Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Assignment Four - Critical Review - Essay Re-work

I have now received and am reviewing the feedback from my tutor. I was really pleased by the positive comments on my tutor report and annotations on my returned essay, all of which are recorded on my posting here:


There were several suggestions to look at various other artists or comments made which could supplement my argument so am researching them to possibly include in my essay or just note down for future reference. The text in italics are excerpts from my essay where the annotations were made, followed by the annotation itself and my response to these:

1).... John Szarkowski in the introduction to The Photographers Eye comments on the difference between paintings and art being a basic one: paintings were made but photographs were taken (2003)......  

Have a look also at the comments Paul Delaroche (French portrait painter) made on first sight of a Daguerreotype in 1839 ... 'From this day, painting is dead!'

 http://www.answers.com/topic/painting-and-photography Carries the above quote.

Basically photography came along at a point in the history of European painting when Romanticism "was widely admired and commercially successful" and realism "was beginning to coalesce into an oppositional movement". Some painters didn't see photography as a threat however and instead "quickly embraced it as a means of referencing such details." Edgar Degas, Pierre Bonnard, Edvard Munch, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, even became accomplished photographers. It was then painter Paul Delaroche (1797-1856), supposedly said, ‘From today, painting is dead.’  This stemmed from understanding "painting's purpose within a fairly narrow concept of visual representation." I thought it interesting to note from this article that a number of the photographers who achieved prominence in photography's first decades were trained in Delaroche's studio for example Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Roger Fenton and Charles Nègre.  Apparently "the painting-photography relationship eventually emerged as the paradigmatic instance of the broader reciprocal one between art and technology."

note to self

The adjective paradigmatic is a fancy word for describing something that is an ideal or standard. Monet's paintings are paradigmatic of impressionism — they are a typical example of that style of art.
Use paradigmatic when you're talking about things that are archetypal or representative of some category and you want to sound impressive. You'll come across it if you study the subject of linguistics, where "paradigmatic analysis" is one way of analyzing a text, by examining patterns within it. The Greek word for "pattern," paradeigma, is the root of paradigmatic.

The article then goes on to tell us that some forms of painting did vanish ie miniature portraits, with some going on to become photographers others retouchers "More complex and far reaching in its implications was the declining prestige of the ambitious, sometimes outsize representations of past events or recent news known as history painting. Photography can only partly explain the shift in interest from large, complex images drawing on biblical, mythological, or historical sources, to traditionally ‘lesser’, more immediately accessible modes such as genre, still life, and landscape. But the possibility of seeing a photograph, rather than a painting of, say, the queen of England, the Parthenon, or Niagara Falls, even if in engraved reproduction, inevitably undermined painting's claim to historical and documentary authority."

2) ....specifically exploring the new age of digital/electronic reproducibility.....

Have you already read Walter Benjamin's 1936 essay - 'The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction'

Yes, a few years ago I was advised to have a look at this interesting piece, it was shortly before I signed up to the OCA. I re-read it in view of citing him in my essay but thought many people probably do so went for other references instead. I forgot to add him to my bibliography which I shall now do!

3) .....Entertainingly, sometimes creepily, combining appropriated images he confesses to being a vandal and a thief and likens himself to a foster parent to these adopted images, but one who inflicts abuse due to the slicing and cutting he employs to create his work (Stezaker, 2011)....

Have a look at Charles Merewether also - He states 'the archive functions as the means by which historical knowledge and forms of remembrance are accumulated, stored and recovered.'

Dr. Charles Merewether is an art historian, writer and curator who has worked in Australia, Europe and the Americas. He worked as collections curator at the Getty Center in Los Angeles from 1994-2004. Between 2004 and 2006, he was artistic director and curator of the 2006 Biennale of Sydney and senior research fellow at the Centre for Cross Cultural Research, Australian National University. In October 2007, he was appointed deputy director of the Cultural District for the Tourist Development and Investment Company, Abu Dhabi. Since March 2010 he is Director at Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore.

Dr. Charles Merewether has taught at the University of Sydney, Universitat Autònoma in Barcelona, the Ibero-Americana in Mexico City and the University of Southern California, and has lectured at the Beijing Academy of Art, Lingnan University in Hong Kong and the Asia Research Center at the National University of Singapore.


Interesting writer to remember for future reading and reference.

"One of the defining characteristics of the modern era has been the increasing significance given to the archive and the means by which historical knowledge and forms of remembrance are accumulated, stored and recovered. Created as much by individuals and groups, the archive, as distinct from a collection or library constitutes a repository or ordered system of documents and records, both verbal and visual, that is the foundation from which history is written." - Merewether, Charles. “Introduction: Art and the Archive.” The Archive.Ed. Iwona Blazwick.London, Cambridge: Whitechapel Gallery & MIT Press, 2006: 10-17. Print.


4) ...Despite the discomfort of some with regards to the use of borrowed images, which is a well-established technique in terms of fine art, and the almost complete appropriation of Brecht’s book, this is an extremely clever body of work which tells its narrative well, sets new boundaries for the displaying of photography and has opened a healthy debate on the direction that some areas of contemporary photography are headed....

Agreed look at the work of Joachim Schmid - Very Miscellaneous.

Very Miscellaneous (1996) is a variable cluster consisting of 70 b/w photographs.
Six portraits and six texts are available as diptychs (one portrait and one text in any combination; b/w prints, 36 x 24 cm each, edition of 3).Very Miscellaneous was commissioned by PhotoWorks as part of the Country Life series, curated by Val Williams and made in conjunction with the George Garland Archive at the West Sussex Records Office.


German artist Joachim Schmid combined portraits by George Garland with fragments of newspaper articles drawn from the West Sussex Records Office.

"Schmid famously declared: “No new photographs until the old ones have been used up!” And he has rarely deviated from this avowal (made, incidentally, in 1989, on the 150th anniversary of photography’s invention) instead showing found photographs that he has grouped and titled."


I found his work really interesting and echoed work seen by other artists such as Stezaker!

5) ... Barthes (1968) believed the author was dead but so too may be the single photograph; more and more it is becoming apparent that the single image no longer has the potency that it did, multidimensional bodies of work are coming to the fore, experimenting with mixed and multi-media....

I'm not sure about this, single images of conflict for example still hold power.  Look at the shot of Kim Phuc taken by Nick Ut in Vietnam in 1972 - This event was also filmed, but the footage doesn't hold anywhere near as much power as the single frame.

As with most people I know this image well. I agree that some photographs such as this and many other are amazing at conveying a given point in time. I think I may have to reword this section of my essay as I know what I meant to say and don't think it came over as intended. What I was trying to say is that more and more photographers are creating bodies of work that are reliant on being displays as a whole and that single images don't always have the same impact when taken out of context......hmm food for thought as to how to reword this carefully!

Thanks once again to my tutor for positive feedback and introducing me to more academic and photographic work that will broaden my knowledge and is interesting to boot!

As for reworking my essay I feel there is little to amend beyond adding to my bibliography and altering my comment at the end to reflect more of what I actually wanted to convey, may bung in the reference here to the image mentioned in my feedback and my own experience with Christina De Middel on seeing only a few of her images at the Sony World Photography Awards.  Paul Delaroche may also get a mention here alongside Barthes...who knows.....

*Update: Essay has been tweaked with reference added re Paul Delaroche, Joachim Schmid and the image by Nick Ut, also added Walter Benjamin to the Bibliography.

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