Friday, January 07, 2005

Evidence and Narrative

Evidence and Narritive

If something happens to you, how do you put into a convenient 3 paragraph description of what went down? I read what I write and see it flailing on a page - I want to go back and correct my sentence structure in my first post of the year and remove the runons (where-as I fragement like drunk driver, barely missing a sentence to link the other sentence together neatly). I've never been into details... Me be a writer... (insert audible disdain here from the million or so writers).
An article in NYT about the banning of photographs in subways. I used to Fotoblog quite a bit and there was one controversial fotoblogger took all sorts of incredulous shots on the subway. People would leave their protests in the comments section - the artist defending themselves by saying "they do not see what's so bad"... I hate to say it - but I get some of my best shots with random crowds sometimes... There's such an intrusion in doing that however...

While a painting or a prose description can never be other than a
narrowly selective interpretation, a photograph can be treated as a narrowly
selective transparency. But despite the presumption of veracity that gives all
photographs authority, interest, seductiveness, the work that photographers do
is no generic exception to the usually shady commerce between art and truth.
Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are
still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience. The immensely gifted
members of the Farm Security Administration photographic project of the late
1930s (among them Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Russell Lee) would
take dozens of frontal pictures of one of their sharecropper subjects until
satisfied that they had gotten just the right look on film -- the precise
expression on the subject's face that supported their own notions about poverty,
light, dignity, texture, exploitation, and geometry. In deciding how a picture
should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always
imposing standards on their subjects. Although there is a sense in which the
camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as
much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are. Those
occasions when the taking of photographs is relatively undiscriminating,
promiscuous, or self-effacing do not lessen the didacticism of the whole
enterprise. This very passivity -- and ubiquity -- of the photographic record is
photography's "message," its aggression.

So sayeth Susan Sontag. Yes, there is whole lotta violence in that fstop because you are the person who is imposing the idea on us. Ever notice when you take pictures how people wince just prior to the flash going off?

Speaking of the recent death of Susan Sontag, my thoughts turn to camp, the language of my people. I've been watching alot of KITH from netflix and loving every minute of it... It's no longer knee-slapping funny, I find. But it is still highly literate and innovative to watch. Comedy-as-tragedy-turned-on-it's-thong-wearing-keister. Maybe taking pictures of people unknowingly will become renegade and thus comic? I don't know why I felt the need to push this into the path of Sontag's "On Photography"... Perhaps it's because I'm looking for a strange new comic vehicle...

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