Color and contrast manipulations did not change the essence of the information or result that the photographer intended. Robinson Crusoe by William Lake Price.

In an age with so many image editing software, some that can be carried on cell phones in your pocket, it is difficult not to talk about manipulation when talking about photography. However, some do not consider that even before digital tools, images were already manipulated. This is the proposal of the American curator and researcher Malcolm Daniel, who comes to the fair SP-Art/PHOTO to integrate the conversation cycle schedule TALKS, talking about his study about it. Along with him, the Brazilian researcher Fabiana Bruno participates in the panel, having her studies and her speech supported by the idea of ​​post-photography. That is, everything that happens right after the click is done with the camera.

Malcolm is curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and former curatorial director at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. he tells the ARTE!Brasileiros that those who know him joke about how excited he is about “all those little brown photographs from the XNUMXth century when there is so much interesting going on in contemporary photography”. He's always looking for ways to get people to like the old photographs, the ones that make your heart beat so fast.

color manipulations and
contrast did not change
the essence of information
or result that the photographer
intended. Robinson Crusoe by William
Lake Price.

In his speech in São Paulo, Malcolm does not propose, however, to say that “there is nothing new under the Sun” regarding manipulation techniques or authenticating more recent photographers placing them in a historical lineage. The curator's true intention is to do the opposite, encouraging people to know and appreciate great old photographers knowing that they were precursors of names like Andreas Gursky, Sally Mann, Mickalene Thomas, Vik Muniz and John Chiara, for example, as they employed techniques and strategies that, according to him, people find interesting in recent photography: “Not just in terms of manipulation, but also in simulated scenes for the cameras, a willingness to accept an opportunity or an accident, a fascination with the process of materiality, a typological investigation of the word”, he explains.

About image manipulation being a good or bad thing for photography as art in general, he prefers to say that he does not believe in this dualism – even though tools like Photoshop are, according to him, a facility that has often been “a trap that photographers have to deal with. They fell". Despite this, he confesses that he believes the best manipulation is the one that goes unnoticed by the public eye and that he doesn't find it appealing when "the manipulation becomes the content of the image instead of helping the content".

color manipulations and
contrast did not change
the essence of information
or result that the photographer
intended. Lovely Six
Foota, by Mickalene Thomas.

The curator argues that what is done today with the ease and speed of software “is no different from what was done manually by predecessors in the dark room”. Back in the day, they were already using methods to cut or adjust exposure or time, for example. Some of the XNUMXth century photographers Malcolm considers in this regard are William Lake Price and Gustave Le Gray.

Price is, according to researchers such as Maria Inez Turazzi, who published the first photography manual that aimed to approach and debate aesthetic and conceptual issues. The publication would date from the year 1985. Perhaps the best known work of Gustave Le Gray, for confirming the ability of photography to capture the moment, “the big wave” (1857) needed to have two different negatives printed on the same support for the artist to reach the intended result. This procedure, according to Marcelo Ribeiro, professor of communication at UFBA, would have been applied to all the photographs that make up the series Le Gray in Sete.

For Malcolm, the most interesting thing about being able to present his speech at the event is being able to get people into territory that is often uncharted. “It's a chance to introduce people to something new, spark a sense of discovery, open the way for exploration and enjoyment,” he says. He also points this out as the coolest part of being able to curate exhibits for the museum where he currently works. “You know the old saying 'I don't know much about art, but I know what I like'? He's more of a 'I don't know much about art, but I like what I know,'” he highlights. And he concludes: “I'm convinced that these 'small brown photographs from the XNUMXth century' can make other people's hearts beat fast too”.

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