I’m reading a rather long op-ed piece by The New York Times’ Ross Douthat. It is a take out of his upcoming book called, “The Decadent Society.”
The name is not what you are thinking.
He quotes Jacques Barzun, who says, “The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable . When people accept the futility and the absurd as normal, the culture is decadent.”
I don’t know about you, but I keep saying that all systems are broken. They are broken to the point where I am thinking seriously about leaving the country in November if the worst possible thing happens.
That said, let’s limit this to what we do. Most of us either write, or make pictures.
There is no new or newly broken ground. There hasn’t been for a long time. In the book world, I have to ask how many new vampire books do we need? Seems like Anne Rice broke the mold on that one. Or, how many historical fictional novels do we need that feature a good looking bare chested guy squeezing the hell out of a beautiful woman?
It doesn’t get any better in the photo world. Sunsets, sunset and more sunsets. There are so many that they are loaded to Upsplash, the site that doesn’t pay photographers. Or, night photography featuring star fields? Or, slow motion water so that the water looks smooth?
I’m guilty of it too.
All these faux nature picture that I produce. are not new. I made the same thing eight years ago. And seven years ago. And, six and five and four and so on.
This work is easy to make. This work breaks no new ground. It doesn’t move my art forward. I’m not certain that I can move it forward, but I’d like to try. Realizing this is hard. Even though I love photographing Mardi Gras, I’ve been fighting to get myself to go.
Yes. The floats and themes change. So do the people. But, I’ve done it for how many years? A lot. This year I’m getting paid by one of my clients to set them up for next year. I’m incentivised. I’ll go. Once I get there I’ll have fun. It’ll turn magical. But, they are paying me for work that is yesterday’s. That’s the funny thing about showing portfolios. If the client likes your work, they want more of the same.
Think about this. How does it apply, or, not?
For sure, don’t confuse yourself with all the things you did to get to the picture. Often times the hardest thing about taking a picture is getting there. But, that ain’t the picture. The picture is the picture.