Thursday, November 4, 2010

November 4 Lecture

Modern Photography
- used previously in Futurism, Cubism, Constructivism
- Allowed art to follow different goals than mimesis
The invention of photography in 1839 is one of the most pivotal inventions that will change the way visual culture is organised, presented and circulated. It engaged with modern life in a way no other media had. 
Used for portraiture, documentation. Humans are attached to photographs 
Shifting understanding of photography in Modernism and in relation to the concept of art.

Idea of photography as art is a modern art - upon invention was seen as "not art" 
Art used to be restricted to Painting and Sculpture

Resistance to Photography of Art 
- It is a machine - person who snaps a photograph does nothing 
           but some artists thought that this made it art 
- Photography was increasingly democratic 
            more convenient, quicker, more accessible 
            Kodak Eastman - Started in Rochester, signifies the moment when photography is totally democratic 
            Slogan "You Press the Button, We Do the Rest"
           sounds "too easy" to be art 

Walter Benjamin:
- Acknowledgement in 1936 that mass reproduction of imagery that could be circulated would forever change the traditional notion of what art is 
-Works of art had traditionally been precious, unique - this was shattered 
-Democratic impulse of photography - high art is accessible to the masses 
-Thinking about art could be available to everyone 
-Shattering of aura that original works of art had - religious aura 
-Removed from the original context and put into another in the mass media through photographs 
-Challenges notions of uniqueness, originality, authorship, authenticity 
- A political potential to photography through and by virtue of its reproductivity 
-photographs can spread messages 
- Can be used to subvert dominant ideology - Hartman 
-Place for political discourse activated through photographs 

  1. Portrait of Stieglitz: Its mechanical nature made photography and "underdog." Some practitioners tried to make it art. Photographers tried to imitate art to make claims for it as art. American born son of Jewish immigrants. Most adamant advocate for art. Editor of the American Photographer. Promotes the hand-held camera. Stresses importance of development as opposed to taking the picture. Manipulation of negative leads to the artistic result. 
  2. Fountain - Stieglitz
  3. Winter on 5th Ave: Cropped out sides of the negative. Choice is the determinant of art. Uses less than 1/2 of his plate to make photograph. Looking for "proper moment" in his photo. Tried to show weather was not a deterrent. You can make excellent photographs in any weather
  4. Reflections, Night, NY : Also interested in Rain. His reputation regarding photography was built on the fact that he was using an hand-held camera observing moments in real time 
  5. Sunlight and Shadow: Photographed in difficult moments. Called them "snapshots." Quick, in the moment. Its what happens afterward that make it artistic. Trying to break away from idea of photography as nothing but a painted image. Believed that quickness makes the media intrinsic. Looked for the intrinsic qualities of the painting. Although he was a proponent of the hand-held camera. He was opposed to the idea of art as democratic. Only inspired artists can make fine images. In 1869, he changes his journal as Camera Notes (1897 - 1903). These practitioners are writing and sharing their images across channels. Camera Notes was international in scope. Tried to build a discourse on photography on art. Looked for photographers that emphasized his take on photography. It has a certain aesthetic that other media dont. This journal leads to American Pictorial Movement. This was a circle of american photographers who steer clear of topical issues. It is about how a subject is handled. Almost anything can be photographed, but how it was handled. Chief tool was soft focus to evoke a kind of mystery in the picture. Lend something to the subject that it does not inherently possess. Photography's connection to relaity is what made it "not art". Showed simplified compositions - wanted to remove image from its dependence on the real world and tried to constitute it as a separate image. Challenged artistis to not imitate art and construct visual models specific to the camera. Wanted to create an exhibition specific to photgraphy to show post-camera, tonal values, play between light and shadow. Showed that photography was as legitimate as painting but did not have to imitate it. He realised that camera clubs are not the way to go. Becasue they popularise it. He solicits other photographers and organise themselves as the Photo-Sessecvitionists.

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