Thursday, April 22, 2010

Classifying photography

I was having a conversation with one of my friends a few days ago about the nature of photography. Photography has always seemed to bother me as an "art form" for whatever reason. Maybe this is why I almost flunked it in high school? But I think what bothers me the most about photography is the process behind creating the picture. When an artist paints or draws a posing model, they must first look at the model, and then using their own imagination paint or draw their interpretation of the model however they like. But in photography, this process is captured by a machine, the camera. And this machine leaves little room, in a sense, for the artist's interpretation of the model. The camera captures in a very real way the shape and form of the model, with some manipulation using light and dark room techniques. Instead of manipulating the medium, artists like Jeff Wall and Ken Lum have to manipulate the model. I think photography as an art form confronts the viewer in a completely different way than the classical art forms. We must view it in a different way than paintings, usually in a much more active way, in order to discover how and why Wall or Lum may have placed who or what where and how they did. I think I just might be lazy. I don't like having to work at looking at a piece of art like this. Maybe my brain just doesn't understand what is happening quite like other people's. I don't know, but either way, I still don't really enjoy photography.

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