Photography and the Art of Chance (Hardback)Robin Kelsey (author)
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Photography has a unique relationship to chance. Anyone who has wielded a camera has taken a picture ruined by an ill-timed blink or enhanced by an unexpected gesture or expression. Although this proneness to chance may amuse the casual photographer, Robin Kelsey points out that historically it has been a mixed blessing for those seeking to make photographic art. On the one hand, it has weakened the bond between maker and picture, calling into question what a photograph can be said to say. On the other hand, it has given photography an extraordinary capacity to represent the unpredictable dynamism of modern life. By delving into these matters, Photography and the Art of Chance transforms our understanding of photography and the work of some of its most brilliant practitioners.
The effort to make photographic art has involved a call and response across generations. From the introduction of photography in 1839 to the end of the analog era, practitioners such as William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, Frederick Sommer, and John Baldessari built upon and critiqued one another's work in their struggle to reconcile aesthetic aspiration and mechanical process. The root problem was the technology's indifference, its insistence on giving a bucket the same attention as a bishop and capturing whatever wandered before the lens. Could such an automatic mechanism accommodate imagination? Could it make art? Photography and the Art of Chance reveals how daring innovators expanded the aesthetic limits of photography to create art for a modern world.
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of pages: 398
Weight: 726 g
Dimensions: 239 x 163 x 33 mm
A brilliant choice of theme for an encompassing, revisionist history of photography that shows canonical figures at their best; chance is the flip side of techne and the motor of avant-garde aesthetics, as well as a key subject in the history of modern consciousness. Kelsey's explanatory clarity and gift for concision, meanwhile, are no accident.--Matthew S. Witkovsky, The Art Institute of Chicago
Photography and the Art of Chance brilliantly interweaves the history of photography with a broader history of art and an intellectual history of chance. This interdisciplinary approach helps Kelsey sidestep claims about the ontological status of photography that separate the medium entirely from other forms...Perhaps more remarkable than the book's breadth is that Kelsey moves across fields with a language that is both specific and accessible enough to make his book a satisfying read for a varied audience...Photography and the Art of Chance will reward specialists and general audiences, providing insights to a spectrum of readers disconcerted, resigned, or even enlivened by the apparent randomness and indifference that still characterizes so much of our modern lives.--Lauren Kroiz"caa.reviews" (03/24/2016)
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