70's Girls

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Copyright 1975, 2011 Malcolm Ryder

 

Grey Castle

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(postcards)

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(c) 2014 Malcolm Ryer

Donut Time

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(postcard)

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(c) 2014 Malcolm Ryder

Corporate Image

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(posters)

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(c) 2014 Malcolm Ryder

Alcatraz

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(postcards)

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Chinese dissident artist Ai WeiWei installed a major exhibition at this prison site, expressing four key perspectives on the aspiration of freedom in the confines of political and social captivity.

Gallery: click here.

(c) 2014 Malcolm Ryder

Recent Yard Changes

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(posters)

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(c) 2014 Malcolm Ryder

How Still Photography Works

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For the most part, still pictures are used to assign importance to experience. Here are the essentials.

Today, most photography is based on recording the experience of living, for communication.
Experience is primarily communicated as an emotional and mental description.
Experience itself need not be objectively factual; it can be invented.

The purpose of the description is to identify a kind of importance asserted to be immediate to the experience.
Immediacy is actually about fidelity to the preferred importance of the initial experience.
Where descriptions do not already have high fidelity to the preference, people are happy to change the description; this is true whether the person is the originator or the viewer.

Within a given audience, most types of importance are conventional. This means that there can be a group preference; but it also means that “importance” can be defined differently in one group than in another.

There is a range of generic types of importance; they can be distinctively associated with the likely behaviors and intentions of a photographer.

Both composing and editing are photographer behaviors driven primarily by preference. Preference pertains to why the picture is made, not how.

Driven by preferences, modes of behavior are stronger than genres as predictors of future photographic output. This will be true both in the attempt to start a picture and in the criteria for final acceptance of its appearance, post compositionand editing. For any given photographer, each individual mode can vary greatly over time as a proportion of the person's ongoing effort. The most typical behaviors that account for most pictures are included in the seven intentions below:

  • sharing events in real time: immediately include friends
  • reporting news and sports: characterize a moment
  • "hunting": show a trophy
  • glamour and romance: promote fantasy
  • scenes: invent or illustrate a story
  • evidence: display proof
  • navigation and history: provide clear and accurate identification

 

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(c) Malcolm Ryder



Consumer

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ShadowMarket-IMAG0345_ZOE017A.jpg

(c) 2013 malcolm ryder

Critical Talking

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Chances are that, if your discussion of an artwork cannot trace the following model, then you are either not trying to talk about art or the work you are discussing was not art work. Having made that assertion, an equally important one to make is that using work as art is readily legitimized by the experience of the audience.

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The model emphasizes the relationships between the essential factors of the way art is made (as opposed to "found"), The typical key influences on creative acts -- namely, ideas, motives and means -- are neither surprising nor extraordinary; whereas the sources of those influences may be wildly varied and rooted in contextual layers such as geography, societies, and historical period. These variations are normally accountable in terms of prevailing or at least evident forces that mediate creativity, such as expectations, intentions and rules. These are often the matters that get discussed as the distinguishing signs of movements and environments that host or generate bodies of work and communities of artists. These discussions, and the model, suggest that the inherent but outward-facing promotion of art effort can go on to be catalogued or profiled in the intuitive or intellectually basic dimensions of What, Why and How, providing half of the rubric for any good story (who and what, where and when, why and how...). The circumstantial half -- who, when and where -- tends to be presented as a theory of originality, leveraging the dynamic half -- what, why and how -- more fundamentally applicable to the general phenomenon of art.

When looking at the position and impact of art work as a product, we still wind up respecting the process of art, by deciding on our understanding of the relationship s between the three essential dimensions. That is, there is no What in art that is unaffected by a How or a Why; moreso, each of the three aspects is affected by the other two. In the model, these relationships are easily identified as Class, Form and Function which provides another way to profile the product's presence and behavior amongst other experiences that we have.

The external perspective also characterizes the aspiration of the individual who does not intuitively translate their creative impulse into art work, pending orientation and training. In the model, the keys to the orientation are in providing awareness of what art practice fundamentally requires in the dimensions of What, Why and How. The fundamentals involve, at minimum, resolving a pair of impulses or decisions that characterize each dimension. For example, "How" is resolved when the constraints of a technique are balanced against the preference for using the technique; together they present the "effective" means of the creative . Likewise, the pair of terms surrounding What and Why are resolved. Whatever balance is decided by each resolution leaves the terms accountable within the relationships between What, Why and How. For example: as ordered in the model, What and How influence each other, which means that the object type (of the work) and the constraints of the technique used (to produce the work) are influencing each other.

The importance of the model is in its ability to repeatedly simplify how the numerous aspects of creative production wind up interacting and reiterating each other. This means that different kinds of discussion points can be introduced and emphasized without discounting the actual role or incidental intensity of other factors.

 

 

Quantum Photography - Part 1

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A 21st Century Recognition Of The Medium

Copyright 2013 Malcolm Ryder / all rights reserved

 

THE WHO CARES QUESTION

The point of all art is to influence.

The essential differences amongst all arts are in what kind of influence is intended for what kind of audience. There is a notion of “importance” attached to art, based on how these occasions of influence turn up, and how they turn out. There are the circumstances of what was supplied to these occasions, and there is the status of what kind of demand was satisfied.

The relationship of marketing to art had always allowed photographers at least two parallel lives. In one, stock photography served the interests of commercial publishing. In the other, galleries promoted recognition of a photographer as an important communicator or observer of life and ideas.

Meanwhile, photography always involved at least two perspectives, as well. On the supply side, there are the production methods of photographs; and on the demand side, there is the environment of available images within which we as consumers form expectations about pictures.

Photographers have been trained for 150 years in techniques that are calculated to allow a goal-seeking image, meaning one that will succeed with a presumed viewer. As part of that, most photographers who want recognition as practitioners, and who want their images to be deemed valuable, will think about what kind of display situation will encourage a viewer to have an experience that, in the viewer’s own terms, is at least momentarily important, perhaps recurrently so.

When more than a million photographs are instantly available to anyone, any time, with a web connection, how does the intersection of production and expectations make some of them matter more than others?

The new landscape obliterates many traditional boundaries that have been used as conventions for evaluation. Creation has become production; Exhibition has become broadcasting; and Marketing has become social networking.

From the perspective of critics, the vocabulary of discussion therefore shifts heavily towards new defaults. Photographs as objects are primarily media presentations. Photographic practice is not a special philosophy of perception but instead just an imaging craft. Almost anything of note is usually about the impact of a picture on the immediate viewer's experience. And in the realm of experiences, it’s a buyer’s market. Photos are just not heavy. 

But from a critical perspective, one bias or principle remains intact. Even if any unit of product is small, lightweight and cheap, the secret formula behind it may be extremely valuable. Increasingly, the concepts and decisions underlying the execution of the work are the formula cited to distinguish the artistic importance of one work from another. The work itself becomes a demonstration. The originator of the formula – the artist – need be more important than the artwork, because we're going to need more product.

The critic’s response to the new environment of images is, therefore, oddly unchanged, while photographers looking for recognition face an ironically hostile new world. Suddenly clear of most institutionalized barriers to exposure, many photographers are stunned at how much less their huge new audience seems to care. The answer to surviving it is in knowing why. Put simply, it takes two to tango, but neither party is doing the same old dance.

This story covers the following issues in current photography:

- Products and Factory

- Method

- Production Values and Performance

- Context and Relevance

- Design and Distribution

- Culture and Critique

- Environment

 

Reference Diagrams, (c) Malcolm Ryder, subject to change:

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Quantum Photography - Part 2

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A 21st Century Recognition of the Medium

(From Quantum Photography - Part 1)

When more than a million photographs are instantly available to anyone, any time, with a web connection, how does the intersection of production and expectations make some of them matter more than others?

The new landscape obliterates many traditional boundaries that have been used as conventions for evaluation. Creation has become production; Exhibition has become broadcasting; and Marketing has become social networking.

From the perspective of critics, the language of discussion shifts heavily towards new defaults. Photographs as objects are primarily media presentations. Photography as a practice is not a special philosophy of perception but instead just an imaging craft. Almost anything of note is usually about the impact of a picture on viewer experience. And in the realm of experiences, it’s a buyer’s market.

This story covers the following issues in current photography:

- Products and Factory

- Method

- Production Values and Performance

- Context and Relevance

- Design and Distribution

- Culture and Critique

- Environment

-----------------------------------------------------------

Part 2:

CRITIQUE

The impact of modern technology on photography is most rationally investigated in certain ways.  Different approaches are individually worthwhile, but because of technological impacts, none can ignore how they overlap each other.

One possible investigation would be about the artistic influence of photography in an image-saturated world. When “viewing audiences” are constantly consuming a spectacular range of visual stimuli, how does a picture distinguish itself “above” the commoditizing pressure that over-abundance puts on all images? For that, we have to consider marketing.

Another investigation would be about the practice of self-identifying as a photographer. The analysis here need never be definitive because this self-identification has only two uses: public and private; and both realms are ever-changing. The difference between being a camera owner, a camera user, a photo-maker, and a “photographer” is normally irrelevant except in professional or social contexts. For example, there is often some excitement surrounding the discovery that a person professionally or socially re-known for one type of practice (say, acting, math, or music) is proficient in a different practice such as picture-making. We have always had the convenience of the label “advanced amateur” to indicate that pictorial expertise exists outside of the rules of commercial acceptance, all the while layering over it with the label “professional artist” specifically to signal which activities have the practitioner’s highest priorities. These personae, blown to bits by the actual portability of any photo-image across networks, are maintained mainly for the benefit of providing limited warranties to picture-users, in combination with the legalities of licensing. The side-effect of needing the warranty is that “serious photographers”, to protect their personae, adopt production methods that make it easier for them to enforce the warranty they want to offer. Consequently, perhaps undesirably, such methods will increase some kinds of uniformity in the forms of work produced. So far, protecting the persona has been misconstrued as being a nearly unsolvable problem of defending intellectual property rights. In reality, for photographers who really need the persona in order to feel satisfied, the problem is an old one: how to maximize the brand while minimizing the supply level needed to maintain it. The trade-off now is that high-volume is more necessary to establish the brand in the first place -- before limiting the supply of future work will not limit the “serious” audience for it. This becomes strategic. For example, will having many different audiences and multiple personae allow a photographer to “succeed” with lower volume for each audience? Ironically, because of networks, this may be happening “to” the photographer now, not “because of” the photographer, entirely without any demonstrable compensation for the photographer’s effort.

A third, investigation would be about why a picture maker chooses photography as a method. An “aesthetic” is sometimes defined as “A set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement.” While this need not be taken as the only useful description of aesthetics, its virtue is largely in that it identifies “work” as the reason why aesthetics matter. An aesthetic is a characteristic of production.

In the production of photographs, this definition of aesthetics aligns well with the notions of “instrumentality” and “orchestration”. Simply put, instrumentality refers to an emphasis on distinctive effects producible through typical uses of an instrument; orchestration refers to planning and arranging those effects for a desired complex and synergistic result.

As an instrument, the camera is used as the most direct connection between the photo-maker’s observations and that maker’s ideas. The ways that the camera initially shapes and transmits observations are the intended effects of the instrument. The camera aesthetic includes the principle that this directness supplies credibility to the picture maker’s ideas, specifically because the ideas are about how meaning derives from observation. Meanwhile, the picture is a “proof” of the idea.

The camera aesthetic, consequently, supports a huge diversity of work, because the aesthetic does nothing to arbitrarily suppress the simplicity or complexity of ideas, nor does it suppress the ease or difficulty of proving them. Instead, there is continual exploration and celebration of what ideas can be tackled and how, using the camera. As part of this, the instruments evolve, to offer a variety of tactical approaches.

A fourth, if not final, investigation would be about how the presumed unification of the technique and the medium is disintegrating, making it less clear what the term “photography” is supposed to even mean. For that, we have to consider that all photography has been rendering, and all rendering is essentially Drawing.  The matter at hand is not whether drawing with light is obsolete (it isn’t), nor whether drawing with pixels or bits is legitimate (it is); instead, the emerging concepts that must be in the foreground all have to do with Style and with the relationship of visual “fidelity” to visual “definition” (high-, low-, or somewhere in between). At this point, amongst notions of the evolution of photography, the “aesthetic” of the Camera (which is a cultural aspect) is more important than any other. What we come to understand from this is that as an instrument, the Camera plays many types of images just as a saxophone or piano plays many types of music. The instrument, and its associated aesthetics, does evolve -- offering both additional ways of expressing things and additional kinds of expressions. Once beyond the camera, there is little that distinguishes photographs from the results of other manufacturing methods.

Beyond the camera per se, the top disruptive developments in the field of photography have one thing in common; each one permanently resets expectations about the sources and consumers of pictures, simultaneously. The most well-known of these are not necessarily the only examples of their type, but they are great reference points. CGI, Photoshop, and digital printing are clearly permanently disruptive, both separately and, especially, together. But the following examples are hugely prominent for the purpose of charting the continuation and adaptations of the camera aesthetic:

Apple iPhone 4s

1080p Video in DSLRs with freeze-frame

Google Street View

Instagram

Getty/Flickr partnership

Canon Project Imaginat10n

 

ENVIRONMENT

A current discussion on Wikipedia is as follows.

“In the famous thought experiment called Schrödinger's cat: a cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. There is a supposed 50% chance of this happening. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead [a state called superposition]. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.”

When a photograph is initially produced today, networked audiences detect it, triggering some degree of further transmission. The probability that the audience will be initially favorable is varied from time to time. But at any given point in time, the picture is either being propagated and used, or not. Without specifically checking, it is assumed that after a while the picture is simultaneously in circulation and out of circulation. Yet when tracked down, the picture is either in circulation or out, not both in circulation and out. Reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

In photography, this collapse is only the reality of the moment. Due to technology, the autonomous life of the picture seemingly never ends; instead, it is merely articulated by occasions of rediscovery and reuse – here one day, and there the next. Reality never collapses permanently into one possibility or another…

Photography today is mostly characterized by the increasingly unpredictable life of the photograph. The picture morphs, migrates and manifests, in ways that have practical purpose but otherwise respect few enduring limits. Because technology has made it very clear that these conditions are now virtually inherent in any image, the influence of photography will be more and more characterized by the ways in which these conditions are managed or exploited to achieve a picture’s relevance to context -- by the episodic occasions of selectivity and style, and of design and distribution.

If there is a primary message in all of this, it is that photography is a practice that, overall, is enduringly more important due to its impact on culture than to its place in art. Yet through its impact on culture, it drives ongoing adaptations of our understanding of what we think is art.

Copyright 2013 Malcolm Ryder / all rights reserved

What Eye Minds

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(Poster)

 

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Given the option, we'll ask color to  justify our paying attention by being part of what we know. We don't think of black and white rendering as being "without color", We ask it instead to stay separate from us while being believable.

 

Under the Tree

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(Drawing)

 

 

AutumnBulbs-IMG_0005Abw.jpgCopyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder

Each branch on a tree is a train of thought, with an individual goal for a common purpose.Nearby, our geometries are quotes. 

 

Yardening 1

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(Postcards)

 

 

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Yardening-IMG_0015Abw.jpgCopyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder

 

 

PileUp Park

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(Postcard)

 

 

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The difference between a park, a town hall and a temple is just the agenda.

 

Follies

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(Portrait)

 

 

SpottedPetals-IMG-20120706-00664A.jpgCopyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder

Modeling makes looks mean something; portraiture makes meaning look like something.

 

Bridger

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(Postcard)

 

 

BayBridge-IMG-20121111-00908Abw.jpgCopyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder

The art of making the water go away is taken seriously by civilizations that want to use it. 

Figures II

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(Drawing)

  

FigSprout2012-IMG_3550as2Abw2.jpgCopyright 2012 Malccolm Ryder

 

Nature's Way

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(Portrait)

 

Tunl-IMG_4072Abw.jpgCopyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder

Noir

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(Freezeframe)

 

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Copyright 2012 Malcolm Ryder