Is This Kitsch?

January 28, 2021  •  1 Comment

Blog 21 01 29 Eiffel KitschBlog 21 01 29 Eiffel KitschCopyrighted Digital Image

All That Glitters…?

This pile of little Eiffel Towers was on sale outside a souvenir shop nearby to the massive real thing. Their daring and, may I say, non-representative colour scheme glittered and glowed in the summer sunlight. No-one seemed to want to buy any of these precious, carefully engineered, scale-model, evocations of an iconic example of engineering skill and aesthetic daring. One reason for the lack of interest, might  be that 30% of the world’s population probably already has one? All that said, I was immediately attracted to photograph them. Why?

More Is More

In contrast to my ironic introduction, I personally view each of these souvenirs as kitsch, because they are colourful, cheap, plastic, mass-produced and a poor evocation of the real thing. When it comes to painting, sculpture or home decoration, my definition of art may be your kitsch, or vice versa, but I dare to say that we would both agree that these little touristic reminders are in poor taste? And yet…

Curiously, I felt another aesthetic arising from the very excess of so many of them jumbled together. In some way, their burning colours cancelled each other out. On an individual basis each one was garish, but like Hindu religious costumes, the daring juxtaposition of bright, primary colours was glorious.

Equally, the pell-mell distribution blended a shape which has been burned into our collective memories of Paris into something completely abstract. The eye no longer focusses on one image of totality, but rather flits around the image, seeing only pieces of the whole and burrows into “caverns measureless to man”, to steal a phrase. 

All the while their nature still screamed “I’m the Eiffel Tower, look at me! See me in ways you never can in real life, not even with a drone camera: sideways, upside down, top down, bottom up and upside down”. All at the same time. A fantasy.

Eye Of The Beholder

I well understand that my experience of this visual offering is personal and perhaps does not “travel” – unlike the purchased souvenirs. It flows from a curious eye, seeing the environment in slices, like a film director using a Director’s viewfinder to reduce the scene to what will be found in-camera.

Being a photographer trains a person to “envision”, to choose parts of the viewed world and even to mentally turn them in three dimensions, to try and portray them in a particularly interesting or artistic way. Above all it is a capacity to see particular qualities in objects and/or juxtapositions which give them meaning when connected.

I believe that each photographer has his or her own sensitivity, based on their purpose in photographing, their response to each moment and their assessments of how, or whether, the scene meets their needs. I am also deeply aware that, when faced with the same circumstances, I can either feel inspired to make multiple impactful images or I might respond weakly, depending on my emotional state at the time. How is it for you? I can only encourage an effort to feed the habit of “emotionally looking”, as opposed to only “seeing in passing”. It is a practice which joins heart and eye to the finger pressing the shutter release, releasing joy.

Settings

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G ED

Vibration Reduction: None

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Focal Length: 60mm

Focus Mode : AF-S

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/400s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: 0.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Hand Held

Place : Eiffel tower Paris

Year: 2014

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved
 


Comments

Eric Bontemps(non-registered)
Le texte donne tout son sens à l'image qui reste intéressante de part son côté graphique et multicolore. Ca me rappelle les étals de bijoux colorés indiens.
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