Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Photos and Retro Blogging


The astrologically observant will note that there is no full moon tonight, nor was there one last night. On March 10, there most certainly was. It was a spectacular evening, and after walking home from the studio I was compelled to grab my camera and head back out. As usual, I took a lot of pictures that I have no idea if I will ever use as painting source material. What to do? I don't like showing my photographs.

When I have an open studio, I purposely hide my photos even though it takes a day to remove them all and put them back up again. Luckily, I don't paint over them like Francis Bacon, and unlike Thomas Eakins, who claimed to not use photo sources for his work, I own up to it. There was a whole show of Eakin's photos next to his paintings a while back: curators love showing photographic sources in comparison to paintings. At an Alphonse Mucha show in Warsaw last summer, they had a whole wall of his photos on display, even though it is well known Mucha used the camera as a tool. To a die-hard painter, a photo is flat, there is no surface, and often little depth. In my own work, a painting can be mental collage of tens of photos, and all of the color is completely reinvented within the reality of a painting.
I'm almost insulted when somebody likes my photography, especially they prefer it to a comparable painting. However displaying preparatory work is nothing new, as a graduate school professor liked to point out with regards to shows of master drawings. He thought it was completely ludicrous that everyone was digging up Michelangeo's sketches and putting them on display, something the artist could have never imagined in his lifetime or intended. Of course, now we see drawing as an art in itself, and love following every line of the master's hand. Even for painters like myself, I suppose a photo sketch may speak something of the artist's mind, even if it is never intended for exhibition.

My reticence in showing photos is a little different. In an open studio literally hordes of people stroll through my studio, look at this and that,and leave. I'm lucky if they spend ten seconds looking at a painting I spent months on. In this sense, photos would be a competitive distraction to the work I wish the audience to consider. Online, there's a little of this. Initially, I wanted the paintings to remain the focus. Also, there's a bit to the magician not giving up his tricks, and I still don't like to show things that might end up in a painting, which I a little hard to decide in the daily time frame of blogging.

So my solution: retroblogging. Sadly, I looked it up and see that I did not coin the word. However, it appears that most people label "retro blogging" as post they make that day with a noted back date. As artists tend to like to subvert utility, I think its more interesting to truly back date things. So i think I'll start posting some of my better unused and otherwise interesting photographs, retroactively by fiddling with the date in the post options. They'll be buried under the date they were taken, effectively backfilling my journal into some sort of useless memoir. I promised to give them some sort of tag like "photo" so they won't be truly lost, but otherwise a new reader will have no idea they are there. A fun thing to do for a site with no traffic, huh?

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