Where's your pleasure?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. To put it differently, what I was looking at was a bed sheet hanging over a vacuum cleaner but it wasn't what I was seeing. Photography as a form of mental compositing.
  2. It also kinda looks like a mausoleum, a tomb filled with nothing but time. A mountain never seems to have the need to speak (a look that shares so many seek).
  3. ................
    I think you have a fish on the line, but you haven't seen it yet ...

    Compositing is not photography. There is photography and there is compositing. They are good friends, but they live in separate apartments.
  4. Ahhh ... relief. I've been trying to remember since yesterday what that reminded me of. Trying to remember ... drives me nuts. Found it! ... though it's not as close as my fuzzy memory made the match.

    See Aaron Siskind's book cover.

  5. One of my pleasures is in taking out my phone and capturing something quickly and spontaneously. Fabric folds can be ... enigmatic :)

  6. .............
    You can't force pleasure. This is from a letter that Alfred Stieglitz wrote to Georgia O'Keeffe in 1916:

    "— And just now — after a day or rain, when the sun broke through the clouds, & the Lake in the setting sun became intensely blue — the opposite shore golden — & the sky filled with huge breaking storm clouds — warm in color — & the sky a rich glowing blue! -- As I was wandering down to the dock with my large camera to photograph some of the clouds — I really didn't feel much like photographing but the clouds were unusual & I felt as if I ought (I oughting to??? — ??? I who don't believe in such things) — to finally make an effort to "wake up" — just then as my mind was focused on the clouds your letter from Asheville was handed to me. — "​

  7. ...........
    On a documentary about the painter Elizabeth Murray (whom I love), Chuck Close says (from memory, so I'm getting *most* of his words right, I hope):

    "I like working, staying in the studio because the world, life, outside the studio is so f***** up."​

    Made me laugh and then think about whether, or how much of, the pleasure or photographing is sometimes using it to be able to escape into that little bubble of watching/shooting.

    How much of the time, when people say, "You're missing the vacation by photographing the vacation!" or whatever life event it is that you're taking pictures of and therefore not participating in ... you say to yourself, "I'm missing a drab, dreary, dull vacation-from-hell with people I don't want to be with; and I'm making it into something that I like a whole lot better." You're stuck in that f*****-up event. It's a blessing to have an escape and the chance to hop into your portable "studio" (your camera) and make something pleasurable out of it. (Hopefully, I am describing only occasional events in your life, not ... your life.)

    I'm speculating here because I don't take my camera to family events. I am, however, now old enough not to have too many of them that require attendance.
  8. I think art or photography when done as something beyond decoration can be as much a confrontaton as it can be an escape.

    "...Because once you've begun," he would preach, "there is no reason why you should stop. The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow. If you take a picture of Pierluca because he's building a sand castle, there is no reason not to take his picture while he's crying because the castle has collapsed, and then while the nurse consoles him by helping him find a sea shell in the sand. The minute you start saying something, 'Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!' you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness."

    - Italo Calvino, The Adventure of a Photographer
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  9. The danger is that there's always the need for drama, real or contrived. It's better or worse, but it's more. See Facebook. It feeds on itself, even though, I'm pretty sure nobody is really fooled by any of it. They are and they aren't, at the same time.

    Here, from another era, is what I find to be a very poignant anecdote from the end of Sam Stephenson's new book about W. Eugene Smith. He had interviewed Gary Ceriani, the son of Dr. Ernest Ceriani, the doctor featured in Smith's famous Country Doctor photo essay. If you've never seen it, the doctor who is the 'lead' character in it seems surely to be an incredibly dedicated, even heroic and all-around good man. Here is what Stephenson writes:

    "Then, when we were done, I turned off my recorder, packed my bag, and was preparing to leave when Gary made the most interesting and telling comment I heard in five days following Smith's footsteps in Colorado: 'You know, I've never thought of this until now, but I believe there's a chance that my father felt trapped by Smith's work. Smith made him out to be a perfect human being in Life magazine. Then he had to live up to it.' "​
  10. This part is also good:

    "There were many possible photographs of Bice and many Bices impossible to photograph, but what he was seeking was the unique photograph that would contain both the former and the latter. "I can't get you," his voice emerged, stifled and complaining from beneath the black hood, "I can't get you any more; I can't manage to get you."
    He freed himself from the cloth and straightened up again. He was going about it all wrong. That expression, that accent, that secret he seemed on the very point of capturing in her face, was something that drew him into the quicksands of moods, humors, psychology; he, too, was one of those who pursue life as it flees, a hunter of the unattainable, like the takers of snapshots."
  11. Freud to Jung on his on the occasion of his only visit to America: “They don’t realize that we are bringing them the plague.”
  12. I'm definitely a Jungian. Freud seems superficial in comparison (the obsession with sex and religion as repression) though his is perhaps a complementary counterweight to Jung's idea's.

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  13. .............
    Good grief, Phil. That video is 54 minutes long. That's about 49 minutes more than I'm willing to do.

    The idea of living in or through one's pictures, or trapping yourself or others via photographs should have been damaged beyond all repair by postmodernism. Here's Lucy Soutter writing to that effect:

    "... In modernist art photography, prevalent from the 1910s through to the 1970s, photographers made particularly active use of formal elements of picture-making, such as point of view, arrangement of elements within the frame and printing techniques, to nuance the subject matter of their images. Although such artistry was understood to contribute to the value of the image, it was usually regarded as inseparable from the self-explanatory content (as in Ansel Adams's sublime western landscapes)."​

    But with postmodernism:

    "... Ambiguity is absolutely key to the discussion of contemporary art. Ambiguity in art or literature was once seen as a failing ... Contemporary photography, however, embraces ambiguity on several levels. ... Most common of all, however, is an ambiguity of meaning in which different interpretations — even mutually contradictory ones — may be held at the same time. Such interpretive conflict, which might have been regarded as artistic failure in an earlier moment of modernist autonomy or postmodern representational critique, is now regarded as a sign of desirable openness, reflecting the layered reality of experience in our time.

    "... The lasting legacy of postmodernism has been its challenge to the master narratives of the twentieth century, including logic, certainty and truth. Contemporary art discourse thrives on works which are to some extent, illogical, uncertain and riddled with elements of contradiction, fiction and fantasy."​

    I think we find in this forum that "contemporary art discourse" does not thrive: such discourse, along with all things postmodern and its consequences are strenuously resisted by many photographers, artist and amateurs alike. Absent ambiguity, you find Dr. Ceriani being trapped by Smith's certainty.
  14. It's a Jordan Peterson lecture which can never be too long. He has a gift to articulate and condense very complex ideas that would otherwise take much longer to communicate clearly.

    If there's one thing you can't blame Peterson for it is a clinching to postmodern thought. Postmodernist relativism is exactly the type of thinking Peterson warns against and after having listened to many of his lectures I have to agree.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  15. You'll note that I said "postmodernism and its consequences." :)

    Most of postmodernism's consequences are anti-postmodernism, but they are its consequences.
  16. You seemed to suggest that "contemporary art discourse" is postmodern in nature or has to be necessarily postmodern as a discourse. I don't agree. F$*k postmodernism.
  17. Perfect. Thank you.

    I rest my case.
  18. So what are you saying. Are you saying that postmodernism should have a place in contemporary art discourse despite the fact that it's being resisted (and do you think it's wrongfully resisted or rightfully?) or are you saying that postmodernism is exactly the problem of contemporary art discourse (I don't think it needs to be in the latter case as long as one cares and knows how to look beyond the type of superficial postmodern discourse that tries to pretend as being meaningful when in fact it's not).
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2017
  19. PN hardly represents a fair demographics of photography styles around the globe. In PN, alongside those who resist unconventional approaches, there are also those who resist following the set patterns and introduce some level of ambiguity, open interpretation in their works. I have seen some works like that here. I prefer both schools, traditional (call it modernist) as well as postmodern. I am amazed and inspired by many different schools of photography, possibly because I am still learning and don't want to be judgmental about one over the other. I like this one that I found recently: TV Chair | Photo.net

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