Monday, May 17, 2010

Nerdy Shit

This semester I took History of Photo for basically no other reason other than my own personal interest. Throughout the semester I put astericks next to the photos I liked the most so that I could go back and explore them more thoroughly when I had the time. Now that I have the time, I want to document them so I can remember later on when I undoubtedly lose my photo notebook.(Also, I got an A in the class yayaaa).

Man Ray used one exposure in a series of photographs telling the story of a married woman caught in bed with her lover, yet each photo can stand on its own. My teacher (who is a genius and one of those rare teachers that I will admire for the rest of my life) remarked that "The Prayer" (seen below) is symbolic of a holy moment that is usually considered noble, sincere, and uplifting, but rather delivers the exact opposite because "what kind of prayers are omitted from the anus?"-Raymond Liddell.

The Prayer

Alfred Stieglitz- not so much my favorite but I really loved the way he emphasized a peculiar property of photography, particularly in this photo in which the bumps of flesh react to the movement of the water in a way that is not romanticized or glossed over.

Ansel Adams didn't impress me as much as I expected him to, but there were a few images that stuck out to me because of the way he captured the darker sides of nature. Specifically his images that portrayed trees as foreboding, mysterious, maybe even dangerous.

Robert Frank was able to identify cultural binders because of his unbiased approach to American values as an outsider. He conveyed the dark side of the American dream in his images, the intrinsic value of Patriotism imposed by the attitudes of Americans and the way they were molded by their surroundings.

I admired his work because he painted a picture of America that didn't please Americans, targeting xenophobia and contrasting the way we would like to see ourselves with what we fear the most. His images are ambiguous until they gain importance from association with each other, and most prominent is the American flag in his photography, which obscures the identity of the people in his photos and makes a comment on the ubiquity of the American flag throughout our country.

Finally, Edward Weston, who found pure forms in repetition with a Modernist approach to the organic and erotic qualities of nature. Most extraordinary, I found, was his ability to capture the human form in a way that mirrored the sexual imagery in his natural photographs, particularly vegetables. The palpable sense of vitality and the harmonious correlation between the human body as a collection of forms and relationships and the erotic celebration of that same form in nature was what distinguished Weston from other photographers to me.

oh and also this photo of him with cats, taken by Imogene Cunningham: