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Thread: Conceptual Photography

  1. #1
    Ross's Avatar
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    Conceptual Photography

    Sometime I tried to perceived about some my friend's works. Finally, I think that it seems the art is something that must be experienced on two time of creation: first is from intents of photographer, second is viewer.

    Are there elemental rules to understand images of conceptual photography? Is it Ok if you explain clearly any your (or Gordin's, for exsample) image on that theme above?

    Thanks for kindness

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross; 25th December 2010 at 09:52 AM.

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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Why not post an example we can all have a go at? I am not quite sure exactly what you are wanting to call, "conceptual."

  3. #3
    Ross's Avatar
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    This is a quotation from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_photography
    Conceptual photography as a part of conceptual art is a photography genre in which the artists makes a photograph of a concept or idea.[1] Usually the conception of the idea precedes the realization of the photography.[2] This kind of photography often involves use of computer editing, to achieve the desired effects, but a lot of artists are working without the computer, they "put in place" the things and the beings will be the subject of the final photograph, and the placement of those things and beings "build" the concept, the idea, and the final outcome, as for example the famous Judy Dater conceptual photography "Imogen and Twinka"

    And this is a conceptual image (of course I was allowed in use). So according to you what a message will this photo mention?
    Conceptual Photography

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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    I am not a philosopher... Photos either "work" for me or they don't "work". They "work" when I have some sort of an intellectual and/or emotional connection with the image and don't work for me when I don't make this connection.

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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    i am not a philosopher... Photos either "work" for me or they don't "work". They "work" when i have some sort of an intellectual and/or emotional connection with the image and don't work for me when i don't make this connection.
    ditto!

  6. #6
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Actually, with any genre, without the connection (as Rechard said) between emotions and scene can not get good photos, including conceptual image. But the conceptual photography seems to be a genre that combined abstract thought with the ordinary photography, it becomes a mystery. But if we do not learn, then would not understand and can not explain why photos of Misha Gordin have the vitality to nowadays.

    Thank you for your entries.

  7. #7
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Actually Misha Gordin's work leaves me absolutely flat! Some might be good editorial photos reminiscent of many Time Magazine covers but, as far as art, his work IMO is at the level of MAD Comic Book illustrations...

  8. #8

    Re: Conceptual Photography

    The example posted is not conceptual photography it is an object or objects photographed from an unusual angle. This is a great way to learn to 'see' and the technique can be used to present suggestion that is usually (but not always) absent in the passive subject. This image does not do that. There is a thin line here because every day objects can be and are arranged to conceptualise a study.
    combined abstract thought with the ordinary photography, it becomes a mystery. But if we do not learn, then would not understand and can not explain why photos of Misha Gordin have the vitality to nowadays.
    I am not convinced that abstract thought is primarily the input to these creations and they rarely combine with 'ordinary' photography. They, in fact, use photography as a medium to present a carefully thought out visualisation of the psychic. That the artistic interpretation of that original 'raw' thought is unintelligible to the viewer is irrelevant since any capture and presentation of thought, that is intelligently conveyed, into art form is usually strong enough to stimulate the viewers own thoughts. It is this tantalisation of our own thoughts that makes art successful, whether we find the subject aesthetically pleasing or not. In truth the least aesthetic presentations usually provoke the greater reaction. Some call this shock value and miss the point totally. It is the artist screaming at you to understand.

    The fact that Misha Gordin's work leaves Richard feeling flat is most interesting since the work to me is a powerful psychic conveyance. I think the problem (and a frustration to artists) is that most of us relate images by association (MAD comic books in this instance) our minds work in default mode by trying to make sense of a scene by association. Where the abstract thinking (mentioned above) kicks in is when the viewer is able to train his or her mind to ignore default reaction. The abstract thought is what the viewer must bring to the table not the artist. Abstraction for the artist is a means of conveyance not base thought process.

    Note: the above is a personal view and should not be used as a representation of truth....because it could well be B*****ks

  9. #9
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    To Steve: Right. Above image is not Conceptual. I think that also. But one put it that category in and its title is “Whisper”. According to me, this is a kind of association photo, be course of without concrete message. But I love this photo as your image (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/for...achmentid=5316), although, I didn’t understand what it said.

    I like your comment. Your philosophy is very interesting: “The abstract thought is what the viewer must bring to the table not the artist. Abstraction for the artist is a means of conveyance not base thought process”.

    And finally, Is that true if we take picture but how perceive it about it depends on viewers?.

    Ross

  10. #10

    Re: Conceptual Photography

    But I love this photo as your image (http://www.cambridgeincolour.com...php?albumid=330&attach mentid=5316), although, I didn’t understand what it said.
    Thanks Ross. This image was planned but not as any kind of statement At present my shots are about 30/70 between statement and representative photography. The representative stuff is essential in trying to obtain the skill set (I still have my L plates as a photographer and I am learning all the time) to produce more conceptual work. If you take a look at the website in my signature in the categories polyheads, composites and unconventional people you may see where I am heading. Early days yet though.
    And finally, Is that true if we take picture but how perceive it about it depends on viewers?.
    We can guide our viewers in but ultimately (for me) the aim should be to evoke emotion. This could be disdain, fear, perplexity, happiness, whatever, but we can have little control over our viewers thoughts. By far the vast majority of photographs taken are representative i.e. they rely on recognition, nostalgia, technical skill and media art to stimulate our brains. Concept photography probably needs to be a good mix of these but it also relies on distorted or unexpected context to jolt our thought processes beyond the more instinctual perceptions when we view representative photography. Artists convey messages that reach us in very convoluted ways. Art can be plain speak but more often we are expected decode a subliminal message with our own interpretations.

  11. #11
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Doing a bit of research, I have found wikipedia had a page with a definition and examples of Conceptual Art:

    Conceptual Art From Wikipedia

    but as the execution described by this thread is purely the resulting photographic print, it sounds like this should be more in line with aspects of Fine Art Photography:

    Fine Art Photography From Wikipedia

    Quote Originally Posted by Wirefox View Post
    By far the vast majority of photographs taken are representative i.e. they rely on recognition, nostalgia, technical skill and media art to stimulate our brains.
    Another realm that I feel your missing is Illustrative Photography, where the photograph captures a subject in a particular setting and possesses an aesthetic that the photographer wishes to preserve. Often, Illustrative photography seems to be intertwined with advertising and commercial product photography, but Illustrative Photography can be anything where the photographer is saying "Hey, Look at this !" and captures an image of something transitive or through techniques shown in novel ways.

    Here are a couple examples that I've posted to other threads here on CiC:

    Conceptual Photography

    In my front yard is this Weeping Willow and on any breezy day, obviously, many limbs sway and move, but rarely does anyone "see" the effect over time. So, I set up my camera with my intervalometer and shot a series of 50 photos spanning 1000 seconds. When blended, the passing clouds and swaying limbs blur while elements which were constant remain with crisp focus, right down to the grass.

    Here is another example:

    Conceptual Photography

    My house has a second floor West facing window that is appealing to Spiders. Every few years, a spider will make it her home and construct an orb web right in front of this window. The great part is I can use the sunset reflected by the window to back light the Spider. I once captured a similar image years prior to this and simply had to wait for this opportunity after getting my dSLR.

    Both of my examples here, as is most of my photography, is illustrative. I'm capturing something that I find special, choose to save, and share, that most would pass by and never notice.

  12. #12

    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Another realm that I feel your missing is Illustrative Photography
    Hi Steaphany, I think that is what I broadly meant by 'representative photography' although as you rightly point out the main aim is to represent the photographers reaction to the scene at source.

    My opinions above regarding conceptual art are a personal interpretation (as art ultimately should be). The definitions provided by wikipedia are an educational compartmentalisation for the purposes of categorisation. I was not trying to define conceptual art for the scholar but rather to provide a more human aspect based on my own perception...which of course is subjective. I have an irrational horror of the packaging up of art for the sake of the rational required by the educator. For me it is an attempt to break the wild horse. Destruction of raw vision to feed the necessity of human control.

    I love the willow as I did the first time I saw it. I think this image is a lot more than what you term 'illustrative' because here you have considered the movement. This is the one aspect that the still camera is very poor at capturing well. However, your representation of the movement actually makes the image something more than a simple illustration

  13. #13
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Thanks for introducing me to a new photographer, Misha Gordin (new for me, anyway). I saw some of what both Richard and Steve are saying -- the Mad magazine part of it, but also some very provocative things, some of which reminded me of Dali. It's interesting to think about where the representative tips over into the conceptual. Rafa Hernandez, one of my teachers, has done an interesting series called Chrysalis -- would this be considered conceptual? And then there's someone like Sebastiao Salgado, whose images here and here are representative, actually documentary, but at the same time have an almost abstract quality that creates a lot of emotion for the viewer. Of course, some of the emotion is related to the situations depicted in the images, but to me there's something beyond that, something strange that mixes the human and the abstract.

    I'm sorry -- it's hard for me to explain! Hope what I said makes sense.

  14. #14

    Re: Conceptual Photography

    Elise

    You have introduced an interesting discussion. Firstly let me say that I think the Hernandez set is beautiful and in places very powerful. It does however raise an interesting question; is the photographer producing art or is he photographing the artist? You have posed the question; "would this be considered conceptual". It is conceptual if Hernandez has choreographed the shots if not then the work is 'illustrative' to use Steaphany's word. Chrysalis is not a new concept it is well known in many guises but what the photographer has done here is put his own spin on a popular concept and what is more it is beautifully executed.

    For me it is not conceptual in as much that the concept already exists. It is undoubtably art. The use of nylon as means of erotic encasement is well understood (usually in somewhat less artistic forms) but it conveys a similar message I think. Here the breaking out is still conveyed in an erotic format which is interesting but not conceptual. The chrysalis is usually associated with metamorphosis but I do not get that from this series. This is more of an escape from imposed bondage. A struggle to be free of some clinging imposition. I would be interesting to understand whether the photographers thoughts were spontaneous or constructively creative.

    Saldago's work is undoubtably documentary. However, he invokes the skill of the story teller to make us understand the vision through his own eyes. This is journalistic photography at its best. Is it art? Well I suppose it must be since it has a form and texture that allows the artist to communicate his own thoughts at the time of capture whilst leaving enough for us to feel or own feelings. You have hit the nail on the head with the association of the abstract. As I said early in this thread the artist uses the abstract as a conveyance and it is a very strong means of transferring the trauma that most of use feel through these images.

  15. #15
    mythlady's Avatar
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    Re: Conceptual Photography

    You have posed the question; "would this be considered conceptual". It is conceptual if Hernandez has choreographed the shots if not then the work is 'illustrative' to use Steaphany's word.
    Yes, he definitely choreographed the shots -- the whole concept and execution were his.

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