Santa is climbing and people are leaving.

There is no doubt that this is a rather ugly picture. However it depicts, in a very close way, the condition of Milan each time a festivity of any kind occurs. Milan is a city in which nobody wants to live except while working or doing business. So tradition is to participate in a massive exodus. I am leaving too for Valtellina (Sondrio province) in the northern part of Lombardia, where my parents live. My wishes for a happy new year. I'll be back in 15 days.


quadro #21 urbana.

Casual synchronicity is one of the most amazing things in blog reading. While I was reading the crystal clear, as usual, consideration from Mark Meyer upon beauty, an other one, albeit on a quite different and somewhat more troubled side, popped up from Jim Johnson.


quadro #21 urbana. Quotation

.... Se c'è la luna in cielo
io ti penso sotto il melo
a te vola il mio pensiero
mentre mi faccio un po' di nero ...

Skiantos. Vortice. MONOTONO 1977


Cheap philosophy

Today is one of those days in which one questions itself about the meaning of things (of Monty Pythons memory).

One of these things is about the feeling of disease that started mounting in me at the same speed new blogs about photography entered my aggregator (circa 2/3 blogs per day starting from September).

So, thanks to a strong dark mood I started trying to make a reason about it. As always I ended up with several ones (why in the hell I cannot find a good singular solid answer to any question is an other question).

First Having studied Philosophy for almost 30 years I can't stand the way in which it is used speaking about photography.

Mostly all the use that I am seeing is a literal or common sense based interpretations, if not superficial use of citations in a wrong context. Some of them are so blatantly banal to make me sick. Maybe it is only me but to seriously study a philosopher it takes a time as much longer as his own life and even a bit more. Fortunately if you have studied seriously a philosopher's work you can find the thing even hilarious.

It is the case of the use of Wittgenstein's "Tractatus", one of the most sacked it seems. Here the amusement comes from the self deleting ending of the sequence of aphorisms and the subsequent studies Wittgenstein made that literally negated some of its conclusions.
I am sure, in this case, that the "citers" never reached the end of the "Tractatus":
7) What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence

Second The stubbornness in persevering in the well known ignorance of the photographer. Once justified by the quite complex process now times is less and less acceptable. It is the case of using aesthetic judgement purely based on the idea of art as a way to express feelings from the beginning of the last century. I understand here that the large diffusion of Susanne K Langer in USA (and worldwide) schools may have left some digestion problems. Even worser is the re edition of trivialities as the one relating the pure vision of childhood and innocence as aesthetics, the funny thing is that in Naples the child are also called, with good reasons, "impuniti" (unpunished). In Italy we had "Giovannino Pascoli" (1855/1912) as a proposer of the concept, eventually it came out that he had a rather twisting childhood (in the face of the proclaimed innocence).

Those aesthetic concepts were made by people who had absolutely no idea of what art was to became and what is the function of art in a mass communication based society. They are, if used literally or as a norm, of no use. Projecting Art as a mere device to express emotions sterilizes the function that Art had, and has, as a vehicle of innovation in thinking (something we badly need) and negates the possibility to communicate between humans with means other than words. The result is an endless sequence of flowers, gooses, short sighted views and other honanistic practices presented as Art (capital A), followed by bloggers asking themselves if they are producing Art or not.

No surprise if landscape photography shifted from the photographers domain to that of architecture and geography. If photography wants a place as an active form of culture it has to cooperate on the same level of competence as any other knowledge domain has. Otherwise it will be convicted to be an exotic kind of packaging of nice "feelings".

The easy sacking of history of art (better if older that 200 years). This certainly has something to do with the remake mania that pervades most of Hollywood movie makers (as if there was nothing new that could be said). So we are seeing any kind of remake of some kind of painting school.

Well there are some news here. The originals were quite better. First because they had meaning or better an extension while the remake has as only referral the original itself. Second because they had a function that was to inform or to exercise some technique. At the end what comes out is an exercise in nihilism claiming its status of Art by mere terms of being a copy of an object to which someone, in a different time and context, attributed and aesthetic value (in some cases not event that). Picturing a bunch of red tomatoes on a white table not necessarily makes a piece of Art even if the light comes from the northern sky.

The reader of this blog knows that I am a supporter of the use of the knowledge historically accumulated about painting and every other visual art as a starting point or as a toolbox for image making. But I never suggested to use the paintings as cheap models to copy unless for educational and study purposes so I do not feel guilty at all.

blogroll update

I made some updates in my blogroll (a thing, among the others, I am quite late in doing). The blogs reported are a selection of the ones that I follow via my RSS reader. As with all blogs I do not necessarily agree with everything posted there nor I am interested in any return (well some critique could be appreciated even included some considerations about my "cowish" English). Mainly the reported ones made me feel connected with them by means of experience or effort in the "photographic and human landscape".

Far from me to be selective in terms of photographic quality of any kind. This blog is related to my vision and does not want to compete with other ones more oriented to operate as a "portal", more I am also a bit against the temptation to act as a "miniaturized" critic.

As stated in the opening of this blog my main intent is to give out some resources I have found to be of some importance or relevance in the domain of landscape photography and more to present some thoughts on landscape in general. At the very beginning I did not intend to publish any of my pictures till some projects could be considered closed. But it is pretty difficult to speak of photography without a picture. Eventually looking for images to publish singularly delayed the projects even more. But also made me think about the sense of staying on the internet in a blogging style. Blogs are not well suited for projects. So I came to the idea of micro projects, something that could be developed in 3 to 6 images. I made the first attempt with the roundabout series and a second with the Halloween one.

Projects and micro projects too are somehow far from the streaming form of this media (the blog). A project is about something already happened (in photographic terms), closed and as such dead. But maybe it is my need to elaborate upon everything. Fact is that even without a reader this blog is for me the first time I had the courage to put my photographic nose out of the door and this is challenging.


quadro #20 urbana

I deeply adhere to the concepts depicted in the previous post. Sadly I have to observe that while those are, ideally, very nice principles in practice they are almost never respected. Recently, however, it seems that in architecture and human geography some tendencies toward this more conscious approach are emerging either in literature either in blog formats. Starting from the seventies of the past century a lot has been studied and published upon this subject in geography.

In epistemologic terms Geography belongs to a modern kind of science. A science who's aim is to describe reality rather than rule it. Unfortunately the realm of investigation is quite complex as much as everything in our world is. But as a landscape photographer I think that it is mandatory to have some knowledge about. At least to act intentionally. One that seems to me a good starting point is this one (pdf). You will find there either exercises in landscape reading either some good bibliographical starting points.

Some photographers too got there early, albeit following different paths and more on the side of the artistic intuition. Among these are the ones who attended to the "New Topographics" exhibitions since 1975.


fondovalle. Freedom and democracy in landscape

What if somebody comes to you and says that your garden is not worth the efforts you have put in it ? According to the Council of Europe landscape quality and determination are basic rights:
Aware that the landscape contributes to the formation of local cultures and that it is a basic component of the European natural and cultural heritage, contributing to human well-being and consolidation of the European identity;

Acknowledging that the landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and in the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas;

from "European Landscape Convention Florence, 20.X.2000"


fondovalle (valley floor)

A small interlude from Milan's Urban views. The previous post image and this one are from an other theme I follow when in Valtellina (Sondrio Italy). Here is the location on Google maps


Landscape photography, circulation and use

My blog list in akregator has grown to 350 blogs regularly coming in (considering only those related to photography). Of those feeds almost the 60% are about landscape. This is a small part of what is published on a daily basis regarding Landscape (out of a circa 1.200.000 photo blogs of any kind). I am not considering here the photographer's sites or other containers as Flickr or Photo.net or similar.

Most of what gets published (95%) will never be seen in a gallery or a museum and will never be printed (except in the case of auto printing). This set of considerations lend me to a little update on the theme I went on a few months ago: circulation.

Circulation in image making is an "elemental" component. Circulation is determined by the function (in communication terms) and competes in the formation of the aesthetic value.

If we look at the imaging history the second great revolution in circulation (after the introduction of the canvas) happened with the ability to print images with some kind of perceptual fidelity: halftone printing. The technique greatly increased, for the image makers, the options for reaching a large public. Images lost their aura given by the scarcity (or uniqueness) . But I'm not going to speculate on this point, tons of ink have already been used to write upon the effects. The only thing to consider, socially, is that printing needed a capitalistic infrastructure to reach large sectors of population. Few ones where able to have access to those technologies. This meant that some kind (whatever) of control was imposed on what was to be seen and what not.

A lot of you will remember how things, in the imaging world, worked till, say, 20 years ago. Except for cases of direct circulations (very restricted) there was always somebody with the power to decide what was worth to be seen. The power was divided between editors museum/gallery curators and critics. But in any case it was not the one making the image who had the final power to decide upon. This led to several distortions including the birth of several fairy tales about the way in which photographers were supposed to work. One of the best example is that of "Cartier Bresson" who's photos taken in the mythical "decisive moment" where perfectly in line with the "you push the button and we do the rest" of kodak's memory. By the way does any of you know the name(s) of the developers and printers of his over or under exposed famous clicks ? Does any of those had the name printed along with his pictures ? As photographers we know that post processing is as important as the taking in terms of outcome. Clearly a blatant lie propagated either for propagandistic or for marketing reasons or worse to disguise the industrial, and not individual at all, process. A cynical one could also argue that the grainy aesthetics was not intentional (who intentionally does a bad exposure ?), eventually it became an aesthetic norm as consequence of the fable.

And so we get to the third revolution: Internet. Publishing there did not require large amounts of capital. The need to publish photos with ease was certainly the driving force behind the huge success of digital cameras. But what did loose the image in such a case ? In the first place the support. Reduced to a bunch of bits images could freely circulate along the Net. But this was not the only thing images lost. At the end they also lost the controllers. Well the latter orphanage is still not completely resolved given the highly relativistic aesthetics coming from this. A lot of people still seems to need some kind of guide (oracle) to know if an image has some aesthetic value or not. But from the advent of internet it is only a matter of individual knowledge, taste and skill in using the instruments. So, as of today, images lost the context (in the case of the canvas), the uniqueness (Half tone printing) and finally support and selection (Internet).

But back to the beginning of this post. What is the use of the published Images on blogs ? Again, the aesthetic value follows the function. And guess what ? The function is not to produce art but to communicate. With a nice anachronism the use of the term "art" is getting back to the Renaissance mean. Something more related to an ability (or a quality ?) of the maker.

And in terms of landscape what do we communicate ? Personal visions of the world. But I will get back on this in the (hopefully not to far) future.

POST: I am speaking here of still images. From frescoes to digital painting.


quadro #19 urbana

Life is full of contradictions. Back in the seventies I was involved in politics (in the so called extreme left) but at the same time I cultivated my interests in making photos and studying art by my own. My "comrades" always looked at me with a lot of suspicion given that those interests were seen as a manifestation of clear influences from the "consumer and imperialist devil". With time, and a bit more of positive perception of myself, I came to understand that in reality I was not that interested in "ideology" instead I was simply following my own view of the world. By the way that also made me quite suspicious of any kind of assimilating community.

One of the most striking contradictions I had in that time was my liking of the futurist art movement from the early 1900. In Italy, after the II world war, culture was almost all in the hands of the left. Futurist where, in some ways, strictly forbidden given their relations with fascism. Today I do not believe anymore in any ideology but I still like a lot "futurists".

It is not easy to differentiate "futurist" from, say, "cubists" or other "avangarde" tendencies of the beginning of the last century. The simplest thing that I can say is that "futurist" focused more on the rendering of the dynamism of the subject as opposed to the dynamism of the observer as in the case of the "cubists" (the connections are, in reality, more confused given the vast exchange that went on between the various movements).

When the futurist movement rose to fame Italy was entering a state of diffused industrial and economic growth. The city was the symbol of all that. The new materials used in architecture started to alter the time scale upon which the landscape could change. The change in landscape become perceptible on a one man's life time scale, and more, a it became a value. One of the "futurist" seminal paintings about this is "La città che cresce" by Umberto Boccioni.

Today things are a bit different. Given the tragedy we are producing in the ecosystem we no longer appreciate the modernist idea of changing as a positive value. But adaptation to a more environment wise world will require a lot of changes. Is this an other contradiction ?


quadro #18 urbana the return

After the brief snowy interlude I am continuing the series of my views of the area nearby home. As stated before this is a series of ordinary views. Something I see every day. There already are a lot of photos of this area. Most of them has the vernacular as the focal point. Other ones are made with spectacular intents ending up in a view that has little difference from any other metropolitan area. What I am at is to show how the various signs (in semiological terms) contribute to the formation of the urban landscape and consequentially to the formation of the perceived identity of the places. Living in a place with a lot of history behind is almost ideal for the purpose. But to combine all the various semiotic strata in something that could be seen is a more complex and challenging matter.

The methodology followed is the usual of making detours conceptually predefined but not strictly planned except for the starting point.


quadro #17 snow

For this one I had to get back to my usual processing. Most of the controls in RawTherapee are operated by sliders, this does not give room to workout singular areas with a heavy cast (green in this case).