Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word ‘modernistic’.
You know, I really feel sorry for photographers who live in nice places… No, really I do… Nice places are… well they are nice – no rough neighbourhoods – they have clean streets, calm atmosphere, ‘picturesque’ scenery, warm weather, perhaps a sparkling lake or the blue blue sea nearby, golden beaches, whitewashed cottages, narrow cobbled lanes rising up to the aromatic pine forests… that sort of thing… Yes, it must be awful for them, poor things…
‘So why do you feel sorry for them Dave?’ I hear you ask.
Well, it’s because they have nothing interesting to take pictures of. Once they’ve done the whitewashed cottages, the azure sea, the barnacle encrusted rocks under that clear clear sky they’ve really done it all. All they can do is take more and more pictures of the same ‘nice’ things – that’s not really what art is about, is it? Then after they’ve drifted, in desperation, down to the poorest part of town and found the grizzled whiskery old man sitting smoking his filthy pipe, who seems to be looking deliberately careworn and blank after his years of hard back-breaking toil – and they’ve spotted his slender grey-haired wife, with her deep-set suspicious eyes, still knitting that awful drab shawl, they click their big expensive camera, and then realise that they’ve finally run out of subjects…
The pages of that photo sharing site Flickr are bulging with this kind of thing – oh, if I see another crisp black and white photo of a grizzled old man smoking a pipe, or a winding sunlit cobbled lane, or some bright flakey paint wooden fishing boats bobbing in the… I’ll… I’ll… I don’t know what I’ll do!…
There seems to be a big audience for this ‘nice’ stuff though – they seem to think that it’s ‘artistic’, or perhaps it reminds them of their holidays? Speaking of holidays, I wonder if these photographers who live in nice places go off on their holidays to run-down industrial parts of big cities, just to get away from all the niceness? Perhaps they go happily clambering over piles of unpleasant detritus and peering into dark mysterious holes in dirty old boilers, and snapping lush greenery unexpectedly sprouting from rusty holes in corrugated iron shed roofs?
‘Oh look, isn’t this tangled brown barbed wire emerging from under these old broken red bricks wonderful Jennifer?’
‘Yes, Nigel, and look here at this pile of old VHS porn videos spilling out of this mildewed brown suitcase! See how the sunlight has bleached the flesh-tones on the naked bodies to a delicate pale blue – it’s marvellous!…’
‘Oh, what a great time we are having, I shall miss all this when we get back home.’
‘So will I…’ (Sigh…)
‘We could move here you know…’
‘No, no – sorry, silly idea!…’