Bridges that I will cross….

Fetish

1.

an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency.

2.

any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion: to make a fetish of high grades.

As digital photography has pushed out film photography, we are seeing the fetishism of film photography. It always happens when I technology changes. One of the things that really stand out to me is when leather dash boards and seats were replaced by vinyl and plastic.  They little fake leather stitching was added to make it appear as if it was leather, even though we knew it was not leather.  Or how about the e-books, and how they make the digital pages appear as paper turning, no need for that, but yet it exists.  So we must have a need to resist adaptations in technology.

I see some of this fetishism in some collage artists, who either refuse to use digital technology, or work to make their digital collages look like they were made with paper.   Recently I have discovered a school of collage in which the artists work to make their collages look like they could have only been made digitally, while they only use scissors and glue to make their creations.   In Marjorie Perloff’s book The Futurists Moment, Perloff writes

” Perloff traces the word “collage” throughout centuries around the world.  This mode was practiced in twelfth-century Japan, manifesting in pasted papers, it appears in the form of Mexican feather mosaics and it appears in the way Russian artists represent religious icons (with jewels, gems, pearls, etc.).  Perloff defines “collage” through the French word “coller,” which: “refers literally to “pasting, sticking, or gluing,” as in the application of wallpaper” (46).  The Futurist collage, as mentioned earlier, is different.  Perloff presents a different definition of collage, which she teases out from Marinetti’s manifestos—a series of works that are a collage in themselves. Marinetti argues: “the earth shrunk by speed.”  Perloff elaborates: “by new means of communication, transportation, and information, demands a wholly new verbal art, one that can express ‘the complete renewal of human sensibility about by the great discoveries of science’”(57).  The shrinking of the world also demanded new visual art.  The collapse of space and relationships between objects in a collage represents the way in which technology shrunk the world.  Other techniques such as bold colors, fragmentation, representation of sound (“so shrill a torrent of spectacle and noise” [63]).”

I don’t think that contemporary photography is challenging photography; I rarely see a photo that has that certain thing in it that compels me. Its either snap shot photographer that is to pass as “high art” or process driven photographer that is to offer up the fetish of what once was, and often is viewed as being superior to the new.  Or the is the vapid and boring fashion photography with pouty girls and men in over priced clothes.   We also get a chance to see the pornographic images, which repeat endlessly the same image. We also get to see a mix of all of the above into a clever version of process photos and pouty models with snap shot element.   It’s not that the photos are bad, or that they are good. The photos lack a poetry to them, to me the are photo after photo borrowing off of trend after trend, in hopes of selling the photo for a magazine, or someone’s home, or a vain woman might purchase her own photo to hang in her home a sensual memento.

What is photography doing that is new? How is it keeping pace with technology?  It’s why I say that Collage is the new photography, Photoshop and mass printing have made this possible, leave  the production of images for the sake of collage, borrow heavily from those that are blinded with the boredom and endless repetition of girls in bikinis or girls staring blankly and pouting into the camera.  But it’s our job as artists to take risks, to undo the old guard, to throw out nostalgia, to take old ideas and let the speed of the internet and today’s technology propel our ideas and our conversations with each as artists into new directions.  There is this  really wonderful app for Iphone that I think really challenges and takes photography into new realms , Decim8  is loads of fun, makes some beautifully artistic images and  the best part its only a buck, and it can make your photos look completely out of this world, some of my friends have said that the photos look like how my collage looks, have a look and try it out. Kris Collins the creator of Decim8 writes “FILM IS DEAD … And yet many camera apps still insist upon attempting simulations of that long-past era. We say NO to artificial nostalgia, pushing forward in the digital realm with different forms of creative destruction” . He creates a wonderfully new tool to take photography into new realms, we should be challenging ourselves to work with the camera and photos in new ways.

I read this today and it has given me further fuel to keep working on my daily practice, to not rest on what I have done, or accept pats on the back or even criticism, but to merely put my head down and work.  The bridges that I cross will be the ones I build on my own..

There is a vitality,
a life force,
a quickening
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique.

And If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.
The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine
how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly
to keep the channel open.
You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.
You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU.

Keep the channel open…
No artist is pleased…

There is no satisfaction whatever at anytime
There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and makes “us” MORE alive than the others.

Martha Graham
( – a letter to Agnes De Mille-)

Advertisements