Friday, 28 January 2011

photographic abstraction

One of the delights of digital photography is that you’re freed from the tyranny of having to decide whether something you see is worth using a frame of film, which means that you can take photographs of anything. I wonder how many people do. Take photos of anything, that is. For me, the only criterion is whether I like the image. It doesn’t have to be an intimate snapshot of friends or family; it doesn’t have to be of a ‘picturesque’ landscape; it certainly doesn’t have to be of a famous landmark. I like to take pictures that aren’t of anything.

In other words, I like to photograph images that were they painted and hanging in galleries would be considered ‘art’ by the cognoscenti. I make no such claims for the photographs that follow, although I could promote them as ‘found images’ in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp, who famously exhibited a porcelain urinal as a ‘found object’, claiming that because the world is full of interesting objects, it isn’t necessary to create new ones. The ‘art’ was claimed to be in the simple act of selection, but in fact the statement being made by Duchamp was that it’s art if he said it was. It was probably quite a profound statement when first made, but it sounds trite and banal now, and it opened the door to all manner of mountebanks and charlatans.

I could claim an affinity with abstract expressionism, but these photographs have neither Kandinsky’s vibrancy of colour nor Jackson Pollock’s fluidity of line. They are simply images that I find aesthetically pleasing. They were taken with a cheap six-year-old digital camera, and I have given them fanciful titles; you may feel that they remind you of something else. Let me know if they do.

tattered banners

the big bang, as seen from a nearby universe

the enchanted forest

light and darkness


  1. Nice job! I like the compositions. "The enchanted forest" & "big ban" seem unbelievable - they were just some textures of breaking down walls, right? The last one can be an illustration of some sort of tory.

  2. Well spotted Yun Yi. “The Enchanted Forest” is actually a wall in the Forbidden City, Beijing, although “The Big Bang” is not a picture of a wall.

  3. To me, the beauty of photography lies in the fact that it is REAL. I really don't like it when photographers over process their shots. They start to look more like paintings than photos. You are already familiar with my photos. I don't process them at all. Like you I crop them and maybe adjust contrast a little. But no special effects and no color processing at all. I don't even own photoshop or anything like it. I really like the photos you posted!

    Hope you are doing okay Dennis!

  4. Hi Pat. I agree with you about the reality of the image...but I'd love to find a real image that looked like a painting (I don't have Photoshop either).

    I'm fine Pat. I've just been busy over Chinese New Year, especially with my sons being out in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks.


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