If you have more than one pair of shirts or trousers you can choose: which to put on today?
Sometimes I feel like that with eyes. With which pair eyes should I view this or that picture, or even you?
A propos photography it is easy enough to say: only show your very best pictures. A good advice, but if I don´t know which are the very best, and if they are good from different viewpoints, then the advice doesn´t help much. Then things get confusing — or let´s say thought-provoking. Or, since provocation is not really intended, thought- and reflection-engendering.
I just showed a photo of mine to two friends. One of them has been active in photography since a long time, even wanted to make photography his career. The other friend is a layman when it comes to photography but a master when it comes to things spiritual (those are my words, he would never say such a thing).
The first friend´s verdict: marvelously odd, and therefore good!
The second almost screamed at me: What are you trying to prove here? You are just being pushy and self-assertive. If I saw this photo in a gallery I would think “I never want to see anything more from this guy”.
From the second friend I gather these grains of wisdom: don´t try to be clever or try to force people to see more in a picture than there is. Don´t try, let! Invite people to / into the picture, but don´t force it down their throats. Let it have a life of its own, stand on its legs, without your ego intruding as some kind of party crasher.
Which reminds me of something I myself wrote as criticism against a writer who, as I then put it, subscribed to the sado-masochistic credo vis a vis the audience. Namely: You are an insensitive bunch, therefore I must be violent and scream at you, use obscene words, etc. Less will not wake you from your coma.
Now I find a similar critique directed at me. I would rewrite it a bit, though. It´s not so much a question of being violent but, possibly, too “smart”. Too brainy and calculating. Then again, being brainy and calculating possibly IS a form of violence (intellectual violence).
I am not the only artist that succumbs to calculation, but that is of course no excuse for doing it.
“Smart” photographs, trying to make the viewer think and figure out things, I don´t really know what I think of them. But I DO know that I don´t like the kind of art that is a bit like an invitation to a MENSA club: “If you figure this one out you are very clever and can pat yourself on the back.”
Maybe mescaline is the answer. I am reminded of the reactions to different paintings and musical pieces that Aldous Huxley gave under the influence of mescaline (in “The Doors of perception”).
I am now talking of different ears, not eyes. This is what Huxley said about Alban Bergs Lyric Suite: “Learned Katzenmusik. Who cares what his feelings are? Why can’t he pay attention to something else?”
I suppose there are Katzenphotos as well.