Untitled Goofing-Around Photograph (Christopher Williams)

August 12, 2010

More later on this, including examples of how “photography as the subject of photography” can be highly successful but here, now, just to note that in thinking today it seems like there’s a sort of newish third rail in photography.  First there’s photography that is only even an extension of wish fulfillment (i.e. self expression) on the part of the photographer.  It’s more of a stage than a subject field because no serious artist you ask will ever say her art’s about her soul/feelings/deepest whatever…but some still will (and they’re bullshitting you).

Then there’s photography as giant arrow.  This is the category I usually end up in: photographs that point at some idea or frission or existence of something to say hey look at this!  LOOK AT THIS.  This has its pitfalls because it’s kind of assertive to the point of aggression.  The “third rail”, then, is photography about photography.  Self-reflexion.  And when I think about what most of my peers are doing, it’s hitting this third well hard and well and almost exclusively with sometimes a smidge of romanticism thrown in.  Romantic conceptual art?  It seems to be sweeping the field, photo-wise, and is not necessarily a bad thing at all.

But anyway up there’s a joke/accident photo I took that comes about as close to photos-about-photos without me wanting to pull out the giant arrow.  So it’s sort of a joke and I sort of “mean it”, which is an interesting position, even if the photo is a one-liner and you sort of have to know Christopher Williams’ practice.


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