Sunday, June 01, 2008

RE: Quitting Time . . . or What I LIKE about the Internet

"You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello, hello
I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello
Hello, hello . . ."
(Hello, Goodbye - Lennon/McCartney)

Well, it seems to have started May 12, 2008, with Stu Jenks posting
An Argument Against Photography - and the follow-up on May 14, 2008, I'm Not Suicidal . . . tho' it really started before that. With the backlash. With a few heads butting up against the biz-ness of Photography, its disingenuosness. The incessant talk of gear, gadetry, gizmos, and those . . . egos. The constant marketing, self-promotion, and worse. The multitude of "Nice Capture!" comments and all.

Photo by Szymon Seweryn

Stu's exposition flew round the Photog-Blog-World, and I was 110% behind him, his sentiments, his predicament. It's something I struggle with - almost daily, and I remember the first of this year saying that I was "Seriously looking at my involvement with all this stuff for the new year."(shows, 'shops, et all) to which someone had replied: "I think you said that last year." Yeah well, anyway, I'm constantly questioning all this - it's the tried and true "Is this trip necessary?" test. So, I was primed for the artistic investigation via the Blogs that was to follow. So, it appears, was Joe Reifer - on his blog May 17, 2008, he picked up on "the question(s)" and has been attacking it from different vantage points, angles, depths (like any good photographer!) in his on-again off-again fashion ever since. Mark Hobson's The Landscapist blog - joined in the fray, as others (just google the words "Joe Reifer" and "Blog" to follow the ether trail) did the same.

Joe's latest posts deal with magic, photography, and clothespins and he makes some pretty startling (tho' some might argue obvious) statements:

"The best storytelling exists in print, the Internet is the same as TV."

"Blogs are to sell you something — what are they selling?"

That last one brings me to just what's behind "Cogito, ergo blog" (I wish I could say I dreamt that up but credit goes - in its most recent reincarnation - to Philosophy Talk, the Blog ) and the reason I why I do this. The answer to that arrived this past week in a beautiful overseas packet (check out those stamps!) from Poland, for my review. Inside was the work of a couple of artists, working/exhibiting NPy together - stunning, magical, mysterious, moody, stark b/w work - previously unknown to me. Now, The Nocturnes, you must realize, is a 'for-profit' endeavor, in name only - and that gives me (actually it "gave" me nothing - that "vision" was there from the beginning) quite a bit of "freedom," and perspective. So, to answer the question: "What is THIS Blog selling?" I would have to say THE IDEA of The Nocturnes, that community-building, the sense of the importance/relevance of NPy education and research, and the collective vision of all those associated with the endeavor. And, that is what I LIKE about the internet - and how it's not TV. Last time I checked, Channel 3 (NBC) did nothing to hook me up with kindred spirits half a world away!

As John pointed out in his comment on Mark's Blog - "We all need that “communication and connection” — it makes us fully realized human beings — and probably more engaged photographers."

Your comments/connections are MOST welcome.

(You say why . . . and I say I don't know.)


Stu Jenks said...

Great Post, Tim. A month doesn't go buy that I don't get an email from a high school kid in Australia or the UK, who wants to interview me and ask me "How do you do that flame thing?" or "What are Hoop Dances and how do you do it?" And it's a great pleasure to give them tech info but mostly to encourage them to keep shooting and feel the Magic. And I've become very good friend with a great photographer in the UK, named Ben Heaven because of the Web. Community is what it's all about, I think. Oh, and I was invited to be in a traveling show (Thanks Lance) and I don't think I've ever talked with Lance on the phone, much less meet him (Even though if the show comes into my time zone, I'll go to the opening just so I can give Lance a hug) So I'm grateful for so much, all the good folk and the Magic.

Love and Light,
Stu Jenks

Lost America said...

Yes, bravo.

Its been interesting to watch all the photobloggers squirm over this series of "What's the point?" posts.

Like Stu, I get e-mail every pretty much every day asking the same 5 questions over and over again. I actually have prewritten boiler-plate answers for some of them. And yes, I'm happy to talk to anyone about NPy / light-painting because it spreads the word and validates ALL night shooters everywhere. Grow the cult until the mainstream HAS TO notice, and if you were lucky enough to be there at the start, maybe you can reap the benefits of that mainstream exposure.

But yeah, aside from the obvious positive of exposure of my work to an unlimited audience, for me the internet (mostly flickr) is about connecting with other photographers and all the cross-pollination that happens. I've met countless people to share ideas with, and dozens to shoot with and found countless locations through them. This is what it's all about for me.

But people talking about taking pictures is boring for me. People talking about gear, even more excruciating. And the whole comment thing is out of hand. The unmoderated comment thing is the bane of the entire blogosphere: the inability to tell if you're reading something written by someone with experience and knowledge, or if it's some pimply 14 year old regurgitating some nonsense he read on some other bullshit blog. There's just no credibility with any of it.

Yes, perhaps Joe's being a bit too cynical in his assessment that "All blogs are there to sell you something", but I tell you Tim, you ARE selling something: you're selling the idea of NPy being a valid and fun form of expression. Maybe you didn't make a cent from your new Polish friends, but it really is what you're "selling."

Ultimately, the web in general and blogs/message boards in particular are about connecting with people who have a similar interest, whether it's the study of NPy, the subtle differences between lens types by people who only shoot their cats, or 1958 Rambler collectors.

If you find gear blogs boring, don't read 'em.



gravitas et nugalis said...

yes - it counts

Joe Reifer said...

Well done, Tim. The articles in question are:

Going deeper may require more abstract excursions
Magic, Storytelling, Selling, and the Sokolov Metaphor.

Tim Baskerville said...

RE: "Ultimately, the web in general and blogs/message boards in particular are about connecting with people who have a similar interest . . . "

Troy - my first (actually it was my second - the dark brown '53 Chevy - with 1954 taillights! - briefly known as the "beer-bottle" and purchased for $35 doesn't count!) was a 1961 or 62 Rambler American Ragtop! It was yellow with a white (no options) top - with Willard Raymond Clayborn III assising, we immediately popped the hubcaps, painted the wheels a deep forest green, and in a fit of psychedelic brilliance dubbed it "Lemon Cream with Chives."

True Story.

Tim Baskerville said...

And we have a visual . . .

Joe Reifer said...

I'm not sure where that leaves me, as my first car was an early 70's Ford Pinto wagon with wood side panels.

Lost America said...

The universal air is very thin.

I was a Falcon man myself.