Cotton’s chapter of If This is Art on The Photography as Contemporary Art gave me a look at contemporary photography in a new light. I would daresay a more enlightened light. I enjoy photography as a medium; I think that it can be used to such great dramatic effect. It can easily elicit emotions and power and verve like other art forms can, but I never truly thought about its origins. I never really thought about where contemporary photography came from.
Cotton’s chapter showed me that. It taught me things that I didn’t know. I liked how she moved about different people and techniques from different times and cultures. What fascinated me was the connection with contemporary photography and performance art. How the two mediums went hand-in-hand. When I think about performance art, my first instinct is to make a comparison not with photography but with videography because of course the artists or the videographer wants to capture the performance’s movements. Not so, it seems. I hadn’t known the pursuit of finding a moment in performance art or the photo itself being a performance art as being the onus behind the start of contemporary photography.
I like this notion, however. It makes sense. Many a time photography is itself a performance of its own. Photography has its own choreography. It’s not what it once was. Photography is not something that just logs a moment. The moment’s manipulation, as well as the photo’s manipulation, is just as important to creating the desired effect and message that the photographer wanted to portray. The subject becomes just as important as the photographer, especially in their capturing that moment. There to me lies the elegance in contemporary photography. That photographers do, in fact, choreograph the intended result is just elegant to me. It shows a care that’s involved just as much as the care that one can find in a painting. Even when a photographer chooses not to be involved. S/he is still making a decision that seeks out that (or those) moment(s). I enjoyed learning from whence this grew. It makes me look at photography in a whole new light.