Friday, July 18, 2008

The Detroit Chronicles: Bombs Going Off



I had breakfast with Archibald at Cafe Fanny this morning. While solving the problems of contemporary photography we talked about pictures with bombs going off: pictures that have nothing subtle or ambigious about them and have some hook driving them.

The picture above has a bomb going off (the light coming through the tree). The bottom image is almost a picture of nothing.

I tried to explain this to the reviewers at Santa Fe. They would ask what CCTWWWTB was about and I said I am trying to explore the idea of photographing nothing. This was invariably followed by a blank look and they quickly changed the subject.

Next time I approach a rep I am going to push my area of specialty. No one else is shooting nothing. I own nothing.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Man, you gotta love 8x10. Great images.

g said...

Seriously? Is that how it went? What's this series about? Nothing. That would be a little frustrating. And aren't those pictures (CTWWWTB) first of all about light? That's not nothing.

Timothy Archibald said...

Somewhere I read an interview with a photographer who said that a teacher of hers always said "there are tons of great photographers who are unknown because they don't have great subject matter".
Her point was not to underestimate the power of subject matter, of content, and to remember that a great percentage of the heavy lifting subject matter does in making a photograph succeed.
People like Stephen Shore, etc, have seemed to transcend subject matter, and I think CTWWWTB is successful in transcending subject matter and being about a mood, a feeling, and all of those things. But it seems like it is just hard work to get that to communicate. Those that get it are a minority, but a photographically literate minority. People reading this blog got it, some didn't, some loved it. It felt to me like pushing a rock up a hill or something, but sometimes that is more rewarding than the mass appeal home run. I dunno.

Anonymous said...

Dude, Nothing's been done!

Jon said...

"I own nothing"

Nice.

Douglas said...

I doubt you will remember this so I'll remind you here.

When you were the Picture Editor at the Indiana Daily Student in 1989 you drew a small picture of a airplane going down in flames. You cut it out and put tape on the back. The flames were all colored in red.

When a photographer brought you an image you thought was a picture of nothing you would tape this little drawing onto their print and say, "This, I'm afraid, is all this picture needs."


douglas

Anonymous said...

That would make you the George Castanzza of photography. How long has it been since Seinfeld stopped production?

Anonymous said...

if you look at photo sites and blogs, everyone is running around with 4x5 shooting pictures of nothing.

yv said...

Well this post has prompted me to try and find the meaning of nothing. Of course everyone will have their own opinion of nothing but this sentence struck a chord with me. "In some Eastern philosophies the concept of "nothingness" is characterized by an egoless state of being in which one can see the true relation of one's own small part in the cosmos. I like it, and I like this nothing.

Timothy Archibald said...

Ok, after all of this discussion, and then the comment above, its a good time to say that the second picture, the one of "nothing" provides the more satisfying photographic experience. The top shot with the sun ( bombs going off ) tells the viewer what to think. The bottom photograph, with less to immediately grab on to, allows the viewer to project his/her own stuff into it. Those big color field paintings by Mark Rothko work in a similar way, with less content, but lets not try to confuse things by switching to painting and all now, ok?

Darrell Eager said...

hmmmm? Now TA is a docent for TB. Cool!

bird. said...

I think "nothing" works so well because of what TA was saying. Maybe I'm just reiterating what he said, but...

Pictures where you fill in the blanks... create your own line... these are great things. I concur. They really make you think... go back to the shot. After all, isn't that what pictures are all about? . . . at least in this context of nothingness. If they make you think (and more so think creatively, freely), are they not successful?

Some call it the "moment between moments" or the "places between places" . . . And sure, they can be shots of nothing solely, or slightly something. Take Gregory Crewdson's work for example. He captures in between moments that don't necessarily have a clear meaning. They do, however, have an emotion, and an empty line in the story where you then write your own story. What just happened? What is going to happen? (Even he admits he doesn't know what his pictures mean. Total genius...) Obviously painters like Edward Hopper (Crewdson's idol, for those who might not know) touched heavily on this and influenced many... Making nothing can sometimes be harder than it seems, however. What if you accidently capture "something"?

Sorry, TA, I totally went into painting. This is a theme that definitely transcends the mediums, tho, and I think it's a good thing. Art is art after all, right? We appreciate it all...

chirp.

Anonymous said...

Sunlight through a tree, less contrasty sunlight on a tree. Same picture, one just reads faster. Yes I guess there is the history of romanticism tapping your shoulder for the first but come on guys- not so different in emotional feeling. Hasn't bored been the new passion for some time now? I do prefer the second even so...
em