Photos are back!

Or it looks that way.

Here’s one I took in 2007 under a London railway bridge, somewhere:

Appropriate now, I think you’ll agree.

I’ve included “Art” in the categories list below. Since there seems to be no product involved, I’m guessing it is.

LATER: I found another photo of this same sign/art. By image googling “scary”. Which worked, as it would.

Here. This had attached this information:

Sign under a railway bridge on Rivington Street, London.

Thank you photoer Howard Lake.

They’re about to dig up the road

Another quota photo, because: another busy day. I may have time later to do something for here, but don’t want to have to be bothering about this.

So:

Again, photoed quite recently. Well, this year. And very near to where I live. I recall having to put down two big bags of shopping, and to dig out my camera from underneath shopped items, to immortalise this scene. When you see the photo, photo it, now. Leave it until later and, first, you won’t come back later, and second, it you do, it will probably be gone. In this case, dug up. That’s the photo-rule to have been following here.

The other relevant photo-rule is: If someone sees you doing this and thinks you’re a weirdo, this does not matter. You either care about your photos looking good, or about yourself looking good at all times. Pick one.

What it is is marks on a road, prior to some digging, digging which was still not, when last I looked, completed. My guess is that the symbols refer to pipes, but what do I know?

In its small way, this photo reminds me of something a war correspondent once said about D-Day, which he was at and was reporting on. He said something like: “I didn’t know what the plan was, but I had the strong sense that events were unfolding in accordance with that plan.” I don’t know what the plan was for all the digging that subsequently happened, but there clearly was a plan, and the digging was surely done in accordance with it.

Also (ISIBAISIA), I like photoing things that look like Modern Art but which are not Modern Art. I think this is partly because if reality itself mimics Modern Art on a regular basis, that means that deliberately creating Modern Art is unnecessary, and Modern Artists are not nearly as important contributors to the ongoing march of civilisation as they like to think that they are. Without them, there would still be plenty of Modern-Art-like stuff around for people who like that sort of thing to be looking at.

There you go. Not bad for a mere quota post. And it only took about ten minutes.

The artistic retreat from beauty

Like many people, I like photos like this:

Not photoed by me. I wish it had been photoed by me. But, not.

It makes me think of David Hockney, who also likes leafless trees.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (ISIBAISIA): Artistic fashion often goes where it goes not because it is leading us all into some new and exciting artistic domain, but because it is retreating from an area where it can no longer make any sort of living. Example: beauty. Of the sort you see in the above photo.

Googling is good for things describable with a single word. But something like the idea that artists now hate doing beauty is a bit harder to track down. Google tends to fixate on one of the words you use and ignore all the others until it has told you everything it has on, you know, “artists”. Then, keep scrolling, and soon you will be learning of everything there is that you can read about “hate”. The closest I could get to what I wanted was a piece at the Tate Gallery website, entitled JJ CHARLESWORTH FINDS BEAUTY, ALONG WITH A SUNNY VIEW OF THE FUTURE, TO BE SOMETHING OF THE PAST.

I agree with JJ CHARLESWORTH that artists who reject beauty do this partly because they have a gloomy view of the future. But, ISIBAISIA, there’s surely also the fact that all of us now have machines on our persons which can crank out beauty on a daily basis, immortalising everything beautiful that we encounter that we wish to immortalise. Click. And if we can’t even be bothered to do that, plenty can be so bothered, and now pile their efforts into the great global photo-gallery that is the internet, that of course being where I got the photo that adorns this posting. What chance does the average artist have when up against all that? No wonder they prefer ugliness, ugliness so ugly that the Daily Mail will supply free publicity for it, “conceptual” art, painting with shit and piss, and such like. Oh, an artist can add beauty of the sort that a regular photo won’t add, but they can’t add enough extra beauty to justify all the extra bother. And especially not in the age of photo-processing software, which can add beauty. Now, picture-making software can enable you to create beauty.

Hockney, of course, is not an average artist. He is exceptional. He is in the top one per cent. He can paint whatever he likes, and people will still pay him lavishly for it. He can even sell his photos. But for his pains, all the official art people now agree that he is very passé for still doing beauty.

So, the artists have retreated out of beauty. They call it an advance, but they’re not fooling me. And now that I’ve explained this to you, they aren’t fooling you either.

ISIBAISIA

ISIBAISIA stands for “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As I get older, I find myself wanting to use this phrase more and more, hence my need for an acronym. Which, I note, other persons are already using also.

Anyway, the latest thing that I’ve said before and now find myself in the process of saying again (while linking back to the first version) is something which you will encounter if you scroll down in among this, at Samizdata, namely this:

Recently there was a comment thread here about modern art, about how ghastly it is, how badly it bodes for Western Civilisation, etc. etc. But I believe that to be as pessimistic about the future of the West as some of those pessimistic commenters were, merely because of a lot of stupid abstract paintings, is to fall into the trap of regarding artists in the way they like to regard themselves, as a vanguard of civilisation (an “avant guarde”), rather than as mostly a rearguard. You simply cannot understand Modern Art without appreciating that it takes place in a technological space first developed by, and then abandoned by, the industry of making pictorial likenesses. Abstract art is, in many ways, a rationalisation of the fact that likenesses are now no longer demanded, on the scale of former times, from “artists”. It is primitive picture making, done in a part of town that used to be very grand but is now either stuck in genteel poverty, or in the other kind of poverty: a slum.

Old school art was a business as well as an “art”. …

Painting used to do likenesses. And the new point I am in the middle of making, in the next posting here, is that painting used to do beauty. But photography is now doing beauty also. (Expect a beautiful photo-illustration.) So painting has retreated out of that too. Art doesn’t “advance”. It merely ducks, weaves and accumulates, piggy-backing on technologies developed by more business-like businesses.

Venus on the South Bank

October 20th 2007 was a good day for me photoing photoers, and I’ve just set aside thirty five photoers to stick up here. But, because of the lateness of the hour, that will take too long to sort out now, even given how much easier such photo-clutch displaying has now become. So here, in the meantime, is some Art that I photoed on that same expedition, in among photoing all those photoers:

The painting on the left is The Birth of Venus, complete with her strategically long, blond hair. But what is the one on the right? (Aside from not being quite finished.)

Closer up:

I see an angel and a Madonna. I wonder if googling will yield anything.

No luck. Lots of Madonnas, of the modern Italian-American and pop-singing sort, and lots of this famous painting. But nothing like the painting above. So, commenters?

More trees (including the shadow of a tree)

This time trees of the regular sort, some even with leaves, in the vicinity of the Tate Gallery, the ancient one that’s a walk away from my home:

Lots of pollarding.

The last photo, with the tree shadow, is of the outside of the Tate Gallery itself.

Shadows are interesting for many reasons, one being that the camera registers them so much more clearly than the eye does. When a human looks at a scene, he/she makes a model of it inside his/her head. Eyes move about restlessly to build the model. Shadows are irrelevant for most purposes, so get screened out, so to speak. But when a camera looks at a shadow, it sees it and registers it. It’s eye stays in one place and looks just the once. If there is a shadow, the shadow remains. When the human looks at the photo, he/she can’t then look past it, to the scene itself. There is only the photo to be seen`dxz9

One of the skills of photography is learning to see things as a camera does, so that you can see photos worth photoing, which you would not see if you were merely looking the way a human does.

I We It – January 2004

All this coughing I’ve been doing lately, and the consequent not sleeping properly, is keeping me confined to my quarters, which means that photo-ops have been few.

So, I’ve done more than my usual amount of rootling around in the archives. In which archives, this evening, I found these photos:

I remember being quite impressed by these artworks, when I first came across them, in (as we can see) Gloucester Road tube. Kudos to me for taking a photo of the poster that told me now, this evening, who did these Things and what he called them, as well as just lots of photos of the Things themselves. There’s even a clear date on the poster, which corroborates the date Windows Photo Viewer offers, as the date when these photos were “first modified”.

I do not recall being as impressed by any other artwork in a tube station since then. Maybe this was the first art I ever properly saw (properly because for the first time I was looking for stuff to photo (with my recently acquired Canon A70 (had I had a better camera the photos would have been a lot prettier))) in a tube station, and maybe that’s why it made quite an impression on me.

I say “quite” because even these Things were not really that great. Quite striking. Quite impressive. And more so than just about all Art in the Tube that I have encountered since then, which has mostly been very disappointing. Well, quite disappointing.

LATER (FRIDAY MORNING): The above done in some haste. I now, with some difficulty, found my way to this, which says more concerning the above images. Summary: Corporate capitalism is scary because it is totalitarian. (He’s quoting adverts for various capitalist goods and services.)

Suspicion: he thinks we should all believe in what would actually, I think, turn into actual totalitarianism. He has a quite big point. Corporate capitalism is becoming rather totalitarian. But he is wrong on the even bigger point. No wonder I only quite liked it. It is a quite expert attack on my opinions, and he’d surely agree about that, if about little else of a political sort, if we ever talked it through.

Colourfully painted croissant

Today I met up with a friend, in even more central London. She had what looked like Soylent Green, in a glass. I had coffee in a similar glass, and a croissant. The croissant made me grateful, but not so much for how it tasted, more for how it looked. Which was why I photoed it before I ate it:

What I want to know is: Did they paint the pink raspberry-flavoured paint on the croissant pastry before it was rolled up into a croissant, or afterwards? I’m going with: before. But, when it comes to colourfully painted croissants, what do I know? This is the first time I ever met one.

On reading about it without having to experience the bloody thing

All of us who know anything of the broader picture of art and its history have what we know to be blind spots, in the form of things we know to have merit, to be significant, to have an intelligent audience, but which we personally can’t stand. Great, great, glad you love it, just don’t make me look at it, listen to it, etc.

My big artistic blind spot is jazz. Especially recent jazz, jazz perpetrated in my own life time, by drugged up artists more concerned with hiding from the shambles of their ruined and soon-to-end lives than with making proper tunes for a potentially wider audience. There you go. I can’t even write about jazz – can’t even think about it – without hurling abuse at it. (Early and badly recorded jazz with proper tunes, that I quite like. But, like many who hate a lot of classical music but might also strongly like some of it, I know too little about it all and don’t know where to start.)

Today, however, it occurred to me that there are plenty of things which I can’t stand actually experiencing, but which I love to read about. Most of history is ghastly, but I like reading history. And consider, in particular: war. I’d hate to actually be in a war, but I love to read about war, all the more so because war is so bloody horrible and I can congratulate myself on having throughout my life totally avoided all direct involvement in it.

Prompted by an amazon.co.uk email (amazon already knowing of my interest in a particular musical author (see below later in this sentence)), I have just ordered a couple of books by Ted Gioia, about jazz. (I quoted Gioia on the subject of JS Bach in this earlier posting here.) That way, I can learn lots about jazz, without having to listen to the bloody stuff.

Photo-uploading problems

For some mysterious reason, I am having problems uploading photos. Have I reached some sort of limit? One of the photos I tried to upload was a photo of a famous painting. Did WordPress recognise the famous painting, and get angry with me for some sort of copyright violation? Did I change a “setting” to something silly, that won’t work? I don’t know, but this posting is just me posting pure text, to see if that is misbehaving also.

Well that worked well enough when I pressed “Save Draft”. Let’s see if “Publish” now works. Yes it did, or it did from where I sit.

LATER: All is now well. A temporary back-up file was getting in the way and this has now been deleted, making way for such things as this:

This is what WordPress looks like, when it gets angry with you, which it enjoys doing. No. It’s “Cerberus”, by William Blake. I photoed this yesterday, at the Tate Britain William Blake Exhibition. You see a better version if you go to the Tate Britain website.