Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This work is amazing!

The projects that I am drawn to involve human behavior. I am especially fascinated with how we interact with strangers. Hopefully this is a jumping off point!

88 comments:

Thersites said...

The experience can go two ways... ...just so you are aware of the risk.

Thersites said...

Cuz when the cops show up, chances are, everyone will be pointing at you.

Thersites said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thersites said...

A question for nicrap...

How does the "photographer function" differ from the "photographer"?

Is "active" photography something completely different than it's "passive"/"Observer" brother?

Jen Nifer said...

Cops?

I don't think I would do a project just like this. It's hard enough for me to photograph one stranger, much less two.

I appreciate the artists desire to break down barriers and reinforce just how similar we all are.

Thersites said...

Which is why I question what the "photographer function" might be. He seems to be engaging his "subjects" in a way marcel duchamp might.

Thersites said...

photographer as substitute for the "big other"...

...else why would the subjects comply with his "intimate" request.

Thersites said...

duchamp differs in that he casts the "observer" of the observer of his work, in the "big other" role.

Jen Nifer said...


...else why would the subjects comply with his "intimate" request.


I would say it's because they want to be a part of something. I think it's weird that people would NOT want to.

Would you do it? ;-)

Jen Nifer said...

Of course it's different when the photographer is involved with the subject versus when she's just an observer.

People's expressions change if they even see the camera, much less if asked to pose.

Ducky might say that all photography is a lie...and i understand the idea, but you can see exactly how some of the subjects were feeling, which is the truth (or a partial truth) in that moment.

nicrap said...

I don’t know, Fj. I would say it differs in the same way the “author-function” differs from the author [the man]. But whether it is a powerful sign or not, i have no idea. I’ve never given photography a serious thought, and do not know how signs work in this particular field. For instance, somebody like Jen, who takes a modest interest in photography — is she, when she sees a photograph, forever asking herself who the photographer is and what he had in mind when he took the photograph — in short, is he the most important figure for her in any photograph [even though outside of it], or is it the photograph itself, and [/or] whatever else is associated with it, like the mood, the subject-matter, the colours, etc. etc.

As for me, i freely confess i never ask myself who the photographer is — which leads me to believe that it is not a very powerful sign ... but let us ask Jen.

nicrap said...

How does the "photographer function" differ from the "photographer"?

Is "active" photography something completely different than it's "passive"/"Observer" brother?


...i hope you do realize that they are two very different questions, with no link whatsoever between them. The first i've tried to answer above; as to the second i will have to think. :)

Jen Nifer said...

When I am looking at photography books, or websites like Flickr, I am not especially interested in the photographer (if she is a stranger to me). So, no, in general I am not concerned with the motives / desires of the artist.

When I am studying (technique, subject matter, etc.), then the photographer becomes much more important.

I see it as two different issues. I can study the function (decor, personal expansion, social change, documentation, etc) or I can observe the beauty of the photo. If I am in "learning mode", I am interested in the photographer, motives, inspirations, etc. If I am in the mood to look at images, I'm not interested in the photographer.

Jen Nifer said...

P.s. nicrap, it's more than a modest interest. :-) I post just a portion of my work here.

Jen Nifer said...

Perfect example would be the artist who photographed the catcalling men on the street. I found her and her story MUCH more interesting than the photos.

nicrap said...

On second thoughts: the photographer has a "status" [which the "observer" hasn't] which is the product of the "photographer-function" — the fact that there exists a sign which gives unity to a form. Now whether it is as well-organized, as powerful, as the "author-function" — on this will depend the difference of statuses between the photographer and the "observer". But i don't think it is ... hence my question to Jen.

p.s. I apologize for not having thought it through the very first time, and commenting in such a hasty manner.

nicrap said...

heh. I was being "modest" for your sake, Jen. :)

Jen Nifer said...

the fact that there exists a sign which gives unity to a form.


Okay, just so I understand.... in this case, "sign" = photographer, "unity" = photo, "form" = subjects ?

nicrap said...
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nicrap said...

sign="photographer" [the word, the idea, and not the person.]

form=the art form; in this case, the photo; or a collection of photos

unity=the fact that you can assign it to a signle person, i.e., the photographer [the man], and call it his "work", or the product of his "genius".

nicrap said...

But "unity" refers to both, the unity of form as well as what constitutes that unity — the fact that you can assign it to a person, i.e., the photographer in this case.

nicrap said...

If you want a better handle on these themes, you could begin by asking yourself a few questions. For instance: How much of you is behind one of your own photographs? Do you control it in all its aspects, details? If not, how large is the gap between what you intend it to say [capture], what it ends up saying [capturing]? [all by itself and to others.]

All this will tell you what Beckett meant when he said: what matter who is speaking, someone said, what matter who is speaking. :)

Jen Nifer said...

I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't get that.

Jen Nifer said...

you want a better handle on these themes, you could begin by asking yourself a few questions. For instance: How much of you is behind one of your own photographs? Do you control it in all its aspects, details? If not, how large is the gap between what you intend it to say [capture], what it ends up saying [capturing]? [all by itself and to others.]


Now you're talking! This, to me, is the heart of the matter! This is the good stuff.

At times, there has been so much of me behind my images, that I will not share it with others. Not out of fear of revealing something bad, but something beautiful, and too precious for general viewing.

Jen Nifer said...

That was not boastful, but in itself difficult to write.

nicrap said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nicrap said...

Yes. But that is because you are their "author". But could you not imagine a photograph which says different, even contradictory, things, has elements that pull it in different directions, and not because you its "author" has intended it that way, but because it is in the nature of art — all by itself? And that it will be true of almost every photograph...

nicrap said...

Do you see in a photograph [not your own] what the photographer wanted you to see?

nicrap said...

Correction, above: Do you [always] see in a photograph [not your own] what the photographer wanted you to see?

Thersites said...

Thanks for the explanations and distinctions, nicrap. You are much more versed in this topic than I. All this made me wonder a bit, as I, too was less familiar with "still" photography than with "film" and the role of director as "Auteur", as my good friend, mr. ducky, is a huge Godard, "French New Wave" enthusiast.

And so of course, dealing with "paid actors" and/or "models" gives the filmmaker/photographer much greater "control" over his results.

These "spontaneous" film projects seem to be attempting to achieve ends altogether different.. So I don't quite know what to make of them. More a data collection tool for studying the "science" aspects of "human behavior" than attempt at full-filling an "art" related "photographer function" (of crafting a fiction).

And no, Jen, I would NOT participate, as I would find the photographer's request a rude invasion of my privacy, and would think him/her a "rather cheeky fellow". ;)

Thersites said...

....and ps When I think of a "still" photographer, Ansel Adams always comes to my mind. He took wonderful photographs with purpose, one he successfully achieved, nature conservancy.

But I still think of Adams as full-filling more of an "observer" function that "photographer" function... in many ways of the same ways that perhaps a "realist" painter differs from a "Surrealist" painter and/or abstract impressionist.

Thersites said...

I suppose Adams was more "Hudson River" school (for a painter comparison).

Thersites said...

Godard's engagement with German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht stems primarily from his attempt to transpose Brecht's theory of epic theatre and its prospect of alienating the viewer (Verfremdungseffekt) through a radical separation of the elements of the medium (in Brecht's case theater, but in Godard's, film). Brecht's influence is keenly felt through much of Godard's work, particularly before 1980, when Godard used filmic expression for specific political ends.

For example, Breathless' elliptical editing, which denies the viewer a fluid narrative typical of mainstream cinema, forces the viewers to take on more critical roles, connecting the pieces themselves and coming away with more investment in the work's content.[citation needed] Godard also employs other devices, including asynchronous sound and alarming title frames, with perhaps his favorite being the character aside. In many of his most political pieces, specifically Week End, Pierrot le fou, and La Chinoise, characters address the audience with thoughts, feelings, and instructions.


Perhaps these little adventures of photographers interacting with strangers represents attempts at "criticism"? I suppose in the case of the female photographer's interactions/ response to the male cat-callers?

Thersites said...

Sorry for the "shotgun" aspects of my commentary. My thoughts are all over the place on this topic.

Duckys here said...

Do you [always] see in a photograph [not your own] what the photographer wanted you to see?
-------
If you want to know what a work means, the last person to ask is the artist.

Thersites said...

...then when we go to the galleries, we should ignore the little placards beneath the paintings, right?

Jen Nifer said...

Yes. But that is because you are their "author". But could you not imagine a photograph which says different, even contradictory, things, has elements that pull it in different directions, and not because you its "author" has intended it that way, but because it is in the nature of art — all by itself? And that it will be true of almost every photograph...


Of course. I am too connected with most of my images.

This is something that I remember, then forget... that detaching is the way to go. The photographer (or author, or painter) puts herself on view for the other but must let go of expectations.

Thersites said...

Especially when it's a Vermeer or a David. ;)

Jen Nifer said...

nicrap said...
Correction, above: Do you [always] see in a photograph [not your own] what the photographer wanted you to see?

I'm sure I don't. But my concern is what it means to me, which is why I am comfortable saying that the catcall photos meant little to me (but the act of taking them meant more).

Thersites said...

Cuz we would hate the spoil the viewer's conclusions. ;)

Thersites said...

:P

Jen Nifer said...

Thersites said...
....and ps When I think of a "still" photographer, Ansel Adams always comes to my mind. He took wonderful photographs with purpose, one he successfully achieved, nature conservancy.

But I still think of Adams as full-filling more of an "observer" function that "photographer" function... in many ways of the same ways that perhaps a "realist" painter differs from a "Surrealist" painter and/or abstract impressionist.

----------

I agree. Honestly, Adams bored me until I saw a huge collection of his work at a gallery in Santa Fe. It moved me to tears! It didn't hurt that his work was along side Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, and Paul Strand! Amazing...

Thersites said...

Pervert! ;)

Thersites said...

Sorry, the above comment was intended for mr. ducky.

Thersites said...

Yes the work must also be placed into it's "context"... as there's a lot going on "outside the frame" which is likely to get mis-associated with it.

It's nice when an artist can "enlarge" his/ her frame... as Wagner did at Bayreuth.

Thersites said...

...achieving "full immersion" into the work itself... but for a brief "parabasis"

Thersites said...

The "placard" is the author's "parabasis"... or perhaps "should" be.

Thersites said...

Speaking of which... ;)

Thersites said...

...it's one of the nicer aspects of jazz... allowing each musician the opportunity to express his "individuality".

Thersites said...

I suppose "criticism" aims to change what lays "outside" the frame.

Thersites said...

Perhaps even the "author" himself.

nicrap said...

Do you [always] see in a photograph [not your own] what the photographer wanted you to see?
-------
If you want to know what a work means, the last person to ask is the artist.


A work of art may mean more than it is supposed to, mean different things to different people, even different contradictory things to the same person. It is what i have been trying to explain to Jen — my purpose in asking her the question — but she has been resisting it with her usual tenacity. ;)

Jen Nifer said...

:-) not at all, nicrap. I thought I answered.

I agree with your above comment completely.

I'm sitting here drinking coffee, listening to Jim Croce, and trying to make sense of fj' s comments! Lol

-FJ said...

I suspect she's not the only one "resisting". ;)

nicrap said...

Speaking of this "explosive" nature of "text"...

It is possible for something like a text, a photograph, to circulate without an "author" sign attached to it. In the realm of text, in the modern context, a good example of it would be a newspaper, which rarely has an "author" sign [the byline in its case], or at least not a very powerful one. So while the author is a given — "author" sign is not; it is a cultural phenomenon. And its function is to constrain the meaning of a "text" which is otherwise inherently "explosive".

I hope now the distinctions would be clearer.

nicrap said...

You two fight it out now for the time being. I have a sabji to cook. See you guys later. :)

-FJ said...

ps- And if you CAN make sense of the, then please explain them to me. Cuz I haven't a clue... just random thoughts and associations. ;)

nicrap said...

I recentlly left a comment at Fj's blog, Jen. It was my response to an article somebody had sent me and which i forwarded to fj as well, and deals with some of the themes we have been discussing here. Perhaps you would like a read:

"I will come straight to the point. The writer has no idea what she is talking about. [No wonder she is a journalist.] I mean let’s take an old-fashioned tale; how it grows, multiplies, until you have no idea of what constituted its original core [if it is even possible to speak of one in this context]; it is how a “myth” grows. What makes this possible? Is it the oral form, not bound by a fixed format? No. In fact, counterintuitive as it may seem, the oral form may have an exactly opposite effect on the “mutability” of a text, as Plato explains in the myth of Theus. [Phaedrus. What this myth also shows you is that the spoken/written word dichotomy is not new but very old. It is also an artificial dichotomy, since, once a book hits the stands, it is already a part of the oral tradition; we speak about it, exchange opinions about it, and so on.] What is it, then? In order to understand that first you will have to understand what “constrains” something like a modern-day novel, puts a “closure” to it. It is not the printed format, but something else ... what we call the signifying machinary and the system of constraints characteristic of it. In plain English, certain signs [signifiers] have exactly this function, that they constrain the meaning of a text. One such is the “truth” sign [the idea that truth itself can be contained in a text], another is the “author” sign, or as somebody called it, the “author-fucntion”. It is of the latter that i would speak now, as the one most immediate in this context.

The author is a modern figure, in the sense that he is the most important figure in any modern text, its centre, though seemingly outside of it. The very first question one asks when encountering any modern text is who is the author? He is the repositary of all meaning that is contained in it, one who binds it together. All the lines developing from it converge on him. But not so in the case of an old-fashioned tale. Here the “author-function” is either non-existent, or is completely eclipsed by the “hero-function”: The most important figure in an old-fashioned tale is its hero, who is, for narrative purposes, “immortal”; not only he lives a charmed life, spanning many “existences”, some even in conflict with each other, but even his death fails to kill him, but, consecrated by it, he merely passes into true immortality, his godhhod, demigod-hood, or whatever. And so it is that we have a whole mythology centering around such figures as Hercules, Theseus, Shiva, or, if we are looking for their more modern counterpart — to some extent — James Bond, [who is still growing strong long after the death of Ian Fleming].

But how does it all signify for a modern-day newspaper? A newspaper story, unlike almost every other modern-day text, has no “author” sign [byline in its case]; but, even where there is one, it is not very powerful — which means it is liable to “grow”; it does, both orally and otherwise. [What internet has done is to merely expedite this process and bring it out in the open, that's it.] The writer has not got even this part right. For example, there existed, long before the dawn of the internet age, a whole apocrypha regarding Gandhi, especially concerning his experiments with his sexuality [some of it true, some not.] In fact, the phenomenon is so common that it has led to such divisions within the press as tabloids, gutter press, “rag”, state press, free press, etc., as though it was exclusive to only certain parts of it. Convenient fictions."

nicrap said...

I must rush now. I am late. Sorry guys. :(

-FJ said...

The author as, perhaps, a "part" of the "limit" to the form.

Plato, "Meno"

-FJ said...

:P

-FJ said...

How constraining.

-FJ said...

Here is the original article to which nicrap referred, above. You really need it to contextualize the response he left, above.

Sorry for the "reframing". ;)

Thersites said...

May we one day truly be "Borg"... and comprehend the "master-signifier" from a less "hysterical" perspective.

nicrap said...

Thanks fj.

I cooked okra [or bhindi as we call it] if someone is interested. :)

Jen Nifer said...

Thanks for the link, fj.

Will read the article today, nicrap. I have a few ideas, but they need to gel.

How did you prepare your okra?
I like to slice it up, coat with a mixture of flour and cornmeal, and fry it a half inch of oil. Hmmmm....very "Southern".

nicrap said...

We only fry it, not deep-fry, along with some spices; and we eat it with chapati. :)

nicrap said...

We also had raita with it, btw. :D

Jen Nifer said...

That looks so good! I have to confess that I 've never had Indian food. :(

But I love Greek, and your meal looks slightly similar to pita bread and tzatziki sauce.

http://www.fromvalerieskitchen.com/2013/07/toasted-pitas-with-tzatziki-sauce/

Jen Nifer said...

Off topic, but I am disgusted by "conservative blogs" lately. Either I have changed, they have, or both.

There is so little humility. No grace AT ALL.

have I changed so much that I cannot find a single point to agree upon??

I feel disconnected, politically.

I'd rather my boat be adrift than tied to what I see around me.

Rant over.

Thersites said...

I actually have eaten some of the foods that nicrap mentioned...the pictures help (for the names are even "stranger" than Greek to me). I work in a very multicultural environment outside the DC beltway... and there are quite a few good local Indian restaurants which serve largely vegetarian faire. i used to partake more often when I was supporting large earth science missions and quite a few of the engineers were Indian, but not so much anymore as our laser communications project team is relatively small and not nearly as diverse. :(

Thersites said...

i suspect that my unfamilarity with the names has mostly to do with the "nature" of the "lunch" crowd in DC... buffets.

Thersites said...

ps - What role do you think the Bible, especially the Gospels (mark, paul, luke, john) had in the emergence of the author in more modern narratives? I suspect that it was a major westen influence.... but what about India?

Thersites said...

I t was largely assumed that the Pentateuch was written by Moses... but it likely had many authors... as the works of Homer may also represent a "canonical" grouping.

Thersites said...

Just as the tales of Achilles in Skyros are obviously the work of a much later greek period and meant. to feminize and depricate the earlier period Achilles.

Thersites said...

?..perhaps the work of more "critical" authors... seeking to de-heroicise archaic period values.

nicrap said...

The author is a modern fugure, Fj. I am tired and thinking of hitting the bed early; so let me rather quote you a relevant text from Barthes's the Death of the Author:

The sense of this phenomenon, however, is varied; in ethnographic societies the responsibility for a narrative is never assumed by a person but by a mediator, shaman, or speaker whose "performance" - the mastery of the narrative code - may possibly be admired but never his "genius." The author is a modern figure, a product of our society insofar as, emerging from the Middle Ages with English empiricism, French rationalism and the personal faith of the Reformation, it discovered the prestige of the individual, of, as it is more nobly put, the "human person." It is thus logical that in literature it should be this positivism, the epitome and culmination of capitalist ideology, which has attached the greatest importance to the "person" of the author. The author still reigns in histories of literature, biographies of writers, interviews, magazines, as in the very consciousness of men of letters anxious to unite their person and their work through diaries and memoirs. The image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centered on the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions, while criticism still consists for the most part in saying that Baudelaire's work is the failure of Baudelaire the man, van Gogh's his madness, Tchaikovsky's his vice. The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author "confiding" in us.

nicrap said...

Good night, all. I am hoping that we will pick up these themes again, DV. :)

-FJ said...

i read it, but I still have my doubts as to its'"modernity". Plato was most certainly the author behind his "socrates". Euripides wrote for Socrates as well. Aristotle. aeschylus. sophocles. Before them, only Homer/Hesiod. even the pre- socratics had their own, distinctive "genius".

And i only recently learned of Tchaikocky's "vice". i never once would have attributed his "deficiencies" to it.... although i absolutely "do" in foucault's case... for Foucault chose to define himself in a way entirely different than foucault.

-FJ said...

erratum - tchaikovski for the final foucault above.

yes... to be continued.

-FJ said...

...and so perhaps my criticism of Foucault as an "author" isn't so much "the man" as the ideas behind the man... his ideas representing a justification / defense for his vice.

-FJ said...

....and good night, ;)

Jen Nifer said...

Okay. She said SO much in that article. It looks to me that she waters down journalism by making the reader a partner in production. I wouldn't say that everyone who takes iPhone pictures is a photographer. It's a learned set of skills.



Her perspective is very open, global, and sort of self negating.

From your response, I noticed the line about a truth signifier and belief that truth can be defined in text. For me, that is the scariest concept, especially if moderated comments sections are to be read for deep meaning and "truth".

nicrap said...

@fj

Excellent points, all; except that i think a distinction needs to be made between, on one hand, the mythological/dramatic tradition represented by Homer, etc. and, on the other, the critical tradition represented by Socrates, et al. It is the latter tradition where author becomes really important: he personally signs the truth he states. However, even though his presence is important, all it ever does is to establish him in the role of the truth-teller — someone who is capable of telling the truth — a sort of “philosophical hero” whose very life bears witness to his truth. It is as one such figure that Socrates appears in the writings of Plato, who himself claims “there are no writings by Plato nor ever will be, and what now pass current as his are the work of Socrates, the ever fair and ever young*” — so that one could say that Socrates was their real author. But, even where Plato is clearly the author of some texts and present in them as such, his presence once again merely augments his role as a truth-teller: he is someone who runs who would run extreme personal risks in order to carry out the work of truth. One such text is his Seventh Letter, which makes a record of the journeys he made to Sicily, and specifically of his undertakings with Dionysius the younger — all for the sake of truth. So that, even though author is important even in the early “critical” tradition in west, it is only in so far as his life, his person, makes his words ring true; he is not yet the all-important figure he will be in modern criticism, the repository of all the truth contained in any text.

*To the Uneducated Cynic. Julian.

nicrap said...

@Jen

"moderated comments"?

Jen Nifer said...

In the original article, she wrote that the readers would add to the story and develop it further in the comments section, and the comments would be moderated to weed out unreasonable opinions.

nicrap said...

So why does it scare you? Such "apocrypha" has always existed in one form or another — is it the "moderation" part?

Jen Nifer said...

Yes.