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12-28-2010, 11:29 AM   #1
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The vogue of gloom

Is it my unfounded impression or a good number of photographers with artistic ambitions tend to assimilate 'mood' with 'gloom'? An inclination towards black and white, rather heavy contrast, underexposure and some vignetting looks like the 'requisite' formula for conveying any sort of state. An "Emo" photo-mannerism?


Last edited by causey; 12-28-2010 at 12:01 PM.
12-28-2010, 12:32 PM   #2
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If it sells, do it.

That's the basic rule of artistic survival.

As long as emo shots continue to sell, many will shoot thusly.

Shoeless Joe Jackson and Bill Haley had the same excuse: Gotta feed the family.
12-29-2010, 08:29 AM   #3
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Well, a "moody" photo or anything else described as "moody" tends to be rather depressing. A good photo generates emotion and that doesn't have to be gloom. Personally, I prefer the opposite as there is more than enough gloom to go around these days.
12-29-2010, 04:25 PM   #4
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It does seem as if a lot of artiste photographers feel that a good image is one that has enough pathos to make you want to get into a hot bath and slash your wrists.
It's always been this way. I suspect though, that the movement towards Goth and all of it's trappings are also moving photography that way as well.


Last edited by Wheatfield; 12-29-2010 at 06:47 PM.
12-29-2010, 05:48 PM   #5
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Art is contemplative.


Which is not to say there isn't an awful lot of bad art, but that's a different question.
12-30-2010, 10:28 AM   #6
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It's the same principle as in the general media... Look at your Newspaper... The ratio of negative news to positive ones is in itself depressing. I guess bad news generate more response. Same thing with art. Nowadays it tends to go after the shock value rather than beauty.
12-30-2010, 11:11 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Voytech Quote
Look at your Newspaper... The ratio of negative news to positive ones is in itself depressing. I guess bad news generate more response.
For some reason, people pay more attention to bad news than good news. TEN PEOPLE MURDERED TODAY grabs more eyeballs than 305,271,539 PEOPLE NOT MURDERED TODAY. The rule for TV news (HA!) is: IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS.

QuoteQuote:
Same thing with art. Nowadays it tends to go after the shock value rather than beauty.
And then we get into arguments about WHAT IS ART? To some, images or musics or sculptures that aren't beautiful, aren't art. (Which than leads to arguments over WHAT IS BEAUTY?) To others, only images and musics that shake you, that challenge you, are art -- all that pretty stuff is mere decoration, wallpaper, muzak. Or if John Cage showed that any sound you can get people to listen to is music, then Andy Warhol showed that any image you can frame and get people to look at (and to buy!) is art.

So, is any distinctive object art? Or only objects that please you, or challenge you, or that make money for someone? Certainly some of what we consider notable art fits some or all of those categories, and shift with time. Perspective was very challenging when first introduced. Paintings once considered masterpieces are now dismissed as trash, and vice-versa. Our tastes change with time.

Noted 20th-century conductor and musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky wrote A LEXICON OF MUSICAL INVECTIVE listing critical reactions to orchestral music over the centuries. Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky, Boulez, all in their day had their music criticized as "vulgar barnyard noise, screams of slaughtered hogs, unlistenable cacophony", etc. Not so long ago, camera(wo)men who shot images of urban despair and decay were dismissed as The Ashcan School of Photography. Some of their prints now sell for more than the price of a new home.

And maybe gloomy artists produce gloomy images, schizo photographers make schizo photos, etc. MAKE YOUR INSANITY/DEFECTS WORK FOR YOU is just another rule of artistic survival. Now I must go chop up some hamsters. Fun fun fun...
12-30-2010, 11:55 AM   #8
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Personally I find the gloomy weather and the images I get during the gloomy weather beautiful. For some odd reason, when there are dark clouds and storms I feel cheerful. Maybe it's because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest of the US (Seattle) and I'm more attuned to that. Not sure. Or maybe it's because when it rains everyone gripes about the weather and I get tired of hearing it. Regardless, I enjoy the gloomy weather and I enjoy photographing, and working with images of gloomy weather scenes. To me there's not a single depressing thing about it.

Yes I know. I'm a weirdo.

12-30-2010, 12:43 PM   #9
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RioRico - You're absolutely right. Art is hard to define. It eludes definition and morphs all the time. I'm not trying to define it. Nor am I saying that beautiful = art. My comment was that negative/dark subjects or topics seem to resonate with people more than positive things.

Mel - A stormy sky is just way more interesting than a plain blue one. You hardly hear anyone describe the sky as "happy" but you'll hear people say "angry skies" a lot. I suppose people like drama.
12-30-2010, 01:14 PM   #10
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I'm not fond of "happy things" either--I like colder climates that predispose one to seriousness. But the mannerism of gloom (not gloom as such, or originally rendered gloom) strikes me as being quite intense and widespread...
12-30-2010, 11:09 PM   #11
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If you look at the distribution of "fine art" photographs, they probably encompass the total range of emotions including joy, sex, anger, and depressive (mood?) feelings. If you care about snagging the emotions of viewers, you may well not shy away from using the darker type of images. I see nothing wrong witht that.

even further beyond the moody images the op is talking about, are the violent gory type of slasher movies. Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any comparable equivalent to those slasher movies in still photographic work.
12-30-2010, 11:28 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any comparable equivalent to those slasher movies in still photographic work.
There's probably a ton that falls under fetish categories(which I haven't seen, but know must exist), and even a fair amount that rises to the level of fine art(which I have seen, but wouldn't go out of my way to see again - but that's a taste thing).
Joel Peter Witkin is probably the biggest name associated with the genre. Jeffrey Silverthorne spoke at one of my classes when I was in school. Just a couple weeks ago I went to the latest Sally Mann exhibit, which included a series of human corpses in various states of decay. Wouldn't say any of them are gloomy, per se - the latter is a celebration in an odd sense - but it does not inspire one to go get ice cream.
The world's very first photographic self-portrait was of the artist as a dead man (fascinating story about that).

Last edited by kxr4trids; 12-31-2010 at 12:05 AM.
12-31-2010, 01:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by causey Quote
I'm not fond of "happy things" either--I like colder climates that predispose one to seriousness. But the mannerism of gloom (not gloom as such, or originally rendered gloom) strikes me as being quite intense and widespread...
There was a study done in Norway that determined the number of people suffering from depression correlated with their latitude in that country, i.e. the farther North the study population was, the more folks percentage wise that suffered depression.

But i do like taking the gloomy type pictures that the op talks about, i'm 50% Norwegian if that matters

(just look at my avatar :-))
12-31-2010, 05:39 PM   #14
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Eh, I dunno about *gloom:* Vermeer's one of my favorite painters, and I don't think 'gloom'

(Do have more thoughts on that, but I hit post too soon, and there's distractions about. )
01-02-2011, 04:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by philbaum Quote
There was a study done in Norway that determined the number of people suffering from depression correlated with their latitude in that country, i.e. the farther North the study population was, the more folks percentage wise that suffered depression.

But i do like taking the gloomy type pictures that the op talks about, i'm 50% Norwegian if that matters

(just look at my avatar :-))
Maybe you like dark photos because you live in the Pacific Northwest. ;-)
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