Sunday, September 06, 2015
Inspiration: the Screen Photography of Donald Blumberg
Taking Pictures of Your TV Screen?
Growing up, and going to visit my French grandparents in the small town of Bourg-en-Bresse, I was fascinated by one of their neighbors, an old woman who spent hours taking pictures of her favorite male tennis players playing on her television. Not only did she take the pictures, but she filled albums and albums with them, showing them over and over, as she passed around cookies and milk. However her photos came out, butt shots, out of focus shots, shots of Wimbledon grass with a foot in it, it didn't matter to her how they came out, regardless she paid to develop her photos and put them into her albums, to her everlasting delight.
I bring this up as now being written about in newspapers with a new show in New Haven is octogenarian Donald Blumberg. A former street photographer of the 1960s, who took a while to find his footing, and find art and purposeful technique and messages in the candid photos he took, Blumberg turned to photographing newspaper pages, and then more recently his television screen, with the captioning on, focusing on trashy and sad moments of our all-pervasive media distorted world.
One photo which has gotten good reviews is that of a commentator reacting to President Obama's reaction to the horrific Newtown shooting, which did nothing so far, it seems, in changing America's gun culture. It's as if the detachment of commentary to reaction to screen to photograph of the screen is just too little for effect, but sadly our inevitable reality, given the ease of buying guns whatever your state of mind.
Searing and Illuminating?
That leaves us with analyzed threats of fighters, who give themselves up for profit in a cage, in this case in pre-match hype, for slaughter or brief bloody glory and our somewhat sick televised enthrallment, which now competes or plays along with our little screens occupying more and more of our visual space, making Blumberg's work historical and frightening, but also searing and illuminating.