Major Series: 2011
3D Everywhere. We’re moving rapidly toward a 3D digital environment — “stereo for your eyes,” to quote Mitsubishi’s slogan. What seemed like a sidebar just a few years ago has begun to push its way toward a front and center position in the electronics industry, which clearly hopes that consumers will take the bait. Several formats and numerous manufacturers now compete with product lines of screens, glasses, even a no-glasses alternative: Mitsubishi, Vizio, Spectral, Azuna, realD, many more.
If what some in the industry call “3D everywhere” has in fact arrived for film, video, and animation, it’s surely here also for still photography, conceivably via the same technologies as just mentioned for both presentation and reception of the images. What this will mean in the long run I can’t say, but if true it’s a transformational moment for still imaging, at least as much so as the shift from analog to digital.
Prompted by new products I saw premiered for the press at several spring 2011 tech expos, I began a series of posts contemplating the possibility of “3D everywhere” as a reality.
“The Painter and the Photograph.” This began as a response to uninformed attacks on Bob Dylan for painting from photographs. That revelation, which came as the paintings got exhibited for the first time at Gagosian Gallery in New York in the fall of 2011, sparked my interest as both a photo critic and a dedicated Dylan listener since 1961.
Seemed like a context in which a photography critic grounded in Dylan’s music could prove useful, as well as a perfect starting point for a discussion of the two-way interchange between painting and photography in contemporary art. This then expanded into consideration of the legality and creative issues involved in using other works of art as the basis for one’s own.
Pepper-Spray Cop: Birth of a Meme. On November 18, 2011, Lt. John Pike of the campus police force at the University of California-Davis doused a group of seated Occupy protestors with military-grade pepper spray at point-blank range.
Still and video images of this action went online and viral within hours. Independently generated satirical photocollages accompanied them, proliferating exponentially, inserting Pike’s rotund figure into a wide and ever-growing variety of familiar images: famous paintings, classic photographs, scenes from film and TV, familiar ads, and more. Before our very eyes, a photo-based meme was born.
I covered these developments in a series of posts here at Photocritic International, since the situation depends so heavily on lens-based imagery in both its citizen journalism and citizen op-ed aspects.
Forumization and Its Malcontent. In December of 2011 I participated in a total of four photo-specific forums, all by invitation of the forum hosts. Two of them I joined because they promised extended, substantive discussion of the text of my November 2011 London lecture, “Dinosaur Bones: The End (and Ends) of Photo Criticism,” the other two out of collegial courtesy. Three of these were small-group situations, fewer than a dozen voices in each; the fourth was massive, more than 3000 registered members. I considered participation in them a sort of holiday-season fling.
Without identifying the several forums, or naming their participants, I wrote about the style and substance of what went on in those environments in a series of posts. I also invited in a guest, the photographer and writer Ken Schles, whose posting of a link to the text of my “Dinosaur Bones” lecture led to my involvement in one of the forums.