Two Blue Buckets

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#1
Over in another thread: Can you claim to be a great photographer when using modern high tech gear ? someone posted a video that included a photograph of two blue buckets. I had never see that photo before so did a bit of digging and found a bit more detail:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2...-book-review-everyday-revelations-sean-ohagan

The photo does absolutely nothing for me. The second and third photos in the link above are perhaps more evocative of something but the blue buckets? For me they are a snapshot, they might at best be called documentary but even then the lack of context renders any documentary very limited.

Now I haven't seen the collected work so there may be something when seen in relationship to the other photos in that collection but would someone care to explain the significance of two blue buckets?
 
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#2
Think Eggleston. Fraser worked with him. Finding interest in the mundane. I've a book of Fraser's (Chandler, Tate St Ives) and I find it nourishing.
 
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sirch

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#3
Finding interest in the mundane I get and a quick Google of Eggleston shows me strong, vibrant and in a sense proud images, things being enjoyed, things people might want at one time to have shown off. Those buckets don't seem to have any of that. And it seems that plenty of people have found mundane things that have more to say than those buckets.
 
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#4
to me Two buckets is in the same league as Tracy Emmins Unmade bed. Does nothing for me. I visited Tate Modern this week with the wife, most of the modern art needed the written explanation to make any sort of sense to me let alone the wife.

There was a series of photos of tower blocks being demolished by explosives, these we spent time looking at.

Many years ago i saw a video installation of the queen at Royal ascot riding a carrage down the race track, there were 10 or so screens and each video was timed so that when you looked from each screen to the next the carriage appear to be at the same point as the previous screen. Nothing special but a clever use of timing.
 
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sirch

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#5
most of the modern art needed the written explanation
I once heard the noted art critic Brian Sewell making the same point, that modern art always needed a paragraph to explain it. For him though, with his classical education he could look at some allegorical painting of King Charles floating on a cloud, or whatever, and relate that back to Greek myth on which the painting was based and so understand what King Charles and his artist wanted you to understand from the painting. Me though with my secondary modern education just sees a painting of a somewhat ridiculous guy in a poncy wig and I need a paragraph to explain the classical painting.

It all depends on our experiences and education I guess.
 
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#7
I know what you mean about the bucket photo; mind you, I often think there's a fine line between some concepts of art and the Emperor's New Clothes. Talking of which, I don't usually post any of my digital photos as I'm not sure people will 'get' them, but since in another thread earlier today I mentioned trying to develop the ability to 'see' photos then perhaps it's the right time to see if anyone else 'sees' what I see?!

So here's a couple of shots from a local village show that I took last weekend, as I'm not sure which other category or thread to post them in... and before anyone says anything, I tried that earlier and it took three flushes to get rid of them!






 
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#8
Two buckets is in the same league
I'm curious about your choice of user name, because Agent Orange was a highly toxic dioxin-containing defoliant used by the US in Vietnam so that they could see the enemy through the trees and decimate their crops. There's a startling and moving body of photographic work by the late Philip Jones Griffiths (Agent Orange: Collateral Damage) that documents some of its inhuman results, including deformed foetuses and children with congentital malformations of brain and body.

So why the user name? I'm assuming that you chose it innocently, because it ain't no joke.
 
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#9
to me Two buckets is in the same league as Tracy Emmins Unmade bed. Does nothing for me. I visited Tate Modern this week with the wife, most of the modern art needed the written explanation to make any sort of sense to me let alone the wife.
I also don't see anything that affects me in the two blue buckets, though can understand why it was taken. Tracey Emins "My Bed" however does affect me a lot. The main reason for that is while not having gone through the same emotions as Emin, I did go through a dark period where my bed did seem to be my life - so to show her life at that period in time through the state of her bed I find very relevant.

While at the Tate Modern did you see "The Shape of Light" exhibition? That was the reason we went up there in June.
 
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#10
I love the fact that once something is branded as art some people seem to try to find all sorts of meaning in it. Take the narrative in that article about the 'mysterious' blue buckets and the 'ghostly' yellow light emanating from the car. I can't help but wonder if sometimes the artist has a quiet chuckle to themselves when they read what people make of their work?
 
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#11
I love the fact that once something is branded as art some people seem to try to find all sorts of meaning in it.
A huge spectrum of stuff positions itself under the 'art' umbrella. That doesn't mean that it's all art! Some of it's about selling stuff - well we all need to earn a crust but it gets beyond sometimes and the term prostitution comes to mind.

Regarding meaning I think that you should trust your instincts, but it helps if your instincts are tutored by experience. Intuition, gut, viscera, as well as intellect ...

I like the blue buckets, though it's not one of his best. They are lit quietly as if in a theatre out of hours, and will I be allowed to say that the image expresses a tenderness for the mundane?
 
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#12
… or perhaps they are there to catch the drips from a leaking roof in a downtown café that's seen better days? The blue being a hidden metaphor for the melancholic daily struggle against the austerity of sub-primal existence? Or maybe he just thought, I like the way the blue stands out against the dark background in this light and what the hell, I've got three rolls of film left.?
 
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#14
Let's be honest, if someone posted the blue buckets up on here and asked for c&c they'd get laughed at. There would be no deep thought about it, I think the photographer was an earlier day troll.
 
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#15
Let's be honest, if someone posted the blue buckets up on here and asked for c&c they'd get laughed at. There would be no deep thought about it, I think the photographer was an earlier day troll.
So my first photo isn't a metaphor for modern western life, where more and more people are apparently choosing to remain single and live alone, surrounded by their own little nest of comforts, in immediate proximity to, but in relative isolation from, their neighbours?

And how about the second photo, where most of those surrounding the sufferer look away and pretend it's not happening; and what of the one in the middle, are they showing compassion and about to help, or are they showing concern that it may be their turn next?

In reality, I took those shots for a completely different reason, but if you look and think hard enough and you're told it's art, then all sorts of meaning can be read into something. But maybe that's the point of some forms of art; you may not actually like it.... but at least it bloody well made you think! ;)
 
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#16
So my first photo isn't a metaphor for modern western life, where more and more people are apparently choosing to remain single and live alone, surrounded by their own little nest of comforts, in immediate proximity to, but in relative isolation from, their neighbours?

And how about the second photo, where those surrounding the sufferer look away and pretend it's not happening; and what of the one in the middle, are they showing compassion and are about to help, or are they showing concern that it may be their turn next?

In reality, I took those shots for a completely different reason, but if you look and think hard enough and you're told it's art, then all sorts of meaning can be read into something. But maybe that's the point of some forms of art; you may not actually like it.... but at least it bloody well made you think! ;)
Your shots are fine, the top one is nice I guess, second one just looks like it's a baking image for pinterest. They seem like they were shot for a purpose at least. I wouldn't read anything into them though, without any words I would have thought it was your own art or baking you were shooting. But c'mon, 2 buckets on a floor ... they can give whatever spiel they like, but if I don't see anything artistic or profound abut it without guidance then it's failed on me at least.
 
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#18
Your shots are fine, the top one is nice I guess, second one just looks like it's a baking image for pinterest. They seem like they were shot for a purpose at least. I wouldn't read anything into them though, without any words I would have thought it was your own art or baking you were shooting. But c'mon, 2 buckets on a floor ... they can give whatever spiel they like, but if I don't see anything artistic or profound abut it without guidance then it's failed on me at least.
Took the kids to a local art gallery a few weeks back. Some interesting stuff there but in one room we were asked to be careful because we nearly stood on an exhibit..... which was a squashed coke can in the middle of the walk way. It basically had a somebody there who's job appeared to be to guard it just in case some philistine like me picked it up and popped it in the bin.

This isn't meant to be a pop at modern art generally, there is much that I like and even more that makes me stop and think a bit but this is one of those times where I just found it silly and too simplistic.

Photographically, many of the really artsy images that I have liked have made very little sense to me in isolation but are often of much more interest as part of a themed collection where each image might portray an important element of a narrative. But otherwise, my preference is for pretty, creative, or dramatic images rather than those that I need to go searching for a meaning in.
 
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#19
would someone care to explain the significance of two blue buckets?
Perhaps he was a car detailer?

I agree with you Chris in that it does nothing for me either.

and will I be allowed to say that the image expresses a tenderness for the mundane?
feel free to ;) but it really is just mundane.

The "bed" was mentioned earlier, knowing now the back story I understand the reason she made (or rather didn't) that exhibit. It doesn't resonate with me at all though and perhaps I don't have the necessary education to understand this as art, and being honest with myself, I'm not sure I would want to either.
 
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#20
Took the kids to a local art gallery a few weeks back. Some interesting stuff there but in one room we were asked to be careful because we nearly stood on an exhibit..... which was a squashed coke can in the middle of the walk way. It basically had a somebody there who's job appeared to be to guard it just in case some philistine like me picked it up and popped it in the bin.

This isn't meant to be a pop at modern art generally, there is much that I like and even more that makes me stop and think a bit but this is one of those times where I just found it silly and too simplistic.

Photographically, many of the really artsy images that I have liked have made very little sense to me in isolation but are often of much more interest as part of a themed collection where each image might portray an important element of a narrative. But otherwise, my preference is for pretty, creative, or dramatic images rather than those that I need to go searching for a meaning in.

I have viewed extremely minimalist paintings and photographs and been mesmerized by them, without reading any back story or being talked into it. I believe it possible, good art speaks for itself without all the spiel, like a good portrait - they stand out beyond the average head shot, there's something about them that just grabs you, emotion in the eyes, the wrinkles on the face, an immediate character that emanates from the subject,

But the blue buckets are just blue buckets here IMHO, looks like someone clicked the shutter by accident then decided to test the viewer, see if just about anything could be passed off as art.

It would be funny if Coke-Cola claimed copyright on that exhibit, it could be one of the stupidest cases in history :D
 
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sirch

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#21
Since it has been raised. Emmin's bed is a deeply personal statement, she exposes herself and makes herself very vulnerable in displaying her bed like that. Those buckets contain nothing from the artist, even Duchamp made the effort to choose, abstract from its normal environment and sign the urinal.

If someone had painted a picture of those buckets, do you think we would be having this discussion about that painting? Would it have even come to any sort of public prominence?
 
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#22
The buckets aren't my cuppa at all. It's not saying anything to me. The glowing car though is fab. Really captures my imagination - but then I'm a big fan of people like Gregory Crewdson who (IMO) does the "mysterious" so much better (and with a far bigger budget).

If someone had painted a picture of those buckets, do you think we would be having this discussion about that painting?
Interesting question. Possibly. A painter starts with a blank canvas. Every brush stroke has to be created from nothing. Every colour choice - from nothing. The photographer, by comparison, has everything set out in front of them. The only choice is "under what lighting conditions" and "with what composition". Plus the ability to move things around & post process - which - in both cases - are taking something that already exists and changing it (and can be confirmed or denied afterwards). If someone painted this picture, I might not appreciate it, but I would know that the artist really wanted to do it because they took the time and effort to paint it. The photo though - could indeed just be a snapshot that the photographer did an ENC on (Emperor's New Clothes).

The car though is (for me) a perfect example of Erwitt's "Ability to notice" and a reinforcement of the quote (from Each of us has a camera in our hand, but ... - @Mr Badger) that it's not just about the light, it's about the sight too.

Buckets though? Thumbs down from me.
 
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#23
Granted that the buckets don't have huge charisma - but they do have presence, and this is just sufficient. There is also a mild enigma. Perhaps those who are dismissive should look at more of his work, because I don't think any of it suffers from emperor's new clothes syndrome - I credit him with integrity.
 
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#24
well we all need to earn a crust but it gets beyond sometimes and the term prostitution comes to mind.
Come on, prostitution?

Surely there’s a significant difference between hiring out our labour or selling the fruits of it for cash and prostitution.

This is hyperbole turned to trolling surely.
 
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#25
If someone had painted a picture of those buckets, do you think we would be having this discussion about that painting? Would it have even come to any sort of public prominence?
Ultimately, I suspect the answer to that would be: It depends who painted it. And isn't that perhaps a symptom of the genre?
 
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#26
Phil - there are undoubtedly instances (and in many fields) where integrity gets sacrificed for cash. If the overriding purpose of the artist is the market, then integrity and meaning can take a back seat. I'm not naming names ...

It happens in art, in politics, in trade ...
 
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#27
I love the fact that once something is branded as art some people seem to try to find all sorts of meaning in it. Take the narrative in that article about the 'mysterious' blue buckets and the 'ghostly' yellow light emanating from the car. I can't help but wonder if sometimes the artist has a quiet chuckle to themselves when they read what people make of their work?
Although having liked your post, the car seats glowing from inside a locked car are actually very striking. I might have wanted to take that photograph myself.

But the buckets? Possibly in a series or collection of other images about a location or a concept it might be a surreal or subversive idea to include it, but otherwise.....No, I just don't get it.

It just takes one or two influential people in the art world (in his case I suspect at Ffotogallery in Cardiff) to find value in an image like that and it becomes far more than the sum of its parts.
 
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#28
Interesting question. Possibly. A painter starts with a blank canvas. Every brush stroke has to be created from nothing. Every colour choice - from nothing. The photographer, by comparison, has everything set out in front of them. The only choice is "under what lighting conditions" and "with what composition". Plus the ability to move things around & post process - which - in both cases - are taking something that already exists and changing it (and can be confirmed or denied afterwards). If someone painted this picture, I might not appreciate it, but I would know that the artist really wanted to do it because they took the time and effort to paint it. The photo though - could indeed just be a snapshot that the photographer did an ENC on (Emperor's New Clothes).
I totally understand where you are coming from with that, and the buckets on their own do nothing for me, though as part of a series it is different. With regard to the part of your comment I have quoted however, is that not putting more importance on the process than the intention? The painter may have just started with the intention of showcasing his craft skills rather than any other motive. Would that make it more "art" than the photographer who took the shot because it had a meaning to him?
 
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#29
Thinking more on what I just posted, do you think that some people think that painting is more "art" because it is something that most of us can't achieve ourselves, while a photograph we often could take ourselves so the lack of apparent skill involved diminishes it's importance?
 
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#30
Although both buckets are blue, they are different blues. They are different designs of bucket - one has a plastic handle the other a metal one. Yet they are both blue buckets. The orangey-red thing in the corner is a complimentary colour and enhances the blueness of the buckets.

That's what I take away from the picture.

I don't think it's Fraser's best picture. And I don't think much of the rest of his work as I find a lot of it too derivative of Eggleston.
 
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#31
Granted that the buckets don't have huge charisma - but they do have presence, and this is just sufficient. There is also a mild enigma. Perhaps those who are dismissive should look at more of his work, because I don't think any of it suffers from emperor's new clothes syndrome - I credit him with integrity.
I don't think it's down to any sort of lack of 'integrity' with most works of this kind, it's down to the way people think... for instance, if we were going to visit a house and I told you it was haunted and the two previous owners had had to leave because of it, then every creak and bump and gust of wind might create a sense of apprehension or unease in you, whether you would admit to that or not.

However, if I told you we were going there to record the noise of the creaks and bumps of the structure of the house expanding after the recent dry weather for sale as a audio-effects product for the theatre market, then you'd probably feel perfectly fine about your experience there.

If you are told a photo or painting is by a highly regarded artist then people tend to find what they want and expect within it, if you are told it was done by an 8 year-old with their first camera then you'd probably flick straight past it without giving it much thought at all. Ah, but the artist intended to take that shot because they saw something in it... and who says the 8 year-old didn't (in their seeming random beginner's snapshot)?! Who knows, it may even have been the same thing they both 'saw'?
 
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#32
In reality, I took those shots for a completely different reason, but if you look and think hard enough and you're told it's art, then all sorts of meaning can be read into something. But maybe that's the point of some forms of art; you may not actually like it.... but at least it bloody well made you think! ;)
I must admit I hadn't seen any meaning in either of those pictures, although I did find them interesting in a limited kind of way. Jem Southam photographed exhibits at a local show and included them in his book "The Red River" which became a kind of cult success in the 1990's, bridging the gap between landscape, documentary and the mundane. It was a way of producing a fuller and more rounded portrait of that part of Cornwall that he was portraying.

He went on to become a Professor of Photography, I believe.....
 
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#34
If you are told a photo or painting is by a highly regarded artist then people tend to find what they want and expect within it, if you are told it was done by an 8 year-old with their first camera then you'd probably flick straight past it without giving it much thought at all.
Completely wrong - if I approach a work of art, I approach it with my own native sensibilties. I mean that's how you enjoy something. Reputation or what anyone else thinks have no bearing.
 
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#35
Completely wrong - if I approach a work of art, I approach it with my own native sensibilties. I mean that's how you enjoy something. Reputation or what anyone else thinks have no bearing.
I think you missed my point there, as evidenced by your use of the following words: "if I approach a work of art". ie, you already know it's art. I'm not questioning your sensibilities; if the scene is already set you already know it's art and you are automatically trying to process that.

Also, please don't quote my words out of context, what you quoted was only part of the paragraph I wrote and it needs to be read as a whole. Thanks. (y)
 
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#36
So the mundane can't be significant? Pity about that, because there's a lot of it about ...

There is an awful lot of the mundane about, but it is in the eye of the beholder. Personally I find a lot of sunset photographs mundane, while your average photographers loves them........
 
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#37
Thinking more on what I just posted, do you think that some people think that painting is more "art" because it is something that most of us can't achieve ourselves, while a photograph we often could take ourselves so the lack of apparent skill involved diminishes it's importance?
Possible, perhaps probably in my case. I am, or was, highly skilled using draughtsman's drawing tools but am downright awful at any form of free hand drawing or painting (other than the walls and woodwork ;)). So in my case the use of a camera is how I try and express what little creativity I may have. I would hazard a guess that most would be more likely to consider a painting as art more than a photograph.
 
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#38
I think you missed my point there,
No not really, I just chose to reply to part of the argument.
"if I approach a work of art". ie, you already know it's art
No, actually, I'm not going to be swayed by anyone else's description, or indeed of the setting. I may see stuff in a gallery that I hardly regard as art, at least not in the fullest sense. Using my native sensibility is what happens. Can't change that.

Equally as a photographer I might see something out and about that could be art, but it doesn't become art until someone represents it or puts it in a frame, thus turning it into a statement.
 
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#39
If you are told a photo or painting is by a highly regarded artist then people tend to find what they want and expect within it, if you are told it was done by an 8 year-old with their first camera then you'd probably flick straight past it without giving it much thought at all. Ah, but the artist intended to take that shot because they saw something in it... and who says the 8 year-old didn't (in their seeming random beginner's snapshot)?! Who knows, it may even have been the same thing they both 'saw'?
Here's a book that's worth a read - "Why your five year old couldn't have done that"
 
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#40
With regard to the part of your comment I have quoted however, is that not putting more importance on the process than the intention?
I guess it sounds that way but it's not really what I meant. It's a bit like separating vision and style. Vision is seeing the picture. Style is how you do it (intent & process). Both are equally important from an artistic standpoint. By it's nature though, the process is more difficult/lengthy/time consuming for a painter than for a photographer. Therefore the effort for a painting is simply 'more' than a photograph. This makes it easier for photographers to pass their work off as art when in fact, it was something they wandered past in the street which just triggered the "intent". It wasn't quite so much the case in the olden days with fully mechanical cameras (no AF, no built in meter) and the process was much harder. This guy on YouTube prints his own, but watching him dodge & burn in a darkroom (link) you can see the care he has for his work. Adding a vignette to the image is a deliberate act that could ruin his print, not just a LR preset that he can "try" and "undo" if it's crap.

I'm getting off the point here because I'm reminded of Ted Forbes' video talking about "Work That Matters". It's about care. I don't get that sense of "care" with the bucket image and therefore I don't like it. And that's the great thing about art. I first heard the phrase "I don't know about art but I know what I like" on a Cramps album and it's stuck with me since forever. I don't always "get" the intent, but some things I like and some I don't.

Great thread @sirch :)
 
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