Friday, September 26, 2008

Duane Michals (Sara's Pick)

Katharine Kuharic recommended Duane Michals to me after seeing my work in class on the 24th. He has strong beliefs about photography as a medium and its use to create true art which reminded me of Kuharic's own stance on morality and symbolism in art. Both artists take an active stance against passivity in art and its creation, and place huge emphasis on its use to incite thought, passion, and action. I admire them both for their drive and vision. The image is an extremely powerful means of communication and Kuharic and Michals use their art to to convey their strong philosophies and generate a specific message.

In one interview he's quoted,
"photography has to transcend description... it can never pretend to give you answers. That would be insulting." Michals attempts to recreate, simply by viewing a photograph, the depth of the mood and experience it depicts. "It's the difference between reading a hundred love stories and actually falling in love," he emphasizes. Duane Michal's photographs use a combination of image and hand written text to convey as realistically as possible, an actual mood and experience to the viewer. He uses collage, repetition, multiple exposure, and sequential frames to create visual narrative, the effect of which is enhanced by text, self written or taken from outside sources, to provide background and tone. I find his use of text intriguing and effective, but that is not something I wish to pursue in my own art. I like the idea of poetry inspiring photographs, but not the literal depiction of specific lines. I'm most drawn to his images that can convey mood and narrative on their own. The techniques used in these images to create the emotion and experience he refers to are elements I can incorporate into my own work.

Some examples of technique in my favourite images:
Balthus and Setsuko, 2000 - touching portrait focusing on the relationship of the two figures through pose, expression, etc
Joseph Cornell, 1972 (shown above) - use of long exposure to create a ghosting effect, hugely effective in creating a very eerie atmosphere
Rene & Georgette Magritte Holding Hands Behind a Tree, 1965 - juxtaposition of figure and landscape

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