« on: January 31, 2012, 12:02:47 PM »
Thanks for the comments, Orang -- I always enjoy what you have to say.
In this case, I honestly don't know enough about art (outside of Literature where I do have some education and credentials) to really add anything except opinion.
One thing I'm fairly certain about is that "reality" isn't very real. From a visual art perspective, I think it really depends on where you plant the reality milepost. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I think all visual images are in the eye of the beholder. While it may be fascinating to hear what a visual art creator says about the image and how he did it and what he believes it means, the context of his life is not in my mind. My mind can only see it through the context of what I believe to be my life and education and experience.
I took a picture of a couple sitting on a bench once. He was stretched out on the bench with his head resting in her lap, a very contented smile on his face, his eyes closed and apparently his mind in a dreamy state. She is looking down at him with a loving expression, and the fingers of their hands are sweetly entwined. If you look a little more thoroughly, they are pretty rough looking people -- he looks 50, is carrying a lot of faded and bad tattoo work, could use a haircut and shave -- and the clothes aren't necessarily "business casual."
A friend of mine looked at this image and saw nothing but a beautiful couple in love. In this case I had stolen the context, as you would suggest. They had just come out of a soup kitchen and were surrounded by their possession in plastic trash bags -- and their parked vehicle was a shopping cart. All that was cropped out in the camera viewfinder. They were homeless. For me, it was an image of a homeless couple in an all-too-brief moment of respite from their tribulations. For her, it was the cover of a Harlequin romance novel.
Neither of us have any idea about the "reality" of those people or their lives, and we're not going to get it from that image.
The famous promoter P.T. Barnum is said to have believed "There's a sucker born every minute." He based his commercial life on that belief and apparently did well. I'd suggest the guy who created this image we're discussing ad infinitum here is simply a Barnum of photography. Those who would "debunk" him are no more than Don Quixotes tilting at windmills.
I bear the guy no ill will. Actually, he may be providing some good promotion for photography. I think a young person who sees his photograph could be inspired. Unlike the technically astute here, that young person will have no knowledge of what it takes to create such an image -- but they may be inspired to try. Hence, they may buy a good camera and get busy trying to emulate what he's done. As such, they'll learn a lot about photography; they may even create some images that other people find pleasing. I don't think there's a downside to that.
Why the need to "debunk" whatever story he has to tell.
He produced a good image, and he has prints for sale.
I can tell you that if I were to produce an image that good, I wouldn't tell anyone how I did it. I'd have you running all over creation chasing the tales I told about it. But I sure wouldn't give you the truth.
The guy gave us a wonderful visual image -- more than we deserve. He owes me nothing.
There's nothing else to it for me.
First, I want to say that I'm not talking about photojournalism which, I believe, we pretty much all agree should not be "faked." Nor am I talking about purely commercial photography intended purely for marketing.
There seems to be a divide between people who ask nothing more of a photo than that it be appealing, and those who find part of the appeal in its context. To me, art always includes context. For example, consider modern artists who do abstract, almost random works. Without knowing that these folks used to do perfect portraits in art school, you might think it was random crap made by just throwing paint on a canvas. The context tells you there is, or might be, a deeper meaning in the work.
Photographic context begins with the characteristic that is unique to photography among the visual arts: the fact that the "palette" comes from reality. A painter's palette is just paint waiting for the brush; a sculptor's palette is the marble from which some Michelangelo will remove all the parts which are not the statue. How much of a photograph is "real" is important because it tells me something about a photographer's intent. Consider a close-up photograph of a tiger staring straight into the camera. Does it have a different meaning if the photographer said it was "in the wild" with a 200mm lens vs. in a zoo or game park with a 600mm lens? It does to me. "How" a work was produced is important to its value as art.
While I agree that it's acceptable to manipulate images, it's not acceptable to lie about it. It's OK to remain silent as to the origin also. Lying about the origin of a photo is cheating the viewer out of the context of the photo.
In this case, it appears that the photographer may be lying outright about how he made the image. To you this does not matter; however, apparently it mattered to Mr. Lik enough that he went to the trouble of presenting a full back-story on the creation of the image. One must assume that's also meaningful to the buyers of his prints as well. If this is true, he is, metaphorically, marketing a photo of a captive tiger as though it were a wild tiger. And that ain't cool.