Photographs on the Brain #45

In the early days, as any kind of psychedelic cyber-utopian would, I was into that gnostic trip, that Kurzweillian “omigod, we’re going to build the virtual mind!” As I grew up, I realized, “Oh no! There is no virtual mind!” The virtual mind is fucking Facebook or something. I don’t want to upload my consciousness! – Douglas Rushkoff

Left: ©©Joel Meyerowitz; Right: ©Edward Weston

©Christine Osinski

Left: ©George Dureau; Right: ©Russell Lee

©Mark Hartman

Photography is a very strange place to be right now, either inside looking out (the producer) or outside looking in (the public)” – then takes us on a humorous journey though the various continents that currently make up “the entire World of Photography”: Commercia, Documentaria, Amateuria, Artistica and Artcontemporanea. As Ewing rightly points out, these continents view each other across vast oceans of mutual disdain. Many commercial photographers, for instance, think documentary photographers are hopelessly old-fashioned, while the latter view the former as corporate whores in thrall to the filthy lucre of advertising. Both watch the continent of Amateuria, “a continent so vast it has never been properly mapped, never mind explored”, with a mixture of pity and contempt that cannot quite conceal their nervousness.- William A Ewing

Left: ©Jenn Sweeney; Right: ©Julia Hetta

©Julien Ratel

Left: ©Evelyn Hofer; Right: ©Stephanie Gonot

©Shane Lynam

Another aspect in that photography is very egalitarian. Everyone has a camera and so everyone has to come to terms on some level with what role photos play in their lives. Few people have fine art paintings in their homes but everyone has photos. So there are 7 billion ways to approach it, and no one clear path, and so photography tends to attract thinkers and theoreticians who want to sort it out. That’s part of its problem. Sometimes it can become buried in hyper-conceptual rhetoric. And it is pretty widely open to interpretation. I’ve often wondered about photos in relation to music. You can play a song for someone and within ten or fifteen seconds they will generally know if they like it or not. There’s a societal construct from early childhood which trains one in musical appreciation and taste, even if it isn’t always conscious. But show that same person a photo and they will probably have a much harder time deciding. Is it good? Bad? Interesting? There’s less of a societal baseline for determination, so I think that invites in all the thinkers and theoreticians. – Blake Andrews

Left: ©Dan Busta; Right: ©Megan Kathleen McIsaac

©Christa Mrgan

Left: ©Frank Petronio; Right: ©Kathryn Friedman

©Patrick Joust

Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong — and in life, and in love, and in business, and in friendship, and in health, and in all the other ways in which life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid, or evil, or it’s all been done before? Make good art. – Neil Gaiman