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Author Topic: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".  (Read 20621 times)

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iridaceae

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #30 on: May 07, 2016, 02:13:07 AM »
Is she fat? Yes.

Does she get looks and comments? Yes.

Does she feel badly when she hears/sees something making fun of/denigrating her? Of course.

Does she practice selection bias by only choosing photos that-she feels, because by her own admission she cannot know - reflect people thinking ugly things at her? Yep.

Do I think that's presumptuous of her? Yep.
Nothing to see here.

Thipu1

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #31 on: May 07, 2016, 11:11:47 AM »
This is a very interesting thread because we rarely get into discussions about art on this board and this one has certainly opened a conversation although it isn't the  conversation the artist  intended.

People who are larger or smaller, taller or shorter than usual will attract momentary attention from strangers in public places. I believe the artist overestimates her power to have an effect on others.  Especially in a place like  Times Square, people pay attention to others just to avoid walking into them.  We can tell that the artist is having a picture taken of herself taking a selfie.  Trying to work your way safely around that in a crowded public place would make most people look a bit disapproving.

 It's not her physical size to which others object, it's her usurpation of more space than she needs.   






Zizi-K

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #32 on: May 07, 2016, 01:44:27 PM »
This is a very interesting thread because we rarely get into discussions about art on this board and this one has certainly opened a conversation although it isn't the  conversation the artist  intended.

People who are larger or smaller, taller or shorter than usual will attract momentary attention from strangers in public places. I believe the artist overestimates her power to have an effect on others.  Especially in a place like  Times Square, people pay attention to others just to avoid walking into them.  We can tell that the artist is having a picture taken of herself taking a selfie.  Trying to work your way safely around that in a crowded public place would make most people look a bit disapproving.

 It's not her physical size to which others object, it's her usurpation of more space than she needs.   

Have you perchance been to Times Square? Those not taking a selfie are in the minority there, unfortunately! But large women "taking up more space than they're entitled to" is often a charge leveled against them. Meanwhile the manspreading on the subway...oy.

I think what people are not understanding is that this is not a documentary project, it's an art project. I would never look at these photos, notice the other people in them, and think that they were horrible people or even being framed that way. I think what is so interesting about them is that the looks are enigmatic. They could be RBF, a momentary annoyance unrelated to the photographer, someone who is actually shooting her a look of disgust, etc. Her presentation of the photographs has to do with her personal experiences and her social commentary. There is a triangulation that occurs between: our experiences of reality (whether we've experienced harassment, humiliation, etc or not, and can imagine it), our experiences and interpretations of the photographs (which can be interpreted in many different ways), and the claims of the photographer about her life experience and her intentions in making the art. For people that have experiences that are similar to the photographer's, the points of the triangle are closer together. For those that haven't, the points are farther apart. But just like there are men who just aghast and utterly shocked when the reality of sexual harassment becomes apparent to them, because they've never experienced it and can't imagine it, there's an opportunity here to think about what this person has gone through, what her experiences are, that maybe life isn't the same for everyone, etc. To focus on the other people in the photo is really not the point. There is no cost to them: I don't think anyone assumes anything negative about them. To me the photographs are a proposition about perception, not "evidence" about the crimes of other people.

Keep in mind: we have no idea if these really are strangers on the street or this is all elaborately set up. There are a lot of photographers who take documentary-style photographs that are staged. (I am aware of what she says about the work. As someone in a creative field, I can tell you that what one says about a project and the actual genesis of a project can be two radically different things.) In the same way that I wouldn't watch a television show and become indignant on behalf of a character, it doesn't make a lot of sense to feel that way about the subjects here.

EllenS

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #33 on: May 07, 2016, 02:31:58 PM »
I think Thipu was referring to the fact that the artist set up a tripod and was "claiming" a large swath of sidewalk, not just taking a selfie.

Having lived in NYC and had to pass through Times Square to/from work, I can assure you that everyone who blocks foot traffic gets dirty looks from the residents. I've been many different weights and am not at all interested in anybody's size. I am interested in getting where I need to go witbout being co-opted into someone else's agenda.

The artist is not solely expressing her lived experience. She is making a social commentary. I think saying "the way you engineered these images invalidates their social relevance," is a perfectly valid and fair crtitcism.

One element that adds depth and meaning to performance art and documentary-style art, is authenticity or claims of authenticity. Otherwise, why would creative types "spin" the origin of their projects, as you pointed out?

These images are obviously inauthentic, which undermines their social meaning. They are also not composed or processed in ways that elevates them by craft. They are "fake realism," but it's not well-faked. It's not a strong artistic choice, and it does not appear to be rigorously executed. I agree with those who have commented that it seems more self-indulgent than enlightening.

tl/dr: just because someone doesn't like a work of art, doesn't mean they didn't "get it."

TeamBhakta

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #34 on: May 07, 2016, 04:22:56 PM »
I am really skeptical of her. I've had strangers try to pass by or suddenly duck out of the way right when I was snapping a photo; which naturally results in funny / random expressions in the background of photos (I once took a hilarious photo of some food trucks, not realizing a city manager passed by & looked like "oh my deity, it's the paparazzi ") I seriously doubt any of them were thinking something more devious than "dang it, do not get a picture of me" or "flipping tourists, always blocking the sidewalk"
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 04:35:22 PM by TeamBhakta »

Hmmmmm

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2016, 05:12:20 PM »
Not seeing interesting assumptions on the artist's part. This is how she describes what she's doing:

When I get home, I look at each frame to see if anyone in the photograph had a critical or questioning look on their face or gesture in their body language. While I do not know what the passerby is thinking, my goal is to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger and start a conversation. I am very interested in how society uses their gaze to project emotions and then how we interpret the looks of others.

She seems well aware that she doesn't *know* what the people she photographs are thinking; this is her interpretation.  The conversation she's starting isn't with each individual, it's with everyone who sees her work. That's what artist's do, surely.

The way I see it, she's either making interesting assumptions about whether strangers are judging her or displaying breathtaking hypocrisy. She objects to people supposedly staring at her, so goes out of her way to photograph strangers for the opportunity to "reverse the gaze back onto" them. IOW, she doesn't like being stared at and feeling judged for her weight, so she's photographing other people and holding them up to be stared at and judged for their (ambiguous) facial expressions and body language. IMO, making "interesting assumptions" is by far the more favorable interpretation of her actions.

Very good interpretation. She feels judge so she decides to create "art" that judges others.

zyrs

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #36 on: May 07, 2016, 05:47:43 PM »
If I were in any of her pictures I would be frowning and possibly looking disapproving.  But it wouldn't be at her because I probably wouldn't notice her.

 It would be at the tripod.  If I see a tripod with a camera on it I try to get out of its field of view - I hate having my picture taken and hate ruining camera shots for other people.  So I'd be looking mean and disapproving while actually going "Oh No!  A camera!  Aagh, did I mess up their shot?  Aagh did it take a picture of me?  Aagh!"

rose red

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #37 on: May 07, 2016, 06:12:58 PM »
There's a tripod or photographer? Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if most are looking to see what's going on or who she is. Have you seen people when they are trying to figure things out? They squint and frown. I see at least two people in the background that looks her weight and nobody is looking at them.

edited for punctuation.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2016, 06:15:53 PM by rose red »

Dr. F.

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #38 on: May 07, 2016, 06:16:28 PM »
Not seeing interesting assumptions on the artist's part. This is how she describes what she's doing:

When I get home, I look at each frame to see if anyone in the photograph had a critical or questioning look on their face or gesture in their body language. While I do not know what the passerby is thinking, my goal is to reverse the gaze back onto the stranger and start a conversation. I am very interested in how society uses their gaze to project emotions and then how we interpret the looks of others.

She seems well aware that she doesn't *know* what the people she photographs are thinking; this is her interpretation.  The conversation she's starting isn't with each individual, it's with everyone who sees her work. That's what artist's do, surely.

The way I see it, she's either making interesting assumptions about whether strangers are judging her or displaying breathtaking hypocrisy. She objects to people supposedly staring at her, so goes out of her way to photograph strangers for the opportunity to "reverse the gaze back onto" them. IOW, she doesn't like being stared at and feeling judged for her weight, so she's photographing other people and holding them up to be stared at and judged for their (ambiguous) facial expressions and body language. IMO, making "interesting assumptions" is by far the more favorable interpretation of her actions.

Very good interpretation. She feels judge so she decides to create "art" that judges others.

This. This, completely.

EllenS

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #39 on: May 07, 2016, 07:13:01 PM »
FWIW, I found the links I was looking for:

Here is what I'd call a very powerful example of photography as social commentary through authenticity. The body language of the mom and nanny in the bus station is particularly complex:
http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/rare-gordon-parks-life-magazine-photos-of-jim-crow-south/4/

And here's some work dealing with isolation, self-image and the ambiguous gaze of the "other," that's just an amazing use of the medium, as well as the subject and the opportunity:
http://www.vivianmaier.com/gallery/self-portraits/


Erich L-ster

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #40 on: May 07, 2016, 07:29:54 PM »
In the very first photo, the person giving her a "dirty look" appears to be a girl of about 12 years old. It's clearly not a "selfie" so there's a photographer. Maybe the kid is thinking "Why is this creep taking a picture of a 12 year old kid in a bikini?" I would be furious if my kid appeared in this lady's project.




Erich L-ster

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #41 on: May 07, 2016, 07:43:13 PM »
Also, she's not making a spectacle out of herself because she dares to be fat in a bathing suit. She's a spectacle because she sets up a camera tripod.

TeamBhakta

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #42 on: May 07, 2016, 07:52:49 PM »
She's splashing along the shore with her bag & a draped sweater / towel (?). I can't blame the kid for looking at her funny. I'd probably think "oh gross, I bet she's holding the bag away because it's her toddler's dirty swim diaper / soiled outfit"

EllenS

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #43 on: May 07, 2016, 08:08:34 PM »
She's splashing along the shore with her bag & a draped sweater / towel (?). I can't blame the kid for looking at her funny. I'd probably think "oh gross, I bet she's holding the bag away because it's her toddler's dirty swim diaper / soiled outfit"

Yes, in all the photos there's this odd, false body language that ostensibly says, "Oh, here I am in this candid snapshot, just minding my own business..."

But it's a parody, and not a good one - neither convincing enough to be taken as real, nor stylized enough to make a clear statement. Of course people will look at her strangely, because she's behaving strangely. So her attempt to draw a metaphor about body-shaming or the experience of self-consciousness falls apart.

Artistically, it's a muddle. But she has succeeded in generating attention, which I suppose makes the book itself into a kind of performance art. Kind of like the Naked Cowboy - like him or hate him, he made you look.

Dr. F.

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Re: This book is full of "interesting assumptions".
« Reply #44 on: May 07, 2016, 08:09:11 PM »
I don't see that the kid is looking at her funny - merely that she (the kid) is looking at the camera.


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