21 January 2009

Thoughts on me, and photography #1
Photography is for me a tool that allows different kinds of exploration, stuff like various modes, things, places, emotions…

I think of the camera as sort of exploration machine, a vehicle with which I can travel to locations I have never been before. All too often it just takes me to the same old places that I already have seen a thousand times. I don´t like it when it is like that. But the thing is that the camera has the potential to go anywhere. That thought is a great motivator for me.

paparazzing myself traveling around

For me photography, and image making in general, is mainly an intuitive process. It´s not an intellectual activity at all, and I´m not concerned with aspects like that of a pictures “real meaning”. Actually, I do not believe in a meaning outside the language of the specific work of art. The meaning of an image is in the image, or nowhere at all I think.For instance, what´s the meaning with Ravel's orchestral work Bolero? Surely, It´s a great piece of music. But can you hunt down it´s true meaning using words? Of course you can´t. Isn´t it the same thing with images?


Photography is also a totally egoistic act for me. I don´t work for anyone, I don´t have any agenda, I hardly sell any images at all, and my only mission is to examine things that interest me for the moment. When I´m tired of taking photos, I do other things! I like to read, play the guitar, pick berries, drink wine, take walks, et cetera. The image isn´t everything for me. Sometimes I get enough of pictures. You really can get too much of a good thing, like friends that don´t know when it´s time to go home...Music is a more charming art form in that sense I think: it starts and then it stops and disappears, and it´s over! I like that.

Different Trains (Title from a music composition of Steve Reich)

Usually I´m not that interested in opinions what photography should be, what´s important, or correct, or urgent, or whatever. I don´t want to take part in that kind of discussions. For me the camera is like a brush or a pencil. I do what I want with it. You can paint what ever you want. Let me do the same. It´s my brush!

(f-) apple

I never try to reach objective stuff, like the “truth”, or “reality”. Reality is for me like a chunk of wood, or something you can´t catch with your hands, like reflections on a wall. You can´t touch it and you can´t do anything with it, you have to process it first, maybe purify it, and you have to have proper tools, like reflection catching gloves!

It´s same thing with reality I think. Art is one tool to process reality and to make something of it. And, photography is an art form.

Another way to put it:

Art is reality as seen through a temperament

(Corot & Buse)

A funny thing with the “truth”, by the way, is that as soon as you take a closer look at it, it often changes to something else, or disappears totally. For me, truth too is like reflections on a wall, and without proper gloves, you can just forget about it. Let the dogmatics chase the truth, they need to exercise anyway!

Thin line between...
Frankly, I´m more interested in the lying side of photography, than the truth. When I listened to an interview with Sally Mann a couple of years ago, one phrase really got my attention:

It´s all a big lie.

She was taking about her images! I don´t know for certain what she meant, but I connect it with one thing that Anatole France once wrote:

Without lies, humanity would perish of despair and boredom.
Text & Images: Jan Buse