The revered photographic historian Beaumont Newhall once said that "everybody writes, but there are very few writers; everybody takes photographs, but there are very few photographers". With that statement, he eloquently described the all-pervasiveness of one of the 20th century's newest artistic mediums – photography. Today with the advent of digital technology, Newhall's summation on photography's accessibility is more relevant than ever.
All pervasive, photographs record everything yet fail to reveal anything to us except perhaps a trace of our memories. Incredibly though, we still want to believe in the evidence which the photographic image presents to us regardless of our persuasions. I love the fact that photography describes everything in minute detail, yet consistently fails to tell us anything about that which it portrays. And yet it is this evidential quality specific to photographic images which we respond to. It is this quality of the photograph – its perceived veracity to load the viewer with "facts" – that I find fascinating and which I have continuously exploited in my photographic work.
I believe painting to be more real when it comes to description – imagine a scene in which the wind is playing through the leaves of olive trees in a grove; the constant changing of the olive leaves scumbling to blue and back to olive again as they twist on the currents of the breeze blowing over and around them. A painter such as Cezanne could describe this action far more satisfactorily to me rather than the still of the photograph of the same scene recorded perhaps at 250th of a second shutter speed. With the painting, we are presented with an unfolding of time contrary to a photographic image of the same scene frozen as it were, as a fraction of what we actually can see.
This is not at all a bad thing, just an observation of the differences of the medium. It presents to the artist however, a contradiction which clearly can be exploited. Man Ray's bent on this phenomenon is summed up in his famous quote "I paint what I cannot photograph, and I photograph what I cannot paint." This is the mind of the artist at work; exploiting the most suitable medium at hand to present an idea for the audience to consider.
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