Now here is someone who has said what I have been thinking about so much of the ‘modern’ (I guess post-modern?) photography I’ve been seeing recently, at exhibitions and in galleries and magazines:  a thoughtful unpacking of that nagging sense one has, that so much photography today is ‘conceptual’ – clever, in an arid, academic, anal, self-absorbed and narcissistic sense – and incapable of being ‘read’ or interpreted without a whole lot of self important interposing verbiage. Which is not to say that some kind of explication – via a title, or even a line or two, may not sometimes be helpful, may even enrich our appreciation and understanding – but not when the picture requires an essay in order to make head or tail of it. Which often, even then, it doesn’t.  Opinion: A Disturbing Trend in Photography

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Posted by Glen Fisher

Writer, photographer. Education and skills consultant.

2 Comments

  1. I had put this aside, to allow my thoughts to percolate. Then it got lost in a welter of emails and assignments. For good or ill, I believe my best response is to draw a parallel to trends in formal music: time will work this all out.

    For example:
    12-tone created value in that it opened music to the idea that there may be options to the dominant forms of the 17-19th centuries.
    Aleatory music was a short-lived novelty that led more quickly to a dead end than did 12-tone.
    Electronic music: John Cage lives on in spirit, but not in the broader repertory.

    On the other hand:
    Minimalism started as a novelty, but has evolved into a core concept for expression.
    The adoption of 1/2-tone and non-
    Composers increasingly integrate nonwestern instruments and styles and multimedia components into what I get to hear. Some successfully. Others less so.

    In other words, as in biology, so in art: Darwin was right.

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    1. Your percolation is informative. I buy the idea of experimentation and stretching of boundaries, as of borrowing from other forms and cultures. My problem I guess with ‘conceptual’ photography is that often the words are more important than the image – or the image cannot communicate on its own – or the whole ensemble of words and image is (I mean really!) self-absorbed and pretentious. Yes, I recognise this puts me into a particular ‘box’ when it comes to art appreciation, but I like my box and disdain others 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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