Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, May 20, 2017.
And, sometimes, you reach the end of one . . .
Yes, we are very good at that. Combining imagination with sensory input is integral to art. But that's how the cave dwellers interpreted the shadows as reality, and couldn't get out of that mindset. It's important to learn when to be imaginative and when to be objective.
I think, by the time he was writing The Republic where the cave allegory is found, Plato would have said that it was the cave dwellers lack of imagination that helped cause them to mistake the shadows for reality. It seems to me Plato would have thought that, had they used imagination in combination with reason, they could have attained knowledge of reality and not been fooled by mere shadows. Plato faulted their reliance on perception and their not using their more important (for Plato) mental capacities such as imagination and reason.
In photography, which I keep wanting to come back to, it's very often shadows which can reveal so much.
Check out mmarcotte's shadowy street in THIS THREAD. Something I notice in a lot of photos is that roads tend to be portrayed iconically and streets often more intimately.
What about roads with rails, and the dirt roads that cross them?
Yes, I saw that before. Very nice. Also I remember this one from long time back at PN.
One reason why streets are portrayed intimately could be related to the fact that (at least in US), streets have more residential neighborhoods and pedestrian traffic compared to roads. But as far as photography goes, I think streets can be both intimate and mysterious, both welcoming and lonely. In that sense, (I am questioning myself as I write this, correct me if needed) streets have more character than roads, which are photographed mostly for their iconic or historic value.
Very nice. wish I had that in my neighborhood.
Roads, specially countryside roads can be quite intimate. When I was writing my previous comment, I was visualizing the interstate highways in LA. We go for vacation usually to some cabin in the middle of an unknown town in California, and the roads that lead to those places can feel quite special, like what you described. It is where I shot this, this and this.
That's a beautiful description; I know that feeling so well. But you've already put your finger on the problem. In photographs, I am always looking at roads, not in the experience of being on them.
Here is sculptor Tony Smith in a famous 1966 anecdote about driving the unfinished New Jersey Turnpike at night:
It was a dark night and there were no lights or shoulder markers, lines, railings, or anything at all except the dark pavement moving through the landscape of the flats, rimmed by hills in the distance, but punctuated by stacks, towers, fumes, and colored lights. This drive was a revealing experience.
The road and much of the landscape was artificial, and yet it couldn't be called a work of art. On the other hand, it did something for me that art had never done. At first, I didn't know what it was, but its effect was to liberate me from many of the views I had had about art. It seemed that there had been a reality there that had not had any expression in art.
The experience on the road was something mapped out but not socially recognized. I thought to myself, it ought to be clear that's the end of art. Most painting looks pretty pictorial after that. There is no way you can frame it, you just have to experience it.
Streets (as opposed to roads) are a completely coded environment. Everything is coded right down to the expression on your face and the exact posture of your body. Everything is being 'read.' On the highway, by comparison, as long as you keep the vehicle between the lines, your free from codes. Sometimes I see truckers stopped on the side of the highway, getting out of their high cabs to take a pee. They are always wearing the most outlandish outfits: the kind of thing you wear at home when you're sure nobody will see you. At least they do go around to the other side of the truck to pee. Some codes persist ...
... the infinitude of these landscapes was explicitly temporal, since they typically unfolded from a mobile subject position (i.e. an automobile), and explicitly spatial, since this mobility implied the simultaneous progression and recession of the scenery. The experience of this landscape was, therefore, incapable of being delimited to an autonomous object or a singular "view," as aesthetic formalism would have it. Instead, it suggested that one must take into account not only the object or "view," but also the particular space, light, and physical viewpoint of the spectator, whose experience necessarily unfolds over time. — Greg Foster-Rice
Coming back to this discussion after being away on business travel for a few days, I am struck by the fact that this discussion has not really explored the difference between the road as a photographic subject/symbol when an image is made from "within" the road (as from the POV of the vehicle or walker), and that from a POV off of the road. Is the road or street the venue of the image? The subject? Or, perhaps, simply background. Does it provide context, or is its place in space the context? Is it changeable, or immutable? (Some of Maurizio's images come to mind.) Is the road a barrier, or a conduit? I believe the POV makes an enormous difference to the meaning and impact of an image. The challenge with road/street images is to make an image of a dynamic, active roadway from withing that roadway, without 1) being obviously constrained by being in/on a vehicle, or 2) Getting run down while dashing out to grab the shot. I recently had a run-in with law enforcement because I stopped my car in a (supposedly little-used) traffic lane and dismounted so I could grab a shot from that POV, without getting run down. The cop was rather adamant that, even in a low-traffic situation, it was unacceptable to block traffic in the interest of art. Who would'a thought? Perhaps this is why so many of our "in the road" images are of empty or near-empty roads, while busy streets and highways are most often seen from outside the road proper. Sometimes we encounter an unusual intersection of circumstance and perspective. This image creates what I hope is a rather unique opportunity for the viewer to find himself/herself as both a participant and observer:
Even as the photographer, I have a hard time saying what role the road itself plays, because it is so integral to this image. While the image contains many elements and a multitude of subjects/objects, I believe it is the road that gives the image its sense of place and meaning. None of the rest would exist absent the road. I also captured some views from off the side of the road, but they were just snaps of a traffic jam from the POV of a disinterested observer.
Another example of a road - one that took me through a section of Nevada's desert on the way to (or from) Red Rock Canyon . . . . To me, was is not an instrumentality for travel; it was a device that enabled me simultaneously to lose myself and find myself.
Michael, I really like your image. It feels very familiar to me.
My own image of the traffic jam has an interesting backstory. My passenger, who was from Georgia, commented repeatedly that it would not have occurred to him or to others of his acquaintance to get out of their cars, explore, or socialize in the face of this event. I wonder how those kinds of social proclivities impact how we interpret these images?
David, thanks so much for your response to my image. I've previously viewed (and probably commented) on your example, above. Your passenger's remarks are interesting, from the point of view of one (i.e., me) who has stepped out of the car quite often in situations like that your image portrays. Thinking about this, it dawns on me that, in cases in which I am alone in the car, exiting not only gives me the opportunity to mingle with other folks who also are waiting for traffic to begin moving again, but also to experience what lies outside of both the car and me in a much broader way.
"Allen!! Were you lost? Is that you? ... Next thing you'll be up the Himalayas" Julie.
Yes, that's me and a bit lost and cold....having an adventure...sort of like Bilbo being dragged out of his cozy little world. Interested in having a adventure in Peru. Folk are so different there.
Anyway, all this road stuff ...dead animals and folk crossing them...there,symbols of death.
What about lost and forgotten paths? There lies a mystery of why and where they journey...and who and what journeyed on those paths.
Symbols of mystery and imagination.
And you never know who or what you might encounter on these little lost paths.
dust on a windshield
last time i posted an image like that some smart alec said my sensor needed cleaning
a lot of merkans are keen on undulating roads. up, down, up, down etc.
i prefer the bleakness of vanishing points.
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