This is the first in an intermittent series of brilliant* pithy thoughts on my involvement with photography.
A strange thing has started to happen recently. As some of you may know, I started jogging sometime towards the end of May, and have kept this up over the summer, until now. Winter is poised to complicate matters, as it so often does, but I’ve built up enough momentum that I think, with a few smart clothing investments, I’ll just keep going. The strange phenomenon I’ve noticed is my ability to carry on a coherent stream of thought while running. No longer limited to “oh god oh god *cough cough*, spit, wheeze, oh shit right run run run run”, I can do two things at once! Three if you count listening to music.
But I digress.
I realized one of the reasons that my photographic practice has ended up moving in the direction that it has; incorporating elements of collage and assemblage, first taking the photographs and then doing something to them. That’s because it seems as though straight photography is too easily mistaken for a direct representation of reality, that the artist/photographer’s contribution to the piece is too easily missed. Yes, someone had to make all these images, and then edit and produce them in some sort of finished, coherent form, but even for someone who went to photo school for four years (more on that soon), it is all too easy to read a photograph as what it portrays. I like to remind the viewer that I did more than point a contraption at something and push a button. While this speaks to my insecurity as a n00b imagemaker and a Larry David-esque manic need to be understood, it also gives the viewer an entry point to my work; somewhere to pick up the string and try and follow me through the increasingly murky creative process.
I realize that this puts me in some uninformed minority in the art world. Any number of galleries seem content to be filled to the brim with wholly abstract, conceptual works: poorly explained by a paragraph or two of art barf tacked on the wall, or resting on a fittingly artisanal bench, somewhere near the door. Silly Max, it’s all about the idea. It (evidently) doesn’t matter if the artist makes their intentions for making the work clear. And, as you read in Canadian Art magazine, handwork is irrelevant now. Didn’t you get the memo? The fact that (and this has actually happened) several of the brighter minds recently graduated from a fine art program can’t puzzle out what the hell the artist is trying to convey increasingly leads me to believe that the art world is just a marketing racket. It’s who you know, and who they know, and who thinks that something you’ve done is worthy of their interest, or of some astronomical sum of money.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I should be photographing million-dollar paintings.
*may not actually be brilliant