On pre post-(erous)-modern isms

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In happy recognition of 1000+ followers, let there be some words :)

I like clichés as much as the next guy. In fact, I’m attracted to them like a moth to a Death Star, err I mean flame, or fire, or indeed that nicely rotund Pokémon that sleeps a lot …

Evidently, typing permanently non-evolving words onto a static white webpage has taken its toll and not even five “I”s into the post, boredom has already set in. I suppose such is living the slow life in the fast line, frantically adapting to rapid change in a dignified nonchalant crawl. But, moving away from words which purports to induce vigorous and vacuous head-nods in a modern art museum (of which I remain hilariously guilty), why do we point at abstract things and say things like “Ah, the artist here tries to combine the fragility of life and the miracle of modern conservation by making a house of cards with various poses of a panda each equipped with a different coloured bowtie.”

Personally, I’d go nuts at such an artwork, not because I “get” the message (although I feel like I ought to, given that I’ve just spent the last 30 seconds awkwardly constructing it) but a Panda seems to trigger something for me..

A: Here you see the artist’s attempt at showing discord in the Labour party by having the red cube in the middle, not budging but not moving either, signifying an impasse so mind-numbingly annoying that it borders on the sociopathic.  B: Oo blocks, reminds me of that iPhone game…

Hence, this gave birth to an idea I had of looking for interesting things in ordinary pictures I took, the post-photograph if you will (not in the post-man sense, where post is getting delivered, or in the post-man sense, where post denotes a departure from the man form, or indeed in the post-man sense where robots take over). No, I meant a photograph which is fully realised after you’ve taken it, sometimes years after the fact.

For example, here’s a perfectly average picture I took last year of a staircase in the Tate Britain museum in London:


Not the most offensively composed staircase but it’s a bit boring, stereotypical perhaps or even the dreaded cliché with the moth to Death Star thing..

Here’s the after picture, titled the


Panda with the noodle bowl.

You may need to stare at it a bit, or as my maths lecturer used to say “whenever something is trying to be a triangle, it really is a triangle”, or my favourite, “The equations are perfectly interpretable in a non-ambiguous way, it’s only when you try to put them in words it can get a bit misleading.”

I’ll leave it here for now, need to go away to think about a Flüssigkeitsoberflächen.


8 thoughts on “On pre post-(erous)-modern isms

  1. Oh I never try to interpret modern art, it either fulfills my sense of beauty or not, and I have no need to go further. If it doesn’t then it must be “bad art” :)
    Your photographs fulfill my sense of beauty. The one of the observers in the gallery is stunning, and the B&W panda is a wonderful abstract of patterns that please the eye. I would not have dismissed the original version as boring at all, but I do like the crop for the B&W version.

    1. That’s probably a good way to go about things!

      I’m glad you mention the observer picture, there is something I really like about it but can’t really put my (shutter)finger on it. It’s definitely my favourite out of my street-photography-in-an-art-museum “phase” (much like the finding architectural people in metro stations or the panda in staircase phases). I’d like to say (being a mathematician) there is something subconsciously golden ratio-y in the division of space but that’s a little close to “interpreting” for my liking so I’ll just “like” it instead :)


    1. Thanks!
      The first one is from the Newport street gallery (which has just won the Stirling prize this year) and the second one is from the Tate Britain.

  2. i never got modern art for a long time, till i started toying with a camera & realized, it is potentially, mostly about design. when you are looking through the lens you are waiting for arrangement to happen before your eyes & capture it, with modern art you can see the design first or produce it as you progress, but the eye for shape, colour & design is there. essentially it is a matter of “o, pretty shapes & colours, cool.” if not, then they are doing a good job of hiding their ambiguity even.
    great blog by the way.

    1. Thanks for the nice comment! (And sorry for the late reply)

      I agree! Ambiguity is a wonderful thing when you can hide in plain sight. I also try to do that in my photographs (albeit not very well yet). The waiting for arrangement to happen and capture it is very true (my latest pictures in Gallery of motion involved quite a bit of creative waiting). Guess we shall see what happens when I go to another museum :)

      1. the Gallery of motion photos are wonderful. they capture space so well & how we fill it. i think you used the analogy of iron fillings, that hits the nail on the head. i will definitely be borrowing your technique if i find myself in a gallery with a camera, with full credits going to yourself if i can pull anything of value off.

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