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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"Changing your pants is like taking a clean plate"

"Changing your pants is like taking a clean plate"

So said Nehru-lookalike Ivor Cutler, pictured above (and here singing Tomato Brain). Which brings me to Alec Soth, who reminds me a bit of  Ivor Cutler thanks to the dry Minnesota wit of his videos for New York Times Opiniator blog - I especially like the dead parrot one.

Alec Soth said in the BJP that "A blog has to have a voice, otherwise it's just like any other media out there. But at the same time, there are things I protect. For example, I wouldn't post a picture of my kid" - which made me wonder a little. Why wouldn't he post a picture of his kid? It's not an easy question, especially for me who photographs little else apart from my daughter. But why not - what magic does the still image have that to publish it on a blog (as opposed to his daughter's name and personal details of her life and involvement in Alex's projects) is something one needs protecting from.

Anyway, there is a fine interview with Alec Soth here, with lots to get one's teeth into and digest, including this wonderful analogy discussing why photographers should be happy to be called photographers..

 "There was this blog recently complaining about the term “emerging photographers,” particularly the word “emerging,” and New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz posted a response saying that people need to get rid of the word “photographer.”  But I sort of hate that. It’s kind of like being a saxophonist who plays in an orchestra and being embarrassed to say, “I’m a saxophonist.” Because like anything, it’s all about subtleties. Joel Sternfeld was a teacher of mine at Sarah Lawrence so, inevitably, I get compared to him. For a long time I tried to run away from it, but then I accepted his influence and worked through it. You find your own little path that’s just subtly different. And in a way, that is what being a photographer is. We’re all using these machines, and by doing it over and over and over again, you find your own voice, but it’s just modestly different than someone else’s. And how do you describe that? How do you describe the difference between these two saxophone players?"

More on  Ivor Cutler here.


Phiilp said...

It's sad to see that something that is not a problem, ie the use of 'photographer', should, as a topic of discussion, replace something that is a problem, ie 'emerging'. Critics like to stir the pot, but fortunately, photographers will continue to be photographers, emerging or not, despite Saltz, and, something may still be done about emerging.

colin pantall said...

Thanks Philip - the problem might be with artist, which is what lies behind the problem with photographer. Or the problem is with all our expectations and mystifications of whatever a photographer/artist/emergee should be - the bullshit in other words.

f:lux said...

As you've now compared Alec Soth to Iver Cutler, I can at last confess that the NYT Opiniator blog pieces are like something I could imagine a grown up Charlie Brown doing (and I really like them, so I mean that in the best possible way).

colin pantall said...

Charlie Brown? Could be - have you seen the gambling one where he buys a load of scratch-and-lose cards?

f:lux said...

Yes I've seen it. I might have to go back and watch the previous ones again now, see if they've all got the 'what does luck look like exactly?' thing - if he'd also filmed someone (himself even) scratching a winning card, would that have looked any different to everyone else scratching losing cards?