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Final Analysis - 22nd August 2015

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by Catriona, Aug 22, 2015.

  1. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Larry Towell, Canadian, born 1953

    According to Roger Hicks:
    "He takes pictures, he says, 'for history'. As a result, there are those who will dismiss him as an ageing hippie, and his work passé, predictable, recycled, self-indulgent.
    They are fools."

    Larry Towell's own advice is:
    Be true to yourself. Don't try to be something you are not. Get out; get away from home once in a while.... (and also)... you spend more time editing and looking than shooting.

    It seems obvious to me that Roger himself saw all the qualities he states in the images. He therefore sees the content, presentation and quality as something which has been done before, by people such as Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and even Martin Parr. All trail blazers who have gone their own way and made it in the field of photography and recognized as innovators of their times.
    For Roger to ignore this fact and to denigrate those who seek novely and innovation in the current moment seems strange and counter-intuitive.
    Yes, Larry Towell's work is all the things Roger states. This does not mean that the work is not worthy of acclaim now. Magnum sees that. However, to call people fools for seeing the ageing hippie, and his work passé, predictable, recycled, self-indulgent - is to deny that they actually see the truth of Towell's work. They see the influences which have worked to bring his work in the style he chose, deliberately, to use in its production.

    No, Roger, not fools. They are people who recognise the style and influences. Towell is not a romantic. He chose that way and is recognized for it by parts of the photographic community. That's all.
     
  2. Geren

    Geren Well-Known Member

    Can't seem to find my 22nd Aug copy. The 29th Aug copy arrived this morning. Will go hunting.
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Kate,

    Eh?

    Dismissing his work looks pretty foolish to me. If you recognize someone's style, influences, etc., do you have to dismiss it, just to show how clever you are?

    Re-read what I said, which was that his work IS worthy of acclaim, and those who dismiss him as an ageing hippie, and his work passé, predictable, recycled, self-indulgent are fools. I can't quite work out what you are saying. Are you dismissing his work or not? If so, why? If not, why not? What is wrong with shooting "for history"?

    Cheers,

    R.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  4. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I often think you misunderstand me on purpose.
    You said those who dismiss him as an ageing hippie, and his work passé, predictable, recycled, self-indulgent are fools ... who try for novelty and innovation instead.
    I pointed out that the very people whose work he so obviously emulates were the innovators. Out of your own description, you recognize how he (Towell) can be viewed. Nothing wrong with his work, but it most certainly isn't innovative or unique - and has most certainly been done before. To class people who see this as fools is simply one more jibe to substantiate your own view.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    No, Kate, I'm really, really not misunderstanding you on purpose. I didn't understand what you said before, and I don't understand it any better now. The key lies in the word "dismiss" in the original article. To dismiss his work for the reasons given would indeed, in my book, mark someone out as a fool.

    There is nothing whatsoever wrong with innovation, but nor is there anything wrong with following in others' footsteps and doing it very well. It increasingly seems to me that you do not criticize what I say, but rather, what you think I ought to have said to suit your pre- (and mis-) conceptions of what I think; or alternatively things that you have simply misread or made up. Where did I say that he was "innovative and unique"?

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Right! So you accept he could be seen as that description - but your point was that to dismiss his work for that reason makes someone a fool. I see. I can understand that - but not necessarily the succeeding phrase starting with ... their frenetic search for novelty is not the only way of doing things.
    Because the ones Towell is emulating were in their time the innovators seeking novelty and showing the world in an unvarnished way.
    Unless we have innovators like Stephen Shore or Robert Frank, we will continue to see things in the way it has been done in the past.
     
  7. Ffolrord

    Ffolrord Well-Known Member

    I think clearly the lesson is there is room for both. I think both might be agreeing on that, in a disagreeable way. I enjoyed the article. It provokes thought, is the image somewhat pastiche, does knowing the setup alter the perception? Good choice of image.
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Kate,

    Why can't you understand that? Are you saying that a frenetic search for novelty is the only way of doing things? Because unless that's what you're saying, you have absolutely no disagreement with what I said: that you can either do it Larry Towell's way (tradition) or via a more or less frenetic search for novelty. Or indeed, by implication, by anything in between.

    Addendum: my suggestion was essentially that anyone who is fool enough to dismiss Towell's work because he is working within an established tradition is probably also fool enough to imagine that novelty is always better, even when it isn't.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2015
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Highlight 1: This is what I thought I was saying, and on re-reading, I cannot really see how I can be taken to have said anything else.

    Highlight 2: Thank you. Indeed, a central question is whether it is hackneyed pastiche or, (as I suggest) the well-executed continuation of a long-standing approach to photography.

    Glad you enjoyed it, too.

    Cheers,


    R.
     

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