Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Follow the Links

I am realizing that having a blog is akin to joining a gym: you always mean to participate and you run the chance of feeling guilty if you don't. I and my partner Bruce just joined a gym on January 1 and we have not yet gone yet, but mean to when we have the energy (insert irony here). In my own daily blog reading, I was inspired to post on how I came upon to link to a couple of interesting tidbits. Think of this as the ancestry of a link or an insight into my thought process and web habits (interesting, boring, or scary? you decide).

While performing my daily visit to the Boston Globe's artblog,
The Exhibitionist, by Geoff Edgers, I found that his blog made it to the top 10 blogs submitted to the Walker Art Center by Tyler Green, who writes another blog, Modern Art Notes. In Green's list, he lists Alec Soth's blog as well as the Walker's own employee blog (a great idea). Poking around the Walker blog, I came across a great post sharing John Szarkowski's thoughts on what makes a "perfect photo." It's worth returning to look for more from Paul Schmelzer and re-quoting the quote:

In a bad photograph, a lot of the time, the frame isn't altogether understood -- there are big areas of unexplained chemicals. It's especially difficult as the picture gets bigger. If it's small, a little piece of black can look like a dark place, right? But as it gets bigger, eventually it just turns into a black shape. And you look at the surface of the picture and it reminds you of the chemical factories on Lake Erie, creating pollution problems by making synthetic materials out of soybeans and petroleum derivatives. And you don't want that. The basic material of photographs is not intrinsically beautiful. It's not like ivory or tapestry or bronze or oil on canvas. You're not supposed to look at the thing, you're supposed to look through it. It's a window. And everything behind it has got to be organized as a space full of stuff, even if it's only air.

Some photographers think the idea is enough. I told a good story in my Getty talk, a beautiful story, to the point: Ducasse says to his friend Mallarmé -- I think this is a true story -- he says, "You know, I've got a lot of good ideas for poems, but the poems are never very good." Mallarmé says, "Of course, you don't make poems out of ideas, you make poems out of words." Really good, huh? Really true. So, photographers who aren't so good think that you make photographs out of ideas. And they generally get only about halfway to the photograph and think that they're done. ....

- JS


jeremias said...

Oh, your blog looks so lonely without any comments! so here goes... I like the quote, I think a lot of times artists who are just using the photograph as a means to talk about the idea don't always know anything about photography, thank you Kodak for bringing it to the masses! But quite similarly like I was saying about the recent art fairs in Miami, how quality in photography seems to have completely gone down the drain, not to mention the care taken in presentation of them (NO! using black electrical tape to "mount" a 30x40 c-print to a wall is in no way acceptable, if I were the artist I'd be pissed at that gallery, of course I would never have given just prints to a gallery to go represent me at a massive art buying mecca, hmm I wonder if a roll of electrical tape comes with the print if you buy it) and being only about the idea is also a lame copout! I still want to look at something beautiful, not some garbage on the wall that looks like it has been treated like the most disrespected precious object ever!

LKB said...

Thanks for your comment! I do agree, I have seen a similar trend, especially so in print quality, in inkjets, digital c-prints, and c-prints. I hope that as photo advances, quality is not left behind.