Some strangeness (a kind of manifesto)

Let’s talk attitude.

When it comes to attitude towards the audience my aim –in writing/thinking, composition (and also photography) — is to meet you halfway on the bridge.

I am not looking for anything instant, not a “like” (Oh, how nice/ beautiful!) and not “What the f*ck is this??”. I believe both the artist and the audience should take steps.

If I pre-chew everything for the recipient HE will not learn anything. If I just make a concept art-exercise and ask the viewer (in Emperor’s new clothes manner) to imagine things  (as when calling a glass of water an oak tree, that just happens to look like a glass of water *) then I am not learning anything, more than being slightly clever. Then yours truly have it too easy.

* (Note re. the oak tree thing: “On one occasion when it was barred by Australian Customs officials from entering the country as vegetation, he [the artist, Michael Craig-Martin] was forced to explain it was really a glass of water.”)

No, let both parties work a bit and masticate. (The artist of course more than the viewer.) Here, as in philosophy, harmony is found in the right proportion. Not too little, not too much.

ornament5b negThe same goes for beauty, something I am old-fashioned enough to consider important, but also worth pondering.

I am with Francis Bacon who said “there is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”. What I consider a worthwhile, a viewwhile picture, should have some strangeness in it, something that makes you stop in your tracks and say “hm…”. Maybe even [in the voice of Wayne Campbell] “excellent…”

The amount of strangeness can vary, but should preferably never be totally absent. Otherwise we enter the world of BBB pictures (Beautiful But Boring/ Boring But Beautiful) and the showroom of bland, “pretty” and streamlined photography.

Here are some examples of BBB by yours truly. (I only show them as warning examples, for a hopefully deterrent effect.)




I used to like pictures like these, but today they are like city doves; too common. Let’s aim higher than that and cultivate our taste, both as photographers and lookers-on.

I might not sound like a “gentleman” here, but who cares? The situation is critical! We are drowning in BBB while there is a grave shortage of strangeness in our visual universe. I aim to contribute at least some small quantities.

And by the way, I still like doves.


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