13 December 2007

Is Photography Dead ?

In a very interesting article in the NEWSWEEK Dec 10, 2007 Issue, Peter Plagans discusses the status of current photography, related to the evolution of photography as an art form. He says: "A digital photograph...can be a Photoshop fairy tale, containing only a tiny trace of a small fragment of reality. By now, we've witnessed all the magical morphing and seen all the clever tricks that have turned so many photographers—formerly bearers of truth—into conjurers of fiction."

Plagans concludes his article by saying: "The next great photographers—if there are to be any—will have to find a way to reclaim photography's special link to reality. And they'll have to do it in a brand-new way."

Read full article here


w said...

The article has a built in silliness factor inherent in such articles. The author refers to big ideas like "truth" and "reality" without establishing much authority in those areas. It is a kitsch piece at best. Still, it is a good reason to evaluate who is being privileged in the art world and why. Ties will be wider this season. Ho-ho-ho.

ulf fågelhammar said...

Bishop Berkeley said that "esse is percipi", and that ordinary objects are only collections of ideas, There are no material substances, according to this idealistic philosopher

On the other the rigid materialists neglected the creativitiy of the human mind

Well, there is a contradiction to deal with in photography, dont you think?
The F blog is the place to find out more.

Y said...

I find it quite strange that people claim to capture reality and truth...

Photography is rather like a reflection of an apperance, and that is probably not closer to the 'reality' or the 'truth' then any other form of art.

Like the artist David Hockney put it:

“I‘ve finally figured out what‘s wrong with photography. It‘s a one—eyed man looking through a little ‘ole. Now, how much reality can there be in that?”gldcs

dr x said...

If i call my self x now, we will have
four people involved in this debate (that I am glad to find here!)
Reflection of an appearance...well doesn´t it sound a bit like the old ghost of Bishop Berkely once more. He said: "It is indeed an opinion strangely prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects, have an existence, natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding."

He denied that there is a world independant of our minds...well somebody has asked about the pen he used to write his texts. Did it really exist? Did the Bishop exist?
Do I (mr x) exist? Or is it just all fiction?

Please throw some fire on this with a few pictures dear w and y

Anonymous said...

X, y, Z & Ulf, you should all read Jeannette Winterson's excellent book entitled Art Objects. There you will find an excellent examination of our Western need to make sure that things are "Believable" & "True to Life"

Horshradish, of course --

Nurse Rabbit

Dr Semmelweiss said...

Dear Nurse and mr ABC
Ich was discussing this with meine colleagues Dr XYZ and Dr Q eine abend. Dr Q says that there ist eine software from Adober that will make fotographs look very fein. Dr XYZ says that fotografi means "painting with the licht". Bah says then Dr Q - you kann paint much besser lict in der software.
Was ist this? Ich verstehe zero
/Dr Semmelweiss of Krankenhaus Sanatoriium

Grisza said...

I think that in the cited article one aspect of photography as an art was left behind without any comment - it is the feeling or feelings which particular work evoke in the consumer. This is also some kind of reality, subjective and very personal but deep and true it is in itself for the one that feels.
The other side of the story is the way we receive or think about "truth" in photography and how it is received by a consumer. If my purpose to make some picture is to rise some feelings that are apart from reality of common life I can use all ways to reach my aim. When I want to show someone my way of seeing the world around me I won't do any photoshop tricks to change the reality of my point of view. So that is the question of philosophy and morality of photography:) Of course the great philosophical problem of "Is it the truth that what I see?" have to be considered. We see with our brains, that process and analyzes the signals collected by eyes, then we make interpretation using our knowledge about world, culture and many more aspects of our experience.

w said...

What is posted here is at least as good as the reference article.

I've already posted some photos, Z. No reality there, no water, no fire.

Berkley, in response to another question, said we have to live as if. . . .

In taking pictures, we live as if. . . .

doktor semmelweiss said...

nein reality
shame on you w
ich verstehe nict zero about this argumentieren aber eine Swiss or Schwedish fotografer herr Strömholm sagt das er prefers der Subjecive fotografi.
Einer complicated Art
Warum nich machen some pictures. SO viele reden und argumentieren in dieser forum.
Eine Bilde sagt mehr als ein million words.
/Dr Semmelweis

Grisza said...

To picture my opinion I posted two photos here: http://gruppof.blogspot.com/2007/12/emotional-reality.html

cafe selavy said...


Sorry, I am no fluent. I think you are making fun of me, though. I didn't say nein reality. It is all reality. The one who photographs it, keeps it. I looked at the photos, grisza, and read the commentary. I think of Bergson's arguments on time, place, and memory and Bachelard's famous essays on place. I have some old photos I took in 1975 that I would post here if I could (I guess I can submit them). They don't exist any longer. The negatives are gone. I have scanned the old proofsheets that remain and have been able to eek out some cyber-images. That is the only place they exists now. I like the photos and lament their passing, but I find a tremendous power in their existing only as zeros and ones passing through the internet at the speed of light.

Sorry I signed in using the nickname "W" before. I didn't realize I could sign in.

Grisza said...

cafe selavy,
I don,t deny the great power of document, which has photography. Digital revolution in photography gave us just new tools to archive, document time, places, people, making proof for our memory and of create pictures in new way. Maybe after 30 years photos posted here will be some kind of document for our times:)

ulf fågelhammar said...

Please cafe selavy, you are welcome to post the pictures you mentioned
to gruppof inbox
this discussion is a fine example of what we can achieve here on the F Blog. My concern is to promote good photography and to uphold its status as an independant form of art.

Don´t worry about semmelwhite - he is a bit eccentric - we keep him here as a remain of the 19th century. And he is amusing at his best.