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When people use the phrase, “like watching paint dry” to describe something boring, I always think they’re just not really paying attention–they’re not REALLY watching.
If you watch long and/or hard enough, really interesting things happen.
You excel at elevating the mundane to the sublime.
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Can’t thank you enough for your very generous compliment, Johnny. I don’t consciously try to do anything sublime but I do like to re-vision the familiar so the viewer experiences it in a fresh way.
And you do it well.
Are you familiar with the photographer, William Eggleston? He is someone that I have just recently discovered.
“I am at war with the obvious.”
I love that.
I’d like to think that I am as well, although, looking at his images, I think that I need to learn to trust my eye better, to re-evaluate some images that I would normally trash, considering them too “mundane”.
I’d say that you too are at war with the obvious.
Shall we call ourselves Brothers in Arms? (or perhaps Eyes?)
Have a great day–
Thanks for introducing me to Eggleston’s wonderful quote about making war on the obvious. In his case, it’s pretty obvious what his subjects are so I’m not sure exactly what he’s referring to. If anything, it looks to me as if he’s drawing attention to things in quotidian reality we’d ordinarily miss completely were it not for his exquisite framing and refined sense of color. Rather than destroying the mundane, he seems to be heightening it with his laser-like vision.
Maybe I’m just being too literal, though.
In my own photography, I sometimes try to obscure what the actual subject is but I never think if it as a “war on the obvious.” To me, it’s all about play, discovery, and wonder.
Just hope that does’t make me a draft dodger.
Don’t think you’re being too literal at all. It’s always interesting how we interpret things like this, especially out of context (if there was one in this case, I don’t know the context either, so we’re both at sea, I guess). I took him to mean “obvious” in the sense of obvious and “accepted” subjects for the camera. Pre-Eggleston, I don’t think too many people would have considered many of his choices of subject as “obvious” things to point a camera at. Empty (and sometimes even dirty) diner booths, empty hotel rooms, a bathroom toilette with a set of ladies curlers, commercial street-fronts, etc.–all these and more are things that I think we can thank Eggleston (and others, now as well) for helping us to look at differently–Yes! to elevate from the Quotidian to the Sublime.
So it is war perhaps not with “The Obvious” in the world around us, but the idea of the obvious in terms of acceptable subjects matter for the camera.
I couldn’t speak for his sense of color as mine is compromised, but yes, his vision and framing are exquisite.
Warrior, Draft-Dodger, Player, Discoverer–whatever you call yourself, I like your vision and like to think that we share–shall we call it–an Aesthetic Vision of the Quotidian? A QuoVidian Aesthetic? Pfft—I’ll stop now…..
To Play, Discovery and Wonder!
But then again, who am I kidding? I still take a lot of the “obvious” shots….
See response below. (Didn’t want to reply with one-word lines as the comment thread got thinner and thinner :)
Johnny: Found the context for Eggleston’s “war on the obvious” comment here: http://www.egglestontrust.com/df_afterword.html. (It comes at the very end.)
Can’t say I now understand what he meant, although your interpretation sounds pretty valid. Will have to ask two art photographer friends of mine whether this is the sense they have as well.
There’s a question I’ve had for a while that relates to our conversation: Would we ever point our cameras at the things we do if photographers like Eggleston hadn’t already paved the way? Do we depend on the work that he and others did for inspiration, or could we have come to a similar place completely on our own?
Without taking anything away from their vision, I’d like to think the answer is a definite yes!
Well, yes. His context doesn’t really give that statement any context, does it?
(scratches head…) But I like the idea of “photographing democratically” and that phrase too gets to the meaning I take from his statement.
Looking back as we are over some 40-50 years, I think that we cannot fully escape the historical impact of Eggleston–and all the many others for that matter.
But at the same time, I also think that we have been and continue to be so inundated by images in our culture that the influence of many of our predecessors is many generations removed from directly impacting our work. Metaphorically speaking, the genes are there, yes, but I probably don’t really look much like my great-great grandfather.
So, yes, I say! Yes, and yes and many times, yes!
(besides, Eggleston, Freidlander, Winograd, Frank–they never even conceived of the existence of so many of the things that we see every day and there are undoubtedly infinite ways they can all be photographed!)
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Fun Icebreakers for Groups, Meetings, and Kids
Photography and art making as play.