A World of It’s Own

Visiting MoMa was a pleasure as always. We saw the photography exhibit, “A World of It’s Own” and it was especially enjoyable because I am currently taking graphic design history and I knew a few of the artists we saw today, such as Eadweard Maybridge, Man Ray and Nadar. Seeing this exhibit redefined studio photography because there was such a wide variety of content/subjects displayed. There were chromolithography pieces, motion photographs, more modern and HD photos, colored/black & white pieces, portraits and objects; a wide array. Most of what I have photographed in a studio setting has been mostly simple and commercial rather than out-of-the-box ideas.  This exhibit really showed the evolution of photography as a whole which was very nice to see. My absolute favorite piece was Christian Marclay’s piece, Allover, which was a blue background with a white overlay of cassette tapes that were taken apart and strung, messily, across the whole piece. This was done recently (2008), which I found interesting because cyanotypes are sort of an out-dated photographic printing process, which I feel opens up a whole new, yet old, type of photography. For a little less than a century, all photographs were black and white and the first color photo wasn’t invented until the late 1800s.

The exhibit also had a few photos that had videos that went with them. These videos showed how the photograph came to be which was very interesting to see. Some of these photos didn’t look motion-oriented but the process of taking them was and the photo wound up being almost a screen-grab of that process. There was another video that showed a bunch of photos showing a cabinet in different positions, so that when they were strung together, it looked like the cabinet was moving in a flip-book kind of way. The video looked very grainy and was black and white so that indicates it is very old and could have been used then, to demonstrate how motion pictures work. These videos inspire me to want to photograph things in motion, which we have sort of touched upon in class with the colored water photo-shoot.

I completely disagree with the NYT article’s first line, that there was “not enough color.” In order to understand what you have now, you have to know where you come from, and photography is roughly 200 years old. Yes, this exhibit largely favors black and white/non-modern photos, but that does not diminish the meaning of it at all. I do agree that “the curators set out to trace the medium from inception to the present in a way that has never quite been done.” I also agree that the exhibition did “ignore(s) the great stream of images with which the Modern’s influential photography department has been most identified.” There was a lot of human interest/portrait and inanimate objects but little to no landscapes, animals, advertisements, urban life, etc. It does, however, accurately portray the different mediums of photography throughout the ages. Lastly, I feel like the fact that there was a lack in female photographers wasn’t entirely important. Sure, as a woman, I would have loved to have seen what women have brought to the photographic table, but this exhibit isn’t about a battle of the sexes. It is about showcasing photography, and I guarantee, from the time the camera was invented – 2014, photography is predominantly male.

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One thought on “A World of It’s Own

  1. rmichals

    I too loved the Christian Marclay piece. It is the perfect match between subject-audio tape and outdated technology and mdium-canotype-an out-dated medium. And it is beautiful.

    As to your concern about women in photography, I would say about 1/3 of the work in the show was by women. The piece that our class found most compelling is by Valerie Belin. And there was work by Barbara Kasten, Berenice Abbot, Uta Barth, Jan Grover, Adrian Piper, Immogene Cunningham, Cindy Sherman, Michele Abeles and others I am sure that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Look them up as a place to start. While there might be more men than women in the field of photography, there are many women and the field isn’t as male dominated as some.

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