Would a camera have recorded this scene differently? If so, what is the difference?
David Hockney has been exploring the relationship between painting and photography…
I’ve finally figured out what’s wrong with photography. It’s a one-eyed man looking through a little ‘ole. Now, how much reality can there be in that? – David Hockney
There is nothing wrong with photography, if you don’t mind the perspective of a paralysed Cyclops. – David Hockney
One of the things I’m doing in Yorkshire is finding out how difficult it is to learn not to see like cameras, which has had such an effect on us. The camera sees everything at once. We don’t. There’s a hierarchy. Why do I pick out that thing as opposed to that thing or that thing? – David Hockney
Without images how would I know what you see? I don’t know what you see. I’ll never know, but these flat images are the only things that connect up between us. – David Hockney
I made a photograph of a garden in Kyoto, the Zen garden, which is a rectangle. But a photograph taken from any one point will not show, well it shows a rectangle, but not with ninety degree angles.
But slowly I began to use cameras and then think about what it was that was going on. It took me a long time, I mean I actually played with cameras and photography for about 20 years.
But the moment you use an ordinary camera, you are not seeing the picture, remember, meaning, you had to remember what you’ve taken. Now you could see it of course, with a digital thing, but remember in 1982 you couldn’t.
Perhaps ‘seeing’ is important for all artists whether using painting or photography as a medium of recording and expressing…
When is the present? When did the past end and the present occur, and when does the future start? Ordinary photography has one way of seeing only, which is fixed, as if there is kind of an objective reality, which simply cannot be. Picasso…knew that every time you look there’s something different. There is so much there but we´re not seeing it, that’s the problem. –David Hockney
Television is becoming a collage – there are so many channels that you move through them making a collage yourself. In that sense, everyone sees something a bit different.
Now that is something worth thinking about – everyone sees something different….
You had to be aware that I saw that photography was a mere episode in the history of the optical projection and when the chemicals ended, meaning the picture was fixed by chemicals, we were in a new era.
It adds fuel to his belief that painting can do things photography can’t, even when it comes to telling the truth about war. Everyone used to assume photographs of war were “true” in a way photography can’t be. But Hockney argues that the digital age has made such a conception of photography obsolete. You can change any image now in any way you want. He once saw what a famous LA photographer’s portrait of Elton John looked like before it was retouched. The difference, he says, was “hilarious”. And now everyone can do this.
“My sister, who is just a bit older than me, she’s a retired district nurse, she’s just gone mad with the digital camera and computer – move anything about; she doesn’t worry about whether it’s authentic or stuff like that – she’s just making pictures.”
Although Hockney may disparage the simplicity of taking photos he should admit that since Niepce in early 182o’s brought photography into reality that photography has influenced painting and equally painting influenced the range of possibilities within photographic art.
Niepce 1826 -view from his window (8 hour exposure)
jfkturner in his blog ‘The Delights of Seeing‘ (Photorealism and the Relationship Between Photography and Painting) explores the close but turbulent rapport between photography and painting.
The invention of a device that could allow anybody to record the world in perfect detail would revolutionize how we see ourselves, how we communicate and how we make art. Without Photography Modern art, film and the Internet would not exist – or at least not as we know them.
In my opinion the announcement of a device that could capture the world in perfect detail forced painters to question the nature of painting, ask what an image was and what the nature of art is. As a result paintings changed – creating images that could not be created by a camera. Eventually artists questioned the act of painting and many moved towards other ways of working – for example performance and conceptual art.
and then a last quote from Hockney himself:
He argued that for the past 500 years, artists in the West have used optics and lenses in their work, thereby presenting the world in photographic terms. The invention of photography as we know it, says Hockney, was only the invention of chemicals; the optical lens has been around for hundreds of years. The “invention of photography,” he tells me, “was the invention of the fixative to fix an image.”
Hockney seems to have an antipathy to this “chemical” photography, which he claims has assumed visual control, which equals power. “If you think of it, until the 19th century, one of the main purveyors of images was the church,” he says. “They decided that Christianity needed images, so they provided images, and in doing so the church had social control for a long time. But in the 19th century, they began to lose that control.”
“With the invention of photography, the power for social control simply moved with the image makers to what we call the media. Social control in the 20th century came through the media. That’s now disintegrating, and in a way the power of the media is therefore being diminished, and it’s spreading to anyone who wants it.”
“We’ve gotten to the point where we think the camera can capture anything at all,” “Well, it can’t really. The camera can’t compete with painting at all. The paintings are much more vivid about the place than photographs are.”
What do you think? Has photography influenced painting?
David Hockney is a great painter,but he has also known fame through photography, although he does not mince his words when he says ‘Photography will never equal painting!’
Perhaps this is the wrong argument as they are different media and needn’t be compared.
However he does make judgemental comments about photography such as ‘Photography is only good for mechanical reproduction’. ‘Photography can’t show time’ and more… I’ve seen professional photographers shoot hundreds of pictures but they are all basically the same. They are hoping that in one fraction of a second something will make that face look as if there were a longer moment…If you take a hundred, surely one will be good. It could be anybody doing it…There are few good photographs, and those good ones that do exist are almost accidental.Photography has failed…How many truly memorable pictures are there? Considering the milllions of photographs taken, there are few memorable images in this medium, which should tell us something.Photography can’t lead us to a new way of seeing. It may have other possibilities but only painting can extend the way of seeing.
Perhaps Hockney has not succeeded with one image but his photo collages and photo montages – ‘Joiners’ = certainly caught the eye of the public in the 1980’s.
Mother – Hockney
Hockney’s creation of the “joiners” occurred accidentally. He noticed in the late sixties that photographers were using cameras with wide-angle lenses to take pictures. He did not like such photographs because they always came out somewhat distorted. He was working on a painting of a living room and terrace in Los Angeles. He took Polaroid shots of the living room and glued them together, not intending for them to be a composition on their own. Upon looking at the final composition, he realized it created a narrative, as if the viewer was moving through the room. He began to work more and more with photography after this discovery and even stopped painting for a period of time to exclusively pursue this new style of photography. (ref Guardian) From 1982 Hockney explored the use of the camera, making composite images of Polaroid photographs arranged in a rectangular grid. Later he used regular 35-millimetre prints to create photo collages, compiling a ‘complete’ picture from a series of individually photographed details.
The main obstacle Hockney thinks he has overcome is the limited perspective of a stationary camera. A single photograph can only show one point of view, usually for a small period of time. “All photographs share the same flaw,” he says. “Lack of time.” He then goes on to trace photography’s misguided view back hundreds of years to the Renaissance and invention of the Camera Obscura.
don and christopher
Cubism helped to topple the single perspective in the hand-arts, but with photography it still exists. The idea behind Hockney’s grids was to inject multiple reference points into photography, in short to make it cubist.
noya and bill brandt
With a new exhibition of Hockney’s work in the Royal Academy -A Bigger Picture which focuses more on his painting, for obvious reasons it is worth looking at his ‘inferior’ artwork of photography:
And the very well known ‘Pearl Bllossom Highway”
pearl blossom highway
and for more on this one..
A portrait of Hockney’s early art dealer friends John Kasmin..
Merced river 1982
Telephone pole 1982
and for a change, one in black and white…
Pre historic museum 1982
robert lippman floating in my pool 1982
More exploration of composition..
Photographing Annie Leibovitz While She Is Photographing Me
walking in the zen garden
still life – blue guitar
and a portrait of friend, artist and art dealer Nick Wilder
“master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation”
Robert Allen Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan hits 70 on May 24th 2011. He has been recording for at least five decades , yet his music represents nearly a century of North American music as he brought his influences from blues and traditional music, along with his family background from Ukraine and Turkey. Even Welsh poetry had its influence as Bob’s name reminds us (i.e. Dylan Thomas).
Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler, and an apparently reluctant figurehead, of social unrest. Though he is well-known for revolutionizing perceptions of the limits of popular music in 1965 with the six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone,”a number of his earlier songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’” became anthems for theUS civil rights and anti-war movements.
His early lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social and philosophical, as well as literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed hugely to the then burgeoningcounterculture. Initially inspired by the songs of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, and the performance styles of Buddy Holly and Little Richard,Dylan has both amplified and personalized musical genres, exploring numerous distinct traditions in American song—from folk,blues and country to gospel, rock and roll, and rockabilly, to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and swing.
In Mike Marqusee’s words: “Between late 1964 and the summer of 1966, Dylan created a body of work that remains unique. Drawing on folk, blues, country, R&B, rock’n’roll, gospel, British beat, symbolist, modernist and Beat poetry, surrealism and Dada, advertising jargon and social commentary, Fellini and Mad magazine, he forged a coherent and original artistic voice and vision. The beauty of these albums retains the power to shock and console.”
Even though many find his singing ‘unconventional’ he is unique and I am sure it does not bother him what people think of his singing -just like when he went electric at Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1966 . Here is the commentary by Andy Kershaw on the incident when Dylan was called ‘Judas’ just for relinquishing his acoustic guitar for one with pick ups.
In the autumn of 1978, I arrived at Leeds University, already over-qualified in Dylanology. Another Bobsessive, I soon discovered, was living close by in our Headingley student ghetto, and he supplemented his grant by dealing Dylan bootlegs. One night he sold me a copy of an album that, according to the crudely stamped label, was a recording of Bob Dylan and The Hawks (later The Band) at the Royal Albert Hall on their notorious UK tour in May 1966. It was on these dates that Bob first appeared in Britain with an electric band. (His tour the previous spring, immortalised in the film Don’t Look Back, was still solo Dylan, in protest mode, with just an acoustic guitar.)
Bob by Feinstein
The 1966 bootleg was not only of first-rate sound quality; it was also the most dramatic, confrontational concert I’d ever heard – and I was a regular at Clash gigs at the time. It remains, for me, the most exciting live album of all. Dylan, on that tour, split his audiences straight down the middle. Many were thrilled by his new psychedelic songs and the massive onslaught of The Hawks roaring through the biggest PA system that had, at that point, been assembled in the UK. It had flown in with the band from Los Angeles.
But many others in those staid, municipal concert halls were outraged and betrayed by their darling acoustic minstrel plugging into the mains. (It was, though no one realised it at the time, the birth of rock music as opposed to pop music). No matter that Dylan had released five electric singles – notably, “Like a Rolling Stone” – and one electric album in the previous 12 months: British audiences were still getting up to speed on his earlier records and they wanted back the Woody Guthrie protégé they’d seen in 1965.
This tension between artist and audience snapped in an almighty confrontation on the bootleg. Slow hand-clapping and jeering throughout Dylan’s electric half of the show – which was later properly identified as his concert at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall on 17 May 1966 and finally given official release by Columbia Records in 1998 – climaxes with one betrayed folkie letting fly with a long yell of “Judas!” It became the most famous heckle in rock’n’roll history.
Dylan is rattled, and for an awkward second the audience is stunned – until a yelp of solidarity with the heckler goes up. It is still a genuinely shocking moment. (Concert-goers in those days were routinely reverential. They still stood for the national anthem at the end). Dylan eventually composes himself and leers: “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!” And then, off mic: “You fucking liar!” (some claim he said: “Play fucking loud!”) before he and the band kick into the most majestic, terrifying version of “Like a Rolling Stone”, their final number – a performance of Gothic immensity surely drawn from Dylan by his anger at that single shout.
Well, if you dont like his singing or his electric guitar playing you can at least wonder at the genius of his poetry..
As early as 1965 media critics were acknowledging Dylan’s status not only as a popular music star but as a poet of substantial literary merit. Dylan has generally treated his critics with derision, stating that they do not understand what he is trying to express. Dylan has always confounded reviewers by refusing to explain the meaning of his songs, however, insisting that they stand for themselves. Because many of his songs hold up well as poetry, separated from their music, they are natural choices for study by critics specializing in contemporary language arts, who compare them to the works of Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, and Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg himself proclaimed Dylan to be among the greatest poets of the century. Dylan usually avoids discussion of his works as poems or talk of himself as anything but a performing songwriter: “Poets drown in lakes,” he told Paul Zollo in a 1991 interview. Zollo explains that Dylan “broke all the rules of songwriting without abandoning the craft and care that holds songs together.” Such well-crafted songs include “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” which are examined for their visionary symbolism and imagery. “Like a Rolling Stone” is praised for its lyrical qualities and the emotional force of the repeated refrain, “How does it feel?” and its powerful expression of alienation. “Desolation Row” which portrays a dark, apocalyptic vision of the fate of human society, is another favorite of critics. Dylan’s work fell below his own classic standard during parts of the 1980s and 1990s. Not until Time Out of Mind did critics once again overwhelmingly praise Dylan’s lyrics as startlingly fresh compositions, equal to his most critically acclaimed songs from the 1960s and 1970s. Music writer Bill Flanagan was present at a party held in 1985 to honor Dylan’s accomplishments. When television reporters asked him to explain Dylan’s significance, he explained that Dylan refused to accept any limits on rock and roll and thus showed everyone else that the form could expand to include all sorts of ideas. Flanagan relates a conversation he had with musician Pete Townshend, who also attended the party. “He joked about the futility of trying to offer a concise explanation of Dylan’s significance. ‘They asked what effect Bob Dylan had on me,’ he said. ‘That’s like asking how I was influenced by being born.’” (ref:http://www.enotes.com/poetry-criticism/dylan-bob).
Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying
Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying
Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing
As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked
An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it
Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you
You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you
A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to
Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to
For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in
While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him
While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in
But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him
Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony
While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely
My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only
Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly
Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain
You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud
You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins
How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul
And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead
As any Dylan fan knows every time you see him live, his songs morph into new creations -sometime for the best and sometimes…but their his songs and he doesn’t stand still -his idea of the ‘never ending tour and musical journey.
And remembering Woodie Guthrie
Live in 1963 -Brandeis University
1964 -I dont believe you
1975 -Abandoned love
Bob Dylan at Live Aid
Live Aid -when the ship comes in
The last waltz – forever young medley
A very croaky Bob in 2010 -Blind Willie McTell
Dylan re-invents every song every night. The results range from transcendent to downright intolerable, sometimes within the same song, but they are never predictable.
and the artist as painter…..
Following Bob’s motorcycle accident in 1966 (some say he was in rehab -no serious motorbike crash just a psychological crash)
he was ‘taught’ to draw and ever since he was been working on his other arts -here are some examples of his paintings: