I have just watched / listened to this vlog (= video blog!!) in which the author (no name given) tries to argue, by giving us ‘a brutal truth’, that “nobody is really interested in your work, that the only way to justify making work is to make stuff ‘that matters’ ( I love the way this American drawls that word out!), work which leads to bigger projects, work which makes us think, work which makes us feel better about ourselves… we need work that makes a difference.”
Normally I would ignore this vague or, at best, ambiguous posturing but I decided to analyse what he is saying in the light of the work of Erik Kessels , for example, in highlighting the prevalent practice of uploading daily images by the million on to social networks, and of Lilly Lulay’s practice of recycling images in collages and montages. I also decided to tackle the ‘what do you think of this?’ question posed by a photographer whose work I appreciate – Bill Jackson.
How do we know what work matters, to whom and at what point in time? Recognition of the value of so many projects has come years after their appearance on the world stage. Should we all start pontificating on our pet subject? Should we set out to tell others what to think? I don’t think we do.
‘Work on projects which lead to a bigger body of work’. Are 32 mindless images better than 2 mindless images? Who decides that they are mindless?
Surely in our artistic process we do not know what the end ‘product’ will be. We need to experiment, to see what works and what doesn’t. Did the cave dwellers make art which was significant in their times? I don’t think so – their expression was important and still is & is worth investigating today.
Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you are trying to say , so, if you simply don’t create work because ‘nobody is interested’, what does that do to you as an individual ? If you are interested, I wold say, experiment / investigate / explore. Whom / what are we harming, assuming we are using digital imaging, in our explorations?
In the July, 2016 edition of the RPS Journal, world renowned photographer, Sarah Moon, in response to the question “Do you spend a long time planning your photographs?’ responds: ” Some I do but it is never what I have planned that happens. You can’t stick to an idea, it is like a mirage.” (p.516).
One photographer he ‘consumes’ is Bill Cunningham who, in his opinion, made work that mattered – ‘he was of his time’ and ‘did not produce easy work’. In an article in the New York Times titled “Bill Cunningham on Bill Cunningham”, Cunningham states:
” I STARTED photographing people on the street during World War II. I used a little box Brownie. Nothing too expensive. The problem is I’m not a good photographer. To be perfectly honest, I’m too shy. Not aggressive enough. Well, I’m not aggressive at all. I just loved to see wonderfully dressed women, and I still do. That’s all there is to it.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/26/fashion/bill-cunningham-on-his-life.html?ref=topics&_r=0)
I don’t think I need to write any more. Except to say that I thoroughly enjoyed making these two images shown here and collaborating with Fiona, a total stranger I met on a course recently: they matter to me because the process took me down an avenue I had never explored; the process totally captivated me; I expressed myself as I never have before; it makes a difference to me because I can feel myself developing as a photographer; if nobody else cares about my work, it really does not matter – if they do – wonderful! Yes, I am adding to the trillions of images uploaded to social websites but I am doing it to prove a point that what others feel about your work does not matter if that work matters to you.