Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Necessary Subject

An interesting exchange between photographers John Gossage and Lewis Baltz, part of a joint interview by Monte Packham, which you can read in full on the American Suburb X blog:

"LB: I think this is one thing we have in common: that the subject of the work is the person looking at it. If you want to get a little more Zen about it, the subject is necessary for the completion of the work.

JG: Yes.

LB: And the intellectual or imaginative engagement of the viewer is what makes the work finally a work. And if you interpose another human in the work, then he or she becomes the subject, which I think is too simplistic.

JG: I think it’s to be used incredibly sparingly and delicately.

MP: Do you see yourselves as the first protagonists when you take photos, so that you are actually the subjects of the work?

JG: No. The work isn’t autobiographical, at least not intentionally.

LB: That’s another ‘chasing the tail’ thing. In a sense everything you do is autobiographical, even the decision to be objective is subjective and so on. But if you place us next to any kind of work that’s ‘subjective’ or ‘autobiographical’ you see immediately that we’re not about that. It’s not about our journeys through the world; it’s about a universe we’re trying to look into."

I know, I know, my pictures couldn't be less like Gossage or Baltz in either intent or execution if I tried. But I admire their work, and it's always interesting to hear intelligent voices discussing and edging jokily around the most important subjects.


Kent Wiley said...

A great interview. Thanks for the link, Mike.

Nice pic, too.

Tony_C said...

Yes MIke, I like that one, too; the juxtaposition of the natural with the artificial is thought-provoking.

Checkword: supedge