|Paul Graham - The Whiteness of the Whale|
If you think Paul Graham and his work keeps cropping up on my blog, you're right. I mention Paul's work because in my view he is at the forefront of those camera artist's who look hard and long at the world and make pictures from life.
Jörg Colberg is a photography writer I admire equally and if you haven't yet discovered his blog Conscientious I urge you to do so. You can go there HERE.
In a recent post Jörg talks about Paul Graham's The Whiteness of the Whale series, three books ostensibly pivoting on the loose theme of America. Jörg Colberg makes the point that Graham has moved to a position more in line with Jeff Wall, Cindy Sherman or Thomas Demand and further he comments on the intellectual rigor, the thinking, that is apparent in Grahams work.
Graham is too cerebrally careful... might gain a little from focusing less on the ball and more on the play. I feel too much thinking... Where are the errors? Where are the fuck ups? Where do we get to see that something didn’t quite work out? I just wish Paul Graham’s work were just a little bit flawed, a little bit less careful, less cerebral. but couldn’t there be a bit wabi-sabi?
Yes, Paul Graham's work is intellectually rigorous. That is how the man is. It's his make-up, his personality. I put him in the same ball park as Lewis Baltz... both abundantly perceptive and astute.
Too much thinking can eliminate the possibility of risk taking, curbs spontaneity and kill intuitive decisions. The fact is we are all stuck within the confines of our own inner make-up and like it or not our work will carry the stamp of a visual handwriting that is distinctively our own. If we are confined to a particular way of seeing we are also confined to the process as a whole. That is, what we make and what we do with it. We operate within the confines of our own particular set of blinkers. And there is nothing much we can do about this. Tough but true. The truth is we know too much, we think too much and we go by the rules when we shouldn't. And worse, we avoid risks.
Of course then there are those that say they do take risks. This can be a slippery slope. Are these risks for the right reasons? Very easy to make work for all the wrong reasons, abandon authenticity and slide into clever and not intelligent. There is a lot of this about.
If you risk nothing, you risk everything. Geena Davis
You can the read Jörg Colberg's full piece Paul Graham and the Whales HERE.