Wednesday 28 November 2012

The Present is a Hard Sell

A response to Tim Plester sharing 'American TinType', a short film about a man's relationship with the manual processes of photographic production. (Click on link to view the 3 minute film).

"Hey Tim, 

this is a lovely sensitive film...There seems though to be a contradiction in the photographer wanting to move away from the process, into the 'pure' image making itself. This would render his current process obsolete and free him to work with any tools including those of the 21st century. 

His images are steeped in nostalgia but there is no modern resonance. I see this in a lot of fine art photography, it is responding to a subconscious need to look back. The potential legacy of these images renders them almost immediately obsolete, they have no value as an expression of work created in this era.

Hmmm...the rules of aesthetic 'beauty' are caught up in the nostalgic process of image making. It is the hardest job to create a valuable work of art in the medium of the era especially when it is so commonly used and seen in our daily lives, but that is the challenge. I struggle with it too; should my images remain inherently and conceptually inaccessible to the commercial world or should I attempt further to incorporate established aesthetic criteria to make ideas more palatable? I am experimenting with this at the moment and seeing where my boundaries are.

We can borrow from the past of course but i am conceptually against sentimentalism, it can be a soft metaphor for a bygone age where things were 'better', which is mistaken. Sally Mann walked that line so beautifully in her collection 'Immediate Family' and also the extraordinary Joel Peter Witkin , these and others incorporate a modern psychology in the fabric of the works whilst playfully almost mocking the processes and techniques of the past in the juxtaposition with the content. Contemporary works should be just that; an expression of the era embedded in the image itself, like the actual images from the past that some are trying to emulate. 

The present is a hard sell." Love D.