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14 Nov 2008 1,254 views
 
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photoblog image Nu Aesthetics: Things Around You

Nu Aesthetics: Things Around You

While digging into Paul Strand's legacy, I bumped onto his words that looked shockingly familiar. I flipped through my old notebooks and was amazed how similar his and my thoughts were. The difference was that he wrote this almost a century ago. I felt like a fool, who reinvented a wheel. -) Here's an excerpt:

 

"Above all, look at the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningfulness. If you let other people's vision get between the world and your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a pictorial photograph. But if you keep your vision clear, you may make something which is at least a photograph, which has a life of its own… There are no shortcuts, no formulae, no rules except those of your own living…"

Paul Strand, British Journal of Photography, October 5, 1923.

Nu Aesthetics: Things Around You

While digging into Paul Strand's legacy, I bumped onto his words that looked shockingly familiar. I flipped through my old notebooks and was amazed how similar his and my thoughts were. The difference was that he wrote this almost a century ago. I felt like a fool, who reinvented a wheel. -) Here's an excerpt:

 

"Above all, look at the things around you, the immediate world around you. If you are alive, it will mean something to you, and if you care enough about photography, and if you know how to use it, you will want to photograph that meaningfulness. If you let other people's vision get between the world and your own, you will achieve that extremely common and worthless thing, a pictorial photograph. But if you keep your vision clear, you may make something which is at least a photograph, which has a life of its own… There are no shortcuts, no formulae, no rules except those of your own living…"

Paul Strand, British Journal of Photography, October 5, 1923.

comments (19)

  • Ray
  • Thailand
  • 14 Nov 2008, 02:59
I think I need another cup of coffee...
vz-nostalgia: Hope Starbucks is not too far away, Ray. smile
Keep it up Vik: this is good positive stuff
vz-nostalgia: Do you feel the vibe too, Chris? Good for you. smile As old Brian Wilson would say "Good Vibrations". smile
vz-nostalgia: Using text is not always cheating, Ms. Roz. I think there is nothing wrong with stirring up a viewer's mind in a direction you want the image to be seen. At times, a title is enough, other times a short sketch seems to be suffice.
So, don't be too harsh on yourself. smile
  • anniedog
  • United Kingdom
  • 14 Nov 2008, 10:07
vz-nostalgia: The image is a stack of huge ceramic bowls, I saw inside the old mill in the North Georgia Mountains. The graphics of the lines caught my attention.
  • chris
  • United States
  • 14 Nov 2008, 15:49
Outstanding ! or just simple phenomenology ?
vz-nostalgia: smile Phenomenology processed through Zyryanov's mind, also known as Zyrynology. smile
Nothing wrong with pictorial, or chocolate box or anything else. For me the picture I take should please me. Then I hope others will like it and then I hope I will take something better. Now your picture today is one I would love to have taken.

Have a good weekend
vz-nostalgia: "Nothing wrong with pictorial..." well, it all depends on one's goals and aspirations, Bill. A chocolate box is fine with me too. I'd say, it's not about a subject per se, but the way you approach it. smile
  • Kelly Henry
  • United States
  • 14 Nov 2008, 17:52
Very textural, for a moment I almost thought of it musically. as if I was looking at a symbol. I hope I am not confusing, but this is what I saw first. :O) Great shot as always.
vz-nostalgia: well, I feel a sound of music in those gentle lines of pottery too, Ms. Kelly. You're not alone. smile
  • Martie
  • United States
  • 14 Nov 2008, 18:46
Beautiful! Your photo is an excellent example of Strand's words -- and both give great advice on life in general.
vz-nostalgia: well, I certainly hoped so, Martie, but judging by the comments, not everyone thinks so. smile Not that this bothers me much. smile
  • Ellie
  • United Kingdom
  • 15 Nov 2008, 00:12
Goodness, you keep your magazines for even more years than we do!

He tells the truth though, it's just a pity that some photography is restricted by the powers-that-be these days.

I like your picture too.
vz-nostalgia: I wish I kept my subsciptions to "Pravda", Ms. Ellie. Could make lot of money on eBay today. smile
I'm puzzled by your remark "some photography is restricted by the powers-that-be these days". What exactly did you mean by that? Who are those powers, and how do they restrict our photography?
I really like this. I like the tones and shadows and texture and lines. Very interesting.
vz-nostalgia: There's always one thing in any photograph that one doesn't like. Do you see such a thing here, Ms. Dawn? smile
You should never feel like a fool because you reach conclusions that are wise no matter who reached those conclusions before. Coincidence only proves you a quality thinker.
vz-nostalgia: smile Dear Albert, our progress as society is based on learned previous experiences. If we keep reinventing same things over and over again, where would we be with our growth and developement? This coincidence proves I need to read more! smile
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 16 Nov 2008, 20:14
Your pic and Paul Strand's quotation stimulate indeed an interesting principle- discussion about photography. Your pic has taken its subject/motif from our (first) reality but the photograph has got a 'l'art pour l'art'-quality: wonderful lines, a kind of graphic, a beautiful per se and an unusual pic, whilst a bit alienating the reality!
After having read your comment "gentle lines of pottery" the pic could be -so my second approach- an homage to the "things around you", common things which now have got an upgrading or sublimating and an esthetic beauty- independent of their function and use- therefore it is not strange for me to think of music- that processing/change is for me the essence of art, and in this way photo's are a kind of art- further open for different thoughts and feelings (interpretations) which may 'complete' and sometimes enliven the pic, for example a kind of symbolism belongs to that perception- you often might prefer and inspire by your introductions/titles. Upon that symbolic level your pic could be (for me) expression of a beautiful, harmonious, well-rounded order (all things are on their place where they belong to).
Yes, you are right, a really good photograph has a "life of its own"! But often photo's have to be or can be improved or personally enriched by some additions, for example biographical, architectural, historical, photographical informations, sometimes pics ( not always the best ones) need an additional information. I personally love the poetical pics which are touching my heart, inspiring thoughts, detecting something I never noticed before in its beauty or existence. Some pics are only interesting for me, others only funny at the moment, but I like them too. I less like pics which are taken as calendar-postcard-pics- with excessive, deep colour processing. But there are so many styles of photography on SC- and that variety is simply wonderful!
vz-nostalgia: all the good words, Ms. Philine. That is exactly what I'm trying to achieve in this series "Nu Aesthetics"- i.e. upgrading common things to an aesthetic beauty. Do you want to know the best compliment I received so far? It's "you take an image of a nail that looks more beautiful than my images of the parliament building of Hungary, the Egyptian Pyramids, and couple of thousand year old cities. It's very sad". I smiled at this at first, but then it made me think. What is it that makes people to respond emotionally to a picture of a rusty nail and be totally indifferent to a picture of a wonderful building? Whoever finds the key to this question will unlock the door to success in art, don't you think? smile
Went to an exhibition of Paul Strand's work a couple of years ago and was knocked out by his imagery. He came to the Outer Hebrides and produced a series of portraits of the people of Uist. Amazing stuff. I'm a great fan of his.
vz-nostalgia: Back in 1950s Strand and his wife Hazel (also a photographer) went to France to shoot a genuine village life. They traveled thoughout the country for over a year, but couldn't find what they were looking for (everything was too picturesque for Strand's taste). A pure chance brought them to Italy, to the village of Luzarra, which was deeply affected by the after-war poverty. His portraits of the inhabitants of this village are absolutely striking. He published a book called "Un Paese" as a result. See, if you can find it. These photographs might remind you the works of Italian directors of a neorealism era- Rosselini, Vittorio De Sica, Visconti... All the guys I admire so much.
  • Larry Bliss
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
  • 17 Nov 2008, 02:07
What a marvelous, thoughtful quote. A true inspiration to all observers of the immediate and, I would add, the ordinary.
vz-nostalgia: Yes Larry. I think the trick is in finding this "meaningfulness" (per Strand, I would call it "emotionfulness") in the ordinary.
  • Ginnie
  • Atlanta, GA, United States
  • 17 Nov 2008, 02:08
My hunch is that Paul is smiling on you as we speak, Viktor.
vz-nostalgia: I doubt he even knows I exist, Ms. Ginnie. smile He's out there, hangs out with the spirits of Picasso, Cocteau, Sartre... all the greats. smile
  • blackdog
  • United Kingdom
  • 17 Nov 2008, 08:25
Excellent quotation and I think you have been doing so with your "garden". As they say - its all been done before - the thing is, as Strand says, to do it with your own vision.
vz-nostalgia: Even though the technology progresses (dslr's, photoshops...), but looks like artistically, we all are running in circles, Mike. smile
why would i think about a sun rising from behind some layers of orbits?
vz-nostalgia: that's because you processed this with your left half of the brain, Ms. Dori, which is logical, analytical, mathematical, astronomical... smile When you look at art it's better to turn on the right side of your brain, which is intuitive, visceral... smile
VZ: that's because you processed this with your left half of the brain, Ms. Dori, which is logical, analytical, mathematical, astronomical... When you look at art it's better to turn on the right side of your brain, which is intuitive, visceral...
Dori: i have to agree with you viktor, but then i am not sure i know exactly where the switch from left to right is smile
vz-nostalgia: I'm afraid I'll be of little help to you in finding the switch, Ms. Dori. You got to figure this one out by yourself. smile
Wow...THAT's Paul Strand. Simple but such elegant forms. Can't stop looking at it. The lighting in this picture is particularly zen.
vz-nostalgia: Yes, Ms. Lydia, zen of simple things. smile Speaking of which, how about Zen of Plumbing smile
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