RE: Crappy/Krappy

From: Christopher Lovenguth ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 01/02/05-02:34:57 PM Z
Message-id: <DHECJCFGDMMPMGBAGIKAKELNCBAA.chris@chrisportfolio.com>

"I don't mean to disparage anyone's work in particular, but why would the
arts community promote lack of control in the creative process as an
attribute? If you're not in control (for the most part), are you really
creating something, yourself, or are you just setting events into motion?"

I think this is because photography is seen, by many, as a mechanical
process where the control of the artist is over at the point of pressing the
button on the camera. You also sort of touched on another view, that a
photographer can just shoot and shoot and get lucky and adding an element of
surprise that supposedly a "bad" camera adds is intriguing to the person who
holds the view that photographers are just "recording" their surroundings.
These are nice selling points for an exhibit (don't get me wrong, I do like
when work like this is shown) that is not the "run of the mill" photography,
and yet, is still recognizable by the majority of viewers out there who can
identify it as photography (unlike some alt processes).

I see the crappy camera as just another tool. Like a blur filter in
Photoshop. What sells the idea to the public is a couple things. First is a
common thought that you need 1000's of dollars of equipment to be a "real"
photographer keeping art photography elite in people's mind because all they
own is a point and shoot so that is why their images are not art. Again
mechanics and tools are valued and are thought of as the reason for such and
such image to be so good it's art. So the plastic camera being the opposite
is intriguing because it goes against this, and in some ways, helps
legitimize artist who use photography because it "proves" that the tool is
not making the art. Second and exactly opposite, the unpredictability of the
plastic camera. So these two ideas conflict with each other because in one
case the artist is given more credit because they were able to make
something with a plastic camera going against the notion you need a
Hasselblad to be an art photographer, and the fact that an artist has to
give some control up to the light leaking crappy camera and sometimes be
lucky to get that amazing light streak and blur on the subject that makes
that image so compelling. So I think the mentality of people walking in to
an exhibit like this is that it's "fun" to see what people can come up with
using this equipment and to be wowed by the wackiness that is the crappy
camera in context to what they believe is a more legitimate form of
photography, i.e. the B&W Ansel Adams and Diane Arbus hanging in the museum.
But to the more "art savvy" viewer, images coming from a plastic camera have
more "legitimacy" in the kitsch/pop art world because they go against their
scheme of what photography is. So an exhibit like this brings a wide range
of viewers for different reasons.

I have an ironic story about my first Holga I had back in school. People in
my critique class told me to physically bust my Holga up a bit because the
images coming out were "too good" looking and defeated the purpose of the
camera. They didn't seem to care at all about content of the image after
they found out it was taken with a Holga. My point is artist photographers
are guilty as well of perpetuating these ideas of the mechanics and tools of
photography as being more important then subject matter.

I like using my Holga at times and had even thought about entering this
exhibit, but I ran out of time converting my Holga so that I can make
daguerreotypes with it (I don't even know how to enter the idea of dags from
a plastic camera in to my theory above and that is why I'm not an art
theorist...hehe).

-Chris
www.christopherlovenguth.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Schuyler Grace [mailto:schuyler@bellsouth.net]
Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2005 2:31 PM
To: alt-photo-process-l@sask.usask.ca
Subject: RE: Crappy/Krappy

"the point is that the krappy kamera itself
should introduce some softness/abberation/flare, you know, something that
adds some weird charm to the image quality. Lack of control and cheapness
are important attributes."

Maybe it's just me and my unsophisticated sense of art and the creative
processes, but it seems to me that there are all too many "artists" out
there whose work is completely (or mostly) accidental. Now, that's not to
say wonderful things can't come about by accident, but to truly create
something, don't you have to be in control of the process of creation? In
this case, snapping off a bunch of shots with a "krappy kamera" and
searching through the results for the one or two or three that look(s) kind
of cool isn't terribly artistic.

That said, knowing how your tools work as well as you can and taking
advantage of their inherent qualities to make something you intended seems
to me to be the real artist's ultimate pursuit. Still, there will be
unforeseen results sometimes, no matter what level of control you have;
however, knowing your tools and medium and voice will help you recreate the
good accidents and avoid the bad ones in the future. I don't mean to
disparage anyone's work in particular, but why would the arts community
promote lack of control in the creative process as an attribute? If you're
not in control (for the most part), are you really creating something,
yourself, or are you just setting events into motion?

-Schuyler

P.S.: Notice I did not use the word "proper" one single time in the above
e-mail.
Received on Sun Jan 2 14:35:33 2005

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