First Principles of the Third World of Photography
THE WORLD BEYOND DOCUMENTATION AND PURISM ONE
TEXT AND IMAGES BY CLARENCE JOHN LAUGHLIN
The Eye That Never Sleeps, 1946
In Photography, as in all arts, the quality of the human imagination is the only thing that counts - technique, and technical proficiency, mean nothing in themselves.
There is no essential reason why the creative imagination cannot work with a ray of light acting on a sensitized surface as effectively as it can with a brush laden with pigment. The camera is merely a tool - and like all other tools, such as the painter’s brush and the writer’s pencil, it can be controlled by the creative imagination.
The camera is not a machine, except when it is used mechanically.
We might ask ourselves a very fundamental question: What is a photograph? The usual answer would probably be: a psycho-chemical image suspended in an emulsion, and attached to a piece of paper. But is this definition enough? Perhaps a more complete answer would be: A photograph is a physico-chemical image suspended in an emulsion, attached to a piece of paper, implicated in creating a special kind of illusion of “reality,” and involved in the mystery of time.
Photography is a way of seeing more intensely and completely, and of “freezing” time in a special way.
From the kind of intensive seeing which every good photograph embodies, and from the methods and procedures which the creative photographer can use to push this seeing still further, emerges a surreality which definitely transcends the purely recording function of the camera. This surreality consists of the extension of the individual object into a larger and more significant reality - the submarine depths and fantastic jungles of psychological association and symbolic meaning.
There is nothing that is not proper to photography - despite the “experts.”
The camera can use any object as a stepping-stone to a realm of meaning “beyond” the object: It can become a tool to explore the human mind - by exploring the inner world which we project into all objects by emotions and symbolic transference.
If the photographer looks intensely enough, he can find the secret images of our fears, joys and desires. Everything is speaking to us - every object.
All things are interconnected, whether we see the connections or not.
Chance and coincidence are the names we use to denote the unseen relations between things - relations that we don’t understand.
The limitations of photography are nothing more than the limitations of photographers themselves.
Stefen Chow’s latest series, The Poverty Line, surveys the value of 3.28 Renminbi, the daily wage for many in China, which averages about $0.49. Interesting to see the rations juxtaposed against these newspapers, a subliminal reminder of the wealth that cultivates industries like media and advertising.
Chow says, “This is not an emotional analysis of what it means to be poor. It is an examination of the choices one would face being poor in China.”
Selections from "Suicide Bombers in Love", 2010 5 ft. x 6 ft. Sumi-ink , brush and potato on paper
Remove the veil so I may gaze upon the rose garden for the last time
Give up your body and you won’t desire a shirt
What is the fire of bullet when the heart is aflame
In my melancholy and distraction while dwelling on his image, I erected a stone over the spot where he reposed
Having tasted earth’s bitterness may turn the heaven’s sweet
Way too tired/sick to write a paragraph, so here are some bullet points plagarized from the artist’s project statement, which I think are necessary to contextualize the work.
- Politicizing the cliché image of the terrorist with the often banal fantasies and idealized vignettes of the Golden-age American Romance comic - Composed of sumi-ink renderings and ben-day dots stamped vigorously with a potato, signifying the TRANSFERENCE OF THE MECHANICAL DEVICE INTO A STAMP OF HUMANITY. - Fragments of text derived from translated Persian Poetry
Plenty other interesting works on Valizadeh’s website.
M+B Gallery will be exhibiting this series at Pulse Art Fair in New York, March 3-6, 2011, along with several others from their roster of exceptional artists.