The burden of photography

Today I did something totally anachronistic, and I’m really happy I did so.

I took my bike and rode east in a cold Berlin sunset, with the intention of drawing “on plein air”, as the French say.

I stumbled across a perfect location: a small and quiet lake close to the U-bahn station of Biesdorf Süd.

I sat among the birds and started to look around me. Being accustomed to copy from photos or to produce conceptual work in a studio or in front of a computer I got scared by how beautiful space is and how perfectly and in a constantly modern way nature invents itself. Not that I didn’t experience this before, but you tend to forget these things, especially living in a big city.

You don’t really think about this stuff on a daily basis, especially if you are not a painter, but once you sit down and try to make space a two dimensional thing you realize of what a gift it is just to be able to see and enjoy the world as it appears through the bare eyes.

This burst of enthusiasm, as it is often the case, brought me to realize the negative aspect of the cathartic experience: the burden of photography.

I am going to make a bold statement here, elaborated from all the David Hockney that I have been diving into lately: when future generations will look back to the 20th and 21st century (who knows how long this will last) they will laugh at our misbelief that the photographic (or lense based) approach to space is actually the most accurate one. They will probably say that it is a pity that the interpretation of space and reality has been influenced to such an extent by such a limited way of representing it, because that is what photography is: one way of dealing with the problem of turning 3D into 2D, and by any means not the most precise one.

I am assuming that in the future we will have other ways of reproducing reality more accurately, that’s to say, more close to its nature, space. This might happen through glasses, lenses, chips installed in our brains or whatever that will produce images in 3D, through which we will be able to move!

 Photos will look as a necessary step to get there, some will be more beautiful than others and a few will be consider as an artistic achievement.

Still there will be no mercy for the artist that forgot that space is a personal experience, an emotional and individual dialogue between the viewer and the object, that has nothing to do with the misleading, monocular and photographic take on reality.

Still, thinking about it, why should the human fascination with 2D pictures disappear? It will last as long as we have eyes to perceive space and will want to try to imitate it on a flat medium.

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