What, in your view, makes photographs unique as an art form?
Photographs can be unique as an art form, under certain circumstances. Looking back on Part 1, what makes art, art, I explored the idea of the person behind the work, who they are, how they live their life, their past experiences, the bigger picture behind the work, the story. Only then can we look a photograph as a form of art. I don’t know of any times, where a random person took a picture, without previous experience, or education, and that photograph was rewarded a place in a gallery. On the other hand, if a famous artist, with years of experience, lives a life, for example in the appellation mountains, with the sole purpose to document the lives of the people, and the photographs are a result of that undertaking, than I consider that art. Instagram and social media are not art, they are shallow, convenient ways of capturing too many moments. They are in some ways fake news, staged, and glamorized.
Going back to the idea of photographs being unique as an art form, it’s about seeing the world in a different way, the same as a painter, or sculptor would depict what they see. Some may argue that its easier to take a picture, just a push of a button, but when you begin you understand the science and technical side, especially when developing your own prints, you discover how you can manipulate a negative with light and exposure.
You only get a split second to capture a moment, and without experience, education, and hard graft, I do not think it’s possible to do it so haphazardly to the point it was just a happy accident.
Think of the production of artworks in relation to time: photographs are always in the present – they are captured not synthesised.
The interesting thing about multiple exposure, of motor drives, even film is — you can capture more than one moment, create a contact sheet, and choose the one which is right to expose. In that way, there are more than one moment, but in a whole they represent a time linearly, which we can experience in the present, to look back upon.
I found it interesting looking at colorized iconic black and white images, because, you almost imagine the past to be so, like the wizard of oz. Once you see them in colour, you can relate them to today, and their meaning changes, they are more present, than past.
Think also about what we mean by ‘photographic image’. Does it have to be something permanently fixed?
A photographic image is fixed, but also can be manipulated with colour, as mentioned above, to change its quality with filters– to look like a Polaroid, black and white, grainy, techno colour etc… which all hold a different time as to how film was produced and processed.
Does a photograph have to exist in hard copy? Is there a difference between a printed photograph and a digital image that sits virtually on someone’s device, for instance?
Jon Berger’s ways of seeing reminds me how you relate to images in the surroundings, for example, how different photographs feel in a photo album, next to others, perhaps taken the same time– they are a series of time which tell a story. When you see a photograph printed to it highest quality, enlarged, and frames in a gallery with white walls, it holds more importance. Digital images feel temporary, so easily deleted, or flicked through on a computer, or device– on a News feed, or in thumbnail grids, or perhaps on a slide show. They are miniature files of data built up from tinier bits of information which light and colour make pixels– they feel ultimately transient.