Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Meade, Kansas 1991

“One of frustrations with contemporary photographic technique, mine included, is the feeling of sterility. Digital processes have become so sophisticated that nearly every picture you see is dusted and anti-scratched to a state of frozen perfection. After awhile it all feels so airless” Alec Soth

Perhaps, just perhaps, this sterility is the move that contemporary photographers made going from the gritty tactile streets of the city* to the controlled suburban** settings. I'm becoming very bored with the single, stand-up, stone-like figure in a drab, unrelated clean and tidy suburban backgrounds, indoors and out. I know these photographs are supposed to be about soul baring starkness confronting us one individual at a time. Maybe it's all Avedon's fault for popularizing the “no background” look with his “In the American West” images. Find some poor soul, stand'em up, throw the background out of focus, fire away. And then print them just about life size so you can stand nose to nose with them on a gallery wall. Have we become so isolated that this is the only way we can stand to view members of our species, the strangers we meet everyday? Is this why so many people go around with their heads tucked so far down that is has become lodged between the cheeks of their butt? I miss the good ol' fashion street photographers who showed us moments of humanity that let us know we were part of the whole. I'm a touchy-feely sort of guy, and I like being face-to-face with people. And I like touching them when I'm talking to them. I like images that give me the feeling and touching and talking. I have little desire to touch and talk with most of the people I'm confronted with in images today. Yes, confronted. I think that trusting a person life-sized into my face on a gallery wall is very confrontational. Yeah, I know that's part of the idea, but who's to say that I want any interaction with the person pictured? Like being on a crowded elevator where you are forced to look into the faces of your fellow riders. I know I'm rambling, so what else is new?
*Metaphor for any setting where the subject is interacting with their space/environment
**Metaphor for any setting where the subject and their space/environment is disconnected

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