if only!!!!

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
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Re: if only!!!!
In reply to Edward48, Apr 12, 2013

Edward48 wrote:

I once listened to people in the Whitechapel Art Gallery having very deep, long, earnest conversations about a series of large, blank white (very expensive) canvasses. I think that the more expensive they were, the more meaning they had It was hilarious and could have come straight from a TV satire show.

The monetary value of an object may indeed skew someone's personal perspective of that object (a Leica is one example.)  If there were no monetary value attached to those 'blank white canvasses" and two people were "having very deep, long, earnest conversations" about them, perhaps you may not have paid as much notice.  There is a context to everything, no matter what it might be.  Those "blank" canvasses are clearly not 'blank' if people are talking about them.  And indeed, you're talking about them.  So they end up having meaning even to you and in respect as to why are these people talking about them and why are these blank canvasses so expensive.  (As an aside, the commercial art market has little bearing on the objects themselves outside of assigning a monetary value to them for their exchange value.  Just like a film that can function for an audience with a life of its own outside of the complex financial world of the movie industry.)

The images that exist in the world take on multiple meanings for multiple reasons.  One reason is based on their context within a broader spectrum of the history of human's attempts at making images, and civilization's reaction to viewing those images.   It sometimes can end up not just being specifically about the image itself, but the image's context.  Take for example the photographer, William Eggleston.  His images are what one might call 'banal' snapshot images of everyday objects and landscapes.  However within a particular context of a history of photography, Eggleston's images were unusual at the time.  Photography as an art form was only B+W at the time, and primarily pictorial. And color was assumed to be the domain of family and travel photographs. John Szarkowski (a curator at MOMA in NYC) decided to take a chance and introduce the world to color photography as an 'art form' respectable of museums. Yes, today Eggelston's images are monetarily valuable, but that doesn't preclude them from having other value.

This phenomenon about monetary value being applied to an object beyond its actual utilitarian function (as with art) can readily be applied to Leica products.  We all know the endless dialogues about Leica being a 'toy for the affluent.'  People argue about the price of a Leica all the time and that it's way overpriced for what it really is; i.e., it's obviously a "blank canvas" to many people.

My point was that if the photographer had no other object in mind than to produce a visually appealing image, and does just that, then that's just what it is. No interpretation or analysing necessary or needed.

Yes D, I would say that most shots posted here on dpreview are just visual. Why does there always have to be more to it?

What does "just visual" actually mean?  Why is something visually appealing while something else might not be?  And why does a photographer choose to produce these so-called "visually appealing images?"  What is appealing about them specifically?  And would someone from Ghana think the images to be appealing? Would they even understand them like a Westerner might?  Why do you like a particular flavor while at the same time, I don't?  Many people vested with a life long interest in images (and with phenomena in general) do ask these questions.  It's analogous to this:  one person will look at the star-lit sky and say, "What a beautiful sight, it's so appealing and romantic to look at."  Someone vested with an interest beyond cursory observation might look at that same sky and say, "What makes it so beautiful to my eye, and why are these stars so bright, I want to know."

It's interesting that we find it perfectly okay talk in great detail and to no end about the minutiae of camera sensors and lens MTF charts.  This forum is loaded with opinions about the technical capabilities of photographic equipment.  There is even a particular vocabulary everybody has to know to wade through it all: IQ, OVF, DR, FF, EVF, OOC, etc., etc..  Yet when it comes to the image itself, we all get tongue tied and can only say, "Hey, great pic.  Cool."

No image is "just visual."  Just like no camera brand works the same way (as those with an affection towards the gear itself will readily tell you.)  And nothing in life is "just."  It all has meaning, and as a human race we have made up those meanings.  And some people are interested in why we, as a collective group of individuals, have chosen to assign particular meanings to things in the world.

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