Saturday, September 30, 2006

ku # 398 and a commentary for your consideration


Lately I've been reading The Photography Reader - a comprehensive collection of 20th-century writings on photography (as the intro states). The book includes essays by a number of photographers (such as Edward Weston and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy) and key thinkers (such as Susan Sontag, John Szarkowski and Andy Grundberg) that trace the development of ideas about photography.

On the whole it is very interesting reading notwithstanding some writings of incredibly dense prose and/or obtuse academic theory. Example - I like the idea of, "The awkwardness which accompanies the over-long contemplation of a photograph arises from a consciousness of the monocular perspective system of representation as a systematic deception....To remain long with a single image is to risk the loss of our imaginary command of the look...The image then no longer receives our look...it rather, as it were, avoids our gaze...As alienation intrudes into our captivation by the image we can, by averting our gaze or turning a page, reinvest our looking with authority. "

All of which seems to mean that staring at a picture too long can f--- you up, so move on and come back to it later for a fresh perspective. Makes sense to me.

But, in addition to the understanding gleaned from the deciphered encryptions, I relish my time spent reading verbose and obtuse writings because of the discovery of concise and compact little word/phrase ideas that are spread throughout the works like - if you will - tidy little rabbit pearls in a field of academic detritus.

In the aforementioned excerpt I am captivated by the notion of a "monocular perspective system of representation as a systematic deception", and, by the idea of having an "imaginary command of the look", or, how about the though of a photograph "avoiding our gaze"? And who amongst us can resist the seductive idea of "looking with authority"? Altogether interesting stuff.

5 Comments:

Blogger Tom Gallione said...

Hey, great stuff, Mark. Finally, photographic nourishment for the soul. Looking forward to more.

RE: ku #398, I love high contrast scenes like this. The little visual echo on the tree trunk is wonderful.

9/30/2006 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Ooooh. The idea of a photograph turning away from it's viewer is tantalizing. "You've looked at me long enough now leave me to my thoughts."


Interesting read Mark. Or shall I call you gravitas now?

9/30/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can identify with sentimaents on obtuse writing. Mostly it annoys me - like an affectation. I have read "The Tao of photography" three times. It's good, but it still annoys me in a few places. Why make the reader struggle to understand? Good luck with this blog.

10/01/2006 10:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Jirka said...

This image in other venues would be written off as an image made in harsh light. But the so called harsh light allows a luminesence to be revealed in the underlying vegetation. I really like spending the time to explore the scene.

10/02/2006 05:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Darwin Wiggett said...

Mark, I have tried on numerous occasions to capture the play of light and shadow in the forest that is so attrative to the human eye. Because of the problems of high contrast with film and digital sensor I have rarely been successful and thus most often only photograph the forest under overcast light (low contrast). What appeals to me about this photo is that you have captured in a photo what I see when walking in the woods on a sunny day. Also the 3-d effect to this photo is phenomenal. I would pass this scene by ( for technical reasons)yet you have captured it in a way that feeds my soul and stirs my senses for every walk I have done in the forest. Thanks. Darwin

10/04/2006 04:51:00 PM  

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