Martin Parr on the sofa with...

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#41
Ok, Raft of Carrots.

His framing is decisive, and welded to the chosen meaning that he wants to impart.

Every photograph in the world is either wittingly or unwittingly an extraction, and these examples show a fully-conscious knowledge of what he's up to and what he wants to impart.

They also make a good series. Were they on 10 x 8 film?

What are some of the things you choose when you make a photograph? Subject, light, framing, focus, dof ...

He's made choices in all those, chosen a medium and a palette which all contribute to the message for each image that's his intent. I don't see anything sloppy or anything that doesn't work. I'd love to have one on my wall but I'd never be able to afford it, most likely.

His photographic voice is quiet but firm. The images are teasing statements that have a subtle, visionary quality.

I also find them very accessible - nothing too obscure.

You want me to wear my pen out? Are your own images better?
OMG :LOL: Pretentious? Moi?
 

sirch

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#42
often looking as if a random IG preset was overlaid
He mainly shoots on film and has been doing so long before Instagram was thought of, so it is probably the case that the Insta preset is trying to emulate the film style rather than the other way round. If you watch the video you will see that the colour palette is something that he is very concerned about, in fact he states that part of his reason for moving to digital is because modern photographic papers don’t give him the colours he wants.

It’s fine that you don’t like the rendition of colour in his work but it is clear that he deliberately strives for that look and he sells those prints so a lot of other people like it too. It’s his style, you are not required to like it and he is not required to only produce work that you like.
 
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#43
OMG :LOL: Pretentious? Moi?
If you won't tell us why you think Southam's photographs are crap, how about pointing us to some pictures you think are good? Then we might get an idea of where you're coming from?
 
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#44
Having been introduced to Southam's work through this thread, I find myself ambivilent to it. The Raft of Carrots series, I do like the colour pallete overall and it definitely holds together as a series (way more so than as stand aone images), however the various subject matter do nothing for me emotionally - I don't feel anything when I look at them. The Painters Pool have a similar effect, I'm sure he composed them exactly as he wanted them to be (unless he is deliberately pulling off a Marcel Duchamp with them?), but to me they are cluttered, with no clear focus or message - for me a Simon Baxter or Nigel Danson produce far more aesthetically pleaseing woodland images, which envoke more emotion because of the mood/sense of isolation they often capture in said photographs. I'm sure there are many more photographers who produce woodland work even more acomplished than Baxter or Danson, they just happen to ones I am aware of.
 
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#45
He mainly shoots on film and has been doing so long before Instagram was thought of, so it is probably the case that the Insta preset is trying to emulate the film style rather than the other way round. If you watch the video you will see that the colour palette is something that he is very concerned about, in fact he states that part of his reason for moving to digital is because modern photographic papers don’t give him the colours he wants.

It’s fine that you don’t like the rendition of colour in his work but it is clear that he deliberately strives for that look and he sells those prints so a lot of other people like it too. It’s his style, you are not required to like it and he is not required to only produce work that you like.
Of course I'm not, and he can do whatever works for him. The pitchfork brigade on here are embarrassing though, threads like this just highlight this, let's all berate a forum member because he gave an honest opinion! Christ ... [I don't mean you specifically]

And so the age-old debate rumbles on... Do you think the work in question is something akin to the 'Emperor's new clothes'? Do you find it pretentious? Can you see nothing 'special' about it at all? Does it appear to ignore the photographic rules of 'correct' exposure, focus and/or composition? Do you think it would it be laughed out of a local camera club competition?

If your answer to one or more of the above is yes, then it's probably the reason why you are not a famous photographer!

OK, so good luck and fortune in being 'discovered' may have something to do with that too, but I suspect that particular thought is probably more akin to a comfort blanket than a justifiable excuse?
You're saying if we don't find his work interesting or anything special we don't know what we're talking about and will never be 'discovered'? Many of us don't wish to be for one, also that could be turned to suggest that if you do find anything remarkable about his images maybe you are easily led and can't form an individual opinion for fear of peer mockery
 
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#46
OMG :LOL: Pretentious? Moi?
I'm being very considered about what I say. There's nothing pretentious about Jem's images.

His work qualifies itself by its nature to exist in the realm of art and it's necessary to accept this otherwise you are operating from a very narrow platform.

If I might ask a simple question - how do you evaluate any photograph - that's any photograph. What's the full range of your criteria? Let's be analytical.

Of course we wouldn't necessarily expect a photograph of a duck, say, (or a goose, either) to have any artistic value - it can be just a record shot.

But what's the full range of attributes that it's possible for a photograph to have? Leave nothing out.
 
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#47
This is a discussion forum. They only reason they exist is so that we can all sprout off our opinions as if they they're the most correct ones in the world. A forum where there's only a single Correct Opinion would be too boring to bother visiting.

Personally; Southam had flown below my radar. This thread made me go look. Maybe they work as a collection of large prints but online they leave me unmoved. I can't say they work for me either as eye-candy or thought provokers; they come across as messy scenes without focal points.

But what do I know?
Precisely! And you know enough to form an individual personal opinion, this is a right we all have.

Otherwise I take back every bad review for every album and film I have ever dished out, because I'm not a rock star or Hollywood director
 
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#48
His work qualifies itself by its nature to exist in the realm of art and it's necessary to accept this otherwise you are operating from a very narrow platform.
This is an interesting statement - how does his work qualify itself to exist in the "realm of art" above and beyond any other. Your use of the term "record shot" and insinuation that a record shot has no artistic value is interesting too, because to me the Painters Pond series have all the characteristics of said record shot and as such, by your definition, have no artistic value? Yet you stated that by its nature the work exists as art?

Your two statements appear to take contradictory positions - unless what you wrote is not what you meant?
 
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#51
I've heard of Jem Southam but never really looked at his work. I quite like it, especially the ones featured in this interview:

https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/

He shoots 10x8 so I'm sure that prints in person would look a million times better compared to the relatively tiny thumbnails on the web. I like how quiet and and decidedly undramatic his work is, the images are carefully composed and invite the eye to wander.

EDIT:
His latest series is currently being shown starting today, I'm going to pop down and have a look this weekend
https://huxleyparlour.com/exhibitions/jem-southam-the-long-white-cloud/
Cheers for the Huxley Parlour link, I quite like those photos. Tempted to go down myself
 
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#52
I'm being very considered about what I say. There's nothing pretentious about Jem's images.

His work qualifies itself by its nature to exist in the realm of art and it's necessary to accept this otherwise you are operating from a very narrow platform.

If I might ask a simple question - how do you evaluate any photograph - that's any photograph. What's the full range of your criteria? Let's be analytical.

Of course we wouldn't necessarily expect a photograph of a duck, say, (or a goose, either) to have any artistic value - it can be just a record shot.

But what's the full range of attributes that it's possible for a photograph to have? Leave nothing out.
Something is always left out.

But when someone is described as "one of the UK's leading photographers" I expect something far better than the type of photographs that could be taken by a child with an instamatic camera.

Boring, mundane, OOF, underexposed are not terms which you expect to apply to "one of the UK's leading photographers"

I still remember the iconic photographs I saw years ago - Diane Arbus' photograph of a young boy in Central Park with a toy hand grenade - the expression on his face is exquisite.
The photograph of a starving child digging in the dirt in Africa with a vulture a few yards away waiting for her to die.
The Afghan girl with green eyes - mesmerising.
The young naked girl in Vietnam running in fear and agony after a napalm attack.
David Bailey's photo of the Kray twins.

And many many more that stay with you for a lifetime because they are brilliant.

But photos which could be taken by anyone - even a child - are nothing because there is nothing memorable about them.

And I expect far more than that from "one of the UK's leading photographers".
 
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sirch

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#53
This is a discussion forum. They only reason they exist is so that we can all sprout off our opinions as if they they're the most correct ones in the world. A forum where there's only a single Correct Opinion would be too boring to bother visiting.
The pitchfork brigade on here are embarrassing though, threads like this just highlight this, let's all berate a forum member because he gave an honest opinion! Christ
I think you need to consider who it is that is trying to stifle debate and who is the pitchfork brigade. EVERY time someone posts something that is considered “arty” by some people on here they dive straight in with “crap” “terrible”, “emperors new clothes”. And I mean every time,


Every,



Single,



Time!

And frankly it puts me and I assume others off posting threads like this and denies us the chance of a grown up discussion about things we like. These threads are always dragged down into the mud by a bunch of luddites who could, if they didn’t have an agenda, simply just walk-on-by. There is simply no need for it.
 
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#55
I think you need to consider who it is that is trying to stifle debate and who is the pitchfork brigade. EVERY time someone posts something that is considered “arty” by some people on here they dive straight in with “crap” “terrible”, “emperors new clothes”. And I mean every time,


Every,



Single,



Time!

And frankly it puts me and I assume others off posting threads like this and denies us the chance of a grown up discussion about things we like. These threads are always dragged down into the mud by a bunch of luddites who could, if they didn’t have an agenda, simply just walk-on-by. There is simply no need for it.

No, every single time someone adds an honest yet negative opinion you lot start ranting as if someone kicked your puppy. I did say not specifically you, but you're getting there. Who are you to slate anyone else's opinion? is that not ultra hypocritical? The title of the thread doesn't say 'only positive lemmings need apply'. Anyway, I'm done, continue the pretentiousness.
 
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#57
... how does his work qualify itself to exist in the "realm of art"
When we look at a work, we're able to assess its purpose. That purpose might be prosaic, or it might be something other. If the work has what we call an artistic dimension, we may intuit its nature in that direction.

.. above and beyond any other.
Did I say that? No, you did.

Your use of the term "record shot" and insinuation that a record shot has no artistic value is interesting too
Insinuation sounds sneaky. I said not necessarily ... leaving the possibility free.

.. because to me the Painters Pond series have all the characteristics of said record shot and as such, by your definition, have no artistic value? Yet you stated that by its nature the work exists as art?
"To me", you said. But yes they do have characteristics of record shots but they also have something more. Again, if you are capable of tuning in to them you can intuit this. A lot of people aren't comfortable with intuition, though, and profess to be entirely rationalists. And some of those (not you I hope) like to bang on the walls of their cardboard castles with their plastic spoons ...
 
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#58
And Albert ('Peter') quoted some fine photographic examples that I woudn't argue with, but didn't answer my question - how do you evaluate any photograph - that's any photograph. What's the full range of your criteria? Let's be analytical.
 
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#59
S...I expect something far better than the type of photographs that could be taken by a child with an instamatic camera.
It was a long time coming, but inevitable.:D

I once saw an exhibition of a local camera club which had a junior section. There was one small machine print in the junior section which was far more interesting and thought provoking to look at than anything in the adult section. Needless to say it won no prizes. I hope that the child didn't have their originality of vision knocked out of them by the camera club.

It's quite telling that ALL the memorable photos you list are pictures of people rather than landscapes. The photograph which etched itself in my mind, before I took an interest in making my own photographs, is Eugene Smith's picture of Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath.
 
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#60
In fact the examples that Albert quoted, with the exception of the Afghan girl, have a communicative strength of the visceral sort. But viscerality isn't the only quality that a photograph might have, to be thought of as art - another quality is subliminality. Not every image has to possess all possible qualities to be worthy of attention. We can stray across different realms.

About the point "a child could've taken them" - well a child couldn't, actually, because a child could've got lucky with one image, but overall would have lacked the consistency that those images have, and the mastery of intent. The result would likely have been an accident.

But referring to Dave's anecdote above, a child may lack the rigid preconceptions of an adult and have a greater capacity for freedom and discovery. And the thought of that makes me happy.
 
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#61
And frankly it puts me and I assume others off posting threads like this and denies us the chance of a grown up discussion about things we like. These threads are always dragged down into the mud by a bunch of luddites who could, if they didn’t have an agenda, simply just walk-on-by. There is simply no need for it.
It doesn't put me off. There's always a chance that someone will find something in this kind of photography which they like which might lead them to other work and maybe even change their own photography. It can happen.

What I should do is stop responding to the rabble. :facepalm:
 
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#62
But referring to Dave's anecdote above, a child may lack the rigid preconceptions of an adult and have a greater capacity for freedom and discovery. And the thought of that makes me happy.
"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." Pablo Picasso.
 
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#64
I have no answer for the points raised in this thread, other than to say that it seems to me art is more about the viewer than the creator.

Many photographs are produced and even shown on this forum that have a strong, clear message in them that is so common that they are simply viewed as 'landscape' or 'street' or similar. I recall reading some very dismissive words about Thomas Heaton's work no long ago. Some photos are produced where the message is buried deeply, so that very few can actually see it, or that the viewer can create enough of a story in their own minds that there is a message present. These images often get presented as a higher, more valid form of expression than the sort than anyone can read, but really what we're doing is talking about our own viewpoint.

There was a program recently on Radio 4 (IIRC - need to try to catch the podcast) where some artists were talking about how art had been hijacked and sullied by those trying to force meanings into it, when it was much purer and better being used to express beauty (I paraphrase from memory - please correct me if I have that wrong). Again, going back to the viewer, some find a deep, dark message in a picture to be much more rewarding than a 'shallow' thing like beauty or joy.

Then there was this thread that was very interesting before descending. Fashion and art are very much linked, but a question that should be asked more often by those responsible for creating is "just because I CAN do this, should I?". And as mentioned already in slightly different context, the manner in which work is presented also makes an enormous difference to both how something is perceived and, possibly also, it's opportunity to speak.

The 'problem' is that we polarise and entrench, take sides while not offering the opposition the dignity of validity.

My apologies if I don't explain this very well - I have a nasty cold right now. I'd never seen Southam's work before *knowingly*, and it may well be that it does not present well in an internet context.
 
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#67
it may well be that it does not present well in an internet context.
It presents well enough to me (though I would also wish to see it in the raw). Everything (art, music ..._) doesn't always have to be at full resolution for us to glimpse its essence.
 

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#68
No, every single time someone adds an honest yet negative opinion you lot start ranting as if someone kicked your puppy. I did say not specifically you, but you're getting there. Who are you to slate anyone else's opinion? is that not ultra hypocritical? The title of the thread doesn't say 'only positive lemmings need apply'. Anyway, I'm done, continue the pretentiousness.
Step back a bit...
remember the stupid derailing of the Canon mirrorless thread by idiots with their own agenda and no interest whatsoever in that product?

I have no interest in 90% of the topics discussed on this site, I consider a grown up reaction to things I have no interest in is to allow those that do to get on with it, rather than visiting those threads to tell them I think they’re s***.

But any discussion of art photography is indeed ‘spoiled’ by f*****g morons who don’t have the moral backbone to stay away from topics they don’t comprehend.

It’s a simple concept, and it’s a shame that such an important aspect of photography doesn’t earn its own space here because there’s a hardcore of d******ds who consider their opinion important enough to stifle that debate.

In case you hadn’t noticed, yes they do wind me up, utter f*****g waste of space morons
 
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#69
You're saying if we don't find his work interesting or anything special we don't know what we're talking about and will never be 'discovered'? Many of us don't wish to be for one, also that could be turned to suggest that if you do find anything remarkable about his images maybe you are easily led and can't form an individual opinion for fear of peer mockery
No, I didn't say that at all. The point I was making is that some photographers have learnt to 'see' what the rest of us can't, and some of them take their photography to a different level because of that.

I suggest that these days almost any intelligent fool can learn how to operate a camera and how to 'classically' compose a photograph; and a good-quality modern digital camera will turn out a technically acceptable photograph time after time. So the 'hit rate' for great photographs these days should be phenomenal, shouldn't it?

What actually results from that? Millions of record shots and replicas of cliched subjects, especially where landscape photography is concerned! How many times have we browsed through some amateur landscape photos and thought "That's a good looking shot" but have still felt underwhelmed (but perhaps not sure why we felt like that), and then seen its virtual identical twin posted by someone else a day or so later, and realised why. In my opinion, the truth of the matter is that landscape photography has been done to death following the same 'rules', to the extent that it probably now qualifies for zombie status! Perhaps UNESCO should start a list of such zombie landscape scenes?

This is perhaps why the work of Jem Southam is critically acclaimed... it's something different, as he appears to 'see' in a different way from most other shutter button pressers: If out on a mission to take a landscape photo, would the average landscape photographer have seen a raft of carrots or a piece of orange stuck in a blackthorn bush and thought to make that their main subject? I very much doubt it, they'd have probably chunnered to themselves about litter louts or tutted about an object that was in the way of the view they wanted to capture and moaned about having to clone it out!

I'm not saying I personally really like Jem's work; I wouldn't rush out and buy one of his photos to put on my wall (but then again, I don't have any photos on my walls, not even my own, and they're free!). However, I can see why his work is critically acclaimed, probably it's because it's not the same old replicated 'chocolate box lid' material that thousands of other camera operators are churning out every single year.

So if you don't 'get' it or like it then fine, it's not a crime to have personal preferences or to express them, but I believe they should remain in context as personal opinion, and not be stated as though that opinion were fact.
 
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sirch

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#70
other than to say that it seems to me art is more about the viewer than the creator.
In the context of the photos discussed here, surely a large element of the intent is that the artist is trying to show us how they see the world. The colours, tones, and scenes that caught the photographer's eye.
 
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#71
.. show us how they see the world. The colours, tones, and scenes that caught the photographer's eye.
Almost. But the ' colours, tones, and scenes' in such cases are no longer really the 'subject', which is where the non-intuitive photographer stops, but the vehicle for the artist's 'message'.

I think that many people, when they see an image containing a tree (or a pig, or a poke, or any old thing that they can label), think that that's it - their gaze is arrested at that objective surface level and doesn't penetrate beyond. Many images, of course, don't have much of a beyond to penetrate. But when they do, that can be what makes them art.
 
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#72
That's patent nonsense. Any worthwhile art is a communication process that begins with the artist's intent.
Yes it does, but the artist doesn't have much control over what it means to the viewer. I'm sure Southam would prefer everyone to get his intent, but instead knows that the viewers will see - or not see - things in there that he never intended. If you saw the floating carrots image for the very first time without knowing who shot it or any further information that would inform your expectation I'd be fascinated to know what you made of it.

Is there a point to art that no-one but the artist sees?

Not beauty, whatever that is, but message and the nature of that message.
Did you hear the program or are you commenting on the nature of art and beauty? Genuine question.

It presents well enough to me (though I would also wish to see it in the raw). Everything (art, music ..._) doesn't always have to be at full resolution for us to glimpse its essence.
It presents well enough because you already have a sense of what it contains and a strongly and determindely positive disposition to want to appreciate it. It presents very badly to some in the thread because they are strongly and determindely negative toward *that kind of thing*. Let's say that I'm happy to be persauded of the value of this work, but the glimpses from here and a google search have not been able to win me over, just as online images fail to do justice to the work of other artists of considerably greater recognition.

In the case of this work, much has been made of his use of film and full frame cameras as a means of expression, and the presentation of small, compressed images does not suit it well. In that context I quite agree with Chris:
In the context of the photos discussed here, surely a large element of the intent is that the artist is trying to show us how they see the world. The colours, tones, and scenes that caught the photographer's eye.
Almost. But the ' colours, tones, and scenes' in such cases are no longer really the 'subject', which is where the non-intuitive photographer stops, but the vehicle for the artist's 'message'.

I think that many people, when they see an image containing a tree (or a pig, or a poke, or any old thing that they can label), think that that's it - their gaze is arrested at that objective surface level and doesn't penetrate beyond. Many images, of course, don't have much of a beyond to penetrate. But when they do, that can be what makes them art.
Without any sarcasm intended - It would be interesting to see how you would analyse a set of, say, 20 images that you'd never seen before, half from artists like Southam and half from a people with a range of abilities, to know if you'd be able to pick the artists images from those who were not, and whether you'd be able to analyse them to draw out the artists intent.
 

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#73
Without any sarcasm intended - It would be interesting to see how you would analyse a set of, say, 20 images that you'd never seen before, half from artists like Southam and half from a people with a range of abilities, to know if you'd be able to pick the artists images from those who were not, and whether you'd be able to analyse them to draw out the artists intent.
It would certainly be straight forward to pick out the camera club ones :)

Seriously, two things,
as I said for me a photo, all photos, shows what caught the photographer's eye so it doesn't matter if it was taken by someone who considered themselves an artist or not or what their abilities are.

Secondly it's not about single photos, despite the common practice on here, it's about bodies of work and in your test that would give the game away because happy snappers like me don't create consistent bodies of work.
 
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#74
I have been to a single camera club just once, so can't possibly comment. ;)

I agree about the bodies of work, but it's not unusual to view images in isolation and it would be a great leveller. And Chris - are you sure you don't produce bodies of work?
 
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#75
the artist doesn't have much control over what it means to the viewer.
No of course not, not entirely, and yet it's the artist who initiates the process and manipulates the medium, and the next stage is recognition (by the viewer) of what the artist's done, unless they're off on a purely private flight of fancy. I don't think that it's as totally free as you might be suggesting.

Did you hear the program or are you commenting on the nature of art and beauty?
The latter.

It presents well enough because you already have a sense of what it contains and a strongly and determindely positive disposition to want to appreciate it.
First, my sense of it arises only from having seen it on-line since this thread began, and in that form I was convinced by it - I 'saw' it in the sense that even at low res I was able to grasp what he (Jem) was about. His wasn't a name I'd registered before, either. Thereafter, though, i was predisposed towards it ...

And I'll pass you over to Chris for the last bit:
Secondly it's not about single photos, despite the common practice on here, it's about bodies of work and in your test that would give the game away because happy snappers like me don't create consistent bodies of work.
I would say the same.
 

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#76
are you sure you don't produce bodies of work?
It comes back to intent though. Shoot enough snaps of anything and everything and might be possible to pull out of that a set that superficially appears cogent.

That said I am being a bit disingenuous I've had a few things on the go for the last few years and I am really hoping to get at least one of them wrapped up this year
 
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#80
I'm being very considered about what I say. There's nothing pretentious about Jem's images.

His work qualifies itself by its nature to exist in the realm of art and it's necessary to accept this otherwise you are operating from a very narrow platform.

If I might ask a simple question - how do you evaluate any photograph - that's any photograph. What's the full range of your criteria? Let's be analytical.

Of course we wouldn't necessarily expect a photograph of a duck, say, (or a goose, either) to have any artistic value - it can be just a record shot.

But what's the full range of attributes that it's possible for a photograph to have? Leave nothing out.
I was of the understanding that art by its very definition must have no functional value than just being, to be true art.

But while i'm here, can't say Jem's work jumps out at me as something to be revered. Not saying its not good, just doesn't do anything for me.
 
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