Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Photography is No Longer Credible

That's what Andreas Gursky believes. And having obtained in an auction for his large image of the Rhine $4.3 million, I cannot argue...

The expensive image above has been manipulated to remove any vestiges of human involvement in the landscape.  The title of this post is a direct quote from him on his view of photography as it relates to him and his work and a justification for the digital manipulation of the reality as captured by the lens of a camera. 
He says:

"I wasn't interested in an unusual, possibly picturesque view of the Rhine, but in the most contemporary possible view of it. Paradoxically, this view of the Rhine cannot be obtained in situ, a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river. The same thing happened when I visited over 70 world-famous industrial companies. Most of them had a socio-romantic air I hadn't expected. I was looking for visual proof of what I thought would be antiseptic industrial zones. If these companies had been systematically documented one would have had the feeling one was back in the days of the Industrial Revolution. After this experience I realized that photography is no longer credible, and therefore found it that much easier to legitimize digital picture processing". 

I don't know what his idea of the Industrial Revolution is, but being a primarily documentary photographer myself, I found this interesting. I'm also unsure as to what he means by a socio-romantic air. So, what he is saying is... that had he documented photographically these industries as they appeared, the result would not be credible. So he therefore feels free to invent or remove the actual to conform with his pre-concieved visualisations that have no basis in reality to conform to his idea of 'antiseptic industrial zones'.  Have I got that right? As a photographer I don't believe he is himself actually credible. Not if he is seriously trying to document a contemporary view of the landscape or industrial plant by removing the very things that make it contemporary. But then again, my pictures don't sell, his does!

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