Milan ordinary landscapes. Centro Leoni #3

I've mentioned several times my vicinity with conceptual art as a mean to have some control in what I would call the photographic performance, the one each photographer performs when taking pictures. In some ways, in landscape, the photographer's performance overlaps with land, body art and even dance as I pointed out a few posts ago.
Conceptual art introduced a procedural way to operate, to make intentional sides of the artistic practice other ways shadowed by routine doing. Conceptual art may be suspected to have a high degree of boredom associated, it is not always the case as explained in this article: "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art" by Sol Lewitt that I have enjoyed reading for its clarity and concision. The intro is a pearl by itself and an important point in the attribution of a theoretical dignity to the artist's doing.


Milan ordinary landscapes. Centro Leoni #2

Recently I've posted a reference to a Minor White article on equivalence. The argument was about what to look as visually shareable among subjective views of the world. But here is a somewhat different point of view from Edward Weston. Reading and comparing the two articles a clear difference in approach emerge. While one is more passively oriented toward what comes in the other explores proactively.


Milan ordinary landscapes. Centro Leoni #1

I've casually got to this place. While I was looking at it asking myself how to render the impression that made me stop, a group of runners appeared out of nothing. At that point I could not resist. The low contrast and the smooth yellows where attracting even if the light was a bit lacking in contrast. Generally a picture classified as a landscape is expected to represent something lasting, or at least static, but this is only a cultural expectation, a projection, so to say, of our desire to possess even the time and control it. Much of the landscape freely published or taken with compact cameras or by compulsive clicking is nothing more than an abstract try in appropriating of something that in some way resonates with a memory or an experience or even an idea. It does not take that much to understand that there is a profound difference between trying to share a vision and trying to possess something.


Milan ordinary landscapes. Porta Garibaldi #5

One more assumption we can make about the subjective view rendered by a photographer, and this one is somewhat stronger than the one in the previous post, is that there are only subjective views even when they pretend to be objective. As I have pointed out two posts ago objectivity, as a belief, need continuous enforcement of the rules either institutionalizing the control either by punishment (as it is the case in excluding someone from a competition or firing the photographer from his workplace). But what is so important in the belief of objectivity to be defended so strenuously ? Just to avoid a position of simplistic relativism as in "the night where all the cows are black" let me say that I'm pretty aware of the need to have some kind of conventionality in every form of communication, and when it comes to matters of fact a view may be better that another one and even more objective, as in the case of "looking into a gasoline tank with a burning matchstick may be dangerous". However I do not think that protecting an Idealistic idea of objectivity may be a solution. To be honest I have no solution at all. I've found that, if read in an historical perspective, this short text from Minor White contains some interesting starting points for reasoning on what may be sharable among different subjective views. The series from Porta Garibaldi in Milan stops here by now, hope to continue it in the next weeks as soon I will have the time to get there again.


Milan ordinary landscapes. Porta Garibaldi #4

If we assume the hypothesis that each photo is made from an initial subjective view, an assumption not completely innocent, we get rapidly to the point where one of the main questions is "why did she/he take this ?". The relation between the photographer and what and how he is looking at something that gets represented in the photo is immediately questioned. Perhaps it has to do with the way in which we reconstruct, from a picture, the equivalence among us, the viewer, and the photographer. It is enough to have a quick look at the history of photography to see that the way in which a photographer approaches and chooses his photographic subject represents a point where major distinctions could be made.


Milan ordinary landscapes. Porta Garibaldi #3

The questions raised in the last post by Kent's comment, here is his blog Man Made Wilderness, made me try to find out an possibly short reply. I've found any. Not short I mean. Recently I followed an interesting set of speaks offered by the "CIVICA RACCOLTA DELLE STAMPE ACHILLE BERTARELLI", the site is in abandoned state. Among them I've found the one from Olivier Lugon, a very interesting photographer, who analysed the question in the light of several possible interpretative ways. The extreme endpoints are one the exclusive decision of an Historian and the other the intentional documentation of something by a photographer as part of a chain of decisions ending with him. Interestingly this is a distinction that some modern European Anthropologist, looking on our own culture as a scientific object, make between cultural artefacts intentionally left for historical memory an non intentional ones. Well this includes almost the whole spectrum of taken photos. An interesting point lies in the side of intentional documentation. In the last years with the advent of digital photography we've seen the introduction of extra medium rules to state what was a "truthful" document and what was not. It is the case of an obliterated pair of legs, if I remember correctly, and the last a "nicely" coloured village. The "conservatives" in photography felt, them too, and it was time, that no longer the medium itself was a warranty of "objectivity". To obey these rules , however, may mean that  intentional documentation may be stated only as something "official" or approved by an "authorized" source.  Who has the authority to state the objectivity otherwise ? The slippery side here is that rules tend to get changed to reflect the momentary common sense. In a world where every body is used to hyper saturated kodachromes a desatured photo will still be truthful ?


Milan ordinary landscapes. Porta Garibaldi #2

A brief detour to the Porta Garibaldi train station. As promised, and easily predicted :-) here is the continuations of the series I've started at the end of the 2009. Recently I've seen a great deal of attempt to define the importance of photography as a document mainly for its capability to freeze a time/space point no matter what the subject is. There is a sense in which I concur: from its beginnings to take a picture it required an exposure and a certain amount of light coming form a surface. As for the rest I believe that the documentary value of a photo is something that cannot be separated from the photographer, as in the case of Aget. It is a document of a personal vision located in space and time (the photographers space and time), and as such difficult to trace back. But there are certainly other equally valid reasons that let an historian decide that a picture may be used as a document but in such case pictures are nothing more than objects themselves and the historian is simply playing the "ready made" game.