Journey into art to the suburbs of beauty
Why does art need something more than beauty
In his BBC documentary "Why Beauty Matters" (2009), Roger Scruton, defines "beauty in art (as) a necessity of the human being", placing it at the antipodes of the work of artists such as D. Hirst ("A Thousand years ", 1990), C. Andre (“Equivalent VIII”; 1966), P. Manzoni (“Artist's Shit”, 1960) and M. Duchamp (“Fontaine”, 1917) among others. For the British philosopher today's art is characterized in absolute by the loss of beauty and the cult of the “ugly". The exaltation of the ugly, according to Scruton, goes hand in hand with the cult of utility in everyday life. "Art today" seems to suggest the British thinker "speaks a jargon that few people understand, consisting mostly of unnecessary sentences and stuffed with bad words; a language that is alien to beauty “.
If the survey carried out by Scruton raises many interesting and truthful points (first of all the possible "lack of content" of certain art today, an issue that we will discuss separately in another article), at the same time his documentary is likely to offer a partial view. In his documentary one might have the impression that a Western art history is proposed from a perspective in which many of its founding elements, far from the beautiful, are obscured or neglected. To bring the history of Western art back to the history of Beauty alone risks creating an irreversible mutilation in its very complex essence. Or better to say: to oppose dichotomously the 'beautiful' to the 'ugly' in the art, risks to be a philosophical and intellectual operation that deprives the same beauty of a good part of what constitutes it. For example, in the literature from old greek poet Anacreonte to Gabriel Garcìa Marquez, the contrast of the feelings that love causes is one of the most common in the world literature of all time. We thus identify love as interconnected with hate and not the two feelings as two terms that are symmetrically opposed. The famous verses of the incipit of the Carmel 85 of Catullus are exemplary by the way:
Odi et amo. Quare id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior
Therefore, to see the history of Western art as detached from the so-called 'ugly' which is actually what we might call the 'dark side of beauty', turns out to be an ideological act.
They could even be traced in the work of Scruton, emanations of the neoclassical vision of the archaeologist and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann.
But defining as "non-art" everything that does not pose "beauty" as the first and last end of art, is an attitude that risks eclipsing some works by A. Carracci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Van Gogh, F. Bacon and E. Hopper. Artists that constitute a fundamental part of our cultural background. And many works of them, today for paradox, we consider classical example of beautiful.
In this short article we will try to propose some examples
of the art of the past and of today to demonstrate how art
has always been concerned with expressing, besides beauty,
other elements too, without worrying too much to travel
to the outskirts of beauty or cross it. For a simplification
we will redirect these elements, in addition to beauty,
to two other factors that artists have always tried to
express in art:
1) the Pathos [πάθος, pathos] (from the Greek πάσχειν
"paschein", literally "suffer" or "get excited"; adjective:
"pathetic" from παθητικός) the instinctive and primordial
force in the human soul that Greek thought opposes Logos,
which is the rational part.
2) The Catharsis (from the Greek katharsis, κάθαρσις,
"purification") is a term used to indicate the purification
ceremony that is found in different religious conceptions
and in magical rituals that usually prescribed the sacrifice
of a scapegoat.We will use the term chatarsis in the sense
of purifying function of art. Marcel Duchamp "Bicycle wheel" 1913
We will show how a subtle thread exists that, from our distant past, arrives to our days, in which the effort to express emotions and the desire to purify themselves through them going beyond beauty, have always been present and intertwined with each other.
I.No ‘pity’ for beauty (canonical)
A poorly educated visitor who, without knowing the genesis, was to be found in an imaginary museum in front of the three famous "pietà" of Michelangelo, could suppose that the final and undisputed masterpiece of the Florentine artist is "The Vatican piety”. This visitor could even consider the other two works only of the early and unsuccessful attempts of the Italian artist's youth. But in truth Michelangelo sculpted "The Vatican piety" at only twenty-two and the "Rondanini piety" around the ninety years. The long experience acquired by the artist pushed him to finally sculpt a work that was not finished, beautiful (in the canonic sense of time) or elegant. In the "Pietà Rondanini" we can see some anatomical inaccuracies (the right arm of Christ, the left hand of the Madonna), the gross features (the face of Christ and the Madonna) and also a certain incoherence of style (Between the lower part of work and the upper one). But the question we are interested in here is because the great Renaissance artist, (who in his early twenties was able to sculpt a work of unpopular beauty), felt the artistic need not only to reinterpret it at a distance, but to use a style that for the time was considered to say the least "the antipodes of beauty".
Was it senile dementia, laziness or simply 'anticipatory genius'?
II.a.The pain has for everyone a look
Michelangelo begins to sculpt the "Pietà Rondanini" around seventy-seven years. In this period the artist is already old and has changed his vision of life. It reflects on death and on the great themes of life. As we know from the documents of the time, he has become over the years a more spiritual man and tries to express in his work the intensity he perceives in the mystery of life. Instead of the realistic-anatomical style of youth (which finds its maximum expression in the "David" of 1501), a more gothic and expressionistic style has now taken over. Now the artist's work is all about expressing with his art the emotion of the scene of Christ supported by Mary. But Michelangelo is aware that the style he had used as a young man, influenced in large part by the Greek tradition and praised by everyone, can not succeed in expressing that visceral feeling. For this reason it deviates from the representation of the "beautiful canon" to be able to be more effective. If we observe the "Pietà Rondanini" we can see that the fingers of the Mary are no longer the beautiful defined and tapered fingers of the Vatican piety, but almost imperceptibly they disappear into the body of Christ. The face of Christ and Mary can only be understood here. Michelangelo has no intention of describing them in detail. It is limited to evoking them to wrap them in mystery. Michelangelo sculpts in mystery what can not be explained. Remove, delete information, let alone guess: the artist's poetics proves to be in conformity with a vision in which less, it means more.In this work the whole sense of the gesture of piety transpires and the effect on the viewer is overwhelming. Michelangelo here shows us how it is necessary to sacrifice "the beautiful" and go to its periphery, to express the pathos and the catharsis in the "Pietà", through the feelings that formal beauty could not communicate.
Michelangelo "Pietà Rondanini" (Particolare) 1552-1564
Image source: ViviArteMilano.it
II.b. “Carpe diem, memento mori”
Forty years later, "La canestra di frutta" (“Basket of fruit” 1594-1598 Ambrosian Library, Milan. Italy) by the Lombard artist Michelangelo Merisi, known as "il Caravaggio", creates a scandal in the artistic world of the time. In Italy the kind of "still life" had been used until then, only to embellish and decorate.
But the Lombard artist has painted a fruit basket that is not at all inviting and beautiful. In this painting we perceive all the transience of life, a "memento mori". His is an investigation of reality beyond its appearance. Therefore, he does not paint a basket with beautiful, firm, colored and still fresh fruit, but a basket with fruit that starts to rot slowly: the leaves of the grapes are already withered and holed, the apple has a hole made by a caterpillar, and with the colors used in his painting he shows us once again what in life is far from the so-called "ideal beauty”. Caravaggio in the fruit basket tries to express all the fleetingness of life and its ephemeral side. If he had represented a "fresh and beautiful fruit basket", in the formal way that was common in his time, he would not have succeeded. His innovation, frowned upon by many at the time, is now accepted and admired by many. And in this case emerges a very important concept: the idea we know about beauty, it is never static but changes and changes over time.
Caravaggio "Fiscella" (Canestra di frutta" 1594-1598
II.C. "Food for the soul”
II.C.1. “The potato eaters” of Van Gogh.
The effort to truthfully express a situation or a feeling, is precisely what drives the work of the Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Among his many works, the painting "the potato eaters" manages to tell the whole drama of the farmers of the village of Nuenen.We are in 1885 and Van Gogh tries with this work to represent various aspects of the life of the peasants of the small village of Nuenen, who visits with a certain frequency in those years:
"I want to get the subject from the same characters"
he writes to his brother Theo, in those months.
Van Gogh particularly cares about the fate of the weakest and feels the task of having to represent them in his paintings with all their pain and suffering. He writes his brother Theo about it:
"A farmer is more true with his fustian robes in the fields than when he goes to Mass on Sundays with a sort of corporate dress. Similarly, I think it is wrong to give a peasant picture a sort of smooth, conventional surface. If a picture of peasants smells of bacon, smoke, vapors that rise from boiling potatoes - all right, it is not unhealthy; if a stable knows how to fertilize, it is right that such is the smell of a stable; if a field knows of ripe wheat, potatoes, guano or manure, it is good, especially for city people »
Vincent Van Gogh "The Potato Eaters" 1885
After several preparatory studies in the atelier and two other works on the subject, the Dutch painter finishes his picture of which he will be very proud even after the transfer to Paris. At a careful analysis of the faces, the depicted environment and the technique used, there is nothing to suggest a work focused on "beauty". For Van Gogh, it is more important to express the truth. Express the pain experienced by the people of the people, arising from their conditions of poverty, from the hard life they are forced to support.We are in a dark, rude environment, where people eat potatoes, which are simple food, in a room lit only by an oil lamp hanging from a ceiling beam. It is in the painter's own will, to want to deviate from the simple beauty, in order to better tell the story of the farmers portrayed. As Van Gogh himself tells us:
"I wanted, working, to make it clear that this poor people, who in the light of a lamp eat potatoes using the plate with their hands, has itself hoed the land where those potatoes have grown; the painting, therefore, evokes manual labor and suggests that those farmers have honestly deserved to eat what they eat. I absolutely would not want everyone to just find it beautiful or valuable »
Letter of Vincent van Gogh to Theo Van Gogh with a sketch of his first
masterpiece The Potato Eaters. 6 April 1885
But this work has an antecedent that can make us understand how the idea of Van Gogh of "representing people of the people in the act of eating frugal food without decorating the figure" is an idea that was already present centuries earlier in history art.
Annibale Carracci "Mangiafagioli" ("The beaneater") 1584-1585
II.C.2. Carracci, Tarr, Zola.
Annibale Carracci, in the painting “The beaneater" (1585) he is able to fully express the condition of a farmer intent on eating a plate of beans. The "Preliminary Study of a Bean Eater" (1584, preserved at the Uffizi, Florence), in which the face is more defined, shows us that in a deliberate way Carracci wanted to get away from a representation of the bean-eater dominated by “beauty”.
Annibale Carracci focuses on the face of the peasant who eats beans and decides not to sketch it in a defined way but to use a more rude style as it was precisely the context from which the bean eater came. The psychological investigation in the work of Van Gogh that we have seen before and that will invest other aspects of his work (the landscapes, the series of self-portraits) we find similarly in the work of the Hungarian director Bela Tarr "The horse of Turin”(2011, Hungary).The long scenes in which, in the desolation of their wooden house, the coachman eats in silence and with his hands the boiled potatoes with his daughter, they manage to communicate the same sense of emptiness, of difficulty and of constraint of the poor people, that we had found in the "potato eaters" by Van Gogh. And it is the same feeling that in France in 1877 a young writer originally from Paris, infuses in a book whose influence on generations to come would have been unendurable.Emile Zola with the opera "L'assomoir" (1877) tells a story of alcoholism and human degradation. In addition to choosing a theme that is far from "beautiful", the writer also uses a language that is not really elegant, drawing largely on the linguistic "jargon" of the people he describes. But the title of this novel serves us as a starting point for a brief excursus that goes from 1563 to 2005, to trace the invisible thread that connects artistic production to the "periphery of beauty" of our predecessors with that of today.
Bela Tarr "The Turin horse" 2011
III. Meat (ing) the beauty
In his essay "Why art became ugly" (2002) Stephen Hicks, he confronts us with a question that could mislead us: today "the art must be" he tells us "A quest for the truth , however brutal, and not a quest for beauty ".
But this search for truth, at the cost of stumbling across brutal representations, is not something new or alien to the artistic expression of the past. It was instead a constitutive part, despite being overshadowed, by an art more attentive to the forms of beauty and the celebration of official moments.
Taking a cue from the title of the above-mentioned book by Emile Zola (slaughterhouse) we will take a look at the representation of the butchered meat, from the 15th to the 21st century.
Rembrandt "Slaughtered Ox" 1655
III.a. A physiology of suffering
The corpse of a sheep under formaldehyde and behind a glass case in the work "In nomine patris" (2004-2005) by the British artist Daniel Hirst, puts the viewer in a state of confusion mixed with shyness and makes him question the value artistic detail of this work. But the representation of something true, albeit in a brutal way, as is the case with this work, is not something new for the art world, even if we could suppose so.
Already in 1563 the Flemish painter Joackim Beuckelaer had painted a "Slaughtered pig" in which the open and hung body of a pig was depicted in the foreground, while in the background two men were dashed intending to take care of other things. Leaving aside the representation of the "Butcher" (1580) by Matteo Passarotti (in which there appears to be an attitude of excessive awareness of the viewer in the two men portrayed), it is with the work "the butcher shop" by Annibale Carracci (1588, Kimbell Art Museum), which we can trace the first example of a depiction of a butcher shop in which art becomes an instrument of expression of truth, even if brutal.In it is represented not only the brutality of hung butchered meat, but also the cruelty of life removed from the animal and the sacrifice connected to it: the kid held by the man with the knife in the foreground, who is preparing to kill him, is a clear allusion to the sacrifice of Isaac, in the biblical scene.
Marco Sadori "Untitled" from "The room of dust"
But the most fertile artist whose work succeeds in having a greater echo of future generations and to effectively express the ferocity of the slaughtered meat, is undoubtedly Rembrandt. In his "slaughtered ox" (1655, Louvre) the Dutch artist infuses all the violence of butchered meat in the foreground in spite of the face of a woman who barely appears from behind the carcass.The woman in the background becomes a subject of little importance in front of the slashed ox illuminated and in the foreground.
We know that in the "Still life with ribs and head of lamb" by Goya (1806-12) and in the "slaughtered ox" of Chaim Soutine we find other examples of representation of this macabre side of reality. However, it is the afore mentioned work by Rembrandt (together with the painting by Velàzquez "Portrait of Innocence X, 1650) which in 1954 will influence the famous" figure with meat "painting by Francis Bacon. From the work of Rembrands, Francis Bacon succeeds in transposing the ferocity of the slaughtered meat; a primitive and wild force that also transmits to the depicted figure. An idea that will also be used for other artistic works.The world of photography was not exempt from the interest in this theme and among the various photographers stands out the work of Mario Giacomelli who, with his “slaughterhouse”, manages to impress, in his black and white photography, the brutal atmosphere of the slaughterhouse. A strong experience like told us Giacomelli:
"Series started and ended in a few minutes for the frightened cry, scary of the impotent poor animals that have torn my soul and led me to escape from that damn place."
Mario Giacomelli "Mattatoio" 1960 Source:
And the same work of Giacomelli becomes a reference point, wanted or not, for the work of Tommaso Ausili who, in "The Hidden Death (2009, Word Press photo), represents the dark side of the truth about meat. Hence the passage to the work of Daniel Hirst "In nomine patris", from which we started, is short.
Tommaso Ausili "The hidden death" source:
The history of Western art does not seem to have suddenly become devoted to the expression of the ugly (S. Cruton) forgetting about beauty or for the first time having decided to put the truth before, at the cost of going through the most brutal aspects , at the expense of beauty (R. Hicks).
Today, art gives the impression of wanting to continue attending the truth and beauty but also wanting to explore in more depth their suburbs and the dark landscape that surrounds it.
The Enigma of an image: a few steps in the world of Alex Webb
"There are two types of artists: those who
seek problems and those who avoid them.
The former are prisoners from the anxiety
of control and take refuge in the placid water
of the known; the others are inebriated
by the unexpected and swim among
the fresh waters of the unknown. “
Journey to the limit of light
Alex Webb's photography is an enigma whose solution is written in the shadows. A dark and luminous photograph that at the same time finds harmony in the chaos encountered. It does not comfort, it does not explain: it creates, on the contrary, dense clouds of doubts that cause thunderstorms of questions on its readers. But they are fascinating perplexities, which force our gaze to return to the printed page, to try to find the solution, in the complex interplay of forms that intersect with each other.
As in some works by A.Kertesz, D.A. Harvey, T. Parke, R. Kalvar, is a photograph that frequents the questioning of established reality, finding its 'status quo' in asking questions. Inquisitive photography, without solutions or answers. Photography disguised as photo-journalism (in some works) but far from the exhaustive document and lacking a moral vision on what happens.
The dumb look of the shadow
An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way.
An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.
A.Webb's photographic work, the shadow passes from the subtractive role that he had had until now in many photographers, to a more evocative role(in works like :“Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names”, “The Suffering of Light”).
"To evoke rather than to describe": this seems to be the poetics of the work of A. Webb. In this game of mirrors, where a reflecting surface refers to another place, where a figure blurred in movement lets us foresee something that we can only guess, we find an exhausting game between the logical and the illogical, between the obvious and the absurd. As in some works by Majoli or Monteleone, there is no explicit desire to define or control. Photography is left to be itself without being nailed to an explicit meaning, or to a moral, dreamy or gender reference. The mystery is the everyday, wrapped in a garment of exceptionality.
We are not here to describe the author's biography in a pleonastic way. It will be sufficient to do an epidermal research on the web to have abundant news. It will be enough to remember that we are dealing with an "educated" photographer, whose training starts from the literature (study history and literature at Harvard University (graduating in 1974) and then ends in photography (photography at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts) . There are several Alex Webb who live together harmoniously, like the patrons along the bar counter. And although some prefer to drink "smokey single malt whiskey" (read: lagavulin), however, they have nothing to say to those who sip a soda or a glass of red. The peaceful coexistence of one's instincts generates creativity. But in every work of Alex Webb, from the first to the last, we can feel his gaze on the world.
Colored sensations on an asymmetric background
"The secret of a photo is hidden
in the pocket of his shadow "
The shadows that insinuate themselves in Alex Webb's photography find in their territory a meticulous geometry, the daughter of certain works by Bresson and certain representations of cubistic memory and surrealists taste. Decomposing to propose, in a meticulous manner, many faces of reality, how many can take a look that brings in itself, all points of view.
If Alex Webb's photography is an enigma, it is certainly a colorful enigma. A colorful enigma with strong colors, powerful colors, bold, able to hit and stun. Opiate colors, with a sweet-bitter taste, that drown in the darkness of the shadows to re-emerge between the spasms of a naked and silent light. Alex Webb's photography is a puzzle of which we do not have all the pieces to understand the whole figure. In this lack, its strength thrives.
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Why is the photo book today more alive than ever?
Today, more than ever, the photography market is flooded with photographic books and at the same time has a deep need for themselves.
The special value that today is given to photographic books is directly connected with the development and diffusion of new digital media and with the organic contrast that has been created between old and new media of communication. Always referring to the field of photography, we can create a nominal distinction, here, between "media" that offer a direct cognitive experience, and "media" that offer an indirect cognitive experience.Among the first we find printed photography, whose privileged areas of dissemination are the book, the magazine, the exhibitions and advertising among various. Among the latter we have everything that revolves around digital technology: websites, applications, projections, video-installations: which are conveyed by digital media such as computers, I-pads, telephones, interactive screens. Digital technology has allowed a diffusion of content unthinkable before it. Moreover, it has given the possibility - at least apparently - to take advantage of art, even in the most intimate of domestic environments. This extreme closeness created a feeling of "estrangement" in the audience that felt the need for a return to the "old media" like the book and the printed image.
However, that of digital media, remains an indirect cognitive experience, which puts a further distance between the user and what is approaching.
The conveyance of art through a led screen creates a sort of subconscious alienation that partly distances the reader. In fact, although it offers many advantages, it does not manage to give the reader an adequate tactile experience that goes beyond a simple "touchscreen". Moreover, his visual experience is more partial than that of the printed page. To use a metaphor, using an LCD screen to watch an image, it's like listening to a live concert with a great stereo: there's nothing to say about the quality of the audio but it's certainly not like going to that concert.Precisely because of this cognitive "alienation" it perceives, today more than ever, the public wants to have a direct cognitive experience as it happens with the photographic book and the photographic exhibitions.
The public wants with his hands to turn the pages of a book, go in search of its smell (The smell of printed paper, totally absent in digital media), its physicality and its specificity. The public feels the need to interface with a support that can be embraced, manipulated (the graphic signs on the book as authentication of the same), marked and consumed in a random and inaccurate. Today the public needs humanity.The physicality of the book and the printed paper then, today more than ever, are required by an audience that feels the needy "real experiences", a return to the authentic,
1-“The dress that makes the monk"
But the history of the photo book has changed considerably in recent years.
It was this change that actually involved multiple artistic disciplines, including music production and literature.
However, the photographic book has undergone a twofold change that we can identify in two factors:
1-The means of dissemination, production and promotion of the book
2-The conception of the photographic book.
1-A-The means of dissemination of the book
Until a few decades ago, the market of photo books was a market that remained quiet, self-powered thanks to its fans, foundations, museums, whose production was entrusted to a relative number of publishing houses that produced and promoted a small number of artists. There were independent producers, so to speak, but their presence on the market was rather marginal and off the official circuits.
In recent years, however, there has been a proliferation of independent producers. Many of them opened their own publishing house to promote a series of photographers who could not find a space in the publishing market to make their voices heard. Others to feed a part of the photographic world that was out of print.
This circuit of independent production, however, unlike what happened in the past (in which the means of communication were the prerogative of the most important publishing houses) was able to take advantage of the new mass media, interact with them and sometimes create a symbiotic relationship. A small photo producer from Estonia today has visibility in Cape Town and Tehran. A certain Fabriano publishing house today works with a photographer from Tbilisi.
Being able to create a "crowfounding" in a website with a certain visibility, for example, has become an excellent production strategy for those photographers and publishers who wanted to invest in a project but did not have enough financial resources to do so.
The photographer who was good at social relations and in promoting his work has found in self-production a privileged field of work.
Being able to take part in photographic book festivals and trying to promote their books (or having their own product produced) has become an excellent strategy to succeed in gaining more space in the photographic market.All this went hand in hand with a greater dialogic exchange in society (and among the needs of society) between the external and formal world and the internal and informal world, between the need to talk about man in general and the desire to know personal stories, intimate, capillaries.
1-B.The family of a man-The family of that man
A part of the world of photography today feels the need for intimate and everyday stories that can represent a reality that is far from a proposed stereotype. We are a society obsessed with truth, with the looming perception of being surrounded by falsehood. Disbelief has become a form of mass belief. In the photographic field, that of telling personal stories is a need born and slowly grown that, from the great works of photographers such as Walker Evans, has moved to a middle ground (Robert Frank) to arrive at the many intimate narratives that there were yesterday (Nan Goldin) and we find today (Bieke Depoorter). To use a metaphor, if in 1955 the exhibition "The Family of man" was proposed with great worldwide success, to represent in a universal way the character and identity of man, today the title could be changed to "The Family of a certain man "and the exhibition represents, through a personal story, the same universal character. It is a process that has also invested literature, interviews, cultural broadcasts, society in general; all powered by the very structure of many phone applications that have changed our lives (Instagram, Flickr, FB etc) ...
In this desire to represent the everyday, the book has returned to being a perfect expressive tool.Its tactile uniqueness makes it an instrument of direct and intimate knowledge, a "hot" mass media unlike the "cold" LCD screen.
2-A. Not all monks have the same dress.
But the second change that has invested the book concerns his conception.
Today, a large part of the photographic book market finds its ideal form of expression, in interaction with other means of expression and in the creation of a unique and original book.
Creating photographic books, with particular papers, with covers or interiors of certain materials (read: plastic, velvet, polystyrene, cardboard, metal) with drawings, texts and more, has become a practice adopted by many photographers or artists working in visual world. The same idea of a photo book has been redesigned. Today the photographic book is no longer just a book that collects photographs that revolve around a topic, a project, a theme or a place, but also an instrument of cognitive investigation, which reflects on itself using his body as an expressive module of the its same meaning. A photographic book that talks about the meaning of the photographic book today, in a philosophical dialogue with himself and with his essence. A game of mirrors in which the absence of an image could be reflected endlessly.So a photographic book that rethinks the function of photography, questions its value as a document, as a representation of reality and that borrows from literature, philosophy and sociology (to cite only a few disciplines) the topics and communication techniques needed to explore these issues.
As an ideal means of expressing this, the book changes its appearance. We are far from here, from the cold and sober books that until the 50s were mostly widespread. A new form of editorial aesthetics emerges: the precious fabrics of the past are partly replaced by elaborate patchwork able to express a plurality and heterogeneity of society that can no longer remain silent.
In this centric movement that goes from the marginal stories and the unusual points of view, towards the major diffusion channels, the book maintains a serene relationship with the new means of communication, in a cognitive exchange that less and less involves the emulation of the one towards each other and more and more collaboration.
If initially the new mass media were seen as possible substitutes for the book and its adversaries, today we know, more than ever, that this has not happened. The book is not dead and still enjoys excellent health.On the other hand, a profound dialogue has been established between old and new mass media. An exchange that we had already met in other disciplines, such as music, but which still had to take place in the world of photography.
The website, the apps he uses, the advertising in a photographic exhibition, thus become an instrument to promote the artist and his book, just as the book becomes a tool for promoting the artist's website, where he will sell the same book , of the single prints, of the photographic services and will offer itself available to various collaborations.
And if until today, for the most part, the new mass media were seen only as free promotional tools and almost homologous to the printed book, today more than ever they differ from the book and create a discourse in its own right. Taking advantage of the potential of video that can be transmitted on any physical medium or still associate digital photographs with sounds, music or performance, are all ways to give a new dignity to the new mass media and create a market that does not live in reflected light.
4-Today, in the market, we.
Today, therefore, the publishing market of the photo book offers more possibilities but also more competition.
With the general idea that everyone is a photographer with a camera in hand (and with a smartphone), there are countless requests and offers received by publishers or authors who self-produce sometimes looking for confirmation of the their own value, and other times just desiring to see their name written in large letters on the front cover. Perhaps Warhol's claim that in the future everyone would have had 15 minutes of celebrity, was taken by someone too literally.
Precisely for this reason, today the market is similar to a large jungle, full of enchanting landscapes, holes, colored birds and poisonous animals. To extricate yourself in this maze, you need a good knowledge, a certain intuition and a good dose of perseverance. Beyond this it is necessary to have a valid project. A valid photographic project today means being able to offer a photographic work that can stand out from the thousands of similar works that are proposed every day. A solid photographic project, original, with its own voice, difficult to create, but at the same time it is perhaps the only one that would be worthwhile to print.I do not think that the point is how to succeed in publishing a book, but finding the deep reason to do it, if it exists. Precisely the uncertainty of art requires a thorough examination of conscience to understand its value before it is recognized by someone else. They are the intent and the motivation that give depth to the work that is proposed.
In an age of hyper-diffusion of messages and information, in which we are burdened by immense amounts of often useless and harmful data, it is a good practice, before wanting to publish a text, ask yourself:
-Why do I want to publish this book so much?
-What is the added value it can give to the market and the world?
- What messages do you want to convey?
- what is different from others already on the market?
This reflection would probably lead us to give more meaning to our actions and quality to what is read.