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22 March 2008 @ 03:52 am
A photo is like a melody...  

I am and have been absolutely delighted by the discussions y’all have been having in response to my photos. I’m continually surprised by how remarkably perceptive, insightful, intelligent, interesting, and interested you are, my friends, although by now I suppose that should really not come as a surprise.

In the very interesting comments/discussion (the particulars of which I intend to respond to soon) in my most recent previous post showing this photo, jbru asked what I may have been (subconsciously) thinking about when I took/processed/posted the photo. (Others played with and told us what meanings or feelings or thoughts they got from it. Very gratifying.)

Well. Hm. There are a lot of ways at looking at things—of thinking about things.

On the one hand, we have this viewpoint: “A picture—before being a horse, a nude, or an anecdotal subject—is essentially a flat surface covered with colours arranged in a certain order.” —Maurice Dennis, Kandinsky, Taschen, page 30. Depending, of course, on how you define “essentially,” I reckon that’s an absolutely true statement, and it applies as much to a photograph as it does to a painting, sketch, watercolor, or what-have-you.

On another hand, a photograph is a dialogue. As I think about it, or, rather, one of the many ways I think about the process of photography, is: I don’t “take photographs”—I engage in a dialogue with the subject, be it person, place, or thing [or, more likely, some combination thereof (you know, it’s never just one thing—it’s the whole world)] and record some moments of that interaction, moments in/of the dialogue.

Then when you look (anybody looks) at the photo, it’s again not a static event—that too is a dialogue. A dialogue between you and the photo, between you and the moment of the photo. In many ways, it’s a multi-dimentional, multi-partner dialogue over time between you and me and the subject and the photograph itself, transcending or spanning or diddling time.

Further, and not unlike poetry, all art, particularly all good art, is “about” more even than that. It means what it means to me. It means what it means to you … even if that’s different from what it means to me … even it that’s different from what it means to anybody else. Anything you find in it, take away from it, is valid, regardless of whether I “put” it there, whether I “intended” for it to be there. Some few elements of a photograph are things I consciously do, I consciously put in, I consciously incorporate; even more elements, aspects, thoughts, perspectives, and so on are intentionally but not consciously put in. Finally, if you find something in a photograph, in a work of art, if you find meaning in it, that meaning is truly there regardless of whether it was “put” there, whether it’s “really” there.

On yet another hand (or is it the first hand again?), sometimes a cigar is just a cigar….

Current Mood: sleepysleepy
Peter Hentgesjbru on March 22nd, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
I very much agree with your assessment of what a photograph (or any piece of art, or, heck, most anything looked at from an artistic temperament) "is" or "means." That is why I asked my question in your previous post; to get an idea of what your conversation was about to compare or contrast it with mine. A bit of eavesdropping on a conversation I think will be interesting.

When I saw an exhibit of photos at the Weisman recently, I really enjoyed the audio tour the museum had with comments from the artist. It revealed he was influenced by Jackson Pollack for some of the pieces he was showing, for example, which gave some hint to his conversation and, in fact, made me look at one particular piece a second time and with greater appreciation. My conversation was influenced but not overridden. (I came away with a great enthusiasm for the subject of the photograph, but not as much for the photograph itself.)
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