I often think artists and people who write about art place way too
much importance on the appearance of novelty and obtuse sound bites, but if they really did their homework they’d see relationships and historical precedents all over the place. Arbus and Lisette Model, Robert Frank and Walker Evans, etc. are obvious examples. No one works in a vacuum; there is precedent and dialogue in every medium and expression and those relationships can be really interesting. (“Tradition and the Individual Talent” by T.S. Eliot should be required reading). The uniqueness or particularity of serious work is often in more thoughtful, quieter differences – all of which have to do with our own biography, experiences, and the world that we’re faced with at any given time.
I could give you a very long list of artists whose work I admire, and an even longer list of writers and film makers that have influenced my work. But I really like what Robert Gober said: “Whenever I give a talk about my work I am invariably asked who my influences are. Not what my influences are, but who.. As if the gutter, misunderstandings, memories, sex, dreams, and books matter less than forebears do. After all, in terms of influences, it is as much the guy who mugged me on Tenth Street, or my beloved dog who passed away much too early, as it was Giotto or Diane Arbus.”
“The idea of making better work and improving keeps me interested. The thought that my best shot could be in the next roll of film keeps me going. I have no idea how long the interest will last so I’m shooting as much as I can while it does.”—From a short interview I did for Kissing Eyes Magazine (via shanolyno)
“The parallel extends to editing—and this is why amateur photographers can be “better” than professionals. Pros must shoot and edit based on an exogenous—outward-oriented—standard. They have to provide pictures that conform to a standard, accepted idea of what’s “good,” so as to please their clients and their clients’ broader constituencies. Amateurs, on the other hand, beholden to no one but themselves, can afford to be much more idiosyncratic—as idiosyncratic as they like, actually. And sometimes, the more so the better. I’ve always considered it a sign of emerging maturity when a student first becomes able to reject conventionally “good” and “perfect” shots from the raw mass of his or her shooting, and begin to choose less perfect, less standard, but more personal and expressive shots to work with.”—Mike Johnston
“The ubiquity of photography is, perhaps ironically, a challenge to curators, practitioners, and critics. Why look at any particular image, when they are literally everywhere? Perhaps “photography” has become so all-pervasive that it no longer makes sense to think about it as a discreet practice or field of inquiry. In other words, perhaps “photography,” as a meaningful cultural trope, is over.”—Trevor Paglan, Is Photography Over?
But it does create an oddly circular culture: Kids develop social media audiences in order to become “stars,” which really just means having enough social media followers to sell out to a brand for sponsorship. Perhaps more amazingly, none of them seem to mind. When I asked kids what they thought about “selling out” for my PBS documentary on social media, none of them could even tell me what “selling out” meant. They thought it had something to do with there not being any tickets left for a concert.
The language barrier aside, young social media users today draw no distinction between art and commerce, culture and advertising. While kids engaged with social media have the ability to express themselves and their values to pretty much the rest of the developed world, they seem unaware of the extent to which these platforms shape the values they choose to express.
“Writing from photographs seems as though it should produce the same effect, sharpening the way we convert experiences and events into prose. I suspect that it also changes not only what we write but how we write it. It’s no coincidence that the rise of the selfie coincides with the age of autobiography.”—Casey N. Cep, A Thousand Words: Writing From Photographs : The New Yorker
“Your job is to be an artist. Now, there’s a new element, in which there is a feedback between you and the audience about what they think of your work. There’s more of an opportunity to talk to the people you’re showing the work to.”—Jason Langer