O Fotografii

piątek, 7 sierpnia 2009

O doświadczaniu

A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it – by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs. The very activity of taking pictures is soothing, and assuages general feelings of disorientation that are likely to be exacerbated by travel. Most tourists feel compelled to put the camera between themselves and whatever is remarkable that they encounter. Unsure of other responses, they take a picture. This gives shape to experience: stop, take a photograph, and move on.


One full-page ad shows a small group of people standing pressed together, peering out of the photograph, all but one looking stunned, excited, upset. The one who wears a different expression holds a camera to his eye; he seems self-possessed, is almost smiling. While the others are passive, clearly alarmed spectators, having a camera has transformed one person into something active, a voyeur: only he has mastered the situation. What do these people see? We don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. It is an Event: something worth seeing – and therefore worth photographing. The ad copy, white letters across the dark lower third of the photograph like news coming over a teletype machine, consists of just six words: “… Prague … Woodstock … Vietnam … Sapporo … Londonderry … LEICA.” Crushed hopes, youth antics, colonial wars, and winter sports are alike – are equalized by the camera. Taking photographs has set up a chronic voyeuristic relation to the world which levels the meaning of all events.

Susan Sontag - "On Photography (In Plato's Cave)"
Zdjęcie: Berlin, Lipiec 2008


sobota, 22 grudnia 2007

O dorównywaniu

W dzisiejszym FAZ w dodatku "Kunstmarkt" znalazłem listę 10 najdroższych dzieł sztuki sprzedanych na międzynarodowych aukcjach w 2007 roku. Temat co prawda nie bezpośrednio związany z fotografią, jednak na pewno pozwalający na "umiejscowienie" fotografii, we współczesnym świecie sztuki widzianej z "kapitalistycznej" persepektywy. Oto lista:
  1. Mark Rothko - White Center (Yellow, Pink and Laveder on Rose), olej na płótnie, 1950, 205x141cm - $65M
  2. Andy Warhol - Green Car Wash, olej na płótnie, 1963, 230x200cm - $64M
  3. Guennol Lioness, rzeźba w wapieniu, 3000 p.n.e., 8cm - $51M
  4. Francis Bacon - Study from Innocent X, olej na płótnie, 1962, 198x141cm - $47M
  5. Francis Bacon - Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1, olej na płótnie, 1969, 200x148cm - $41M
  6. Paul Gauguin - Te Poi Poi, olej na płótnie, 1892, 68x92cm - $35M
  7. Raffael - Portret Lorenzo II de' Medici, olej na płótnie, 1518, 97x79cm - $33M
  8. Claude Monet - Nympheas, olej na płótnie, 1904, 81x100cm - $32M
  9. Claude Monet - Waterloo Bridge, temps couvert, olej na płótnie, 1904, 65x99cm - $31M
  10. Mark Rothko - Untitled (Red, Blue, Orange), olej na płótnie, 1955, 169x125cm - $30M

W tym roku padła również rekordowa cena zapłacona za zdjęcie, która pobiła rekord z roku 2006:
  • Andreas Gursky - 99 cent II (diptych), Ilfochrome/cibachrome, 2001, 206x341cm - $3,3M
  • Edward Steichen - The Pond-Moonlight, wielowarstwowa guma, 1904, 41x48cm - $2,9M

Lessons learned: fotografia jako sztuka (przynajmniej finansowo) nie moze się jeszcze równać z malarstwem, chociaż dojrzała już na pewno pod względem wieku. Wiekszość z finansowej "top ten" jest młodsza niż poprzedni rekord fotograficzny. Kluczowa jest tutaj, oczywiście, powtarzalność procesu/liczba istniejących kopii. Prawdopodobnie jedyna mozliwością aby fotografia kiedykolwiek dorównała malarstwu jest sprzedaż odbitek wraz z negatywami lub palenie negatywów po sprzedaży zdjęcia. Tylko, czy na pewno takie "dorównywanie" jest miarodajne?


środa, 21 listopada 2007

O ostrości doskonałej

Of all the works shown, George Davison's, secretary of the London Camera Club, stands in a class by itself. Here we are dealing with a genuine artist. Every one of his pictures is a delight to the eye, a gem in its way. His work is full of individuality, full of power and effect; and the camera, which is used either with or without lens, suiting the purpose, is but a tool in his hands, just as the painter uses his brush, palette, colors, etc. Artists as well as photographers must admire this work. There is only one class of man who criticize it: the "absolutely sharp" imbeciles, who strut about examining pictures with a magnifying glass stuck in their eye and holding up their hands in dismay when not satisfied with the sharpness of every little line. This class of man is fortunately disappearing very fast. It is the same class that prefers a chromo to a Millet or a Bastein Lepage. They call forth a sort of misplaced pity in us, we being, as a rule, more good natured than they.
Alfred Stieglitz - American Amateur Photographer 5 (May 1893)
Zdjęcie: Schloss Wackerbarth, Wrzesień 2007


wtorek, 18 września 2007

O "Kodaku"

In 1890 when I returned to America I found that photography as I understood it hardly existed; that an instrument had been put on the market shortly before called the "Kodak" and that the slogan sent out to advertisers read, "You press the button and we do the rest." The idea sickened me.
There was the shooting away at random, taking the chance of getting something. To me it seemed rotten sportsmanship. I had been brought up with the idea of the tripod and awaiting one's moment to do what one willed to do.
I had walked day in and day out for months through the Tyrol and Switzerland and upper Italy with thirty pounds of camera and 18-by-24 centimeters plates on my back. Before I had ventured to expose a plate I had to feel sure that I'd get a result. There was nothing haphazard about it.
So the "Kodak" and all it represented did not tempt me. As a matter of fact, I was very unhappy in my own country. My yearning for Europe was constant.

Alfred Stieglitz - "Twice a Year I (Fall-Winter 1938)"
Zdjęcie: Berlin, Styczeń 2007


wtorek, 11 września 2007

O f.64

Fascinating material to work with, the maguey, the organ cactus in their stark severity; not easy to isolate however, and so, after two hours wrestling with my problem, the boy suggested fresh pulque which idea appealed. Five centavos worth each and we were refreshed with this agreeable mild intoxicant. So I once more attacked the maguey to honor the plant from which is fermented pulque, the plant and beverage so typical of this plateau.
Sharper and sharper I stopped down my lens, the limit of my diaphragm, f.32, was not enough so I cut a smaller hole from black paper. How ridiculous a "soft focus" in this country of brilliant light, of clean cut lines and outlines, - of course, I should add, how ridiculous the "diffused" lens in any country!

Edward Weston - "The Daybooks of Edward Weston"
Zdjęcie: Berlin, Styczeń 2007


wtorek, 4 września 2007

O doli fotografa

Printing exhausts me. If I am ever temperamental as story book artists are, it is while printing. The reason is based on economics. The first print must be perfect, which is of course expecting the impossible. If it comes almost right - my purse says - "Good enough." But the craftsman answers - "Good enough is not enough." By nightfall the quarrel between the "common sense" and "extravagance" has torn me asunder. If there was someone to pay for the ideals of craftmanship! One nude of Neil is "almost right". Should I reprint? Or is it "good enough?"
They came to cut off our lights for non-payment. Next it will be the telephone - that instrument of torture with which undesirables can invade one's privacy at any hour of the day or night. The telephone is a special joy of all the busy-bodies, live-wires, Rotarians, who lacking brains, want action. "Speed up life" cry these people of pep, - "hustle, bustle, meddle, push, we'll make this world efficient, we stand for Service, we'll bestir the dreamer, and put a red, white and blue oil-station at the very foot of the Pyramid." And phones and Fords will help them.
But I want to simply life - my life. Christ! what a lot of excess baggage and blah we civilized moderns carry. We pay a pretty nice price for these extras, sweating to support supposed necessities which are superfluities.
If one could have slaves as did our ancestors - but alas, "all men are born free and equal" - something like that - there are no more slaves - or better - we are now all slaves

Edward Weston - "The Daybooks of Edward Weston"
Zdjęcie: Wustrow, Wrzesień 2006


sobota, 25 sierpnia 2007

O fotografii bez fotografa

W dzisiejszej Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) Jordan Bear zamiescił artykuł o wystawie "Amelia Earhart" w International Center of Photography w Nowym Jorku.
Jest zaprzeczeniem tradycyjnego typu monograficznej wystawy w muzeum: w jej centrum zamiast fotografa znajduje się ważna postać historyczna. Tym co łączy wsytawione dzieła nie jest osoba artysty, lecz przedstawiony przez niego obiekt. I tak pokazywane w Nowym Jorku zdjęcia amerykańskiej pilotki Earhart są prawie całkowicie anonimowe: komercyjne zdjęcia studyjne, zdjęcia z reklam papierosów, ujęcia z magazynów dla pań. Z pewnością tu czy tam można trafić na wspaniały portret Edwarda Streichena, ale wizerunek Earhart nie był tworzony przez elitę profesjonalnych fotografów. Wydaje się raczej, że powstał sam z siebie, w obiektywach aparatów mass-mediów. Twórcy ikony Earhart pozostają nieznani; są to "fotografie bez fotografa".

Podążając dalej tym tropem...
W zeszłym roku w domach aukcyjncyh padł międzynarodowy rekord: zdjęcie "99 Cent II Diptychon" z 1999 roku autorstwa Andreasa Gurskyego osiągnęło cenę ponad 2 milionów dolarów. Cyfrowo zmieniona i dostosowana do monumentalnego stylu Gurskyego fotografia przedstawia towary wystawione na sprzedaż w tanim supermarkecie. Tym samym stawiając motyw w irnonicznym kontraście w sosunku do kwoty sprzedaży. Wystwione na sprzedaż nie są jednak tanie towary z marketu, tylko marka samego artysty. [...] Zdjęcie Gurskyego jest antytezą masowej konsumpcji oferowanej przez supermarket. Jednocześnie kult wytworzony wokół "Limitowanych Serii" zdjęć Gurskyego, Tomasa Strutha, itp., dosięgnął samych zdjęć, przekształcając je z powrotem w towary. Nieznany fotograf Earhart jest tym samym przeciwieństwem swoich słynnych kolegów po fachu. Sens wystawy w International Center of Photography polega więc na tym, aby oglądać "fotografie bez fotografa".

Zdjęcie: Lilienstein, Sächsiche Schweiz, Styczeń 2007


poniedziałek, 20 sierpnia 2007

O nie robieniu zdjęć

I remember seeing, in about 1919, an exciting vista from Baker Beach: a mass of dark cliffs gathering above the shore with a small segment of the ocean horizon beyond. The cliffs were clearly segmented into strong planar areas of light. I had no camera but my eye, and no reference to time but the slow passage of sun. The scene has remained brilliantly fixed in my mind. I often returned with my camera in a futile search for that elusive experience with hopes for a moment that would justify a photograph. It has taken me lifetime to recognize when I should not feel obligated to make a photograph. If I do not "see" an image in terms of the subject and its creative potential at the time, I no longer contest my instincts. I am certain that another photographer's eye might perceive wonders in the scenes that evaded me.
Ansel Adams - "An Autobiography"
Zdjęcie: Hiddensee, Lipiec 2007


sobota, 18 sierpnia 2007

O zrobionych zdjęciach

I am pleased, not satisfied, with my prints as they display themselves to me on the wall. No question but that I have gone ahead. And then comes the question, what next? An exhibit is always a climax to a certain period: once shown a print becomes definitely a part of one's past; if not actually discarded, it is relegated to a portfolio of old loves, to be referred to at times with perhaps no more than tender memories.
Edward Weston - "The Daybooks of Edward Weston"
Zdjęcie: Altcoschütz, Styczeń 2007