Fantastic Factory

Fact and Fancy

Technically Reborn Traditions

Nonetheless, reportage-and-genre photography has failed to completely oust the techniques and styles of an art photography seeking to be at one with the fine arts. Styles are still borrowed from the arsenal of painting and the graphic arts. Indeed, by the 1980s these efforts made noticeable headway. Such aspects as the studio portrait and photographs of architecture, landscapes and still life are still circumscribed by the rules of construction on a two-dimensional plane that are entrenched in the realistic fine arts.

The analysis afforded of the innovations enriching the respective traditional photographic techniques underscores the interaction of the different aspects. On the borderline with art are shots of the unknown elements, often invisible to the naked eye, of both micro- and macro-worlds. Cognition is taken of the multiplicity of form in both animate and inanimate nature. Such pictures are not infrequently viewed as metaphor and serve to engender poetic images. Like the cinema and television, photography per se is creating new genres that overshoot the confines of the plastic arts.

Photo Graphics Style

Both professional and amateur continue the techniques and manner of the graphic artist. Noted are high-key and low-key techniques, such photographic processes that, while independent of the camera, are closely related to graphic art, such as the photogram, Sabbatier's effect, solarization and the relief image, oscillography, and "electronic graphics". Photo graphics is currently common in amateur art.

Indicated is the classical technique of graphic arts in pictorial photo graphics; functionally justifiable is the application of the techniques of photo graphics in montage, collage, poster and advert, not infrequently in combination with a drawing by hand. Photo graphics is seeking to establish itself as a genre of the fine arts, although, in the author's view it has failed to demonstrate an underivative character. The conclusion is drawn that graphic art as a realm of the fine arts is incorporating the techniques of photo graphics; as for creative photography per se, photo graphics is yielding pride of place to the photographing of real life, which is the main designation of the art of photography.

The Limitations of Metaphor

The continuity of metaphoric photography has been unbroken throughout the entire 150-year-old history of photography generally. In documentary photography the metaphor represents but one of the many means in the arsenal of artistic expression. Art photographers have free licence to translate fantasy into reality, to create an "imagined reality", a "new actuality". In this field too, as in photojournalism, manifest are both progressive and conservative tendencies consonant with materialistic or idealistic attitudes.

Such is the conclusion to be arrived at from the trends of development in experimental, metaphoric, fantasized, subjectively-oriented photography between the 1950s and the 1970s, whatever the respective manner or style is called. Noted is the metaphoric character of genre sequences, a photographic technique that was rather widespread in the 1970s. Mentioned are metaphor-type pictures taken in varied styles by different authors, such as the Frenchman Catarino Roget, the Italian Felix Scherhenbauer, the American George Ulsmann, the Argentinian Pedro Raota, and the four Soviet masters, Vitalii Butyrin, Peter Tooming, Lev Tugalev and Vilgelm Mikhailovsky.

Colour Photography

A survey is provided of the development of colour photography from the time Thomas Johann Seebeck obtained in Jena in 1810 images of spectral red and violet up to modern techniques employing wide colour reversal film. By the 1960s and 1970s colour photography was appreciated as much as black-and-white film in both the fine arts and the mass media, mostly in the printing industry.

Once black-and-white photography made headway against argument and encroached upon the fine arts; today colour photography is taking over. The novel trend of holography looms on the horizon, indeed, is almost here. Soviet-made colour photographs are reproduced.

The Nature of the Photographic Image

Photographic history knows of instances when circumstantial compendiums of aesthetic recommendations for constructing art photographs have been compiled. The respective criteria were lifted from the experience accumulated in the plastic arts, with, naturally, due account taken of photographic techniques. Art photography, whether black-and-white or colour – and implied here is the traditional concept – continues to proceed from such recommendations, however, already with an eye to the largely increased arsenal available of visual means of expression. In this case the nature of the artistic image is regarded from the aesthetic angle, for the most part, of realistic art. We have a different situation, though, in non-staged, action photography of a documental order. Quoted are the comments of the German scholar Z. Krockauer as to the tendency in this type of photography to "emphasize the non-deliberate, casual and unexpected", to convey "a sense of an unfinished endlessness derived by stressing the chance element".

Noted are the associative motivations inducing the viewer to limn his or her own image when examining documentary photographs. Succeeding generations re-interpret in their own manner photographs of past events. Emerging is the phenomenon of the history genre in documentary photography. The information therein contained acquires image not necessarily akin to the impression that works in the fine arts produce. The image in documentary photography has come in for more intensive study in the 1960s and 1970s. It has served as a catalyst in its application to other documentary forms of art. Even in cases of a pronounced departure from the real thing art photography retains those signs of verisimilitude that are characteristic of the documentary. Often the process of the documentary's transformation into image derives from the typification of solitary photographically recorded phenomena. Commented upon are the many different ways in which documentary photographs may be understood. In studies of the magic mystery through which the recorded fact, the documentary transforms into image, it is aesthetics, however assisted by other disciplines that dominates.

As for these other fields, in evaluating the processes of creating and comprehending the produce of photography's arch-communicative genres akin to journalism, one will necessarily proceed from certain precepts derived from information theory and semiotics. To demonstrate this point both Soviet and foreign authorities are quoted. Listed in conclusion are three possible approaches to an analysis of the form and content of photographic efforts, whether separate shots, series, sequences, photoessays or photobooks: 1) the traditional approach deriving from the historical experience amassed by the fine arts; 2) the semiotic approach considering the photographic image primarily in the context of the syntaxis of the language of photography, which thus enables one to spot the relationships between the signs and symbols in photographs; 3) the approach from the angle of information theory. In the process of day-to-day research and instruction all three methods may be combined. Meanwhile the very fact of the existence of various aspects of considering photographic creativity and photographs as such, indicates how firmly photography is ensconced in the composite of modern arts integrating with the mass communication media.