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Thesis Paper queston
Old 03-29-2004, 11:05 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Well, here it is, Senoir year in the BFA program. Been so busy with papers, interviews for MFA programs and wedding planning I havent touched the camera in months. Here's a question that is geared to those that view and critique art, photos in paticular; Should the gender of the photographer come into consideration when critiquing work? For example, 2 shooters place their work up on a museum wall. Both have a female nude as the subject in the same style. Does one have a different meaning then the other if one was shot by a female and the other by a male? Would it be better if the photographers weren't identified?

Tiana posted a great image recently involving a woman in a kitchen with a knife. Very powerful image loaded with meaning. Would it's meaning or impact change if, say, Rolando had shot it instead?

This is the basis of my thesis paper for my capstone course. I have a half dozen books next to me, including Sontag's "On Photography", but I wanted to get real life opinions from those in the field today and not just theorists from 10-25 years ago. Thank you for your time.



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Re: Thesis Paper queston
Old 03-29-2004, 11:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If the reviewer is a "political correct" person, then it will make a big difference in my view. One would need to run some blind tests to confirm this theory. You might want to set up such a test for your thesis.
Cheers,
rfs
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The image needs to ...
Old 03-29-2004, 11:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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There's no question that we all bring our own individual concepts, ways of 'seeing' and ways of thinking to a photo session, but the image needs to stand on its own. Whether the photographer is male or female, heterosexual or gay, the image is what counts. Perhapos knowing the sex of the photographer might give a reviewer a handle to use in his or her criticism and/or 'explanation' of the image, or maybe just a chance for the critic to pretend he/she knows what they are talking about, but in reality it has no meaning. Only the image counts.

Given the same model, the same gear and the same set up, whether male or female, no two of us would come up with the same shot. Sometimes a critic or a gallery owner can boost interest or sales by 'selling' the artist's background along with the art.


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Funny you should ask...
Old 03-29-2004, 12:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One of the designers here at work is a fairly accomplished artist, and her husband is a quasi-famous artist. (He has his own gallery in Italy.)

I was tormenting her the other day and got her to admit that if I took some paint and spattered it on a canvas, that *without context* she wouldn't be able to tell mine from a Jackson Pollack, or a computer-generated line/grid/box image from a Mondrian. So to save herself, she had to admit that you had to take the origin of a work into account. Then I asked her if it was therefore impossible for a "real" artist to produce a work which could objectively be labeled as inferior. At that point she threw something at me and ran away.

My opinion: an artwork stands on its own. If it needs explaining, it is an inferior artwork to one which does not. That being said, some forms of art *need* context to understand. (Novels, for instance - a good story is a good story, but to really *understand* ****ens, you need to understand Victorian England.)

Similarly, the point of view of the photographer is expressed in the *creation* of the photograph, not its actual appearance. A spread-shot is a spread-shot, whether it was taken for "Hustler" or to shock and provoke with images of rampant female lesbian sexuality. A beautiful glamour-shot is a beautiful glamour-shot, whether it was taken by Edward Weston, by Rolando Gomez, or by me (although that last is an uncertain source.)

M
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Re: Thesis Paper queston
Old 03-29-2004, 02:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No two photographers will bring the same perspective to an image. Will gender have a more predictable influence? Good question. I would suggest a blind test. The number can be a moving target, but let's say 10 photographs by different male photographers and 10 photographs by different female photographers. Then ask 100 people, and may I suggest 50 male and 50 female reviewers, to make a guess as to the gender of the photographer of each photograph, or some other parameter you choose.

Then do a statistical analysis of the scatter pattern of the results. I think from the empirical data you will have your answer.

Tom
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Re: Thesis Paper queston
Old 03-30-2004, 06:41 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thats a great idea, holding a blind testing. I'm going to pass that by the teacher today. The only catch might be the rough draft deadline coming up next week. I'll let you know what we decide.

Mark


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Re: Thesis Paper queston
Old 03-30-2004, 10:01 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I read a book once called "How to critique photographs." It had some discussion of the role of the photographer's identity in the critique of his/her work. Sorry, I can't remember the author's name, but he was a photography professor from Ohio if I remember correctly. Despite the maddeningly original title [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] it was a very enlightening book (for me, anyway; might not be as eye-opening for those who've been fortunate enough to study art formally). I don't think any photographer would be wasting time to read it. Good luck. - Tim
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Re: Thesis Paper queston
Old 04-01-2004, 02:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The book was by Terry Bennett and I have it as part of my collection. He kind of waffles in this area. In his opinion the photographer should be unknown in a critique of that work but background knowledge improves the richness of the experience when viewing it in a gallery. In another area of the book he states that, even if the photographer is standing next to you while reviewing the work, you should not give their opinion of the work any more weight then your own.

For the most part the book is rock solid and would make my must-read list for anyone interested in photo theory.
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