Making and Doing

Michael Almereyda: The reality is dreamlike and the photography is real.
William Eggleston: You know what? That doesn’t mean a thing to me.

I am really happy that Snag Films has placed some good documentaries online (for the US and Canada only, I’m afraid), including William Eggleston in the Real World. I do hope that it is the future of documentary distribution, as is claimed in the Fortune article [via]. It’s a coincidence really, because I just finished quoting/clipping some bits to discuss here. They have also released Black White and Grey, which gave me material for consideration a few weeks ago.

Eggleston’s evasions, typical in most interviews, are particularly poignant in Almereyda’s film. You get the feeling that he just might have something to say if someone asked the correct question. Otherwise, what remains except to say “no” or “I don’t think so”? The commentary he offers outside Almereyda’s insistence that emotion must play some role in what he’s doing is excitingly analogous to Aristotle’s discussion of techné and praxis in the Nicomachean Ethics.

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Historical Misappropriation

I much prefer the outlook of Nan Goldin, from this same series.

One of my concerns as a researcher is differentiating between “historical reconstruction” and “contemporary appropriation.” This is a major problem in photographic scholarship, where it leads to appalling mistakes such as those evidenced in the Peter Galassi video above. His observations are, to put it mildly, embarrassing. When watching the BBC series “The Genius of Photography”, I was so put off I failed to watch the rest of the series for a long time afterward. Never mind that it has its brilliant (and accurate) moments from Geoffrey Batchen and others, but this pompous diatribe from Galassi grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard.

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