Monday, March 19, 2007

Uta Barth

One thing I sometimes think happens is that we see work by a photographer and we can see there is something there. It immediately says something to us. But somehow we don't quite like it (though perhaps like isn't quite the right word). Each time we come across it we say to ourselves "oh yes, that stuff, I remember that". Then - sometimes quite a while later - it almost imperceptibly just clicks.

For me that's the case with
Uta Barth's photographs. And right now I'm going "ah yes - now I get it" and want to look at more of it. It's probably all in response to the how the areas and ideas I'm investigating right now resonate with the things she has done in her work. But there's a sort of double pleasure to it. Coming to the realisation that yes, your suspicion was right, there was something to it. But mostly, the excitement of pouring over some pictures that you had probably seen before and yet now they seem fresh and intriguing in a way you couldn't quite perceive before.

From Uta Barth: In Between Places: "Deceptively simple, Uta Barth's photographic works question the traditional functions of pictures and our expectations of them. By photographing in ordinary anonymous places - in simple rooms, city streets, airports and fields - Barth uses what is natural and unstudied to shift attention away from the subject matter, and redirect focus to a consciousness of the processes of perception and the visceral and intellectual pleasures of seeing....

...Uta Barth provides a compelling look at the nature of our own experience.Her beautifully composed photographs, most often created in places that seem somehow familiar, prompt our consciousness of visual sensations and a deeper consideration of what looking really means.

...Barth has used photography exclusively in her aesthetic projects, experimenting with depth of field, focus and framing to create photographs that are suggestive rather than descriptive, alluding to places rather than describing them explicitly. Her interiors and landscapes engage the viewer in an almost subliminal way, testing memory, intellect and habitual responses..."

There also a fairly in-depth interview with Barth here

A few tasters: ...We assume that the photographer observed a place, a person, an event in the world and wanted to record it, point at it. There is always something that motivated the taking of a photograph. The problem with my work is that these images are really not of anything in that sense, they register only that which is incidental and peripherally implied... I have never been interested in making a photograph that describes what the world I live in looks like, but I am interested in what pictures (of the world) look like.... My primary project has always been in finding ways to make the viewer aware of their own activity of looking at something (or in some instances, someone.) ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I have never been interested in making a photograph that describes what the world I live in looks like, but I am interested in what pictures (of the world) look like..." clearly echoes Garry Winogrand's attitude to photography, with which I empathize.

Three related Winogrand quotes:

1) "A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera 'saw' a piece of time and space."

2) "Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed."

3) "I photograph to see what the world looks like in photographs."