Doug Bruns

Posts Tagged ‘Zeus’

Is it just me?

In Music, Photography, Truth on March 26, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Does not all photography seem derivative? I read recently (in the New Yorker, March 8, 2010) of Espranza Spaulding, a jazz singer, bass player. The article, long and New Yorker-typical deep, was compelling, as all things fresh and original are wont to be, and I listened, as a result, to the podcast with the author. I was struck by the freshness, the sui genius, of Spaulding, like Athena, born from the forehead of Zeus, perfect and in full-form.  Music affords the disciple such depth, of which I an envious. Keys. instruments. Style, Genre and so on. That is a big, huge, topic. Suffice it to say…. A person can swim in that ocean.

What do photographers have?

But I am comparing apples and oranges. Music is the most abstract of all the arts. Is it not said that all the arts aspire to the status of music? (Or is that poetry?) Photography is so many measures removed from the pure abstract. Think about it. We take a three-dimensional reality and render it two-dimensional.  (I hesitate to put quotation marks around that word, reality. That is a philosophical topic saved for another essay.) If we are a black and white photographer, we take the abstract one step further by rendering it thus, from color, what the eye recognizes, to something we don’t see naturally. But still it is a facsimile of what we recognize. That is what I mean by derivative. We cannot escape, cannot break free of,  the bonds which preceded us, simply because of the medium in which we work.

So, this all sounding so high and (less-than) mighty, this path we take–pursuit of truth and beauty, specifically. Truth we should be able to capture, no? Beauty gets mixed up and is relative. But cannot the photographer render truth? (Small t or big T–small, yes, we all agree?.) I will not try to wrestle that word to the ground. Truth. Let’s just concede that T/truth is something we recognize.  (Again: I know it when I see it.) Maybe even something we can aspire to.