Photography could emerge socially as art only at the moment when its aesthetic presuppositions seemed to be undergoing a withering radical critique, a critique apparently aimed at foreclosing any further aestheticization of “artification” of the medium. Photoconceptualism led the way toward the complete acceptance of photography as art—autonomous, bourgeois, collectible art—by virtue of insisting that this medium might be privileged to the negation of that whole idea.
I see [photography] as a kind of untheorisable medium, a kind of polymorphic, multivocal and multivalent construction.
In making a landscape we must withdraw a certain distance—far enough to detach ourselves from the immediate presence of other people (figures), but not so far as to lose the ability to distinguish them as agents in a social space. Or, more accurately, it is just at the point where we begin to lose sight of the figures as agents, that the landscape crystallizes as a genre.
For a long time it was necessary to contest the classical aesthetic of photography as too absolutely rooted in the idea of fact... I accept that claim, but I don’t think that it itself can be the foundation for an aesthetic of photography, of photography as art. They way I thought I could work through that problem was to make photographs that put the factual claim in suspension, while still creating an involvement with factuality for the viewer.
I’m struck by things I’ve seen, but I don’t photograph them. If they persist in my mind, I try to recreate them.
Dragging its heavy burden of depiction, photography could not follow pure, or linguistic conceptualism all the way to the frontier.
The spontaneous is the most beautiful thing that can appear in a picture, but nothing in art appears less spontaneously than that.
Painting has to do with touch... That’s the eros specific to painting.... Photography is about the distance, the inability to touch, maybe.
One paradox I have found is that, the more you use computers in picture-making, the more “hand-made” the picture becomes. Oddly, then, digital technology is leading, in my work at least, toward a greater reliance on handmaking because the assembly and montage of the various parts of the picture is done very carefully by hand.
I don’t find my own experiences very interesting. I find my observations interesting. Maybe that’s why I’m a photographer. Maybe an observation is an experience that means more to you than other experiences.
It is astonishing to remember that important art-photographs could be purchased for under $100 not only in 1950 but in 1960.
What an artist could do with photography wasn’t bounded by the documentary impulse—but that other part was underdeveloped. Painting could be topographical realism or it could be angels—in the same medium. Why couldn’t photography do the same thing?
Most photographs cannot be looked at very often. They become exhausted. Great photographers have done it on the fly. It doesn’t happen that often. I wasn’t interested in doing that. I didn’t want to spend my time running around trying to find an event that could be made into a picture that would be good.
Art inherently involves artistry. I prepare certain things carefully because I believe that’s what’s required. Other things are completely left to chance. Anything that is prepared, constructed, or organized is done in order to allow the unpredictable “something” to appear and, in appearing, to create the real beauty of the picture, any picture.
Even while I loved photography, I often didn’t love looking at photographs, particularly when they were hung on walls. I felt they were too small for that format and looked better when seen in books or as leafed through in albums.
My practice has been to reject the role of witness or journalist, of “photographer,” which in my view objectifies the subject of the picture by masking the impulses and feelings of the picture-maker. The poetics or the “productivity” of my work has been in the stagecraft and pictorial composition—what I call the cinematography.
The essential model, for me, is still the painter, the artisan who has all the tools and materials they need right at hand, and who knows how to make the object he or she is making from start to finish. With photography this is almost possible.
Digital photography provides certain obvious technical advantages and allows you the freedom to do photography either as it has always been done or to do it in rather different ways, and to still be practicing photography.
If you are capable of making good pictures it’s immoral not to do so, for whatever reason or excuse you might give.
Every picture-constructing advantage accumulated over centuries is given up to the jittery flow of events as they unfold. The rectangle of the viewfinder and the speed of the shutter, photography’s “window of equipment,” is all that remains of the great craft-complex of composition.
I like photographs that don’t look altogether the way photographs are supposed to look. We don’t really know how photographs are “supposed to look.”