Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0105, January 16, 2017


Après Le Déluge, Moi!

Copyright 2016 by S. W. Paul Wyszkowski

     Photography has reached the explosive phase of its exponentially accelerating technical development. The world is now inundated by a tsunami of photographic images far beyond its capacity to absorb it. Billions of photographers are generating trillions of images. There is no subject, no situation that cannot be photographically recorded. Cameras have become an ubiquitous, built-in feature of modern life, indispensable, always-at-the-ready. They range from tiny bugs that can be hidden anywhere to complex, highly intelligent robots with capabilities far exceeding those of the human eye and mind.

     Some fundamentals, however, still apply. A camera still represents a unique point of view determined by its physical location in space and time. The choice of that location remains with the photographer even though, these days, the photographer may not be human. (However, the A.I. behind the autonomous camera still needs to be given initial instructions by a human because it has no objectives of its own to guide its actions. At least, not yet.)

     Another thing that has not changed is the perennial debate concerning the nature of photography as a graphic medium. The first and foremost question remains: is the camera essentially a tool for capturing (recording) images of the world as it is, or does the photographer inevitably create the images by her choice of the point of view? Is it more appropriate to use the camera in service of factual truth, or of creative imagination? (It is a flawed instrument in either context.) There are those who argue that factual truth (which is inevitably distorted by the camera's unique point of view) can and should be made clearer and closer to what is actually the case by applying creative photographic techniques (i.e., photography as "literary fiction"); and there are those who consider any imaginative manipulation of the "straightforward" record (assuming there is such a thing) an assault against the truth of the moment (which, of course, includes the recording camera). (Note: purely utilitarian uses of photography in science, industry, military applications, etc. deal with this dilemma pragmatically: whatever works.)

     As for me, the explosive proliferation of photography as a means of recording the passing scene has pushed me further in the direction of abstract creative play which is my natural inclination anyway. It's hard these days to do something original with photography. The "realist" faction claims an advantage in that the world is endlessly original (though not necessarily interesting, aesthetically satisfying or even intelligible). But creative play also generates boundless variety of patterns (of which the vast majority, likewise, is aesthetically challenged). In any case, it is my intent to provide you with original retinal entertainment by any means available, whether photographically correct or not. The process may or may not be of interest to art critics and other bystanders but to me it is only the final effect in your mind's eye that matters. That's my working principle and I'm sticking with it. ("Good for you!" Prickles cheers me on. She's the only art critic I trust.)


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