Mental Models – Source Images / Photographs / Flickr and an Atlas

:UPDATE:

Interesting thoughts about photography over here at prison photography, et al… (particularly that the image must now in these times of visual record overload be accompanied with an appropriate caption…)  Perhaps, if the idea of sharing the image is to convey a particular circumstance in a particular situation…  but I wonder, has it been any other way?  Caption as filter that is ?

Original post: Aug 8th, 2007:  After seeing all the responses to Alec Soth’s recent post questioning “where are the great pictures on Flickr?”... I found myself serendipitously picking up my copy of Gehard Richter’s “Atlas” and leafing through the various images that are collected and reproduced in a chronological fashion as his Atlas. It’s interesting and probably just a coincidental circumstance to consider. But I’ve been thinking about the “mental model” lately and what influence that has on the kinds of images one might try to make.

I’m not saying that Flickr is – or even equates to – what Richter’s Atlas is to his paintings… The difference is all about a careful and conscious awareness of intentionality on behalf of the collector / artist… It’s just that there is something profound that I can’t quite fully articulate just yet that has some similarity. Maybe it just a human condition trying to make some sense of the world. Flickr is a wonderful example of both conscientious and unconscious image making.

I think for me, it has to do with the collecting of the images of our lives around us. Whether we make them ourselves through our cameras or find them through some other means of appropriation, these images are important enough to make and then collect. In the collection, they become representative projections of our lives, interests and the times happening all around us in which we attempt to arrange, present and tag for sorting and recollection – to what purpose (understanding?) I’m not entirely sure – but it’s clear the urge to collect and present is passionately pursued. Why else would something like Flickr be so passionately embraced?

Richter’s Atlas (previous post of mine here) is presented as a collection of Photographs, Collages and Sketches from 1962 – 2006 – which I read about in the forward to the images as a collection of “image models” or “sketches” for the body of works that sometimes result in final artistic works. The Atlas is presented as a sort of narrative story of intentionally collected series of images – which we are to consider as a “foil” against the final works. It is about an artist and his collection of models of inspiration.

As a place holder for something deserving of more thought personally…about an artistic creative process… I think it best to simply make note and to quote an entry in the beginning pages which is actually I believe a statement from the artist writings and footnoted as such in the Atlas forward coming from “Notes, 1964”, in : Gerhard Richter, Text-Shriften und Interviews, ed. by Hans-Ulrich Obrist – 1993 p 17.

“I see countless landscapes, photograph scarcely one in 100,000, painting hardly
one in 100 photographed landscapes – I am therefore looking for something quite
specific; from this I can conclude that I know what I want” – from Richter’s
diary dated 12 October 1986.”

Advertisements

783 sheets (and counting) – Richter’s Atlas

I’ve finally had a chance to look through some of Richter’s Atlas (published by d.a.p.)- and with so much imagery – so many photos, sketches, models, I am amazed at the sheer volume – 783 sheets so far. It is a wonderful book – a glimpse into the images about / around / behind /before / after the painted works…

One of my favorites is at the Des Moines Art Center…

But, I wonder what is the atlas really collecting and what’s the purpose of publishing it as a body of work ? Memories and reasons for paintings?

Some of the photographs are so well composed, I have to wonder if the desired image was already formed in the mind and the photograph is a way of testing it out – before it is transformed into a painting.

I find it interesting where the impulse to finally paint an image comes from – the creative tipping point. Photographs are like rough drafts. A collection of image models. Or, as the introduction suggests, a way of filtering all the possible images to locate the “right image”.

Of interest are the photographic experiments – double exposures and self portraits – sometimes labeled “for prints”.

I don’t know that there are any Richter photographs that are themselves catalogued as finished work. It would be interesting if there were – would they look like Richter’s paintings or be something else?

Where a painting is a “one of a kind” object – existing as its own image – Photography is always of something – and can never seem to escape that … Both involve the hand of the artist – decisions, exclusions, technique, product are all employed to produce – to create “the image”.

“One only makes a photo to make a photo, and if you’re lucky, you will discover it later for a painting. – Gerhard Richter”

Richter’s Atlas and other things pictured…


(cover image)
Gerhard Richter: Atlas (Hardcover)
by Helmut Friedel (Editor), Gerhard Richter (Author)

Browsed through a copy today over at Powell’s – Looking forward to receiving my copy and giving it a more than leisurely browse. Richter’s Atlas is a glimpse into his process of collection, selection and cataloguing of images (The atlas is a lot of found amateur and personal photography, news clipping images, musings…) that may or maynot be transformed, incorporated and/or appropriated (ultimately) into Richter’s painting or printing process. I’m interested to see the photographs that are put into the service of painting – his way of looking.


Diana1967
200 cm X 190 cm
Oil on canvas
Catalogue Raisonné: 155

It’s got me thinking about when a photograph becomes a “sketch tool” recording a thought – providing a distance – a chance to evaluate light / composition. Rather than when it might become an independent art piece – an end in itself…


Pamela Anderson: Hollywood Nights
Image: David LaChapelle – from Artists and Prostitutes

And available by way of Powells …to get on with the cycle of images …your copy of David LaChapelle: Artists and Prostitutes, awaits…. a recent interesting post on Alec Soth’s blog…. it must be springtime… It does feel rather carnal – and that’s something anyone can relate too after a long cold winter. I am rather put off by the cartoons of photographs – I guess I don’t so much the in your face work of LaChapelle, in so far as it is eye candy… and tastes good only briefly. I wonder what the shelf life will be? Time will tell I speculate.