When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary. . .?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary challenging the prevailing order, and when is she/he merely a bourgeois collaborationist upholding the prevailing order?
    Perhaps photography like all art is always revolutionary, since it does not confine itself to speaking "through channels" of bureaucratic officialdom. It "goes" and speaks where it will and cannot be confined.
    --Lannie
     
  2. "Bourgeois collaborationist', how quaint, I don't believe I have heard or read that phrase in nearly 50 years. We must frequent different circles, and I no longer have any contact with academia.
    When art becomes didactic is it still art?
    Does using art as a tool diminish it?
    There is life, and there is art which offers respite, and there is propaganda. Propaganda can be "artful" and effective, but always remains linked to the regime e.g. Triumph of Will.
    Can cause driven art survive except as a quaint relics, e.g. state sponsored art of the vanished 1,000 Year Reich or the former Soviet Union?
     
  3. When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary. . .?
    When he has a good publicist and/or agent.
     
  4. Currently what I see as revolutionary is the public citizen spectator cellphone captures of police shooting African Americans during arrests over minor infractions.
    In the future are we going to see these displayed in a cultural center or museum gallery as meaningful and revolutionary photography? It seems to be making a difference on how police are being trained, hopefully.
     
  5. Can cause driven art survive except as a quaint relics, e.g. state sponsored art of the vanished 1,000 Year Reich or the former Soviet Union?


    Well, Joe Rosenthal. Norman Rockwell. Ansel Adams, I guess. I could go on.
     
  6. Apparently we are enjoying censorship. It is o.k. to post one side of an issue, but not a response. Not the first time, just indications of the death of discourse.
     
  7. This had happen and does happen under strict regimes. Artists figure out how to code what they try to say....and even censors can't figure out. Hmmm, that's an art all by itself.
    Les
     
  8. Changing the perceptions of people may be revolutionary but often just evolutionary. The CBC did an excellent series on wartime propaganda a decade ago. Both sides of WW2 provided images including art that served the purpose. De Goya's images of violence in revolutionary Spain of his time served a revolutionary cause, as did Picasso's "Guernica" for the socialists fighting Germany and the dictator Franco.
     
  9. It's not 'order' that stirs the passions of photographers and would be the essential core around which any 'revolution' will revolute. Order is boring. Rather, what is the heart of photography is 'reality.'
    Notice how much and how often and how urgently we argue about that word 'reality' here in these forums. 'Order,' not so much (not at all ... ).
    An odd seeming quote from Edwin Denby, talking about dance: "There is something unprofessional about carrying reality around with you in public that goes straight to my heart." Unprofessional, as in not personal, heart-felt. For such unprofessional persons, 'what is reality' doesn't even want to be defined; it's the word for that which one treasures, or rather it defines itself as that which is treasured -- for one side of our eternal, passionate argument.
    For the other 'side' of the 'reality argument, a quote from Hollis Frampton: "It is obvious that historic time, though quite well suited to the needs of matter, is a terrain too sparse to afford the mind any lasting amusement or sustenance."
    An odd personal, for myself, evidence or sign of ... what exactly, I'm not sure of ... is that I find that I look at 'failed' or 'bad' photographs longer than I look at 'good' ones. I think I like those stray insertions of the uncontrolled 'real' into, what has or is becoming, a boring, too-familiar 'good.' (Which will mean that I'll just have to start calling the bad good and the good bad. Revolving, revoluting.)
    From John Gossage: "But failures aren't fakes. Failures follow you down the road, and can't be disavowed by saying 'you know I didn't really mean it.' "
     
  10. Given photography's symbiotic relationship with technology, I'd suggest that photographers that use revolutionary
    technology (of the time) were revolutionaries
     
  11. When art critics say they are...usually years after their "revolutionary" work. Personally, I think we ought to decide for ourselves what/who is revolutionary...
     
  12. I would say that the work of photographic art itself is revolutionary, apart from its content, in this one sense: unless it is totally and deliberately destroyed by those in "authority," it can be seen/heard/etc. by anyone (and conceivably everyone), and (as I said in the original posting) it speaks outside bureaucratic "channels of communication." It is not, cannot be classified, either secret, top secret, etc. It is, that is, inherently and intrinsically public.
    In other words, regardless of what it has to say, the object of visual art cannot be "shut up." It speaks up, and it speaks out, and it speaks to everyone, as if everyone were sitting and speaking around the headless round table, rather than coming down as an edict through the bureaucratic power pyramid as "official truth." (HINT: Who sits at the head of a round table?)
    Such unbridled commentary, that is, is in some sense revolutionary just by virtue of being almost impossible to control.
    As for content, that, alas, may be quite reactionary, the very antithesis of revolutionary.
    --Lannie
     
  13. Of course, if all of the knights were sitting around the round table with King Arthur, and even if there is (by definition and thus logical necessity) no head to the round table, everyone would still know which one is king--the one who controls the purse strings, even if not the swords.
    I meant to say, Whoever controls the purse strings controls what is seen as and officially revered as and exhibited as "art."
    --Lannie
     
  14. I wonder if the person who gave us "Elvis on Velvet" conceived of himself/herself as a revolutionary, bringing "art" to the masses, not to mention to the hollows of Appalachia.
    I could ask the same question about the creator of the poster of Raquel Welch bursting forth from her animal skins, or the poster of Farrah Fawcett that graced so many dorms rooms forty years ago.
    Revolutionaries. . .
    I wonder if pornographers conceive of themselves as progressives or revolutionaries, liberating the rest of us from our puritanical chains.
    --Lannie
     
  15. With all that, Lannie, I think you need to define what constitutes revolutionary. From your POV its weight of importance must always need to be compared to the size of the monster whether real or imagined.
    You can go round and round debating about what is revolutionary with every increase in size of any force that appears to suppress free thought. Revolution requires change toward the betterment of society. Most of the time with photography it's much ado about nothing.
     
  16. I wonder if pornographers conceive of themselves as progressives or revolutionaries, liberating the rest of us from our puritanical chains.​
    I hope you're being sarcastic here, Lannie, because there's nothing revolutionary in anything pornographers do, at least if you agree with Tim's statement about what being "revolutionary" implies:
    Revolution requires change toward the betterment of society.​
    Pornography debases those who participate in it and use it, which is hardly conducive to the betterment of society or ourselves.
     
  17. For the record, I do not endorse the making or use of pornography, Mark. On the other hand, people disagree vehemently as to what pornography is. Some persons still view all artistic nude paintings, sculpture, and photography as pornographic. That is not my position.
    Was I being sarcastic above? No. I strongly suspect that some purveyors of the very worst pornography probably do perceive the rest of us as sticks in the mud, badly in need of liberation.
    --Lannie
     
  18. I think you need to define what constitutes revolutionary.​
    Tim, I would prefer that contributors bring their own definitions to the table. I leave questions open-ended in order to maximize participation. My own view? Well, not to be imperial nor to try to set the agenda for those who respond, I tend to think of that which is revolutionary as involving sweeping social change, whether fast or slow. Others tend to use the term only if the change is rapid, and a few insist on interpreting the term "revolutionary" only for violent and sudden large-scale social and political change. I personally think of the term as having a number of possible meanings, and I have just given my own meaning for purposes of this thread.
    I am not at all certain that all revolutionary social change is for the betterment of society, but it helps me to know that that is how you are defining the term.
    To my way of thinking, revolutions do always involve some sort of challenge to the status quo, but not all necessarily imply a challenge to the ruling elites. Political revolutions do imply a challenge to the ruling elites, but I am not talking politics here, except in the broadest possible sense that everything can be considered "political"--according to some people. I understand that point of view, but I do not find it particularly helpful.
    I am not trying to slip off of your question, as I have been accused of doing from time to time. I simply think that people who post in response would do well to define their own usages of the term. As the original poster, I would prefer not to narrow the possible responses. That is, I truly prefer to keep definitions open and broad as long as possible, lest the threads be interpreted narrowly by others. I say that as the original poster. I may at some point see the necessity to narrow down the definition in order to make a specific point.
    Artistic revolutions? Well, if anyone can address that broad topic on a photography forum such as this one, that would be most welcome. I do not mean to suggest that all photography is art, but I didn't want to get drawn into the issue of what is art and what is not. If someone else wants to get into that, well, that is that their choice.
    --Lannie
     
  19. When is the artist/photographer A revolutionary?
    That would have to narrow it down to actions and their results demonstrated in their work or in their approach to their work, as an example Picasso's cubist period, a very revolutionary way of interpreting reality in a painting.
    With photography right off the top of my head as an example would be William Eggleston's use of color film's vibrant colors and implementing a new dye transfer print method of shots depicting mundane objects and scenes as a way of flying in the face of B&W fine art photography purists.
    Did any of their actions bring change or improve society? Maybe the society of artists and photographers. To be revolutionary one has to provide a benefit and/or move something forward to be deemed a revolutionary because we all don't want to go backward to the bad old days.
     
  20. To be revolutionary one has to provide a benefit and/or move something' forward to be deemed a revolutionary because we all don't want to go backward to the bad old days.​
    On this definition, Lenin and Mao and Castro were all great revolutionaries. From a Marxist perspective they were all improvements--and maybe they were in part. I am just not so sure that the connotation of "revolutionary" need always be positive. Capitalists might also refer to them as "revolutionaries" without thereby endorsing the changes they brought about as being beneficial.
    That is, those who despised the changes brought about by the three men I just mentioned might still describe them as "revolutionaries."
    I will concede that those who call themselves "revolutionaries" do indeed see themselves as bettering society (or whatever social grouping or pursuit they affected). Others, however, might keep the label "revolutionary" without intending to convey any endorsement of their cause or movement.
    Was Picasso a revolutionary? Absolutely. Do all persons who call him or cubism "revolutionary" mean thereby to endorse them? No. I am reminded me of that line from Full Metal Jacket: "You're so ugly you could be a modern art masterpiece." I happen to like many currents of what is called "modern art." Does everyone? I just do not see the term "revolutionary" as necessarily implying anything laudatory, praiseworthy.
    As I said earlier, I prefer to use the term "revolutionary" as implying a sweeping or radical change without thereby feeling the need to judge whether such changes were necessarily for the better. I do not think that common usage requires that the term be laudatory.
    --Lannie
     
  21. Here are some dictionary definitions, Tim. None of them seems to require a positive judgment:
    [LINK]
    I am not a reactionary. I just cannot say that common usage supports your effort to make the term "revolutionary" in and of itself into a laudatory term. Some people are still lamenting the "Industrial Revolution," but they would still have to admit that the changes brought by it were sweeping and "revolutionary." Many are still in reaction against the "computer/digital revolution," but they might still call it a "revolution."
    A newspaper headline might say in 1973 that "Revolutionaries captured the capital of Chile yesterday and deposed the Marxist president Salvador Allende." (I would personally call Pinochet and his CIA-backed movement "reactionary," but common usage is what it is.) I just do not see common usage as attaching a laudatory connotation to the term "revolutionary" by any necessity. Many do tend to use the term "revolution" as implying "progress." Others just use it to suggest radical or widespread change, whether for good or bad, progressive or regressive.
    --Lannie
     
  22. I just cannot say that common usage supports your effort to make the term "revolutionary" in and of itself into a laudatory term.
    (I would personally call Pinochet and his CIA-backed movement "reactionary," but common usage is what it is.) I just do not see common usage as attaching a laudatory connotation to the term "revolutionary" by any necessity.​
    And I don't see you offering any answers to your own topic..."When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary".

    So when do you consider a creative a revolutionary, Lannie?
    Don't need a definition of the term by common usage or any other definer. I didn't see the point of that first quote nor did I see how it relates to this topic. Please state your opinion as it relates to photography.
     
  23. Lannie, I think you need to define what constitutes revolutionary. Tim Lookingbill[​IMG][​IMG], Jul 09, 2016; 05:38 p.m.
    Don't need a definition of the term by common usage or any other definer. Tim Lookingbill[​IMG][​IMG], Jul 11, 2016; 04:35 a.m.​
    Well, which is it, Tim? Do we need a definition of "revolutionary" or don't we. I was simply trying to convey by my link to an online dictionary that I think that the popular, commonsense definition suffices.
    I had previously offered my own definition:
    I tend to think of that which is revolutionary as involving sweeping social change, whether fast or slow. Landrum Kelly[​IMG][​IMG], Jul 09, 2016; 11:49 p.m.​
    You then responded,
    To be revolutionary one has to provide a benefit and/or move something forward to be deemed a revolutionary because we all don't want to go backward to the bad old days.​
    I disagreed, saying that I saw no need for "revolution" or "revolutionary" to have a positive connotation, and I offered the link to the dictionary definition to support my view; that is, ordinary definitions will suffice, and ordinary definitions do not necessarily imply that "revolution/revolutionary" is a laudatory term implying anything necessarily positive.
    You are challenging the need now to offer a definition? I am not sure what you want. In any case, you are tired of the great debate over definition(s), as am I, and so you have moved back to the original question: "When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary?"
    Well, to be quite honest, Tim, I really do not know. That is why I asked the question. I have toyed with the idea that perhaps there is something intrinsic to art that tends to make it revolutionary, in that it tends to speak outside channels of "command and control." That is, it is hard to "shut up"--short of flat out destroying it.
    I can see why that would not be satisfying to you as a complete answer. It is not satisfying to me, either. I don't have a complete answer. In fact, not all photos or artistic artifacts have revolutionary content simply because they can speak to anyone and do not require "permission to speak." I acknowledged that fact, too.
    So, where are we? We are back to the original question, since talking about "artifacts" as "inherently revolutionary" didn't carry us very far.
    So it is that my original question still stands. I have tried to offer an answer--one that does not (I presume) satisfy you, and I can't say that it satisfies me.
    I hear Sandy's challenge in my ear as to whether art can still be art if it is didactic:
    When art becomes didactic is it still art?
    Does using art as a tool diminish it?

    There is life, and there is art which offers respite, and there is propaganda. Propaganda can be "artful" and effective, but always remains linked to the regime e.g. Triumph of Will.

    Can cause driven art survive except as a quaint relics, e.g. state sponsored art of the vanished 1,000 Year Reich or the former Soviet Union?
    --Sandy Vongries​
    I guess at this point we need to refine the question before we can give much of an answer, but I don't quite know what to do with my own question. Maybe someone else can either refine the question and offer an answer to their own refined question, or maybe someone else can answer the original question as posted in the title of the thread.
    I any case, I am coming up empty on this one. I am truly sorry. I wish that I could answer the question, but, apart from valid references to Picasso and Eggleston, et al. as being revolutionary, I don't know quite what to say. I have a class coming up in little while that runs from eight a.m. until noon and so I will have to pass the baton on this one--for at least a while.
    Perhaps we can agree that art is revolutionary as art if it breaks new ground in technique or style. But what about content? Dorothea Lange's pictures of the Great Depression? Now we are beyond technique and style and into the realm of content--social content at that, but surely a cut (or two or three) above the "socialist workers art" of the old Soviet Union.
    I have to leave the question open for now. I'm empty, at least for the moment.
    --Lannie
     
  24. "Through Soviet Jewish Eyes" by David Shneer presents an interesting perspective.ACCORDING TO HIM in revolutionary Russia many Jews turned to photography since it was hard for them to be credentialed as artists and thus have freedom of travel. Photography was not considered art yet by the Tsarist government and it afforded them the chance the escape their provincial surroundings. The elite at that time wanted photo portraits and this is where almost all photography was done. Come the revolution there was not calling for this but the New Soviet government found a lot of value in photos to "educate and inspire the people" Now these photographers became messengers for the revolution and virtually invented and pioneered street, documentary and journalistic photography. Of course one could not expect to be totally objective in our sense of the word. Some historians from Soviet Russia have said that he is a little too simplistic but there is a lot of truth there.
    I have not read all the posts but as far as being didactic or revolutionary I will bring up Socialist Realism. It is revolutionary in that it was a new form. It was considered revolutionary by some as an extension of the revolution even though it was sanctioned by an established government (so is it revolutionary in this sense) and it is quite didactic. But it is still considered art by most.
     
  25. Socialist Realism​
    Thank you, Donald. Of course, that is the label I was looking for when I referred to "socialist workers art." I knew that wasn't quite it, but I didn't bother to look it up.
    Here is a link to a Google search for "Socialist Realism," which turned up more varied results than I expected.
    --Lannie
     
  26. Perhaps we can agree that art is revolutionary as art if it breaks new ground in technique or style. But what about content? Dorothea Lange's pictures of the Great Depression? Now we are beyond technique and style and into the realm of content--social content at that, but surely a cut (or two or three) above the "socialist workers art" of the old Soviet Union.​
    That POV requires the content be relevant with the times they're reflecting in that revolutionary artists/photographers must continue to go looking for issues to rebel against or shed light in order to bring awareness for change.
    What do artists/photographers do when their current technology (camera or paint & canvas) for communicating revolutionary content becomes diluted in importance and is no longer able to grab eyeballs due to advances and distractions from social media networks and tons of content to sift through (who has time to visit a museum or read a book) by a society that finds cat photos and videos more interesting.
    When quality of life has risen to a certain level where cat videos are more important, coming up with newer ways of grabbing attention I would think to be the only and best way for any photographer to be considered revolutionary. It may not necessarily involve the photographic or painted image.
    It's clear we need a new revolutionary method or tactic to fight complacency, apathy and confusion from information over kill. I don't think more content is the answer, though.
     
  27. Tim, I don't think that my POV logically precludes the possibility of enduring themes where content is concerned. For example, Picasso's painting "Guernica" was inspired by an event in the Spanish Civil War, but could it not also be seen as possible commentary against war in general? Was Lange's work a commentary only about the Great Depression simply because it was inspired by the dislocations and deprivations of the 1930s?
    I am sometimes surprised at the logical conclusions that persons tell me must follow from certain of my premises. Sometimes persons get very angry or frustrated because I do not share their belief that this or that conclusion is absolutely required.
    Can you identify the premises in my quoted statement that you believe necessarily "require" (your word) the conclusions that you have reached? I personally do not think that your conclusion is required by my premises.
    --Lannie
     
  28. Tim, while I am on the topic of logical inference and argumentation, I once had a young fundamentalist woman say in class (out of the blue!) that "I believe that everything that happens is God's will!"
    I was a bit taken aback, and not only because we were not (to my recollection) talking about "God's will." Nonetheless, I saw a possible "teaching moment," and so I said, after I had gathered my wits, "Okay, let's assume that you are right. Let us make your claim premise one in a new argument. So, premise number one is that everything that happens is God's will. Let me add a second premise, that 'Sin happens.' So now we have two premises. Premise one is that everything that happens is God's will. Premise two is that sin happens. From this it would seem to follow--as a conclusion--that sin is God's will." She responded, "That's just stupid." I said, "I would say it in even stronger language. I would say that it is absurd."
    I went on to point out that this absurd conclusion followed from premises that she agreed to, including the premise that "Sin happens." I tried to show her that this brought into question the value of her claim that "Everything that happens is God's will." I tried to show her that, if a premise leads to an absurd conclusion, we have effectively shown that (if the logic is good and the other premises are indisputably true) the original premise has been reduced to absurdity. I explained (another teaching moment) that what she had effectively done was to offer a reductio ad absurdum to her own claim: she had, that is, reduced her own claim to absurdity.
    She still did not "get it," and so I had to hammer it out: "Sin is usually viewed as that which is contrary to God's will. But you have told me that everything that happens is God's will, and therefore from your own premises it follows that God wills sin."
    She became furious, insisting that she had not said that God wanted (or willed) that we should sin. The more I challenged her logic, the angrier she got, going on to say that she did not mean that her claim was stupid, rather that the conclusion was stupid, that philosophy was stupid, even that I was stupid. I don't remember how the rest of the class went, but later I found out that after class she gone all the way to the academic dean, who in turn communicated her displeasure to the humanities division chair, so that I found myself summoned to explain myself to the division chair, my immediate boss. Since logic had failed her, the student thought that, by appealing to an authority figure, she would show me the error of my ways.
    I was unrepentant, and unrepentant I remain, almost two decades later. Logic is inexorable, and good logic will "find out" a bad argument or a bad premise.
    What does this have to do with our exchange? It means that either one sees the logic of an argument or one does not, or that one either sees the illogical nature of an argument or one does not. Philosophy can do no more. Beyond a certain point, one has to see that hammering one's philosophical adversary over the head with the same arguments over and over proves nothing. One either "sees it" (the logic or lack of logic), or one does not.
    Beyond all that, I do not quite know what to say, except that sometimes persons have to agree to disagree.
    So, I think that you and I simply disagree. I will stop with that conclusion, lest I get in trouble yet again, as I always seem to be.
    --Lannie
     
  29. Tim, I don't mean to say that I am right and you are wrong. I simply do not see how we are going to resolve this by going back over it again and again. I have offered my best argument(s), and perhaps you have as well. I do not see much point in repeating them.
    --Lannie
     
  30. Sounds like she has a lot of potential to become a dean.
     
  31. I am sometimes surprised at the logical conclusions that persons tell me must follow from certain of my premises. Sometimes persons get very angry or frustrated because I do not share their belief that this or that conclusion is absolutely required.​
    I didn't conclude or require a conclusion in my last comment and I'm not seeking agreement from you. That would be a boring and fruitless discussion. I was merely indicating a state of affairs for establishing or finding ways for a photographer to be revolutionary. To be revolutionary implies action and a photographer's only way to act is to create content. But the photographer can be revolutionary outside of content but only by changing methods to communicate revolutionary ideas or alternate POV's that may exclude content or at least not make it central.
    Since you mentioned content which is the only physical act of demonstrating revolutionary intent in the photographic format, I presented a situation that limits content's power or efficacy in changing society due to the changes in society in how they communicate (i.e. online social networks). That's a fact. Not a conclusion.
     
  32. Tim, I don't mean to say that I am right and you are wrong. I simply do not see how we are going to resolve this by going back over it again and again. I have offered my best argument(s), and perhaps you have as well. I do not see much point in repeating them.​
    I didn't take that you are saying you right and I am wrong. I'm presenting situations in modern society that make it difficult for a photographer to be revolutionary.
    You still haven't answered your own topic question as to how does one know when a photographer is a revolutionary.
     
  33. Beyond all that, I do not quite know what to say, except that sometimes persons have to agree to disagree.​
    You can start by coming up with ideas and actions that would define a photographer as a revolutionary in these modern times. That's the topic you started and so I assumed you understood and that you might have your own ideas on the subject.
    Let's just agree to disagree you don't have anything meaningful to say about your topic.
    I'm not interested in psycho babble about people using logic to win unwinnable arguments over religious beliefs.
     
  34. This is where we get hung up on western logic. It seems our brains need to isolate elements and define them. This works for the scientific process where we can deconstruct nature and study something in a vacuum. When it comes to these discussions we are dealing with a gestalt where you can not separate the elements and have nice clean definitions. Sometimes with revolutionary art it is an extension of a revolutionary thought (political, social whatever) and you can not divide them or define them individually. Example, socialist realism was revolutionary in its form or style but it was also revolutionary in that it was government directed/sanctioned to provide something for citizens to aspire to, picture themselves as and showcase the success of the soviet system and ideology. The subjects glorified are non cosmopolitan working class with excellent health, physique, content (happy) and productive and they needed a new style to do this. many artists who did not do this correctly or picked art forms different ended up on Stalin's list where he would pencil in a red line across their name and even sometime footnote "lousy scum traitor". Anyway, tell me how you are going to address the use of the term revolutionary in a concise manner. I just think that people are going to have to lighten up in their demand for conciseness in these areas. English is a language of nuance, context and flexibility and to the dislike of English linguists morphs over time (look at what texting has done). You just have do deal with these terms on an individual basis. I have seen often in these forums statements that are well stated and then see the sliced and diced to the point that the original topic thrown to the 4 winds.
     
  35. When quality of life has risen to a certain level where cat videos are more important, coming up with newer ways of grabbing attention I would think to be the only and best way for any photographer to be considered revolutionary.​
    Photographers never had it as good and easy as they have it today. It used to be that only the very few got published, now anyone can self publish and put their work out there if they want to. Forget about cat videos. People searching for cat videos are not your target audience if you're an artist or photographer looking for ways to get your work and message seen.
     
  36. This is where we get hung up on western logic. It seems our brains need to isolate elements and define them.​
    Don, I don't believe that we can be too precise with language or logic. One thing that Tim's post showed (whether it was his intention or not) was that we use the term "revolutionary" in more than one way. I do think that we need to know which definition we are using--or at least in which realm we are using it.

    That is, as to "realm" (for lack of a better word), are we talking about (1) the realm of style and technique, (2) the realm of social or moral message (whether didactically expressed or not), or (3) the realm of social or political action (which may or may not be linked to the first realm, but surely will be linked to the second)?
    It is precisely because language does change and is always nuanced and contextual that we always have to be sure that we are talking about the same thing. So, if I say that "Picasso was a revolutionary," I might be saying something quite different from saying that "Eggleston was a revolutionary."
    You just have do deal with these terms on an individual basis.​
    You certainly are right about that. I might have stated it a bit differently, but I certainly agree: we need to know when we have just crossed the divide between one denotation or connotation and another. If we are not cognizant that we have done so, we will almost certainly miscommunicate. The linguists that I know and have studied under (outside philosophy departments and in language departments) always have emphasized that (1) language continues to change and (2) all meaning is contextual.
    As for threads that founder or degenerate into something less than rationality (for me and for others), I would offer the thesis that one of the prime causes is when persons have failed to clarify in which way they are using a term. There are other reasons, but I do think that simple miscommunication caused by sloppy language can be a factor.
    It is curious that, just before I came downstairs a few minutes ago and read your post, I was thinking about the great mathematician and logician Alfred North Whitehead. He was surely one of the most brilliant logicians of all time, but he is almost unknown as a philosopher in general (outside of logic and the philosophy of mathematics), beyond a few gems such as "Consciousness is an emergent property of physical processes." In other words, he was logical, but that did not guarantee that he would always be insightful. In fact, in spite of a few clear insights about "process," he did not seem to have too much to say that I have found useful beyond his logic and his mathematics--and theories/philosophies of mathematics. The fact that he is almost neglected in some areas indicates that his command of logic did not guarantee that he would make great contributions across the board in philosophy. He certainly has not done that, or so I am being told as I read more by him and his critics. My meager knowledge impels me to agree, for what that's worth.
    So where does real insight come from in evaluating the impact of various artists and photographers? I would imagine that it is more likely to come from artists and photographers than from logicians and philosophers. In other words, it comes from practitioners probably more than it comes form theorists. I do not want to disparage theory in general, since I am a theoretically-minded person, but I do think that we do well to recognize the limitations of theory divorced from practice.
    I personally think that there is something in the craft itself of photography that is more likely to produce revolutionary insights and innovations than in all the theory. People who are too divorced from practical matters and empirical knowledge sometimes make horrendous mistakes--witness the monstrous errors of Thomas Aquinas, who in supposedly synthesizing an amalgam from Aristotle and the Apostle Paul gave us the ecclesiastical nonsense that just keeps on hurting.
    To be specific, Aquinas said that all sexual activity that does have the end or purpose of reproduction is "unnatural" and thus contrary to the divine telos or purpose and thus morally WRONG: thus in one fell swoop he declared abortion, contraception, masturbation and homosexual acts as being morally wrong, because they could not come to fruition in reproduction. Recreational sex for him was strictly verboten, the poor bastard.
    Gays who still feel the sting of the phrase "unnatural act" or women who still feel the sting of being condemned by the Church or society for using contraception or having abortions (no matter how extenuating the circumstances) likewise continue to be hurt by Aquinas' teachings.
    Does this mean that theory or philosophy or logic was to blame? I would prefer to say that Aquinas' premises were flawed, specifically his premise that sex was wrong if it was not directed toward the end of reproduction. I won't fault theory in general--just bad theory, and theory formulated in an empirical vacuum divorced from all practice is almost always bad theory. (Einstein's work is in some sense a notable exception, but even he did follow the findings of the experimental physicists, though he himself was a purely theoretical physicist.)
    So, whom do I listen to when I want good practical advice and insight on sexual ethics and other sexual matters? Some priestly or otherwise misguided celibate, or some guy like Lope de Vega who couldn't "beat them off with a stick"? I want somebody who is not speculating in an empirical vacuum. Now, if I can find someone who has both empirical knowledge and great theoretical insight, that would be the best of all worlds, but such people seem to be very, very rare.
    I have had my own writings here on PN criticized because I know almost nothing about art history or criticism, etc. That is certainly on-target as far as it goes, but even more damning, I think, is the fact that I just have not done as much photography as I might--and not nearly enough serious printing. Yes, I have been shooting an SLR since 1977, but until I got my first digital camera in 2002, I did not really shoot all that much, and I certainly did not do any post processing whatsoever.
    We do well to recognize our own limitations.
    --Lannie
     
  37. I personally think that there is something in the craft itself of photography that is more likely to produce revolutionary insights and innovations than in all the theory.​
    But here we are, theorizing...Let's not underestimate the power of thought. It's thought that built the world. It's thought that destroys worlds.
    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler" - Albert Einstein​
     
  38. I personally think that there is something in the craft itself of photography that is more likely to produce revolutionary insights and innovations than in all the theory. --Lannie
    But here we are, theorizing...Let's not underestimate the power of thought. It's thought that built the world. It's thought that destroys worlds. --Phil​
    You have quoted me completely out of context, Phil, totally distorting my real message.
    What I said in my long post about theory is that theory divorced from empirical knowledge and practice is likely to be bad theory.
    I am a theorist, and I believe that nothing is more practical than theory--but intellectualizing in an empirical vacuum is a very dangerous and generally non-productive enterprise.
    Yes, I was theorizing about theory--I am not only a theorist but a meta-theorist.
    --Lannie
     
  39. Lannie, what I quoted was a clearly made statement of yours. There's no missing context.
    You're also contradicting yourself when you go on and on in your last post about Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Apostle Paul, etc... Things that have NOTHING to do with the practice and theory of making photographs. Sure, a photographer can be formed by all of that ( most of my inspiration comes from non photography sources ), but it's not what photography is.
     
  40. Lannie, what I quoted was a clearly made statement of yours. There's no missing context.​
    Phil, you missed ALL the context, all the nuance, and the entire point. If you quote someone out of context, you can make them appear to believe or say exactly the opposite of what they believe. You have managed to do that, even while quoting me word for word. Here is my point:
    I do suspect that THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS have been first and foremost ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS, not theorists or art critics.
    I stand by that statement one hundred percent.
    --Lannie
     
  41. You're also contradicting yourself when you go on and on in your last post about Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Apostle Paul, etc... Things that have NOTHING to do with the practice and theory of making photographs​
    Ah, but they have everything to do with our conversation about theorizing in an absence of empirical data: the most influential Christian theorist about sexual ethics was a CELIBATE PRIEST! No wonder he messed up about as badly as you can mess up!

    Just because you did not follow the logic does not mean that it is not there. My critique of theory is hardly a blanket condemnation of theory: I am criticizing only theory that is made in an empirical vacuum. There is no better nor more relevant empirical data than that which comes through experience.
    Thus did I speak of "bad theory," in contradistinction to good theory. Good theory is most invaluable, but it is very hard to come by.



    --Lannie
     
  42. Thank God that Aquinas did not try to write a marriage manual!
    I have to say, though, that I do not see how he could have messed up any worse than he did.
    --Lannie
     
  43. intellectualizing in an empirical vacuum is a very dangerous and generally non-productive enterprise.​
    I agree. So let's see if I can add some photographic empirical substance.
    What is revolutionary about Eggleston? Not just his process but the use of his process in conjunction with the content he shot. What he was saying, with process, about his chosen subject matter. He was giving it depth. He was giving it its own kind of presence. He was recognizing something in the content beyond what had previously been recognized.
    What is revolutionary about Mapplethorpe? He brought homosexuality and gay sado-masochism into our LIVING ROOMS in a way no one before him did. His refined technique and the beauty of the visual aspects of his photos (even while the content may not have been considered beautiful) gave the viewer a reason to look. So, even if they were turned off by the subject matter, they were drawn by something else. And then they probably found themselves being drawn by the subject matter because there was blatancy and honesty in it even if it wasn't part of their own previous experience. He showed the world something that had been foreign and impugned. He shocked. He forced his way in.
    What is revolutionary about Salgado? He recognized the effects of humans on the environment and how that negatively affects indigenous peoples throughout the planet. And he puts his money where his mouth is, starting charitable foundations, etc.
    What is revolutionary about Jock Sturges? He confronts us with our own ethics and morality when it comes to youthful nudity. He's not the first. He's one in a long line of photographers who've explored this, including Sally Mann and others. They allow themselves such moral ambivalence and ambiguity. They don't shrink from confronting us with questions and uncertainty. They are willing to look at what is often turned away from.
    What is revolutionary about Diane Arbus? She provoked society with a candid look at populations that otherwise get handled with kid gloves.
    What these photographers also have in common is their desire or need to SAY something, by using their cameras and their eyes.
    HERE'S a photo from last week that's become popular online. It's iconic. It's important. I don't know if it's revolutionary and I don't care. But it sure does SAY something. And it sure does SHOW something we all need to see. Grace under fire. Standing tall. Willingness to put your body on the line, and do it elegantly. I don't know if the photo is revolutionary, but this woman certainly is. And a photo that captures that . . . well . . .
     
  44. I do suspect that THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS have been first and foremost ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS, not theorists or art critics.

    I don't see much difference in meaning between this statement and the statement I quoted from you. Both statements suggest pretty much the same.
    So why not talk craft then instead of theory, if you think that that's what can get us closer to the question of what makes a photographer revolutionary or not.
     
  45. I don't see much difference in meaning between this statement and the statement I quoted from you. Both statements suggest pretty much the same.​
    I can't help you, Sundance.
    So why not talk craft then instead of theory, if you think that that's what can get us closer to the question of what makes a photographer revolutionary or not. --Phil (Emphasis supplied.)​
    Why not talk about CRAFT AND THEORY TOGETHER, Phil?
    Thank God Fred came back by. No forum is much good that does not get the blood flowing, even if good threads sometimes explode. This thread was dead not too many posts back, and now it huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive. I live for these moments--THESE THEORETICAL MOMENTS!
    Unfortunately, Fred is all too correct about many of my posts: too many times I do not know what I am talking about in terms of actual knowledge not only of history and criticism, but of photography itself.
    PRAXIS is what I am advocating: the best possible combination of theory and practice.
    --Lannie
     
  46. I don't think that Eggleston was revolutionary. Eggleston was simply doing what Eggleston was doing. He was being free. The revolutionary aspect of his work was in the recognition of it by Szarkowski who juxtaposed Eggleston's language with the then prevailing 'order of things' and photographic language ( black and white carefully crafted fine art prints by Adams, Weston, etc... ) in art.
     
  47. Yes, Fred, THE PHOTO!
    Was that not glorious?! (Okay, so I know you have trouble with that last word. . . .)
    It is almost as if she were surrounded by a force field that was knocking the cops back on their rear ends! Go, Mama!
    --Lannie
     
  48. I don't think that Eggleston was revolutionary. Eggleston was simply doing what Eggleston was doing. He was being free.​
    What is a more inspiring revolutionary force than freedom, Phil?
    FREEDOM!
    Yes, Lawd. Freedom.
    Give me theory inspired by power and. . . hormones. REAL inspiration (whether divinely-encoded into our psyches or not).
    --Lannie
     
  49. They are willing to look at what is often turned away from. --Fred G.​
    Amen, Bro. There are none so blind as those who will not even look!
    --Lannie
     
  50. What is a more inspiring revolutionary force than freedom, Phil?​
    The freedom from being freed, or from being in need to be freed. That's my point about Eggleston and what Szarkowski saw in it.
     
  51. The revolutionary aspect of his work was in the recognition of it by Szarkowski. . . .​
    Phil, are you saying that art is not art until someone sees it? Sees it in context? Sees it in comparison. . . with something else?
    Um, what are you saying, Phil?
    --Lannie
     
  52. The freedom from being freed, or from being in need to be freed.​
    Now you've lost me. I'm not saying you're wrong, Phil. You're just over my head. I'm pretty ignorant.
    ("We all agree about that." --the Jonathan Winters character in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.)
    --Lannie
     
  53. Phil, I appreciate the point you're making. It doesn't lead me not to see Eggleston, himself, as a revolutionary but I do think your bringing in Szarkowski helps emphasize the fact that much about art is a dialogue and not simply a monologue of the artist. Revolutionary-ness can come in the interplay between art and both the ideas that are behind it and also the ideas that are stimulated by it.
     
  54. Phil, are you saying that art is not art until someone sees it? Sees it in context? Sees it in comparison. . . with something else?
    Um, what are you saying, Phil?​
    Stop thinking about revolution ( in art or whatever ). And start doing. That's what I'm saying. Eggleston - as an example - wasn't thinking about how he could be revolutionary. He was already freed from all of that.
     
  55. Thank God Fred came back by. No forum is much good that does not get the blood flowing, even if good threads sometimes explode.​
    What am I? Chopped liver?
    You're welcome, Lannie.
     
  56. What am I? Chopped liver?​
    And thank you, Lord, for Tim, who kept the thread going when I had absolutely nothing to say. Amen.
    Well, okay, Tim, it was sort of on life support there for a while. I knew that it had potential, even if I was not quite up to that potential.
    --Lannie
     
  57. Stop thinking about revolution ( in art or whatever ). And start doing.​
    So, Phil, are you suggesting that we should stop theorizing and start engaging in photography?
    What a novel notion--theory versus practice and all that.
    Yet, yet, I honestly do not see theory and practice as being mutually exclusive.
    --Lannie
     
  58. Maybe it's just about a childlike innocence. Revolution is not a scheme. Not part of any plan. That's what I mostly saw and remember when I visited the Picasso museum in Paris. In all of this exploding energy I felt an innocence, a kinda carelessness.
     
  59. So, Phil, are you suggesting that we should stop theorizing and start engaging in photography?​
    Don't think about revolution, think revolutionary. Don't think about photography, think photographically.
     
  60. Don't think about revolution, think revolutionary. Don't think about photography, think photographically.​
    Now, that is very enigmatic, Phil.
    --Lannie
     
  61. What do artists/photographers do when their current technology (camera or paint & canvas) for communicating revolutionary content becomes diluted in importance and is no longer able to grab eyeballs due to advances and distractions from social media networks and tons of content to sift through (who has time to visit a museum or read a book) by a society that finds cat photos and videos more interesting.​
    Tim, I wonder if the photo I linked to, how it's been recognized and shared, could answer part of your question. The cream still seems to rise to the top, even with all the dilutions and drawbacks you mention.
    My answer to your question about what photographers do in the face of modern technology and social networking, in part, is to suggest they show something significant and find some means of putting it in the public eye. In this case, being a photographers for Reuters probably helped, and why not? But, being a photographer for Reuters is not enough. He also had to be at the right place at the right time and know how to photographic the right place and the right time for maximum impact.
     
  62. Lannie,
    It's not any more enigmatic than the difference between thinking about love and being in love.
     
  63. I don't think most important photographers have a specific intention to be revolutionary, controversial, or even good, though some might. They do what's in front of them.

    Lannie, you asked me in a recent POTW how I could say that I didn't think the photographer, even though it was a posed photo, necessarily intended any meaning by the photo. What I said was that the meaning emerged.
    You mentioned MY OWN POTW OF IAN. What I was considering and thinking about when I took that photo was getting him into a position where the shadow would read well, untucking his shirt so there was more flow, the way the red of his shirt felt in relation to other strong colors surrounding him, how to expose considering the contrast between strong sunlight and his dark shadow, and staying in tune with him enough as he was trying out various positions and arm gestures to spontaneously capture an expressive micro-moment that spoke to me as it occurred. He's a dancer and we were also having a lot of fun collaborating on ideas and poses for the photos.
    I can't think of any meaning in my head at the time, to be honest. Still, it's a meaningful photo, IMO. The meaning, though, emerged after the fact.
    What went into that photo and goes into any significant photo is experience and emotion, brought together. So, sure, there is already some embedded meaning because I have a body of work already behind me and certain loose intentions of what I want my body of work to say, which I have considered. But, as Phil recognizes, it's about what I choose or am able to SHOW, what I do when I'm shooting, and not about intending greatness or revolution or controversy.
    I believe photos (figuratively) speak when a photographer has something to say. But it's a different kind of saying than what one does when speaking. Having something to say and having specific intentions of precisely what to say are two different things. Saying it is more gestural than intending or thinking about it.
     
  64. Not that a complex idea like "revolutionary" isn't worthy. It is. But it can also cloud things with bigness when looking and the descriptive nature of the photos themselves are also quite telling. These umbrella categories such as "revolutionary" can start being a theoretical distraction from the smaller picture, the photo, which is often the more important one, IMO.
     
  65. You mentioned MY OWN POTW OF IAN. What I was considering and thinking about when I took that photo was getting him into a position where the shadow would read well, untucking his shirt so there was more flow, the way the red of his shirt felt in relation to other strong colors surrounding him, how to expose considering the contrast between strong sunlight and his dark shadow, and staying in tune with him enough as he was trying out various positions and arm gestures to spontaneously capture an expressive micro-moment that spoke to me as it occurred. He's a dancer and we were also having a lot of fun collaborating on ideas and poses for the photos.

    I can't think of any meaning in my head at the time, to be honest. Still, it's a meaningful photo, IMO. The meaning, though, emerged after the fact.​
    I've got it, Fred. Good point. I have never really thought about "meaning" very much when shooting, since my kind of shooting is often "reflexive," in the sense of being more of a spontaneous reaction to something that I like--for whatever reason.
    --Lannie
     
  66. These umbrella categories such as "revolutionary" can start being a theoretical distraction from the smaller picture, the photo, which is often the more important one, IMO.​
    I agree, Fred. I am sitting here wondering why I thought that the question I posted to this thread would be a particularly fruitful way to proceed. Such questions certainly do not trouble me when shooting.
    It is certain that I am not "theorizing" when I am walking around snapping photos!
    --Lannie
     
  67. Right, but I think these forum conversations don't have to be so much about theorizing either. There are practical ways to talk about photos and about feelings about photos. The question you asked is dealt with more fruitfully for myself when I approach it less theoretically. That's what I tried to do in my first post here, where I specifically addressed what I thought was revolutionary about various photographers. That got me beyond just the revolutionary aspect of their work, and forced me to look carefully and describe what I saw throughout their bodies of work, which helps my seeing as well as my understanding of revolutions.
     
  68. That's what I tried to do in my first post here, where I specifically addressed what I thought was revolutionary about various photographers. That got me beyond just the revolutionary aspect of their work, and forced me to look carefully and describe what I saw throughout their bodies of work, which helps my seeing as well as my understanding of revolutions.​
    Well, this is where your strengths are more obvious, Fred.
    I bring the speculative theorizing because that is about all I have to offer at this point.
    Julie brings her lit crit stuff and other quotes from her very extensive readings.
    The surprising thing is that some of these threads (not just the ones I start) hold together at all. There clearly are no rules, and people are often playing different "language games" in the same thread.
    --Lannie
     
  69. Revolutionary art is always theory driven, before, during and after its creation.
    Artist/photographers (as the stated target of this thread) such as Moholy-Nagy, the Bechers, Stieglitz with his 'Equivalents' -- all very much theory driven at all stages.
    Even less-art and more-revolutionary figures like Muybridge, Marey, and Kepes were theory driven.
     
  70. Julie,
    All art is or can be said to be conceptual. I don't see how or why that would be exclusive to 'revolutionary art'.
    What do artists/photographers do when their current technology (camera or paint & canvas) for communicating revolutionary content becomes diluted in importance and is no longer able to grab eyeballs due to advances and distractions from social media networks and tons of content to sift through​
    I was looking at this series recently, SCREEN LIVES by Matthew Pillsbury. He is photographically addressing that same sentiment, of a society glued to the screen.
    Issues of technology, the digitalization of photography and the image and the blending between what is 'real' and what is not ( look at an IKEA catalog, you can't tell anymore what is a photograph and what is a computer generated image ) are similarly very interesting and current themes for photographers to address photographically, using the language of photography itself.
     
  71. "All art is or can be said to be conceptual."​
    I don't think so. To quote Chuck Close: "Once you know what art looks like it’s not hard to make some of it."
     
  72. Revolutionary art is always theory driven, before, during and after its creation.​
    It is interesting that you should say that, Julie, and it reminds me of something that one of my professors in grad school used to say way back in the 70s, specifically, that raw empiricism never inspired great theory. He said it a different way most of the time, but one time he simply said that empiricism was inherently "conservative." That was a strong claim, and it unnerved me at the time. Three decades later, I finally saw it for myself. How did I see it? I have no idea. (I frankly do not remember, if I ever knew.)
    I have spoken of the need to have theory grounded in the empirical data, even though I am in fact a rationalist. George Berkeley was widely acclaimed as an empiricist, but he would say things such as, "If God were to wink [fall asleep], the universe would disappear," or words to that effect, implying that the physical world existed only in the mind of God. How he got from empirical data to God remains elusive to me, but I am sure that he thought that he could justify such a leap--and I suspect that he was correct. Try telling that to a disciple of either Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein or A.J. Ayer (of Language, Truth and Logic fame).
    THEN try to show the relevance of all that "theory babble" to photography and photographers--and watch the sparks fly! (Or else watch faces either go blank or heads start to nod.) But "theory babble" is not necessarily nonsense just because not everybody is following the thread of the conversation--or cares where it goes or is thought to go.
    So theory, being based overwhelmingly in reason, is going to give us the flights of imagination to make outrageous claims--claims that just might turn out to be true. Einstein's "outrageous" claims come again immediately to mind. They just happened to be verified later by the empirical data. I would argue that they also started from empirical data, but this is fertile ground for someone who really is not afraid to delve into the deeply confusing terrain of epistemology. Every time I try that here, someone closes the thread sooner or later--not because I mention such schools of epistemology, but because persons come to loggerheads on derivative conclusions and wind up shouting at each other, or whatever.
    I console myself that Aristotle, an empiricist, broke philosophy wide open by breaking with his master Plato, but then wound up giving us gibberish in his Politics--such as with his condemnation of homosexuality, along with two of his other major horrors: (1) "If women join men in the field, who will take care of the house?" and (2) "Some are born to rule and some are born to be ruled," justifying slavery and authoritarian orders of all kinds. Then there was Hume, another empiricist, who gave Kant and company the old heave-ho--but then what? What of substance did Hume ever wind up saying about anything?
    Every time someone tries to draw a fence around what is relevant to photography (or anything else), there is going to be a reaction. I for one do not believe that one can escape Grand Theory: it will chase one down and bite one on the tail if one tries.
    Try explaining that to persons who do not use the very nice shorthand afforded by all of these technical terms!
    The last time we got into those kinds of issues on these forums was over the idea of the "mystical" in photography. I said that I saw mystical things in photographs, and Fred challenged me with a de facto "Show me!" Well, of course, I could not--and did not try, because I had been down that road before with other people. So, two days ago, I finally did stumble onto a specific photo (not a nude) that spoke mystically to me, and I showed it to a Photo.net member who also lives in Salisbury, NC, where I do. She said, "I don't see it," which is exactly what I knew that she was going to say. HERE is the photo in question. (She liked the picture, she said. She just didn't see or feel anything mystical in it. Okay.)
    So, that is my way of saying that, once one makes certain claims that are in some sense related to theory (in this case theoretical questions about the status of claims as to whether or not the "mystical" or something else can inhere in the photograph or only in the viewer), someone else is likely to disagree--and sometimes the disagreement seems to be a terminal condition (at which point the thread is closed).
    I consider such theoretical speculation to be of the greatest practical significance, but others will say, "Show us the photo." Okay, I will show you the photo, but I cannot show you what I see in the photo, much less explain why I see what I see in the photo. Perhaps it has to do with my history, my hormones, my orientation, whatever. I have no idea what it is, but then I listen to people say what gives them that special "something" in painting, sculpture, literature, music, or photography, and I shake my head and walk away.
    So, is there an objective basis for such differences or is it all purely subjective? Above all, CAN THEORY ENLIGHTEN US AS TO THE REASONS FOR SUCH PROFOUND DISAGREEMENT?

    Now, back to "revolution":


    Can theory explain to us why this or that idea or image or sound struck such a resonant chord and resulted in this or that "movement," whether in politics, art, or one of Rachmaninoff's symphonies? Why do I hear something absolutely divine in Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony, especially in the Fourth Movement? How do I communicate that to someone who does not "feel" it? Well, typically I do not. I did manage to communicate to my then twelve-year-old daughter that Richard Marx's first two chart-toppers had the same chord sequence, but she did not see that. Later she came back and said, "They both do have the same chord sequence, don't they?" I nodded my head, and she wandered away, disenchanted. Next thing I knew, she had latched onto Guns and Roses. Why? Did I say something that disemboweled Richard Marx--or that disenchanted my daughter? I wish that I could always find such magic buttons to push.
    Always there is that "Why?" question, and the answer(s) to that "Why?" question continue(s) to elude us, whether in theories of aesthetics or in theories of political revolution. Is it not such a great leap from "Why do people like what they like?" to "Why did the first successful Marxist revolution occur in Russia rather than in the industrialized West?" Try explaining a link such as that to someone who despises theory. (Dare I try to offer a possible explanation or connection here? NO.) I can only say, "This or that person is moved (in whatever sense) by this or that idea, symphony, painting or photo, etc." I would like to do better, but my present lack of theoretical understanding makes that impossible.
    Tess once said to me that the song "Love Goes Where My Rosemary Goes" (or whatever the title is) evoked a mystical sense in her. I agreed. I tried that song on someone else, and they did not "feel" it. I also mentioned (in turn) the song "Penny Lane" by the Beatles to Tess as another example of a song that sounded somehow "mystical" to me. She also "felt" it, but others that I have "tried" that on give me a blank look.
    Now, there is theory and there is theory, and I have to say in concession to Fred or whoever (and I dare not try to speak for Fred on this, since we often do speak past each other, or else we disagree on this or that fundamental assumption or on something else) that I really do not know how it is that one APPLIES such theoretical insights to making photos (or writing music, for that matter), but I do believe that there is a link between theory and practice. I hope that someday we can show it for photography, but I typically despair of doing so.
    Every time I go into this dicey realm, I fear that the thread will wind up being shut down, as people begin more and more to miscommunicate, leading to all kinds of ensuing frustrations.
    I console myself with the fact that I have seen conference panels explode into oblivion because Ph.D.s could not find some common ground for rarefied discourse, and so the problem is not unique to Photo.net. Far from it. (The last time I saw it at a professional conference was in San Antonio or New Orleans in 1994 at a meeting of the Southwest Social Science Association. Sometimes chess players lose it, with one grandmaster winding up peeing on the chessboard rather than simply resigning.)
    Reason sometimes fails. For some reason, we come back to try again and again, wary but curious and ever hopeful.


    Revolution?
    What is revolutionary MOVES people, in whatever realm.

    Why?
    I do not know. If I knew, then I would take moving PHOTOGRAPHS, and perhaps start my own photographic MOVEMENT.
    Alas, I am just not that good. A photographic revolutionary I will never be. Nuts.
    --Lannie
     
  73. I will now offer a tentative answer to my original question:
    "When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary?"
    When his or her work MOVES people. . .
    Theory and a very long apparently digressive post (the preceding one) got me to that conclusion.
    Is there anything new there that we did not already know? Have I offered an example of Kant's "synthetic a priori"?
    I sincerely doubt it.
    --Lannie
     
  74. I think Fred''s earlier summation of revolutionary is the best so far on this thread. Everyone he mentioned was revolutionary. They do not necessarily have to be spectacular, impress everybody or profound etc. Fred, I will have to use you like a lamp post both for support and illumination. All the examples you gave have a common element but it was not that common element alone that makes them revolutionary but their own elements along with that element.which I think speaks to the plasticity of how to define revolutionary that I reffered. I think of Imogene Cunningham (she is great for a lot of discussions) again. Her photo was definitely revolutionary and propelled her to fame. Then she abandons one style to become a part of the f64 movement and then does industrial photogary. Each are revolutionary. some more spectacular profound or ground breaking. Then ther are those who are not recognized as such until decades later.
     
  75. Don, as I understand it, what Fred is saying is that photographic revolutionaries give us new ways of looking and seeing. There is more to be said--and Fred can and likely will say it--but surely Fred is emphasizing looking and seeing. That seems appropriate, since we are talking about photography.
    I find that helpful, too, for what that is worth.
    --Lannie
     
  76. That goes without saying. But that covers a lot of ground and the dynamics and what and how this is done and the temporal context are infinite. I can show you many examples that fit that description that otherwise have nothing else in common. Then again I am not going to go into too much depth in paraphrasing because I do not want to misinterpret or . I leave it to Fred.
     
  77. Don, as I understand it, what Fred is saying is that photographic revolutionaries give us new ways of looking and seeing.
    No! New doesn't necessarily have anything to do with it, though it can. Change is probably a better word. The photo of the woman at the protest is nothing new, but it has the potential to change perceptions, change minds, and change behavior. Even she, herself, wasn't doing anything new. Many have gone before her. She was standing up. That's revolutionary but nothing new.
    I was not proposing or even dealing with what revolutionary is. I was offering examples of photographers I considered revolutionary and why. In order to do that, I was looking at and describing photographic bodies of work, briefly and, of course, incompletely. The looking and seeing part was more about us than about the revolutionaries. It's kind of a given that both revolutionary photographers and non-revolutionary photographers look and see and there's nothing terribly profound or insightful about that. I was encouraging us to look at revolutionary photographers and describe what's revolutionary about them. That would be revolutionary for these threads, as opposed to theorizing non-photographically, which has become the more conventional approach in these threads.
     
  78. I really do not know how it is that one APPLIES such theoretical insights to making photos (or writing music, for that matter), but I do believe that there is a link between theory and practice.​
    By using the vocabulary of the medium, or even by implementing the vocabulary of other art forms. Even if photography is a relatively young medium, it has a rich vocabulary to draw from and expand on.
     
  79. That would be revolutionary for these threads, as opposed to theorizing non-photographically, which has become the more conventional approach in these threads. —My own comment​
    I should mention my appreciation to Donald for his specific example and discussion of Cunningham, Julie for her subtle distinction between photographer/artists like Moholy-Nagy, the Bechers, Stieglitz and the "less-art and more-revolutionary" figures like Muybridge, Marey, and Kepes, and Phil for his example of Pillsbury and the use of the language of photography itself.
    To Phil's point, artists who have effectively used their mediums as mediums in order to comment on their mediums have often had something to say.
    Which brings me back to something I tried to emphasize, which is a photographer HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY, though perhaps non-specifically and non-literally.
     
  80. Robert Frank, perhaps more than any other photographer, drastically expanded the then prevailing vocabulary of photography when he presented The Americans.
     
  81. Which brings me back to something I tried to emphasize, which is a photographer HAVING SOMETHING TO SAY, though perhaps non-specifically and non-literally.​
    Yes, there's no motif without a motive...
     
  82. As usual, and no doubt to the chagrin of some, I read (and admittedly too briefly) these last pages of comment on when is the artist a revolutionary and will no doubt understand but a fragment of this lengthy and in large part philosophical discussion (why I wonder is it not in the forum Philosophy of photography, unless thse are casual conversations of people interested in philosophy or politics?). The noun "revolutionary" (a definition important to situate this question), is suggested by the OED as: "A person who advocates or engages in political revolution."

    Political revolution is a vast and often complex event of the human condition and not something that happens regularly, at least in the case of most industrial or post industrial societies where the citizen is relatively free and/or rich enough to indulge themselves in art and photography. Photography and art have of course been used to record or motivate revolution, but this occurs or has occurred among a very narrow slice of the overall practitioners of photography and art. For those who apply their art to innovative perceptions and communication, or who deal with non political changes changes (perhaps defined as evolution) I think we need a better word or term than "revolutionary", and its dramatic political revolution context.

    Being a simple maker of photographs, and engaged mainly at that, I would appreciate a question along the lines of "when is the artist or photographer an innovator or arbiter of change in regard to subject matter or artistic approach." I guess I feel happier behind the camera and with a project in mind than at my computer writing about it or the work of notable others, notwithstanding the recognised value of these shared opinions and discussions of the art.

    Shedding the cloak of politics for that of innovation instead of the word "revolutionary" allows one to consider artists like Van Gogh, various artists who conceived cubism, Jean-Loup Sieff and Bill Brandt and their original application of ultrawide angle optics, Adams and his emphasis on darkroom photography (negative and print development) to further create the image, Burtynsky and his views of industry and its wastes, and many others who pushed the frontiers of photographic subjects, perceptions and approach.
     
  83. For centuries, it's been fairly common usage to refer to the Copernican "revolution." While it likely had political ramifications, it was essentially a scientific and not a political type of revolution. So I think art, like science, is allowed revolutionaries that aren't necessarily limited to political change.
    Some, of course, consider all art to be politics, which may in itself have been a revolutionary idea.
    The dictionaries I've checked all seem to agree that radical change (without mention of politics) is a valid characteristic of revolution.
    Arthur, you mention the OED. Definition 1.3 of the OED follows, and does not limit the idea of revolution to politics. Surely, in a discussion of photography, the idea of revolutionaries can be coherently applied. In this case, I think a literal case can easily be made for using "revolutionary." But even if not, certainly a metaphorical or analogous case can be made.
    A dramatic and wide-reaching change in the way something works or is organized or in people’s ideas about it:​
    For me, innovation doesn't quite cut it. Revolution suggests to me more radical-ness. OED uses the word "dramatic." The characteristic of rift seems to apply to revolutions and not necessarily to innovation.
     
  84. Arthur, Arthur, the last thing I wanted to do was to make this thread about politics.
    In addition to political revolutions, we also had the Industrial Revolution, and in photography itself most of us have been significantly affected by the "digital revolution" in imaging technology.
    So. . . I don't know. Maybe I should have used a different word, but revolution is about change--and that is something that Fred reminded us of not far above. So, in one sense digital photography was "new" compared to capturing images on film, but in another sense it has above all changed what we can do with our images. For me the biggest single change has been that I can process my own images--I never had a wet darkroom.
    So, I think that Fred is right to emphasize that what is revolutionary is about change more than it is about what is new. I would only ask whether, when we have change, do we not have something new in some sense? Even so, I think that the emphasis on change is important. I even wrote far above on July 9 at 11:49 p.m. the following:
    I tend to think of that which is revolutionary as involving sweeping social change, whether fast or slow.​
    So I would say that that which is revolutionary is not only about change, but about sweeping change. If only a few people are affected (by whatever it is that one wants to talk about), I would not use the word "revolutionary."
    No matter how you slice it, however, there is no way around defining our terms with precision--even if some insist that that is or ought to be the province of professional philosophers, or that it should not be in this forum. In my opinion, speaking or writing with precision is or ought to be the province of everyone who wants to speak clearly and unambiguously--and who wants to be understood.
    In any case, the scope of change has to be considered if we are to speak of something as "revolutionary."

    --Lannie
     
  85. Getting back to my rejection of "new" as a necessary characteristic for revolutionary photos, in scouring the dictionaries I was reminded that a revolution is also . . .
    the time taken by a celestial body to make a complete round in its orbit​
    . . . That's what allows certain "neo" movements to be so important. The effective and timely recycling of old ideas can be revolutionary not necessarily because of the ideas but because of their application and context. Art often travels in cycles, not always in linear paths. Things come around again.
     
  86. What? I learn something new every day
    Revolutionary: of pertaining to, characterized by,or of the nature of a revolution, or a sudden, complete, or marked change.
    : radically new or innovative; outside of established proceedure, principles, etc, "a revolutionary discovery"
    Synonyms: unprecedented, novel, drastic, unorthodox.
    Gee I did not realize just how "political" photographers were. I never realized that political was intrinsic or understood in these definitions. For the past year I have been posting in the wrong forums many times.
     
  87. Don, maybe you read "political" into what you just quoted. I do not see it there.
    I am a political theorist, but "revolution" or "revolutionary" does not necessarily connote political change to me--any kind of change can suffice if it is sweeping or widespread. Indeed, for me change does not even have to be rapid to be revolutionary. There are slow revolutions, too.
    A revolution is an over-turning, or as Fred just pointed out, a turning around or going around. "Revolution" does not even necessarily have to connote progress. Things "revolve." Do they necessarily thereby go anywhere?
    Let us nonetheless be aware of the subtle nuances that persons bring to their own uses of the term "revolution" or "revolutionary." The word "revolutionary" does not mean just what the dictionary says that it means. It means whatever the speaker or writer wants it to be mean--and meaning depends on the purpose to which language is put.
    Was there a "sexual revolution" in the Sixties and Seventies? I would say, "Only if you think that that generation invented sex."
    --Lannie
     
  88. Lannie, that was Donald's point. He also doesn't see "political" in what he quoted, which is a definition of "revolutionary." I believe Donald, like you and I, was questioning Arthur's proposal.
    To be clear, I think photography that is political in nature is important and should be considered in any discussion of revolutionary photography. So there's certainly merit in Arthur's bringing up politics. One reason I included that link to the picture taken at the protests last week is because I think photography can effectively be used in political situations. I just don't think the term "revolutionary" necessarily has a political component.
     
  89. Lannie , you have to recognize sarcasm
     
  90. Sorry, Don. It was wasted on me. Everything in context. . . .
    Thank you, Fred, and again I thank you for that great picture.
    "Peaceful means and the end of the state"--now there is a fairly revolutionary idea, that of Moral Virtue v. Political Violence.
    Now I am the one who is being explicitly political. I think that I shall write a book called The Anarchist Christ, through which I shall convert all the Christians to the cause of non-violence.
    --Lannie
     
  91. A revolution is change that can't be ignored.
     
  92. I'm not so sure that it's about change per se. What some art seems to do more than other art is to illuminate and lay bare that which is already and has always been known and will ever be known. It's more like putting up a mirror to the point where we can't ignore our reflection anymore or are reminded by it, by that which has always been there.
     
  93. A revolution is change that can't be ignored.​
    ...which is only part of a political definition. Evolution and innovation are other changes, non political, that also can't be ignored, at least by most of the witnesses to it.
     
  94. The Matrix was revolutionary when it came out, not because of its message and themes ( which are as old as the history of mankind ) but because of how it combined and told that message through the use of new groundbreaking cinematic techniques. It was telling something old in a new way.
    Red Pill / Blue Pill
     
  95. Time out above. I meant to include the following....
    A revolution is change that can't be ignored.​
    ...which is only part of a political definition. Evolution and innovation are other changes, non political, that also can't be ignored, at least by most of the witnesses to it.
    I just read Lannie, Fred, and Donald's comments. Revolutionary seems to exist as the noun in Lannie's OP and not as an adjective, which isquite different and where the word in that form relates to dramatic change and the like and not necessarily political. But revolutionary in the form of a noun, like the photographer as a revolutionary, has, grammatically at least, obvious political connotations.
    Not all innovations are dramatic, but those that are, are game-changing indeed. The industrial revolution was technical, like the computer or smartphone or even fax, but it had tremendous political implications (see Luddites amongst other subjects) and so revolution is I think entirely appropriate as a word. Entire communities and their cottage industries were wiped out, peole lost jobs on a massive scale, communities were impoverished, cities became overcrowded with the have nots (eventually resolved in part, and child labour was on the rise. Industrial Revolution political? Certainly. The world eventually benefitted and the political less dramatic, but that took a quite long time.
    So, gentlemen photographers and noble wordsmiths, revolutionary as used as a noun is political in its context. And different from the adjective.
    Definitions of words can change but the source definition is usually the best to take rather than its "extrapolation" to other things. Social change is political (witness the adversity to state (society) supported services like those Mr. Sanders sought (or Père Trudeau, or Tommy Douglas in their time). Photographers who are also revolutionaries one can probably count on one's hand. Evolution (e.g., improving medical technology or drugs, disappearance of a species, global warming effects, increase of rejected plastic in the oceans, etc.) can be dramatic, as can the often accompanying innovations (namely, the application of inventions that can change the world). We can find a lot more examples in those cases of change and probably those cases may be what Lannie was refering to.
     
  96. THEN try to show the relevance of all that "theory babble" to photography and photographers--and watch the sparks fly! (Or else watch faces either go blank or heads start to nod.)​
    Go back through all that you wrote, Lannie, and post quotes from your responses logically showing how you made a direct connection of your theories to making photographs that are revolutionary or even photography in general.
    Your theories come across to me as someone building a house of cards with very thin logic and all the doors are locked because you've swallowed the key. What we have here boils down to a serious failure to communicate on your part.
    I looked up the words "empiricism" (attaining knowledge through senses & experience) and "epistemology" (the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.) Two words I will never use in my entire life especially with regards to photography or communicating with images.

    Make those two words relate to revolutionary photography. I dare you! You come across as an intelligent guy. You can do it. I believe in you. I know you can do it. My empiricism tells me so.
     
  97. As you said in the context. Even if the word was misused the
    context of what was meant was obvious. If you really want to
    split hairs, he never finished the sentence so you do not know
    if it was noun or adjective so how can you assume it was a
    noun. The OP also clarified his terminology and if there
    is any consensus on this thread it is that we are not speaking
    in a political sense exclusively so I do not know what you are
    trying 5o prove or just impress. But I will tell you what, if you
    are that worried about the political start another thread
    somewhere or something.
     
  98. Most of Western philosophy is based on works that some guys wrote in their twenties, many of them had great ideas but weren't great writers.
     
  99. and all the doors are locked because you've swallowed the key.​
    There's only one photographer who I think holds 'the key'. Actually there are three:
    1. Atget
    2. Atget
    3. Atget
     
  100. But revolutionary in the form of a noun, like the photographer as a revolutionary, has, grammatically at least, obvious political connotations.​
    That is a common connotation, Arthur. Is it the only one? I think that Jonas Salk could be considered a revolutionary in medicine.
    I think that Picasso and Eggleston could be considered revolutionaries in art and photography.
    --Lannie
     
  101. Most of Western philosophy is based on works that some guys wrote in their twenties, many of them had great ideas but weren't great writers.​
    Very few were in their twenties in terms of percentage of all well-known philosophers, Phil. Kant was quite an old man when he developed many of his ideas, and many others were middle-aged or older.
    --Lannie
     
  102. I looked up the words "empiricism" (attaining knowledge through senses & experience) and "epistemology" (the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope.) Two words I will never use in my entire life especially with regards to photography or communicating with images.

    Make those two words relate to revolutionary photography. I dare you! You come across as an intelligent guy. You can do it. I believe in you. I know you can do it.​
    I probably could, Tim, but it would be like writing another doctoral dissertation, and I have a few books in front of it that I would like to finish. Even if I failed to pull it off, I imagine that there are plenty who could.
    My empiricism tells me so.​
    Say what? If I wrote it, Tim, could you read it? Empiricism is a school of thought emphasizing the primacy of experience as a way of knowing. It is commonly counterpoised to rationalism, which is based on the belief that some new substantive knowledge comes through reason. There are other schools of epistemology. (Epistemology itself is the study of knowledge, or the study of how it is that we know what we think we know.)
    For what it's worth, I am a rationalist--but I imagine that empirical methods are more useful for analyzing photography.
    I am seventy-one years old, and I have nothing to prove here. I am not evading anything, as I am sometimes accused of doing--except when I don't want to waste my time, or when I want to avoid the flies and mosquitoes so that I can write what I want to write rather than what someone else thinks I should write.
    --Lannie
     
  103. Lannie, i won't belabour the point as it is not key to your OP and I understand your use of the noun in a more modern sense. It may well be the commonly adopted modern definition. I try to apply my english as rigorously as possible. You have a different opinion about the word but I admire that you care to reply in a civilised manner, which Mr. Miller's fighting words unfortunately lacked.
    I think I would consider Salk, Picasso and Eggleston as creators and innovators, which indeed they were by presenting (creating) new, original and different contributions in their respective fields of effort. They added to their science ot art, rather than pulling it apart as in a revolution. Following Picasso's career is fascinating as in each stage we see an evolution of his genius and artform from one period to the next.
    In addition to that creative innovation Picasso acted as a revolutionary, an engaged artist in the war against Franco and his 3rd Reich German allies in the mid to late 30s, painting the very political Guernica while simultaneously evolving his art (his kinetic depictions of the human face and bodily forms to express shock and suffering, his use of the bull and horse as opposing symbols denoting aggression and peace).
     
  104. They added to their science ot art, rather than pulling it apart as in a revolution.​
    Arthur, what you have written suggests to me that you think of revolutions primarily in terms of what they destroy. I tend to think of revolutions as replacing or supplanting rather than simply destroying or pulling apart, although I do not doubt that some revolutions can be more disruptive than others. Political revolutions in particular probably do tend to disrupt entire societies. I admit that new technologies can also disrupt, partly because of the results of "technological unemployment."
    Radical or sweeping change surely can be disruptive. Families and cultures can be pulled apart, but perhaps sometimes those cultures can be replaced by something better. I am watching the continuing disintegration of traditional Southern culture here in the Carolinas--but I cannot get sad or sentimental about it. Others are agonizing over what they see as threats to what remains of their traditional way of life. I say, with few exceptions, Good riddance!
    --Lannie
     
  105. Censored yet again. Revolutions involve blood on both sides, not academic. How are you with that, Lannie? Have you ever handled a body? Check out what it cost to buy a (for the moment) free nation -- follow up what it cost the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I would sign tomorrow if necessary, regardless of the consequences. If this post disappears, I'm out of here. Enough is enough.
     
  106. I am seventy-one years old, and I have nothing to prove here.​
    I'm a mere baby of 62 and it doesn't have to be about proving anything. Maybe it's just an opportunity, so I'll take a stab at it.
    Make those two words relate to revolutionary photography. I dare you! You come across as an intelligent guy. You can do it. I believe in you. I know you can do it.​
    Here goes . . .
    Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. —Garry Winogrand
    My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. —Richard Avedon​
    Two photographers who may have revolutionized thinking about photos in somewhat similar ways are Winogrand and Avedon, each very different photographers notwithstanding their similar rather simple and straightforward understanding of some things. As the two quotes above show, they seem to take an epistemologically more empirical than rational approach. Each seems more concerned with what things look like than with what things are at their core. They seem more concerned with a photographic experience of what we see rather than an emotional response or intellectual understanding of what it is we're looking at. As opposed to a more rational epistemology where one might search for an innate core or essence of the objects being photographed, their empiricism tracks with photographic appearances of which a rationalist would be more skeptical but in which both photographers seem willing to put their faith.
     
  107. To know if/when/how/where a revolution occurred, you have to know history. To know that something has changed, you have to know what came before. If you don't know the history of art photography, don't know the players -- beyond the obvious ("Eggleston"), then you're not going to know if/when/how/where something has changed in any fashion, including a 'revolutionary' fashion.
    For example, Joel Meyerowitz has a new book, Morandi's Objects where I think he's gently probing new territory between ... Oh, wait. You're not familiar with Giorgio Morandi? You don't know Meyerowitz, or the trajectory of his work? Never mind then.
    Yes, I'm being a snotty pedant, but if you want to talk about revolutionary art/photographers, full historical knowledge is a not (just) snotty pedantry, it's a necessity.
     
  108. Censored yet again. Revolutions involve blood on both sides, not academic. How are you with that, Lannie? Have you ever handled a body? Check out what it cost to buy a (for the moment) free nation -- follow up what it cost the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I would sign tomorrow if necessary, regardless of the consequences. If this post disappears, I'm out of here. Enough is enough.​
    I don't think that anybody has censored you, Sandy. I don't know what your point is, though.
    --Lannie
     
  109. Fred, the quotes that you have offered both have to do with "surfaces":
    Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. —Garry Winogrand
    My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. —Richard Avedon​
    One can certainly approach anything by staying on the surface, but one should not be surprised if others disagree. Photojournalists, among many others, are going to want to know the "back story." There are historical and philosophical dimensions that the two-dimensional artifact cannot capture in and of itself, totally out of context and without further commentary.
    Look at photographs any way you please, but be aware that others with different approaches might have something to offer as well. I do not know why anyone should insist upon staying upon the surface. While it is true that photographs are two-dimensional, human beings do not have to be. If one rationalizes staying on the surface--and insists that others must do the same if they are "doing photography"--then I believe that one runs the risk of becoming fixated with the superficial, or of becoming shallow to the point of superficiality oneself.
    [LINK]

    [LINK]

    It is interesting to me, Fred, that you often really do go beneath the surface, even as you seem to be arguing for staying on the surface. I am not accusing you of being superficial in general. I am simply puzzled at this fixation with the "surface" even as you know full well that there are other dimensions to every photo besides the two dimensions that define the photographic artifact. Avedon's reference to "clues" indicates that something besides that which is visible on the surface may be at stake.
    Even artifacts are best understood, I believe, in a larger cultural, historical, and philosophical context. I do not claim to have any great depth of understanding in any of those contexts, much less all of them, but I do not thereby feel impelled to disparage that which I do not fully understand--and no one, absolutely no one--understands it all.
    --Lannie
     
  110. [T]hey [Wiinogrand and Avedon] seem to take an epistemologically more empirical than rational approach. Each seems more concerned with what things look like than with what things are at their core. They seem more concerned with a photographic experience of what we see rather than an emotional response or intellectual understanding of what it is we're looking at. As opposed to a more rational epistemology where one might search for an innate core or essence of the objects being photographed, their empiricism tracks with photographic appearances of which a rationalist would be more skeptical but in which both photographers seem willing to put their faith.​
    Very well. So they do. Therefore what? Does that mean that others have to appreciate photography by approaching it the same way? Of course not. If one does not see the value of more rationalist than empiricist approaches, then I do not expect to be able to change their points of view. I am not sure why I should even try.
    I am just sitting here wondering why one has to take only one approach to the exclusion of others. What I like about rationalism is that it does not deny the necessity of empirical observation. It merely suggests that there may be other insights to be gained than by the methods of the crudest empiricists. That said, many rationalists bore me to death, and I think that quite a few have missed the mark pretty badly when they have delved into the realm of ethics and metaphysics--much less my own field of political theory/philosophy. Some, I think, would have done better to have stayed a bit better grounded in the empirical. I will not make that recommendation for all. Some flights of fancy and metaphysical speculation might actually go somewhere. One never knows.
    I can't fault the rationalists for trying, in any case. If one thinks that one "sees" something, whether through one's physical eyes or through one's reasoning and understanding, then I think that one should follow one's own "vision," be it optical or philosophical--or something else.
    Thanks to you, Fred, and to you, Tim, for continuing to redirect us back to the larger philosophical context. I do not think that we will be any poorer for spending a few minutes thinking about such things--including theories of knowledge, epistemology. If we do not find what we are looking for in such forays, well, perhaps we may find something else of value, something totally unexpected.
    I like to try the side roads, back roads, and other "alternative routes." Psychology of perception and metaphysical inquiry are back roads only for some photographers, not for all. In any case, there is nothing at all wrong with taking the back roads now and again. As I was telling my Spanish class yesterday, "You might not remember much about what I tried to teach you about the Spanish language. In fact, you might wind up remembering only what I said in one of my digressions." They laughed--all three of them.
    "There's a bend in the road ahead. I wonder what's around the bend." --Charles Kuralt, from "On the Road"​
    Some of the crudest empiricists are curiously lacking in curiosity--and imagination. I wonder why that is the case, but I am certain that it is. I have seen it, can verify it, with my own eyes--empirically!
    There is one great paradox about empiricism--that it cannot verify its own claims empirically.
    --Lannie
     
  111. Yes, I'm being a snotty pedant, but if you want to talk about revolutionary art/photographers, full historical knowledge is a not (just) snotty pedantry, it's a necessity.​
    Julie, I do not know anyone with "full" historical knowledge. Do you?
    I have studied the history of art and photography--mostly as an auto-didact. I have studied political history. I have studied the history of chemistry, my undergraduate major until several weeks into my senior year. Do I think that I know very much. No.
    Do I think that I have "full historical knowledge"?
    No, of course not, and I am quite sure that I never will. I am not even sure what "full historical knowledge" would entail. One learns as one goes, and one lives and one dies with partial knowledge.
    This reminds me of something else that I have been thinking about of late: theology. (How is that for a digression?) It occurred to me that we are born into a world where plenty of people come to us claiming to have the truth about such things. I think that the first step in growing up (where such ultimate issues as the existence of God are concerned) is awareness of this simple fact:
    No.one.knows.a.damn.thing.with.absolute.certainty.
    The people that think that they do scare me half to death. We can only "speculate" about ultimate reality, metaphysics--and we do that. It is in our nature to do that.
    Does that mean that, after a lifetime of study and lots of letters after one's name, one really, really knows something about such things?
    No. We come into this world blind, and we leave blind. In between we sometimes fall prey to the illusion that we think that we see. Well, maybe we do, and maybe we do not.
    How do we know whether we know anything? That is the first question of epistemology, the study of knowledge. Rather than say that we know nothing (as Socrates did), we can say for sure that we do not know what is true and what is false of all the things that we think that we know. . . for sure. (How is that for a paradox?)
    Everything is on the table, all the time, where I am concerned. No claim is so sacred that it cannot be challenged.
    Is photography about what is on the surface--and only that?
    I don't think so, but I respect those who start with that basic premise. They might be right, and I might be wrong. That sure sounds like a boring and unpromising approach to me, though. I will keep an open mind about such claims, though. They could be right, and I could be wrong. (I said that already.)
    In the meantime, I am going to keep trying to look beneath the surface--to look, as it were, beyond the obvious, Beyond. . . .
    That all comes later, when I am looking at the photos, mine and those of others. When I am shooting, I am fully in the moment. I am not thereby necessarily. . . on the surface.
    --Lannie
     
  112. Sorry if those words sounded too bellicose. But I still feel compelled to address your vigorous use of the English language.
    Webster's Dictionary
    Revolution: d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm <the Copernican revolution>e : a changeover in use or preference especially in technology <the computer revolution><the foreign car revolution>
    Revolutionary: one engaged in a revolution
    I do not think linking these definitions is specious. Maybe one could draw some implications from the original question but the context of the thread afterwards certainly clarified the use of these terms.
     
  113. "Revolutionary: one engaged in a revolution"
    Given that the making of art is a largely private endeavor, the revolution that one is engaged in may only ever contain one revolutionary.
    To paraphrase a 'real' artist (not a photographer), "I know how to get there, but I don't know where I'm going." One does not know how embodied theories will ultimately perform once you "get there." Just ask Marx.
     
  114. Lannie, I'm afraid you've mistaken my explaining something about Winogrand and Avedon for some sort of strict advocacy of their point of view. Seriously? Tim asked for empiricism and epistemology to be used in a photographic description and the idea of empiricism led me to Winogrand and Avedon. Why you read that as my insisting on seeing art in that way is beyond me. I don't even necessarily advocate using words like empiricism and epistemology when talking about photography, though if done in an edifying way, it can work. So please don't mistake my using those words in a description as advocating for using those kinds of words when talking about photography. I was doing it because Tim made the request, though not to me directly, but it seemed to present a good challenge and an opportunity to look at photos in a particular light that I might not have otherwise considered.
    Artists frame things in these kinds of passionate and unitary ways. I would be losing out on a lot if I didn't consider the importance of talking about surfaces in photography, seeing them in photographs, and considering how it could effect both how I see and how I photograph and instead were concerned with whether or not this was the only way to approach photography which I would never be concerned about because I know how silly it would be for me to consider that all photography is only about surfaces. Nevertheless, I think it's a beautiful idea and one I've learned from and that's affected the way I see and do. Whether an artist should or should not phrase things so as not to sound like they're excluding other ideas is an argument one can have but I'd find it pretty fruitless and academic. Seeing the significance of what they say and really digesting what it means to give honor to the surface, on the other hand, at least for me, moves the needle forward.
     
  115. Donald et al, yes the word has produced progeny and I guess it is inescapable that more recent use (if we can call the 1750s recent) of the word is accepted. I still wish that we had better terms for the other applications and meanings. I chose "genius loci" as title for my present little exhibition on "spirit of place", although the Greek and Roman term, often used by contemporary architects and urbanists, has evolved considerably in meaning over more than 2000 years.
    Perhaps, as Julie may suggest, a photography revolutionary may be invcolved in a one person revolution, but there are definite advantages I think in fighting oneself. Otherwise, we are complacent with what we know or believe or do.
     
  116. They might be right, and I might be wrong.​
    This, to me, is the crux. It is not about being right or wrong. It's about the ideas and methods. Their words, for me, are a window into their perspective, not a logical argument to be proved valid or invalid, true or false. I relate their words to their own photographs, to the photos of others, and to my own and see and understand more when I do that. It's part of a picture.
     
  117. This reminds of the experience I had in my very first Intro to Philosophy course as a freshman. I was 17. The professor was terrific. He approached each philosopher and school of philosophy as a strong advocate, really convincing us that this philosopher's way was the way to see the world. Only once we'd absorbed the arguments and import of what they had to say would he move to the next philosopher or school of philosophy only to show us the flaws in the previous philosopher's arguments or at least that there was always another way of seeing the world. Some students were very confused by this, thinking the professor had no core, never feeling he was letting us know who he thought was right, and not knowing what to think about the previous philosopher once the more recent philosopher had decimated the previous arguments. By somewhere in the middle of the semester most students caught onto what a good way it was to learn (though not the only way, OF COURSE) and realized the professor felt it was important that we internalize the significance of each of these philosophers whether or not we ultimately wound up agreeing with them or thinking they were right or wrong. It really helped us all develop.
     
  118. Fred, I certainly did not interpret you as endorsing the view that we should stay on the surface. Yet, given the ambiguity of this entire discussion, this statement by you was not clear to me:
    They [Winogrand and Avedon] seem more concerned with a photographic experience of what we see rather than an emotional response or intellectual understanding of what it is we're looking at. As opposed to a more rational epistemology where one might search for an innate core or essence of the objects being photographed, their empiricism tracks with photographic appearances of which a rationalist would be more skeptical but in which both photographers seem willing to put their faith. -Fred G. Jul 14, 2016; 02:41 a.m.​
    I assumed (silly me) that Tim was asking for some kind of argumentation (on my part!) linking empiricism to revolutionary photography, and I did not want to try to provide that. I assumed that this was your effort to provide it. I am sorry if I misread you. Such a linkage would be very hard to establish, and I for one did not want to try to establish such a connection for myself. I was not joking when I said that such an undertaking might be comparable to trying to write a doctoral dissertation--it would be a real puzzle to be solved, and I would not touch it with a ten-foot pole as a formal philosophical topic. That is why I said that someone could probably argue for such a link, but I would not want to try it.
    Since you have empiricist leanings (not to say that you are doctrinaire this or that school where epistemology is concerned), I did indeed infer (not assume) that you were confirming to some extent your support for the two quotes that you had just given:
    Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. —Garry Winogrand
    My photographs don’t go below the surface. They don’t go below anything. They’re readings of the surface. I have great faith in surfaces. A good one is full of clues. —Richard Avedon​
    I was a bit puzzled, but I did not think that you had seen either Winogrand or Avedon as trying to make an explicitly philosophical statement. In any case, I doubt if Avedon or Winogrand (or anyone else that I can think of) would have cast their philosophy of photography as an expression of a belief in a particular school of epistemology.
    I really do not know what most rationalists would say about aesthetics, since that is not a branch of philosophy that I have published any work in--or done much reading in. I do remember vaguely that Kant wrote about the "beautiful and ('versus'?) the sublime," and of course Plato had some things to say about aesthetics, but nothing that ever "stuck" as being necessarily linked to epistemology. So, as a field of philosophy proper, esthetics (the spelling most philosophers seem to prefer in this day and age) has never seemed like a particularly enticing line of inquiry--in philosophy "proper" (whatever on earth that is).
    I will have to plead guilty to wondering what is going on in our minds and brains where our appreciation of beauty is concerned, but I presume that that has puzzled you as well--and I suppose that we and the rest of the world will remain puzzled in that regard. Those are really ultimate metaphysical questions to me, not to disparage the possible epistemological component. I don't see the ultimate metaphysical questions as yielding their secrets any time soon, if ever.
    Yet, yet, I might allude to the "mystical" or merely the "beautiful" when discussing a photo, but that does not mean that I have any kind of well-thought-out theory about why we do or do not perceive "beauty" in this or that photo, or why this or that photo gives one a "mystical" sense or not. Nor do I plan to try to develop such a theory. The two or three threads that I have started about why persons see different things in the same photo is about as deep as I care to go on such topics. I do not doubt that there is much more to be said, but I do not have anything much to contribute.
    In any case, my fleeting references to not interpreting any photo in an "empirical vacuum" do not necessarily imply that I am either a rationalist or an empiricist. I happen to be something of a rationalist, but, if that preference has affected my photography, I would be the last one to know it.
    I can certainly see why you avoid explicitly philosophical language where discussing photographs. Discussing photographs as if we were professional philosophers does not seem to clarify things, but to muddy the water even more than it already is.
    I will still probably invoke and use works like "beautiful," "mystical," "glorious," "spiritual," or "transcendent" from time to time when trying to tell what I see or feel in a photo, but absolutely none of that carries over to what is going on in my mind when I am actually shooting. When taking photos, that is, I, too, am staying on the surface. I do not how to "deduce" from metaphysics or epistemology when making photographs. If I did, it would probably take a lot of the fun out of photography.
    This is fairly treacherous territory for a thread on Photo.net, but in raising the issue of who or what is "revolutionary" in photography, I had no idea that we were going to wind up here. There is a lesson to be learned there somewhere. Maybe I should avoid the philosophical jargon, but my allusion to "empirical vacuum" seemed harmless enough--at the time.
    --Lannie
     
  119. That is a great personal anecdote, Fred. If I had anything nearly as concise and insightful to offer, I would do so.
    As for issues of "right" and "wrong," I do not like to think of philosophy or any conversation as being a contest, especially not one where one person tries to prove the other wrong. I especially deplore conversation when it devolves to trying to "checkmate" an "opponent." I prefer a "meeting of the minds" to a "checkmate."
    When explicit propositions are advanced, however, I do not know how to avoid assessing their possible "truth value." It is unfortunate that egos get tangled up in trying to untangle claims about "truth."
    I take a similar (to me) stance on the use of such language as "beautiful," "mystical," "ethereal" or whatever. I am glad when persons emote and try to express the inexpressible, but I recognize the limitations of mere words.
    I also recognize the limitations, alas, of photographs as well. I am still glad that persons keep trying to communicate.
    What are we trying to communicate? I like the words of the song made famous by Louis Armstrong: "I see friends shaking hands, saying 'How do you do?' They're only saying, 'I love you.'" We are communing when we shake hands, share a photo, comment on a photo--and when we speak of the "Photo.net Community."
    Alas, communities are fragile. May this one last a long time. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  120. OMG.
    I talk about two important (revolutionary) photographers (what this thread purports to be about) and how they think of the significance of surfaces and how things appear when they think about photography. You don't respond by talking about surfaces or the importance of how things look in photography but instead go on for pages of talk about how important it is to not insist on one way of looking at things and to debate theories of rationalism and empiricism.
    But OK, you genuinely misunderstood and we seemed to clear that up. In doing so, I included a story to illustrate why it's important to internalize and honor ideas like those of Avedon and Winogrand and instead of picking up on those photographic ideas, you offer us thoughts on right and wrong, truth vale, and propositions.
    It wouldn't have taken a thesis to answer Tim or near as many words as you spoke after he asked his question. It would have taken a few minutes of looking at photos and thinking about what empiricism and epistemology might have to do with them. It took me about 15 minutes to consider and write about Avedon and Winogrand.
    I don't know why I hope for something different. It's not happening.
     
  121. No.one.knows.a.damn.thing.with.absolute.certainty.

    That's one of the main principles of science, that any current theory may be subject to revision, change, or rejection in the future. As Julie has pointed out, art has a history ( forget about Picasso, Cézanne is / was the true revolutionary... ), and its relics are carefully kept and can be as fresh and revolutionary as the day they were first conceived. Not so with science, which never looks back and rather wants to forget its history of no longer accepted scientific truths.
    “When it repudiates a past paradigm, a scientific community simultaneously renounces, as a fit subject for professional scrutiny, most of the books and articles in which that paradigm had been embodied. Scientific education makes use of no equivalent for the art museum or the library of classics, and the result is a sometimes drastic distortion in the scientist's perception of his discipline's past. More than the practitioners of other creative fields, he comes to see it as leading in a straight line to the discipline's present vantage. In short, he comes to see it as progress. No alternative is available to him while he remains in the field.”
    - Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions​
     
  122. On Winogrand, I photograph to see what things feel like when photographed.
     
  123. Yes, Phil, still pretty empirical, both seeing and feeling. It would be very different to say one photographs to see what things really are, though a non-Winogrand-like case could be made for that. In a sense, Weston, for example, not only showed us what a pepper looked like photographed and could feel like when photographed. He actually showed us what else a pepper could be, aside from a fruit . . . or vegetable . . . I always get those two confused. [Lannie, please no dissertations on the difference between a fruit and vegetable. Thanks. ;-)]
     
  124. When making photographs, we have to see, think, and feel photographically first before we can begin to apply our photographs philosophically.
     
  125. Yes! Something I think you, Julie, Tim, Donald, I, and some others have been trying to encourage.
     
  126. I remember reading somewhere ( maybe in Weston's daybooks ) that the Pepper No 30 made a nice salad when he was done photographing it. When he ate that pepper, he embodied what he had photographed.
    Imagine if Weston had kept that pepper and that it would have been put on display somewhere, mummified. The object of the photograph becoming more important than the subject photographed...Kinda like the Mona Lisa.
     
  127. In direct answer to the OP...
    When they start a revolution..........or at least an insurrection.
     
  128. Not so with science, which never looks back and rather wants to forget its history of no longer accepted scientific truths.​
    Phil, I have read Kuhn dozens of times, since I used him in my philosophy of social science course, among others. (I no longer get to teach that.) I am almost dumbfounded that what you quoted is what you came away with.
    That is not a negative statement about you. It is a reflection on how people can read the same text, view the same photo, hear the same question, and not really be on the same page--nor am I saying that we should be. We get what we get from whom we get it, and we integrate it (or not) into our own "worldview"--and we move on.
    I do not know anyone in chemistry who has not said to me, if the topic has drifted that way, "We should teach more history of chemistry." We should indeed. Everyone tells me, however, that they do read in the history of their own scientific discipline. I moved away from chemistry a long time ago, but I was astounded over the last few years to see how much I have learned by studying the history of chemistry. It has been very enlightening.
    Why am I saying this? Because people consistently misread Kuhn on a number of points. We still have the flat earth theory in physics, if anyone wants to trot out that old paradigm as an "artifact" of sorts. In chemistry, we still have the phlogiston theory which anyone can go back to if they tire of the oxidation theory. We could go back but we do not. Yes, we should study it all historically, but not so that we can review past paradigms, rather, SO THAT WE CAN SEE THE PUZZLES AS THEY FACED THE SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATORS OF THOSE EPOCHS--and learn thereby something about how scientific revolutions come about: A SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION GIVES ONE A NEW PARADIGM WHICH KUHN HIMSELF ADMITS IS ABSOLUTELY INCOMMENSURABLEE WITH EARLIER PARADIGMS. Seeing that, perhaps we can impelled to challenge our present paradigms. In any case, however, we cannot forget what we have now seen. Having seen it, it is IMPOSSIBLE to go back and act like we have not seen it. Once we catch on that the sun does not really rise, we cannot in all honesty go back and pretend that it does. It does NOT. We are moving around the sun, not it around us. The geocentric and heliocentric models cannot co-exist, and not both of them are equally true or useful.
    There is no going back to the Flat Earth view (and its geocentric perspective), nor to the Phlogiston view, nor to Newtonian mechanics without at least acknowledging how Einstein has shown how Newton's view was at best incomplete. PERIOD.

    I do not see a strict parallel with art history or photographic history. Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, there are some parallels, but science and art are just different enough that the parallels are less important than they might be.
    What Kuhn is finally saying is not obvious, but it is this: we CANNOT go back in science. I cannot go back to phlogiston. It never existed. I cannot go back to the flat earth. It never WAS.
    But I can, if I want, go back to film, or to photographic plates, or to pinhole cameras. Some do. They can still do great art that way, if they want to. Again, some do. NOBODY is doing chemistry with the phlogiston model, or physics with the geocentric model or the unmodified Newtonian model of mechanics. IT CANNOT BE DONE. Having seen from a new perspective, we cannot act as if we have not seen what we clearly saw.
    In science, that is, we can look back and get some insight from doing so, but we cannot go back--and still be doing science. In art or photography, WE CAN--and still be doing art or photography.
    I hope that that makes some sense.
    As for my No.one.knows.a.damn.thing.with.absolute.certainty, I was speaking of ultimate metaphysical views. That is yet another whole different ballgame. In that ballgame, we CANNOT know the truth about such things. That is the nature of claims about God. Oh, one can build a case, give one's reasons for or against believing in God v. not-God, dualism v. monism, etc., but finally WE CANNOT KNOW--not in this life, anyway, and we cannot know for sure if there will be another life. Studying history will show us how ridiculous the Six-Day Creation story is, but it will not answer, "What was there before the Big Bang?"
    I hope that that makes some sense, and that you understand why I feel compelled to make the points I just made. If not, well, so be it. . . .
    I bring a mind trained in math and sciences and philosophy to these discussions, and--believe it or not--there is something to be gained in having a scientific/philosophical way of looking at the world--even to looking at art.
    I will not be trying to prove that last statement here, but I am pretty sure that it is true.
    --Lannie
     
  129. Lannie, the way I see it, I've said everything - and more - what you have said and writing endlessly about in this thread in one single image ( see my previous post ).
     
  130. and--believe it or not--there is something to be gained in having a scientific/philosophical way of looking at the world--even to looking at art.​
    Absolutely. I don't get why or how you're concluding from what I've been posting that I would think anything contrary.
     
  131. Lannie. . . I've said everything - and more - that you have said and writing endlessly about in this thread in one single image​
    Have you indeed?!
    Phil, saying that to me is like doing an extended exercise in obscurantism.
    --Lannie
     
  132. Yes, I have. Here it is again. A photograph. It's the best way I've got to communicate the inexpressible.
     
  133. When making photographs, we have to see, think, and feel photographically first before we can begin to apply our photographs philosophically.​
    Well, if you really do have "a scientific/philosophical way of looking at the world," then perhaps you can explain your quote three lines above.
    That is, please give me a scientific, philosophical, or otherwise rational explication of what on earth you mean by making reference to seeing, thinking, feeling "photographically." Otherwise, I shall have to conclude that that kind of obscurantism gets us nowhere.
    --Lannie
     
  134. Yes, I have. Here it is again. A photograph. It's the best way I've got to communicate the inexpressible.​
    I saw it the first time, Phil. You are becoming more obscure to me, not less.
    Are you suggesting that we should just start posting photos, as on the "No Words" forum?
    If it is inexpressible, then. . . ?
    --Lannie
     
  135. I am still waiting for a definition of "seeing, thinking, feeling photographically."
    --Lannie
     
  136. Well, if it is inexpressible, then going mute is the way to go, I guess.
    --Lannie
     
  137. That is, please give me a scientific, philosophical, or otherwise rational explication of what on earth you mean by making reference to seeing, thinking, feeling "photographically."​
    What I mean is what I've said: seeing, thinking, and feeling photographically. It isn't necessarily scientific, philosophical, or rational and doesn't need to be explained as such in order for it to ring true when making photographs ( which certainly can address any number of things, like philosophical questions ).
     
  138. Ain't this a great thread?!
    Before long, we won't need words! We will just swap pictures.
    --Lannie
     
  139. Before long, we won't need pictures! We will just swap doctorates.
     
  140. Lannie, please no dissertations on the difference between a fruit and vegetable. Thanks. ;-) --Fred G., 2:54 p.m., July 14, 2016​
    Hold on, Phil. I am trying to scrounge up photos of a fruit and a vegetable for Fred.
    --Lannie
     
  141. Before long, we won't need pictures! We will just swap doctorates.​
    Phil, all of my diplomas (after high school) are still in their original mailing tubes in my underwear drawer (my drawers drawer). That's no joke.
    Hold on a bit longer, please. . .
    --Lannie
     
  142. After all the words, there's one quote that seems relevant, and especially relevant in terms of being 'revolutionary' ( which is an act more than anything else ) :
    A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

    - Henri David Thoreau​
     
  143. Kinda like the Mona Lisa.​
    Hey, watch your mouth, Phil! That is fine art.
    --Lannie
     
  144. A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. --Thoreau, thanks to Phil S.​
    On my next photographic trip into the mountains, I am going to deliberately fail to take my camera. Then I will have all those great memories without the need for post-processing.
    --Lannie
     
  145. Leaving one's diploma in the tube, as Lannie mentions, is I think a commendable 'revolutionary' or evolutionary action. One turns the page on past successes and seeks new challenges, much like Thoreau in not stopping with just the book. I took my last one out of the envelope, put it somewhere and never hung it anywhere. Last month I took my dusty thesis from a top shelf and thumbed through it in curiosity, the last time I looked at it being more than 40 years ago. I didn't understand much of its content, but back then it was part of a page turn in a humble existence.
     
  146. Arthur, that is your photo that I linked to just above. Thank you!
    --Lannie
     
  147. Donald, is your +1 for Normal Rockwell or Naffington, both of whom appear here?
     
  148. Great subject, chairs have a history to them, a presence by the absence they evoke ( someone has sat on that empty chair once ), and which is illustrated well by the worn chairs in Arthur's picture.

    From The Ongoing Moment by Geoff Dyer ( which talks about the way different photographers have dealt with and photographed the same subjects throughout the history of photography ), on the subject of ( photographed ) chairs and benches:
    "Though it can serve as one, a bench is not a bed. Nor is it a chair. Chairs move around, congregate in different ways, reconfiguring themselves according to the demands of the social situation in which they find themselves*. In their limited way they even enjoy a bit of travel - chairs on the terrace of a Paris café go inside for the night - but the bench has no inner life like this. The bench sits it out, waiting for dawn. As such, its nocturnal life is potentially more romantic than the chair's."​
    ( *HERE is a picture that I took in Palermo, the two chairs were there not as an invitation for people to sit and rest on but as a barrier to keep free a parking spot on the street in front of a cafe )
    And, also from The Ongoing Moment:
    "All the great photographers are capable of metamorphosing themselves, if only occasionally and accidentally, into other photographers. They have all taken photographs which look like photographs by other great photographers. For Lartigue this became a point of extravagant principle: ' One shouldn't be only two photographers but thousands', he declared. Appropriately enough the most resplendent example of this chameleon-like quality is a photo by Brassaï that is as serene and elegant as one by Lartigue. On the Riviera, in 1936, the photographer who claimed the night as his own photographed a man sitting beneath a blazing white umbrella in the afternoon sun ( LINK ). He's sitting on a bench, his back to the sea and the luminous grey sky that takes up exactly half the frame. It is a visionary photograph or, rather, it is a photograph of a visionary umbrella. The defining quality of the visionary, as Larry Harvey, founder of the annual Burning Man festival, has pointed out, is that light does not fall upon a scene but appears to emanate from it. In this instance all the light in the picture - and all the shade! - emanates from that umbrella.
    A few metres further along the Promenade - in the next frame, so to speak -one can imagine Lartigue taking his famous picture of Renée at Eden Roc ( LINK ), wearing a white blouse and hat, demure as Princess Di ( one ankle hiding the other ), leaning against railings, framed by sea and sky, looking as Vogue as can be. The two pictures - Lartigue's and Brassaï's - are paired in my mind, not simply because of their radiant elegance but because of some shared, barely perceptible hint of melancholy. In Lartigue this is provided by the two huge umbrellas, looming dark as thunder over the horizon; in Brassaï's it is suggested by...the bench.
    It is not unlikely, writes Szarkowski, 'that Jacques Lartigue, in his early teens, and Eugene Atget, in his fifties, saw each other photographing in the Bois de Boulogne, in the years before the First World War'. And what about Brassaï and Lartigue, did they see each other? Did they meet? In a sense, yes. In these two pictures they shared an umbrella."​
    On the subject of photographs involving benches, Dyer also mentions and writes about photographs by Kertész, as well as the one by Winogrand.
     
  149. Fred; Naffington
    Speaking of degrees, I keep that hidden. The school wasrated as noncompetitive buy it was worse than that. As one professor said, he enjoyed reading graffiti the bathroom stall because it had an intellectual flavor. But when he only sees Fords suck etc then he saw no hope for our school. I told him I agree, Fords were not that bad.
     
  150. LINK (Garry Winogrand, Coney Island, NY, 1952)
    This is a good one that illustrates what he's talking about with regard to photographing to see what things look like photographed.
    Beyond what this is a picture of, there's a resonance here for me. It doesn't necessarily make me feel the way I feel when I'm at the beach, but it does have resonance, which is different from representing or causing actually similar feelings to beach feelings.
    So, I consider what he said. The importance of what things look like photographed. When he was there, I doubt the boy on the left looked so dark or black. And yet because of position and atmospheric conditions that's how he looks photographed. What resonates with me is the boy's exuberant expression seemingly overriding that darkness. It's a shadow that's not scary, that's not anxiety producing, that's not a downer. And the stilled spray of the wave water, being the lightest thing in the frame, would have had very different energy and impact in the moment. Here, it draws my eye and contrasts so well with the two protagonists' bodies. It's almost like a theatrical spotlight but not one that's directly on them. It draws me to them.
    Interestingly, probably the thing here that does give me the most beachlike feeling is the vast surface of the water. That does seem to be what looking at the horizon looks and feels like. And something I think becomes more noticeable in the photo than it would be at the beach itself is the highlight area throughout the center part of the water (not sure if there may be some technical vignetting at play here or if there are more natural causes for that). Because of the scene being isolated and framed, and all periphery gone even if suggested, that area of highlighted water just seems to be a little more profound than it would be in person. It feels more like a thing than it would were my eye scanning the scene, watching the frolicking bathers. Not to mention he didn't seem to mind putting his main subjects smack dab in the center of the composition, which works so well because of the way the rest of the composition relates to my eye. People frolicking in the shallow beach water don't often look so big to me. But it's kind of cool how they dominate the frame, create such a sense of negative space, and even with their backs to me wind up inviting me into the scene rather than pushing me out.
     
  151. Phil, I do appreciate those photos as examples. I also like the book that you cited.
    Your own website is one of the best I have seen.
    --Lannie
     
  152. This is a good one that illustrates what he's talking about with regard to photographing to see what things look like photographed.​
    Thanks for the link, Fred. I have to say that "photographing to see what things look like photographed" seemed at first like a tautology (or something very close to it), but upon reflection that might not be a bad way to conceptualize and sort out what might be worthy of shooting. It might also come to serve as a motivating principle, if that makes any sense: "I wonder how that would look like photographed. Hm. . ."
    --Lannie
     
  153. It's self evident that the world generally doesn't look the way it does as when it's photographed.
    Winogrand is celebrating the camera's ability to record indiscriminately. He seems to be removing himself from the equation. For me photography - and to photograph - is primarily about perceiving, and only secondarily about looking.
     
  154. For me photography - and to photograph - is primarily about perceiving, and only secondarily about looking.​
    As stated, Phil, that sounds somewhat passive to me. That in turn might be seen to imply that more of the burden of composition is deliberately shifted to the post-processing phase.
    --Lannie
     
  155. I mostly don't think about composition, like the way I mostly don't think about driving when I'm driving. I know it's 'there' when I'm perceiving the subject in front of me as a photograph at the moment of taking the picture but the composition itself is not the thing that inspires me to take and/or make the picture, regardless if the composition is done in camera or in post-process.
     
  156. When framing in the viewfinder I try to give the image some leeway in order to not be constrained or tied too much to a given composition, though the main overall composition of the finalized image is usually also what appeared in the viewfinder. But the pictures taken are always sketches.
     
  157. Seeing and perceiving are entirely distinct from just looking at things. One of the first to write at some length about that was Freeman Patterson. I agree with Phil about the importance of the photographer's engagement with his subject, which goes beyond looking. I think that Lannie'ssuggestion that it happens in post processing is not entirely true, as perceivibng a subject for me entails mentally making an image in the camera (angle, approach, lighting, type of exposure, composition, ...) and not just looking at the subject and clicking.
    The Palermo image of the two chairs gave me the feeling of two beings far apart and not in communication. The B&W there is effective.
    My two chairs image did not recently translate to my taste as a large print, so I redid them this spring in an equally untrimmed orchard. There is a lot more going on in the image than the first one (the orchard is in full bloom) which I think is less convincing overall, but I wanted to include chairs in my exhibition in the collective memories sub theme. Here is the new image, and for what it may be worth, two others, in which the chair provides the subject, both physical and imaginary.
    00e38N-564307584.jpg
     
  158. And the second
     
  159. Something that's really helped my compositional instincts is the more literal work I do at Plowshare, where I often use composition to tell a specific story about what's going on, the work people are doing, and the surroundings they live and work in. It comes much more naturally to me now to include story-telling elements in my shots and has made me much more aware of the impact on storytelling composition can have. I find that now translates to getting more layered shots and textured shots even when I'm not doing Plowshare stuff. In a weird way, being more literal has helped me when I want to be more metaphorical.
     
  160. When framing in the viewfinder I try to give the image some leeway in order to not be constrained or tied too much to a given composition, though the main overall composition of the finalized image is usually also what appeared in the viewfinder. But the pictures taken are always sketches.​
    Phil, that is the way I shoot, too, unless I am shooting with the 12-mp D3s, which doesn't give me as much leeway for cropping. In that case, I will pay more attention to composition through the viewfinder.
    --Lannie
     
  161. I think that Lannie's suggestion that it happens in post processing is not entirely true, as perceivibng a subject for me entails mentally making an image in the camera. . . .​
    That is not what I said, Arthur, but it doesn't matter.
    --Lannie
     
  162. Sorry, Lannie, I reread your comment more carefully. Point well made. I was battling my server to keep on line and read it too hastily.
    Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, but the telephone company that today bears his name here cannot keep my internet connection alive....they keep protesting that their line is not overloaded at night, send technicians that make unproductive in house line changes, like a deputy minister seeking to add something new to his reign.
    So another attempt at aforementiined image 2 in the chair saga, now that my connection is restored, for a few minutes at least:
    00e38e-564308284.jpg
     
  163. and the third chair photo (I will stop at that, although other chair photos attempt different effects than these):
    00e38f-564308384.jpg
     
  164. I really like Arthur's last photo which I believe I commented on in his portfolio. It's energetically framed and the shadows play with the geometry of the chair creating a good diagonal feel. I think the soft blue color goes well with the lighting and way the corners of the chair are softened by the shadows. There's also something shocking (revolutionary?) about not seeing the legs, so the seat feels somehow disembodied, which makes the object seen as sculptural as it is sit-worthy.
    Blue room is interesting though I think a bit less successful. I think including the ceiling was a great compositional move. And I also like how the amount of ceiling and the amount of floor seem pretty equal. That might otherwise put me off, but the weight of the ceiling is so much heavier than the weight of the floor and that more than makes up for whatever balance there might be in the yardage of floor and ceiling in the photo. It's an interesting still life, for sure but there's a bit too much Magritte for my taste. That sort of strange juxtaposition of objects, the hung mantle with no fireplace for me is maybe a little too obvious. I also find the chair a little too perfectly placed. The other two photos each have an element of whimsy and blue room feels a little uptight.
    Interesting and worthy series.
     
  165. Arthur, I wish I had your models. Both photos are very good, but the last one is truly something to be proud of.
    As for the other, I don't think that you should show so much of both the ceiling and floor. One (at least) needs to be trimmed a bit, in my opinion, lest the photo be too centered top to bottom. Still, I am not sure. It might work as is.
    How revolutionary is it? I don't really care. It stands on its own, both for those who know the history of pictures like this, and for those who do not.
    --Lannie
     
  166. Addendum, the more I look at blue room the less "uptight" it seems and the element of whimsy is actually creeping up on me, in the strange angles and play of architectural design element lines on ceiling, walls, and floor. The red rug really works in context of the mish-mash of angles and lines. The objects and their placement is where any uptightness for me remains.
     
  167. The blue room immediately reminded me of van Gogh's bedroom.
     
  168. OP: "When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary challenging the prevailing order ... "
    My guess for the future is as written by Baudrillard:
    Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or substance. It is the generation of models of a real without origin or reality: a hyper-real. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor survives it. Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory.​
    .
    I think that this is happening, and that photographers are particularly sensitive to its happening. I also think that, as we well know in this forum, many photographers have, do, and will continue to fight tooth and nail against this revolution (which will not -- they never are -- be all-inclusive or monolithic).
     
  169. Fred, your literal acompanyment of your Plowshare images strikes a chord with me. Whether such notes become part of the product or not, and they can merit that amalgamation, the interaction of the photography and the writing can be quite motivating and to some extent revolutionary in the process of perceiving an activity or place.
    I am indebted to yourself and Lannie for some very good critiques of the images, totally appreciated. The uptight feeling is a very good reaction as I did position the chair with the false fireplace, red rug and table and chose an angle avoiding the right side window but attempting to suggest its presence by the lighting. The room is in a 1900 era house purchased by some friends and it was in the process of change (this room becoming a bathroom), with the mantle finally placed on another wall and other elements of old furniture introduced, but with the ceiling and wall colors maintained. My only regret, now that it has evolved differently, is that I did not play more with the idea evoked by the apparently disparate elements than I did.
    Is revolutionary the ability to capture a scene that is no longer as it was, or that is revealed differently than how it is seen by most viewers, or one that may be considered as never was? Maybe that is the revoutionary nature of photography, if not the photographer?
    Phil, thanks, but if I had but a tiny fraction of what is in that Van Gogh I would be extremely happy.
     
  170. Arthur, when I talk about the Plowshare photos being more literal, it's not because of the accompanying text. My point was that I developed a better feel for the power of composition through making the photos themselves more literal, through making them tell more literal stories or at least show more literal moments. I could then take that expressive skill and utilize it in less literal endeavors. My other photos, outside of Plowshare, are often less literal. With Plowshare, the goal is usually to show how things are. That's not often the goal with my other work. In both, I want viewers also to feel something or at least I want to express with feeling, but I also want to convey more accurate info about Plowshare. Accuracy is not as much a concern in my other work. I agree that the text then adds to all that, but I was talking about the photos themselves being literal, aside from the text.
     
  171. Ah, comunication in addition to composition in your process and in the service of your photos. I think I better understand your approach, and why your Plowshare images connect so well. I was thinking of the effect of writing and photographing as feeding on each other, which is another thing.
     
  172. Arthur, I looked at your blue room picture on a bigger monitor this morning. I think that your crop works just fine after all. I love the picture.
    You are doing some really fine work these days--really fine work. There are those who talk a lot about all the art that they are making or have made. You just go out and do it.
    --Lannie
     
  173. I've said all that I have to say on this topic.
    Thanks to everyone for their contributions.
    By the way, I posted perhaps a half hour ago a new thread, "If you could choose. . . ?" on this same forum.
    As of this writing, there are three responses, but I cannot respond to those responses to my own thread on Casual Photo Conversations! Nor can I respond to the last poster to one of my threads on the Philosophy of Photography forum, either!
    So, once again, if I do not respond to you, it's nothing personal--not on my end, at least. Am I still banned? Is there a machine or software error? I have no idea at this point.
    What is my ontological status at this point? That is, do I exist on Photo.net or do I not?
    Stay tuned. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  174. By the way, I posted perhaps a half hour ago a new thread, "If you could choose. . . ?" on this same forum.
    As of this writing, there are three responses, but I cannot respond to those responses to my own thread on Casual Photo Conversations!​
    For what it's worth, I can now post again to my latest thread on this forum.
    Thanks to the moderators for resolving that problem.
    --Lannie
     
  175. Lannie, maybe the moderators could find employment if they wish at my telephone company that regularly banishes me from cyberspace.
     
  176. Revolutionary art is always theory driven, before, during and after its creation.
    Artist/photographers (as the stated target of this thread) such as Moholy-Nagy, the Bechers, Stieglitz with his 'Equivalents' -- all very much theory driven at all stages.
    Even less-art and more-revolutionary figures like Muybridge, Marey, and Kepes were theory driven.​
    Julie, of all the people on these threads you always say the most interesting things in an interesting way, even if I don't always agree. I don't know if categorically all ground breaking work is theoretical, but I will agree that the producers tend to be thoughtful about their work. I'm thinking of Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Winograd, Lee Friedlander, but then again, the examples I gave may just support your statements.
     
  177. "Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, Winograd, Lee Friedlander"​
    Friedlander, while one of the greatest photographers of all time, and probably the best of the four, IMO, is the one out of that bunch that is not a revolutionary, to my mind.
    Here's why. Setting aside revolutionaries that work on possibility and potential (Moholy-Nagy, Muybridge, Marey and Kepes), focus on those who work on what has been and what is. That's what your four do/did.
    Empathy is the ingredient that is at the heart of their innovations. Think of empathy as a kind of umbilical connection between photographer and subject 'out there.' In, for example, W.E. Smith and Dorothea Lange, empathy is two way, both felt and exerted >>> and <<<. August Sander, on the other hand, exerted but did not feel; he imposed/invested his own characterization from the top and his subjects are seen in those terms: >>> only. As did the Bechers, but with innovative twists that I think make them revolutionary in spite of Sanders priority (which I won't get into now).
    Walker Evans turned Sanders on his head. He took himself out of the empathy pipeline, allowing the subject to be itself, without comment from him. All <<<< with the reverse shut off. He didn't color or contaminate what was incoming; he let it be. Note that this applies to in/out of empathy, not to choice-of-what, which Evans was superb at making.
    Winogrand, IMO, is the most revolutionary of all of the above because rather than play with the empathy channel, he simply cut it off. Scissored it. Snip. The channel is closed entirely. Goodbye and don't bother me. He was only interested in what stuff looked like in the photograph. No empathy in and no empathy out. The picture is no longer tethered either to Winogrand or to its subject 'out-there.'
    .
    "A still photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how a camera saw a piece of time and space. Understanding this, one can postulate the following theorem: Anything and all things are photographable. A photograph can only look like how the camera saw what was photographed. Or, how the camera saw the piece of time and space is responsible for how the photograph looks. Therefore, a photograph can look any way.
    [line break added to make this a little easier to read] Or, there's no way a photograph has to look (beyond being an illusion of a literal description). Or, there are no external or abstract or preconceived rules of design that can apply to still photographs. I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both." — Garry Winogrand, 1974

    .​
    And, in case there's doubt, "It's not YOUR picture, it's MY picture!" — Garry Winogrand's answer to a guy who told him not to take his picture.


    Diane Arbus is ... more complicated. I think she's revolutionary but not in the ways that the obvious qualities of her pictures, the things they're known for, do. On empathy, she's almost traditional in her two-way feeling/exertion of it. But, and again, this is my opinion, I think that there are things about how she, as a female, worked that I see as a female versus how men get her work. Briefly (I won't go into this in detail), her pictures seem permeated by Diane -- they seem to smell of her, to radiate Diane-ness in ways that have nothing to do with empathy. A sort of casting of herself, both in the theatrical sense and the throwing-out sense of that word. Enough, though. I've lost you by now ...
     
  178. At this mature stage of this OP it is good to read Julie's interesting analysis of who she considers revolutionary photographers. Her knowledge of the subject exceeds that of most of us here and she always presents facts that, despite my interest in photographic art, I will probably never assimilate, as I do not spend enough time to research and read. Funny, I never considered the statement of "I want to see what something looks like photographed", of Winogrand, as very exceptional. Maybe my admiration for Winogrand is limited and my feeling is that he was simply a very good recorder of human life, passing in rapid succession before his wanton lens. One could say the same of the very first crude images from Niepce (1825?) or Fox-Talbot and Hershel in the mid 19th century as targeting "to see what something looks like photographed." Of course it was. And that is but a one line theory of approach, just that. Introduction of empathy, passion, aesthetics, or a desire to show something not normally associated with a subject on the part of the photographer (which I adhere to in my own work) just developed naturally thereafter in photographic history.
    Do Julie's presentation of facts always correlate with her theses? That is always a difficult extrapolation that I for one cannot always master. I am tempted to raise an eyebrow on her example of Arbus. I wonder if what she is saying is not simply that Arbus had a style of photography rather than that of casting herself out, and beyond the nature of the subject or the subject matter. Perhaps she knows Arbus as a person intimately enough (via reading, etc.) to suggest that was what she was doing? Or is that not what we all do in our more humble revolutionary ways when we chance to photograph something? Where does it and me meet?
     
  179. Winogrand, IMO, is the most revolutionary of all of the above because rather than play with the empathy channel, he simply cut it off. Scissored it. Snip. The channel is closed entirely. Goodbye and don't bother me. He was only interested in what stuff looked like in the photograph. No empathy in and no empathy out. The picture is no longer tethered either to Winogrand or to its subject 'out-there.'​
    Photography sounds like a banana republic subject to numerous revolutions, even coups d'etat. What is declared revolutionary today is declared reactionary tomorrow. Yes, sweeping [revolutionary] change occurs in one direction, but then the counter-revolution or reaction sweeps back in the other direction. Each school of thought thinks that it is avant-garde and that the other is "old school" or whatever. One of my profs in the 70s called "Marx the greatest reactionary I have ever read." Mind-boggling perspective.
    Everything always in flux: Is history "going somewhere" here? Well, it is going in the opposite direction there.
    Who has it "right"? Well, hell. . .
    --Lannie
     
  180. That (of your professor) is a novel and incomprenhensible view of that person and his ideas. As I understand it, the term 'reactionary' or the view and policies (often far right wing) meant 'to restore the status quo ante', when applied to photography, has probably a need to define what status quo of what era is being referenced. Maybe a pictorialist photographer today is a reactionary? But photography is a soft art that accomodates at the same time different approaches or styles, without many being bothered or effected by it, with a reaction to something different being "OK, whatever lights your fire." Those involved in contemporary ideas in politics involve revolutionaries (we must go forward) and reactionaries (don't lose what we have or once had). The softer field of photography seems to have the same issues, although arguably much less important than society issues. Is Eggleston a revolutionary or a reactionary photographer, or neither? Is doing research about a theme or subject to be photographed revolutionary? The leaders would seem to be the teachers and master of arts groups in photography, working in colleges or living on foundation grants, less often having photography as a manner of putting bread on the table. Will their research lead somewhere in a revolutionary sense?
     
  181. That (of your professor) is a novel and incomprenhensible view of that person and his ideas.​
    I found it refreshing and insightful, Arthur. My professor, Keith Legg (formerly of Berkeley), did not make the comment in a flippant manner. There are left-wing and right-wing reactionaries (and it is not always about a particular status quo), but I suspect that Keith Legg saw Marx as a reactionary because of his way of looking at scientific innovation and the resulting social change. Right or wrong, his was a perspective worth considering, in my opinion.
    In any case, I always liked the young Marx better than the Marx of Das Kapital--and, yes, I went through my phase where I just had to read everything he ever wrote, as I did most of Nietzsche during that phase of my life as well.
    I've had my inoculations and immunizations now. I don't tend to get infected with everything novel I read as easily as I once did (forty to fifty years ago). I've also learned to keep my crap detector turned on. The stuff is everywhere. I keep the crap detector especially at the ready when I am re-reading my own stuff.
    Is Eggleston a revolutionary or a reactionary photographer, or neither? Is doing research about a theme or subject to be photographed revolutionary? The leaders would seem to be the teachers and master of arts groups in photography, working in colleges or living on foundation grants, less often having photography as a manner of putting bread on the table. Will their research lead somewhere in a revolutionary sense?​
    Eggleston revolutionary or reactionary? Relative to what, Arthur? Toward the view that art had to be in black and white, he was, if not a true pioneer, bold in his approach to color photography.
    Research as revolutionary? I never thought about that. How useful is that way of looking at research? How much revolutionary work in any field gets funded? I have no idea.
    You ask good questions, Arthur.
    --Lannie
     
  182. Asking questions is usually (not always) the easy part, I think, although it sort of depends upon the level of the question, and at what stage they are posed in an ongoing research or discussion. Providing an answer is another thing, as some questions are beyond our scope for reply. August Kekulé imagined a snake chasing its tail and resolved the form of the benzene ring. It was absolutely revolutionary, as it altered our knowledge of and the development of organic chemistry, on which so much of our lives depend (our bodies, organic materials, fuel for our vehicles, and so on).
    Thanks for the information regarding Marx. I photographed in a cemetery in northern London a year ago and came across Karl Marx's grave (not totally accidentally, as one of the artists at my seasonal gallery had painted that scene and environment in an expressionist manner and I wanted to see the original site of it and the old cemetery, among other touristic pursuits). Many were there to pay hommage, but on my day of visit they were almost entirely orientals. Shamefully, I have yet to study Marx. His ideas of a just society, the dream of the French a century earlier, were also not implemented. Perhaps the reactionary aspect of his thoughts related in part to the 19th century abuses of the industrial revolution and a desire to return to a simpler small industry society of craftspersons rather than machines?
    I am not the greatest appreciator of William Eggleston's work, as others had also used color and form very well (emotionally, symbolically, aesthetically) and had viewed society in a somewhat detached manner, so my thoughts that he might be revolutionary have more to do with the feeling that he is presenting more than what appears to exist in his images. We recognize from our own experience what he is showing us but he forces us to rethink those experiences or perceptions of very common subjects. Burtynsky can do that too, although his aim seems less targeted to our individual lives and places and more to making us reflect on human occupation of industrially altered natural landscapes. Photography has a number of these soft revolutions of approaches and content, much lesser in impact than revolutions of political nature (although many such revolutions do not seem to lead to permanent value-added displacement of the former bench mark, so the cycle continues again at some point).
    How much revolutionary work in any field gets funded? Like many things, Lannie, I do not have a singular good answer, but I would cite the internationally supported Manhattan project (from which the first atomic bomb issued), the rocket and jet engines from Germany that were conceivable beforehand by learned aeronautical people but not part of their paradigms of design of the early 1900s, when aircraft flew too slowly to make them practicable (travelling at higher speeds for efficient jet engine performance was not in their cards, so a revolutionary was required to crack the paradigms), most medical revolutions, most advances in academia that change things and sometimes in a revolutionary manner (I am old enough to remember the "impossible" heart replacement, first achieved in South Africa, and there was the British pennicilin discovery that revolutionized medecine, DNA, the Bell labs transistor. All required that so called ingratious term called government grants or corporate "blue sky research" grants. Where would we be without them?
    Maybe one revolutionary aspect of photography is when we ask questions and try to find an answer? How many times do we do that (or need to)? Is it revolutionary to ask, like Gaugin, "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?" He apparently asked this in that large 1897 painting, probably not out of metaphysical or existential desire, but because his life was in a shambles. But that is just a supposition on my part, and the same question has been asked by philosophers since man could speak to ask it. If a photograph or series of photos could attempt to answer it, that might also be revolutionary, but that task, among many, is beyond my capability to answer.
     
  183. How much revolutionary work in any field gets funded? Like many things, Lannie, I do not have a singular good answer, but I would cite the internationally supported Manhattan project (from which the first atomic bomb issued), the rocket and jet engines from Germany that were conceivable beforehand by learned aeronautical people but not part of their paradigms of design of the early 1900s, when aircraft flew too slowly to make them practicable (travelling at higher speeds for efficient jet engine performance was not in their cards, so a revolutionary was required to crack the paradigms), most medical revolutions, most advances in academia that change things and sometimes in a revolutionary manner (I am old enough to remember the "impossible" heart replacement, first achieved in South Africa, and there was the British pennicilin discovery that revolutionized medecine, DNA, the Bell labs transistor. All required that so called ingratious term called government grants or corporate "blue sky research" grants. Where would we be without them?​
    Where, indeed, Arthur? People still disagree as to whether everything you mentioned is about "progress." So, was the development of nuclear weapons revolutionary? or reactionary? Well, it all depend on what one means by "revolutionary," I suppose.
    --Lannie
     
  184. Progress isn'tt always positive. The first civilisations in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago made progress by applying agriculture in a systematic manner. Unforunately they died out milennia or several generations later because they failed to take into account all environmental factors and the need to replenish to counter changes. The use of the atom was inevitable progress, unalterable, with bad (say, Hiroshima, Nagasaki) and good results (cancer treatment by radiation from atomic reactors, relatively clean energy but with a waste disposal issue, ukltimately when fusiion becomes possible, a future with more available and cleaner energy).
    Every technical revolution of mankind is cumulative. Whether in art and photography or elsewhere, the clock cannot be turned back (I love film photography and darkroom work, but am resigned to doing less of it given the convenient imaging of digital cameras. Managing the more revolutionary advancements elsewhere has challenged the elected representatives of the world who often are not at the level required to absorb them and avoid abuses or negative consequences of the change. Perhaps the revolution necessary is not so much avoiding technical advancements but in finding ways to adapt or change the human behaviour to peacefully assimilate change. Reactionaries would take us back to former times which might be tempting ("Merry England" of many elder Brexiters, but which would ignore the changes that have occurred. Is that attitude sustainable?
     
  185. Addition to former post - I overran the allowable time for editing.
    I don't believe progress is always positive, at least in the immediate term. The first civilisations in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago (more or less, I may be a few thousand years in error) made progress by applying agriculture in a systematic manner. Unfortunately that revolution was not enough over the long term and they died out milennia or several generations later, because they failed to take into account all environmental factors of nature and the need to replenish to counter changes. The use of the atom was inevitable since Rutherford, unalterable, with bad (debatably, Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and good results (cancer treatment by radiation from atomic reactors, relatively clean energy, but with a waste disposal issue, but eventrually revolutionary when fusion becomes possible, and a future with more available and cleaner energy).
    Every technical revolution of mankind is cumulative. Whether in art and photography or elsewhere, the clock cannot be turned back (I love film photography and darkroom work, but am resigned to doing less of it, given the convenient rapid imaging of digital cameras). Managing the more revolutionary advancements elsewhere has overly challenged our elected representatives of the world, who often are not at the level of knowledge or understanding required to absorb them and avoid abuses or negative consequences of the change.
    Perhaps the revolution necessary is not so much avoiding technical advancements but more in finding ways to adapt or change the human behaviour to peacefully assimilate change. Reactionaries would take us back to former times which might be tempting ("Merry England" of many elder Brexiters), but which would ignore the changes that have occurred. Is that attitude sustainable?
    My readings of philosophy are much leaner than yours, Lannie, but do you feel that the considerable activity in philosophical studies over several centuries since the late Middle Ages or the Renaissance (if we ignore the important findings of the ancient Greeks and Romans) have enlightened man as a community as much as they may have done for individuals on a personal basis? What progress has that important sector of study provided for the benefit of man? Can it be effectively transferred to the society at large? Not a fair comparison, perhaps, but radiatiion in cancer treatment and digital photography each required only about 10 years I believe, once they had overcome initial difficulties of application.
     
  186. Lannie. . . do you feel that the considerable activity in philosophical studies over several centuries since the late Middle Ages or the Renaissance (if we ignore the important findings of the ancient Greeks and Romans) have enlightened man as a community as much as they may have done for individuals on a personal basis? What progress has that important sector of study provided for the benefit of man? Can it be effectively transferred to the society at large?​
    "Man as a community"? Arthur, I am not sure what that means. I don't think that enlightenment of humanity in general means anything apart from enlightenment of individual persons. Is community (in any sense) thereby promoted? I should hope so, Arthur. I also hope that there has been some benefit to "society at large."
    Philosophy, in any case, is too important to be left to the professional philosophers. I do believe that it has some value to those who pursue it. I know no way of verifying or quantifying any claims made in that regard. I do not know how to avoid philosophy. Everyone engages in philosophical speculation, including those who attack it as worthless.
    PHOTOGRAPHY: A better question for this site might be whether philosophy has anything useful to offer for photography or photographers--by any definition. All that I can say is that I think that philosophical discourse in general can give different perspectives or clarify argument on old issues--and perhaps raise new issues. There are ethical questions about photography that are by definition "philosophical" questions. There are esthetic questions about photography that are likewise as relevant to photography as to any other of the visual arts, but I am not here to promote philosophy in the abstract. Epistemological questions and metaphysical questions? We do not live in an era in which there is much respect for metaphysical or epistemological inquiry--in any realm. I see metaphysics lurking behind most attacks on metaphysics, and so I do not worry about contemporary intellectual fashion.
    Philosophy, in any case, is not so much a separate substantive field so much as it is a method of engaging in discourse, or perhaps even a style of discourse. Every discipline has a philosophical component. I repeat that philosophy is not to me a separate substantive discipline, and thus the difficulty in responding to your challenge as to the value or "benefit" of philosophy. I do think that the philosophical method can go beyond the analysis and clarification of language. I do not believe in trying to draw boundaries around what philosophical analysis might accomplish--in any field.
    To me any kind of speculative theory is "philosophy." Philosophy is, at its core, speculative theorizing about topics that are not typically resolved by the introduction of more data. Theorizing about topics than can be verified or dis-verified by the introduction of more date or empirical evidence I would call "science." (Empiricists often deny that there is a difference between philosophy and science. Rationalists insist that there is.)
    I am not here, in any case, to defend philosophical analysis where it relates to esthetic, ethics, language or anything else. I do not think that any defense is needed. Nor do I have a formula or "rules" for philosophical discourse, except that it should not be ad hominem and that it can be fruitfully directed toward the analysis of argument--with particular attention to the logical validity of argument.
    Any question raised and pursued honestly and seriously enough has a philosophical or speculative theoretical dimension, whether the person advancing or responding to the question recognizes that he or she is "doing" philosophy.
    Speaking for myself, I would say that two of the functions of philosophy--in any realm--are the challenging of received opinion and rebutting the attacks of those who would try to attack or vitiate the inquiries of others: philosophy, that is, resists censorship, no matter how subtle or intellectually dishonest.
    Any philosophy worthy of the name, that is, challenges authority and resists censorship or any other attempt to silence dissenters or to short-circuit intellectual inquiry. That is not a definition, but that is something that one might say about philosophy. Since these are necessary and not contingent attributes of philosophy, perhaps they should be included in the formal definition of philosophy.
    Any field that values clarity of thought and expression is open to philosophical inquiry, I believe. Any field that promotes logical analysis is friendly to philosophy. Any field or person who promotes the freest exchange of ideas--ON ANY TOPIC--is likewise friendly to philosophy.
    SO TO YOU I SAY, ARTHUR, If the cause of humanity or society (the "benefit of man" in your question) is advanced by clarity of thought and freedom of expression (including the logical analysis of argument and language), then, yes, the cause of humanity and society is advanced by philosophy.
    Here are two sites where these issues are addressed. The first is my own site, especially the portion where I address the question, "What is philosophy?" The second link is a gateway to philosophical literature:
    [LINK]

    [LINK]
    Thank you for asking the questions, Arthur. If anyone IN THE FUTURE offers either a question or a challenge to philosophy as it applies to photography or anything else, I shall direct them to this thread--or to these links. If they see the relevance of the material found on the links, all well and good. If they do not, then there is not much else to be said.
    --Lannie
     
  187. Arthur, Sartre on the positive side and Nietzsche on the negative side.
     
  188. Progress isn't always positive.​
    Arthur, should we not in that case call it "regress"?
    --Lannie
     
  189. I think another revolutionary photographer was Helmut Newton. Even though he imposed his vision of women and fashion out of his background and natural sense of humor, style and pure photographic skill, as a friend of mine put it, for ill or good, he changed the way woman were viewed in the west. His were the proto-super heroes and villains, strong, sexually aggressive women in control. Whether this is a male fantasy view of women, it did break the romanticized as well as the classical vision of women. I have to say he is one of my faves though I don't think he thought himself an artist or trying to change the world. Back to Arbus, I think she was ground breaking in the way she pursued her intense curiosity and her needs in her photography and the way she approached her subjects as well as topics, her's is definitely a complex stew, but I have no doubt it was ground breaking and not just because she chose circus freaks, but the way she pursued her subjects and their worlds and really subjectively immersed herself in their worlds.
    and then, as hard as it is for me to describe his work, but Peter Witken's photo construction certainly in methodology is unique, though creating disorienting states and surrealism is not new, though it certainly is unique. I like the early European surrealist and bahous photographers and especially Man Ray. though his pinto grams didn't really move me, he was constantly experimenting.
     
  190. The use of the atom was inevitable since Rutherford, unalterable, with bad (debatably, Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and good results (cancer treatment by radiation from atomic reactors, relatively clean energy, but with a waste disposal issue, but eventrually revolutionary when fusion becomes possible, and a future with more available and cleaner energy).​
    What was happening in photography at that time...The PROVOKE group was a photographic reaction / revolution in a postwar Japan.
    Their manifesto:
    Today, when words have lost their material base—in other words, their reality—and seem suspended in mid-air, a photographer’s eye can capture fragments of reality that cannot be expressed in language as it is. He can submit those images as a document to be considered alongside language and ideology. This is why, brash as it may seem, Provoke has the subtitle, ‘provocative documents for thought.’

    -- Manifesto of the Provoke Group by Kohi Taki, Takuma Nakahira, Takahiko Okada, Yutaka Takanashi, and Daido Moriyama​
     
  191. Barry, that's an interesting and persuasive take on Helmut Newton. I've never taken him very seriously before, but you give me food for thought.
    On Arbus, I think we're sniffing the same qualities about her that are rich and different. It's not the freaks.
    Witkin, to my mind, never succeeded, but he certainly tried ... everything. A failed revolutionary is still a revolutionary in the attempt. Many 'turns' in many fields have been the consequence of somebody's heroic failure.
    On post-war Japanese photography, it doesn't seem to me to be so much 'formed' as being pushed or bouncing-off-of Klein. Phil will straighten me out, I expect.
    A mystery quote to consider:
    "The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research. It is upon their existence more than upon that of revolutions that the notion of normal ... [what do you think goes here?] depends."​
     
  192. Both Klein and the Provoke photographers were bouncing off of each other. It's likely that Ed van der Elsken ( who like Klein had visited Japan ) and his expressive stream of consciousness documentary approach also played an influential part to both Klein and the Provoke group. The Provoke group seems to have taken that particular aesthetic and sensibility a few steps further though.
     
  193. You may be right ... but to me, while "expressive stream of consciousness" is obviously a feature of Japanese work, the thing that they and Klein were tearing apart or worrying like a pack of dogs (in a delicious way, of course) is the tradition or idea of distance in photographer/subject. Physical distance. What does it do, what does it mean, is it substantial in any necessary way, and let's see what happens if I just shred it, ignore it, attack it, not by accident, but with it in mind. I don't think van der Elsken did that at all (I only have his Jazz work, though, so I have a limited take).
     
  194. I think I would hesitate to call all apparently negative progress regress, until the effects are more fully known. If fission leads to fusion and the latter benefits mankind the negative aspects of atomic energy may be diminished. Lannie, thanks for the philosophical reflections, yours and others, which are really worth considering. Fred, I may be unusually thick (witness my difficulty elsewhere in seeing Marx as a reactionary) but I may need elaboration on what your Sartre-Nietsch sentence means. Is the one accepting of the ability of the human mind to change (evolve), wheras the other not?
    Phil's introduction of the photography of the Provoke group in Japan underlines a revolutionary approach inphotography. It may be that those ideas were already in application in some photography of the Depression era before WW2, but post war Europe and Japan were fertile ground for such change, the citizens having seen the brunt of violence and questioning of their environment. Much photography since then (post moderrn or post post modern) and to this day seems to carry the values of the Provoke movement, which is a testament to the effect of that revolutionary movement. It is far from such things as former Life and Paris Match street photography or that of the f64 group, no?
     
  195. Arthur, you asked if there were philosophers who have enlightened man as a community as well as an individual. Sartre's philosophy is inextricable in some ways from his political activism. Though existentialism tends toward the ultimate freedom of the individual, he makes clear the social and political implications of that and had wide-ranging effects in social circles in Europe at the time. His collaborations with Simone de Beauvoir are representative of the kind of "social networking" in which philosophy and some politics grew at that time. Nietzsche had direct and powerful influence over fascist thought. As you rightly note, his was not a case of regression, but it was negative or unfortunate progress.
     
  196. Nietzsche had direct and powerful influence over fascist thought. As you rightly note, his was not a case of regression, but it was negative or unfortunate progress.​
    The first time I read through this, Fred, I agreed. The second time, a little light went off: perhaps Nietzsche's popularity with the fascists was not an accident, in spite of the fact that Nietzsche was hardly anti-semitic--as we know, he deplored Wagner's anti-semitism. The reason for his popularity with the Ultimate Wrong People (if I am correct, and I am not sure that I am) might be that Nietzsche's radical egoism itself was indeed the culprit--and I don't personally think that his egoism was "progress." Better said, what made the Uebermensch concept attractive to some might have been the associated arrogance and indifference to others' welfare--with all of the subsequent brutality appertaining thereto.
    Altruists care about others. Egoists do not. Fascists do not. That hardly proves that egoism and fascism were/are more than contingenlty linked, but one might at least posit a logically necessary link.
    Just a wild thought. . .
    Doesn't have a thing to do with photography, I know, etc.
    As for Arthur on progress, of course Arthur is correct, although I might say it this way, too: progress in nuclear physics could be used for good and ill, as not every application of new theory (such as Einsteinian mechanics) resulted in political or ethical choices that were wise or beneficial.
    Now, as for photography. . . I'm not sure where any of this goes, since I am not sure where progress lies in esthetics or art--although one may certainly speak of "progress" in photographic technology.
    I am not even sure that "progress" has any real meaning in esthetics. What is a person of more "refined taste" compared to someone who lacks that refinement (including one's former self)? Has progress occurred? Well, on the face of it, it would seem that it has, but. . . has it really?
    Or do "tastes" simply change? In addition, perhaps one has simply noticed something that one missed before, before one was exposed to it.
    Well, "refinement" certainly implies a greater capacity to appreciate things not appreciated by others but I fear a creeping elitism here. How do I know that my love of Rachmaninoff was in any way progress over my earlier love of the music or Roy Orbison--or Sarah Vaughan? Of course, I know that I can love both, or all three, etc., but. . . has progress occurred? Well, on some level, it would seem so; but have I really progressed in my "tastes," or have I not only possibly merely "changed," but perhaps I have also simply been exposed to something that I previously did not even notice?
    It's a question, not an assertion.
    --Lannie
     
  197. Asking questions is usually (not always) the easy part, I think. . . .​
    Perhaps, Arthur, but, if the questions are not correctly framed, will the answers make any sense? Will they, that is, be intelligible?
    Would Einstein's two postulates in his 1905 tract on electrodynamics (the core of the Special Theory) ever have come to mind if he had not first noticed surprising things regarding the behavior of the magnet relative to the coil/conductor?
    Why did the questions emerge in his mind as they did? (I daresay that I would not have had the imagination or intelligence either to see anything particularly anomalous or to think that I could possibly explain the anomalies by reference to (1) the postulating of no fixed frames of reference and (2) the postulating of the speed of light as a constant.)
    Einstein himself is famous for saying that imagination is more important than intelligence.
    Well, then, where do questions come from? From brilliant awareness of things others do not notice (or have not noticed), or from the imagination to conceptualize "the question" in intelligible form (intelligible to both self and others)?
    Why did Einstein ask what he asked? What made him think that here was a fruitful line of inquiry? Socrates also proceeded by asking questions, for what that is worth. If we cannot conceptualize the problem, how can we or could we possibly recognize the solution?
    Um, what was the question. . . ?
    --Lannie
     
  198. Einstein himself is famous for saying that imagination is more important than intelligence.​
    That's because Einstein used thought experiments that led to practical understanding of the complex physical world. Something photographers and creative people are quite familiar with when making their pictures.
    On the other hand philosophical discussions on how people behave within political group dynamics don't employ picture thoughts to predict how people will change or stay the same as a whole. Too many arrogant egos and prejudices determining what is important in life get in the way.
     
  199. I asked this three posts above: "[H]ave I really progressed in my 'tastes,' or have I not only possibly merely 'changed,' but perhaps I have also simply been exposed to something that I previously did not even notice?"

    Perhaps, that is, my tastes simply expanded to include new things without necessarily forsaking old tastes. (Think of old and new girlfriends, for example [or boyfriends, whatever].)
    So, I still like Stieglitz, even though I now also like Bill Eggleston, et al. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  200. On the other hand philosophical discussions on how people behave within political group dynamics don't employ picture thoughts. . . .​
    Not that "positing the speed of light as constant" is exactly what I would call a "picture thought," Tim--much less does asking what happens if one plugs c into Maxwell's wave equations. Einstein's "thought experiments" were speculative theories, not "picture thoughts." They also involved a lot of math and logic.
    If one keeps turning an idea over and over in one's mind because it is interesting, the odds are pretty good that it might turn out to have a practical use or application--or two or three or more. So, I say, let theory roll. Don't try fence it in or rule it out of bounds. It has a way of jumping fences, if sometimes only by analogy.
    --Lannie
     
  201. "Imagination is more important than knowledge..." is the Einstein quote.
     
  202. Thank you, Phil. Imagination and intelligence are perhaps two sides of the same coin. (Probably not, but I don't know how they might be related.)
    In any case, here is the larger context:
    “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
    --Lannie
     
  203. Wow. That bold-facing sure was. . . bold.
    Theory refuses to be suppressed.
    --Lannie
     
  204. No one here is wanting to suppress theory Lannie. If I would put it in
    percentages, my photographs exist and were made from 90% thought and
    10% doing. But at the end of the day as a photographer or as an artist using
    photography I have to put all that thinking, analyzing, and philosophising ( most
    of which is only relevant to me as the maker, much less to the viewer ) into
    the form of a photograph. In other words, the photograph has to directly relate
    to my thinking and theorising.
     
  205. In other words, the photograph has to directly relate to my thinking and theorising.​
    That is your imperative, not mine, Phil.
    My theorizing need only relate to photography, not necessarily "the photograph." Perhaps you are proceeding inductively. I am typically proceeding more deductively.
    Are you perchance a sociologist? (Auguste Comte comes to mind.)
    Sometimes I think that some people are looking for a "science of photography." I am skeptical at the prospect of such--apart from the technical side.
    --Lannie
     
  206. The photograph = photography.
     
  207. If I would put it in percentages, my photographs exist and were made from 90% thought and 10% doing.​
    Interestingly, Phil, for someone (me) who says that he proceeds overwhelmingly deductively, I would say that my numbers would be almost reversed. I do not think much at the moment of photographing, and I almost never set up a photo. Not that there is any particular virtue to that way of proceeding. That's just the way it is.
    In reality, I would say that I proceed visually and intuitively when I am shooting (except to check the exposure, etc.). I leave all of this philosophical stuff at home when I go shooting--not to say that it is not affecting my mind, even my perception and conceptualization of what I am seeing.
    --Lannie
     
  208. The photograph = photography.​
    Maybe. I doubt it.
    I'll think about it.
    --Lannie
     
  209. I didn't mean to suggest that the 90% percent thinking happens at the moment
    of taking the picture ( the 'doing' part ). The picture taking happens more intuitively and much less intellectually. Photography of course - and the *making* of a photograph, or better yet, of a photography - doesn't start and end with the clicking of the shutter.
     
  210. The picture taking happens more intuitively and much less intellectually.​
    I know. I remember your saying that once before, come to think of it. It was some time ago.
    --Lannie
     
  211. Einstein's "thought experiments" were speculative theories, not "picture thoughts."
    That's not how it was explained in pictures in this PBS documentary...
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/physics/inside-einsteins-mind.html
    I don't see Einstein as a philosopher when it comes to explaining the physical world.
    And a lot of his theories are no longer theories but facts that can be proven with math and visual inspection.
    When is philosophy and its theories going to pay off the same?
     
  212. Progress in the trajectory of photography is much more than a matter of changing tastes. Stieglitz made a very considered, intentional, and thoughtful move away from Pictorialism, which he had encouraged in order to get photography recognized as art. He then helped usher in the period of Modernism, where photographers were proud to use the unique characteristics of more straight photography and claim that this, too, could be art even though it lacked some of the emotional tools of painting. It had its own tools. Photography progressed from mimicking painting to relying on the more straight approach with a camera. Later, once the camera's relationship to the world more directly was explored, more and more conceptual approaches were taken, and later still more and more contextual approaches were taken as the straight processes explored in Modernism were deconstructed so that the processes themselves started playing a more vital role in post-modernism.
     
  213. Onward and upward, Fred.
    Something that Phil was writing about some days back suggested the idea of more of an expansion--although I have forgotten the specific context.
    In any case, I would apply the idea of "expansion" to the idea of "taste" and speak of "an expansion of tastes," without making any claims about which was better--and "progress" does imply improvement, getting "better."
    I am surprised at your linear account, Fred, no offense.
    --Lannie
     
  214. Lannie, you have 986 pictures in your gallery here. That's a goldmine. But it's
    only the raw stuff. Things you encountered, things you saw and intuitively
    reacted to....Like the raw stuff of most photographers. Do you feel that these
    986 pictures are analogous and communicative to your own philosophical
    thinking and identity, both as a photographer and as a person? What if you
    could only show 50 images?
     
  215. Progress certainly does not imply getting better. It is a forward or onward movement.
    Don't be surprised at it. Pay attention to it. You might learn something . . . about photography.
     
  216. That's not how it was explained in pictures in this PBS documentary.​
    Tim, I invite you to find a copy of Einstein's 1905 paper on electrodynamics (the start of the theory of Special Relativity) and work your way through the math, after he states his two famous postulates. (The math is not that hard.)
    There is nothing intuitive in Einstein's theories (Special and General). One will never see it with pictures. It can only be shown to be true mathematically. One can see his mind working in that article.
    I cannot, alas, read the General Theory. The math is too hard for me.
    Einstein philosophized a great deal, most notably (in my opinion) about pacifism and about time. The latter topic is not only a scientific problem but a philosophical problem. He also speculated a lot about God.
    Einstein's "theorizing" ranged far and wide. He never tried to limit the boundaries of his theorizing, and even he himself was surprised by what he found. He and many others of a philosophical bent have long speculated about the interrelatedness of all knowledge.
    I remember being dumbfounded when I first read his words (in English translation): "If we postulate that the speed of light is constant. . . ." No one ever told me that that was a postulate. Having agonized over what I had read about his theory over the decades, I immediately saw some of the implications--but his reduction of Maxwell's equations to a handful of much shorter equations was very clear, and only partly anticipated by me based on what I had previously read.
    That theory was superseded by his more General Theory, which comparatively few people can read, I am told.
    It all remains in the realm of theory, Tim, even though there has now been much more factual confirmation of its validity on key points. There are those who say that it still contains some anomalies, a claim which anticipates that even his theory will likely be overturned and superseded, sooner or later.
    Einstein never presumed that he would have the final word--about anything.
    --Lannie
     
  217. Lannie, if you think my brief description of some of the progress in photography was linear, that's probably because you didn't read carefully enought or think about what I said before you responded. As a matter of fact, the cycling back around to process in post-modern photography after a lot of the more conceptual years, shows an important non-linearity in the progress of photographic, as there are in artistic, movements.
     
  218. Fred's account of photography going from Pictorialism to Modernism to Post
    Modernism seems a good account of the stages photography had to go
    through in order for it to be 'freed' ( the invention of photography itself has been said to in turn free painting from its representative role to reality it had been cast in until then ).
     
  219. Don't be surprised at it. Pay attention to it. You might learn something . . . about photography.​
    Fred, your condescending tone suggests that, if I do, I might someday be as good as you.
    Progress certainly does not imply getting better. It is a forward or onward movement.​
    Fred, I am sorry, but that is double-talk. If things do not get better (in some sense), we do not call it "progress," but simply "change."
    Back to physics for a moment: Einstein's theories are actually BETTER than Newton's, in terms of both explanatory value as well as predictive value. A true paradigm change was effected in the shift from Newtonian mechanics to Einsteinian (relativistic) mechanics. That is why Thomas Kuhn speaks of the "paradigm change" in question as being "revolutionary."
    Of course there are revolutionary changes in the history of photography, both as to the technical dimension as well as new perspectives. There is nothing quite analogous to the changes in theoretical physics, of course, nor am I arguing that there should be.
    --Lannie
     
  220. Fred's account of photography going from Pictorialism to Modernism to Post Modernism seems a good account of the stages photography had to go through in order for it to be 'freed' ( the invention of photography itself has been said to in turn free painting from its representative role to reality it had been cast in until then ).​
    I do not doubt that, Phil, but is not liberation progress because things get better? Is slavery to be preferred to liberation? Is not the value judgment "better" appropriate at times?
    --Lannie
     
  221. Lannie, you have 986 pictures in your gallery here. That's a goldmine. But it's only the raw stuff. Things you encountered, things you saw and intuitively reacted to....Like the raw stuff of most photographers. Do you feel that these 986 pictures are analogous and communicative to your own philosophical thinking and identity, both as a photographer and as a person? What if you could only show 50 images?​
    Well, my photos are not going to show much about anything, except that I was having fun--and they show that only to me. (There are another 1000 or so in hidden folders and many more not on Photo.net.)
    The first folder contains almost exactly fifty photos. They are intended to be a representative sample of some of my personal favorites, nothing more and nothing less.
    Do you feel that these 986 pictures are analogous and communicative to your own philosophical thinking and identity, both as a photographer and as a person?​
    Yes, they are, but there is such a strong subjective dimension to all of that that I would not ever expect to be able to communicate that to others. Let them see what they will in them--on the surface, if you prefer. People bring themselves to the viewing. I don't interfere--or presume that I could.
    In any case, the progress of photography is not dependent on anything that Lannie Kelly's enthusiast portfolio shows--or doesn't show. Your photos are much better.
    Fred's? Well, here is where the emotive and subjective component comes to the fore. I see no need to bash Fred's photos simply because they are not the photos I would shoot. Let him shoot what he will. Some of them are very, very good by just about anyone's criteria.
    Mine? Well, I liked shooting them. They are raw indeed. I will not agonize over that. In fact, I rather like that. They are mine. That's about the most that I would ever claim for them. You will have to admit that there is no pretension to "art" in my photos. I simply cannot take myself that seriously as a photographer.
    They do nonetheless represent my personal vision. Some are better than others, even to me. Many would have to be deleted if I had a reputation as a photographer to protect. I don't.
    --Lannie
     
  222. Oh, never mind.
     
  223. Physician, heal thyself.
    (Oh, I see that now you have deleted the string of insults. Well, you know what you wrote. My response to those insults stands. In any case, if you think that this is all "infantile" and "shallow," etc., why do you keep participating in it? Nobody is holding the proverbial gun to your head.)
    --Lannie
     
  224. Yes, they are, but there is such a strong subjective dimension to all of that that I would not ever expect to be able to communicate that to others.​
    BS. You can definitely leverage that very subjective dimension ( of what is you ) into something that's objectively quantifiable. Into something that has to do with a vocabulary that's being put to use in order to pursue a meaning in the form of photographs, however abstract or ambiguous that meaning will be.
    You're just not willing to do it. You're dancing around it in the theory of it all.

    And it's not about taking things "seriously". Everything is relative, so what?!
     
  225. BS. You can definitely leverage that very subjective dimension into something that's objectively quantifiable. Into something that has to do with a vocabulary that's being put to use in order to pursue a meaning in the form of photographs, however abstract that meaning will be.
    You're just not willing to do it. You're dancing around it in the theory of it all.​
    Oh, now that is a mature response.
    You're just not willing to do it.​
    When did you become a mind reader, Phil?
    dancing around it in the theory of it all.​
    Hey, I like that! Thank you, Phil. I am truly pleased with that way of looking at what I do--I was always such a terrible dancer with my legs.
    something that's objectively quantifiable.​
    Holy crap! Now you go and spoil it all. Please tell me how to operationalize the operative variables and I can start the number crunching.
    Phil, if it can be measured and quantified, then you can mathematically show me the defects of my photos, and their inferiority to yours and Fred's.
    Think of the implications for the critical theory of photography! Rationalists, scatter. The disciples of Auguste Comte have arrived. Crude empiricism rules.
    --Lannie
     
  226. something that's objectively quantifiable.​
    I have to address this in a separate post, Phil. If we could objectively quantify the value of photos or other objets d'art, think of the implications:
    (1) We could get rid of the ratings system on Photo.net.
    (2) Sotheby's could dispense with auctions. Just set the objectively-derived price.
    (3) The entire art pricing scam could be trashed: we wouldn't need it.
    (4) We would not have endless disputations over these topics. Everything could be mathematically shown to be of value--or not.
    (5) Philosophical/theoretical questions would no longer be necessary. Scientifically-derived numeric values would rule supreme.
    I could go on, but you get the idea.
    This is what happens when one presumes to "stay on the surface," Phil--in my considered opinion.
    Thanks for playing.
    --Lannie
     
  227. There is nothing intuitive in Einstein's theories (Special and General). One will never see it with pictures.​
    You are wrong, Lannie. Watch the video, especially where he explains the push and pull force of gravity on Earth with the picture thought analogy of a man in an elevator. They call that thought experiments that use pictures to explain forces that can't be seen and are difficult to explain.
    Einstein did say if one can not explain a complex idea in a simple way then they don't fully understand it them self. Can you explain your philosophical theories similarly? I haven't seen you do it, yet.
     
  228. Phil, if it can be measured and quantified, then you can mathematically show me the defects of my photos, and their inferiority to yours and Fred's.​
    It has nothing to do with that. It's not something in the photos. It's in the photographer's approach to the photos.

    And just forget about Einstein, or Nietzsche, or Empiricism, or Auguste Comte, or Sartre, or the Atom Bomb, or Rationalism, forget about Science and Religion too. Forget about Eggleston. Forget about everything.
     
  229. Go read the article, Tim. Einstein wrote it, and, yes, there is some math in it, but it is not very advanced.
    If you do not, you will not likely see what I am getting at.
    Better minds than mine (and they are legion!) have said that the theory of relativity is not intuitively obvious. If you read Einstein himself, then you will be astounded. It is the 1905 article on electrodynamics in English translation, the first public outline and presentation of the Special Theory--I forget the precise title, but I have a non-digitized copy that I made back in 1992. Books containing it in the appendix exist. (That is how I found it.) They are available through Inter-Library Loan from your local library.
    Commentators on Einstein are typically obscure. Einstein's own writing is clear and concise--the entire thing runs about twenty pages in the font size that I read it in. It is worth the effort to get it. I have seen the PBS treatments. They are actually quite good, but, without the math, it will all remain a mystery. The math is clear--and obvious. It is awe-inspiring to read.
    Having gone the PBS/Isaac Asimov/etc. route of popularizers, I was astonished to see what Einstein himself had to say. Surely it is on the web somewhere.
    I kid you not. Many lay people with some basic science and math backgrounds can read it for themselves.
    Again, I cannot read the later General Theory of Relativity. (The math is too advanced.) Not many people can--but I and many, many others can read the 1905 article on electrodynamics--signed simply "A. Einstein."
    --Lannie
     
  230. Can you imagine Einstein talking and debating with his fellow scientists and physicist's about Edward Weston and Pictorialism, etc...?
     
  231. Phil, if it can be measured and quantified, then you can mathematically show me the defects of my photos, and their inferiority to yours and Fred's. --Lannie
    It has nothing to do with that. It's not something in the photos. It's in the photographer's approach to the photos. --Phil​
    Wait. I thought that you said that it was in the photos. Either way, I hope that you see the insurmountable problem of trying to quantify any of this.
    [I am signing off for now.]
    --Lannie
     
  232. Tim (or anyone interested):

    HERE is Einstein's 1905 article on electrodynamics, etc.
    I make no claim for its relevance to the preceding discussion, except for the fact that it shows how Einstein proceeded in his "thought experiments" that someone mentioned.
    Even if one's math background limits one to a reading of the first five pages, believe me, IT IS WORTH THE TROUBLE!
    The statement of the two basic postulates is on page one.
    --Lannie
     
  233. When is the artist/photographer a revolutionary. . .?

    When posters talk about living breathing photographers.
    Old codgers talking about long dead old codgers...sort of boring unless you are a old codger
    Methinks the old codgers find it boring too.
    ..
     
  234. Sort of codger conversations...just their import.
     
  235. Allen, here is one of the best photographs I have ever seen:
    [LINK]
    One either feels the force of this photo or one does not. I feel it. I like it.
    It suits my taste.
    Could it be that taste is relative to the perspective and past experiences and present condition of the viewer? I am not trying to trivialize Einstein here by saying that "All taste is relative." Einstein did not say that in his theory of relativity. I wonder if he said that or something similar anywhere. Someone might know.
    I do wonder if Einstein had an opinion on such things--taste, esthetics, art, etc. His opinion would prove nothing, of course. He was a physicist, not an art critic. It would still be interesting to know.
    --Lannie
     
  236. "Allen, here is one of the best photographs I have ever seen:"

    Its okay for me.

    Hey, all that philosophy stuff must work because you have put me into my place.
     
  237. Not wishing to embarrass...
    Try Brad Evans I think he has got a pulse.
    http://citysnaps.net/showkase/recent/
     
  238. "put me in my place"​
    Not trying to do that, Allen. "Put down" is something that I sometimes succumb to, but I am never proud of myself later for having done so.
    I really do like the picture.
    --Lannie
     
  239. Come on Lannie, all we discuss is the old timers, and this and that about them... an endless discussion till the end of time.
    Boring, I think I've got to the place that I've worked out what bog paper Ansell was using....and then.. all the never ending others. Sort of think, some folk, think they will be praised and thought of as clever by doing the name dropping thing. Sad thought.
    In the year 2016 there are other photographer taking photos. Maybe not name dropping photographers...but something else and a bit special..
     
  240. "The proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals, all these are symptoms of a transition from normal to extraordinary research. It is upon their existence more than upon that of revolutions that the notion of normal ... [what do you think goes here?] depends."​
    Well, I was curious and could put in my own answer, which would be close, but I cheated so I know the quote of Kuhn who went on about paradigms and science, and so i suppose in the sense that for some, art is an exploration or maybe I'll even say the best art I know, is an exploration, often without thought to what the outcome would be. Julie, I think this tack you've introduced is really interesting.
    One thing about Daido Moriyama. I do think, and he would and has said it, about the influence of W. Klein, but what I think is interesting and revolutionary about his post-war work is, and this is kinda my own take, but he has a shock, sadness and anger (i think a sadness) in the westernization of Japan that really started with Commodore Perry, but took on a whole new dimension with the occupation by American forces, who always bring with them their pop culture and values etc. And I think his photography is capturing his sense not only of the way it impacted Japanese culture, but the almost cancerous mutant morphology of Japanese culture that somehow retains it Japanese identity, but is so grotesque when merged with Americanism. Like you Japanese Elvis's etc. I think the photos that most represented his reaction was the jars of dead fetuses with birth defects. Though on the one hand it could be taken as a political statement about the use of nuclear weapons as the background effect of deformed births after the nuclear bombings had a cultural backlash of total shaming of the unfortunates who had issues through no fault of their own and how they treated as pariahs in society. No one wanted to further pass on "tainted" genes. (long digression, sorryw). But really those photographs also could be taken to refer to the still birthed mutated ugly culture that was morphing and emerging from colossal impact of the occupation. I don't know of any other photographer I can think of that really captured that sort of cultural worlds colliding and the aftermath. Salgado did capture the impacts of globalization on people and cultures, but he was an outsider, and no matter how great the photos are, and I think they are, it wasn't the same process. Thoughts??
    Ok...out!
     
  241. Go read the article, Tim. Einstein wrote it, and, yes, there is some math in it, but it is not very advanced.​
    I don't have to read that article because the PBS video indicates Einstein in interviews and talks with his associates starting back around the early 1900's say he came up with his theories using thought experiments, pictures in his mind.
     
  242. "Thoughts??"
    Well, yes, dammit. You bring us almost to climax and then you say "Ok ... out!" WTF??
    Go for the kill! What is revolutionary about how they/he made you know these things? They're 'in you.' By what means did they/he get them there?
    Using Mark Holborn in Black Sun: The Eyes of Four as my source:
    From Klein the Japanese ingested 'predatory.' But to that the Japanese added 'erotic.'
    predatory . erotic [much better way than my blundering, un-colored 'shredding of distance' in my previous post]
    After that, add that this anecdote from Holborn on Moriyama:
    "At the height of the fierce fighting between the students and the police the storm of sound and light was displaced by a sense of silence. He watched the events like a silent movie, as if history had been transformed into spectacle."​
    silent scream . visual violence
    This last I give without comment. It's Holborn's follow-up to the above, and I think it's just perfect. You'll have to have your own "Thought??" to get (or not) why I think it's perfect:
    "The silent scream of history that so impressed Moriyama in 1968 was explicitly expressed by Hijikata in the same year. Revolt of the Flesh was considered Hijikata's greatest performance, in which he turned his back on Western dance to embrace his own Japanese form. An 8mm film of the performance exists, and its crude, hand-held quality is evocative less of 1968 than of a turn-of-the-century document of shamanistic rites.
    [line break added] Almost as an extension of Kamaitachi, Hijikata is carried on stage beneath a sunshade and then strips down to a gold G-string and phallus. His finale was to be lowered across stage, entwined in the ropes as if he was being torn apart. Hijikata refers to the scream and identifies it in the Western tradition of Artaud, Bacon, and Munch. Tokyo is the source of his scream, and it is perpetuated through the work of the dancers he has influenced.
    [line break added] The images of those who attempt to sever their course from borrowed traditions, a man torn apart on a stage or wrapped in bondage on his mosaic zodiac, become monumental, elevating these figures to historical positions. The film of Hijikata's Revolt of the Flesh is the ghost newsreel that haunts Tokyo like the silent movie of history that was ingrained in Moriyama's imagination."​
    .
    [for Phil, this comment from Holborn: "Moriyama may have learned much from William Klein, but his other debt is to Atget. The lanes of Atget's Paris, a city under reconstruction, frequently acquired a sinister quality of incipient drama, once described as the scene of a crime. Moriyama inhabits a threatening world, with the possibility of a knife drawn from behind, or he walks stalked by his own shadow."]
     
  243. PICTURES IN EINSTEIN'S MIND?
    I don't have to read the article, etc. . . . he came up with his theories using thought experiments, pictures in his mind. --Tim
    They call that thought experiments that use pictures to explain forces that can't be seen and are difficult to explain. --Tim (earlier)​
    No, no, no.
    Tim, you insist upon interpreting Einstein's first "seeing" as something one sees visually. There are things here one never sees visually, but you can "see" the implications of some of his mathematical findings, even if you do not follow all the math.
    HIS THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS WERE *PURELY* MATHEMATICAL. He plugged in c into Maxwell's equations to SEE WHAT HE WOULD GET. HE SAW qua UNDERSTOOD THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE MATHEMATICAL RESULTS. But I am getting ahead of myself:
    What did Einstein first "see"?
    I am not sure about the sequence of his insights, since I have not read all of the articles from his "miracle year" of 1905. (I am not sure that I could. I know that I could not read or understand the math in his General Theory of Relativity if I tried.)
    I do know that at some point he substituted "c" for the speed of light. That is, he postulated that the speed of light is a constant, c--and then stuck that c into Maxwell's equations. What he "saw" MATHEMATICALLY as a result implied to him the idea that light is both particle and wave (matter and energy), and this came to fruition in Einstein's insight that gravity could bend light waves, as well as his prediction of the existence of black holes, since, if the mass were great enough, the light could not even escape the force of gravity of those huge collapsed stars we call now "black holes," etc.
    Although he first "saw" those things mathematically, today we have empirical confirmation that he was right, even if it is counter-intuitive that light can be thought of as matter-energy that has mass--and thus capable of being bent by gravity.
    We also have in nuclear weapons proof that matter can be converted into energy. One can see that, too! With one's eyes!
    Einstein's later work implied that time itself could be slowed down, but this is not in the Special Theory, and thus not in the 1905 article.
    HIS IDEA THAT TIME CAN BE SLOWED DOWN CANNOT BE SEEN VISUALLY, BUT ONE CAN SEE THAT CLOCKS SUBJECTED TO VARYING ACCELERATION ARE NOT SHOWING THE SAME TIME.
    As for the Special Theory, of which my posted article was only a part,
    Even Wikipedia helps.

    NOT ALL OF THE SPECIAL THEORY IS FOUND IN THE JUNE, 1905 ARTICLE. That publication was one of a series that came out in his "miracle year" of 1905. They exist in English translation. Some are pretty heavy going. I am no expert on this, but there are some things that I see better than I used to.
    Talk to someone who is better than I am on this. (HINT: They don't work for PBS, helpful as their models are.)
    Talk to a professional physicist. Bob Atkins here on PN has a Ph.D. in chemistry. I am virtually certain that he has worked through more of the math than I have. Write him, if you will.
    We have gone beyond off-topic, but the idea of "pictures" keeps this (barely) in the game. The popularizers who show the pictures and diagrams are not talking about exactly the same kind of "seeing" that Einstein was talking about. It is an exercise in futility to think that one can "see" it all in their pretty little diagrams and models.
    I see a tiny bit more than I used to, but, boy, is there so much more to be seen! I am a blind man compared to Einstein, but I do know that even blind men can sometimes "see" that which their eyes cannot.
    I am moving on. I don't know very much. I have pretty much said all that I know.
    --Lannie
     
  244. "Thoughts??"
    Well, yes, dammit. You bring us almost to climax and then you say "Ok ... out!" WTF??​
    Julie, you shove the shiny shiv in, okay? I am exhausted, depleted. I also have summer school exams to grade and then grades to turn in.
    If I am alive after all that, I will be back. By that time, you will surely have offered more insight than I ever could.
    What is revolutionary about how they/he made you know these things? They're 'in you.' By what means did they/he get them there?​
    I love it. You've got tools I don't have. We all see a piece of the truth. I don't see much.
    --Lannie
     
  245. You may be right ... but to me, while "expressive stream of consciousness" is obviously a feature of Japanese work, the thing that they and Klein were tearing apart or worrying like a pack of dogs (in a delicious way, of course) is the tradition or idea of distance in photographer/subject. Physical distance. What does it do, what does it mean, is it substantial in any necessary way, and let's see what happens if I just shred it, ignore it, attack it, not by accident, but with it in mind. I don't think van der Elsken did that at all (I only have his Jazz work, though, so I have a limited take)
    --Julie, earlier
    One thing about Daido Moriyama. I do think, and he would and has said it, about the influence of W. Klein, but what I think is interesting and revolutionary about his post-war work is, and this is kinda my own take, but he has a shock, sadness and anger (i think a sadness) in the westernization of Japan that really started with Commodore Perry, but took on a whole new dimension with the occupation by American forces, who always bring with them their pop culture and values etc. And I think his photography is capturing his sense not only of the way it impacted Japanese culture, but the almost cancerous mutant morphology of Japanese culture that somehow retains it Japanese identity, but is so grotesque when merged with Americanism. Like you Japanese Elvis's etc. --Barry
    Go for the kill! What is revolutionary about how they/he made you know these things? They're 'in you.' By what means did they/he get them there?
    Using Mark Holborn in Black Sun: The Eyes of Four as my source:
    From Klein the Japanese ingested 'predatory.' But to that the Japanese added 'erotic.'
    predatory . erotic [much better way than my blundering, un-colored 'shredding of distance' in my previous post]
    --Julie, later​
    Sometimes the parallel threads and sub-threads are better--far better--than the main threads. The only thing is that there are so many threads that I can't tell after a while which is the main thread and which are the sub-threads.
    None of which matters if Julie keeps weaving her threads out of leather, which do not shred at any distance, even when subjected to such rough strife played out though iron gates with razor edges.
    [LINK]

    [LINK]

    [LINK]

    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  246. Moriyama may have learned much from William Klein, but his other debt is to Atget. The lanes of Atget's Paris, a city under reconstruction, frequently acquired a sinister quality of incipient drama, once described as the scene of a crime. Moriyama inhabits a threatening world, with the possibility of a knife drawn from behind, or he walks stalked by his own shadow. --Julie
    [LINK]

    [LINK]


    [LINK]

    --Lannie
     
  247. Brad's street portraits are amazing ( I wanted to link to some of my favorites, but there are no individual links in the galleries on his website ). They make me want to have a similar connection - however fleeting - with strangers on the street. Even though I know that that's not who I am... I'm at the opposite side of that spectrum. But it would be revolutionary for me if I could get myself into that same kinda sensibility, of being able to ( photographically ) connect with strangers like that ( the way I do and feel as a viewer of these photographs ). Or maybe it would be too forced for me, and no longer be me...In either case, being revolutionary has to do with identity, of either claiming or stretching the limits of it.
     
  248. .
    "Of course, the possibility of seeing the world through its eye is a necessary part of the process of understanding it; but if this were the only aspect [ ... ] it would merely be duplication and would not entail anything enriching. Creative understanding does not renounce itself, its own place and time, its own culture; and it forgets nothing. In order to understand, it is immensely important for the person who understands to be located outside the object of his or her creative understanding -- in time, in space, in culture. In the realm of culture, outsideness is a most powerful factor in understanding. [ ... ] We raise new questions for a foreign culture, ones that it did not raise for itself; we seek answers to our own questions in it; and the foreign culture responds to us by revealing to us its new aspects and new semantic depths." — Mikhail Bakhtin
     
  249. Well yes, the eye is a multifaceted organ since it connects vision with thought and thought with vision. That's why I find Winogrand's "...to see what things look like" a bit too flat a sentiment.
    The Bakhtin quote is illustrated well HERE, from Unflattening, a philosophical comic that deals with the relationship between image and language, and of taking on more kaleidoscopic - or unflattened - perspectives.
     
  250. I just noticed that, on the Atget Photography page , if one goes to the left sidebar, there is a list of "big name" photographers, each with his or her own page and sample photos--among other resources.
    --Lannie
     
  251. Thanks, Phil - appreciate it! It all starts with engaging someone in conversation. What's discussed and learned in the process, for me, is just as or more important/interesting/satisfying than the portrait I end up making.
    With respect to Winogrand... After studying him and watching many of his videos, I think a lot of his statements you see quoted here and on the internet in general, usually come out of interviews, and are meant to be flip answers to annoy interviewers who are not well-versed in photography, and for whom he probably has little respect. My sense is he enjoys playing with them.
     
  252. Brad, yes, I've seen the video's of Winogrand like the Rice university video ( a short version for those who haven't seen it yet ) where he talks more in depth about his approach. To me it does seem that the quote "I photograph to see what things look like photographed" encapsulates what he's talking about more in depth and is in line with his temperament of not wanting or needing to stop to contemplate much but always looking ahead to the next picture, and the next, and the next,...
    There's a funny part where he's saying that he never approaches people before or after the picture is taken, because he's "not running for mayor".
    On the issue of engaging strangers on the street to ask for their portrait, I assume that you too have encountered a lot of negative answers, and that it's not only a case where everyone readily agrees to their portrait being taken. I'm not the best at "small talk", and which I think is a necessary skill ( but which can be learned like any other I guess ) to approach strangers like that.
     
  253. Great Winogrand clip, Phil. Thank you! I'm truly glad I got to see that.
    --Lannie
     
  254. In terms of pure street photography, there will probably never ever be a greater one than Winogrand, with all of the seemingly careless nonchalance that he brought to it....
     
  255. But street photography as it developed in the 1920's was revolutionary in itself. So Winogrand was a revolutionary revolutionary? In IMHO modern street photographers were innovative and creative with new perspectives. I just would not say they were revolutionary or change the thrust of street photography.
     
  256. There's also HCB of course. Can't deny HCB. But Winogrand is cooler somehow, even cooler than all of the post street photography photographers.
     
  257. And of course Atget. But Atget is in a different league. There's all of the photographers in the history of photography and in the history of street photography. And then there's Atget...
     
  258. >>> On the issue of engaging strangers on the street to ask for their portrait, I assume that you too have encountered a lot of negative answers, and that it's not only a case where everyone readily agrees to their portrait being taken.
    Some, but they're the exception. Maybe 1 in 10-15 will say no. A few of those will reconsider after a bit more conversation. Most people engaged will naturally ask why. My usual response is it's for my blog, or I'm documenting the city. What really surprises me is when people don't ask why and just say OK.
    When I have my camera bag I usually have 4x6 prints to hand out to previous encounters I might run into. I also have a small book of my portraits. Both help a lot when hitting someone up.
     

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