Thursday, August 9

Stephen Shore, Alec Soth and web 2,o

So, I never look at Alec Soth's blog. I feel like I should but I don’t don’t. The only reason I can come up with is that I don’t like photography. Now this is an absurd thing to say and certainly not true of Alec Soth’s photography, which I like. What I like about Soth’s work is the that twinge of Southern Gothic in his work. He taps into the same thing that William Eggelston does. It’s that version of Southern Gothic in which Big Star comes somewhere after Flannery O’Conner and not, say, Harry Crews (or certainly not Nick Cave). But, anyway, all that aside, today I did look Alec Soth’s blog and the post, about Flickr, "Where are the great pictures on Flickr?", was what was on there. The starting premise here is a comment by Stephen Shore regarding Flickr: “I went on to Flickr and it was just thousands of pieces of shit, and I just couldn’t believe it. And it’s just all conventional, it’s all cliches, it’s just one visual convention after another.” This comment initially got me riled up so I started reading through the comments and ruminating on a response when I got to this (which I just noticed Mr. Soth posted again, in it’s own post, today, because the post I am talking about above, that I looked at this morning, is actually from yesterday, but anyway):

And I forget about my response to Shore’s remarks about Flickr because now I was entranced by the idea of this project he alluded to that involves the collection of photos from eBay. The cell phone photographs of things like the London bombing, aesthetically, interest me less but Shore is spot on in calling attention to them. The proliferation of cameras, cell phones more than anything else but the cameras in computers and security cameras after that, is really pretty amazing. Vietnam War coverage probably marks the first blush of this ubiquity, "the Global Village" or whatever you want to call it. The contemporary ubiquity of cameras begins with Rodney King. But the apotheosis of cell phone photography is probably best emblematized by the Abu Ghraib photographs. Everyone who carries a cell phone with a camera built-in to it is now a roving security camera. We are all the fabled panopticon, big brother, etc., so on and so forth. We are all now collectors of evidence. But then it occurred to me that this project of collecting eBay photos was some sort of web 2,o version of the photographic project by Mike Mandel and Larry Sultan documented in their book Evidence (1977). Evidence is an excellent book and a collection of genuine instances of vernacular photography, photography used for some sort of functional documentary purpose. It is an aesthetic that was, arguably, ushered in by Ed Ruscha, years earlier, in books such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) and Every Building on Sunset Strip (1966).


Anonymous said...

I think you might like my new blog
since you have that kind of sensibility, it seems. I'm not a spambot or phreaker.

de Selby said...

I'm curious how you ended up here. Will you tell?