my real feelings about photography
Post #508 • April 1, 2005, 6:34 AM • 86 Comments
Artblog.net readers will notice that photography does not appear often here, is rarely discussed, and generally doesn't receive attention commensurate with its presence in the art world. I feel obliged to come clean about my reasons for this. As many commenters have suspected, I have a bias against photography. Actually, it goes further than that. I hate it. I loathe photography. Video, too, which I regard as a kind of photography, and I regard neither one as art.
I have felt heretofore that my responsibilities as an art writer oblige me to take photography seriously as a universally accepted art medium. I can no longer keep up this pretense. The truth is, I believe that anything made with a machine more complicated than an etching press isn't art. It's just too far removed from tactile experience, and the energies that pass from the fingers of the artist into a real medium, like paint, dissipate into nothing when they encounter gears and motors and computer chips. This is perhaps overly animist, but you just can't beat the simplicity and vitality of nature.
And if one thing is for sure, photography is unnatural. First of all, traditional photographic development has to be done in darkness. Only three things should be done in the dark; two of them are astronomy and roasting marshmallows over a campfire, and the third isn't making art. Something's only art if you can do it in full sunlight.
As for digital processes, I say, so what? Digital processes have simply moved photography, which was only nominally in the realm of art in the first place, more squarely into the realm in which it belongs: television. With the advent of digital manipulation, photography is now basically a kind of slow, boring television on paper. Video is slow, boring television, period. And television definitely is not art.
So from here on out, I'm going to proceed as if the adoption of photography as an art form was a monstrous boo-boo by a bewildered civilization, and that it will drop into a category akin to woodturning and needlepoint as soon as enough people realize that there are only about a half-dozen styles of photography anyway and three of them look alike.
UPDATE: April Fool. I originally didn't spill the beans until comment #9 below, but the thread got long enough to make it hard to find. See comment #13 for my real feelings.