pictures of nothing

Discussion in 'Abstract' started by photoriot, Jun 3, 2017.

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  1. Reasonable points. Indeed, having nothing to eat is referring to something significant, though it's not referring to an abstraction but is referring to something all too concrete.

    I can understand your saying that's a photo of nothing. I could also understand someone claiming it's a photo of an oblong outline. Which I'd choose would simply depend on how contentious I wanted to be at the moment!
     
  2. Well I'll take contentious over pretentious any day. It's presumptuous I have problems with.

    I guess if words can't be nothing, the very word "nothing" is something. Or am I being presumptuous?
     
  3. No, you are not being presumptuous. This is the whole roundabout regarding the concept of nothing. The moment you point at a photo and call it 'nothing', you are making it 'something'.

    I think when I am incapable of thinking (i.e. Dead), that may be nothing, but then there's always the chance of an afterlife.
     
  4. There's a difference between saying a photo is a photo OF nothing, which is what Norman and the nurse said, and saying a photo IS nothing. This may be further evidence that a photo is different from its subject. (See Magritte's Cesi n'est pas une pipe. He says it's not a pipe. He doesn't say it's not a painting.)
     
  5. The photo is something, the subject is nothing. Ceci n'est-pas une photo.
     
  6. Actually I meant, a photo of nothing. Very often we point to a photo and refer to its subject directly (e.g. That's a house, we actually mean, that's the picture of a house). However I agree with you, it's important to distinguish between the subject and the photo of the same.

    What I had in mind was, a photo whose subject is intended to be 'nothing' is still about something. The very concept of a subject and labeling it constitutes substance IMO. I think, the idea of nothing therefore cannot be all-pervasive, when it comes to photography at least. Whether the subject is nothing will depend on the context. The photo of a blank piece of paper can be thought of as nothing, if one thinks of the paper as a container of symbols. On the other hand, if the paper is perceived as a surface, then it is something, since there is texture, and color etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2017
  7. Bill, this is how I am understanding what you're trying to say:

    If I ask you to make some music that is "not something," that is not [naming all the historic kinds of music, up to the present day], it's ... nothing. Within the context of "music" a "not something" is nothing because it's not any of those things that we call music. Within the context of "pictures" a "not something" reads as "nothing."

    John Cage: "I have nothing to say and I'm saying it."

    Or, though not "nothing," James Joyce had to teach his readers how to read his work. Here is Steven Connor describing his short story collection, Dubliners:

    The stories do not manifest their meaning to the reader, but call up the reader who is necessary to construe their meaning. The genetic model of growth which governs the transition from story to story seems to propose the work of reading and understanding as a formation of such a collective reader, invoked, over and above, and even in opposition to, the more limited manifestations of understanding of the individual characters themselves. The work invokes, out of the scattered indefiniteness of vision of Dubliners, though without wishing to give a name or visible form to it, that collective consciousness ... [emphasis added]​

    To me, reading and watching Bill, he's trying to do something like that in pictures.
     
  8. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Supriyo, to me, and i stress that, a photo of is the key phrase. a photo of 0, zero, ascii(0), call it what you want, is a photo of nothing. it doesn't matter if the photo has substance, depth, texture, whatever. a photo of donald trump, you, me, etc is just that, a photo
     
  9. Sometimes, a photo of something is a photo about something else.

    And what Norman's last post suggests to me is there's a way to look at a photo more immediately than via what it is of or about.

    As for photos of Donald Trump, they may be a particular species requiring a revamping of math altogether.
     
  10. That's because, 0 as a symbol is meaningful to you. To others (hopefully not many), it can be just an oval shape. I think, Fred also mentioned this point earlier.
     
  11. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i agree but i doubt there are many people (if any) who understand my statement "here is a photo of nothing " but don't recognise 0
     
  12. True enough, but I wonder if a slightly more dimensional symbol would enhance the recognition (unless you wanted to keep it minimalist).



    Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 10.29.35 AM.jpg
     
  13. The nurse knew what she was talking about, at least! I will argue that it's impossible to take a photo of nothing intentionally - at best you can set up a mockup by having a random shutter fire somehow. But the photographer in the pics in question is always taking a picture of something - a shape or color - that is nothing but decoration.

    Transposing this to music takes me completely aback. I've survived as a street musician, and participated in other musical activities, much of it involving singing or playing in unison. The group aspect makes it a lot harder to distinguish something as nothing, and other senses of 'nothing' start to come in, like elevator music, also an anodyne background. Which come to think of it captures the nurse's perception of the pics hanging in the ward.

    The stories do not manifest their meaning to the reader, but call up the reader who is necessary to construe their meaning. The genetic model of growth which governs the transition from story to story seems to propose the work of reading and understanding as a formation of such a collective reader, invoked, over and above, and even in opposition to, the more limited manifestations of understanding of the individual characters themselves. The work invokes, out of the scattered indefiniteness of vision of Dubliners, though without wishing to give a name or visible form to it, that collective consciousness ... [emphasis added]​

    Take out Dubliners, and it reads like a description of Phobrain. Thanks, Julie! My hope is that someday with a significant portion of all photos taken going into it, it would really take on a collective consciousness that could relate to each individual personally.

    pair_kwd_concrete_circles_12_way.jpg
     
  14. Speaking of anodyne, maybe one meaning of nothing on the nurse's part is that the photos don't confront the reader; rather (what she misses) you have to go into them, as with Dubliners but with less head hurting since they are after all natural.
     
  15. I wonder what the nurse would say of these abstract murals shot by friends (currently most recent on my Linkedin posts) - maybe since they confront you, she'd see them as something.
     
  16. These bits of pavement were diligently located or recreated, and placed in the Smithsonian because they were mentioned on photo.net, an early instance of a pre-quantum internet site, pursuant to Trump XXXiV's order that everything must be something.

    pair_horiz_kwd_pavement_stripe_textures.jpg
     
  17. So, 'nothing' is both a quicksilver category spilling into your irises and out of your fingertips, and a value judgement within some context that may be misjudged, i.e. it's easy to project on nothing.
     
  18. Or you could be missing what she's seeing, which might just be bad pictures.

    Pictures of nothing may have some great potential but not all pictures of nothing will achieve the great potential some pictures of nothing have.
     

  19. From the liner notes to Jeroen van Veen's recent Minimal Piano Collection Volume XXI-XXVIII (and yes, I have all volumes, this and the preceding set):

    There are quite a few new forms of acoustic and electronic music in which composers deal with tiny variations in pitch and timbres, depending on which way you turn your head when listening to music. Here the ears are directly confronted with these sound waves, repeated structures and everlasting pieces. This kind of music has little to do with what we know; it has all to do with what we don't know. It has to do with what we perceive. The emphasis is entirely on sound phenomena themselves; just take time to listen and experience and surprise yourself.​

    ... "depending on which way you turn your head" ... A diptych turns my head (literally). A different or further diptych turns it again. Hello, Bill.
     
  20. Or you could be missing what she's seeing, which might just be bad pictures.​

    Since she said it about my pics (pre-diptych), you can be the judge too. I compare it to hearing Ivan Karp of OK Harris Gallery in NY, say "This is fine art photography" after going through a couple of my books, and cling to my illusions. :)
     

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