Marching Under The Banner Of Freedom

Copyright 2005 Jens Haas -

None of the art/photo blogs ever seem to ask the most obvious question: Is there a downside to everybody looking at everybody’s work constantly? Technically, one nice effect for reasonably talented beginners is that you can get to a decent skill level faster by looking at a lot of work; and the web makes this easier than ever. But what happens then? Now, I know that even the most revolutionary new styles often were not conceived by some brooding, tortured genius in a basement; copying ideas and styles has always been a factor (Warhol-Lichtenstein comes to mind, among many others). But the question was: What if *everybody* looks at *everybody’s* work, and be it only for a second or two, *all the time*?

When I look at the photo blogs that – artistic pretense, grandiose platitudes, and predictable insertions of political positioning aside – basically just copy and post the photography that is out there, I cannot help but think that there is something infantilizing about the state of ‘instant everything.’ And I can think of only few escapes from the equalizing pull of the web. After all, there are still those who think that most art on display sucks anyway, and are not influenced by it, even if they keep looking at it as part of their daily visual diet. And yet, I wonder: Did you ever think of not visiting photo blogs for a year or two, just as a little experiment of what will happen? What would you miss? And would you gain something, perhaps even the most precious thing of all: independence?

2 Replies to “Marching Under The Banner Of Freedom”

  1. It is tough one. There is a LOT of noise out in the photoblogosphere. I tend to only spend the time writing and recommending on my blog if it is something I really value.

    I fully expect that within any practice the good stuff is going to be given credence and respect; the blogs which offer novel points of view and avoid infantilising will be recognised as such pretty swiftly.

    On the other hand, if people just want to digest the regurgitated then they’ve got plenty of options, right?

    I think a break from blogging/internet/TV/feeds is going to do anyone a lot of good. I also think if you aren’t considering that break on a daily basis then you’ve lost guile, independence and autonomy – that might sound extreme but I think we’ve already underestimated the dumbing down of intellect and imagination due to our lives mediated by the screen.

    Time will tell.

  2. I agree. I zoom through my RSS feeds, often only glancing at photos. While I sometimes kick myself for doing this, I remind myself that I spend college classes examining particular artworks/artists/movements for greater periods of time.

    I think this combination of fast, immediate, widespread consuming of visual content (online/RSS) and more detailed consuming of content (college classes) is interesting.

    And I think it’s a little ironic that if it wasn’t for my many RSS subscriptions to photo blogs and the like, I never would have seen your post, thought about your post, and commented on it. Because of my subscriptions to blogs and because of your post, I’ll now be more aware of this line of thinking.

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