I went to MOCA last Thursday evening for the first time. Admission is free on Thursday between 5 and 8. Parking is still 11 dollars. I spent over an hour in the museum’s bookstore. I spent less than an hour in the museum itself. I was very tempted to eat at Lemonade. I’ve not yet tried Lemonade. I’ve been meaning to try Lemonade. You know what sounds good right now? Lemonade.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Hi. Let me preface this by stating that the following stream of consciousness is the best that I can offer this week in terms of an informed response to Roland Barthes’ essay. Which, by the way, I really enjoyed! I plan on picking up a copy of Camera Lucida and doing a bit of further reading... I am fascinated by a lot of Barthes’ ideas; more specifically, the way he navigates his ideas and the questions he asks then seeks to answer through writing about them. It feels very introspective and autobiographical, I guess you could say. It’s relatable in that way. Well, for me at least. There are many interesting things to be said about Roland Barthes’ study of photography... I truly appreciate all of his ideas, and he does such an excellent job describing each of them. I especially enjoyed his discourse surrounding photography and the number of ways in which it complicates itself, however. He starts by stating that a photograph is rarely distinguished from its referent, what it represents. This part of the essay sparked my interest most because I share with him the idea of a photograph always carrying with it a referent, both part and partial of each other, and how, inevitably, the photograph becomes invisible because it is no longer what we see. Not immediately, at least, placing more importance on the referent, enphasizing the subject in most cases, because of the nature in which we identify with, consume, and, generally speaking, make photographs. He then dissects photography claiming that a photograph is the object of three practices and/or intentions: to do, to undergo, to look; and that, in order to function, photography depends upon an operator (the photographer), a spectator (those viewing the photograph), and a target (the person or thing being photographed). Forgive me for organizing my thoughts in this way (I know it may appear that I’m only restating what I’ve read and what you already know) but it’s helping me absorb the text and make sense of the topics (many) that Barthes’ touches upon. Can we skip the part where he goes into (much) detail about how a subject performs in the circumstances of being photographed? I feel like this part of the essay was the least profound to me. Or maybe the least original? Or maybe I just relate with it too much so none of it feels very ponderous to me? I didn’t feel like this part of the essay was provoking anything terribly new. Not to say that such a thing was Roland Barthes intent, nor that he was attempting to make a particularly weighty statement about portraiture and how it’s objectifying and what that even means(?) and the consciousness of posing and how the reflection, the camera's articulation, of this in the form of a photograph is normally quite painful to look at and isn’t it such a strange thought and motivation altogether? Subject? Posing? Anyway, I don’t think that’s what he was trying to say. I still very much enjoyed what he talked about in that particular section of the essay, and especially admire how he tied it back in towards the end of the essay. The essay needed that discussion about subject, target as he would have it, and I was really quite pleased by how he angled the subject with his own experience. I’ve read other essays similar in response to the conscious act of modeling but his ideas and experience on the matter were nonetheless interesting (probably more so). However, his thoughts on subject were not nearly as crucial as the issue (maybe this isn’t the right word but I’m making it into an issue so let’s agree that it can be problematic) of context that he begins to address in the latter half of his essay. The idea of how we generally (only) stop to look at photos that include subject matter of general interest to us. The context of a photograph. What the context does or does not to to a photograph. To recognize the “studium”, as he calls it, is to inevitably recognize the photographer’s intentions. And regardless of whether you, as a spectator, approve or disapprove of the studium, you are either way in harmony with the photographer’s intentions and understand them. Which is likely why the photograph stopped you in the first place. The second element that he describes is the “punctum”, which “pierces” the studium, disturbing it and giving the photograph more poignancy. Which, I feel, is the element that most photography lacks. And I think the idea of punctum is very hard to consider when photographing. But I would agree with Barthes in regards to how crucial punctum is to the layers of a photograph. And with that being said, I bring this response to a rapid conclusion because I must go to my 9 o’clock class. I am a procrastinator because I simply cannot work under any other condition. It’s not that I work better under pressure, it’s that I only work under pressure. Without pressure I just lay in bed with my cat and read, so. I hope you understand. I seriously need more sleep.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Sorry that I missed class. Running on empty started to catch up with me this morning. I still wanted to share with you some of the things that are going through my head, however. Like we talked about last week, I've become very conflicted with photography being such an immediate and evidential, if you will, medium. I think photography supports the tendency of ignoring concept and disregarding meaning because of how, well, easy it is. Further more, regarding the rare cases in which there is concept involved, photography practically denies it because of the fact that a photograph itself doesn't (generally) hold your attention for the amount of time needed to fully absorb it as a "work of art" worthy of deeper meaning. I've begun to realize that because photography is such a precise representation, a reality, I feel the need to work against the grain of it's absoluteness entirely. I want for my work to demand closer attention and inspection before its digestion. It's important to me that not only my work have meaning and concept, but also that it stop people — not briefly out of recognition, but out of an arrest that delays it's consumption. Still, I'm figuring out how to move forward with my work. I feel this strong, rebellious desire to completely abandon my old work and start anew... which, as you know, I've begun to do by destroying old photographs that I've taken. I think the idea of making a photograph portraying the destruction of itself is an interesting concept... not terribly original, obviously, and admittedly contradictory, but interesting nonetheless. I feel like this process is something that needs to happen in order for me to advance myself as an artist. Yes, it's ironic considering that I'm choosing to document this process by taking additional photographs. However, I'm still making sense of that myself... and I realize that it sounds very dumb in theory, maybe even pretentious, but this friction is something that I want to explore. I've been trying to expand upon the idea of materiality and physicality in photography. Last week I went out and took a few dozen photos that are completely void of subject matter. I took these photos with a Fujifilm Instax camera because I wanted to experiment with the the immediate tangibility of instant film. I wanted the outcome of each shutter release to have a material result. Digital photography is inherently very procedural and requires several steps (from taking each picture, to uploading the photos, to reviewing the photos, to choosing selects, etc.), as well as both conscious and subconscious edits (before, during, and after shooting), which is a process that I want to distance myself from moving forward with photography as a medium. It's too reminiscent of what people commonly define and understand as photography. I'm pushing myself to make work that transcends this traditional sense of photography, while simultaneously exploring it's physics. I really enjoyed this experience because it was extremely intuitive and didn't feel at all directed. At the end of the night I laid out all of the photos and was moved by what I saw. The photographs themselves are lovely, and they don't depend on the aesthetic beauty of a subject... What is beautiful is the way in which they can be arranged together. How they work together to depict a larger picture. My mind immediately began considering methods of curation and presentation because of how interesting the images look as a collective. Which, in a roundabout way, brings me to the final point I want to make with this email, which is that of photographs acting as physical objects in an art environment. Not just prints, but material outcomes that are, in a sense, "editioned" because they cannot be largely reproduced in the same fashion that they were created. And I think that this depends largely on the presentation of the photographs, as well as the materials and tools that are used, but I strongly believe that these things effect the magnitude of a photograph, and directly influence it's consumption. And when looking at the grid of instant photographs, I have found my jumping off point.