Unless the problem is not really the “mythologizing” or the “exploitation” or whatever other aspect of photography we’re having trouble coming to terms with. Let’s face it, it’s a very obvious statement to say that photography exploits its subjects – but making that statement does not automatically lead to any insight. It’s almost like saying that if you print out a photograph it will be a flat piece of paper. Any real insight can only be gained by taking matters further, by exploring that exploitation, by questioning it, etc.

via Conscientious

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  1. So tiresome. These Consicentious essays. Boring, unilluminating, circular.
    I think Paul Jasmin had it right when he said he never analyzed and never intellectualized about photography.

    “It’s almost like saying that if you print out a photograph it will be a flat piece of paper”

    Anyone who could write that somnambulistic sentence, should just put down the mouse, put on some shoes, go for a three mile walk and foreswear the internet for a month.

    • I’m constantly amused by the level of expectations people have for free content.

  2. Like Andy, I often do find these essays tiresome and circular. However in this case I take much more issue with Huettner’s take on Adams’ work and his intentions. Having followed and admired Adams for decades I do not feel that he is exploiting his subjects. Perhaps Huettner is exploiting the photographers he critiques for his own fame and fortune?!

  3. My understanding is that Kant believed people judge objects agreeable or disagreeable according to both taste and interest. Aesthetic taste only exists in the absence of interest.

    For example, a centerfold from a Playboy magazine might be found agreeable to a young man in college. He might judge the photograph according to the centerfold models attractiveness based on his personal aesthetic values. This is a judgment of taste. But the exact same magazine centerfold might be judged disagreeable to a social feminist because she might consider it to be exploitation of women . Her reason for judging the centerfold disagreeable has nothing to do with the aesthetic qualities of the photograph or the attractiveness of the model, but rather with the viewer’s interest in something other than the object itself. This judgment has nothing to do with aesthetic taste and is based on interest.

    This exact same phenomenon takes place all of the time with pictures of starving children etc. Some people find the photos agreeable because they have an interest in a social issue that has nothing to do with the actual aesthetic value of the photos. These people have an interest. They often get angry when others don’t share the same interest in the social causes and simply find the photographs disagreeable based on aesthetic taste.

    All of these entanglements would disappear if creatives went back to the idea that the purpose of art is beauty. Too many people in modern times insist on designing art purely as a pass-or-fail test designed to gauge the humanitarian & social interests of the viewer.

    • Entanglements will never disappear. Nature, especially Human Nature, is all about entanglement. And, if you ask me, that’s what makes things interesting. Complex, maddening and sometimes sickening, but interesting.

      I’m not too sure, either, that the history of art was free of politics until modern times.

      It’s always been my policy to do what I do and to let others do what they do. I don’t have to like it. I also believe that artists should do what they want without getting too involved in academic analysis. That’s what academics are for.

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