Thursday, April 13, 2017


Just as the forsythia starts its springtime burst of yellow on the shoulders of the West Side Highway the banners for the annual AIPAD show start to unfurl from the Pier 94 façade. Inside the Pier photo dealers from around the world set up their booths introducing new artists and offering a pricey glimpse into some very famous vintage prints.
But now it seems to me that the art of photography is at a crossroads where we're all searching for a new definition of what is fine art photography.
The transition of communication devices from mere tools for connecting us in a verbal fashion to apparatus that now allows everyone to connect visually has smeared the line between art and visual communication. Now everyone is capable of becoming a photographer but the question is does it also make them an artist.
I'm still feeling my way around this question and around whether I think this is a good thing or a road to the demise of fine art photography. As of right now the quality of high-end photography hardware is a differentiating factor. Print quality from an iPhone can't match the pixel quality of a pricey digital camera but this is only a matter of time before our phones can provide prints as rich as those produced by the current digital cameras. The same holds true for photo manipulation. There is only a limited series of filters and edits that you can now access that allow you to change an image generated from your iPhone from its original but this too I suspect will change quickly allowing anyone with an idea to implant it on an image they've collected on their phone. So where is originality going to come from? What I found on the walls of booths at the Association of International Photography Art Dealers was it is going to continue to come from the eye of the artist. It comes from their ability to see things in ways no one else does.
It shows up in Michael Massaia's image of the "Bow Bridge" in knowing where to find the perfect point-of-view
Then it comes at you in the large-scale prints by Ahmet Ertug where symmetry and repetition play a compositional part in seeing space in a way that is simple and straight forward and at the same time extremely complex.
it's in the humor and painterly vibe of Paolo Ventura's "The Juggler" where texture tricks you into thinking it's more a painting than a photograph
It's the way Shai Kremer has captured smoke, stopping its random motion and giving it human form like a dancer in a frenetic series of twists and leaps
It shows up in the vintage photo, "Doe Eye, Jean Patchett, Vogue, New York" by Erwin Blumenfeld where omission is more important than what remains
It's forcing us to look at detail in nature and architecture as Michael Eastman did with his "Deco Stairwell #2, Havana" and its reference to Andre Kertez's "Chez Mondrian"
It's printing on glass and then layering it as Mickal Macku did taking the old glass negative idea to a new way of looking at photography as a three-dimensional art form
It's in deconstructing reality and exposing the magician behind the curtain as Julie Blackmon did with her image, "Fake Weather, 2017"
It's how Richard Scott Hill transformed the nose and eyes of Rembrandt's famous self-portrait into a mask and then photographed friends, children and even their pets wearing the mask with each masked "Rembrandt" bringing their own personality to their portrait.
It's how Rachel Perry dealt with social commentary in how wrapped up we are in our own consumerism
It's how Laurent Chehere sees how untethered from our world we all are floating away and vaporizing into a cloud of ideal fantasy
It's how beautiful and erotic a simple curtain of gauze can appear when captured a dozen times set free on the outside of our windows and allowed to dance naked in the wind.
And that pulls me full circle of trying to differentiate between an artist's eye and a simple frozen moment.  What I'm seeing happen is that the general public is gradually becoming more aware of life and their surroundings. There is a greater awareness of the visual world, a bit more time taken in discovering the details that make up their surroundings and a greater appreciation for what makes them respond to those captured moments.
So maybe the ability for all of us to snap shots of our world is a good thing. It may make us more appreciative of our visual world and as clichéd as it may be - take time to smell the roses

This post was my tribute to the art of photography so I'm dedicating the gallery to something as visceral as the images from the show - its the absence of imagery caused by a world of exclusion and fear

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