Sunday, April 09, 2006

Shoot 'em, bleed 'em, then skin 'em

From the NY Times a lesson about how to package or repackage what is no better than the average Flickr photo (from the images shown) into something that resonates.

What is interesting to me is that photograhy is so elastic that even when in this case average and in the service of marketed nostalgia and oral history it absorbs and projetcs the sentimentality and historical as gravitas.

What do you think?


Anonymous Ian said...

It seems to me that in this case we have not just a photograph, but a photograph in context, and therefore judging the image out of context - 'aesthetically' - is irrelevant to the photographer's objective. It is of course possible to judge them aesthetically and on that basis I tend to agree with your judgement, but the sum of words and pictures can be more than word or pictures in isolation.

Good examples I think would be Chris Bonney's Cradock Virginia series which is heavily oriented visually but still uses words as a part of the whole, or Ronni Bennett's series about Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, where the images supplemented the words.

11:51 AM  
Blogger Ron Diorio said...

Ian yes, both Chris's and Ronni's work illustrates the point of the whole being greater than the parts. I guess my point was that projects don't have to be made of great work to be substantial particularly when the they are the reportage also trades on sentiment, nostalgia and history. I wonder if all these cases whether sketches, watercolors or other illustrative annoations would have worked as well.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Matt Niebuhr said...

I feel compelled to respond, I am an Iowan... From a farming background and small community...

I am always already overtly sensitive to the potential misuse (cashing in on) of potential sentimentality of the "fly-over" country.

I don't know enough about this project to judge whether it is cashing in on a real or perceived projection of "nostalgia" or "sentimentality" the supposed simpler, wholesome honesty, albeit naive understanding, of the rural Midwest. For me, it depends on whether the photos and stories together connect with my own life experiences I suppose - and whether it causes me to be more aware or to have a renewed appreciation.

If the motive of the project is to honestly represent a slice of a particular culture and to present the human condition of that culture (life stories and changes occurring overtime), it seems difficult to imagine a different medium than photography.

The photograph, especially this "straight forward documentary style" is readily accepted as the picture of a "real life" is after all a person that exists / existed. No imaginary friends here... It is a picture a life really lived...

The prose perhaps - is the "artistic embellishment" that flavors the photographs reception by the observer.... Maybe it'll be too overt... who knows - would need to see the project... I just find it hard to imagine in the context of "today" (modern time) that a sketch / painting / illustration .... would serve to bring the same weight to the story.

"Mr. Bloom said he hoped the Oxford portraits would give voice to a forgotten population. "So many people call this flyover country," he said. "No one listens to rural America. They are the ignored. My hope is that this project will be able to show that there's great rural poetry and rural wisdom."

With great debt of course to the model "Let us Now Praise Famous Men".....

8:48 PM  
Anonymous Stan Banos said...

It's hard enough judging an entire essay from two samples barely larger than postge stamps, that said- they look pretty damn good to me!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Stan Banos said...

It's hard enough judging an entire essay from two samples barely larger than postge stamps, that said- they look pretty damn good to me!

1:10 PM  
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4:43 AM  

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