Contradictions of perspective. Contrasts of light. Contrasts of form. Points of view impossible to achieve in drawing and painting. Foreshortenings with a strong distortion of the objects, with a crude handling of matter. Moments altogether new, never seen before... compositions whose boldness outstrips the imagination of painters... Then the creation of those instants which do not exist, contrived by means of photomontage. The negative transmits altogether new stimuli to the sentient mind and eye.
The viewer who sees only a study in the picture of the glass jug illuminated from behind fails to appreciate the masterly composition, the noble purity of the lines, the rich plasticity of the form and consequently also the poetry and beauty of the picture, and still more important, its specifically photographic qualities.
Every photo group knows what to photograph; but how to photograph only a few know. A worker photographed as if he was Christ or an aristocrat, a working girl as if a Madonna are eloquent examples of what not to do. To state it more clearly we must find a new aesthetic (do not be afraid of the word aesthetic). Let us look for and find a forward-looking enthusiasm to present our new Socialist reality by photography.
The shot of a newly-built factory is not a simple object but a source of pride and joy in the industrialization of our country and that is what we must show – the “how” of photography. To do this we are duty bound to experiment. To photograph simple facts, just as describing them simply; that is nothing new and in that is the harm. Painting can cover up the simply portrayed fact, just as writing can cover up the simply described fact. So you, you worshippers of facts do not describe them so simply. This, comrades you quickly forget, who of the right and who is of the left.
He is not “Lef” who merely photographs facts, but he who fights against a “la Art” photographs with photography of the highest quality. And for this experimentation is necessary, even to the point of ‘Stankovisation’ of the profession. What is ‘Stankovised’ photograph ? Such a term is really non-existent, but think about it; it could be experimental photography. Do not learn theoretically, ignoring the advice of practical workers. Abstract theories for practitioners were invented by the aesthetic theoretician – they are an enormous danger.
We struggle against easel painting not because it is an aesthetic form of painting, but because it is not modern, for it does not succeed in bringing out the technical side, it is a redundant, exclusive art, and cannot be of any use to the masses. Hence we are struggling not against painting but against photography carried out as if it were an etching, a drawing, a picture in sepia or watercolor.
This new, fast, realistic representation of the world—the photograph—must, by virtue of its potential, be occupied with showing us the world from all angles, developing in us a capacity to see from all sides. When I first took up photography, giving up painting, I did not then realise the heavy hand that painting had laid on photography. You understand, then, that the most interesting points of view for contemporary photography are looking down from high up, up from low down, anything but straight 'from the navel' ? The contemporary city with its many storeyed houses, specially constructed factories and mills, windows of two or three storeys, the tramways, the motor car, ubiquitous illuminated signs, ocean liners, aeroplanes, all of this... has altered willy-nilly, albeit not by a great deal, the accustomed psychology of visual perception. It would seem that only the camera is in a position to reflect life today.