Tuesday, October 7, 2008

critical discourse

i've been interested to see the beginning of a discussion about criticism in art photo blogging.  Joerg at Conscientious wrote about it (asking why there isn't more constructive criticism of photographic work instead of the current state of bloggy cheerleading), and Noel at We Can't Paint took another lens to the same question (blogs with a strong curatorial eye, even if they only imply positive comments, are critical in themselves).

i've thought a lot about this question, since my mode of address on Subjectify is fairly personal--dare i say subjective--and i use a lot of "i statements."  i'm not really that interested in telling the internet all about myself (i don't post up my own work, for instance), but it's more wouldn't really know how else to share thoughts (and not feel like an ass).  i have a lot of photographers emailing me their portfolios and i usually respond fairly frankly and yes, critically--i don't post that stuff up on the blog--and i'm always surprised when people thank me to say they have never/rarely received constructive negative feedback in crits before.  of course some don't reply at all. (um, special this week: send me work that you want me to rip to shreds?)

i'm not really carving out a visual aesthetic with a sharp eye here, the way iheartphotographabsolutely is.  just commenting on things i see in portraiture that engage me and make me want to pontificate about them.  usually because i like them--they move me.  sometimes because i didn't like something that everybody is talking about, or felt uncomfortable about something.  still, sometimes i've felt like i offer slightly more negative commentary than others, and then i feel mixed about it.  and Joerg says he thinks that people are worried about their "careers," but i sort of doubt that that's it.

what do you think?  any great examples of "critical" discussion out there in the "blogosphere" that have particularly stood out for you?  do you even want to see more of this?  is a strong curatorial hand more engaging?

some other bloggers' responses are here, here, and here at re: Photo.

p.s.  i am so totally loving ahndraya parlato's rainbow-hand image above!!  (no, seriously, prism rainbows ftw.)


Anonymous said...

I think people are afraid of posting critical comments, only later to find that they panned works or photographers that are famous and well respected.

subjectify said...

Here's another take that someone just emailed me. -- lexi

"In response to your post, I'd love to rip certain aspects of the photo art world but I don't out of concern for my career, as Joerg says. I think it would take a critic to do that or a really established artist who isn't concerned to call people out on things."

its anna said...

The beauty of blogging is the anonymity(if you so choose). But perhaps people aren't posting critical comments because they don't know how to say what they want to say. I think there lots of opportunity for dialogue that is lost with one line comments like- this is good, or this is bad. Everyone experiences the world visually and I think we all have something to contribute on many different levels.

I guess in short what I'm saying is lets start showing each other we care by being critical.

Anonymous said...

The homogenous nature of fine art blogs,specifically this one and the links to MFA student blogs, where everyone knows everyone and therefore won't step on anyone's toes, just leaves me feeling it's just a incestuous PR club. The Empire's new clothing line beyond with reach- arounds included. For example Lexi, you illustrate this point precisely when you dilute your whole premise of exercising your negativity by simply mentioning you are more negative than "Others". Sorry if you want to intrigue new readers, if that is what you want, I don't know, then the insider telepathy has to stop. Try naming these others. If not, then insipid is your collective destiny. No one seems willing to commit to their convictions, just presenting their participation like it's as necessary as their puffed up artist statements and gallery show listings.. Sincerely, Scott Ely

Anonymous said...

I dont see how those blogs with a 'strong cuuratorial eye' are so critical... I dont even think they even really live up to that statement; vvork shows "good work" and ihp shows good design. The selection criteria are very loose. This idea of open curation where anything can fit only seems critical in the slimmest sense-- and of what I am unsure... critical of clear curatorial selection? Thats lame. (this is mostly directed at ihp.. vork at least has themes that change.)

Perhaps it is just by the nature of having to constantly make new posts (i.e. the nature of popularity/visibility on the internet) that the strength of the 'curation' is diluted, but really... these blogs aren't critical by constantly accepting/posting images that we are expecting from them.

Anonymous said...

additionally: these blogs dont support a "critical discourse" in any sense.. vvork moderates any critical comments, and ihp nolonger accepts comments at all.