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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Critique Corner 
Thread started 20 Mar 2014 (Thursday) 01:38
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Criticism for images in student exhibition.

 
Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 20, 2014 01:38 |  #1

So, the student art exhibition is coming up next week. I've got two images that my teacher wants to include (though that may get reduced to one due to space concerns). The problem is, once the stuff is hanging on the wall I'm probably gonna have to be prepared to talk about it, and I don't quite know what to say about it. I'm sort of hoping that posting the images here will result in questions and comments that the viewing public is likely to say, and hopefully I can use that as a practice run for any future discussions about the work. Anyway, here are the images...

IMAGE: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2704/13184682043_49a360f9a0_b.jpg

IMAGE: https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2187/13184838894_93e6235bfa_b.jpg

Now, one or both of these images are going to be presented pretty much like this (not digitally, but the prints look pretty much the same), so I'm not particularly interested in suggestions for improvements. That ship has sailed, there's no time for changes. I'm mostly interested in hearing any questions that are likely to arise, and seeing what others think of the images. But on the other hand, don't hold back. If the first thing that comes to mind is "this would be better if you had done...", then that's important information. If someone asks that here, then there's a good chance that someone will ask that in person, so it'd be a good idea for me to know that that's what people are thinking in order for me to prepare a response.



  
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Martin ­ Dixon
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Mar 20, 2014 04:53 |  #2

"What is the meaning / message you are trying to convey?"

"Why did you choose these subjects / objects to achieve this?


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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 20, 2014 05:24 |  #3

Martin Dixon wrote in post #16772157 (external link)
"What is the meaning / message you are trying to convey?"

"Why did you choose these subjects / objects to achieve this?


"I was trying to convey a relationship between pain and intimacy. A look into forced relationships, and the paradoxical nature of existence. Taking the first image, for example, the elephantine form consists of a collective, yet it still looks limp and sad and is delicately reaching out with a single tentacle to touch the seed pod. So we have a relationship between the soul-crushing nature of the collective and the death that it brings, with the desire to reach out and touch nature and fertility and all that crap. Second image has a similar thing going on. Pain and suffering are pervasive, with objects being strung up and impaled and offered up for consumption. Within that, there is still present a need for contact, to reach out to one another."

"Why choose these objects?Aquatic life forms were chosen because their presence in a non-aquatic environment immediately conveys a sense of hostility. The mere presence of those organisms in those environments necessarily implies death and doom. It's just an inevitability when taking biology into account. This is part of the reason for the dead leaves and the seed pods. There were other aquatic forms that could have been used, but octopi in specific were chosen because they actually have 'arms' and are capable of reaching out and making symbolic connections in a way that is visually accessible."


Or...I suspect I'd say something like that. In reality, i don't freaking know. I wasn't TRYING to convey anything in particular. I just made some scenes based on the very vague prerequisite that I was shooting octopi today. It was mostly just intuitive. I slapped together a bunch of things until te scene "felt" right and got me to feel something, then I went back and edited out the ones I didn't like. That's the problem here. I didn't set out TRYING to say anything, I merely shot how I FELT and then chose the images that I retroactively thought had some emotional impact. I don't know what these images MEAN any more than the next guy, so I'm hoping to see some interpretations of what the average dude gets from it.




  
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Martin ­ Dixon
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Mar 20, 2014 06:48 |  #4

Looks like you won't have trouble thinking of something to say!

When I first looked I thought it looked very symbolic, of what?, but then I never got much beyond that.

Unusual certainly, interesting - not so sure. Looks like you put in a lot of effort and the image does look good and "arty".


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Mar 20, 2014 09:29 |  #5

Clean Gene wrote in post #16772184 (external link)
"I was trying to convey a relationship between pain and intimacy. A look into forced relationships, and the paradoxical nature of existence. Taking the first image, for example, the elephantine form consists of a collective, yet it still looks limp and sad and is delicately reaching out with a single tentacle to touch the seed pod. So we have a relationship between the soul-crushing nature of the collective and the death that it brings, with the desire to reach out and touch nature and fertility and all that crap. Second image has a similar thing going on. Pain and suffering are pervasive, with objects being strung up and impaled and offered up for consumption. Within that, there is still present a need for contact, to reach out to one another."

"Why choose these objects?Aquatic life forms were chosen because their presence in a non-aquatic environment immediately conveys a sense of hostility. The mere presence of those organisms in those environments necessarily implies death and doom. It's just an inevitability when taking biology into account. This is part of the reason for the dead leaves and the seed pods. There were other aquatic forms that could have been used, but octopi in specific were chosen because they actually have 'arms' and are capable of reaching out and making symbolic connections in a way that is visually accessible."


Or...I suspect I'd say something like that. In reality, i don't freaking know. I wasn't TRYING to convey anything in particular. I just made some scenes based on the very vague prerequisite that I was shooting octopi today. It was mostly just intuitive. I slapped together a bunch of things until te scene "felt" right and got me to feel something, then I went back and edited out the ones I didn't like. That's the problem here. I didn't set out TRYING to say anything, I merely shot how I FELT and then chose the images that I retroactively thought had some emotional impact. I don't know what these images MEAN any more than the next guy, so I'm hoping to see some interpretations of what the average dude gets from it.

Wow! Interesting lighting, whatever they mean.

I can't get past the way the brown seed pod in #1 looks like a laughing dolphin? ; )


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rivas8409
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Mar 20, 2014 15:01 |  #6

My initial thought was "There's an octopus on a plate and it doesn't look very apetizing...kind of gross actually." Personally I'm still still scratching my head trying to figure out....why. Call me crazy but I'm still wondering how the elements even work together. I just don't get it.

Reading through your responses I felt like you filled it full of "fluff" trying to sound artistic. It read too "textbook". I think the most sincere response was this....

Clean Gene wrote in post #16772184 (external link)
...In reality, i don't freaking know. I wasn't TRYING to convey anything in particular. I just made some scenes based on the very vague prerequisite that I was shooting octopi today. It was mostly just intuitive. I slapped together a bunch of things until te scene "felt" right and got me to feel something...

Then you can expand on what you felt.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 20, 2014 15:25 |  #7

rivas8409 wrote in post #16773315 (external link)
My initial thought was "There's an octopus on a plate and it doesn't look very apetizing...kind of gross actually." Personally I'm still still scratching my head trying to figure out....why. Call me crazy but I'm still wondering how the elements even work together. I just don't get it.

Reading through your responses I felt like you filled it full of "fluff" trying to sound artistic. It read too "textbook". I think the most sincere response was this....

Then you can expand on what you felt.

I don't really like that approach. I think that's making it about me. And it's not about me, it's about the work. It's not about intent, it's about what the image actually says. So I'm sort of trying to figure out what the images actually say (and the answer isn't "nothing", every image says something or has some meaning).




  
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Spike44
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Mar 20, 2014 22:06 |  #8

As far as the photos go, you do have a good set of objects but I don't think they are placed in a good composition or arrangement. The image is also poorly lit.
I agree 100% with rivas8409's comment - you are trying way too hard to be artsy..in both your comments.




  
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picturepages
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Mar 20, 2014 23:28 |  #9

If nothing else..it will make people stop and look and wonder..."WTH?"
That's what I would be doing If I came along this image in an art show...stop and stare for a bit...trying to figure it out.

It makes me ask that now....WTH?

I'm sorry..I just don't get it...but that's art for ya..sometimes ..ya just don't get it.


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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 20, 2014 23:32 |  #10

Spike44 wrote in post #16774125 (external link)
As far as the photos go, you do have a good set of objects but I don't think they are placed in a good composition or arrangement. The image is also poorly lit.
I agree 100% with rivas8409's comment - you are trying way too hard to be artsy..in both your comments.

Fair enough, but I only made two comments, one of which was essentially just saying that the final image should be assessed based on the image rather than on intent. I'm not really seeing what's "artsy" about that.

Still, I appreciate your input.




  
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Clean ­ Gene
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Mar 22, 2014 01:18 |  #11

Qbx wrote in post #16774753 (external link)
I like your abstract experiment. I think your lighting and exposures are right on. #1 is the better of the two but perhaps a little too busy - I think it would be better without the leaves, just having that pod floating in space would be cool. And I'd crop just a bit off the bottom to eliminate the wood.
#2 is also too busy for me - maybe without the glass in the middle it might feel more balanced.
Good luck in the exhibition. Be sure to let us know how it turns out. I think your expoundation above will float well in the art-world.

I agree about #1. I actually did an alternate version where there wasn't anything behind the seed pod. And I was really split between the two. On one hand, it simplified the image, but on the other hand it may have simplified it too much. I thought I needed a background. So I added a background, but it still doesn't look quite right to me. Like you said, it looks too 'busy". In retrospect, I was already dealing with a fairly shallow depth of field, so I probably just should have moved the leaves farther back. As it stands, I think the big problem is merger. The earthy browns of the seed pod blend in really well with the oranges and reds of the leaves. They were close enough tht they were getting lit in a similar fashion, and they were both close enough together to be recognizable enough to interfere with each other and merge together. Despite the problems, I chose to go with this version, but I still probably should have moved the leaves way back. In retrospect maybe I should have gone with the other version, but that boat has sailed. The version I submitted for grade is the version with the leaves, which means that the version with the leaves is the only version eligible for entry.

I get your point about #2, but I only sort of agree there. I think #2 is kind of busy, but I don't think that removing the glass was an option. Not without significantly changing what the image is about. I mean...the octopus on the right is a little blown out and that draws the eye to that part. So that's a flaw that needs to be fixed, I probably need to burn that in for any future presentations. But otherwise, I think that the most significant part of the image is the part with the glass. There's internal framing going on there (with the tentacles). The image leads horizontally, except for the glass which provides the only prominent vertical element. So the glass is the natural point of focus due to its vertical element and the way it is framed by the tentacles. When we look at what's happening in that general area, we see a multitude of forms clumped together with a few tentacles implying an attempt at escape. That's directly contrasted with two spread-out forms grasping at the vessel of consumption while simultaneously touching each other. I think that contrast is necessary, it's directly contrasting different kinds of contact. There's a vague hint of intimacy (even in pain) present in the octopi directly surrounding the glass, while the octopi in the glass are closer together yet less compelling. The two octopi on the side, I can see as individuals. The ones in the glass are just sort of forced into place and crammed together and offered up for consumption, and that whole element just sort of feels grotesque to me. But I do agree that #2 is probably too busy. I just don;t think that I could afford to get rid of the glass without DRASTICALLY altering what the image is about. As far as I can tell (and honestly, I don't freaking know, which was why I was mining for comments in the first place), the meat of this image is in the area in and around the glass. The rest is fat. The image may be too busy, but if something has to get cut then it CAN'T be the glass.




  
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Mar 22, 2014 17:02 |  #12

I thought the mundane subject matter on the right side of the first photo took away from the almost bizarre left side.


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Mar 22, 2014 18:02 |  #13

My simple response would be to deny any knowledge of either one.....;-)a


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Criticism for images in student exhibition.
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