author's advantage using whatever the medium - text or pictures. So we are back to a performance.
    Subtle nuances of craft and minimal form, rather than setting them aside here, it is important to state that they become an overweening passion for many. Too many? Exotic and forbidden extremes love the camera's gaze. Ralph Gibson, conveniently for this topic, addresses both in his book (magnum opus?) Deus ex Machina. Over a lifetime he has run the gamut passionately producing books. He sees them as his art form rather than a maker of individual images. The short chapter intros are loaded with epigram-ish quotes to inform this discussion but I don't want to resort to a quote fest.
    http://www.ralphgibson.com/
    00Zy5r-439367584.jpg
     
  41. passion may be no more than simple enthusiasm​
    What would be the desire to refer to simple enthusiasm as "passion"? Is there something wrong with enthusiasm that it needs to be transformed by language into passion?
    Why lower the bar? Passion, and art, are real. Neither is anything anyone wants it to be. I'm sorry, but we can make a mockery of significant words and concepts.
    I would actually say one of the things passion is NOT is subtle. (Every definition I look at of "passion" talks about it being strong, powerful, intense.
     
  42. Fred
    I'll think about the notion that I've diminished the word. How about: passion for some is no more than intense enthusiasm? I can be passionate/intense about some aspect of craft. Or a kind of light. The subtle stuff. I fully agree that there are, as those discussed here, more vital kinds of true passion in art. I also think I implied that viscerally intense passion or ecstasy can be aesthetically expressed. I don't do that but I vicariously make note of its expression. This may inform the discussion:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_(Antonello_da_Messina) Compare London Crucifixion with others. For this bit of analysis I thank John Berger ( a man of passions) in Bento's Sketchbook.
     
  43. In most definitions of the word passion, there's something to the tune of "boundless enthusiasm" for the 2nd or 3rd sense of the word. We encountered this early in this thread, and I asked that we let that go so as to avoid being drowned out in well-meaning members' testimonials about their fervor.
    But Alan is being more specific here, and I'm willing to see where that can go.
    What is true passion? Ack! I was hoping we could quorum sense our way past that...
    Passion may not be subtle in some ways (though esoteric passions can and often are), but it can be hard to read, which makes it easy to miss or underestimate. Plus, as . Kaa unwittingly intimated, each of us seems to have varying sensitivities to pictured passion.
     
  44. I'm actually more stuck on the ecstacy part. Or maybe on the dictionary part.... I'm not quite sure the dictionaries align (despite Luis' efforts).
    ____
    Passion.... Alan's Holy Car(d) photo works for me, in the sense of a visible passion of the owners of the car, due to its extreme contrast to the grey environment it's in. But does it depict passion? Well, no, not only, it depicts 'a' passion versus something else. Depicting passion as main subject, I'm still trying to grasp how it would look.
    As Luis said, passion does not have a mutually exclusive relationship to the Appolonian. One could even be very passionate about the Appolonian aspect, I think for example Mondriaan would be a fine example of that, as are many modern architects.
    To me, having a passion for something is also 'getting really serious about it', pushing limits and beyond, and stop accepting the sky would be the limit; it surely is beyond enthusiasm. It's an unstoppable willpower to do something, to make something happen, to convince others. Passion gets spent outside the lines and the rules. It spills over. Yes, but yet still (for me) passion is conscious; part of it is inside the lines, it spills over outside the lines and crosses the rules, but there is still something ethical about it. A 'higher force' that keeps it in check.
    Now ecstacy - that takes it all another step further. Ecstacy is energy, abundance, total and complete immersion - much more so than passion. I offered Piss Christ earlier. It's ecstatic to me. It's radiating, it does not hold back in any way. The Fukase photo Fred linked to earlier has it (to a lesser extend, though) - these photos go beyond passion. It's more than high energy, it's more than happiness or visibly freedom. If there were rules and lines, we just completely forgot about them. It's a subconscious urge. It has no ethics, no rules. It is where Dionysos really rules alone.
    ______
    Does a photo like this one depict a passion, or even a certain ecstacy? I really don't know, but I'm asking to see reactions (after trying to explain my take on the two terms), and better grasp what has been said.
     
  45. Alan, you're not close enough; you're looking at the whole engine. The passion is the ignition chamber >> BLAMMO! >> the burn. Heat, power (and waste), whether mechanical, biological or creative.
    That the combusion eventually turns the wheels or moves the muscle, or shapes, conforms, is tamed, domesticated, you've used the passion but that's not what I think of AS passion. In fact, all of your intention is being used against the passion to conform and direct it. It's by de-passioning it that something subsequent gets done or made.
     
  46. Wouter, I hadn't begun to address ecstasy, because ideas about passion are proving to be more diverse than I expected in this thread. I'm in agreement with you on it so far, and am beginning to think that perhaps we should save that for dessert after this banquet of the er... senses.
    __________________________________________________________
    "The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal." --- William James
    Hmmm...leaning a lot towards the Apollonian, but agree with the mix idea.
    __________________________________________________________
    In a Ferrari (and other extreme cars I have driven) the entire car is passion. When taken to its limits, there lies ecstasy. The passion does not lie in the combustion chamber any more than it lies in one's sex organs. It does not have distinct clear borders nor a passport to be on either side.
    __________________________________________________________
     
  47. The people who make Ferraris; who design and build them -- will be happy to hear that.
     
  48. Perhaps we are too much equating the passion of the photographer with that of the image. I quite like Mondetti's power lines and her passion about Mexico's leap into the industrial/communications age. Often when I think about a computer or information science I cannot forget the passion of a (Claude) Shannon or a Turing (those two passionate mathematicians actually worked together, cracking world war 2 secret codes, it must have been something) or a Lepage (or other similar artist) creating his Met Ring cycle scenes. But the passion of the artist and that of the work are not necessarily connected very strongly, at least for the viewer to see, as one who may not be also delving into the artist's modus operandi or his or her life. The power lines can therefore simply be construed as a composition/design rather than something passionately outreaching to the viewer, but that is just my interpretation of them, as powerful image elements as they may be in the way Mondetti captured them.
    The Bacchus of Caravaggio exudes Epicurean passion, but I am more impressed by his chiaroscuro rendition of biblical scenes. The Boubat little girl speaks to me of the passion and ecstasy of the magical world of a four year old, the Capa falling soldier of the passion of life at the point of its extinguishing (and of the struggle of the Spanish Republicans versus a dictator), the Boubat Lella image of the passion of a proud human character, independent and beautiful in that simple strength. I agree that Boubat was a romantic (we see it also in his London Hyde Park assembly images), but what he is showing I think goes beyond that simple and quiet personality.
     
  49. When taken to its limits, there lies ecstasy. The passion does not lie in the combustion chamber any more than it lies in one's sex organs.​
    OK let me fling this Ralph Gibson at you from afore mentioned book, (The Black Kiss chapter). He laments, perhaps, that there was little good porn art (sorry Dionysians) so he gave up trying:

    "… . However, I soon discovered that sex doesn't look the way it feels."
    Ha! And that coming from a man who's shot a fair number of beavers. As a fervent Ferrari fancier I too can attest to the special class of passions of the hormonal (testosterone/petrol) variety. To be erotically confused by women AND cars or other objects that must be manipulated to work to our satisfaction, at least in our gear shifting hands, if ya know what I mean, shows the immense breadth and intensity, differentiated by gender and culture, of possible passionate responses to virtually anything.
     
  50. "Expression is not a matter of passion mirrored on the human face or revealed by a violent gesture. When I paint a picture, its every detail is expressive." Henri Matisse
    __________________________________________
    Julie, everyone, well, almost everyone, has a both Apollonian and Dionysian qualities, just as men have feminine ones, and women masculine ones. And it doesn't take a genius to see that both have the seeds of their opposites at their core.
    BTW, Dionysus get the credit for the making of whoopee and wine. Where would any of us be without that?
    You're stripping systemic totalities into objectified parts, and appear shocked that the sum of the dismemberment is less than the whole. Oh, wait...Dionysus is the God of that, too...and epiphanies as well, but that's for yet another thread.
    __________________________________________
    Alan Z."...shows the immense breadth and intensity, differentiated by gender and culture, of possible passionate responses to virtually anything."
    Yes...'tis a many-splendored thing. This not a bad by any means. It may look like we're Union card-carrying members at the Tower of Babel site, but I'm seeing it as diversive strength.
    __________________________________________
    Wouter, I don't think that procession picture came across to me a something I would term passionate, but it did have a hint of urgency.
    _________________________________________
    Arthur, don't get me wrong, I love Boubat's work, and it was indeed judged passionate for its time. Not what I would call strongly passionate. The leafy 4 yr old lost in her reverie is a wonderful picture, but does it show or evoke passion for me? Some, but that's it. In the interest of being fair and balanced, I showed it to two women photographers today, whose work I was looking at, and both thought it was good -- and passionate.
    _________________________________________
     
  51. Does anyone think passion has some relationship to suffering?
    Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ. --C. S. Lewis​
    Affliction, not sin. I like that.
    ______________________
    Also, to answer Ralph Gibson. Sex, indeed, may not look the way it feels. And (photographed) sexual passion doesn't have to look like sex.
     
  52. Julie Heyward: Pop quiz for Mr. Kaa -- why isn't Joel Peter Witkin's work Dionysian?
    Witkin is in a quite different plane from the Apollonian - Dionysian axis. A one-word description might be "decadent". For Witkin sex is very serious business. Sex is very much not serious business for Dionysus.
    Re passion -- it seems that different people in this thread have quite different ideas about what the word "passion" means: "simple enthusiasm" of Alan Zinn, "unstoppable willpower" of Wouter Willemse, "ignition chamber" of Julie Heyward...
    My own idea of Dionysian passion is close to how Wouter Willemse defines ecstasy. It is an irresistible, overflowing force that "does not hold back in any way", that forgets about rules and lines, that bubbles and splashes and erupts chaotically. My threshold for this concept *is* high :) An important component of the Dionysian passion is its anti-rationality and I want to stress that it's not a-rational but anti-rational.
    Anyway, I don't know about passion, but let me offer you what I'd call a Dionysian image.
     
  53. Julie, that image is too evident, too self conscious, too much in your face. For me, successful images of strong and unbridled passion are wild, erratic, ecstatic and imaginary, but are, surprisingly, not so evident as that one, and not always easily discernable as passionate statements at first glance. They develop slowly like the orgasmic melody of "A day in the Life".
     
  54. Fred - "Does anyone think passion has some relationship to suffering?"
    "I am a man of passions, capable of and subject to doing more or less foolish things – which I happen to regret, more or less, afterwards." --- Vincent Van Gogh
    I think it can, and sometimes does. The Passion of The Christ, to cite one example, was no joyride.
    Passion can and often does involve perseverance & patience, as well.
     
  55. Fred: Does anyone think passion has some relationship to suffering?
    I don't think so with two caveats. The first one is that Christianity heavily associates the two words, "passion" and "suffering". And the second one is that it's not uncommon for passion to lead to suffering. In fact, a Buddhist would insist that this is unavoidable :)
    By the way, Arthur, are you talking to me and not to Julie, by any chance?
     
  56. Yes, sorry, .Kaa. My comment is the same, though.
     
  57. Arthur, note that I did not say this image embodies passion. I thought I was explicit about that, but evidently not. I do think this picture has the Dionysian flavour, but that, of course, is only my opinion.
    As to being too direct, well, subtlety has its advantages but sometimes just hitting someone over the head with a heavy blunt object is a wonderfully efficient method of getting things done :) Besides, Dionysus isn't subtle at all.
    P.S. I'm just Kaa. The initial dot was nothing but an offering to the Thou-Shall-Not-Have-A-Blank-First-Name god of photo.net registration forms...
     
  58. As I think about it, creating a passionate photo is a passionate experience. For me, the making is at the apex and there would have to be passion in the making itself, even as there would have been passion in the moments already lived that were being expressed through this making. I think what Tharp and Nietzsche are saying is that the making is not separate or separable from the experience of passion. And the craft isn't a rope around passion. Rather the craft becomes a passion even as it may be a force of the opposing dimension. I honestly never thought about whether Dionysus was or wasn't into making things. But I know photographers are.
    I don't know if I can separate passion from suffering. And I don't think I could create the kind of passionate photo I'm eventually going to create without a sense of my own suffering, without being in touch with it, and without being able not just to feel it but to open it up and on some level lay it bare. I think some of this may have to do with difficulty and resistance. We generally don't resist joy but we often resist suffering. So it's stronger, more intense . . . the stuff associated with passion.
     
  59. While listening to a panel discussion on the radio early this morning, on contemporary artist Damien Hirst, I checked the net to improve my minimal knowledge of his works. Whatever you may think of his approach and work, I think they speak at least to the range of expression that is available in contemporary non-photographic art and its ability to interest/shock viewers and to represent a Dionysian theme and to invoke spontaneous emotional reactions from viewers. So where is photography in that sense? Do you think that photography has its oft-followed paradigms and physical limits, and if not, are there photographers that are adventurous enough of spirit to exploit the medium of photography in the manner that a Hirst does in other art forms? Does contemporary photography allow the possibility of expressing passion or are photographers using the medium in sufficiently new and unique ways? I do not mean this as some departure from the present OP, which has much room for expansion, but simply as a sort of corollary to Luis's original statement.
    http://www.google.ca/search?q=damien+hirst&hl=en&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=2fAvT5WKD8uI0QGTmfn3Cg&sqi=2&ved=0CEQQsAQ&biw=1299&bih=1031
     
  60. Where can passion come from in a passionate work if not at least to a significant degree from the maker? I disagree with the idea that all passion involves suffering, but would have to agree that a lot of the best does. It also embodies a lot of deferred gratification, which I read as patience (but feel as suffering, hah!).
    _________________________________________________
    Kaa, so your threshold is so high that of all the photographs in the world you could only choose one of your own, and that one? I think Arthur described it well. You overestimate your threshold or were avoiding linking to any passionate pictures. I also never understood your response to Julie's question about J-P Witkin & Dionysos. Another level? Which one would that be?
    _________________________________________________
    Arthur, the qualities of the Apollonian/Dionysian (A/D) are both present to some degree (and each contain the seed of its opposite, BTW) in everyone. One defines the other, and the friction between the two is the wellspring for artistic (and other) energies. I believe the potential range of expression in photography is about the same as the other arts (within obvious limitations, less so in the digital age). Hirst is a master at the spectacular, something he has used to great advantage, particularly in present-day Western culture (no, I am not implying that is monolithic, but the spectacular is very much "in".
    ________________________________________________
    "Sometimes when you're drunk you can see better." --- Damien Hirst

    ________________________________________________
     
  61. Kaa, so your threshold is so high that of all the photographs in the world you could only choose one of your own, and that one? I think Arthur described it well. You overestimate your threshold or were avoiding linking to any passionate pictures. I also never understood your response to Julie's question about J-P Witkin & Dionysos. Another level? Which one would that be?​
    Oh, boy. Let me try again. Slowly. In simple sentences.
    That photograph is -->*NOT*<-- supposed to illustrate passion. It does *NOT* have anything to do with passion or high thresholds. In fact, since it is my photograph, I can tell you directly that I wasn't particularly passionate at the moment I snapped it. Moreover, I have *NOT* put up this image as an example of art, high or otherwise. To qualify as art (bullet points to the rescue! :-D) it would have had to do much better with expression (as opposed to mere capture) and with depth which it basically lacks. But that was *NOT* the purpose of this picture. It's purpose was to illustrate "Dionysian flavour" where Dionysian, as a counter-point to Apollonian, (see the post that started the thread) is much wider than just passion. Perhaps it fails at that, but my point is that it is -->*NOT*<-- an example of a picture which passes my sky-high passion thresholds.
    About Witkin, what I tried to say was that I don't think it's useful to characterize him in terms of the Apollonian-Dionysian terminology at all. His work is clearly not Apollonian, but it doesn't strike me as particularly Dionysian either. Saudek, for example, has a considerably more pronounced Dionysian vibe for me.
     
  62. Kaa - "Perhaps it fails at that, but my point is that it is -->*NOT*<-- an example of a picture which passes my sky-high passion thresholds."
    Surely in the history of photography there must be at least one picture that approaches your standards? One?
     
  63. Might be, but I don't know what it is :) I am not convinced there *must* be some pictures, anyway. If there are, I would expect them to be in (or close to) the boundary zone between photography and painting but for such pictures the question arises to what degree they are photographs. That's quite a separate topic, however.
    But keep in mind that I'm a simple creature. If, while eating a cheesecake, I'm told that there is great passion in the interplay of overtones of true cinnamon and cassia that arise in the aftertaste, well, I might notice the interplay and might even appreciate and enjoy it. But I would be disinclined to see passion there, much less Dionysian passion.
    Passion, I think, is not something that requires long meditations on subtle aspects to see.
     
  64. Kaa - "Passion, I think, is not something that requires long meditations on subtle aspects to see."
    It's taken Kaa days, and still nothing. Now it's quick and easy to see, but he remains mum.
    Let's look at the point he raises. If we look at the aspects that speak of passion to us, perhaps that will be helpful not only in detecting it, but in encoding passion in a photograph. From Fred we have suffering. My suggestion is: Exaggeration. In the way I detect passion in photographs, exaggeration may not be a constant, but it's frequent.
    Just in case, let me say it: Not all exaggeration is about passion.
     
  65. Fleshing out my thoughts . . .
    Tears of joy suggest something deeper than the emotion of joy. The experience of joy when deepened by the suffering of sorrow becomes a passion. Loving my partner becomes deep and passionate as we suffer through something (or suffer each other) together.
    Passion has an obsessive side, in that it takes over, or at least we give ourselves over to it. There is an element of sacrifice. In being passionate, we give something up, something of ourselves, maybe our innocence. We trade in some sanity. We let go of or are robbed of a kind of control or a kind of relationship to rationality in the moment. We lose the comfort or safety of knowing what this should feel like or where this will take us.
    My own passions have a dark side, which gives them depth, makes them rich. Light wouldn't be enough for me without that darkness. Even sexual passion, for me, comes with some amount of non-pleasure, a darkness that makes it so much more than just getting off. Desire, need, longing.
    Ecstasy? Without agony?
     
  66. I like the idea of exaggeration.
    Myself, I kept coming back to ideas as high dynamics, energy. But there is also the passion in intense and total quietness, or in suffering as Fred mentions. But indeed, it's in the exaggeration where the passionare exceeds the normal. It's not a bad kind of exaggeration, though (there is a bit a negative connotation there for me, which I feel does not apply here).
    The obsessive makes the exaggeration. It's letting the balance tip to one end of the scale.
     
  67. Luis: It's taken Kaa days, and still nothing. Now it's quick and easy to see, but he remains mum.
    Maybe I can't see. Maybe I am blind to it -- how would I know?
    Luis: My suggestion is: Exaggeration
    Not sure about exaggeration. I associate it in photography with, say, a landscape photographer pushing the saturation slider up, or a fashion photographer lengthening the model's legs... Exaggeration is, by definition, depicting more than there really is, and I think with passion you don't depict more, there *really* is that much. Besides, exaggeration suffers from being badly overused by anyone who figured out that post-processing exists.
    I'd suggest two things: power and anti-rationality, not necessarily in the madness sense, but more in the sense of rage/rebellion against the lines and the rules.
     
  68. Exaggeration, as was mentioned, likely refered to exaggeration in terms of the content and emotion in regard to what is being photographed and how it is being photographed and not necessarily to post exposure manipulations as Kaa stated. I like the concepts of exaggeration, suffering, obsession and intensity (which I look at as being a subtle or quiet form of energy), each of which have been mentioned above.
     
  69. Arthur - "Exaggeration, as was mentioned, likely refered to exaggeration in terms of the content and emotion in regard to what is being photographed and how it is being photographed and not necessarily to post exposure manipulations as Kaa stated."
    Exactly. And the Dionysian itself has changed. Back in the Greek days, the ultimate spirit of form was Nature and the symbolic system that had developed from earlier human interaction with, and memory of it. Many still think on those terms, but the world and human consciousness has changed. Most of us are no longer that close to Nature. Instead we live in a multidimensional fun house of mirrored simulacra. The closest we get to it is with Camille Paglia's latter-day interpretation of the Dyonisian, mainly the feminine and the chthonic.
     
  70. The reality is that that the lens can copy only it "sees" physically. It cannot record from the scene in front of it such abstractions as ideas, thoughts, philosophies or anything else that does not have physical presence. This is a constraint that the photographer is faced with and no metaphysical truth nor mystic charm is going to change it. That is a fundamental truth that applies today as it has since the beginning of photography. There are those in the past who have bemoaned the mechanical nature of the camera but nevertheless accepted it and moved on.
    Passion is a French word which in it's first usage meant sorrow in the biblical sense. It has gone through 5 different usages down to the present for which many synonyms apply; i count at least twenty. Too many to list here and would serve no purpose anyway. No matter what you call it the result would be the same, the passion you hope to convey will not be embodied in the print. If it were possible then everyone who viewed the print,such as the one Fred G posted on this thread, would probably feel some compassion for the man but in the real world, one person would feel sympathy for him but the next would maybe feel contempt for such a weakling. Anyway thats how I feel about it.
     
  71. Most of us are no longer that close to Nature. Instead we live in a multidimensional fun house of mirrored simulacra. The closest we get to it is with Camille Paglia's latter-day interpretation of the Dyonisian, mainly the feminine and the chthonic.​
    I am glad I don't belong to "most of us".
     
  72. Though exaggeration is different from enthusiasm, I'm not seeing that they are that much different in their relationship to passion. They both relate to the intensity of the emotion quotient, IMO. I think it's important and am glad that Luis underscored the fact that not all exaggeration is passionate or about passion. And, I do think exaggeration can be an important tool in expressing passion. But I don't think it's a key to understanding passion itself. It's a tool used to convey it.
    I think passion has a particular quality. It's not just a matter of intensity, degree, or exaggeration of emotions. It's got to do with both the intensity and the character* of emotion. I'll get to my disagreement with Warren in a moment, but what I agree with is that passion has undergone various iterations throughout history. I'm trying to see its relationship to art. And, for that, I don't mind going back to original usage and I especially don't mind going back to its religious roots. That's why I think suffering (or darkness . . . or sorrow, as Warren puts it) is very significant.
    I agree with Arthur and Luis that exaggeration through post-processing slider bars is often just an example of bad or kitschy exaggeration. Post processing can be used subtly and significantly to exaggerate in some really great ways. And there are many other ways, long before post processing, that a photographer can use exaggeration effectively and expressively.
    ____________________________
    *Maybe exaggeration is meant to be more than a matter of degree or intensity and does have a certain character. I think a case could be made for this. (I think Kaa approaches this when he talks about exaggeration and the sense of what really is.) But I don't see the specific case being made for this or some other character of exaggeration being related to passion.
     
  73. Warren, I don't think you've made a good case for singling out photography as not being able to show passion. Sure, one of its differences from other art forms may be its mechanical nature. But a painting is also a physical thing: paint on canvas. A sculpture is materials. So how would those record the abstractions of ideas, thoughts, or passions if a photograph can't? I think they all can. Music seems best suited to this experience and expression of passion precisely because it seems inherently abstract. Though a case can be made for music's greater level of abstraction than the visual arts, all art is capable of (one could say somewhat dependent upon) abstraction. Even the most realistic of visual portrayals has many abstract qualities which transcend the material.
    You also seem to put some stock in whether or not all people would see the passion or react similarly to a given work. I agree with you that not all would see it in my photo (especially since I only see a bit of potential in it myself). But not all people would see passion in any given painting or sculpture or hear it in any piece of music, either. Just because passion is not universally seen doesn't mean it's not happening.
     
  74. It is curious that one who cannot cite a single instance of a passionate photograph can tell us so much about them, and another, who doesn't believe it is within the scope of the medium, therefore impossible for him, thinks it is impossible for everyone.
    ______________________________
    Having said all that, I also agree with Warren about the evolution of the meanings of the word 'passion', and would extend it, as I have hinted, in the direction of the Dionysian as well.
    A lot of what we're talking about here is connected to something like:
    "Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues".
    Imbuing a picture with passion, ecstasy, Dionysian qualities or anything else happens with a semblance of grace at the nexus of performance and authenticity . A kind of entanglement fuses these things together, the wall between the maker and the work become permeable, and a transfer to the image becomes possible, and hopefully will pass on to some viewers. It's as much about learning as it is about letting go.
     
  75. Given Kaa's standard of passion, I do not want to know what ecstacy would be like then.....
    And yes, as with all emotions, they're not necessarily visible for everyone. Passion is not going to be different as images that seek to transmit happiness, sadness, feeling lonely etc.
    ____
    Which still leaves me seeking for an image that transmit passion - as passion (hence, not the passion for photography or the subject). I think one of the things where I keep stumbling is the association of passion with the ecstatic. But I see the potential Fred means in his earlier posted photo. It's a silent, more introvert, version of passion maybe, or a reference to passion lost? For the latter, this one evokes that idea for me. But at the same time, this might be my reading on passion, or the way I experience it. I'm a bit afraid that these differences in experiences/emotional handling are inevitably going to keep us close in understanding, but not reach mutual understanding.
    With regard to the exeggeration, though. Just thinking out loud as to why it may be so difficult to find in a photo...
    Yesterday I attended a short 'lecture' of a local photographer; he showed a very nice series on the differences and similarities of people. Black and white portraits, which all used a symbolic birthmark in the face to indicate the similarity. People argued that the rather obvious sign wasn't necessary, as lighting, the facial expressions and the backdrop already provided a solid similarity, the symbol being seen as maybe a bit over the top. I keep wondering: would we have noticed without the obvious symbol? I doubt it - it gave an obvious pointer, which "drew" the rest of image in line. It put us on the track the photographer wanted us to be.
    As normal language, a visual language also needs and has some very simple and clear "words". Unambiguous sentences are usually short. Dark is negative and light positive.
    Now maybe too subtle emotions, shades of emotions or ambiguous emotional expressions (and I would count passion in for these) might too easily get lost in a visual language - unless we use a strong unambibuous tool to express it. At which point do the tool and the message become the same?
    In other words, maybe we swamp passion in exaggeration?
     
  76. Perhaps a quote of Edmund Burke allows another light on the subject:
    "There is a boundary to men's passions when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination."
    Imagination. When a photograph itself incites you to imagine something, not only emotionally, but also with all the attention of your mind, I think it can be a good example of a passionate image and response. Unlike what some have mentioned, I don't have too much trouble in finding such images. While the Capa photograph I referenced can be perceived on many planes, including the simply dramatic, it also arouses passionate questions in the mind of the viewer (this man has risked everything for what? Was the Spanish civil war important for the people of that country? What was so important that this man left everything to end up here? Was his quest for freedom from Fascism a passionate pursuit? And so on...). The romantic Boubat examples can be considered simply for their atmosphere or cuteness or other less passionate qualities, but they can also lead one to relate to his subjects (and his vision) and forcefully to imagine one's own life, its values and its nature.
    Inciting the imagination and the passion of the viewer is something that I think is well within the role of art and photography (It is probably my own principle reason for being engaged in it). Apart from the success of the image, the different responses of viewers may be related to whatever is able to trigger our imagination, or not. Just as passion that is Dionysian or wild is not the unique property of a hormone-rich teenager, passion can be more universal and often milder and more subtle, related to that which has passionately provoked or incited our imagination.
     
  77. I wonder if the body doesn't play an important role in passion. Does passion reside more in the sensual, sexual, textural, and visceral than it does in the intellectual or rational?
    Arthur, IMO, forcefully imagining one's own life, its values and its nature is Philosophy. Passion would be in the way I write about it, the inflection I use, the tone of my voice, how lost I get while thinking and talking about it, the flush of my face as I ponder these things.
     
  78. Hi all.
    passion is a word i use carefully. It is an important word for me in art. It is one pinnacle, measure of a memorable image or series. I (did) have a love hate relationship with what it represents for me and it's often overwhelming character. The highs and lows are extreme. Passion has an ability to present as dark or light ... etc. My take / Ecstasy is a transcendent state unto itself.
    To me passion is primarily is an amping up, a uniquely heightened & maximized state of awareness and sensitivity. At it's best it has an amazing ability to focus me. Not a lack of control as it may appear. I learned I can tap it - wield it and learned to express it in my voice. As others have pointed to previously it can be generated from the deeper recesses of ourselves or it may be inspired by external sources. What it always has for me is a deeply deeply personal trigger. With my own art i can only achieve a passionate piece(s) (aside from the happy accident) when i am in touch with my core, in places many find uncomfortable. So sometimes it may present as 'dark' even taboo. Passion is a favored tool and I have learned to reach for it but know that there will often be a price. I read "Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues". in the way of Bromberg " you have to suffer...." - it was a good natural starting point for me. Sometimes it is bliss and sometimes it is pain. sometimes expressed as nuanced poetry other times as a scream...
    Kertesz series 'from my window' presented a quiet personal passion to me.
    Fukase 'solitude of ravens' cut to my core. on 1st viewing it felt like a look at a photographers passion laid open. Shortly after the US release i stumbled on the book in a nature audubonish section. An intense accident.
    both spoke of passion to me before I learned the back story. before it began an obsession to study the why. I encounter passion in photography surprisingly often but primarily the passion that has been 'imbued' . much more unusual is the successful image (by my standard) that passion IS the subject. And that is only accomplished if it is also imbued by the individual imo.
    by the way of dionysus
     
  79. Wouter: Given Kaa's standard of passion, I do not want to know what ecstacy would be like then.....
    I dislike word inflation. It annoys me to read "Today I had a most amazing experience which lifted me to a pinnacle of joy and allowed me to experience totally wonderful sensations as I ate a perfect sandwich, best in the entire world" when it's pretty clear that what a guy means is "I ate a tasty sandwich today".
    Passion is a big word, it signifies big and important things. I don't want to cheapen this word by applying it to mundane feelings or likings. "Mild passion" is an oxymoron.
    Arthur: When a photograph itself incites you to imagine something, not only emotionally, but also with all the attention of your mind, I think it can be a good example of a passionate image and response.
    That's quite a different approach. We used to talk about how the passion of the author shows up in his work and can be transmitted to a viewer. Now the author drops out of the picture and you're talking exclusively about the impact of the image on the viewer. If I don't have to consider the issue of author's passion and just have to think about whether an image grabs me and makes me focus, feel, think, imagine -- well, that's basically just a definition of good art :)
     
  80. I believe Kaa stands on solid ground.
    I am not high on quotes but I stand by this one:
    "Art should be independent of All claptrap - should stand alone, and appeal to the artistic sense of eye and ear, without confounding this with emotions entirely foreign to it,as devotion,pity, love,patriotism and the like. All these have no kind of concern with art."
    James m. Whistler 1834-1903
     
  81. "Does passion reside more in the sensual, sexual, textural, and visceral than it does in the intellectual or rational?"
    Fred: I definitely think not, and without pondering any more precise breakdown, which may exist, I would say that they are equally important. By the way the intellectual does not necessarily mean rational, when imagination, poetry and fantasy (amongst others) are involved. Some of the most passionate intellectual actions and thoughts of man are no doubt not 100% rational.
    Kaa: The work of art is more important to me than its author, although I will sometimes admire the process of the author, his creative ability and will want to know more about him. Not to change my perception, but to understand a bit where he is coming from. The passion perceived in the work is what really matters.
    Warren: Not sure the exact context of Whistler's remarks, but I don't fully understand how one can remove those considerations from the message of the work of art. My impression of art is that if it has one quality it has no imposed boundaries of what it can represent. Can you elaborate on Whistler's thoughts a bit more; maybe I am missing a point or the context of his statement?​
     
  82. Perhaps someone can tell me which key I accidentally hit to unintentionally put everything into the "land of grey?" Thanks.
     
  83. Yes, Arthur, at the top of the message window where you type your post, there is a button with quotation marks on it. You likely hit that. It is the second button from the right, just to the left of the HTML button.
     
  84. Warren, I believe Kaa has no visible means of support. He made this clear when he said: "Maybe I can't see. Maybe I am blind to it (passion) -- how would I know?". That was remarkably honest.
    You can't see it either, but amazingly feel compelled to attempt to dominate the discourse and tell us that if you and Kaa can't, no one else can. That Whistler quote was published in 1890, railing against the notion that art should embody certain morals. Today it's a quaint, retro notion.
    Ok...let's play: How about a link to one (forget about passion) photograph that "stands on its own". Please be sure to name the qualities that are "its own", unless you think we should all stand around art like the apes by the monolith in 2001, A Space Oddysey in chimping awe.
     
  85. I feel passionately about how a camera transforms a subject when the light is right. Here is an example: http://www.photo.net/photo/15015732 . That view of the park just isn't what I see with my eye. In the wrong light, the camera records exactly what my eyes always see, dullness. I think it a freaking miracle. I just get jazzed, man. That piece of crap park looks in the picture the way the birds must see it. No wonder they are so damn happy. I just love it.
     
  86. Kaa, maybe you should consider that your definition is yours, and not universal:
    I dislike word inflation.... I don't want to cheapen this word by applying it to mundane feelings or likings.​
    Fine. But the word and its weight is not defined by one person alone. Others offered their definitions, and offered to discuss. You, instead, keep repeating your definition of passion. Why would I have to adopt your definition? It would be equally inflating.
    Try to convince by arguments, rather than repetition and insistance.
    _______________
    Fred,
    Does passion reside more in the sensual, sexual, textural, and visceral than it does in the intellectual or rational?​
    Yes, for the rational, but the intellectual is another case I think. I disagree with Arthur they may be equally important. In my idea, passion will dominate, and it is not driven by ratio, but by emotions and instinct. The sensual, sexual etc. are equally driven from that. They don't emerge from thoughts, they emerge from within, they're instinct responses. If anything, rationality would block passion.
    The intellectual... more complicated. Intellect seems to be always there, it conditions even those instinct responses. However, if one is mainly rational and intellectual, I wonder whether one can endulge equally easy in passion. I know I can't - there always remains the thoughts "but what if...", an urge for nuances and a need to understand.
     
  87. Luis what do you think of the work of Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gómez -- you know them personally, perhaps? Do you find their work to be passionate?
     
  88. I think that ...
    Passion should not be confused with its manifestation (is that guy having an orgasm or was he just stung by a bee?). I have no doubt whatsoever that quadriplegics experience passion; I would guess in many instances, passion is all that they have.
    Therefore, the passion of others is always inferred. It's always a projection of the viewer. It's presence or absence seems to be important; I think people take it as a sign of authenticity -- that, because passion happens before/without calculation, they are not being lied to (<< just a quick guess).
    As when a jury tries to decide whether they are hearing about a crime of passion or premeditated murder (how far can the accused go to acquire a weapon before he's no longer in the grip of "passion"?), I think one's belief will be very much dependent on empathy, personal experience, etc. The evidence is "read" according to one's own personal projections and I don't think one can be bullied into agreement (as seems to be happening between the parties in this thread).
    On the other hand, the quadriplegic's expressions or displays of his inner passion would perhaps be heavily mediated by third-party helpers and yet be able to be communicated to an audience -- yet would still have to pass a degree of skepticism. It all depends on the viewer; it's not going to be "there" in the work because it's not really about the work. It seems to me to be about the maker.
     
  89. Today, I saw an exhibit at the De Young Museum of paintings from the Venetian Renaissance (on loan from Vienna). Included were works by Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Mantegna.
    Example 1
    Example 2
    One of the introductions to the exhibit mentioned the passion of "lustrous color." Radiance is part of the definition of lustre. Passion and radiance? Light emitted (more than reflected). J.D. Wood mentioned "generated from the deeper recesses of ourselves." What else, visually speaking, makes us feel as if "stuff" is coming from within?
    It's interesting to consider that there may be historically passionate eras in art. That doesn't mean that there isn't passion in every era. I don't believe we're in a particularly passionate era right now, though I do think every era, including ours, is significant. Era of computer technology?
    These Renaissance paintings are the epitome of what I think of when I think of passion. I may be viewing it somewhat narrowly. I may be old fashioned.
     
  90. it's not really about the work. It seems to me to be about the maker. --Julie​
    Well, then, how do you make this determination: "I would suggest most of Peter Fraser's work as exemplary of someone who loses himself in the visual."
    I'm assuming you don't know Fraser personally, so you've inferred it from the work. Whether we say it's in the work or in the maker is irrelevant. It's the work we're looking at and, from the work we're inferring passion, wherever it resides. So, it seems to me that, when discussing photographs and passion, what we see is pretty much what we have to go on, no matter where we eventually say the passion actually IS.
     
  91. Julie - "Luis what do you think of the work of Eduardo del Valle and Mirta Gómez -- you know them personally, perhaps? Do you find their work to be passionate?"
    They are (sort of) the analog of Bernd and Hilla Becher in South Florida. I've seen some of their work in the Yucatan Peninsula, and a couple of works outside of that. Their Yucatan work is the kind of that needs to be looked at over several pictures because while each one is about a specific structure, it is also about a type of structure. It has what I see as a distinct Latin sensibility about indigenous cultures. The ambiguity between the analytical, the passionate interest in the architecture, conscious context, attention to light, color and design, balance between deadpan illustration, the studied, felt and the lyrical are what make this work distinct. The passion about what they're doing is clearly evident to me, but on the whole it seems more on the analytical/rational/Apollonian side. Some of their earlier B&W work leaned more in the other direction.
    I do not know them personally.
    ___________________________________________
    Julie - "Therefore, the passion of others is always inferred. It's always a projection of the viewer. It's presence or absence seems to be important; I think people take it as a sign of authenticity -- that, because passion happens before/without calculation, they are not being lied to (<< just a quick guess)."
    How do we gauge anything if not through its manifestation? If it doesn't manifest, how do we know it's there? I'm sorry, but I think I can tell the difference between someone being stung by a bee or having an orgasm. One time while skinny dipping, a bee got in my shorts/undies and it stung me in a very private place linked to orgasm. Not one of the others present misunderstood the bee sting for a big O. I can't separate the maker from the work, or the viewer's baggage (including projection) from his experience.
    When I referred to the nexus between performance and authenticity, I was not using the latter as something conferred by passion, but more along the lines of preceding it.
    ________________________________________________
    There are may different kinds of passion, as we can see from the examples cited and/or proposed. There are Apollonian passions, too, (which is what I see in the lustrously radiant in Fred's first link. The 2nd did not work) though I distinctly wanted to explore more of the Dionysian kind in this thread. This is not a complaint, after all, contrasting with the opposite is a good way to understand it.
    ____________________________________________________________
    As to the wysiwyg thing and photographs, in the usual viewer/gallery/museum interaction, that's largely true, but... As we've read in this forum before, photographs can extend beyond the frame, which is extra-visual. At exhibits/openings, the artists are often present, and give talks. In books, context for work therein including critical essays, bios, forewords, etc. are given. When I see art, a significant amount of the time the artist is present and I talk with them. I am familiar with the times, culture, geography, etc. Art cannot stand alone any more than we can. Everything appears like an island as long as we don't look below the surface, and if we do, we discover everything is connected.
    _________________________________
    [BTW, This week what is perhaps the earliest figurative painting ever found was discovered in a cave in Spain. Depictions of six fat seals in red reportedly painted by Neanderthals, no less, onto a white stalactite 42,000 years ago. They seem passionately depicted to me]
    _____________________________________________
    When the artist is not present, nor any information about him (though plenty is encoded into anything man-made), whatever the viewer experiences is partially in the work and its title, where it is being seen, how it is presented, and in the viewer himself. I do not think the photographs carry much of a narrative (in this case about passion). Instead, it carries triggers that loosen, catalyze or unlock narratives already existing in the viewer.
    ____________________________________________
     
  92. The second link is this:
    http://www.abm-enterprises.net/titian_danae.jpg
    It's also here:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/71/Titian_-_Danae_(Hermitage_Version).jpg
     
  93. Wouter: Kaa, maybe you should consider that your definition is yours, and not universal
    Oh, but I do. You may have noticed my use of the first-person singular when I was talking about the meaning of passion :) I was explaining myself -- not claiming universal truths. I do not want you to adopt my definition, but I want you to understand what do *I* mean when *I* use the word "passion".
    Wouter: Try to convince by arguments, rather than repetition and insistance.
    You misunderstand me. I do not wish to convince you. The purpose of discussions like this is not to convince other people, the purpose is to jointly explore something, gain access to other-than-your-own points of view, frameworks, contexts... It may be that someone changes his positions in the process, but that's a side-effect, not a primary goal.
    Terminology is a frequent source of difficulty in such discussions because to understand somebody's point of view you have to know what does that person mean by the words he uses and that's not necessarily obvious. A great deal of disagreements and arguments are about nothing more than definitions, does world A mean X or does it mean Y. That's why I prefer to get (some) clarity about terminology -- it allows everyone to focus on interesting issues as opposed to argue about labels.
     
  94. Luis: He made this clear when he said: "Maybe I can't see. Maybe I am blind to it (passion) -- how would I know?".
    Let's be a bit more precise about it, shall we? I am talking not about passion in general, I'm talking very specifically about the passion of the author as seen in his works. Notably, this is different from passion just depicted in an image. It is also different from passion in viewers which an image arouses. I am certainly not blind (well, I think so :) ) to passion in real life.
    To put it crudely, I don't know how would you distinguish something produced by real passion from something produced by highly skilled and cynical manipulation of symbols -- if you know nothing about the author's person. Yes, of course, Mozart and Salieri. But at the same time, I am sure there have been LOTS of very passionate people who couldn't actually produce anything worthwhile, and there's been some technicians who made what's universally accepted as good art.
    Of course, art reflects the personality of its creator. Passionate works of art do not "prove" but they do hint at the passion of the maker. Often that connection is true. But not always.
     
  95. "One of the introductions to the exhibit mentioned the passion of "lustrous color." Radiance is part of the definition of lustre. Passion and radiance? Light emitted (more than reflected). ........ What else, visually speaking, makes us feel as if "stuff" is coming from within?"

    Evocative thinking Fred. So a little rambling and brainstorming.....sussing

    . Your words and link to Titian made me think of Brassai. He/his work seems laced with passion.... by way of Photographer and very often the subject/content. The level of engagement Brassai had with his subjects (photographically) and the obvious (to me) level of engagement that his subjects had w/life feels passionate. His easy to overlook 'technique' rarely gets in the way of his content. Primarily gentle tonal strokes with a punch as i see it. The light often notably radiates from the image. The passion of his subjects (a deep level of engagement with life) is allowed to blossom and reach out by his craft. I learned and dedicated more time to craft via photographers like Adams but learned even more valuable lessons (still inseparable as a whole) from photographers like Brassai.
    And as you know i lean to bw. but passion does have wings in Color photography .... some,many cuban or spanish (often lush saturation) almost smells of passion, corporal (referring to your comment Fred "I wonder if the body doesn't play an important role in passion. Does passion reside more in the sensual, sexual, textural, and visceral than it does in the intellectual or rational?"). Latin passion in art is in color and content rich And engages the body imo. Even in 2 dimensional work. I always thought your Gerald-2 was knockin at that door.
     
  96. Josh, funny that you mention Gerald-2. That was my first choice for my own knocking on the door of passion. I didn't use it because I was afraid the more literal elements of passion might get in the way here.
    So, I'm especially glad you talked about Brassai in the terms you did. Because I think relationship to content/subject is vital here. I've avoided content for fear of seeming too "literal" about passion. It's why I chose the first example from the Renaissance exhibit I did, precisely because it's not a typical passionate "subject" but I do see it as a very passionate painting.
     
  97. litral aint a bad starting point.
    where did the photo go? it was a nice adornment imo
     
  98. Oh, thanks. I realized you had linked to it, which I didn't realize at first, and just didn't want to be redundant.
     
  99. I've been away from Photo.net for too many months now. No sooner did I finally grasp Luis use of "lacunae" in some long buried thread than I make my first foray back into the Philosophy forum and stumble over "cthonic".
    Not being flip. I am aware of all the words and viewpoints that preceded my post, but "cthonic" sparked a personal take on where/how I find passion and possibly ecstasy. I don't want to cherry pick and get sidetracked by other posts. Doesn't mean I don't care or am not interested, just that many have already done so and we all have only so much time and space to devote to this discussion.
    Cthonic, Dionysian, Appollonian no, Cthuluesque, yes. (Bastardized from long forgotten readings of H.P Lovecraft, a mnemonic spark struck by Luis use of cthonic)

    Yes, passion and/or ecstasy in neurosis and paranoia. Anxiety over unseen horrors, tragedies, catastrophes that hover at the periphery. Chained, or sleeping, or, for the moment, thankfully unaware or uninterested in my presence. Make the image and move away before it awakens or notices me. It has nothing to do with subject or place or time of day. It's not taking photographs of dangerous places or people. (Though it can be all these things.) It's the way the world feels at the edges.
    I find it in the work of others, whether they intended it or not. And there is often a rough joy at this fear and anxiety. A melancholic wonder at the shared state of our fragile and transitory moment. Celebration of a flailing, stuttering perseverence in the face of so many unknown….things…that may unexpectedly emerge from the darkness, the unseen edge, to crush us. Sometimes there is no joy at the weight of it, just depression or pointless anxiety over things that may never happen (cancer, rape, a mugging, loss of a limb, war, a car accident, bankruptcy), or over things that are inevitable (aging and death) but at other times there is a catharsis, a fatalistic celebration. And in those moments when we can let go of the fear and anxiety and just experience the sheer wonder of it all…it becomes ecstasy. Mad laughter and mad tears. I find it in Woody Allen, Delmore Schwartz, Susan Burnstine and Francesca Woodman, among others.
    Lest I sound like a perpetually depressed neurotic, there are other moments of ecstasy, though they did not translate to my images. One example:
    For a couple of years, I've been involved in doing documentary work involving Chicagoans, or Greater Chicagoans (outlying burbs), who are from, or descended from, Balkan countries. Much of it involves Balkan folk dancing. I started attending and photographing rehearsals of a particular troupe. One long afternoon at the University of Chicago, completely forgotten by the dancers around me (a cherished state, natch), crouched down going back and forth to catch this, that, moment, my chest suddenly filled with an ache and a senseless joy. Awe overcame me, and tears filled my eyes. I would call it zen-like, but for the fact that it was not calm and serene. It was more like a religious rapture, perhaps it was similar to what Christians mean by a state of grace. I just was. Nothing that was before or after mattered in those moments. There was no thought, just ecstasy in being there, surrounded by the dancers energy and swirling movements. I know how simplistic and naïve this may sound, but I have no other way of describing it. This may be a common experience with some people, but it is not with me.
    Did that feeling translate to the photographs I took in that period of time? Honestly, no. But it didn't matter. It doesn't matter.
    As far as my photography goes, I don't know that it is informed by passion. I'd call it more of a compulsion, which is not really what we're talking about here. It is strange, though. I was thinking about why I do what I do just the other night. It's certainly not money or fame. It's not even photography for the sake of photography (because there are many types of photography I have no interest in doing). It wasn't always this way, but it feels lately a little bit like being pushed by an unseen hand. Not unwillingly, just that the drive to do it comes unbidden and almost feels like it comes from outside myself. That, alas, is no guarantor of quality, genius, or significance.
    Some brief examples of images of others where I sense passion, rightly or wrongly.
    The first, from Chicagoan Paul D'Amato, is part of a years long series of images he took of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood (an area once recommended to me for it's standout hispanic dining by Luis). A documentary study that goes on for years demonstrates a more rudimentary type of passion than may have been intended for us to discuss, but I find passion in this image in and of itself.
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_jeSuLa5Zs...DAmato_Barrio_Junior_and_Janessa_2111_102.jpg
    From one of Ishimoto's more iconic images:
    http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/yasuhiro.ishimoto.steps.jpg
    Robert Frank:
    http://blog.ricecracker.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/ntm5-1-16.jpeg
    Susan Burnstine:
    http://web.ncf.ca/ek867/susan.burnstine.when.jpg
     
  100. Kaa - "To put it crudely, I don't know how would you distinguish something produced by real passion from something produced by highly skilled and cynical manipulation of symbols -- if you know nothing about the author's person."
    To answer in an equally crude fashion: I don't have to, and it doesn't matter, unless it's supposedly forensic or documentary photography.
    ____________________________________________________________
    Then Julie chimed in with - "Luis, meet Sally."
    Doesn't sound or look like a bee sting, does it? Next thing you'll be "surprising" me by telling me bee stings and orgasms can be faked. See answer to Kaa above.
    _____________________________________________________
     
  101. Luis: I don't have to, and it doesn't matter
    Interesting. I don't know whether I have misread you, then. Back in the beginning of the thread you listed four "aspects of passion", notably (3) The encoding of passion into the work, and added Numbers three and four are the most fascinating to me.
    I understood you to be interested in how the passion of the author gets transferred into his work -- but now you're saying it doesn't matter whether there was real passion that bled through, or whether there was just a skilled manipulation of the viewer. I am confused.
    And, speaking of fake orgasms, how successfully, do you think, passion can be faked? Would you be consistent with your answer above and say that it doesn't matter whether it's fake or not as long as the viewer is convinced?
     
  102. I don't quite understand the purpose of the Meg Ryan clip, but it's got nothing to do with passion. Interestingly, though, it was posted as I was wondering if passion had to be serious or if there could be passionate humor.
    Lenny Bruce came to mind. Following are two clips. In coordination with one of Steve's points, there is stuff on the edge that's important here. And it's not just for the sake of being edgy. I think passion may come with a deeply centered kind of edginess. Josh mentioned focus. (Many critics put down Piss Christ of Serrano for being edgy for edginess sake. I think they're wrong.) Bruce is passionate especially because he's speaking personally while he's making bigger points. In the first clip, think of Meg Ryan's fake pop romantic-comedy orgasm as you would the cop's restating of Bruce's so-called vulgar comments OUT OF CONTEXT, and how they completely miss the point when they are made out of context. Bruce's passion, on the other hand, comes WITHIN CONTEXT. It emanates (radiance). I have no particular comment on the second clip. It's just worth watching.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcTUux-3dew&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TrQxeNEPLo
     
  103. Kaa - "I understood you to be interested in how the passion of the author gets transferred into his work -- but now you're saying it doesn't matter whether there was real passion that bled through, or whether there was just a skilled manipulation of the viewer. I am confused."
    Art can be fictional. You're less confused than you think.
    _____________________________________________
    Steve Gubin and Fred, lots of good points, but I am headed out for the evening. More later.
     
  104. Let's take it from the top:
    We lean towards the Apollonian here. Rational, logical, evidenced, framed in fact, justifiable, etc. Yet the photo world is glutted with well-crafted and lit, perfectly dull, lifeless pictures devoid of any apparent passion, let alone ecstasy. Mud that hasn't been breathed on is just mud. I am talking about passions and ecstasies of all kinds, and of the photographer, subject(s) viewers and reviewers​
    This says in effect that large number of the photographs appearing on this site is stilted, predictable and cliched pictorialist crud. But this is a problem of truncated vision and trivial execution, not of being too "Apolollonian" or wherever. Don't blame rationality and logic for crappy art. "Passion" (or, more exactly, zeal) burns within every artist, as it does ever mechanic worthy of his or her wrench. The execution of a photograph, as any work of art, requires rationality. I mean the creator must know what he or she is doing. There are moments of inspiration, or epiphany, but you gotta know how use your tools. Artists have to be rational to communicate passion in their works.
    The Greeks did not create the dichotomy between Apollo and Dionysus. When Nietzsche referenced those two elements in his early work, The Birth of Tragedy (1872) he declared they formed a fusion that made Greek Tragedy truly great until the advent of Euripides. He would later write that this was a work filled with youthful error. He did, however, embrace Dionysus as a personal god toward the end of his life. He concludes Ecce Homo (1888) with, "Have you understood me?: Dionysus verses Christ."
    The Apollo-Dionysus dichotomy we got here is a creature more of the popular imagination. It's a way of talking around the strictures of the Abrahamic religions, particularly Christianity, and of dealing with personal hang-ups like post-adolescent sexuality.
    Anyway, the rational mind is truly the most passionate for it sees clearly to object of its passion.
     
  105. Well, that's solved then.
    ____________
    Or not.
    The edginess certainly rings bells, but as with other terms than have rung that same bell in this thread: is it cause, or effect?
    I think it's effect. One starts to seek edges out of passion for what one is doing. Investigate how big the playing field is, where it starts and where it stops. Test the rules for their flexibility or rigidness.
    And yet, when a photo (or any art) is edgy, it does not mean it's made out of passion or with passion. It can be a calculated effect, indeed.
    It seems to me that passion in a photographer shines through in enough different disguises to not be immediately identifiable. But in a body of work, a certain consistence and persistence of vision can become visible. A true commitment to a subject or a message, a drive to perfect that message, to show to others what you're seeing.
    Maybe passion in a single image happens, but so far all examples work for only some. Maybe it's not the way to find it. But looking at a lot of combined photos, like the Brassaï link offered - the passion of the photographer jumps from my screen. Is it purely Dionysos that I'm seeing? Not really, but it sure isn't all that rational either.
     
  106. Let's take it from the bottom: Alex, I certainly was not saying what you claim I was. I never insinuated there was a dichotomy between the two, and, among others, made the point that they interleaved in Nietzsche and during Greek times. We're way past what you're saying happened in this thread. You're not the first or only one to come in this forum and tell everyone they're wrong, and that the issue is settled. It's the way you see it, and therefore moot.
    ___________________________________________
    Alex - "Don't blame rationality and logic for crappy art."
    I don't. You're attempting to put words in my mouth. I never said or thought that. If anyone cares to read my OP they will see I did not even use the word "art". If it -- or its opposite -- were only that simple.
    Alex - "Anyway, the rational mind is truly the most passionate for it sees clearly to object of its passion."
    I'm sure in your own mind that's true. Let me ask you a rhetorical, no-answer-required question: Do you think your own pictures are most passionate and clear-seeing?
    A non-rhetorical one: How a few links to *others' pictures you think are passionate?
    By any chance, did you mean to say 'the' object of its passion? Otherwise it reads like quite the ironic and reveling Freudian slip.
    At least you've made your own position clear: There's one best way to passionate pictures, and unsurprisingly, it's your own! Obviously, others here think that truth to be far from self-evident, 100+ responses' worth, and a question worthy of further exploration and discussion.
    ________________________________________________
    * The reason for my requesting linked pictures from non-PN members is to 1) Sidestep the usual mammoth egos 2) bruised toes 3) The usual thrust to push one's own pictures in others' faces (which rarely happens in this forum) and 4) To avoid trampling the PN dicta regarding the compartmentalization of critiques of members' work, which as we see elsewhere, results in dozens of 'Wow', 'Cool', 'Attaboy' "reviews".
     
  107. Josh, I agree with you about Brassai and passion, still thinking about the limits of looking at one image vs. a body of work, which also relates to the theme on this thread in a way we haven't touched on yet. When Fred was talking about passion in his own pictures, Gerald-2 came to mind, among others. Good to see you here.
    ________________________________
    Fred, Titian's Danae speaks to me of passion. Looking at a body of work vs. the idea of a singlet standing on its own merits is too vast to get into in this thread, though we keep skirting the idea. It merits its own thread. I agree with passionate humor, and there's many other kinds as Wouter has alluded to.
    ________________________________
    Kaa, this picture speaks to the idea of fictional passion, and that to make it, one has to have a very good idea of what passes for passion.
    http://www.lvxphotography.net/media/2009/05/doisneau_kiss.jpg?w=500
    ________________________________
    Steve, good to see you back. "Yes, passion and/or ecstasy in neurosis and paranoia. Anxiety over unseen horrors, tragedies, catastrophes that hover at the periphery. Chained, or sleeping, or, for the moment, thankfully unaware or uninterested in my presence. Make the image and move away before it awakens or notices me"
    Yes. I think this could be related to the Kantian idea of the sublime. In the Nietzschean construct of this, the wellspring of psychic energy in the creative comes from the friction (or dissonance?) between the Apollonian and Dionysian. This comes to mind because you acknowledge it's not stemming from literal/rational feelings, but: "It's the way the world feels at the edges." Meaty post, beautifully written. In agreement with the comments on Allen, Woodman, Ishimoto, D'Amato and Frank.
    A point raised by Steve in this post that is integral to this discussion is the idea of tapping into universal themes, as opposed to more personal ones. This transformation from the personal to the group/tribe/humanity is at the core of the Dionysian experience.
    _________________________________________________
    __________________________________________
     
  108. Not to dampen any fires, but this is relevant since bodies of work have come up. I just saw a fairly exhaustive Francesca Woodman exhibit at SF Moma. I had only seen a few of her photos on line before seeing the exhibit and actually got more passion from these initial single views than when seeing the body of work. There was an "art student" quality that came through when seeing some of the "experiments" repeated over and over and the lack of change of mood, for me, got a little tiresome. It's not that I wasn't inspired by seeing the show and I learned a lot, etc., but whatever sense of passion I originally had was a bit undermined in seeing the whole show. I sensed more potential than fulfillment.
     
  109. Fred, it doesn't damp any fire ;-) I brought up bodies of work because I noticed (googling around) how seeing a body of work brought forward qualities that a single image doesn't - and in it, to some extend, I saw passion. Or I think I did. It was more a sharing of thoughts and ideas than it was a statement of any kind.
     
  110. Wouter, I meant I didn't want to dampen the fires about Woodman, who had been brought up as an example of passion. And I saw it tying into the body of work discussion in an interesting way, as a counterexample. I happen to agree with you that a body of work can manifest passion in a significant way.
     
  111. Ah, sorry, misunderstood then!
     
  112. When, in the middle of a poem, I read the lines:
    Those shredded inner tubes abandoned on the shoulders of thruways,
    Black and collapsed bodies, that tried and burst,
    And were left behind;
    [from Come with Me, by Robert Bly]​
    ... in my mind I get an easily photographic visual that, for me communicates a deeply felt passion from the poet.
    Working in reverse, for me, such a photo without the lines of poetry would still (assuming quality) convey metaphoric passion. However, I can surely see how another person could see and respond strictly to the elegance of the forms of blasted rubber, asphalt, dirt or to some other kind of metaphoric meaning that their personal experience suggested. After all, a photograph of such would not be "bodies" that "tried."
     
  113. Odds are it would not. Should we expect a rigid, one-to-one correspondence between the roadside junk and the tried (and bested) bodies in Bly's poetry? Between the photographer's intentions and what the viewer gets? I do not think Bly did.
    For that, we used to send telegrams, do mathematical proofs, write Buick Owners' manuals, receipts and bills, or sententious propaganda, not write poetry or make art.
    (Besides, that poem was written back when car tires had tubes. Today that would be about tire carcasses.)
     
  114. Alex - "Anyway, the rational mind is truly the most passionate for it sees clearly to object of its passion."
    I'm sure in your own mind that's true. Let me ask you a rhetorical, no-answer-required question: Do you think your own pictures are most passionate and clear-seeing?​
    Yeah, of course :)
     

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