Stranger (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jul 29, 2017.

  1. We seem to be talking about two different but overlapping things: the making of the photograph and the taking of the picture. Any (serendipitous) collision that takes place between the artist and the latent image can be applicable to both and isn't limited to only the latter.
  2. If it didn't he wouldn't have made it.

    I wouldn't have to change the definition of "sense" since the definition already covers a broad spectrum of awareness. My response wasn't about "sense" but about Julie describing something as "making sense" to the artist/photographer as opposed to something being perceived as "strange". But there's no reason why something strange can't also appear to make sense or be driven by a quest to make sense of it. Certainly the aim of art is not about tapping into or making common stuff.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  3. Phil, you've simply started from the back end. You want a phrase (a secret sauce) for what drives an artist to feel he's finished his work and you've decided the phrase "makes sense" is good, so now you're defining the thing that happens when an artist is finished as "making sense." You're declaring that Beethoven wouldn't have wrote his sonatas if they didn't make sense because you've pre-defined finished art as something that has to make sense. Sounds vaguely familiar from another recent thread! I think it's a bad phrase to use. And I think it's a bad idea to lay all this on one particular phrase, because I think what is behind an artist finishing a work will be a lot of different things for a lot of different artists. Some artists will simply declare it finished, without having any feeling that it's actually finished. They just stop, perhaps because they move onto something else. The notion of "finished" here is even questionable.
    I agree with this.

    And, as I said above, putting too much emphasis on strangeness or sense, or any one quality, in trying to cover too many aspects of art, is a mistake.
  4. ..........
    I don't think so. If things "make sense" they, at some point, didn't make sense. When did they come to make sense? Two thousand years ago? A hundred years ago? Five minutes ago? Ten seconds before you press the shutter release ("Aha!")? Or not until years later? Maybe never, but we can't know?

    "Making sense" has to begin somewhere, somehow. Why can't art be that beginning? Or, isn't that exactly what art is? The ignition, the "collision" that initiates, but by no means resolves the process of making sense?

    Mathematicians and scientists relish unsolved problems. Stuff that "makes sense" doesn't turn them on half as much as that which doesn't. Not so for art?

  5. I'm not saying that things make sense. I'm saying that humans and art cannot be driven not to want to make sense.
  6. Agreed. :)
  7. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

  8. From THIS documentary on Anselm Kiefer:

    Q: How do you know when a work is ready to leave the studio?

    A: It's a very difficult moment, because it's artificial interruption.

    Kiefer's art is touching on the age old universal themes (as well as contracting into German identity and the trauma of WWII). Poking around in the archetypal might seem like the easy way out but it's inevitable when it comes down to the making of art if art wants to mean something beyond being decorative and at which point it's not a question anymore of something being either strange or normal.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  9. I didn't look at more than a few minutes of the linked video (no time at the moment), but I believe it's new? I have seen this one. The first time I watched it, I wasn't convinced, but the second time, I really got into watching him work. He's really out there on his own, but I think he's for real, and a good example to make your point.

    I'll have to make time to watch the video you linked.
  10. "People aren't necessarily inherently strange or strangers. Some get to be strangers due to estrangement/alienation. "Fred

    Strangers are only folk you have not engaged with. Your Mum and Dad were srangers until you had the mind to engaged with them.

    "I may be responsible for your being a stranger". Fred.

    You have answered yor own thoughts.

    "This is a very early pic of mine. It haunts me a little because I took it when I was in a phase of sneaking around the streets stealing pics of people". Fred.

    You are in the mindset that you are a sneaky little bloke who lacks confidence and to be honest scared of your own shadow. Really that simple. If you felt you were being so so sneaky you should have engaged the subject and explained your photography.

    Im only responding to this post because it is a very srong street photo. I would have been proud of it.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  11. .......................
    "Imagine yourself an ethnologist — or an anthropologist — from outer space. You descend to Earth. Knowing nothing about it, you are unprejudiced ... You quickly notice, among other things, that in most human tongues there is a word whose meaning escapes you and whose usage varies considerably among humans, but which, in all their societies, seems to refer to an activity that is either integrative or compensatory, lying midway between their myths and their sciences. This word is art."

    "... you postulate the existence of a universal unconscious structure that underlies the disparate corpus constituted by everything humans call art. ... At the intersection of magical action and scientific knowledge, artistic making attributes a symbolic power to the things it names, at times gathering together, at times dispersing, human communities.

    "And you conclude that these symbols that humans exchange in the name of art must have — for them, who are perhaps unaware of this, it is a minimum; for you, who know nothing but this, it is a maximum — the undeniable function of marking one of the thresholds where humans withdraw from their natural condition and where their universe sets itself to signifying. Likewise, you conclude that the name "art," whose immanent meaning still escapes you — indeterminate because overdetermined — perhaps has no other generality than to signify that meaning is possible. In this game of symbolic exchanges, the word "art" would be nothing but the empty square that sets them in motion."​

    Our extraterrestrial anthropologist/ethnologist continues to try to pin down the "immanent meaning" of "art." He studies art objects, he studies art history, he studies philosophy ... until finally:

    "Armed with all the certainties acquired over the course of this journey through ethnology, the history of art or of styles, and logical ontology, you finally plunge into your corpus in order to extract a model from it, the embodies proof of your theory, its paradigm. And out of it you pull — indeed, yes — a urinal."

    "... You realize that when a urinal can be art, then anything can be, provided one believes it. ... When the ontological definition of art ends up being equated with the empirical description — art is everything humans call art — that was your starting point when you were an honest but outside observer, then the autonomy of art has become a caricature of itself. And when all the disparate things accumulated through the history of styles as the heritage of humanity seem to lead to an institutional definition of art that is deliberately running in circles, then humanity itself must feel dispossessed.

    [line break added] And so do you. For after all, in question is our culture, not the threshold nature/culture in the abstract, and our history, not that of an essence, and our performative speech acts, not a self-defining institution. The detachment of the observer — the ethnologist's outsideness, the historian's overview, the logician's neutrality — are unsuitable when the meaning of art, not just its recognition is at stake."
    all of the above quotes are from Thierry de Duve's Kant after Duchamp (1996)

    >>>>>>> "where their universe sets itself to signifying"; "to signify that meaning is possible" ... in our culture.
  12. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Julie, why are you always so melodramatic?
    Norma Desmond likes this.
  13. The referenced quote seems to make the exact opposite point: the alien anthropologist being a neutral outsider lacks any sense for the melodramatic that is so often found in art.
  14. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    wtf is an alien anthropologist?
  15. An oxymoronic academic device.

    A way to complicate thinking about art that becomes the means to avoid it.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    Norman 202 likes this.
  16. Don't be so melodramatic Fred.

    Norman, an alien anthropologist is an extraterrestrial that studies all aspects of human life and culture.
    Norman 202 likes this.
  17. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    i love this place when ppl express themselves
  18. .........
    (most) landscape photography

    I think that 'stranger' is something that most landscape photographers are powerfully aware of whenever and wherever they shoot. Not because they are looking for 'stranger,' not because they want to be on the cutting edge of discovery, not because they want to 'connect,' but precisely the opposite: they want to strip out any 'stranger'ness from their pictures. Doing this requires looking for it in order to avoid it. They don't have to understand; they just need to "know it when they see it" and exclude it from their pictures. They need to be exquisitely aware of its presence, so they can get rid of it. Kind of like how people who are allergic to peanuts are always thinking about peanuts.

    Why does 'stranger' matter to landscape photography?

    Using Peter Bialobrzeski's series Heimat (Home) as my example set, here is what Ariel Hauptmeier writes about his pictures:

    "... 'Home' is a rather ambiguous word in English. It embraces national and regional ("homeland," "back home") as well as local identities ("home town," "my home"). It's an avowal of roots, where you come from, your origins, even these days when everything is so fluid. Yet for Peter Bialobrzeski, home is not a geographical marker. 'It's not about places,' he says, 'It's about pictures.'

    "... He always wanted to get away. ... At some point Wolfsburg [his hometown] became unbearable, forcing him to leave, cast off all ties, and be somewhere else. He left home at seventeen, moved to a shared apartment in the country at twenty-one, studied in Essen and London, and learnt to fend for himself in New Delhi or Bangkok. Soon he was one of those people who are always on the move — and like it that way. Who lose a homeland and gain a world.

    "A lot has changed. Your geographical home is no longer your destiny but something incidental."

    "... [Yet] fragments of memory persist. Even the most boring backwater or ugliest industrial city preserves something of the aura of your first steps."

    "... 'Home for me,' he says, 'is smells and memories.' "

    "... He doesn't slip into romantic cliché mode or affect the detached, cool pose of analytical photography. He doesn't have swirling mists, nor does he record park benches full of graffiti. He shows no castles or electricity pylons. ... He shows neither unspoiled paradises nor devastations of the earth. No idylls or scars."

    "... A dog. A brilliant emptiness of the sky. An opportunity to pause and be amazed. A hint of harmony. The possibility of silence."

    [examples of Bialobrzeski's work: one, two, and three; from the second and third, you can click the + sign to get more]

    "... Even if the world is in motion — as long as we have bodies, we long for places that are filled with meaning, which our memories are attached to, that are beautiful. These places are noticed. They become familiar and are experienced. They even get loved."

    "... Finding something beautiful means conferring significance on it. Snatching it from oblivion, rescuing it, making it visible.

    "People who are absorbed in nature. Memories of summer days. Life that has a place. Inner landscapes.

    " 'A feeling of security, well-being, and summer warmth permeates my memory,' wrote refugee Vladimir Nabokov about his Russian homeland. 'That robust reality makes the present a mere specter. Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change.' "​

    Before doing the Heimat project, Bialobrzeski had done several excellent projects on distant lands (explore his web site: he's very good). Here is how he describes the Heimat series:

    "... It may seem a little conservative, but the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich have influenced my notions of 'German Landscape' more than those of Anselm Kiefer. And the Monk by the Sea is for me the quintessential visual rendering of the German landscape of the soul. Depressive and immensely full of hope."

    "... my photographs are projection surfaces of post-modernist man's yearning for nature, though the silence is no longer the preserve of the solitary figure. There are always other people there, in red Goretex jackets. But when you look at the pictures, it's not a problem — in fact, quite the contrary. It is the figures and their distribution on the surface that turn the photos into pictures."

    "... Having a 'home' means having roots, which is not the same as being rooted to the spot. The earth that contains the roots determines the code but not the substance."​

    Going back to the Nabokov quote, "Everything is as it should be, nothing will ever change," I don't take that as an invitation to sentimentality, or rigidity, though is certainly may be so for some people. In a world of rapid, constant change, that which is not 'stranger' is no longer the norm. Where and how we are 'rooted,' our 'home,' seems to me to be a rich vein to work photographically. Finding what is not strange (home) means knowing, being aware of, what is.
  19. Secondary definition of "plagiarism":

    copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

    Plagiarism is strange.
    Brad_ likes this.

Share This Page