[Alt-photo] Re: Process or filter?

Francesco Fragomeni fdfragomeni at gmail.com
Tue Mar 26 17:37:45 UTC 2013

Wow. This is why the internet, as an information resource, can be
frightening and quite damaging. I was actually sad as I read this,
primarily because it echos so many of the unfortunate bits of
misinformation that I often encounter when I give talks. Typically this
kind of thought surfaces more with younger audiences then those that have
been around a little longer but I've run into this with even the more
experienced audiences.

The article is riddled with holes that seems to come from the disconnect
that I find is most typically caused by experiencing art overwhelmingly
through a computer screen rather then first hand. I'm actually thinking of
doing a talk on this very concept here in NYC since I've experienced it so
much and I believe that it is the primary challenge that needs to be
overcome in presenting art to younger generations.

A few points from the article...

The author states that viewers can only tell the difference between
something made in a particular process from something made digitally to
look like that process because they are told of the difference. This is
unfortunately becoming more commonplace as more and more people experience
the majority of art via the web and are bombarded with so much content on a
daily basis that the field is diluted and only the dedicated few who still
make regular trips to galleries and museums can meaningfully identify the
obvious and subtle differences that define and separate artistic processes
(in photography and all other mediums). Viewing art first hand should be a
primary component of an arts educations from kindergarten through graduate
programs. That is the only way to prevent someone from sliding down this
slippery slope. Those of us who work with these processes know that
differentiating between the real thing and a digital facsimile is about as
hard as counting to 3.

He makes some statements about the differences between staging a scene and
capturing a decisive moment. The two approaches are different tools that
will be applicable more to some then to others depending on the purpose and
intent of the work being produced. This should be obvious.

The author's statement that the filters being discussed have been helpful
in instructing students to think of process as a 'filter' applied after the
fact is profoundly unfortunate and is further damaging to an already highly
diminished awareness of art beyond the digital screen.

He makes an interesting observation that sometimes it seems that people
with a dedication to process seem to believe that the more physical effort
and technical work put in will make for a better photograph. Unfortunately
I've found this to be true in some instances. Photography is a unique
medium in that is is equally as much science as it is aesthetics, and as
such it attracts practitioners who's concerns and focus can run the gamut
from concerned only with the art to concerned only with the technique and
process. Finding a balance with your process of choice is the key of course.

The author's comment that in photography there is no
strict correspondence between image and object is the most unfortunate
comment he makes in this article. It is a comment made with a complete
disconnect from the history of the medium and with an apparent lack of
understanding of art objects in general. Carol makes an excellent point in
bringing up the inherent physicality which exists in a wet plate (or any
other kind of print for that matter). Countless observations have been made
in the literature defining the physical differences between the various
process and how those differing inherent physicalities lend themselves to
the tactile characteristics unique to the different processes. A Platinum
print is a completely different object then a silver print which is a
completely different object then wet plate which is a completely different
object then a daguerreotype. The common denominator between them is that
they all produce an image. Virtually everything else concerning their
physical construction and how the image is made is different. To make the
assertion that there is no strict correspondence between image and object
in photography is ludicrous.

The article is an excellent example of the changing dynamics in how people
view and understand art and photography in particular. Digital is a tool
like any other. It, like all other processes, is better equipped
for certain tasks then others, however, at no point should anyone ever be
directed toward the belief that it adequately replaces the
physical defining characteristics inherent in other processes.

- Francesco Fragomeni

On Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 9:04 AM, carol <carol at artintersection.com> wrote:

> It's interesting how he never mentions how the actual work is experienced
> live-not on a screen.
> How a wet plate ( or any other analog image) has a physicality inherent on
> the surface
> or that every image you create using the Hipstamatic Tintype package will
> have the same affected look.
> It's kind of like that "distressed" wood floor product-the same
> mechanically produced marks repeated over and over.
> Carol
> Carol Panaro-Smith
> Program Director
> Art Intersection
> www.artintersection.com
> On 3/26/13 2:42 AM, Kees Brandenburg wrote:
>> An interesting view on the status of process and object.
>> http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/**extended/archives/on_process/<http://jmcolberg.com/weblog/extended/archives/on_process/>
>> kees
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