Thursday, 30 April 2009
Friday, 24 April 2009
We were given a piece of reading to do a presentation on called Documents and pictures: two forms of realism from Themes in Contemporary Art (2004), which mainly spoke about Jeff Wall and Allan Sekula. Are these two forms of realism really different and is any form less valid than the other? In the presentation we looked at what a photograph is “The word 'photograph' means 'light writing'...it also speaks to an underlying concern to control light and time.” (Graham Clarke) The poignant bit for me is this idea of controlling time, people seeing photography as a means to capture a moment in time and it being a definitive, this lead us to look into documentary photography. The dictionary definition of documenting something is to record, register, and archive it, on paper, in writing. On the other side we looked into picture photography to compare the two, documentary photographs it seems are deemed more “real” than other forms of photography and art. What the viewer sees is what they deem to be the entire reality.
There is a famous photography made my Robert Capa called Loyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, 1936 (below), in which we see what we believe (because Capa or someone named the image so) is a militant man dying. There is speculation as to whether the man is literally dying in front of Capa or whether it was staged, but as Robert Capa is a trusted documentary photographer we only speculate for mere seconds and then believe what we’re previously told.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
There was a programme of BBC four called Seven Photographs that changed fashion, in which fashion photographer Rankin recreated iconic fashion images by Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Erwin Blumefeld, Herb Ritts, Helmut Newton and finally Guy Bourdin. The latter I had never heard of before and coincidentally I have fallen in love with his work. His ideas are so simple but exectued in such a way that even highly regarded Rankin couldn't even make a decent recreation of one of his works (in my opinion of course). I wonder if photographs (not just Bourdin's) were so hard to replicate exactly because of the photographers use of film rather than digital. Or did he feel bad about replicating it exactly, about "steeling" their shots? Or is he just not competant enough? I mean obviously he's good, he wouldn't be where he is now if he wasn't, but is he just good in the digital age? The image of Cecil Beaton's that he recreated was done on both digital and film and even he admited that Sophie Ellis Bexter's expression was better in the film one as the process is more arduous for the models. I think it would be a shame if film photography ever dies out completely as it;s important for our education at photographers, we have to think about our shots and pre-empt the final result otherwise we'd waste money and time. But I fear that being in the age of technology which, advances so fast, that the artistic element to our photography will suffer.