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Comments on: “Overlooking / Underseeing” http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/ A wide-open view of the practice of street photography by Michael David Murphy, While Seated. Mon, 22 Dec 2014 18:22:32 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1 hourly 1 By: joe holmes http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-105 joe holmes Fri, 17 Mar 2006 16:52:47 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-105 Lawrence Weschler talked with David Hockney for an article in the New Yorker in 1984, and Hockney was saying almost exactly the same things -- only he was comparing the entire field of photography to painting. Before Hockney started his famous polaroid collages, he (in Weschler's words) "celebrated the richness of the experience of looking at...paintings--especially when compared with the poverty of the experience of looking at most ordinary photographs. ... [T]he only thing photography was much good at conveying--or, at any rate, conveying truthfully--was another flat surface, as in the reproduction of a fine painting." Hockney: "My main argument was that a photograph could not be looked at for a long time...You can't look at most photos for more than, say, thirty seconds. It has nothing to do with the subject matter." He goes on and on: "[P]hotography is all right if you don't mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops--for a split second." He almost perfect echoes your words when you say "...there’s no reason to linger. You can’t stand back and get a new view. You can’t lean-in close to examine the infiniteness of its detail. You’re not sharing its air. Everything’s perfectly sealed, at arm’s length." You can read the whole article in Weschler's wonderful collection "Vermeer in Bosnia." Lawrence Weschler talked with David Hockney for an article in the New Yorker in 1984, and Hockney was saying almost exactly the same things — only he was comparing the entire field of photography to painting. Before Hockney started his famous polaroid collages, he (in Weschler’s words) “celebrated the richness of the experience of looking at…paintings–especially when compared with the poverty of the experience of looking at most ordinary photographs. … [T]he only thing photography was much good at conveying–or, at any rate, conveying truthfully–was another flat surface, as in the reproduction of a fine painting.”

Hockney: “My main argument was that a photograph could not be looked at for a long time…You can’t look at most photos for more than, say, thirty seconds. It has nothing to do with the subject matter.”

He goes on and on: “[P]hotography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops–for a split second.”

He almost perfect echoes your words when you say “…there’s no reason to linger. You can’t stand back and get a new view. You can’t lean-in close to examine the infiniteness of its detail. You’re not sharing its air. Everything’s perfectly sealed, at arm’s length.”

You can read the whole article in Weschler’s wonderful collection “Vermeer in Bosnia.”

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By: admin http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-102 admin Thu, 16 Mar 2006 14:49:48 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-102 This post is imperfect; I hear you, Ed. The earlier drafts were <i>total</i> nonsense. On photo books, I've been impressed by the small-edition quality of two titles from jandlbooks.com; the Mike Slack book (an old fave) and the Gus Powell book (a new fave). This post is imperfect; I hear you, Ed. The earlier drafts were total nonsense.

On photo books, I’ve been impressed by the small-edition quality of two titles from jandlbooks.com; the Mike Slack book (an old fave) and the Gus Powell book (a new fave).

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By: ed nixon http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-101 ed nixon Thu, 16 Mar 2006 13:45:41 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-101 Yes. I see what you mean about 'overlooking' and I think you're right. But I'm not sure we can lay it all off on digital photography. Perhaps on 'digital' in general, but also on the much more insideous and long term effects of television, mass-everything and the suspect economic models and mentality that is lumped under the words 'globalization' or 'convergence.' In other words doing a thought experiment, if somehow there were no digital photography and everything else were the same, I think we'd be singing the same sort of lament. ...edN PS: on photo books -- every spare penny is right, they are so very expensive. If you are a book addict, you have to put up with the small format, low production value editions which also militate against lingering and savouring. Yes. I see what you mean about ‘overlooking’ and I think you’re right. But I’m not sure we can lay it all off on digital photography. Perhaps on ‘digital’ in general, but also on the much more insideous and long term effects of television, mass-everything and the suspect economic models and mentality that is lumped under the words ‘globalization’ or ‘convergence.’

In other words doing a thought experiment, if somehow there were no digital photography and everything else were the same, I think we’d be singing the same sort of lament.

…edN

PS: on photo books — every spare penny is right, they are so very expensive. If you are a book addict, you have to put up with the small format, low production value editions which also militate against lingering and savouring.

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By: Matt http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-100 Matt Thu, 16 Mar 2006 00:44:26 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-100 I've spent every spare penny I have on photo books. I know that for me there's no better way to view a body of work. I just bought Bruce Davidson's new book on England & Scotland, and to see what he was able to achieve in just a few months with a small camera and 187 rolls of film, is humbling to say the least! To each his own... I’ve spent every spare penny I have on photo books. I know that for me there’s no better way to view a body of work. I just bought Bruce Davidson’s new book on England & Scotland, and to see what he was able to achieve in just a few months with a small camera and 187 rolls of film, is humbling to say the least! To each his own…

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By: admin http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-99 admin Thu, 16 Mar 2006 00:26:49 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-99 I wasn't trying to get into a value judgement about film vs. digital (though there's no time like the present to pick-up used film equipment). I'm just concerned about this concept of "overlooking" and how more more more isn't necessarily a win. There's something cranky in what I've said -- and it's probably about my own resistance to the cultural shift being dictated by digital's pace. I like to look and linger. I like taking time with things (anything, really) and I like to think. I feel like I can do this better by looking at photography in books or on a wall; not on the Interweb. And I say this knowing the small part I play in increasing the digital glut. I wasn’t trying to get into a value judgement about film vs. digital (though there’s no time like the present to pick-up used film equipment).

I’m just concerned about this concept of “overlooking” and how more more more isn’t necessarily a win. There’s something cranky in what I’ve said — and it’s probably about my own resistance to the cultural shift being dictated by digital’s pace.

I like to look and linger. I like taking time with things (anything, really) and I like to think. I feel like I can do this better by looking at photography in books or on a wall; not on the Interweb. And I say this knowing the small part I play in increasing the digital glut.

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By: ed nixon http://2point8.whileseated.org/2006/03/15/overlooking-underseeing/comment-page-1/#comment-98 ed nixon Thu, 16 Mar 2006 00:09:38 +0000 http://2point8.whileseated.org/?p=49#comment-98 Trying to figure out why we'd think digital can or should be a replacement? Aside from everyone getting out of the various aspects of the film business, there's nothing that says digital will replace film; it's a different technology that, like all different technologies, creates different behaviours, artifacts and institutions. I wonder if 'film' won't be a saner, more interesting place once the dust settles? ...edN Trying to figure out why we’d think digital can or should be a replacement? Aside from everyone getting out of the various aspects of the film business, there’s nothing that says digital will replace film; it’s a different technology that, like all different technologies, creates different behaviours, artifacts and institutions.

I wonder if ‘film’ won’t be a saner, more interesting place once the dust settles?

…edN

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