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Thread: ... and the death of art too.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    ... and the death of art too.

    There's an excellent article about photography, art and museums over at LL:

    Are Museums Destroying Art?

    I've never understood the need to take photos of two-dimensional art except for archival use, since the photograph will never add anything to the image. But there's more to this too. The article also shows how the value of the snapshot is approaching zero. And while the esthetic value of snapshots can be discussed, their role as documentation is important as a mirror of the times we live in. Now, they seem to become the photographic equivalent of the Mayfly; One moment, it's taken, the next, it's gone

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    Re: ... and the death of art too.

    I agree with the premise but not the incredibly snobby and arrogant tone of the article.
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

    Website: http://www.timelessjewishart.com

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    Re: ... and the death of art too.

    But snapshots have been made ever since people have had cameras. Most of those photographs are lost and none of them "important" at any level. What has really changed? Just because it might be done in greater numbers does not mean it is any different.

    The value of a snapshot is with the person who takes it. None of these people are making images for universal consumption and if they get a simple pleasure from the act, who are we to criticize it? I don't believe that a particular behavior needs to have a "purpose" or "intent" any higher than one of simply the jot of doing something on a personal level. The judgement from the outside from others is meaningless. And we are hardly above someone taking a photography of an artwork when many go to popular destinations like Tunnel View in Yosemite and do exactly the same thing--it does not matter our cameras are more expensive.

    But I agree with Ben, the snobbery and arrogance in the article is awful. I would rather have folks go into a museum and take snapshots and enjoy themselves, than not go into a museum at all. I find judging other people's motives and experience from the outside is just a form of bullying and a way to flatter the ego by tearing down others. I wonder what qualified the author to have such a superior position from which to judge?

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    Re: ... and the death of art too.

    Jono, I certainly think the style of snapshots have changed, but when I look back over the photo albums and slides of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, they were doing what we do today; photos of babies, parties, scenic places, and memorials and stuff. Now my grandmother's Box Brownie, which I have, would probably not work very well in a museum and she probably would think it not worth trying, but my parents photographed art while traveling around Europe in the 60s and 70s and all of that was for personal satisfaction. When I was in Japan last year, I shot some temple art purely for my own pleasure knowing I would never show it outside my home.

    I think a lot of this is insecurity and I have found this to drive competition. It is a pity photographers can't relax and just enjoy each other's work. We seem to always be drawing lines in the sand--the work of insert name of photographer here is rubbish; he/she/ can't even insert name of technical quality here properly. Helmut Gernsheim tells a story of meeting a Royal Society of Photography member that was going to deny an exhibition of photography with a then new American photographer because, in the member's words, "there was no detail in the shadows." I am sure Edward Weston's career did not suffer because of it, but a lot of people missed out in seeing the work.

    Photographers are a funny bunch.

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    Re: ... and the death of art too.

    The person who wrote that article has to educate himself that no current speedlites (flashes) output any UV at all. It may be blinding to him and some other human eyes but there is no UV to damage the art in musea.

    The good thing is that I don't even have to erase anything. That article is hosted somewhere and stored in cyberspace.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: ... and the death of art too.

    Shashin,
    I have nothing against snapshots. Rather the opposite actually. What I find troublesome is that few, if any, of the current day snapshots will exist in 50 years. There are no photo albums anymore, no shoe boxes, just hard disks and iPhones that will be trashed and the photos with them. I've seen it within my own family. Photos from just a few years back are gone, simply because the computer they were stored on was replaced. Many people don't even store the photos on a computer, but erase the memory card of the camera when it's full. I don't blame people, but I still don't like the trend.

    So the snapshots from yesteryear that at least I love to look at when I'm in that mood, might not have a 21st century equivalent. It's a paradox really. Umpteen times as many photos are taken, but few are maintained for the future.

    Then of course, there are people like us, who store hundreds of thousands of photos on hard disks with backups online, offline and at some mountain cabin in case of WWIII. But that doesn't replace aunt Augusta's snapshot of her niece's daughter pouring chocolate milk over the antique, Chinese silk rug.

    As for the snobbish attitude of the author. Yes, I can agree to that, but great, old art is snobbish and it is elitist. If we aren't able to show it some respect, we may as well make a photocopy and watch it at Disneyland. If we aren't able to teach our children the tiniest bit about culture, there won't be any da Vincis or Mona Lisas in the future.

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