Taking photos now a days….Why?
Up until 25 years ago a similar question would not have made sense (Sony Mavica 1987, Kodak DCS100-1991, Kodak DC 120-1997 the first megapixel compact camera) .
Photography, in fact, a part from irrelevant even if honorable exceptions (nobles, well-to-dos, and researchers with artistic skills), was, from the beginning of its “invention” (mind you not “discovery”), exclusive ground for “professionalism” as a “commercial means”.
Inventors, chemists and researchers were considered barbarians* in a fine arts world that snubbed them when they were not despised like Baudelaire did “…an easy means, too specular and objective”.
Even when photography became popular with the so called amateurs from 1920-1945, and right after the war up until reaching its peak in the 60s and 70s, it was limited to the usual barbarians* even if this activity often courted professionalism in an intelligent use of free time in its purest expression. The barbarians were looked at with suspicion and/or irony, not only for the strange way they presented themselves when taking photos (one or more cameras around the neck, strange lenses, strange instruments like exposure meters, etc.), but above all for the mandatory, mysterious procedures and secret alchemies that followed in the darkroom. The true breeding ground for auteur photography.
In fact, it was often here, in the darkroom, where the photo is created that makes the difference between a photograph of an anonymous and improvisational professionalism and that of fine art photography.
It was exactly this type of improvisational professionalism that apparently did not do justice to the important names in Italy and around the world whom like the tips of icebergs gave great dignity to Photography bringing it, to all intents and purposes, to the level of Fine Art (Berenson). Art that more so in Italy than in any other part of the world is certainly struggling to be appreciated and why not…rated.
During the 90s, big companies such as Kodak noted a large drop in the sale of film and for this vulgar yet understandable reason digital
appeared on the scene. The digital diffusion was not something that the so called fine art photographers or advanced amateurs longed for. Perhaps for its then alleged speed it may have been seen kindly by
sports reporters who were not always professionals.
The unimaginable widespread use of digital photography in the world,
but more so in Italy, this time was not amongst the barbarians* but
mostly amongst the barbarianized*. Sold for epic revolution, digital photography was simply “…an analogical media converted in digital media…” L. Manocich.
In fact, aware of the rare blend between science and artistic culture necessary to make a good fine art photograph, the barbarian photographer has not changed much. On the other hand, many of the accessories have changed ( adaptor cards, computers, programs, and high capacity external memories) but the photographic process is, and remains, exactly the same. From the analogical (film plus chemicals) to the digital (sensor plus computer). It’s all about the “same” previews, choice of composition, exposition and shooting.
The real revolution today, thanks to the large manufacturers whose only interest is to make the world believe that anyone can be an artistic photographer, is not photography but digital photocopies (millions, billions) that every day are captured, stored and placed on the World Wide Web. Shared with millions and billions of unaware and annoyed copiers disinterested in any sort of technical methods even if elementary (last resort, for now: Instagram “…with a little bit of imagination and creativity, sure enough, a conventional snapshot or even an unsuccessful one can be transformed into a splendid photograph…”) Sob!
So here you have it, millions of unenthusiastic, distracted, disinterested people believe they are copying reality with their “little machines” and their cell phones while holding a piece of pizza in one hand and holding the little device in the other, a smartphone, when it’s not (brrrrrr...terrible) an 19x24 cm IPad. Just like that. Because it’s trendy, a habit, out of desperation…..eh eh eh **
The result? Wonderful pictures for everyone.
To keep an honest intellectual distance from this barbarianized distortion of such a demanding, hard, difficult and fascinating, intellectual and artistic undertaking we bring our very modest contribution with this, certainly not conclusive, discussion. Where the first thing we will talk
about are our “whys!”. See you soon.
*A. Baricco – I BARBARI U:E. Feltrinelli
**In wealthy countries consumption consists of too many people spending money they do not have, buying goods they do not want and impressing people who do not love us” J. Spangenberg