The Short Image is where I’ll offer each Thursday a few words on art, culture, and elsewhere. This week, camping.
I’m with the second camp, often. The one that likes the mundane, the flat, prosaic. I like to see what I’ve seen before…but with an arrow pointing toward it, a frame around, a fresh new look.
I get the first camp, those who delight in the eerie and surreal. There’s the world—says that side—but sitting in the middle of it is something weird. I get that, wanting to be taken somewhere else, past ourselves and all our usual.
To me, the surreal can seem facile. Sure, put a mask on that kid, Meatyard. Give him what we don’t got, a prop. Isn’t that what the Surrealist were doing, in painting us melty clocks and monsters, putting a prop in the world? To hang our filmy ideas upon?
The firsters, they’ve got their own arguments. To them they wonder, Where’s the skill, Shore? Where’s your imagination? That old radio…it’s not even a good photo—bad composition, no style—and the subject is a drag. Lend us some feels, bro.
There’s all sorts of implications behind these arguments, too, indictments of elitism, on one side, charges of dull-wittedness, the other. Two camps, two sides of the lake.
Susan Sontag once said in her essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’” that “To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself.”
So go on ahead, reader. Go on.