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REFLECTIONS ON MY PHOTOGRAPHS

1: PRELIMINARIES

Section Index


  1. Why Photography
  2. What Photography
  3. Origins and Influences

  What's Related  
  Subsequent Pages - Pictures  
  Subsequent Pages - Photo Series  
Reflections on my Photographs
 






1.1: Why Photography

I'm a rather visual person. I don't quite crave for large sums of written text, which may be quite ironic as I seem to like producing large sums of written text, and as I'm also quite fond of literature and language in general. But I'm more of an abstract person, or a very specific one. I don't like to be specific on a grand scheme. I like analyzing small portions of text, large ones however simply take too long. Large and long things I tend to grasp in an abstract or more general way, combining all senses. I just dislike reading a long novel over days or months, I don't even have the concentration for it. A movie, however, has a precise start and end point, you can make detailed analysis, and you can experience it with lots more senses and under much more aspects than a book. There's music, photography, lighting, effects, story, acting, whatever. Some things you cannot grasp logically, you can just feel them. You can look at them, delve into the situation, and then - less consciously even - you either get it or not, but mostly on a non-cerebral and more emotional level.

A picture doesn't necessarily come with a wordy explanation. In that, it's more like poetry than prose. Prose tends to at least follow some conventional modes of narration, poetry however is more obscure, relies more on the emotional than the logical side. Yet poetry is something I've been doing for quite some time now, I'm planning to continue writing it, but somehow I'm also craving for something completely else. Or rather, not completely. The essence, detail and abstract, is still there, yet the medium is different.

Taking photos is something I can remember having done almost for ever, photography however is something new to me, still is after hundreds of pictures. That partly comes from experimenting, finding a style and obsession, losing it again, finding something new etc. It also comes from trying to incorporate old material under a new agenda. But basically, it's still a great experiment, I don't know what'll come from it, it's just a big new something waiting there to be explored. A toy, if you may, to sate my childish and manly (which I believe to be the same most of the time) needs for playing.

It could also be something else, like music for instant. I've been experimenting with that also, even for much longer than I've been doing anything else, but it hasn't yielded any real results yet, maybe it will in the future. Movies are another thing, but far more complex and far too distant for me right now. Photography is the smallest of my additional interests beside text that I can currently afford to indulge in.

What purpose does photography carry? What am I doing it for? Honestly, I don't know. I could invent some big, easy agenda, but basically, it's a visual interest, and it is more emotional than rational. Of course, you want to make some utterance with what you show or make. But art is too plentifold to just restrict it by labeling it in a unidirectional way. A picture - as any piece of art - has the ability to tell something completely different to every different viewer. So maybe it's just about creating material for reflection, contemplation, meditation. Maybe it's just attempting to hit a nerve or trigger a thought or idea or memory, maybe it's something different. As I've already said, I'm more of an abstract person. I like to abstract from the concrete and let the so-called meaning transcend to a different level.

Thus I won't attempt to analyze or even interpret or thoroughly explain here what my intentions are. I wouldn't even if I knew what they were. A certain portion of obscurity has to remain. What I'm about to contemplate upon right here, right now, is just charting the territory, providing some variables and thoughts that may be useful or at least interesting for approaching my work. The focus of this text is also to say something about art in general, my own will be the example at hand here. Just understand it as a kind of making-of, or what it says in the heading: some reflections on my photographs.

PJK
August 16th, 2001







1.2: What Photography

I'm not a very technical person. Technical details don't really interest me for their own sake, I'm only interested in what works best, and what equipment can provide me with the best results. Technology for me is a means to achieve an end, nothing more. It's nice to know all these little facts, but as long as the thing works and isn't too heavily outdated, I really don't care.

Thus my first attempts have been made with pretty simple cameras, a rather primitive black and white one in the beginning, a children's camera perhaps. Then I moved to a more expensive tourist camera with zoom and automatic focus, something simple that allowed me to take a quick shot and then move on. That model has become too primitive for three reasons now: I don't really see what the picture will look like, experimenting with lots of shots becomes pretty expensive, and the scanning process for the internet makes most pictures look awful. Thus it had to be a better digital camera (SONY DSC-F505V), not too primitive, yet also not one of those bulky and hyper-expensive professional cameras which then would make everything more expensive again, in terms of film material and developing etc.

As I'm interested in the picture as such, and in making it available to others, the chosen format for exhibition is the internet, here I have almost complete freedom, and the costs for everything are minimal. Paper images are not my prime motivation, I don't need that. A screen serves perfectly for what I want. Thus from a mere technical point of view, what I'm doing now is something like digital internet photography mostly in a 4:3 screen format, in terms of geometry somewhere between normal tourist photography and middle format. But as I've already said, that's rather secondary to me.

Regarding the motifs and themes, the objects I shoot, I'm relatively open. I've been doing landscape and cities mostly, now having moved towards architecture and structural details, also incorporating some images of people. Yet I'm not quite into portrait (yet).

How artistic is it supposed to be? I try to follow a line somewhere between a documentary perspective coming from a touristic agenda, showing people something "nice" or interesting, and a more abstract, or hyper-specific approach (which I regard as closely related) photographing things a normal observer would never care about, but things which are there, things usually left out from the narrative. Thus I'd say that I'm caught somewhere between a romantic and a naturalist approach, balancing the two consciously to somehow serve an internet audience.

I'm aiming for a documentary approach, showing "what's there". I do favor color, yet I've come to be more and more interested in black and white photography. So you'll probably see more of the latter from now on. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, I still have to figure them out. Nothing is finished, the future yet unwritten.

PJK
August 16th, 2001







1.3: Origins and Influences

As with my poems also, I don't quite know how to root my photography. Especially as photography is not necessarily as prominently perceived as such, as an art form, as it is constantly being underestimated by the general public in favor of romantic and realistic painting; photography is commonly conceived as something cheap rather, something less of an art form, something less requiring artistic abilities. Ergo, it is less made a topic, even less taught in schools, and to someone who arrives at it from outside the artistic community, someone like me, it's really difficult to say what my influences are.

To name influences would be to name artists, photographers who have left a certain impact on myself, photographers whose work I would have consciously perceived as such. These are but a few, and I could just name people like David Lynch, who is known rather for his films than his other artwork, or change the field and quote painters like Casper David Friedrich for the romantic touch and artists like Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein for the portrayal of commercial culture. More obvious it would be to refer to my few contacts with contemporary artists, like Lucas Fester (trafalgar.de) and even more Jörn Lies (timescapes.de), a close friend of mine, and - regarding photography - some kind of an adviser, perhaps even a mentor in a way, someone who has definitely encouraged me to do some photography also.

The influence I get through my fascination for movies and television shows should also not be underestimated, in that I feel indebted to such great artistic endeavors as Chris Carter's The X-Files for its stylish and amazing visual atmosphere, and David Lynch, again, for redefining beauty and mixing it with the sublime.

But the greatest influence I would see in philosophy and aesthetics, mostly in reflecting about beauty and sublimity, things I also do in my poems, especially starting with "Klimax". The same discourse is carried over to my photography, and brought to a different level I hope.

But to be honest, I really don't know if any such references are helpful. I don't quite have found a definite style yet, maybe I don't even want to and had better continue experimenting and doing lots of different stuff, not wanting to restrict myself in any unnecessary way, but I certainly owe thanks to above mentioned people and pieces of art.

PJK
August 16th, 2001

continuation: 2. Themes and Methods





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