December 28, 2010

Minor White on Equivalence

It is not only with the more abstractified type of photography that the question arises of how much of the perception of an image is driven by the viewer. But the more abstract a photography is the larger the role of the viewer is: his imagination, his experience, his current state of mind.
The more explicit an image is the less is left to the imagination of the viewer.
Surfing around I stumbled across an essay by the photographer Minor White on what Alfred Stieglitz and others called "Equivalence". You can read Minor White's essay here.
As the perception of "Equivalence" relies solely on the imagination of the viewer there must be different classes of viewers out there. And some which Minor White was not very fond of: "And we observe that all too often the persons who cry "Sick, Sick, Sick" have no imagination. Or, for reasons obscure to them, they deliberately blind themselves to visual experiences that might disturb their basic insecurity."
When reading his comments I started to think of whether they might be still valid as of today, more than 50 years later. Well, I think the flood of images now molding current viewers is still mostly non-abstract - so abstract images might still be hard to grasp for todays average recipients.
But that is my honest opinion - and open to debate. I'd love to hear your commentaries on this topic!

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