Read Gareth Dent’s article ‘Dealing with the flood…’
Dent has cited a quote by Robert Frank that I’ve found really interesting: ‘There are too many images, too many cameras now. We’re all being watched. It gets sillier and sillier. As if all action is meaningful. Nothing is really all that special. It’s just life. If all moments are recorded, then nothing is beautiful and maybe photography isn’t an art any more. Maybe it never was.’
I never make up my mind about whether I think photography is art or not, simply because I feel that it sometimes is and sometimes isn’t. Perhaps the modern commonness of photography and the incalculable amount of images published every day online does play a part in it losing some of its meaning as an art form. Perhaps if everybody knew how to draw and paint, it would also lose some of its uniqueness and wonder.
I don’t really publish my photographs, though I used to some years ago. I think I lost interest in publishing images in social media because it seemed a bit pointless and, like in Dent’s article, part of a great flood of similar things. I do publish photos of my illustrations and drawings, especially those that I feel represent me best, partly to keep a visible chronology and portfolio and partly to share it with others. I post perhaps 3 social photos a year and have erased most of my personal information from social media. Again, it just feels pointless.
For the most part, I think social media devaluates photography. I commented in a previous reflection how I appreciate photography so much more when I’m looking at it on a printed medium rather than online. An image published on a social media becomes simply another one and it can be really hard to make it stick out and separate it from the mass. Even if there are thousands of photo books out there too, they each have a purpose, each is a body of work that makes sense, they exist individually and separate from the others, and have a physicality and “permanence” to them that makes them somehow more special.
Of course I’m contributing to the flood. Having this blog, having several social media accounts, publishing my work, browsing the internet, consuming that same flood, it all means that I am part of it. I don’t think this is a good or bad thing, it’s just the way we communicate post-internet. It has, like everything, its advantages and disadvantages; for one, we are able to reach wider audiences from all around the world, but at the same time it is easy to get lost in that. I think the smartest choice is to know how to use the ‘flood’ to our advantage as artists and either go with it or fight it depending on our goals/intentions.