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02/16/2019 02:25:32 AM · #1
Flat, soulless and stupid: why photographs donít work in art galleries

Please discuss.
02/16/2019 03:03:23 AM · #2
After having read the article it seems really to be just about someone elseís perspective.

I can linger a long time in a good photo exhibition but the same can be true of any other good art exhibition. I know some people though that couldnít be dragged into a abstract art exhibition. From this perspective realism isnít greatly appreciated but just because thatís a preference here, doesnít make it true.

Photography can be flat and soulless but so can anything, some of the most valuable paintings in the world i find flat and soulless but does that mean they are? no itís just my perspective. We have absolutely no control over our perspectives and preferences but the division and tension caused by defending our perspectives over someone elseís perspectives and preferences is silly. Thereís nothing to defend, itís all good.

02/16/2019 03:46:44 AM · #3
Originally posted by jagar:

After having read the article it seems really to be just about someone elseís perspective.

I can linger a long time in a good photo exhibition but the same can be true of any other good art exhibition. I know some people though that couldnít be dragged into a abstract art exhibition. From this perspective realism isnít greatly appreciated but just because thatís a preference here, doesnít make it true.

Photography can be flat and soulless but so can anything, some of the most valuable paintings in the world i find flat and soulless but does that mean they are? no itís just my perspective. We have absolutely no control over our perspectives and preferences but the division and tension caused by defending our perspectives over someone elseís perspectives and preferences is silly. Thereís nothing to defend, itís all good.


i didnt read all the article .. but i agree with john .. its all about our own perspective ..
also soul is where you find it ... if you dont have it within .. i think you may find it difficult to find it without ..
and thats just my perspective .. :)
02/16/2019 10:34:49 AM · #4
I thought the key of the article was that only a masterly execution of painting techniques would make people look at pictures for a long time and that photos are not capable of that, and hence, soulless i.e. the technique is the soul of a painting! ;)

I don't agree with that but even so I prefer to look at the photos on a large screen or projected than on a framed printout. Somehow backlit photos have more depth. What do you think? Do you prefer printed or projected photos?
02/16/2019 10:54:11 AM · #5
Originally posted by marnet:

Somehow backlit photos have more depth. What do you think? Do you prefer printed or projected photos?

Agreed, I work with wide format printers and printing on backlit media always seem to have a clarity and punch is different from normal media.
02/16/2019 11:36:08 AM · #6
Originally posted by marnet:

I thought the key of the article was that only a masterly execution of painting techniques would make people look at pictures for a long time and that photos are not capable of that, and hence, soulless i.e. the technique is the soul of a painting! ;)

I don't agree with that but even so I prefer to look at the photos on a large screen or projected than on a framed printout. Somehow backlit photos have more depth. What do you think? Do you prefer printed or projected photos?


Yes projected photos seem to have more wow factor, a printed photo really needs high quality paper and expert lighting to compare, in the end though this all comes down to taste. I think we get used to seeing photos on the screen and that becomes the norm, then when we see them printed out with bad lighting it can be disappointing. I print on aluminium and really like the result, it has to be done well though with the same high quality paper, I use photo rag baryta, hahnemuhle 315g
02/16/2019 01:38:50 PM · #7
Originally posted by jagar:

Yes projected photos seem to have more wow factor...

Not only seem to, actually do. Why? Because transmitted/projected light is capable of rendering a much greater dynamic range than reflected light. You can never make a print as luminous as a color slide of the same scene.
02/16/2019 07:22:01 PM · #8
the article is very shallow. one might even call it flat, soulless, etc. It's like he misread John Berger and it gave him an idea for a clickbait title. And then he wrote an article to justify his clickbait article.

His arguments seems to hinge on people looking at paintings only for the brushstrokes. Most people looking at a painting have no idea how to paint it. A few do. A few people also know how to make a photograph, what can be done in a darkroom or a photo-editing program. Most do not.

The weirdness of a museum, a place we go to see artifacts no longer used and paintings no longer in homes and churches, can be debated at length. There is something artificial about staring at a painting in a gallery full of paintings. Photographs are no different. Artists since the 70's have been playing off the weirdness of the whole museum experience. One artist couple stripped naked and stood in the doorway so everyone would have to squeeze through their naked bodies to get to the art. I wonder what the critic thinks of that art? But he picks on photography instead.
02/17/2019 02:11:19 AM · #9
Ha, the weirdness of a museum, love that. Thereís so many things that we take for granted as being normal but once seen in a new light.....

Donít throw rocks at me but that guy didnít have a choice but to write that terrible article, from his perspective itís true and nothing one could say to him in the immediate would change that. Maybe as more things happen to him his perspective will change, even then though it will still only be his new perspective and as such have nothing to do with whatís happening.
02/17/2019 09:37:27 AM · #10
No rocks, I promise! But I do want to bring one nuance to your observation.

While it's true that we are helpless in the face of our opinions, there is one thing we can do, and that's a little research. For decades I have been fascinated by the history behind my assumptions, from art to religion to politics to psychology.

As you say, there is no way to control my opinions, there is no me to control them or even have them, but I can have the pleasure of trying to understand them. It's one of the pursuits I most enjoy.
02/17/2019 10:46:12 AM · #11
Originally posted by posthumous:

No rocks, I promise! But I do want to bring one nuance to your observation.

While it's true that we are helpless in the face of our opinions, there is one thing we can do, and that's a little research. For decades I have been fascinated by the history behind my assumptions, from art to religion to politics to psychology.

As you say, there is no way to control my opinions, there is no me to control them or even have them, but I can have the pleasure of trying to understand them. It's one of the pursuits I most enjoy.


Absouletly and in my opinion itís the only pursuit that can bring lasting peace of mind. That peace is found when you dig and dig and the source of all this is seen as wonderfully empty, what is just is and it has nothing to do with you, yet it is all you. The seeker is the sought.

When I look inside and see that I am nothing, that is wisdom
When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love.
And between these two, my life turns.
Ė Nisargadatta

02/22/2019 09:41:57 AM · #12
What a hoot!

The guy is out to lunch. Vivi 31_F.gif LoVi and I have a gallery, and my images and her paintings share wall space. She's all over the map with styles......she paints what comes into her head, her mind's eye, and that produces an eclectic mix. I'm the same way with my imagery in that the subject material is varied. We also have various different mediums. I have images printed on canvas, standard paper, mats, & frames, even one on a sheet of Lucite. Obviously, I think what I have is commanding, otherwise why would I have it there, and from the feedback I get, the general public agrees. The same goes for Vivi's paintings. It sounds an awful lot to me like the writer of the article simply doesn't like photography on walls. That doesn't make it soulless across the board, just for him.

It's funny....the way he talks about seeing images on a screen or "the page" being as good as on the wall of a gallery is just plain wrong. One of the things that has always annoyed me is how much better most of my images look big..... REALLY big. It's expensive, but IMO, worth it for the effect. Not gonna get that on your iPad.

Of course, this is my subjective take on it, with the caveat that five plus years of having customers/viewers coming to our gallery help support my position.

I just went to an exhibit last weekend and was completely blown away by the imagery I saw. Photos. On the wall.

Maybe this guy needs to rethink how he views photography.

YMMV.

Message edited by author 2019-02-22 09:43:34.
02/22/2019 12:21:20 PM · #13
I was an art major in college. I (somewhat naively) didn't consider the photography teacher to be a "real artist". I kind of looked down on photography. His prints were photographs - "so What?" I thought. I was making things that I didn't want framed. I didn't want to sell my "art". I wanted it to affect the world. Affect opinions - directly. I really appreciated performance art - it was (and is) difficult to compare a photograph to an action or interaction that a piece of physical or performance art would create.

Photos can feel superfluous. It can feel like a typed letter compared to a beautifully hand-written scroll. And being that it seems every human has a decent camera in their pocket our tendency might be to shy away from fawning over something somebody chose to print and hang.

It's not a new argument that a gallery is just a place to show off something mundane:
2Q==

ETA: Mind you I had a darkroom in my basement during college. THen I made another one in my basement after college. I've had my own art show at a local gallery which was photographic prints. But that show did make me feel a bit soulless ;).

Message edited by author 2019-02-22 12:41:07.
02/22/2019 02:40:07 PM · #14
Originally posted by tate:


It's not a new argument that a gallery is just a place to show off something mundane:
2Q==



That is Duchamp, and yes that piece of "art" was specifically created to be in a gallery. In fact, it would be hard to consider it art anywhere else, and that was his point.

The reason I skipped to the 70's is because Duchamp was too far ahead of his time, and I didn't want to confuse things. In the 40's, decades after his "Fountain," we saw the rise of Abstract Expressionism. And it was in attempts to critique these works that critics started obsessing over things like brushstrokes, signs of technique, since there could no longer be discussion of representation.

The critics that preceded Duchamp could easily skip any talk of brushstrokes and focus mainly on subject matter, composition, light, theme ... things you could just as naturally focus on in a photograph.
02/22/2019 02:51:53 PM · #15
That was MY point too ! As in just because a photo is in a gallery doesn't mean it is worth pontification.
I feel like this is a good "beer conversation" ... maybe I will come back to it later tomorrow night ;)

Originally posted by posthumous:


That is Duchamp, and yes that piece of "art" was specifically created to be in a gallery. In fact, it would be hard to consider it art anywhere else, and that was his point.
02/22/2019 03:02:25 PM · #16
Any "art" can be considered soulless, if you don't know how to find a soul.

I went to an exhibit of African American quilts. The timeframe was between 1880s and early 1900s. Having made quilts, they seemed simple, uncomplicated and uninteresting.

Until you heard the stories. Until you knew how to look at them. The subtleties and choices in the placements of the pieces were fascinating. But I hadn't noticed.

I left being completely amazed and finding many them incredibly beautiful.

Whether the Styrofoam chickens that my mother made with art with a soul is debatable. But maybe I haven't learned how to see those quite yet, either.

Message edited by author 2019-02-22 15:02:55.
02/23/2019 12:04:32 AM · #17
Originally posted by tate:

That was MY point too ! As in just because a photo is in a gallery doesn't mean it is worth pontification.
I feel like this is a good "beer conversation" ... maybe I will come back to it later tomorrow night ;)

Originally posted by posthumous:


That is Duchamp, and yes that piece of "art" was specifically created to be in a gallery. In fact, it would be hard to consider it art anywhere else, and that was his point.


It would be an excellent beer conversation if you're ever in ny/nj

P.s. Well said, Wendy
02/23/2019 02:36:59 AM · #18
These conversations always come back to a perspective. Is photography soulless? depends completely on the onlooker not the photography. Any work of art is just an object, completely soulless and without meaning. The meaning given to the object by the creator is just passing thought, the meaning given to the object by the viewer is just passing thought, in the end itís just an object with no more importance than a stone or a roll of toilet paper.

The most absurd and yet hilarious thing to be observed in any art exhibition is the meaning people invent to put a perspective on what they are looking at, it really is completely stupid and outstandingly arrogant. One could spend a whole life thinking about art and at the end all you have are your own thoughts which have nothing to do with the outside objects that have a name tag art on them.The separation between the object and the perceiver of that object canít be bridged with thought and knowing, it might be fun to some, it might drive others mad, but in the end it all means nothing. Shakespeare said it best: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
02/23/2019 02:49:18 AM · #19
The idea that if something has no meaning then itís hopeless and depressing is also just a thought and as such meaningless, keep going under under under.

Message edited by author 2019-02-23 02:49:57.
02/23/2019 03:24:19 AM · #20
Originally posted by jagar:

...an object with no more importance than a stone or a roll of toilet paper...

It is very important when there is none left!! ;)

The real reasons why I started this thread:

1. do I really want to have my photos printed and exhibited in a public space for others to see?

2. at DPC landscapes are frequently accused of being soulless so I am trying to understand why they evoke no emotions at all?

Re 1 - I am concluding that no, I prefer to share them online. As was mentioned in the replies to this thread the projected image has more depth than paper. I am also not taking photos for a living so the commercial aspects of having photos exhibited, are of no interest to me.

Re 2 - maybe the real problem is the difficulty on capturing the three dimensional experience in two dimensional media. When I look at snow covered mountains I experience a lot of good emotions but the photos just don't pass this onto the viewer, I wonder what to do about that? Do landscape photos which have "soul" exist? How to learn to capture the emotions?
02/23/2019 05:41:00 AM · #21
Originally posted by marnet:



The real reasons why I started this thread:

1. do I really want to have my photos printed and exhibited in a public space for others to see?

If you are looking for positive feedback and praise then also be prepared for negative feedback and criticism, if thatís not an issue then go for it, if it is then donít.

2. at DPC landscapes are frequently accused of being soulless so I am trying to understand why they evoke no emotions at all?

They are offten evoked as soulless because some people see them as soulless, there doesnít need to be a reason for that. A lot of people will think landscape shots are the best and these people will feel a great infinity with your kind of photography, there doesnít need to be a reason for this. Neither perspective is true, itís just whatís happening.

Re 1 - I am concluding that no, I prefer to share them online. As was mentioned in the replies to this thread the projected image has more depth than paper. I am also not taking photos for a living so the commercial aspects of having photos exhibited, are of no interest to me.

Then just be happy sharing them online and if the desire arises to share them elsewhere then do it, that will be just whatís happening.

Re 2 - maybe the real problem is the difficulty on capturing the three dimensional experience in two dimensional media. When I look at snow covered mountains I experience a lot of good emotions but the photos just don't pass this onto the viewer, I wonder what to do about that? Do landscape photos which have "soul" exist? How to learn to capture the emotions?


Just as thereís no possible way to accurately verbalise whatís happening in your senses when you are looking at a beautiful landscape, thereís also no accurate way of you showing this through a photo, the best you can do is to point to it, but that pointing can only ever be a pointing and it might not be percieved by the viewer in a positive way. To some people your pointing might seem soulless, to others spot on the mark and meaningful, problems arise when thereís a belief in a right and wrong in these perceptions.

Try to describe the taste of chocolate to somone that has no idea what chocolate is, you can point but thatís all, the only real way is to stick it in their mouth. Every moment is a new and unique happening, trying to describe it, is the separation from it, wanting the other to get it, is the separation from it. Whatís happening is just happening, a beautiful landscape is just a beautiful landscape, any thought to understand It, is just thought and has nothing to do with it.

02/23/2019 06:45:44 AM · #22
Originally posted by jagar:

Originally posted by marnet:



The real reasons why I started this thread:

1. do I really want to have my photos printed and exhibited in a public space for others to see?

If you are looking for positive feedback and praise then also be prepared for negative feedback and criticism, if thatís not an issue then go for it, if it is then donít.

2. at DPC landscapes are frequently accused of being soulless so I am trying to understand why they evoke no emotions at all?

They are offten evoked as soulless because some people see them as soulless, there doesnít need to be a reason for that. A lot of people will think landscape shots are the best and these people will feel a great infinity with your kind of photography, there doesnít need to be a reason for this. Neither perspective is true, itís just whatís happening.

Re 1 - I am concluding that no, I prefer to share them online. As was mentioned in the replies to this thread the projected image has more depth than paper. I am also not taking photos for a living so the commercial aspects of having photos exhibited, are of no interest to me.

Then just be happy sharing them online and if the desire arises to share them elsewhere then do it, that will be just whatís happening.

Re 2 - maybe the real problem is the difficulty on capturing the three dimensional experience in two dimensional media. When I look at snow covered mountains I experience a lot of good emotions but the photos just don't pass this onto the viewer, I wonder what to do about that? Do landscape photos which have "soul" exist? How to learn to capture the emotions?


Just as thereís no possible way to accurately verbalise whatís happening in your senses when you are looking at a beautiful landscape, thereís also no accurate way of you showing this through a photo, the best you can do is to point to it, but that pointing can only ever be a pointing and it might not be percieved by the viewer in a positive way. To some people your pointing might seem soulless, to others spot on the mark and meaningful, problems arise when thereís a belief in a right and wrong in these perceptions.

Try to describe the taste of chocolate to somone that has no idea what chocolate is, you can point but thatís all, the only real way is to stick it in their mouth. Every moment is a new and unique happening, trying to describe it, is the separation from it, wanting the other to get it, is the separation from it. Whatís happening is just happening, a beautiful landscape is just a beautiful landscape, any thought to understand It, is just thought and has nothing to do with it.


I found what you wrote thought provoking John ..
especially as I had just been reading this ..
maybe not everyoneís cup of tea .. but itís a brew I find very stimulating .. ;)

Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_1233127.png
02/23/2019 07:03:23 AM · #23
Originally posted by jagar:


Just as thereís no possible way to accurately verbalise whatís happening in your senses when you are looking at a beautiful landscape, thereís also no accurate way of you showing this through a photo, the best you can do is to point to it, but that pointing can only ever be a pointing and it might not be percieved by the viewer in a positive way. To some people your pointing might seem soulless, to others spot on the mark and meaningful, problems arise when thereís a belief in a right and wrong in these perceptions.

Try to describe the taste of chocolate to somone that has no idea what chocolate is, you can point but thatís all, the only real way is to stick it in their mouth. Every moment is a new and unique happening, trying to describe it, is the separation from it, wanting the other to get it, is the separation from it. Whatís happening is just happening, a beautiful landscape is just a beautiful landscape, any thought to understand It, is just thought and has nothing to do with it.

But what you are saying could apply to any genre of photography, why specifically pick on landscape?
02/23/2019 07:55:17 AM · #24
Thanks Ros, I enjoyed that.

There was an famous English theatre producer called Terence James Gray who became well known later in his life under the pen name Wei Wu Wei. Iím mentioning him because thereís a quote of his that sums up perfectly the question of the perceiver and the percieved. His books are great by the way.

ďWhy are you unhappy?
Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourselfóand there isnít one.Ē
Wei Wu Wei

One could brush that aside quickly and say itís not true, but if we really look deeply and honestly, itís totally accurate. That 99.9 percent can never say what this is, itís always just going to be about me and my preferences, it can never have anything to do with whatís actually happening. Whatís actually happening doesnít have a meaning, meaning has to be in the 99.9 percent. Of course if you were in the lucky bunch, you could change wei wu weiís quote and ask why are you happy instead of unhappy and the answer would be exactly the same because happiness and unhappiness are the same as right and wrong and good and bad, these are all dualistic concepts invented by the 99.9 percent and wholly dependent on its preferences.
Whatís left when nothingís about me then? How about everything, exactly as it is, itís never changed, the only thing that moves is mind and itís moving around a center that is entirely a construct.

Message edited by author 2019-02-23 07:58:14.
02/23/2019 07:57:08 AM · #25
Originally posted by marnet:

Originally posted by jagar:


Just as thereís no possible way to accurately verbalise whatís happening in your senses when you are looking at a beautiful landscape, thereís also no accurate way of you showing this through a photo, the best you can do is to point to it, but that pointing can only ever be a pointing and it might not be percieved by the viewer in a positive way. To some people your pointing might seem soulless, to others spot on the mark and meaningful, problems arise when thereís a belief in a right and wrong in these perceptions.

Try to describe the taste of chocolate to somone that has no idea what chocolate is, you can point but thatís all, the only real way is to stick it in their mouth. Every moment is a new and unique happening, trying to describe it, is the separation from it, wanting the other to get it, is the separation from it. Whatís happening is just happening, a beautiful landscape is just a beautiful landscape, any thought to understand It, is just thought and has nothing to do with it.

But what you are saying could apply to any genre of photography, why specifically pick on landscape?


It applies to everything from dirty socks to ham sandwiches :-)
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