Where's your pleasure?

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

  1. 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.

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

  3. .............
    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. — "​

  4. ...........
    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.
  5. 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.' "​
  6. 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.”
  7. .............
    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.
  8. You'll note that I said "postmodernism and its consequences." :)

    Most of postmodernism's consequences are anti-postmodernism, but they are its consequences.
  9. Perfect. Thank you.

    I rest my case.
  10. 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
  11. One can be quite transparent in appearing ambiguous.
  12. I associate postmodernism with skepticism and deconstruction.

    I agree with you, Supriyo, that ambiguity can be transparent. I think ambiguity is about inexactness, lack of clarity, openness to a variety of interpretations, and in some cases double or multiple meanings. But it's not necessarily opaque, even if it can be at times.
  13. Any decent postmodernist would suggest challenging the assumptions in this statement. I think it may be a particular kind and style of "contemporary art discourse" that does not thrive here. Some of the subjects and ideas, if introduced and dealt with differently, might well thrive here.
  14. "Sometimes you make an image and you immediately know that you got something, the image seems to scream at you". Phil.

    Nice verbosity ,Phil.

    Screaming methinks not. Sorry. Not even a silence.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2017
  15. Perhaps a silent scream of the lonely.
  16. Cool photo, Phil which hits the mark.
  17. paul ron

    paul ron NYC

    I think artists have huge egos that require alot of feedback. Im not talking about your typical self absorbed ego.... its one that just needs constant praise for his creations to quench an apatite, a full feeling when you get that WOW moment.... that certain shot you love so much. it has to be shared in search of admirers, its our food n sustenance to see a nice comment. Even the fact someone just looked at it is enough to keep the pilot flame lit. Your reward for the hard work put into creating something.
  18. While I am probably not an artist, I have interacted with a few who are. Yes, many artists like to share their creations, and some of them might find solace in a ‘wow’ comment or two. However, to say that their pleasure lies in the appeasement and likings from their admirers is a sheer injustice in my opinion. What many artists would appreciate is a deeper understanding of their work beyond a generic ‘great’ or ‘wow’ comment, a connection with the viewer that gives a sense of thought resonance. That’s my reading after speaking with a few real artists. Many of them are on a lifelong quest to express and understand, and their motivation in sharing their work with viewers lies in the hope that it would enrich at least a few of them and let them think from alternateve viewpoints. A simple ‘wow’ or ‘great’ is a cue to end the conversation and move on.

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