Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chris Jordan update...

I posted about Chris Jordan’s new work and it seems Conscientious picked up on it and the ensuing “Yes but is it photography” discussion on the Large Format list However, I think the comment:

“You should probably look at the ensuing errr... "discussion" yourself (and if you want to comment, do it over there); for me, it was interesting (and sad atthe same time) to see how many people would either write "fantastic" or something like "just predictable liberal dogma". Are there any nuanced opinions left?”
was at best rather premature

A list discussion is an evolving thing – if you follow the thread now, a few days later, you will find many more good nuanced opinions. Simply put, these things need time – and yes, like all discussions, you need to sift the wheat from the (not inconsiderable...) chaff.

Some snippets:

…I agree with everyone who finds work that's purely agitprop to be uninteresting. If the only thing going on in this work was a condemnation of industry, or capitalism, or humans, it would be a big yawn for me. Whether or not i agreed. But I see more going on. For one thing, the work is pretty. The graphic forms, the almost fractal looking repetition, the interplay of detail and textures at different scales, are all mesmerizing. There's a kind of terrible beauty. It's much like the experience of looking at New York City from an airplane or a high window. The scale of it is at the same time breathtaking and horrifying. It stands simultaneously as a monument to dozens of things that are admirable and regretable about our species.It doesn't offer the viewer any obvious explanations or answers. If it was Chris's intention to create simple propaganda, then I think he failed beautifully…

…I think art, if done well, can reach into a deeper and more moving place than the usual arguments can (numbers, statistics, profit margins, doom and gloom reports, etc.). I'm not saying my work has that kind of power by itself, but maybe it might contribute something along with all the other voices that are calling for a paradigm shift. I consider myself as being like an alcoholic in a family of alcoholics, and my photographs are saying "look at the huge pile of bottles in the corner, guys, those are ours." Whatever solution there is to it all, I'm sure not smart enough or educated enough to know what it should be. But I do feel an urge to stand up and at least say "we need to have a talk."…

..The mechanical reproduction in Evans' work magnified into the mega-reproduction in for example Gursky, also in your own pictures of waste, is now rendered so big, you can't see it for what it is as individual units, only as the idea expressed in the image. It's an interesting comment on the relation of an idea to its sublime reality, one which does not let itself be empiricially grasped but for your formation of it into a unified concept. Who, for example, can "see" the national debt in terms of what all those dollar bills look like? Can we see the "tragedy of the commons" in one of us buying a Hummer and how that contributes to an overall picture of waste and environmental catastrophe? These pictures conceptualize that in a very interesting way, and make for a very powerful statement….

…Consumption is a multifaceted problem, which has at its heart the belief in personal right over wider responsability. You are basically asking people to question a belief system. It isn't as if people don't know the problem exists. This interpretation and personal questioning of a personal paradigm is exactly what great art can do - it forces the viewer inwards and outwards at the same time, it can make connections between elements that the viewer has not thought of, it can be 'universal' - in the same way that the Guernica has become a universal image that people STILL are affected by when they see it. By allowing viewers to 'play' with the elements of an image and its meaning, you permit the opportunity for wider connections to be made than you originally thought of - the scope of the work becomes greater with each viewing, if you like….

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