Tuesday, August 25, 2009
On Lens flares, black metal, and a greater importance.
The bottom three images are from Grant Willing's Svart Metal project, the top two are Alexander Binder (found via Fjord).
I have become totally sick of photography that deals with "mysticism and the occult" in really silly, surface ways. Photographing lens flares in the woods or prisms or black and white images of cult black metal figures doesn't make me think about, well... anything. I mean, I like Black Sabbath and all, but making work that looks like it's sole intent is to mimic the covers of black metal records or horror movies seems really hollow. For me, there needs to be something beyond surface tensions in an image or cool references to pull me into a project. With both of these projects I guess I just don't see the greater significance. Grant Willing is thinking about the mythology behind black metal and nordic landscapes. So what? What does that mean to me? There doesn't seem to be anything that is critiquing that mythology or the desire to create these myths, just a desire to join in their creation. It seems that these projects bank on the coolness of they're subjects, far more than they're creators ability to reveal anything to their audience about the subject. I mean, if the role of the artist is "revealing mystic truths" (thanks Bruce Nauman), than what is it that I am supposed to discover here?
Clearly, there are exceptions here. Adam Ekberg makes some amazing work that involves creating photographic effects like lens flares, etc, as does Melanie Schiff (whom I've mentioned before here). But both of those photographers are involved in the way we experience photographs, and the performative elements of the photographic process. They make obvious conceptual work, but they are grounded in the world of everyday in a way that elevates simple technique and the banalities of making pictures. They both make work which attempts to create a connection with the viewer to an overtly conceptual practice in a way tht neither Willing or Binder seem to be doing. They are not simply interested in making work that functions in an obscure manner, tailor made for the pages of Vice magazine and guaranteed to receive praise from the magazines and institutions already interested in the same.