Sassello January 2009 #25. A sense of place part 2

Two opinions on landscape detail

I have already posted about anachronism. The general use of anachronism is referred to the projection of an historical practice in an actual context. In this case I am going to use an opinion formulated at end of the 18th century without any regard for its historical placement. What I am proposing you is to read it as much as if it where formulated with an actual semantics.

But first the case. In an article by Nick Devlin in the Luminous Landscape I have found this short consideration:

[Noise] ... it’s a real issue in landscape photography where micro detail is the difference between good and great.

As I read it, suddenly, I was reminded of this thing just read:
A facility in composing, a lively, and what is called a masterly handling the chalk or pencil, are, it must be confessed, captivating qualities to young minds, and become of course the objects of their ambition. They endeavour to imitate those dazzling excellences, which they will find no great labour in attaining. After much time spent in these frivolous pursuits, the difficulty will be to retreat; but it will be then too late; and there is scarce an instance of return to scrupulous labour after the mind has been debauched and deceived by this fallacious mastery. By this useless industry they are excluded from all power of advancing in real excellence. Whilst boys, they are arrived at their utmost perfection; they have taken the shadow for the substance; and make that mechanical facility the chief excellence of the art, which is only an ornament, and of the merit of which few but painters themselves are judges.

From "A DISCOURSE Delivered at the Opening of the Royal Academy, January 2nd, 1769, by the President" in "SEVEN DISCOURSES ON ART" delivered by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

I got across Sir Joshua while studying Constable's theories on landscape. But more on this in a next post.


Sassello January 2009 #24. A sense of place part 2

Reading a landscape is a fascinating but also complex activity. Consider this case. Here we have a neat example of the vacancy house look of the sixties. This is what was called a "Cottage", a kind of house you can find in a lot of vacancy places in the Alps (Cortina D'Ampezzo is one of the best known).


Sassello January 2009 #23. A sense of place part 2

What identity is to be assigned to a place as the one I am progressively presenting ? Isn't there all the sense of modernity ? Of individualistic expression ?
Landscape,as we can experience it, is in part the outcome of the human insider's need to communicate an identity. The communication functions, when we refer to current manifestations, gets easier to perceive given our commonality with the symbols. But the modernity comes with a loss of consistency. The relation between the buildings is no longer related to a common use or adaptation to the land. The only one is to be located in the same area, on the same soil. No it is not as flipping through a thematic magazine. Instead you can read the different life paths of the people.


Intervallo: Death of a Caravan

As a previous reference see #18 in the Sassello series. Pictures taken three days ago.
A personal homework in tribute to:"Things That Emerge From Under the Snow"


Sassello January 2009 #19. A sense of place part 2

De Chirico, Proust and Mark Meyer

Yesterday's post from Mark Meyer's site cites Proust's "The Guermantes".
I went on this topic a few months ago reading "Fotografia e pittura nel Novecento" a remarkable book on History of Photography by Claudio Marra.
Marra goes on the question of the profound influence photography had on Art in general at the beginning of twentieth century. Interestingly he reports the parallelism with a De Chirico's writing:

Let us take an example: I enter a room and see a man seated on a chair, hanging from the ceiling I see a cage with a canary in it, on a wall I notice pictures, and on the shelves, books. All this strikes me, but does not amaze me, since the chain of memories that links one thing to another explains the logic of what I see. But let us suppose for a moment and for reasons that are inexplicable and independent of my will, the thread of this chain is broken, who knows how I would see the seated man, the cage, the pictures, the bookshelves; who knows [what astonishment], what terror and perhaps what sweetness and consolation I would feel when contemplating the scene.
But the scene would not have changed, it would be I who would see it from a different angle. And here we arrived at the metaphysical aspect of things.

You can find the original article here.

The translation is a bit harsh. Here is the Italian one:

Io entro in una stanza, vedo un uomo seduto su una seggiola, dal soffitto vedo pendere una gabbia con dentro un canarino, sul muro scorgo dei quadri, in una biblioteca dei libri; tutto ciò mi colpisce, non mi stupisce poichè la collana dei ricordi che si allacciano l'un l'altro mi spiega la logica di ciò che vedo; ma ammettiamo per un momento e per cause inspiegabili e indipendenti dalla mia volontà si spezzi il filo di tale collana, chissa come vedrei l'uomo seduto, la gabbia, i quadri la biblioteca; chissà quale stupore quale terrore e forse anche quale dolcezza e quale consolazione proverei io mirando quella scena. La scena però non sarebbe cambiata, sono io che la vedrei sotto un altro angolo. Eccoci all'aspetto metafisico delle cose.

The interesting thing among these writings is the clear understanding of what is "Visual Thinking" and how it can be made conscious. In general I think that an equivalent in photography, albeit more primitive, is the "to stop thinking" reported by various Photographers.

As for myself I tend to define it as the "Metaphysical experiment". You can do it by yourself looking at something familiar and loosening the process of meaning attribution the the objects. Just see them plainly to paraphrase one of my preferred Contemporary Landscape Artist.


Sassello January 2009 #18. A sense of place part 2

Light stalking

Back in the 35mm days Light stalking was a necessity for the color shooter. Landscape, in stamp and colored format, till the advent of the scanners, was photographed in slides. The DR (Dynamic Range) was awfully restricted to max 5 zones (or EVs if you are better). Hi and Low contrast scenes were almost out of reach unless a "creative" solution was adopted. My solution was to work out pictures in the first 4 hours after the sunrise and 4 hours before the sunset. In Winter the time frame more or less corresponds to the whole day.

Digital gave me a larger scale (or DR). With some limitations I can now work on purely available light all day and a bit after sunset. The problem now is all in organization.

After 50 years in this world I still find myself unprepared, and surprised, by seasonal changes in light quality and color. Last Saturday, to exemplify, I went to a place I spotted a couple of, rainy, weeks ago. I was expecting some kind of bluish and diffused light, only went out earlier, Instead I found a gorgeous warm and contrasted light. Not bad at all, the place revealed new traits of photogenic beauty.

Here, in Milan, spring is at it's beginning. This week, on the 13 of March, the "Celtic" beginning of the spring, "el tredesin de Mars" (The little thirteen of March), will be celebrated with an open air flower (and gardening) market.


Sassello January 2009 #16. A sense of place part 2

Photo zines

Recently there has been a flourishing of paper only photo magazines. I understand the need to find out something that may have some kind of pricing, a difficult thing in Internet times. On the other side the the printing process is in the beginning of its obsolescence and, as Schumpeter noted in general for the technological progression, is still viable and getting cheaper thanks to the newly gained marginality. I think it is a wrong way. Certainly those magazines will generate, in the first time, some sort of glocal community. But in the long run (and maybe not so long) circulation will be severely impeded by rising costs.
Along it's history art always followed, and adapted to, the media that at the time promised the highest levels of circulation.
But, even not taking into account the reach, there is an another problem I see. To gain some kind of circulation those zines have to rely on the Internet for the marketing. This means a lot of visitors coming to the site and being deflected by a "buy to see". Something similar happens in the so called "Fine Art" where lots of people pretends to sell prints showing off stamp size pictures. In the end the risk is at least a loss of credibility.
Instead I find Internet accessible zines pretty useful and entertaining. Still the online ones have to find out a way to get some kind of income. Donations, on small numbers, are not so viable.