The elusive thing that we call the photographic look is an abstract phenomenon. It’s the aggregate perceptual experience that emerges from the sum of many smaller attributes that clue the eye.
“The longing for simplicity in the face of overwhelming complexity is as understandable as it is misguided” warns Mark C. Taylor. As artists, to put all of our faith in the illusory simplicity of bundled systems instead of understanding the analytic components that are the undeniable building blocks of the process is to give up our control and authorship. How has it come to be that we’ve taught ourselves that that nuanced and masterful creative authorship is as simple as choosing Coke versus Pepsi? Expertise requires more than simply memorizing (and then repeating) which of three or four prepackaged options is the best one.
In exhibitions of contemporary art, the “Anthropocene” has become a cliché, folded into the usual mix of art jargon. Recent exhibition titles that include as subtitle some variation of “art and climate change” or “art and the Anthropocene” are too numerous to list. The rhetorical construction alone is telling. Framing the climate as a distinct concept for art, another notion to explore, creates an illusion of intellectual distance. But the reality of climate change isn’t a topic for some art to address; rather, it is a historical condition that informs all contemporary art.
What seems to be real in the photograph is always a simulation of something else. We have shown how this way of thinking provided a theoretical basis for simulation methods in contemporary art and photography. The exploration of staging, quotation, repetition, copying and plagiarism typifies the postmodern trends of the 1980s. These anti-realist strategies found a rationale in the conceptual art movement’s critique of documentary methods and the emergence of sceptical attitudes to the truth claims of photography.
pg 169. RETHINKING PHOTOGRAPHY: Histories, Theories and Education, by Peter Smith and Carolyn Lefley published 2016 by Routledge, 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN, ISBN: 978-1-315-72241-2 (ebk)