Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Greg Feb. 27: New Topographics and photography today

For Greg’s class on Feb. 27, we’ll be discussing New Topographics and photography today. Read the following essays:
= Introduction to “New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape” by William Jenkins, 1975.
= “LACMA traces photography’s New Topographics movement” by Leah Ollman, 2009
= “RISD’s ‘America in View: Landscape Photography 1865 to Now’” by Greg Cook, 2012.
= “Alec Soth speaks at MassArt,” 2009.

Look up photos by the New Topographics group and Alec Soth. Consider the following quotes from the readings:
= Lewis Baltz: “The ideal photographic document would appear to be without author or art.”
= Robert Adams: “Pictures should look like they were easily taken. Otherwise beauty in the world is made to seem elusive and rare, which it is not.”
= John Schott: “This work basically said there’s a new world to be seen, and it deserves to be looked at, whether you see it as despoiling the landscape or simply as a fact.”
= Alec Soth: “Facebook: 15 billion uploaded photos. At its busiest, 550,000 images each second being uploaded. So I’ve been struggling with that. How do I function as a photographer in that environment? … How do we deal with the fact that [photography is] such an easy medium? And vernacular photography is often as good as the photography we try to do."

Did New Topographics photography achieve its goals? What is its continuing influence in the conceptual approach, the deadpan look, and the cameras used by photographers like Alec Soth today?

Remember: Evening crits run from Feb. 25 to March 6.

Pictured at top: Nicholas Nixon "Southeast View of the Fenway Area, Boston," 1975.

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