Do we dream in colour or in B&W?
Backspace, rephrase this! Do we daydream in complementary colours?
And by mentioning complementary I am not referring to the colour theory. Because in theory, complementary colours, when put together they cancel each other out, when put side by side they create the greatest of the clashes.
Close enough but not my idea! The complementary colours I am referring to, are the ones we daydream in. The ones that are carefully hidden from the others, never revealing their and our secrets. And ultimately creating the greatest paradoxes.
People shoot in B&W and with a great dexterity. Iris is one of them. But why? The "why" is the most important question to be answered in photography, in any single image. Why a photograph has been taken? And then, why it has been taken in B&W? Or better, why it has been stripped down to some greys? Superbly rendered, without doubt, but still greys.
I don't have the answer, I can only wonder and ask more questions. This is what I do. And here are my wondering and wandering thoughts.
The photographers that shoot, edit or interpret in B&W are full of colours. But they know by hard experience that these very colours are not seizable in their life time. They can be the destination but never the voyage, not for them.They can be a secret dream but cannot become reality, not for them. And what is bad for them can be good for us, the viewers. Their visual paralysis in front of colour, channels all their talent and energy towards the grey palette. If one day they will find and embrace colour when awake, nothing will be the same anymore.
The present picture, more than its original visual architecture (foreground used as a barrier or an observation point), its symbolic content (horse/freedom, river/life, man/solitude), it bears a powerful narration on rural whereabouts of today .
Imagine this same picture with earth tones, clay shades, dirty blue waters and dead green flora. It would be a betrayal to the eyes of the author. Because, that would be so remote from the secret colours never rendered on a film (or sensor). So remote from the:
"Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes"
Two things happened when I recently met a great photographer. Let's call him El Fotografo.
The first one was between him and me and we'll keep it this way. The second one was the answer to the question of the public: "Did you stage your iconic picture?"
He said: "How can someone think that I was able of ever imagining such a composition, setting or subjects?"
And yet, it is possible! You can have a dream and transpose it, to share it. You can have a nightmare and picture it, to transcend it. You can simply know what reality will look like after "visiting" it through a bi-dimensional rectangle. It's called vision, talent. And only a few possess it.
Most of us are only here to appreciate, analyse and understand these visual representations of screams, whispers, monologues and autistic gestures of triggering the diaphragm blades; of cutting the world, cutting the self. A blade cut will always bleed and the scar will persist long after the shutter release. Do you still call photography a mechanical process?
And do you still look for a subjective description of the present picture? No words will ever explain the author's skill to suspend reality and to abolish the invasive wealth of technology by simply ignoring it. If any of the shapes, subjects or objects would have offered their sharp details, we would have been probably missed the timid endeavour of the girl to step ahead, to free themselves and the observer at the same time.
Diane Arbus's twins, just left the scene still holding hands and Corneliu can project them to the present time with admirable dexterity.
Ever wondered why great photographers had/have never the eloquence to talk about their photography or about photography in general?
Coz they didn't/don't need it.
Coz the didn't have any street photography projects.
Coz street photography is a life long project with no start and ending.
Coz, even if they did have projects (rather assignments) to make a living, they knew there is something more than delivering documentaries, news, fashion, travel pictures, wildlife, nightlife, family portraits, flowers, revolutions, pornography, misery, glamour, suffering, pain, wealth, decay …
Coz they knew that the only thing that counts is spotting a meaningful photograph out of hundreds made.
Coz they knew that there is nothing out there to be discovered, until it has been photographed!
Coz they knew that "B-side-pictures" are those which stand out of the bunch.
That's why the only project in the history of photography that gave so many meaningful pictures was the Farm Security Administration's project on agricultural workers led by Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange both fired, laid off, by the Farm Agency for not respecting the project's requirements. For the record, the "inspired" editor was punching a hole in the negatives he considered inadequate.
That's why Winogrand had no other project except serving his obsessions. Thank you Garry for saving the face for the rest of us.
Stop street photography projects, and above all, stop talking about street photography; but if you need to talk, stop talking about chaos and challenges in street photography, lose the "keywords", spare the world from your "wisdom"!
" .. drown in the magic of chaos, learn from your failures, challenge your luck, seize the randomness of the fleeting moment, leave your comfort zone, expand the dialog of the aesthetics, be honest with your experience .." .. is nothing than mere verbal pollution.
Instead, enjoy Corneliu's photograph (with no captions, comments or titles) made on a freezing 1st of January, when in the meantime others were having a warm "foie gras" (produced from agonised geese) and a Magnum (QFI) ice-cold champagne.
In my festive opinion during a yet another obligatory holi/holly day, abstract photography (no matter its artistic value, which I am not capable of judging) is a necessary exercise both for the photographer and the viewer to get familiar and open to the multilevel representations and transformations of street photography.
By observing the first two of the presented pictures (Patrick's and Dragos') we let them undermine our perception of what is real and what oneiric. Not without the benefit of subsequently "accept" more easily Gabi's distorted crucifixion and Rose's chromatic extravagance.
The photograph is no more a window. It is a metamorphosis with a new identity(ies). A street photograph must be challenging the documentary identity and authority of an image.
Not to be confused however with the erroneous (but dear to many) concept that any motion-blur or out-of-focus image is automatically engaging abstraction and surrealism; and respectively, sharply executed and spontaneously composed images are not necessarily closer to a documentary approach.
On the other hand, the above described challenge should not reach the limits of an obvious manipulation which would make the viewer loose her interest on a scene by making her doubt that this very scene or action has truly taken place.
To support the above, observe how delicately the images retain a sense of authenticity which implies a certain veridicality (rare in the digital era of manipulation) and allows the full deployment of the photograph's impact.
Are you reading all this? Well, don't. For this last article of the year, allow me to go further into deconstructing (again) the pretentious body of work of myriads of photographers (as opposed to the ones presented here). A work usually bundled with expensively paid reviews, then self-published, the whole packaged in a gift special edition.
Bresson said that "il faut signifier le monde" which translates into "reveal the world, uncover it, give it a meaning". I would take this further by stating that photography is there to give the photographer's life a meaning instead, and nothing else. This last axiomatic statement may appear so close to the Plato's "aphorism" on art having no value for us since works of art are simply a mere mirroring of reality. And this becomes even more plausible when we refer to photography, a mechanical process.
Shouldn't we leave art to the artists and to the critics, and start following what always was the initial drive of a photographer: The quest of her identity, first of all, and the universal truth's, secondly; only with not much time available. A photographer is an impatient investigator. She cannot afford in-depth reading or studying the human issues. She gets quickly overwhelmed by the phenomenological variety and the difficulty of explaining the world; and so she does what represents a closure, an instant truce with these demons. She triggers the shutter. The photograph is no more a window opening to a new experience. It is a door slammed into the viewer's face, into society's burden.
And I am perfectly fine with that. Aren't you?
I am realising that in SCP we have many anti-conformist artists flirting (again) with Dadaism.
The photographs of the authors presented here, albeit their visual confusion, and thus provocation at first reading, they convey a nonsensical and ethereal narrative after a while.
Rafael calls his pictures "Broken Dreams", Elisa's images are forcing an impression of distorted reality, George's are going further into fragmenting the imagery of the ordinary.
Moriyama called his pictures fears, D'Agata called them obsession and darkness.
Bottom line is, all the above fall under what André Breton termed "convulsive beauty" in the Manifesto of Surrealism.
The same goes for Kertesz's distortions, Man Ray's violin, Atget's shop windows ...
Dadaism appeared post WWI, hand-by-hand with Surrealism as an anti-bourgeois protest "against this world of mutual destruction." As a scream against the madness of collective homicide.
But why now, at times of relative peace, this cyclical re-emerging of the opposite of everything? Why still go beyond aesthetics, offending the established harmony?
It is because almost two centuries of photography could not convince us that perfection in art can perdure. Better technologies, cameras, films, lenses, sensors came to provide crisp images able to be magnified at gigantic levels. And yet, we merrily and happily embrace Man Ray's words: "I would photograph an idea rather than an object, a dream rather than an idea."
This is the public curated Gallery of the STREET CORE PHOTOGRAPHY Group