Artillery Magazine published a rather harsh critique of the life and work of famous photographer Diane Arbus, and of what it means or takes to be a famous artist. It took some time over the years, but I have come to appreciate her contribution to photography–which makes me wonder if I might someday appreciate what is coming out of New York City these days. (See this post from yesterday.) Nah, not going to happen.
I have not been impressed with the photography coming out of New York City for quite some time. I canceled my subscription to Aperture magazine some years ago because of the drivel appearing there. (O.K. drivel is perhaps too value laden a description. Let’s just say I didn’t relate to it, often to the point of disgust.) Here’s another example of what I see as a very unhealthy trend in the quality of the photography scene there :
I’ve been to Rapid City several times in the last few years and have enjoyed the graffiti alley downtown on each visit. There is a pretty quick turnover in art in the alley. I was last there shortly after Prince’s death and was not surprised to see this memorial to him. (Perhaps the only surprise is that, given the media attention to his death, the memorial was so small.)
In a post a few days ago (here), I mentioned a perceived conflict between the act of photographing and actually experiencing a scene such as a sunset. Similar issues have been raised recently by various performers including the singer Adele who asked a fan “Could you stop filming me with that video camera? Because I’m really here in real life, you can enjoy it in real life rather than through your camera.”
Well, it turns out that, as far as enjoyment goes, this “be here now” issue may be much ado about nothing, at least according to a recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The study concluded that in many circumstances, the act of taking photos actually enhances rather than detracts from the personal enjoyment of experiences. Who knew?
So go ahead and photograph that beautiful sunset, it may well enhance the pleasure of the experience. Be careful how universally you apply this finding though as the study also found that the act of taking photos can enhance the negative reactions one has to bad experiences.
Side note. Besides the obvious, I got a kick out of this research paper for another reason; it used serious statistical analysis to prove its point. During my career as a statistician, I worked at various times with statistics as applied to many fields of both the social sciences and natural sciences (e.g., sociology, public health, medicine, physics, chemistry, biology and engineering). The widely eclectic collection of subjects covered in the research papers listed on my statistics resume is in a sense a map of my 30+ year career in that field. But I never had the opportunity to apply statistics to anything related my current passion, photography. It kind of makes me wish I’d been able to add that to my resume before hanging up my statistics hat.
This graffiti mural reminded me a lot of the work of my artist friend Ben Pease who’s work I like very much. However, what I thought was most interesting about this particular photo is how the larger work contrasts with what is painted in the recess in the wall in the lower right hand corner. (At this size, it’s hard to see, but click on the image and it will open a larger version.)