Category: News from around Europe
Almanac of Pictures with Soul
The word ‘almanac’ has gained a very specific status throughout the cultural history of the Czech lands, Moravia and Silesia, referring to an anthology of ideas associated with important anniversaries. Moreover, it has also marked a selection of texts written in connection of a remarkable transition of a historical threshold.
Regarding this, however, we do not perceive the Almanac of Works of Members of the Czech Professional Photographers Association, which you are just about to open, as a milestone. We rather see it as an attempt to follow up the once excellent tradition, the age of photography movement dynamic development in our country, as well as an effort to prove that, despite the current difficult situation of the photographer profession, members of the ‘Association’ do not forget, that what brought them to photography was their desire for self-expression, inner longing to perceive and treat photography as a modern visual mean of interpersonal communication.
Thanks to the rapid development of digital imaging, the art of photography is now in a special, perhaps even ambivalent situation. The ‘smart’ mobile phone cameras are contributing to the swift development of recording of practically everything that happens, while the much easily attainable technical level of pictures makes us think that almost everybody can take an impressive picture as long as they have good hardware and software equipment. If the twentieth century received the ‘picture century’ epithet then the dawn of the twenty-first century may be marked as the dawn of the digitalised picture age.
Imaging technologies enable us to drive a car that is yet to be manufactured, walk among half-built houses that so far only exist on the blue-prints. We can admire non-existent landscapes in ‘photographs’ as well as wonderful mountains, all of which exist only thanks to the fantasy of the author of the photography and technical options of Photoshop. This phenomenon – on its own remarkably positive – however, leads to the overproduction of picture smog, to loss of feelings for critical evaluation of modern imaging media products, while it supresses the visual literacy, leading thus also to a negative impact on the profession of a photographer.
A whole number of various producers and businesses are now equipped with cameras and other technology, taking pictures for their internet catalogues themselves, and only a few care that such catalogues are far from perfect. Carefully created photography of architecture is disappearing, melting away in virtual video sequences that are acquired at a greater speed and, most of all, with less effort.
The crown of this outclassing movement are indeed the photo booths placed in all possible state institutions, which have uncompromisingly erased communal portrait photo studios. However, the more these machines resigned to the real essence of a photography, i.e. to ‘drawing with light’, in the name of a better computer processability of the picture, the more has their production moved away from, what we understand under the term portrait, and there is no time or money left for its quality any more.
Indeed there would be no point in presenting all reasons that has led the Czech Professional Photographers Association to this seemingly anachronistic, perhaps even Quixotic deed, the publishing of the Almanac with selection of the art works of its members. Following sensitive philosophers – who many years ago came to the idea that ‘Quixotism’ has its sense in the modern society, that this ‘swimming against the tide’ can refer to the necessary revolt against the chaos and haste of our time and the loss of sense of human deeds – this collection of pictures strives to point out to the fundamental human need to think about the communicative component of photography imaging, to stop for a while, dwell over the pictures and look for their hidden meanings.
It was thought at the dawn of the ‘light drawing’ that a photography wold get closer to visual art, or as the case may be, to painting by breaking the mechanical process of the creation of image by manual intervention, however the ‘New Objectivity’, ‘Direct’ and ‘Subjective Photography’ movement, just as the influence of surrealistic tendencies and the strong drift towards ‘Staged photography’ during the 20th century proved that the power of photography as well as the depth of its content expression are based on the ability to use own expressive means of the photographic image, without borrowing the painting and graphic methods, as was noted by Albert Renger-Patzsch in 1925.
The pictures in this Almanac are striving to be just like this.
prof. Miroslav Vojtechovsky, QEP