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Which clippings match 'Layers Of Meaning' keyword pg.1 of 1
31 JULY 2012

What is Vernacular Photography?

"The term covers (and promises) a lot, and a quick Google search fills in quite a bit of the territory. One enthusiast snagged the domain name, but there are plenty of others in the game.

One site notes that vernacular photography is '...one of the most affordable areas of collecting and therefore offers wonderful opportunities for the beginner to acquire beautiful examples of photographic art at very reasonable prices.' gargantuaphotos.com poses the basic question: 'Why would I buy someone else's crappy old photos?', and thefoundphoto.com is another gallery/vendor.

Boston University hosted Vernacular Reframed, 'a two–day interdisciplinary conference examining issues in vernacular photography' in November 2004, but lots of enthusiasts are in the game as well: Square America, bighappyfunhouse.com, and Junior Bonner blogs about the phenomenon. Some specialize in specific genres, like photobooth and African American Vernacular Photography. Ookpik specializes in Michigan photographs, happy palace has an eclectic (and ever–growing) mix, greywater posts 'photographs from films I processed that I found in old cameras...', and eBay has a Vernacular Photography Enthusiasts group with more than 100 members.

Serious scholarship is not far behind: Electronic Journal of Vernacular Photography may be stillborn, but Innocence regained? Or just another kind of fiction? from eye magazine suggests that there are many who take the medium seriously. One is Geoffrey Batchen who taught a course at CUNY's Graduate Center (there's a video of a lecture he gave at Brown)

Quite a few museums have had vernacular photography shows, including Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography at New York's Metropolitan Museum, and this grant proposal from the Indiana University Archives Seeing the Color of America: Digitizing the Charles Cushman Collection is evidence of archival interest in the medium.

My friend Joan Larcom reminds me of one of the authorities who has done the most in this realm, Michael Lesy, and his coinage of the term demotic photography, which I find a good supplement to 'vernacular'. A New York Times story notes that:

'In the past, Mr. Lesy has ruffled some academic feathers by arguing that what he calls 'demotic photography,' like family snapshots or picture postcards, deserves the same level of scholarly study traditionally given only to art photography... 'my whole intention is to subvert the [art photography] canon... There are possibilities that go beyond the safe definitions of what an artist is and what the camera is used for. ...Academics... deal with photographs as aesthetic, intellectual constructs, or as integers in philosophical or linguistic argument. That's not all they are. They're slippery and deeply emotionally charged. A photograph is a thing which, to use an old scholarly word, needs to be 'unpacked.' There's the manifest content, then half a dozen layered contents.'
(NYT 17 Dec 2005 sec B pg 9)"

(Hugh Blackmer, oook.info)

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TAGS

2004academic journal • accidental documents • amateur cultural productionamateur photographeramateur photographyanonymous • anonymous snapshots • archival interest • art photography • Charles Cushman Collection • City University of New York • CUNY • demotic photography • Electronic Journal of Vernacular Photography • family photos • family snapshotsfound • found films • found photographs • Geoffrey Batchen • Hugh Blackmer • Indiana University Archives • Kodak and the Rise of Amateur Photography • layered meaninglayers of meaningmanifest content • Michael Lesy • New York Metropolitan Museum • newspaper photographs • nostalgia • Ookpik • photobooth • photobooth photography • photographic art • photography enthusiasts • picture postcardspostcardreadymadesnapshotsnapshotsvernacular photography • vernacular photography enthusiasts • vernacular photography shows • Vernacular Reframed (conference)

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 JULY 2012

Fountain: an ordinary article of life without useful significance

"Fountain is one of Duchamp's most famous works and is widely seen as an icon of twentieth–century art. The original, which is now lost, consisted of a standard urinal, laid flat on its back rather than upright in its usual position, and signed 'R. Mutt 1917'. The Tate's work is a 1964 replica and is made from glazed earthenware painted to resemble the original porcelain. The signature is reproduced in black paint. Fountain is an example of what Duchamp called a 'readymade', an ordinary manufactured object designated by the artist as a work of art. It epitomises the assault on convention and good taste for which he and the Dada movement are best known.

The idea of designating such a lowly object as a work of art came from a discussion between Duchamp and his American friends the collector Walter Arensburg and the artist Joseph Stella. Following this conversation, Duchamp bought an urinal from a plumbers' merchants, and submitted it to an exhibition organised by the Society of Independent Artists. The Board of Directors, who were bound by the constitution of the Society to accept all members' submissions, took exception to the Fountain and refused to exhibit it. Duchamp and Arensburg, who were both on the Board, resigned immediately in protest. An article published at the time, which is thought to have been written by Duchamp, claimed, 'Mr Mutt's fountain is not immoral, that is absurd, no more than a bathtub is immoral. It is a fixture that you see every day in plumbers' shop windows. Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – created a new thought for that object.' ('The Richard Mutt Case', The Blind Man, New York, no.2, May 1917, p.5.)"

(Sophie Howarth, April 2000)

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TAGS

1917196420th centuryabsurdAlfred Stieglitzartart historyassault • assault on convention • assault on good taste • avant-garde • black paint • contextconventioncultural signalscultural significance of objectscurationDadaDada movement • designated by the artist • Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven • everydayexhibition • fixture • Fountain (work of art) • glazed earthenware • good taste • icon of twentieth-century art • immoral • information in context • Joseph Stella • layers of meaning • lowly object • Marcel Duchampmodern artobjet trouve • ordinary article of life • ordinary manufactured objectporcelain • R. Mutt 1917 • readymadereplica • Society of Independent Artists • Tate Modern • took exception • twentieth-century art • urinaluseful significance • Walter Arensburg • work of art

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 JULY 2009

Creative Practice as Research: 'Testing Out' the Systems Model of Creativity through Practitioner Based Enquiry.

"Michael Crotty (1998) argues that in all academic research there are layers of meaning that connect the basic assumptions with which a researcher underpins their work to the methodological techniques they use. These layers range from ontological and epistemological ones, through theoretical perspectives that spring from these ontologies, to methodologies used to investigate these theoretical perspectives, and then on to the techniques of action embedded in the research methodologies. These layers are all intimately connected, in as much as the 'justification of our choice and particular use of methodology and methods is something that reaches into the assumptions about reality that we bring to our work' (Crotty 1998, p. 2). As Ruddock argues:

'ontology and epistemology are significant in that they illustrate how research begins by outlining theoretical suppositions that are taken as given by the researcher. Ontology relates to how we understand the nature of reality...epistemology refers to a theory of knowledge. It is related to ontology in that the nature of the reality you set out to explore influences the sort of knowledge that you can have of it...methodological implications follow. Observation, measurement and interpretation depend on the understanding of the ontological and epistemological nature of the work at hand' (2001, p.27).

Following on from these ideas one could argue that if there is little distinction to be made between science as a creative process and art as a creative process, as is assumed by many of those investigating creativity (Rothenberg & Hausmann 1976, Evans & Deehan 1988, Bailin 1988, Weisberg 1993, Gardner 1993, Csikszentmihalyi 1997 & 1999, Sternberg 1988 & 1999, Boden 1994 & 2004), then the possibility exists that a similar set of ontological and methodological layers may be built up from within art practice that should resemble, in principle, those that are at the heart of traditional scientific research. "
(Philip McIntyre, 2006)

2006 P. McIntyre, for Speculation and Innovation: applying practice led research in the Creative Industries

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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