Saturday, September 13, 2008
While I did find this series of videos to be entertaining, I didn't find it at all surprising. The history of photography sounded spot-on, almost as if I'd heard this story before.
Anyhow, what I found most entertaining was this all to familiar battle between the 'roguish' pioneers of the new art form and the old vanguard of art 'connoisseurs.' This is essentially how art progresses and is made! Here comes this group of 'new' artists, toting their 'new' contraptions and devices, taking photographs of everything, and then comes this old group who, upon finding out what exactly is infiltrating their art world, promptly frown at this and say 'wait a minute, that's not art!' What's best is that sometimes this old group is completely right; but in this case they were not---in any event, the old guard's intentions are always good, aren't they? Anyhow, even upon its outset, the art photography ethos was always well disposed to the idea of photographic manipulation, and in being so this early collection of photographic artists correctly predicted the idea of digital manipulation which would completely pervade the world a century later. Thus it came about that the 'pure' image was never the domain of the 'artist' per se, but rather the concern of the average recreational photographer.
This early tale of photographic art's humble beginnings also displays the fact that it is not ever technology which creates the artist, but rather the artist who uses technology to create his art. This sounds simple enough, but it is in fact opposed to the general opinions of today that hold everyman as being capable of producing art if he is merely given the same tools. Early photographers were almost uniformly given the same means---of course, as the technology hadn't progressed in such a fashion as to create top- and bottom- line devices---yet it was the predisposition of the artist which decided to create 'art' rather than the average family picnic snap-shot. In any event it proves that art is art and not some other thing like, let us say, science.
I've chosen my picture, a mere thumbnail of a great Ansel Adams photo, because I think that Adams almost single handedly created the genre of landscape photography. Most landscape photography today can be seen as referencing Adams directly, even 'visionary' photographers like Simon Marsden.
Watching this video really opened my eyes in regards to the role photography has played in shaping our society. In the past i have viewed photography as a form of art, but never the spark of social change. A photograph can convey so many things, it captures the emotion it sees through the view finder for eternity.
It can also let us have a glimpse of thinks that we would not be able to experience. It acts as a tool to shed light on the unknown or unexplained. Without it i feel that the world would be a different place. We all have those images that stick out in our heads. A photo is a physical representation, or the source of that. One thing that i found interesting was the fact that the digital camera was created to improve photography. The point was made that what do we compromise when we need "the memory." What history would be lost?
The photo that i chose is "V-J Day in Times Square," by Alfred Eisenstaedt on August 14, 1945. It depicts the celebration at the end of WWII. There is a bit of mystery surrounding this photo. There was so much action going on and so many photos being taken that Eisenstaedt forgot to get the names of the two, and there identities remained a mystery. The reason that i chose it was that even during a time of great world strife when it was all said and done our military does so much for us that we need to show them our appreciation and gratitude for the service and protection they provide for us.
Friday, September 12, 2008
American Photography: A Century of Images
I have to admit that I really enjoyed this three part series in regards to how photography can make a major impact on people. I have to admit, I am a slight history buff and love to look at photos from the past and try to interpret the story that they have to tell. Some of the images in the film touched my soul so deeply that I still see them when I close my eyes. I like that a photo can make me feel something that wasn’t there before.
While I admit that we live in an instant gratification society and I am one of the guiltiest of the “I Want It Now” Generation, I look forward to picking up photo prints at the drug store. My daughter and I sit together as we thumb through them, laughing at some of the silly things that we do or remembering how beautiful the house was when covered in ten inches of snow this April. I feel the same way when in a darkroom, developing and printing, even though it has been over a decade since I have smelled the chemicals that made the images appear on paper when I dipped them in. The excitement when the image began to appear was often hard to contain.
I have photos all over my apartment. Some I have taken myself, some are just prints that I enjoy. The majority of the prints date from the 1940’s to the early 1970’s. (So basically, everything from World War II to the end of the Vietnam War fascinates the heck out of me. I think it is because I was named after the actress Spring Byington.) I love how they are not perfectly posed and that most happen spontaneously.That is why I love this photo by Richard Avedon. It was taken in August of 1957 and I think he is brilliant.
There is nothing that drives me crazier than trying to take a shot of my daughter and my friends when they stop whatever adorable thing they are doing and flash peace signs and crooked grins at me. They then run over before I can snap another to "see" the photo. Uggggghhhhhhhhhh!
So my question for you is.....who do you think has the right to define art?
After watching this series, I look at images in a new light. The impact that photographs have on how we look at the past, judge the future, see the world and other cultures is amazing. Photographs have contributed to how we see each other and ourselves. Photography has helped us capture the beauty of our surroundings, as well as see the ugliness. Images are how we remember moments and objects; I loved when they talked about humans thinking with imagery because it is so true. Also, photography and images have made our media what it is today. The media arose through images of instances in time and people, this is also how many stereotypes have been created. People looking at pictures of other people leads themselves to compare and contrast, either choosing to assimilate to the portrayed "norm" or building unique images of themselves.
My question is, do you think that video footage is more insightful than a photograph because you can actually see the event occurring?
I think it’s so crazy to see how much the camera has evolved. From taking the place of traditional paintings to fighting social discrimination. Even today it’s being used to capture everything from favorite family moments to unbelievably tragic horrors. The camera isn’t simply a technological tool that can produce a picture, but a tool for activists, artists or just your average Joe.
Today, with the advancement in technology, there are so many opportunities to evolve the photograph. Sometimes this is a welcomed change and other times not so much. The most important thing to note is the loss of trust in the photograph. Especially with mass media and the fact that those who have something to sell have their own agenda; you can’t trust that what you are seeing is worth believing. For example, the John Kerry photograph next to Jane Fonda an anti-war activist.
Personally, I’m not sure that I consider a photograph ‘art’. I feel like I could take a picture of the beach or the sun setting without the need of spending hundreds or sometimes thousands on a picture taken by someone else. I like to use my camera to document my life. I want to have something to remember that special time or that exact moment that I consider to be important enough to reproduce some sort of proof of it.
Edward Curtis was taking photographs of people he thought might one day disappear, his subjects were Native Americans. What Frank Matsumura noticed was that Curtis's pictures weren't accurately depicting the actual state of Native Americans. So, he photographed them as they were with no manipulation. While, I am in no way comparing my snapshots with the likes of Curtis or Matsumura, I did attach a picture of my daughter and I on her 1st birthday; just as we are with no manipulation.
When watching American Photography, what really stuck out for me were the photographs that documented various life events from all over the world and the photographers who were there to witness those moments. When it comes to the documentation of history - war, civil rights movements or any other event, really, the photograph has always been the closest thing we have had to actually being in a moment that only occurred at one exact place at only one particular point in time. We can re-create (or even capture in the present,) these events with video, theater, or interpretive dance, song, or whatever medium we want, but the only thing capable of showing you an image of a particular event right when it took place – an image of that event happening – is the photographic image. It’s truly amazing if you think about it. Sure we can capture these moments on video, but video doesn’t leave much to the imagination and you can’t take a video with you wherever you want and look at it when you want or hold it in your hand while you look at it, feel it, smell it…it won’t stay etched in your mind for decades to come like a photograph will.
John Filo's photo from the Kent State shooting is an example of one of these photos. It is tragic, yet it provokes the imagination, tells a story, and elicits a strong emotional response from the viewer. Having never experienced what I can only imagine to be such a traumatic event as that, I empathize with the woman in this image. It is hard to even think of being involved in such a tragedy, let alone think of how something like this could get so out of hand that people are murdered. It is images like this one that we will probably never forget and that will be a constant reminder of a horrific event.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
A window pops up, and you can click CREATE A NEW ALBUM. Give the album a title, a date, and a description if you want. Also at the bottom of the window is the option to have the images public or private, make sure that is set to PUBLIC. The next screen lets you browse your computer and select up to 5 images. Once you have selected your first 5, click UPLOAD. Then choose 5 more! Repeat as needed.
After you have all of them uploaded, click on the MY PHOTOS tab in the top left corner of the page. You will now see your album listed! Click it to open it up. Click on the first picture to open it up. Once you have it open, you can click below the picture to give it a caption. This is where you can identify "Define Artistic Equipment", etc. So that the viewer knows what they are looking at. Type in your caption, and click SAVE CAPTION. Then click the RIGHT ARROW key above the picture to go to the next picture in the album, again, create a caption, save it, and repeat.
Once all images are captioned and ready to rock, you can click on MY PHOTOS, re-open the album, and at the far right side of the screen, click next to the chain-link icon that says "LINK TO THIS ALBUM", and right below that appears "EMBED SLIDESHOW", click that.
A new window pops up with more settings for the slide show. Due to the size and structure of the blog we are posting in, don't use anything larger than 400px for the size of the slide show. Anything larger and it "breaks" when you view it in the blog.
So, now that you have the size set to "Large 400px", click on "SHOW CAPTIONS", then copy the text that appears in the EMBED SLIDE SHOW window at the bottom. Simply double click the text in that section and it should all highlight, then copy it, switch over to the blog site, and make a NEW POST, and paste the text into the page.
You can click PREVIEW at the top to make sure it works before hitting SUBMIT.
That should do it!
Hope that helps, I heard someone asking about the full procedure the other day, so I thought I would share!
I took all of the pictures except for the drag queen (cliche), the lizard man (thing that makes me uncomfortable), the Greek statue (past of art) & the op art (future of art).
The rest are past and present photographs I have taken. A couple of which I took in black & white and hand developed in a dark room (love that kind of work!).
This image, more than the rest, stuck in my mind. For one, it showed some of the atrocities that the Americans back home either didn't like to admit took place, or didn't know about at all. It also showed how uninvolved the soldiers were. If you look at the soldier on the far right, he appears to be getting ready to have a smoke.
What kind of person would you have to be to just continue going about your regular business, have a smoke, when a naked child runs past you screaming after having been burned with napalm??
There are moments in time like this that are revealed to us, that without photography, we would never get to see or understand.
I think having images in papers, books, magazine, and other printed works really helps to get the point across to those of us who may find reading just a bunch of text hard. It gives me the sense that I can really relate to what is happening in the text. Also, it gives everyone a better understanding of the issue at hand. I really liked the films we watched in class. I learned a lot I did not know about the history of photography. It actually makes me want to start doing more stuff with photography.
By Sarah Richards
Your blog entry for the American Photography videos is due on September 15th. For this blog entry I would like you to write a couple of paragraphs about your perspective on the three part series. You do not have to summarize the videos, just tell "the blog" what struck you and made you reconsider photography's role in our society. I would also like you to include a photograph that refers to the videos. (The photo does not have to be one that was shown in the videos.) In your blog entry, include a couple of sentences about why you chose the image you did.
A good place to start looking for images is through the Library of Congress' website. These are images that belong to "we the people". Which is pretty cool when you consider so many well known photographers are part of this collection (brings up the notion of low versus high art, because these images are accessible to the masses and are reproduced). Make sure to include the photographer's name and date/title with the image. You should also take the time to look at the companion website for the videos at PBS.
Please label your post "American Photography", which will allow me to more easily find and grade all your entries. This is important, don't forget.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Your next reading is an online piece (which you can print out), written by Peter Plagens. It appeared in Newsweek, December 10, 2007. Basically the title says it all. You can access the reading here.Your response to the reading should be as a blog entry, where I am hoping as a class we can have an online conversation. Your blog entry is due on September 17th. You should write a brief one paragraph response to the article and feel free to include visuals. Remember to include a question for the class.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I have to say that Jacob Hartman was well spoken and you really got a sense of who he was as an artist. Both Ryan and Lizzie seemed wanting to impress more than connect with us. I left more angry and hurt than inspired, realizing that sometimes I really don't want to know what the artist is thinking. I was so much more content with my own interpretation.
I do recommend however seeing both installation pieces since they are very much "outside the box."
There are enough showings this week to fit just about anyone's schedule. So here's a trailer if you need anymore convincing....
Here is your first chance for some extra credit....this month at the New American Art Union in Portland, there is a show that ties in nicely with the recent assigned chapter from Mary Murien's book, Photography, A Cultural History. Ethan Jackson is an artist who works with photography, sculpture, and video, but what is especially of interest (ties into the article) is the camera obscura work. The camera obscura is basically the foundation for all cameras and has been around perhaps as far back as 1300. Click now, for everything you ever wanted to know about the camera obscura. The camera obscura probably played a role in this painting (don't assume everything is/was hand drawn in a painting, some of the best artists used drawing aids like the obscura). Go see Jackson's work and write a one page synposis of the show, also include postcards or support materials to prove you were there. You need to turn this in to me by October 6th. His work will be up until October 5th at NAAU. If by chance you'd rather go to a different gallery and see his work, well you're in luck, it is also being shown at Gallery Homeland until September 27th. Certainly worth a peek for inspiration and as a means of seeing "everything old is new again".