Untranslatable

What is abstract art? How do you decide what’s abstract and what isn’t? These of course are great questions. They are also open to interpretation. Mostly, abstract art leans in the opposite direction of representational art.

Using lines and shadows in a minimalistic fashion is one form of abstract art. The eye is drawn into the movement of the work. To the shapes and colors or lack of color.

Abstract and minimal art can easily be found in the everyday. If there is light and shadows, you’re already off to a good start. If you’re not used to this kind of work you can look at the work of the photographer Aaron Suskind. Also, they are many painters who work in this style.

Monochrome Abstract Film Photography
Untranslatable, New York City, May 2020

This photo was taken with a film camera during the pandemic lockdown on my daily walks. Film photography has a way of making you take your time to look at and study your environment. There’s always something to photograph and sometimes it’s there in your front of your face to shoot.

It’s a Disappearing Act

Does a photo exist if you don’t share it on social media? What is the worth of a photo if you are the only one to see it? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

In the days before digital photography, a photo only existed if you printed it. It becomes tangible when you can hold it and see it. Touching is believing.

But when you share a photo on social media it has a very limited life span and you don’t know if the intended audience will even see it.

In the past, printing a photo in a darkroom was time consuming. Or having it printed at a lab took time and money. There was always an anticipation waiting for the results.

West Broadway, New York City, circa 1980

Now we are instantly gratified or disappointed. The lifetime of a digital photo is measured in seconds. It’s a disappearing act. Anticlimactic.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love photography, digital and analog. The problem is how little time and effort goes into the vast majority of making and viewing photos. What if we had to pay to play? Would that change the game?

If a photo really means something to you, it is perhaps better to print it and hang it on a wall than to throw it out there into deep space. Just a thought.