Friday, October 17, 2008
Thoughts on taking pictures, visual thinking and Errol Morris
I do not purport to be a photographer (and am made even more aware of that fact recently by my perusals of many a lovely food blog dotted with brilliantly arranged plates of luscious delight; my photos are SO anemic by comparison) but I do take a lot of pictures.
An accurate way to think of these images would be to compare them to my note-taking tendencies. Generally, in a moment of "not sure what to do now" studio flailing or "don't have more than a few moments in the studio before class starts" or "I've got to go pick up Alex, so quick, what's the fastest way I can access my studio mind and keep the thread going" I grab my teeny, aesthetically lovely camera (my criteria for camera-buying) and snap away. Usually I zero in.
To be honest I think the actual photos are secondary to what I see when I view the world through an LCD screen. In graduate school, in order to get a more "objective" view of a particularly cantankerous painting in progress, I would take polaroids. My stacks of old polaroids are not important any longer, save for the nice record of process they afford. As their initial purpose was to hand me a swift gasp of separateness--something I could get ONLY the very first moment they cleared--and I've long since lost that separateness, or rather no longer need it now that those paintings are either finished or abandoned, those images have become a bit sad in their irrelevance.
Now that polaroid film is nearly extinct and more and more pricey when I find it, I've moved to my little digital camera, and I'm still finding the actual photo a little irrelevant in the end. But the looking as mediated by the screen is not irrelevant, and for some reason I cannot dismiss the actual "taking the photograph" as irrelevant either. I am not sure right now why I think taking the photo is significant, though I am intrigued with why I would claim the action as necessary.
And too, all this musing on looking and photographs is swirling about after having read a number of Errol Morris's articles from the New York Times--they are worth a read through and are posted on his website.