Mais non, monsieur, il n’y a rien.Sunday, January 26, 2020
In this 21st century were the old has been replaced by the digital new there is an urge by many to achieve perfect sharpness in photography.
In that 19th century when French painter Jean-Louis-Ernest Messonier was the richest artist around with his incredibly detailed paintings of Napoleon Bonaparte, another Frenchman, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce invented something which led to photography. It was his friend Louis Mandé Daguerre who with his daguerreotypes revolutionized the idea that here was something that could reveal reality in all its sharpness and detail. Messonier retired. But yet another Frenchman Édouard Manet saw that the way to compete with the detail of photography was to make paintings less so and viewers had to step back to notice detail if there was any of it. Realism was dead and Expressionism took over. An American photographer, Alfred Stieglitz then competed with Expressionism with the idea that photography could be seen as art if it were hazy. He was joined by Edward Steichen. But then in the beginning of the 20th century these two founded the Group F-64 with the idea that photographic pictorialism could be sharp.
Since then photography and painting have mutually scavenged ideas.
I found this Fujicolor Instant Film peeled negative today. It is of dancer/choreographer Sandrine Cassini lying on my vermillion psychiatric couch. It is pleasing to me because it is not sharp. The colours are odd and It is almost impossible (with my knowledge of Photoshop) to change the image to realistic colours. And that is just fine.
“After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world. I mean disassociated. Take a top hat. You think you see it as it really is. But you don’t because you associate it with other things and ideas. If you had never heard of one before, and suddenly saw it alone, you’d be frightened, or you’d laugh. That is the effect absinthe has, and that is why it drives men mad. Three nights I sat up all night drinking absinthe, and thinking that I was singularly clear-headed and sane. The waiter came in and began watering the sawdust. The most wonderful flowers, tulips, lilies and roses, sprang up, and made a garden in the cafe. “Don’t you see them?” I said to him. “Mais non, monsieur, il n’y a rien.”