Monday, August 24, 2009

How long is a photograph able to sustain our gaze - Exergue

(Thomas Nozkowski - Untitled)

I read two things in the last few days that both seem to come together and point to something I've been thinking about regarding the nature of photography:

About Painter Thomas Nozkowski in a Globe & Mail review (by Sarah Milroy - note: G&M articles are time limited) of his show at the National Gallery of Canada:
"....As well, he abandoned the anonymity of concept-driven art. “All of us are interested in having an un-alienated life,” he says. “What is the point of having a craft if you cannot use it to speak about the things that interest you outside the studio?” His art would be rooted in his own life experience."


"...So, I ask him, what can painting do that nothing else can?

“Oh, that's easy,” he says, his voice relaxing affectionately. “There is no other tool that can unite images and emotions so efficiently, that can bring together what you see and what you feel about it. Painting is really about pursuing what you desire. I mean, we all walk down the street, but we see completely different things. Here we are, sharing DNA and two million years of evolutionary history. Why is it that you are looking over there and I'm looking over here?”..."

(Jon Feinstein)

From Jon Feinstein talking about his work
Pure Aesthetics:

"Pure Aesthetics rejects the tendency to find meaning and substance from superficial visual experience. Building on Clement Greenberg's ideas about abstract expressionism and the need for a tactile and purely visual perception of artwork, the images have little concept beyond their physical properties. Shiny, colorful, ostensibly inviting materials are laid flat and rendered into abstract patterns that at times appear to descend back into space or contain some code of visual complexity. While the "critical" viewer may demand a layered concept, there is actually nothing to explore beyond the purely physical surface."

Both of these sets of words raise issues about the nature and meaning of photography that I hope to explore over two or three posts to come.

(btw Clement Greenberg, when asked if he thought photography was an art or a craft, considered for a moment and then replied; "I thought it was a hobby?"... which isn't necessarily a bad thing)

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