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Reflecting upon theory of photography and theory of art in general I came to the conclusion that I define art as follows: "ART IS SOMETHING THAT PLUNGES INTO RATIONAL CONFUSION." If while watching, addressing an object I feel rational confusion, it as art, if not – it is something else.

Where It Started From

I still cannot answer this question myself.

From my endless recollection of my grandmother’s home, where some collage panels of family photos were hanging on the walls? Or from nostalgia for my NOKIA 6630 cell-phone which I gave to my ex-girlfriend after she had lost hers in a night-club, and with which for about two years I took my mobilographic pictures that were objects of undeserved attention of professional photographers on Flickr.com? I don’t know. At that time, I could not understand why people liked my mobilographic shots so much; now I seem to understand.

This NOKIA 6630 had a very simple camera. “Plastic-fantastic”, as the saying goes. With it began my entry to Lomography, I believe. At that time I didn’t know that such a phenomenon, movement, philosophy existed… but the thing is, NOKIA 6630 shots for sure were Lomographic! At least the style of my photography was so. I had a blog where I posted my pictures making some kind of panel of them, now I would call it a mobilographic wall (as analogy to Lomo walls). I think it was the beginning…

One day occasionally I saw a fragment of a film about Hong-Kong on a cable TV-channel in which it was mentioned about some cheap Soviet camera with optic defects thanks to which a new art movement originated. I caught the last two minutes of the film, and the film was not about lomography but about Hong Kong, so nobody concentrated on Lomography much at that time.

Then a long pause took place. Till this summer. July, 2008 has become a starting point.

THEORY

Lomography is a philosophy, they say.

I’d rather say it is an attitude to the reality, it is a world view, to be more precise. I don’t want it to sound like “different from usual” or somehow like that. On the contrary, it is rather the most usual attitude to it, the most natural and free. Yes, just free. Free from all the dogmatic stereotypes, and loaded just with emotional ones.

A smile of sadness will always touch the soul, no matter how much time has passed since it was fixed. It is difficult to get rid of emotions, but do we need to?!

Is Lomography an Art?

The question should rather be put this way: Is photography an art? Generally, what is photography? In my opinion, there are two approaches. 1) Photography is a fixation of desirable reality, I emphasize: exactly “desirable reality” (studio shooting, classical family portrait, etc.) and 2) photography is a fixation of reality as it is (floating, spontaneous, unstable, endlessly mobile, that is – NATURAL, ALIVE).

Reflecting upon theory of photography and theory of art in general I came to the conclusion that I define art as follows: ART IS SOMETHING THAT PLUNGES INTO RATIONAL CONFUSION. If while watching, addressing an object I feel rational confusion, it as art, if not – it is something else.

A simple example. The second half of the 19th century was marked by the emergence of impressionism. The movement was born as an uprising against dogmatic reflection of reality (desirable reality). Impressionism reflected reality, but not the dogmatic plot themes. Mainly I talk about not Claude Oscar Monet (from whose work “Impression” the movement’s name originated), but about Edouard Manet –he was the real hero of the day. It was Edouard Manet who shocked the dogmatic academic community by exhibiting his works such as The Absinthe Drinker, Luncheon on the Grass, Olympia, and, finally, The Spanish Singer (a knock-out after which nobody could offer any resistance). All these works except The Spanish Singer were exhibited in a contra-cultural gallery of that time under an unambiguous name of Salon des Refuses, which was organized as an opposition to the major dogmatic Paris art salon and gathered all outstanding contra-cultural painters. Actually, the audience visited Salon des Refuses more willingly than its dogmatic opponent.

The main reproofs to the painters of Salon des Refuses were LITERALISM, MODERNITY, and NON-ACADEMICISM of their works. No less than that.

The second chord was played by Claude Oscar Monet by painting his Impression. After which it all started… It is interesting that Edouard Manet himself strongly opposed to the definition of his works as impressionistic ones. Moreover, he did not like it at all, but it did not matter anymore. Impressionism was given birth to. And even now you read and I write about it.

In my opinion, it is a great example of what is happening now with Lomography. I do not see any difference. Moreover, I believe that Lomography is nothing more than a form of impressionism. The only difference is that artists use not paints but photographic cameras for fixation of reality (impression of it).

Speaking about professional training, it is worth mentioning that all (or almost all) artists working in contra-cultural genres, the same Impressionism, for example, were masters of art techniques; these gentlemen could easily reproduce any picture by a predecessor in any style and genre. The same way as Malevich with his Black Square was, first of all, a brilliant landscape painter, and only then a contra-cultural creator of the classical geometric symbol.

And it is important too.

I believe, the majority of Lomographers are able to create classic photos with help of classic digital photo cameras on classic themes, with light, composition, exposure properly set, and even with post-production. Yes, it is so. But nevertheless…

LOMO – LOve & MOtion. Love and motion. And EMOTION as well. Emotion is something that should be considered and what should be added. LOMO – *L*ove, m*O*tion, e*M*otion (the second “O” in “LOMO” is free as in Mendeleev’s periodic table).

Lomography is a world view.

A world view of clear consciousness. Existence beyond dogma, free existence. Consciousness not burdened with any dogmatic archetypes and other forms of inner and social pressing. I like it very much. I find it marvelous.

It would be impossible to create something new (and without novelty any movement dies because it simply becomes played out) without overcoming the forms limiting your creativity. Freedom of creative work as a form of self-expression gives birth to novelty. Internal experience of each person is unique, inimitable, and that is why each person is valuable for their INNER WORLD. There is no such another world. Everybody dances their own dance.

It is not appropriate to set a framework for it. It is a crime. If it happens this unique beautiful inner world will die. Uniformity and dogma are guarantee of death. All we should do is to provide channels and ways of realization for our unique Self. Our slogan, the slogan of Lomographic consciousness, should be not a dogma but a form of giving expression to our emotions. The forms are photo cameras, films, ways of development, etc. In other words, all the things that help us to express ourselves.

Photography vs. Lomography

Is it possible to teach beauty? Can you imagine an advertisement: “Beauty Course”? Obviously, it is absurd. However, I would attend a “Delight Course” with great pleasure! =)

Beauty is an inner quality, it is also unique and inimitable. One likes something, the other likes something else. Something is admired by everybody, something – only by few people.

Nevertheless, some personages try to point out to us, to Lomographers, what is beautiful and what is not. It is a reproach for “classic” photographers so much loving to interfere with their theoretical “err, well, exposure is not enough…err, well, there is no multiple exposure, no… ”

By the way, I will allow myself another historical and cultural digression. Once, Jacques-Yves Cousteau (legendary pioneer and explorer of undersea world) was asked what he thought about football World Cup. His answer was rather categorical: he said that he did not watch that disgusting farce, because it is not sport, and players are not sportsmen. In what sense – asked a surprised journalist? And the master of undersea filming explained who he considered sportsmen, and who not. According to Jacques-Yves Cousteau, a sportsman is someone who spends most of his time at ordinary work and only when free from work does exercises, plays football, etc; but if all a person does is training, they are not a sportsman – it is not pure sport.

Yes. I 100% agree with him. It is not a reproach for professional photographers or sportsmen, it is only where I draw a dividing line.

Lomography is the pure art, pure expression, pure sport! Jacques-Yves Cousteau is our man! He swam underwater too, took pictures of anything there, well, you understand what I am talking about))). There you have Fisheye and Krab :D. It is a joke, of course, but… he was of Lomographic consciousness for sure. I am convinced that if he was alive he would have a Lomo LC-A.

Style and Perception.

It has been written a lot about the fact that a picture with darkened corners looks exactly like how the human eye sees the reality. It speaks volumes about everything, I think. My consciousness accepted Lomo pictures as my own blood group. Lomo-view is my view.

As for plots. Undoubtedly, to use all the 36 frames for one wall is not something one wants to do. One will get a wall – but not a LOMO one.

What a Lomo-style is then? Blurred pictures? Lomo-walls? Multiple exposure? A spontaneously caught emotion?

A long time ago, when people lived in caves and were afraid of saber-toothed tigers, they actively fixed their everyday life in rock paintings. Bulls, mammoths, buffalos, deer, rhinoceros – many things… but it was a script, symbol, DOCUMENT, in a way. And it was really important. But was it art? No. It was just a DOCUMENT. It was not even a model of reality, it was just a DOCUMENT, a dry fact.

Classic photographers try to fix reality (a DOCUMENT). Lomographers fix factual reality (an EMOTION) like children drawing with chalks on asphalt. Childish state of mind is not defective and primitive, but, in contrast, it if free. While watching a sunset a child will never say, “If only there, on that side, the moon started to rise”; a child simply enjoys what they see and does not “place the light” where a face will be lighted better.

Lomography is not a vogue autumn-spring-winter-summer trend crowds of sufferers turn to with hope to appear on the peak of visual and symbolic success, inevitable advent of which all lomo-embassies of the world try to persuade of by suggesting to naïve digital society that “Claude Monet is nothing, but you with tour lomo-camera are everything!”, but a WAY and MEANS of expressing YOUR INNER EMOTION (through or with fixation of somebody else’s emotion).

A tangle of emotional experience wound of threads of everyday life would not trouble one for some time, but one day it will become too big to stay unnoticed. One has to take a Lomo camera to discharge, to zero, to relax. I believe that strong and deep inner world, the world of inner conflict and complex inner work provide a basis for excellent Lomo shots.

Two guys in a rented student flat did not simply discharged a camera into a wall or empty wine bottles, but fixed discussions on philosophy, art, literature, music… and so on, and, of course, they fixed EMOTIONS!

That is what Lomography is for me.

Denis Karagodin,
karagodin.com

Specially for Lomographic Embassy Russia,
lomography.ru

22.08.2008

Originally Crosspost: http://www.karagodin.com/?p=7967
Russian version: http://www.karagodin.com/?p=293

written by karagodin

6 comments

  1. copefan

    copefan

    for me........... its taking pictures......

    about 5 years ago · report as spam
  2. stouf

    stouf

    Waow ! Thanks for this incredible post. This is a passionate and personal document, and I am really amazed by the way you put things together. Mentioning Monet, Cousteau and Mendeleev to illustrate your thoughts just makes me think of my own personal definition of lomography (as it is written in my home). To me, lomography is about the emergence of beauty out of chaos. It's the combination of (camera + lens + film + chemical process + light + temperature + meteorology + instant + subject + photographer) that result sometimes in miracles... Anyway. Everyone has its own opinion about it. And I'm glad you shared yours with us. Lomo on.

    about 5 years ago · report as spam
  3. lomosexual_manboy

    lomosexual_manboy

    Wow, great insight.

    about 5 years ago · report as spam
  4. vtayeh

    vtayeh

    A beautiful, inspirational, and moving piece! Very well stated!

    about 5 years ago · report as spam
  5. eastmoe

    eastmoe

    great..

    about 5 years ago · report as spam
  6. vicuna

    vicuna

    What a beautiful great essay about Lomography!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about lomo with us! :))

    about 5 years ago · report as spam