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Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Seeing this work on a computer is not seeing it at all.

Where should you view this picture  - it is of Isabel and is from the Flora series? This computer isn't the best place for it, that's for sure - it's not an end point in any way whatsoever. Paul Kopeikin mentioned this in relation to  the Wired list of bloggers that seeing work on a blog is not seeing it at all - and that work should be seen in the appropriate place. The right place and form might be a gallery in the form of a print, it might be in a book, it might be in a home or in an album. It might even be on a computer, as with Snakebox Odyssey or interactive materials such as Prison Valley. So perhaps this is the right place to see it.

This is just to let you all know that you haven't seen any of the work on this blog until you have seen it as a print, as a book, as a magazine article or as an illustration - all these pictures are like copies that have been xeroxed and re-xeroxed (xerox - what an archaic, exotic, North American word! Fabulous!) until they bear no relationship to the original.

Sometimes there will be a definite wrong place to see something. I suspect that the White Space Gallery is the wrong place to see Rimaldas Viksraitis' pictures - so the Gallery should have a post-it note on the wall saying that these pictures should really be seen when drunk and naked in a Lithuanian shebeen. Similary, nearly all documentary and photojournalism from the past should be seen in a magazine or even as a contact sheet rather than in the places one sees them now.

But the point is good so I will put up a little warning on the side of this blog saying:

Please note: The work on this blog is not the original work. It is being shown out of context and denuded of content. To see the work as it should be seen, buy the book, magazine, visit a gallery, go to the appropriate website or watch the film. Do not mistake your computer experience for anything other than the little that it is.
Now it is just time for all the gallery websites, personal websites, magazine websites and bookselling websites to make the same point. Blogs are just a tiny corner of the internet, corners that gather a tiny amount of traffic compared to newspaper or magazine websites. Every image seen on a website should come with the same warning.

What do you think?


Tony Fouhse said...

i'm trying to find Paul's comments about this but cannot. where are they?

bryanF said...

When I watch The White Ribbon on Netflix Streaming, am I really seeing the film? Or does it only count if I see it on the big screen?

Mark Page said...

I'm guessing the concept for a work can remain the same whether viewed on screen or as a print or book. Are we talking about material quality? I get that with painting and perhaps with some painting, but with say Thomas Ruff?

Anonymous said...

Images on the web are a form of type, just data to make a representation of an idea or a thought more tangible to share. I can't taste the original delivery of a meal or something to eat on the web. I can only imagine what it would taste like. When distilling ideas thru the web I set my expectations to pedestrian and log the idea, either for an incredible culinary delight or a beautifully printed image, and know I have to pursue the live medium of its authentic delivery to truly have an experience. Anything else is just figmentary evidence.

Anonymous said...

Unlike watching the movie on dvd, the fact that five seconds before seeing said photographs they encountered GIF animation loops of 80s movies, Japanese bondage, street fashions from a blog in Norway - they are probably well aware that they aren't viewing the photographs in the "appropriate" context.

Stan B. said...

Agreed, agreed- and agreed...


colin pantall said...

Paul's comments are on Facebook - I'm guessing he's going to add something to his gallery website or is that a bit mischievous and presumptuous?

The White Ribbon is screen-based Bryan and I reckon it's marketed for cinema, TV and computer downloads. I don't know if seeing Avatar om 3D at an IMAX is the same as seeing it on Netflix.

I don't know Mark and Anonymous - we can change our assumptions but if you ask somebody if they have seen such and such work's - and they have only seen it on screen - most people will say yes.

Viewing on screen comes with different expectations, assumptions and little things like Next buttons - these can be good, but viewing backlit images on a screen for 3 seconds is very different to seeing the pictures in a book or as a print, where one is not tied to a piece of electronic hardware. Sometimes, things might be better on the screen, but most of the time we just consume and consume and consume - and become unaware of what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Thanks Stan!

Jose Guilis said...

Should we go pedantic and go back to Walter Benjamin and John Berger et all? In the essence it's a question they already analysed.

To me it's quite clear it is not the same, and taking the matter a bit further, I think your reminder is very opportune, and probably a good idea to leave it there forever, lest we forget that what we are watching is just the shadow of the work.

I feel art should be seen the way the artist intended its work to be seen.

But what worries me more is the different ecosystem of images we live in now. Is it still possible to appreciate a photograph when you watch a few thousands per day? Doesn't the overload make you insensitive to beauty as it did to Stendhal?

J. Wesley Brown said...

"Sometimes, things might be better on the screen..."

Indeed, Colin. I can't tell you how many times I've been to see shows and been extremely disappointed in the prints. I feel often that the screen has made many lazy in recent years.

I always say, "The art is in the printing."

cafe selavy said...

I have works you cannot see in print. They are only a series of zeros and ones. I like the idea that they only exist in some internet everland. It is up to the "artist", I think, what destination s/he has in mind.

I'd like to see your work in print, though. I'd like to see what you had in mind.

simon anstey said...

what was it that Hockney said? "can anybody see an empty room?"

@cafe selavy....you could buy his book....

simon anstey said...

Or take a look at Joel Sternfelds' website,
maybe that's another way to go....?

colin pantall said...

Thanks CS and thanks Simon - I was thinking of the book when I did the post and will mention that a little later. The Sternfeld site is great - perfect!

cafe selavy said...

I can't tell if you are kidding me. I went to the Sternfeld site and it was empty but for his name. Perhaps I am too literal.

I will buy Colin's book, though I meant I'd like to see them exhibited.

I went to your site, Simon. I enjoyed it much.

colin pantall said...

Thanks, CS. Hopefully I will show exhibit them as they are supposed to be seen - but the book form is definitely how they are supposed to be seen as well. If you do want a book, send me an email.

cafe selavy said...