Re: The value of the handmade

From: Dave Rose ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 03/15/05-10:56:07 PM Z
Message-id: <00f001c529e4$77334c20$26cc9045@dave6m4323wvj7>

There's an undeniable attraction to the handmade. I can easily make
gorgeous inkjet prints on my Epson 2000P at the push of a button. But
they'll never equal the unique beauty of my finely crafted gum and cyanotype

When I lived in New Jersey, I collected and hauled over 100 tons of basalt
into my backyard. During the course of 18 months, I built over 450' of
dry-laid stone walls, averaging 3' in height. The walls served a useful
function in retaining the soil on the steep lot and improving drainage, but
their aesthetic quality was of much greater value. Within months, snakes
and chipmunks took up residence in the walls. Careful plantings added
vibrant life to the walls, with dramatic displays of flowers in the warmer
months. My backyard was transformed into a beautiful and intimate space.

While building the walls, I often doubted my wisdom in undertaking such a
huge and demanding project. But I often thought about the walls and how
they'd stand for many hundreds of years beyond my lifetime. People in the
future will marvel at and appreciate the intricate beauty of the walls long
after I'm gone. I sold the house and moved away 6 months after completing
the monumental landscaping project. So much for enjoying the fruits of
one's labor!

Dick, it's easy to imagine your students failing to fully understand the
beauty and value of the handmade. Most of them have never sweated hard,
nursed aching muscles at night, or sacrificed inordinate amounts of time and
energy to complete a formidable task. So much of what they have experienced
is limited to disposable Made in China junk that's bought at the local
Wal-Mart, consumed and discarded. I imagine that many students, being
young, simply lack the life experiences to fully appreciate the finer things
in life.

Best regards,
Dave Rose
Powell, WY

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Sullivan" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2005 7:06 AM
Subject: The value of the handmade

> I am reminded of the statement made by Walter Chappell made in the 1940's
> that is quoted in one of Alan Coleman's tomes that photographers fall into
> two basic categories, printmakers and image makers. Let's not quibble
> the obvious overlaps. Obviously I as most others here would fall into the
> printmaking category. Of course image is important but for us, so is the
> print. To paraphrase a quote from Chuck Close in the recent book on the
> avant garde and alternative photography: "your relationship to the process
> is often more important than the content of the image." I think that
> much says it.
> If we are printmakers, as I suspect most here would label themselves then
> the print becomes important and the means of its capture and encoding is
> secondary. I have little problem with a well made carbon or platinum print
> (or other processes of your choice) that are made from a digital negative
> or captured digital image. Perhaps a Sally Mann platinum made from a 16x20
> wetplate collodion is a bit more "authentic" but for us the essence lies
> the print itself.
> I teach at a local college here and the first few classes deal extensively
> with issues about the handmade. Students are strongly attracted to the
> handmade but are a bit confused about why. Things like permanence, or
> detail come up but I quickly quash that line of talk as it leads to a dead
> end. The handmade has an allure precisely because it is handmade. Not
> because it is any more permanent or holds more detail, or any other
> attribute. The example I sometimes use is to ask if anyone has a Rolex
> watch. Usueally not but someone will have a Tag Heure or other expensive
> watch but even not the point can still be made. I ask why it cost
> Durability, accuracy, get thrown in. I then point out that I have a Timex
> Radio watch on that costs $39.00 and keeps constant time to the 100th of a
> second by logging into the atomic clock in Fort Collins Colorado. I then
> toss it on the floor. In just about every quality one can ascribe to a
> watch the Timex wins but no one will either toss their Rolex on the floor
> or trade me for for the Timex. The Rolex has craft value. It is expensive
> to make and takes a good deal of hand skills in it's manufacture. A
> digitally >printed< image is in effect the Timex of the print world. A
> handmade print is the Rolex.
> As an aside it was a big issue that Bill Clinton was wearing a Timex at
> '92 inaugural. Horrors!
> Just some ideas.
> --Dick Sullivan
> At 06:41 AM 3/15/2005, you wrote:
> > >>> 03/15/05 12:08 AM >>>
> >
> > >>...that digital imaging is a new form of alternative process
> >photography...
> >
> >Bob Schramm<<
> >
> >
> >
> >I take issue with that terminology and would hate to see this list
> >become overwhelmed by discussions of digital capture technologies and
> >output devices. As marvelous as digital cameras, scanners, printers and
> >inkjet prints are, the latter are not true photographic prints formed by
> >the direct action of light but a rather different beast. There are
> >other more appropriate forums for digital discourse related to capture
> >and output IMO.
> >
> >Currently, when it comes to digital technologies, the list has confined
> >itself largely to discussions of how to make a digital negative to be
> >utilized in making an alternative process photographic print. I think
> >that is as it should be since the final outcome from that process and
> >light attenuator is an actual photograph.
> >
> >Joe
Received on Tue Mar 15 22:55:13 2005

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