This is in response to Robb Hill’s comments to a post I made about the death of photography.
Robb, I am with you on the quest to somehow hold sacrosanct the word “photography” for the actual process of trapping light in a box and exposing it onto silver-halide based film. I too agree with you that these montages, while gorgeous, (by Maggie Taylor, John Paul Caponigro, Jerry Uelsmann or, Pedro Meyer) are a far cry from being technically photographic. While they derive from photography, their use of digital “light,” in my mind, disqualifies them from being called photographs.
I disagree with you on one point, though – that the darkroom experience alone is solitary. In my opinion, so is the process of tweaking an image using Photoshop. In fact, I think it is more likely that you are going to be alone at your desktop working on your images than when you are printing (unless you are set up at home) in a darkroom.
The issue about capturing “reality” via photography is also nebulous one. By delving into the process of photography (with film, lenses and a camera) I don’t think we are experiencing a “universal” reality, but a “personal” and highly subjective one. But going from there to what Pedro Meyer does is a huge leap (he injects backgrounds and other elements to an existing image).
I have never believed that photography was objective or neutral. Meyer and I appear to be on the same page on this issue. As a photographer, I know I have brought my perspective and biases to bear in the final print. In this regard, it’s much like painting as the impressionists intended.
“I think it’s very important for people to realize that images are not a representation of reality. The sooner that myth is destroyed and buried, the better for society all around.”
Too bad there isn’t a clear reason as to why it is beneficial to society.
In one of the articles, a mug shot of Meyer accompanied the text. I wondered if changing his hair color, or, digitally “shaving-off” his beard, or, placing him on top of the Eiffel Tower might give society a “true” image of the man. After all, it’s my interpretation of Meyer, right? I don’t think so. According to Meyer, however, these changes in the image shouldn’t matter as they are a stream of sub-realities anyway. Debatable.
Back to the initial topic – Is our vocabulary so dirt poor that we struggle to come up with a name for this new genre of photography-based art? I am taking nominations. Send me your quirkiest suggestions. The best entry (yeah, I’ll decide) wins a Tiffinbox T-shirt (include your shirt size when you email me at: tiffinbox AT pipalproductions DOT com). Subject line of your entry must read: DANCING WITH LIGHT. Contest ends on August 23, 2004. You have about a month. So, get cracking!