Wednesday, 13 November 2019

No value, character, significance

No value, character, significance or physical form. A line from an interview I read with an image creator Shane Balkowitsch; he doesn't really call himself a photographer. It was predominately about a shoot he did with Greta Thundberg

He said because pictures created using phones aren't printed they don't mean anything. He could be talking about any digital camera.

The shoot is discussed in more depth here. Maybe you can tell me why it's powerful, or beautiful. The headshot is distorted and poorly lit; to me at least. Had it been taken with a modern camera, with less distortion and better exposure; would it have been less powerful? In the full lenght picture Greta looks lost, and vulnerable. Maybe that's the intent, but it's a picture I would quickly scroll over.

The pictures are created using a 165 year old process called Wet Plate Ambtotypes; I'll let you look that up. He has pictures hanging at the Smithsonian.

The article seemed to suggest a contempt for digital images.

He needs a big camera, and glass plates coated in chemicals. Each shot requires conditions to be perfect; the right amount of chemicals, temporature, humidity and even wind if it's outdoors. It then has to be developed straight away.

I do agree that never printing a picture is a shame, but just because an image is ones and zeros instead of the result of a chemistry experiment doesn't make it less important or worthy.

More people will see a digital picture, most are uploaded to social media straight away.

Another point was that this method ensures the image will a hundred years and a digital image will only be viewable as long as there is a device to read it. An apocalypse would leave us just his prints. If the worst happened, art may not be our top priority.

The way I understood it; in his opinion a picture should be physical and be difficult to achieve to have value. He went to great lengths to describe how much effort it took, and that if everything wasn't perfect he may have nothing to show for his time.

I know we are taking more pictures than ever, and the majority will never be viewable without a computer, but is he being fair?

They all have value however fleetingly. 

More people can now document their lives, their family and experiences. Isn't that a good thing?

The process appears more important than the end result, or the end result is of more value because of the process.


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