Sunday, January 14, 2007

urban ku # 20 and a comment on intent


Intent - The notion of photographic intent was raised by several of you in comments about the Prakarsa/McIntosh comparo. I think that McIntosh's intent is clear and straight forward - drawing attention to the plight of the impoverished/exploited and ultimately to the roots of that poverty/exploitation. Prakarsa's intent is not so clear and some wanted to reserve judgement until more could be learned.

IMO - I have always believed myths, fairy tales, story telling, etc., to be very valuable in passing on ideas, traditions and values from one generation to the next or, for that matter, from one tribe/culture to another. Their intrinsic beauty is that they function on several levels. Like good photography (Art), on the obvious surface of things (like the referent in photographs) they can be/are seductive and entertaining, but of course they also contain "hidden" value as well (the connoted). To my way of thinking, they are both illustrative and illuminating - the 2 qualities that I think are to be found in Art (but not in art). I also believe that these qualities are found in Art because the artist intended to have them there.

I bring up the notion of myths, fairy tales and story telling in this context because I have discovered another Indonesian photographer, Andi Hermawan, whose photography of Indonesian children is nearly identical (albeit not as technically accomplished) to that of Prakarsa.

Interesting.

The question that comes to mind is this - unless Hermawan is nothing more than a Prakasrsa wannabe, is there something in Indonesian tradition, myth, culture about children that we should know about before passing judgement here?

To that point, Ott I-don't-even-like-roses-that-much Luuk asked (although not expressing himself with anything close to my eloquence and erudition), "... (as) For mistaking them for real - does everyone who takes photos in the Far East really have to fight the ignorance of the western man"?

FEATURED COMMENT: Steve Durbin wrote (in part): "...The question of intent is fascinating on a human level and certainly would inform our judgment of the photographer. Anything we know about intent is also likely to affect our judgment of the photos. But the overwhelming factor in my reaction to an image is the image itself, and how it relates to my own experience, aspirations, etc. Intent was important in making the image what it is, but from there it's just pixels until my mind engages it.:"

2 Comments:

Blogger With Hammer And Tong...The LetterShaper said...

As a poet, I very much enjoyed my visual walk through your blog...as an avid reader, I think I enjoyed it even more.

1/15/2007 05:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve Durbin said...

To me, Hermawan's images appear less staged and mythic/cliched than Prakarsa's, although some subjects are similar (Hermawan seems to have more diversity) and the photoshopping for dramatic lighting is similar. As far as culture, I think almost all societies want to see childhood as innocent and carefree, but perhaps western countries tend to have a more jaded sense that "reality" cannot or should not be escaped or ignored.

The question of intent is fascinating on a human level and certainly would inform our judgment of the photographer. Anything we know about intent is also likely to affect our judgment of the photos. But the overwhelming factor in my reaction to an image is the image itself, and how it relates to my own experience, aspirations, etc. Intent was important in making the image what it is, but from there it's just pixels until my mind engages it.

1/15/2007 01:43:00 PM  

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