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30 Apr 2008 1,599 views
 
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photoblog image Intimate Conversation

Intimate Conversation


we’ve come to this…
to this particular fragment of me that whispers to you
we are echoed stains on the same canvas

strip the pretense
this is not neutral

we’ve come to this…
each looking out from within and in from without
locked eye to eye in this most intimate of conversations



("Intimate Conversations" is an expression of my thoughts on the much debated idea that some how "artists/photographers should remain unbiased and neutral as so not to 'taint' the thoughts of their viewers." I'd love to read your thoughts on the subject.)

Intimate Conversation


we’ve come to this…
to this particular fragment of me that whispers to you
we are echoed stains on the same canvas

strip the pretense
this is not neutral

we’ve come to this…
each looking out from within and in from without
locked eye to eye in this most intimate of conversations



("Intimate Conversations" is an expression of my thoughts on the much debated idea that some how "artists/photographers should remain unbiased and neutral as so not to 'taint' the thoughts of their viewers." I'd love to read your thoughts on the subject.)

comments (21)

  • Helen
  • Albuquerque, NM USA
  • 30 Apr 2008, 11:25
I love this image. For me, the artist/photographer cannot taint my thoughts. I see what I see regardless of anything they could say. I actually like to hear what they were thinking/doing/feeling when they created the image and compare it to my perception of the work.
Kathryn: and that is the intimate conversation, Helen....the talking about what each feels--the artist/photographer expressing him/herself and the viewer responding ..so begins the conversation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 30 Apr 2008, 14:19
I definitely share Helen's opinion. Anecdotal: a photographer showing a picture with poverty as the subject maintained that he just reports and can do nothing about the state of the poor person. I maintain that it is not true - you may not be able to turn the subjects' fortune around, but you can offer food and clothing; or create a workgroup against poverty in your area. You are just choosing not to, when you are saying I am just reporting. What is more, he may be using the same picture for profit or fame. Wow.

The anecdote has something to do with neutrality. Would he have done better by just putting up the picture and no comment? Yes. Could he have used the picture to launch the workgroup? Yes oh yes.

If by 'unbiased and neutral' you mean just the initial view. Then I say maybe; depends on the picture. The picture you have up today can easily go without a comment. The one showing where you were on holiday probably not and definitely not if you are showing it to your family.

The key to the whole debate for me lies in the lines:
strip the pretense
this is not neutral

Can anything be out of context? Personal reference frameworks do exist and your context and mine may differ. And I believe this is where Helen's and my viewpoints are the same.

Heck, you can discuss this for hours.

BTW, excellent picture.
Kathryn: Louis, i think you are onto something here..there is a difference, and a vast one, in a photograph that shows where you went on holiday and a photograph created as an expression of self, idea, or thought.

More and more I am drawn into the later and for me it is not a neutral thing. I am expressing something that is meaningful to me, generally something i care about passionately or am troubled by or thinking about. When I post those types of photographs. I am opening up some very personal, delicate, deep part of myself--something that, for me, transcends the snapshot of my vacation. In doing so I am whispering to you and if you hear my whisper (are an echoed stain in the same canvas), let's look each other in the eye and have the intimate conversation.

I think we are having an intimate conversation that began the moment you looked at the image and read my words.
  • VZ
  • United States
  • 30 Apr 2008, 15:17
The artist/photographer is at will to present his/her piece of art any way he/she likes. The viewers are at will just to glance at the picture (which happens most of times) or take time to read the artist's thoughts. Personally, I prefer to "channel" a viewer with my thoughts, but I'm often pleasantly surprised, when I'm offered a fresh take on my own work.
Either way is fine with me as long as my work strums something in viewer's mind.
Z
ps. love the picture. "moody and atmospheric" as people like to say here at shutter.
Kathryn: The moment your photograph/art "strums something in the viewer's mind"....your whisper has been heard and the intimate conversation has begun.
There is not a person on the planet who is unbiased. Everything we say and do is a product of our opinions, biases and our cultural background. Every picture we take says something about us and sometimes people interpret our images in ways we had not expected. Perhaps because their biases etc are so different from ours.

So many of your pictures say to me that you are not at peace with the world. How wrong am I?
Kathryn: Even the way we point the camera and frame the photograph, Bill. Or even that we would...

Bill, it is wonderful to to know that my photographs speak to you about me. Many of them are focused on things about which I feel deeply, so we are engaged in intimate conversations in which my photographs whisper to you about those parts of me.
  • Astrid
  • The Netherlands
  • 30 Apr 2008, 17:58
For this time I don't share my thoughts, I have to do that in English, my second language, putting my thoughts on paper is difficult, some words will not be understood and than I have to defend me again in English.
I hope you understand, I do love your picutere, the atmosphere shows me that you are in a difficult episode of life.
Kathryn: Of course, I understand, Astrid, although you never have to defend yourself. I took the photograph in Germany, during the dead of winter--cold, gray, and isolating for sure.
  • Martin
  • United States
  • 30 Apr 2008, 19:07
Isn't the whole point of communication to 'taint' the other party's thoughts?

I like you German fall storm shot.
Kathryn: Yeah, Martin, you get "it."
  • chad
  • In front of a computer
  • 30 Apr 2008, 19:10
I am so glad that you are continuing with this wonderful series, kathryn with poetry to match.
Kathryn: thanks, chad. I have been enjoying writing poetry to further express my thoughts.
The landscape blurred where once men fought

As we pass at will on our speeding train

We smile, we laugh on our routine ride

Through the land where once a generation died


(Reminds me of northern Europ by Eurostar)
Kathryn: Chris, is that what you think when you ride the Eurostar in northern Europe--about the land and the men who fought and a generation who died on the land? I have had those same thoughts while watching the landscape blur by me--and some how I feel connected to those people and the land from the watching and thinking.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 1 May 2008, 10:45
It seems to be a wintry season or -as Martin said- a "German fall storm" - I like the effects of processing: the blurring, blueing landscape, the nuances of tender blue-gray and the two trees standing in distance to each other so that my first impression and feeling is or was: This may be a pic of loneliness, stinginess, coldness (you remember the poem of Hölderlin, Hälfte des Lebens: "sprachlos und kalt"?), so that your poetical thoughts may be some provocing for me or an appeal to think over that: "intimate Conversation"? I have quite more problems than Astrid to answer now in English, but I'll try it...: Every pic is an individual view of our reality and expression of experiences by an individual artist/photographer, every kind of introduction (no remark, only title, confusing or funny title, neutral information and description, personal expression, symbolic interpretation, "channelling the thoughts", stories, citations,longer reflections and so on) is okay for me like a mirror of the personality. I self prefer an original title which only initiates thoughts, then some very short factual,real informations (place/country, season, architectural style, species of birds or flowers, landscape...). I often love ironical or funny remarks or tender-intimate hints, self if a deeper symbolic interpretation should be expressed. The variety of the comments and the answers of the photographers find I always very interesting and inspiring, this is for me a kind of life and living reception of art by individuals, sometimes the comments could be more critical, less praising.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 1 May 2008, 12:58
Chris Philipps' poem is very touching, yes, our beautiful-bloody country may inspire thoughts like that!
  • Aksel
  • at Nordic Light Festival
  • 1 May 2008, 17:40
I like the pic and the comments - my English isn't good enough for explaining even a little bit of my thoughts concerning this topic/question - but I enjoy reading about it wink
  • Ron S
  • almost out of bed
  • 2 May 2008, 08:39
The act of creation cannot be neutral. It is led by our very nature, nuture and life experiences. Anyway why would any artist want to communicate a 'neutral' message?
It may be suggested that journalism and reportage should be neutral but this is just as impossible. We are imbued with the philosophy and attitudes of our culture and these are virtually inescapable. So in your artistic endeavours be creative and show your 'colours' proudly!
  • ray
  • Thailand
  • 2 May 2008, 11:19
"Art", I would say, is rarely a mindless, purposeless activity.

Visual art is documenting a thought, a concept, a "vision", an emotion...

Sometimes there is an intended audience...it could be the artist, or others.

Sometimes the art is intended to convey, or provoke, a message.

Rarely, I believe, is the art "neutral". Although...a young child might utter a wordless, tuneless "song" at a time when unfocused and alone...

Frequently, that which is intended, and that which is perceived, are not in synchronicity.

Most things, that we celebrate and appreciate as art, are not and were not intended to be neutral. Some might prefer to call this "propaganda" rather than art...
  • Ginnie
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 5 May 2008, 02:47
To read the comments has been as "conversational" as your image and poem and question raised, Kathryn. The act of "talking about" an image, the minute we open it up and read/make comments is part of the "intimate conversation." The reflection for me right now is somewhere where the words are not, even though English is my first language. Maybe there's another language for art/photography altogether?!
  • Jewlya
  • United States
  • 5 May 2008, 16:22
I don't believe we are ever neutral, when we create a piece of art or when we view it. I would hope the viewer gains from learning the artist's bias, and introduces their own into their experience of the artwork.

And I very much agree with Louis - a photographer who benefits from taking pictures of others' suffering is letting himself off the hook if he claims (or even believes) he can do nothing to make a difference.
  • terry
  • Nepal
  • 6 May 2008, 11:41
i believe photography can aspire for neutrality but never attain it - not even by accident or transcendence. neutrality is never a given. my eyes are connected to my intelligence and the camera is in my hands. i see what i want to see and when i see what i don’t want to see i have the choice of ignoring it, repressing it or capturing it with my mind and/or camera. what i see is coloured by my personality and the angle i am offered by circumstance is not necessarily the one i may use when i peer through the viewfinder. a mere walk in the park can expose our eyes to endless sights yet some of us choose to capture just a few and some choose to keep even fewer from the few that we have captured. we shoot what appeals to us and essentially what appeals to the self.

if the subject lacks appeal, we create it. we use technology and creativity to add appeal where we think it is absent or increase it where an increase is desired and possible. technology gives us smarter cameras, lenses, software and thus more pixels, better zoom, greater dof, sharper pictures and if we so desire, blurry ones. our creativity which stems from a desire to sublimate does the rest. and we do this because we have standards that need to be met - standards developed by ourselves, standards imposed by people we look up to, standards evolved from exposure to standards of people we look down upon and standards we happen to meet by accident.

while on the subject of standards, i find it interesting to see smug ‘no photoshop’ proclamations and the reinforcing feedback that follows. it’s interesting because i see a divorce from one technology in the embracing of another. puritanism in photography to me matters less than the intensity of thought that went into the capture and creation. some of us resort to the use of euphemism to mask our efforts and counter the negativity that comes with post-processing and i’ve stopped wondering why. we subscribe to standards that make it difficult for us to use what we can to express who we are. it’s like telling a howard educated neanderthal to stick to charcoal for ‘art’s sake’. it’s so interesting to see how enthralled we are to unwritten constitutions, how calmly we adhere to sheepish customs for that invisible ticket to the herd, how much of our nonchalance is wilfully cropped out and how little of the essence of expression is really left. we admire apparent simplicity yet crucify the simple truth.

everytime we see the words ‘great dof’, ‘lovely tones’, ‘nice crop’ or ‘interesting angle’, we are actually witnessing an acknowledgement of intelligence and creativity. comments such as these are a casual recognition of intelligence either for identifying value in a visual or for the intelligent use of technology in creating it - deeper still is the acknowledgement of the intelligence to meet (and sometimes challenge) accepted standards. ‘well spotted’, ‘excellent capture’ or ‘brilliant shot’ spell out the acknowledgement of the self a bit more vividly.

each acknowledgement is also a reflection of the commenter’s psyche. when we comment (unless out of irreparable habit) it is an appreciation of something we hold dear. something important to us. something that reflects our standards. something we value. something that opens up a small insight into the someone we are. the ‘love it’ comments and the likeys go beyond the recognition of ones creative merit and open up even broader gateways to who we are.

we owe it all to our egos and we use our pictures (and words) primarily to communicate who we are. for some of us a volley of superficial salutes suffice, for some shmood invited constructive criticism is the order of the day, for some ‘intimate conversations’ are the way, for others the knowledge that the photograph ‘strums something in the viewer’s mind’ is adequate and for the rest a glance at the hit counter is conversation enough.

there may be an evident difference between the typical holiday snapshot and a photograph solely created as an expression of who you are but look carefully at holiday shots and you will see an expression of the self as well. we may not notice it but we do reveal a little bit about ourselves with every post. if the pictures speak a thousand words, at least five hundred are about the one that took it. some of us spell a fraction of the thousand words out below the picture to egg the viewer on in the direction intended and some of us don’t. but all of us converse and communicate with our imagery. if words were all it took, we’d be living in chatrooms.

here’s to you Kathryn smile may the conversations never cease.
Nice shot. love the concept.
  • Arash
  • United Arab Emirates
  • 18 May 2008, 09:48
touching poem! nice photo.
Kathryn: The words were more powerful for you than the photograph. Or are they echos of the same idea?
  • Kay
  • Portland
  • 20 May 2008, 05:30
Another likey for me. You are the best, Kathryn!
Kathryn: We've whispered to each other in an intimate conversation, Kay.
  • rychi
  • vilnius
  • 26 May 2008, 21:05
oh.. thanks!
i see that you have nice pictures. regards wink
Kathryn: Thank you!
I would hope individuals gather, organize, and construct their own thoughts/emotions while viewing a piece of work. However, I understanding the emotions of the artist, in my opinion, never taints the experience. In fact it could help make connections (between the artist and the viewer) that would have never been made otherwise.

Excellent work. The image brings out the dark thoughts.

Side note: you may want to check out Eddie Soloway. He takes abstract images. His writings are well done and compliment his images.

http://www.eddiesoloway.com/
Kathryn: We construct, Dean, there is no absolute you alone and absolute me alone. We speak in a language that others may not understand, but we do at a very deep level. It is our cores engaged in this most intimate of converssations.

Which dark thoughts does it bring out for you? Color me curious.

I did check it out and although I am sort of in a place at the moment where my health is not allowing me to do much shooting, there were several of his photographs that pulled at my creative soul. Soon...

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