Through A Lens Darklyby Tamara Nyholt on 05/04/2012
Photography has changed a great deal over the last 10 years – take the demise of Kodak as an example of how dramatically this landscape has altered since George Eastman refined Henry Talbot’s process of fixing capturing images with silver chloride.
In any realm of image-making we often encounter fervent discourse where there exists an intermediary process that one party believes creates an ‘inauthentic’ or overly ‘assisted’ piece. Think of the debate over whether the capture of photographs is ‘art’ that has endured for many years, even though many painters in the 15 – 17th centuries availed themselves of a camera obscura to project an image onto a surface to ‘copy’ it. Somehow no one is calling Leonardo da Vinci a hack.
Discourse concerning any creative endeavour is enormously important as it is often the surrounding debate that elevates art to become the agent provocateur that it is. It is our constant evolution through defining what is and what isn’t authentic that exposes our core beliefs and ideals and gives us room to expand and progress amidst the exploration.
While there may be an entirely separate discussion surrounding whether graphic design should be considered ‘art’ there is certainly a lively debate around certain tools in our repertoire that some consider fraudulent or at the very least cheating a bit. A number of years ago Photoshop filters were one of those tools reviled by purists and wholeheartedly employed by every 15 year old design wannabe with a dodgy version of PS. Does hitting the posterize button make you artistic?
The contemporary version of the filter debate seems to be the Instagram and Hipstamatic iPhone app discussion. Does processing your image through a pre-programmed filter to make it more appealing or make you any less authentic? New York Times photographer Damon Winter discovered himself in the middle of this debate when he put down his Canon EOS 5D in favor of the immediacy of his iPhone camera and Hipstamatic app when capturing the daily routines of an American battalion in Afghanistan. ‘Fraud!’ some folk cried while choosing to ignore the appeal of the skilled professional composition of the images.
Does true creative talent always shine through or can technology take an average image and make it good or even great? Have we decided how much interference is too much?