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The Visual Science Lab.: The graying of traditional photography

The Visual Science Lab.: The graying of traditional photography and why everything is getting re-invented in a form we don’t understand..

Kirk Tuck s a thoughtful guy. Here, he tries to take apart the state of the camera business today. In short: things are changing and the old guys who have the big cameras are dinosaurs. Youth means now, and now means what you have with you is the best camera in the world. Connectivity beats perfect images every time.

Really? Is that all you have, Kirk? This is old news and the operating principle on which the old man/young man thing has been working for at least a few generations now, isn’t it? Weren’t we the “happening generation” back then? Well, it’s still happening, it’s just not happening to us as much as it’s happening to them. Get over it. The larger sampling of people who are movers and shakers in the culture has as much to do with it as technology. There are far more women and people from cultures other than Europe and North America speaking up these days, and being heard. That is surely having an effect on what we see and how we see it.

Interest in the still image, and in the equipment, technique and stories of people who are responsible for recording great still images, the images that haunt us, will continue to be important. Whether you use a phone or a view camera to make your art is really irrelevant. At any given time in the history of art making, there are techniques that are coming into style and techniques that have been pretty much left behind. Often this is a matter of technological change,  but sometimes it one of a cultural shift or something more ephemeral, like “style.” The move, in the early twentieth century, away from Pictorialism  and toward  sharp, contrasty images was partly technology, partly zeitgeist. 

Art changes. It is what Art does best, and whether we like it, understand it, become involved with it or just stand back and ignore it, the world of visual communication will continue to evolve in interesting ways. Hand wringing and anxious introspection are so yesterday. Yes, things are different now. Yes, those who cling to the old order are mostly men over the age of 50. Same as it ever was, same as it ever was… . Take out your phone and post a selfie, Dude.

In the time between when I write this and when anyone reads it, tens of thousands, if not millions of pictures will have been taken and shared with the virtual world. We will remember the ones that become art, regardless of what tools were used to make them. This is as it should be.

Just sayin’