Gary Sauer-Thompson: March 2009 Archives

The phrase is Heidegger's. It is taken from a late poem by Holderin and it is evoked in terms of the dangers of technology as a mode of being in modernity and the saving power of poesis in opposition to the will to technological power and its dominion over the earth. altfotonetNorthropH.jpg Dwelling is a kind of building. What then does it mean to dwell poetically on this earth? Surely it doesn't mean shutting one's eyes to actuality and living in a dream or one's imagination? Nor does it mean raising buildings or occupation of a building. It is concerned with our being-in-the-world and experiencing the world poetically renders the ordianry extraordinary.
In an earlier post I raised the issue of what contemporary art/photography is as distinct from modernist photography. I did so by exploring Terry Smith's Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity article in which he said that this was an art that turns on long-term, exemplary projects that discern the antinomies of the world as it is, that display the workings of globality and locality, and that imagine ways of living ethically within them.

An example of contemporary art photography is this picture by cookie poppets of a derelict, burned out cafe in an industrial area of Liverpool in Great Britain:

altfotnetcookiepoppets.jpg Smith goes to say that this consists of:

Slight gestures, feral strategies, mild subversions, small steps. To which purposes and in the names of which values? These questions can still be posed and be answered In brief, it seems to me that at least four themes course through the heterogeneity that is natural to contemporaneity. All of the artists mentioned, and the thousands more of whom they are representatives, focus their wide-ranging concerns on questions of time, place, mediation, and mood.

They make visible our sense that these fundamental, familiar constituents of being are becoming, each day, steadily more strange. The familar world that we live in is becoming

The debate over modernism/postmodernism in photography continues at haphazart! Contemporary Abstracts group on Flickr. Some middle ground has been opened up so that we can begin to consider consider contemporary at photography, such as this untitled picture by polah2006 on Flickr.

altfotonetpoolbah.jpg
What can we say about contemporary art and photography?  What is contemporary art now? Is it possible to generalize about it?  Or is just what  is happening now?  Terry Smith in Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity says that the attempts at generalization about contemporary art:

highlight the currency of one or another aspect of current practice: new media, digital imagery, immersive cinema, national identifications, new internationalism, disidentification, neomodernism, relational aesthetics, postproduction art, remix cultures. The list keeps extending. Apologists stress the pivotal connectedness of their favored approach to at least one significant aspect of contemporary experience, but usually deny any claims to universality, sighing with relief that the bad old days of exclusionary dominance are over.
Despite this, he says, two big answers have come to figure forth about contemporary art amidst the multitude of smaller ones in the major world art distribution centers.
There is a bit of a debate on modernism and post modernism in photography in this discussion stream  here  at the haphazart! Contemporary Abstracts group on Flickr. I have to admit that I am taken back by the intensity of the hostility to postmodernism shown in the group  by those who identify with modernist photographic tradition.

Consider this picture by j neuberger ---it has the appearance of being an abstract  modernist photography concerned about its own form: colour,  line, frame, surface etc.  It says purity of the photography. 

alatfotonetneubergerj.jpg Look closer. Note the organic form of the trunk of the tree. A tree! Tht shouldn't be there. Abstract modernism is premised on the rejection of  naturalist representation. And there are twigs hanging down.  There is movement and flow in the picture --a form of dynamism or becoming that takes us outside the modernist frame into postmodernism. This flow or movement coupled with the representation of  objects  within an abstract photography is a transgression of modernism.

You can see the transgression when the image is compared with this one
I've  been meaning to select this picture as the picture of the week for sometime as it shows the lyrical power of  contemporary, abstract  photography in the modernist tradition:

altofotonetledbetter.jpg Janet Leadbetter, yellow squares, red windows

It is a high modernist piece----minimalist in style, strong simple colours,  has a grid,and is mostly surface. It lies firmly within the narrative of modernist American art that includes colour field painting and hard edged abstraction that marked the end of abstract expressionism; a narrative  which Clement Greenberg argued saw colour-field abstraction as the next step towards purifying painting. For Greenberg painting would save art from the kitsch of pop by attaining purity.  

Yet this  is a photograph not a painting.

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This page is a archive of recent entries written by Gary Sauer-Thompson in March 2009.

Gary Sauer-Thompson: February 2009 is the previous archive.

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