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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Nostalgia and Decay

Joerg posted an article on the number of photographers that are concerned with 'abstraction, materiality and process.' The author wondered why this might be so.

I think it might be because a lot of this work is concerned with decay - decay of the image in the literal sense (some of Stephen Gill's work), decay of the digital image ( Elijah Gowin), decay through nostalgia (visual history nostalgia as with Markus Amm, Sara GreenbergerRafferty as well as anyone working with alternative processes) and decay through the means of representation and reproduction (televisual and appropriated images).

At the same time this decay refers to an organic, physical presence, something with a history that lies beyond the instant gratification of the internet - something that is material but not permanent. There is a striving for something kinaesthetic in these images of process and materiality, something that takes them beyond the digital - and I think that is part of what is being photographed, the death of the photographic image, but also its preservation, albeit in decaying and decontextualised state, beyond the degrading influence of the computer screen. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.


cafe selavy said...

Perhaps, too, this is a reaction to the number of processes available for making images that are becoming more easily accessible to artists. It can make one both excited by possibility and nostalgic for what seemed "simpler." Critics, though, whatever their intentions, serve to commodify both art and their own judgments. The poet Robert Frost was very practical when he said that everything must come to market. This morning I blundered into the works of Vivian Maier who instantly became my new hero for working so wonderfully in obscurity.

Sean said...

This is an excellent post. While I have a great interest in nostalgia and the physicality of the (Polaroid) photograph, I don't think I have ever put these two things together quite as well as you have in this post. Excellent.

Were I more awake (its late and I have just got back from the cinema) perhaps i could have done the post justice with my comment! There is always tomorrow!

Best, Sean.

Elizabeth Fleming said...

Colin, images of a child smiling that actually work! Thanks for showing me that it's possible to get the expression without the sentimentality. Well done. (And great posts as usual too.)


colin pantall said...

Thanks Elizabeth - I'm not sure where it is all going but it is going somewhere. Any suggestions for good laughing/smiling pictures. I think the sentimentality is one probelm and the other is just the generic nature of most smiles - I used to live in Jave where, oooh, there are about a hundred different kinds of smiles, all meaning something a little bit different and at least half of them not good different.