July 15, 2009

Less anthropological?

Just a quick question or two. When I take a photograph and drop out all of the color in the image in photoshop, does that automatically make it less anthropological? You tell me. As someone who started off in photography shooting Tri-X and Agfapan 100, I still take a strong liking to the monochromatic. Can black and white images, in these digital days of easy color, still be considered anthropological--or are they mere art?

One last question: where does anthropology end and art begin? What about the division between science and art? Are these all mere abstractions that bog us down, or are they real and important categorical divisions?

Ok, that's enough of this for now...


Conor said...

Dont you think it depends on how you use the photo? If it is anthropological, then wouldnt it inherently be for some "purpose" or "objective" related to fieldwork/writing? Or for some larger cause? Hmmm would it still be anthropological if it is posted on your wall? Also, Im confused about why you are separating color and b/w? Why would one be anthropological and other one art?

R.A. said...

i think that the categorical divide between what is anthropological and what is art is pretty slippery and subjective. if there is a scale in a photograph is it more scientific, or does it just include something that we perceive or accept as being scientific.

so this post is partly in jest.

i brought up the whole color/bw thing because dropping the color out of an image is a clear alteration of "reality." it is yet another step toward abstraction from "how things really look," even though in creating a photograph, which is a two dimensional representation of a slice of the world, there have already been numerous alterations.

Conor said...

But you call a color photo more "natural", then arent you taking away a history of photography that began with b/w images? Im definitely not an expert, but would you consider b/w images more "authentic" in terms of photography? hmmm

R.A. said...

I would not call a color photograph more natural, really, at all. Both color and black and white photographs are abstractions of reality. Neither are really "natural" in any way.

I would not call black and white pics MORE authentic by any means, just a different way of making 2 dimensional pictures. These days people (like me) only shoot BW for stylistic reasons, since color is available to everyone. Before the advent of color, however, black and white was the only way to make photographs. So I wouldn't call it any more or less authentic.

Conor said...

But why would b/w be less anthropological? Because you modified it? Youre already modifying reality by snapping a picture of it, creating a (more or less) static display of a moment.

I still think it boils down to usage...unless that is a simple cop out haha. Maybe its all BS and nothing really matters...?

p.s. im enjoying these recent posts. (and excited to read doug's responses!)

R.A. said...

re: more or less anthropological. well, that was something i just threw out there, and was something i was wondering about. what makes a photograph anthropological? what makes it art? what makes it documentary? some of this comes from my experiences in archaeology, where photographs were considered "proper" or "scientific" when they includes a certain set of things in the frame--usually a scale and compass topped the list.

no i think that it does matter how a photograph is put to use. but then, my idea of what is "anthropological" is pretty broad.