Not GrammarFilter July 7, 2002 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Could we possibly make an effort to try to appreciate the content of a given site, rather than have every other link derailed by some niggling critcism of the webmaster's use of fonts/flash/javascript/punctuation?
posted by Optamystic to Etiquette/Policy at 7:15 PM (87 comments total)

You can't box people in and tell them what to talk about, it just doesn't work. If they had something to say about the photos they'd say it. Most didn't and the conversation turned towards the annoying feature of disabling right clicks.

What were you hoping to find in the thread? I found an interesting discussion about IP and comments about photography? Were you looking for a thread just about photography, or more specifically, just about Noah Grey's work? I would say a lot on mefi aren't photo art critics and couldn't really add interesting comments just on Noah's photos. Instead they talked about what they knew best.
posted by geoff. at 7:45 PM on July 7, 2002


Instead they talked about what they knew best.

I dunno. MetaFilter is filled to the brim with some pretty creative and amazing people. I was disappointed with the way the thread went. I understand that some threads are often filled with derailments, but I found this just a bit too nitpicky. He's got some amazing work there. Period. And I'm glad someone brought it to my attention that he's back online.
posted by gummi at 7:52 PM on July 7, 2002


It's sort of sad that mefites are so jaded that they disregard the content and focus on the presentation... another thread from today illustrates the same point. Don't worry about what he's saying, focus on how he says it.
posted by crunchland at 7:53 PM on July 7, 2002


I'm with geoff -- don't tell us what to talk about. And if it's "amazing work. period," then there's really nothing left to say, is there? I gently criticized it before turning to the copyright/design issue. A lot of people seem to enjoy Noah's work, so there's really no point in calling it cliche-ridden and bucolic, is there?
posted by muckster at 7:59 PM on July 7, 2002


We're talking derailments - not boxing people in. A thread about any subject that turns into a "what do you all think about disabling right-clicking?" is a thread derailed, however interesting the secondary string might be.

I think I understand Optamystic's remark. The right-clicking discussion was informative and tackled the ethical aspects well. But why couldn't someone start another thread about it? It certainly deserves one all to itself and might attract more discussion.

As a derailment, though, it distracted and infuriated those who went there to talk about the photographs.

I dunno. Perhaps we need a Tech-a-Talk category to cover the frequent derailments Optamystic is complaining about.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:59 PM on July 7, 2002


I've thought about doing some sort of 'photo-blog' type site before now, but always thought that it would prove to be too tough to make interesting, so I've chickened out. The problem with sites where the content is primarily photographs is what do you say after "I like/don't like that picture"? Peoples reactions to photographs may be intense either way, but are usually very difficult, if not impossible to articulate.

Even dedicated community sites such as photo.net or photosig suffer from this problem. I'm maybe being ungenerously generalist, but look at the majority of pictures in their critique sections and you'll see that most comments are either variations on "nice"/"not nice" or descend into equally boring analyses of technical minutiae.


posted by normy at 8:00 PM on July 7, 2002


Normy, I've never checked those sites out until now...thanks.
posted by gummi at 8:06 PM on July 7, 2002


A lot of people seem to enjoy Noah's work, so there's really no point in calling it cliche-ridden and bucolic, is there?

All the more reason, Muckster. I went there to criticize his work too - it's sentimental calendar illustration, much too safe and pretty-pretty, has no humanity, focuses only on the obvious, has no mystery, ambiguity or room for interpretation and refuses to engage in any theoretical debate in classic or modern photography - but was derailed by comments about his generosity. So I felt it was more important to defend the photographer's equally obvious generosity.

That's what a derailment means - it leads content-based comment astray.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:10 PM on July 7, 2002


normy, please put that information in the original thread, I think most reading there would appreciate it. Optamystic's issue isn't with whether any given photo is good or not...

geoff, the point Optamystic is making is that the thread was derailed. The beginning of this thread was hijacked. Anyone can post whatever they want, but most know that if you change the subject at the beginning of the discussion it's likely its path is irrevocably altered. This is a technique often used by trolls and idiots. I too found it irritating that a discussion of a man and his art turned into a whinge fest, others would probably agree but chose to try to steer the thread back to photography instead of argue. That is the mark of a seasoned troll-resistant MeFite.
posted by yonderboy at 8:16 PM on July 7, 2002


yonderboy, as miguel and muckster said... there wasn't much content to discuss on the site. I thought it was cool he managed to do what he did with a digital camera, but beyond that there was nothing to discuss. Noah provided no descriptions, no "how-to" on how he did what he did.

What were people suppose to discuss? I think of derailment as taking a perfectly viable discussion and changing it into something totally different. This time, the thread took the turn of a completely relevent discussion on IP.

A better thread might have consisted of links to the aforementioned blogs, and maybe more information on digital photography. This would have brought a discussion on digital photography out of the woodwork. Could digital photography have been discussed in the thread? Yes, but then wouldn't that have been as off-topic as the IP discussion? If no "derailment" would have taken place there would have been no comments beyond the "that looks looks pretty" phase.
posted by geoff. at 8:35 PM on July 7, 2002


Point taken, Miguel. I shouldn't have held back. Yet I feel that both discussions are valid commentary on the site that was posted. I would define derailment as comments on an unrelated topic (like, how good my vodka shots taste with Guss's pickles.) How to present visual art on the web is interesting and pertinent. Since we don't have threaded discussions (and I'm glad we don't), the two topics will interweave -- but we're all smart enough to keep the two apart, no? The whining about "derailment" actually did more to mess up the thread and move interesting discussions over to MeTa.

And yes, "calendar pretty-pretty" says it very well.


posted by muckster at 8:36 PM on July 7, 2002


I'm not trying to box anyone in, and I'm not picking on the people who commented in the linked thread. I'm just asking if we could try to be more aware of the fact that the medium does not necessarily equal the message.

It simply bugs me to no end when a link to a site about/by an artist turns into a referendum on a (real or perceived) design flaw of the site itself, and as a result, the art that was offered for discussion becomes a secondary concern.
posted by Optamystic at 8:49 PM on July 7, 2002


Miguel: it's sentimental calendar illustration, much too safe and pretty-pretty, has no humanity, focuses only on the obvious, has no mystery, ambiguity or room for interpretation and refuses to engage in any theoretical debate in classic or modern photography...

Wow. I'm seriously surprised at how cheap that was, coming from you. I'm going to stop short of actually drawing a comparison, because I don't really think it would be correct and it's not my point anyway, but you do realized that the above is almost an exact copy of the list of criticisms levelled against Ansel Adams while he was working, right?

Saying that something has no room for interpretation is an easy way out of putting forth the effort. Noah has written extensively about the reasons for some of his subjects in the past, particularly with regard to his self-portraits(a relatively recent and very difficult development for him), and his fascination with water. I'll pass on the obvious observation that his agoraphobia might be a contribution to the large amount of landscape photography. While you're not expected to go back and read his archives, your lack of understanding does not equate to lack of meaning. Frankly, I usually regret reading "artist's statements" because they take away from my freedom to interpret.
But what's so wrong with pure pretty-pretty, anyway?
posted by Su at 9:05 PM on July 7, 2002


I wouldn't compare Ansel Adams to Noah Grey, Su. Not just yet. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:10 PM on July 7, 2002


Derailments are rarely completely off-topic, but they are derailments nonetheless, and probably more effective as such. Part of the purpose of MetaTalk is exactly because complaints about derailment in the thread lead to further derailment. People who aren't familiar with online discussion and MetaTalk often do so unwittingly.

Optamystic knows the difference between site content and mechanics and clearly understood this to be a discussion of content. It certainly could have been a valuable thread on mechanics, IP and digital photography as well, or it could have been just about the content. Either way, the derailment caused a cascade of tangents and complaints that had a negative effect on its development. He was right to point out the origin of the problem.

Su, thank you, at least I know now that someone gets my reasons for the post in the first place, I've done my job. Hopefully others will come to the same realization. I wouldn't normally point to a person and his art and simply say 'discuss', but the man and his art, represented in the archives, software and photography is the point. I've said that in the thread, however it goes from there is beyond my control. I've know I've gotten more from my post than just a few valid opinions and a couple of interesting links.

posted by yonderboy at 9:36 PM on July 7, 2002


So you didn't want a discussion, you wanted people to agree with you?
posted by muckster at 9:38 PM on July 7, 2002


There was no derailment in that thread. People were talking about the site. Period.

What would you have preferred Optamystic? A thread with nothing but...

As for the photography itself, I think it's absolutely lovely.

If there's more to say than that, then people (or you) certainly weren't precluded from saying it.

The link is there for people who want to see the pictures. The discussion is interesting and on-topic with respect to to the site linked. I seriously don't see the problem. If you want to read sites that reflect the views and takes you want to see and no others, then don't go to a community with so many voices.
posted by willnot at 10:01 PM on July 7, 2002


You can't box people in and tell them what to talk about, it just doesn't work. If they had something to say about the photos they'd say it. Most didn't...

There is something to be said about being a thread chaperone. There is also something to be said about a thread of content, instead of witty MeFi banter about right-clicking. yonderboy brought a site to the table and wanted to see artistic discussion. What instead occurred were a couple of off-color comments in the beginning, which eventually spiraled into a full discussion of a completely separate topic. Respect the link. I think that might be the bottom line. If yonderboy wanted the link to create discussion about the disabled right-click, then so be it. But too often we see a bunch of folks making a thread their own playground to vent their pet-peaves. I'm not saying that you can't do that, but respect the poster and the thread. It's common courtesy, that's all.

I'm with geoff -- don't tell us what to talk about. And if it's "amazing work. period," then there's really nothing left to say, is there?

Sounds like a person who doesn't know this art particularly well.

there wasn't much content to discuss on the site.

I'm troubled by this. I felt the same way, initially. When I first saw the thread, I thought that more effort could have been made to find some relevant links about the artist himself. Then I realized that that's why the thread exists in the first place. To have a diving board, and then have deeper links to discuss the content further. If you have nothing to offer to the table, why comment at all? Why post your asinine drivel, knowing that you'll eventually offend people? Especially when your comment is content free? I get the feeling (I do it myself sometimes) that people want to pick fights here, just because...

It's lame.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:01 PM on July 7, 2002


I wouldn't compare Ansel Adams to Noah Grey

...never understood the fuss about him (Adams), either.
posted by normy at 10:08 PM on July 7, 2002


I don't think it was so terrible to bring up the fact that right-clicking is diabled, and it wasn't even so horrible to discuss it, but nobody let it drop. People all wanted to have their say in the matter, even when they were just repeating something that had been said before. Early on, it was clear that it bothered some people and didn't bother others. Simple reasons were given, and there wasn't much more to say at that point. But people kept saying it.

And now we've got the discussion of the art itself going on in MeTa instead of MeFi...
posted by whatnotever at 10:08 PM on July 7, 2002


What would you have preferred Optamystic? A thread with nothing but...
As for the photography itself, I think it's absolutely lovely.


No. But as I am not a photographer, I was interested in reading what others who know about such things had to say about his work. It's not my area of expertise, so I didn't feel qualified to comment, other than my (admittedly not terribly insightful) layman's assessment.

posted by Optamystic at 10:10 PM on July 7, 2002


i don't mean to be niggling, but you spelled 'criticism' wrong there, porkchop.
posted by jcterminal at 10:12 PM on July 7, 2002


I hate it when people don't use title tags. Hey everyone don't you hate it too? Lets all bitch!
posted by skallas at 10:18 PM on July 7, 2002


*throttles jcterminal*
posted by Optamystic at 10:19 PM on July 7, 2002


muckster... did you get the part about 'beyond my control'? Again, it was simply meant to be a rediscovery of Noah Grey, the content of his site and the meaning of the relation between the two. The totality of the discussion was successful and I found someone that made the same conclusions about the relationship between of Noah Grey and noahgrey.com that I did. Where do you get off pissing on that?
posted by yonderboy at 10:22 PM on July 7, 2002


Yeah, ok.
posted by muckster at 10:33 PM on July 7, 2002


Ok. I take it back. I take it back. Go back to criticizing the technical aspects of the site. Anything has got to be better than this kind of savage criticism of Noah's work.

And I have to hope that every word from Miguel's pen is a priceless pearl of joy and beauty for him to dish out the dismissive insults to another person's creativity, else he have to suffer the same.
posted by crunchland at 10:42 PM on July 7, 2002


You can't post design or art related stuff on MetaFilter unless it's about how wrong Jacob Nielson is. That's been the standard for a long time.

“It's sort of sad that mefites are so jaded that they disregard the content and focus on the presentation.”

It's not jaded or cynical. It's lazy. And it's not unique to MetaFilter members.
posted by raaka at 12:43 AM on July 8, 2002


In the war of 'thread derailment' vs 'post moderation' the free form has always come out on top.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:50 AM on July 8, 2002


Everyone's a criticaster.
posted by pracowity at 1:39 AM on July 8, 2002


Thing is, right-click disabling is something that a lot of people find annoying, and when an example of a trend people find annoying comes up like this, people will talk about it, even (perhaps especially) people who have nothing to say about the actual subject. It's a good conversation to have, one that can enlighten people considering using that kind of "protection" to it's problems. On my right click menu I have items that allow me to post a link to my weblog, magnify an image for my mother, who can't see well, highlight text to mark my place, and find information on google relating to a site. All of that is trashed by Noah's javascript, and it's annoying as hell, and even though I quite like his photos, I would, if I were going to post in that thread, have added my say to the right-click conversation as well as the one regarding Noah's work.

Think of it as discussing a tangential trend exemplified in the subject of the post. It's not a criticism of Noah's photography or message to discuss his javascript, not even by implication, and any who take it as such--or worse, intend it as such--need to step back for a moment and get themselves untangled.
posted by Nothing at 2:23 AM on July 8, 2002


And now we've got the discussion of the art itself going on in MeTa instead of MeFi...

And right-clicking revisited. MetaFilter must be the Internet's foremost centre of contrarianmanship on the Internet. Touché, whatnotever. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:49 AM on July 8, 2002


the dismissive insults to another person's creativity

Crunchland - you're right; my comments were far too staccato and dismissive. It's just that I had to close that clause quickly to get back to the sentence's subject. I was lazy; I should have rephrased the whole paragraph. Sorry about that. My one-guy's-opinion of NG's work stands, though.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:56 AM on July 8, 2002


art to me is as much about functionality as it is about form, therefore if there is a criticism to the site's usability it is more than relevant.

i think the fact that so many people were dismayed and annoyed by the block on right-clicking shows there were alot of people who liked what they saw and wanted to grab it and share it. that should show Noah that his work is much appreciated but his commercial gallery is not.

i think it was more-than-relevant hijacking.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:02 AM on July 8, 2002


> wanted to grab it and share it. that should show Noah
> that his work is much appreciated but his commercial
> gallery is not.

It should also remind him to lock his doors at night. If something's good, people will take it. (Or they'll link to it, which costs the owner bandwidth. Is that what he's trying to prevent?)

Anyway, this sort of jumping on a site's design instead of its content is inevitable here, where the active subscribers seem to be about 75 percent actual or would-be web designers and usability experts always eager to show off their expertise. It's like going to an old art museum with a bunch of architecture students: some of them will always gab about the columns and fail to notice the paintings, or they'll see the paintings but be more interested in the emergency escape routes and the location of the snack bar in relation to the museum shop and ticket office.
posted by pracowity at 6:27 AM on July 8, 2002


I don't feel the thread was derailed.

Noah's website had pretty pictures. Many, many of the comments say just that: "How nice!". Hobbes' post pretty much sums up the dominant point-of-view, and why it didn't make for scintillating conversation.

Unfortunately, the page of photographs doesn't appear to have been meaty enough to engage a lot of discussion, and few people made an effort to find something worth talking about. (Thanks to those who tried: the value of digital cameras [chrisege]; the way the Real World is tied to an artist's work [Espoo2]; technique [kindall], etc.)

Overall, there seemed little interest in the art, beyond an initial "ooh!". Few people were moved to comment on the content or composition. It was a good link - a beautiful page, of interest to the community - but it wasn't a great site for discussion. Apart from the angry shouters, offended on principle at any criticism of Noah, the IP/right-click debate was reasonably interesting - and definitely relevant. The evidence demonstrates that Noah's art - or his proponents in the thread - failed to truly engage the community, beyond the level of an ephemeral "wow".
posted by Marquis at 6:49 AM on July 8, 2002


It's like going to an old art museum with a bunch of architecture students...

Don't ever go to a movie with any kind of fanatic. They'll shread it apart with their particular finetoothed comb. Like this guy.

I went to highschool with a guy who was a walking Jane's guide of militaria, and he would nitpick about the most obscure details. Sure, we were all impressed with his focussed level of detail, but, he was impossible to talk to and even more impossible to listen to.
posted by crunchland at 7:01 AM on July 8, 2002


tis true pracowity. I went to the British Museum last week.

Yeah I saw the Rosetta Stone, and some mummies and part of the Sphinx's beard, but I was more impressed with the new roof.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:02 AM on July 8, 2002


Obviously, the community here thinks that right-click disabling and Internet copyright issues are much more interesting than Grey's work. There's nothing wrong about this.
I don't think that we would have seen 100 comments about the work itself (very nice, but we're not talking about Steichen, with all due respect to Grey)


posted by matteo at 7:03 AM on July 8, 2002


Oh, and crunchland, thanks for the link, great
posted by matteo at 7:07 AM on July 8, 2002


I was more impressed with the new roof.

Wow. What kind of philistine wouldn't be?
posted by crunchland at 7:13 AM on July 8, 2002


> There's nothing wrong about this.

No, not wrong, not morally. When a plumber's convention happens upon the local art show en masse, you expect some of the chat to turn to ballcocks. There are lots of folk here plumbing the depths of web widgets and plunging into the pipes under the page. Plumb away! But you can see how it might be a little distracting and maybe a bit annoying to some of the people who came to view the art.
posted by pracowity at 7:50 AM on July 8, 2002


A poem by the great Ali Zarrin...


Poets and Plumbers make good Friends.

America, what do you do to your poets
to your poetry.
make them suffer?

In America the best poet makes less money
that the worst plumber.
In America a bad plumber is more appreciated
than a good poet.
In America talented poets gradually turn into
plumbers.
In America the bad plumbers used to be
good poets at one point.
Such a conversion has paid off:
a running bathroom is better
than a clogged-up poet."

had a brief converstaion with him, i wasnt sure if he were referencing E. Howard Hunt and Ezra Pound or a simple word play (which is very good IMO)
posted by clavdivs at 9:07 AM on July 8, 2002


Wow. What kind of philistine wouldn't be?

Now now Crunchy, I haven't criticised Noah's work, I was emphasising my earlier point.

Play fair or no dinner.
posted by Frasermoo at 9:09 AM on July 8, 2002


prawocity:

Anyway, this sort of jumping on a site's design instead of its content is inevitable here, where the active subscribers seem to be about 75 percent actual or would-be web designers and usability experts always eager to show off their expertise.

maybe design and layout are most interesting to people here, and interest is the reason why conversation often includes it? i'm not so cynical as to assume conversation necessarily denotes self-promotion.

i've seen many links to interesting and artistic websites on mefi. they aren't usually given many comments. for most people, i think, the response is "hmm..." or "interesting." but it seems to me most people frown on posts like that; they prefer comments with a point. a point could be made given grey's disabling of the right-click ability of some browsers, and many points were made. to me, it isn't sad that such could happen on grey's thread; that's the way things go and have gone on metafilter for a long time.
posted by moz at 9:17 AM on July 8, 2002


Now now Crunchy

But I was serious. No sarcasm implied.
posted by crunchland at 9:26 AM on July 8, 2002


For all the complaining, I still don't see is anybody of the "wow, let's discuss how beautiful these are" crowd actually engaging the criticism levelled against Noah's work. If you really want to discuss content rather than pat yourselves on the back for your superior tastes (and calling all dissenters philistine cheap savage dismissive uneducated swine, trolls, and idiots), why not explain what exactly makes you appreciate Noah's stuff? I stand by my original comment: decorative. Nothing more, nothing less. I have yet to see any kind of argument for why these are supposed to be oh-so-good. I like my art to be challenging; this stuff would do well on the walls of a day spa.
posted by muckster at 9:48 AM on July 8, 2002


moz: "to me, it isn't sad..."

Someone up the thread said it was sad, but I said it was just to be expected, and I didn't say there's something wrong with HTMLers being eager to show off their expertise. They're colts in the meadow jumping for the sake of jumping. Don't be so cynical about them.

I did say that you shouldn't be surprised that a few people who like to talk about photography and were there to discuss the photography on that particular site were not happy that it turned into a chat about right and wrong clicks.

> i've seen many links to interesting and artistic websites
> on mefi. they aren't usually given many comments.

That doesn't surprise me. People in general are oblivious to art, or, worse, they insist that it have a meaning and purpose. A point.

> why not explain what exactly makes you appreciate
> Noah's stuff? I stand by my original comment: decorative.

It doesn't interest me much, either, but it sure beats the ancient philosophy of right-clickability.
posted by pracowity at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2002


Don't be so cynical about them.

i suppose i could simply be dense, but i'm not sure where i was being cynical. could you help me out, prawocity?
posted by moz at 10:11 AM on July 8, 2002


It's odd. Yesterday morning I stumbled across Clyde Butcher's homepage again, and thought about posting it. But I did not bother because I figure it would only be a link to a little gem that would not engender much comment except of the neat-o/lame variety. Plus the design of the site is kind of weak and does not present the subject matter very well. Well, no sooner had I considered all this when two photography1,2 related post show up on the front page. I almost changed my mind about going to the front page with it, but I think my initial decision to censor myself was correct, based on the direction of yonderboy's thread (not that it stopped me from linking it here).

[Also, I also find these two comments1,2 to be incongruous.]
posted by piskycritter at 10:12 AM on July 8, 2002


The beauty of that Butcher site is that you can nick the pictures.
posted by Fat Buddha at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2002


piskycritter:

1) Clyde Butcher's work is much much more engaging than Noah Greys (Its strange and organic and I like that). I, for, one would love to see that posted. (though I guess you did)

2) The best links here at Metafilter are often the ones with the fewest comments, usually something intellectually off-beat. Its easy to get comments - just post a link to some politics story from the Guardian (or something divisive like weight loss or Israel/Palestine)

3) The first few posts about right-clicking were ok - a minor but informative derailment. It was odd that everyone felt a need to chime in their opinions about right-clicking. This is common here though. When you touch upon peoples pet peeves expect to see a lot of redundant chatter.

posted by vacapinta at 10:48 AM on July 8, 2002


The current links on the front page by mediareport (whose posts are always carefully researched), anastasiav and JanetLand are why I keep coming back here.
posted by vacapinta at 11:06 AM on July 8, 2002


It was odd that everyone felt a need to chime in their opinions about right-clicking.

I know I posted in that thread well after there had already been several comments about the right-click disabled script because several of the people defending the practice seemed to think the complaint was that the script prevented people from taking images from the site when in fact nothing could have been further from the truth. There wasn't anybody (I saw) who gave a rat's ass about being able to take the photos, but they did object to having useful browser functionality sacrificed for something that does nothing to accomplish the site designer's goals. Even after I tried to clear that up, several people continued with the incorrect assumption that it's about being (in)able to save photos.

I still don't see is anybody of the "wow, let's discuss how beautiful these are" crowd actually engaging the criticism levelled...
Most of your links were to comments in the metatalk thread. Discussion of the work probably belongs more rightly in the original metafilter thread.

I went there to criticize his work too [...] but was derailed by comments about his generosity. So I felt it was more important to defend the photographer's equally obvious generosity.

I can appreciate wanting to provide harmony. MetaFilter could probably use more harmony at times, but that seems pretty chickenshit to me, particularly in light of your later retraction. If you have an opinion than express it. There isn't much value in a voice that just floats on whichever way the wind is blowing. Unless of course you just really want people to like the sound of your voice.

posted by willnot at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2002


Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one.
posted by crunchland at 11:57 AM on July 8, 2002


I'm interested in hearing responses to Muckster's comment asking enthusiasts of Noah's photography to specify *why* they think it's so notable. I thought Muckster's and Miguel's criticisms were pretty measured and accurate. I'm inclined to ask a similar question: What about the images is not trite?
posted by Karl at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2002


Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one.

No offense, man, but this is -- in many ways -- a asshole opinion
Beauty is not really in the eye of the beholder: otherwise it becomes OK to say that Mozart and Beethoven are not as good as the sound of a guy farting
The Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece, a kid's scrawling is not (even tho it can be interesting and cute).
There are rules, and ideas and philosophy of aesthetics, really smart people have been working on that at least since Aristotle, man


posted by matteo at 12:28 PM on July 8, 2002


Oh, and Miguel's critic of Grey's work -- very harsh, maybe too much if leveled against a guy with a digital camera who's obviously trying to learn a craft -- is quite smart

I don't know if Grey's a friend of yours, crunchland, but criticism is exactly that, analysis that can hurt feelings. It's not personal
Many of us -- and I, for one, make a living on this -- look at photographs and (because we have studied and read and we went to galleries and museums) we have a personal taste and we take decisions
Grey's heavily photoshopped work is great for postcards, for posters and New Age cd cover art. It's not great photography, just yet. Maybe he'll learn more and change, who knows, maybe he'll get tired
It's certainly great therapy for him, to take photographs. It's just not great art, sorry

posted by matteo at 12:36 PM on July 8, 2002


If you want a discussion about his photographs, here it is:
the portraits are so-so (flat light, the models look uneasy -- and not in a good way, God knows that can make an exciting photograph sometimes -- so the portraits are nothing to write home about)
The still life work is good, quite proficient -- even tho Photoshop helps him out a lot and Digital art is not yet considered very highly in most galleries and art-buying circuits. But it lacks excitement, the works aims to be cute and just look good -- as I wrote before, tailor made for postcards and New Age cd covers)
The choice of subjects is not that imaginative either -- if you photograph flowers in macro and the sea, well, you have more than 100 years worth of great stuff before you (from Steichen to Adams to Mapplethorpe). You like his American flag? Check out Mapplethorpe's flag, or Robert Frank's flags
It's tough work, I know

Fact is, I'm not sure I'd give Grey an assignment -- still life, not to mention food photography, advertising in general is difficult work. I can find hundreds of more proficient guys (when it comes to lighting) if I need them. Grey's selling his Iris prints for cheap, more or less. He couldn't ask more because the work right now is not worth it. He's what I'd call and advanced amateur, not a bad word per se, but he's not an artist

Sometimes you play chess, and since you beat all your friends and neighbors you may think you're great. Then you go to an amateur tournament and you get your ass kicked in nine moves. And you find out there's hundreds of people who are way better than you
Sorry

posted by matteo at 12:51 PM on July 8, 2002


i am not a photography expert, but i love these photos.

mostly i love them for reasons i can only explain in liberal-arts-student-style prose. i think his pictures have a grace to them that most photography i've seen doesn't have. in every photo, i get the feeling that he loves the stuff he's photographing. he's not out to shock anyone, which seems to be a central criticism. maybe i'm just photo-ignorant, but that's okay with me. for every exciting photo, i like to see a quiet and graceful photo. not a boring one -- and some of his i would say are boring -- but something that can get across quiet beauty without going all "look at me! i'm innovative!" as so much other photography does.

technically, i love the texture and contrast in his photos. his composition is usually good, though not particularly innovative for the most part. but it seems to me there's something about the texture of his photos that makes them completely recognizable as his.

rip me apart if you want, but that's why i like noah grey.
posted by pikachulolita at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2002


Show off their expertise? If I go to an art gallery, and I keep tripping because the floor is grooved every two feet, is mentioning the fact that I prefer flat floors showing off my expertise at carpentry? Am I neglecting the art if I notice that I keep falling on my ass? This is a totally manufactured conflict, there is no reason the two types of comments could not happily co-exist in a single thread. There seems to be this idea that where Art is presented, all else must be ignored, and any comment not focusing on the Art, yet in it's presence, is obviously meant to as a criticism of it's worthiness or a lack of understanding of art in general. Perhaps if the disabled clicking were part of the presentation, to achieve a desired state of mind in the viewer, like I could imagine my grooved gallery floor example to be, it would be different, but it just seems like misguided and fearful, and it does detract from the photos, making discussion of it relevant.
posted by Nothing at 5:38 PM on July 8, 2002


> If I go to an art gallery, and I keep tripping...

You exaggerate the potential inconvenience, if inconvenience is the right word for not being able to take his photos. If you go to an art gallery and discover that the paintings are nailed to the wall, you don't complain. They just want to make it harder for people to steal pictures.

What did you trip over at the site in question? The back button works. The pictures display nicely. Everything looks good. It has the world's most obvious sort of navigation: a thumbnail takes you to a larger version of the same picture. What at that site is the equivalent of you not being able to walk on a floor without falling on your face? What confused you? What would lead you to right-click on one of his pictures in the first place?
posted by pracowity at 11:13 PM on July 8, 2002


I did not right-click on any of his photos this time, I right-clicked on his main page in an attempt to bring up my context menu and select my bookmarklet for adding a link to my site, as I was going to link to his main page. I still will, but it's three more steps than it would have been. Minor. The first time I visited Noah's site I did right-click on one of his images, because I was surfing with images off on a slow connection and was hoping to bring up the "show picture" command. Not so minor, but not serious.

I think tripping is an excellent parallel, not serious, but both annoying and distracting. (And a grooved floor is just about as likely to stop a thief by tripping them as that script is to stop someone who wants to steal an image, though I didn't have that in mind when I wrote it.)

In any case, I was using the comparison to respond to the ridiculous accusation that the people discussing the right-click menu were only doing so out of some need to show off. As I was trying to say above, it doesn't matter how you feel about the right-click thing, the point is that mentioning it in a discussion of the site is valid, and should not be interpreted as a criticism of the photography, nor as irrelevant thread derailment.
posted by Nothing at 1:08 AM on July 9, 2002


Do the mice on Apple computers still have only one button?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:36 AM on July 9, 2002


Yes, but you can always get a multi button mouse. Or in the case of the single button, hold down a key which will bring up a contextual menu.


posted by lampshade at 3:56 AM on July 9, 2002




crunch, it's sad you did all that to try to prove us wrong.
posted by ncurley at 7:23 AM on July 9, 2002


I didn't do it to prove you wrong. That was just a happy side-effect.
posted by crunchland at 7:29 AM on July 9, 2002


Also, why is everyone making such a big deal about this and his "relaunch." It's not like he has posted new work, it is still the same old stuff. We've all seen Noah Grey's work at some point or another, sure he takes some nice photos, but he is definitely not Ansel Adams.

Moreover, every time this guy in nominated for an award, like the Bloggies, he asks for his name to be removed from the running. So, why are we wasting out time on a guy who doesn't want to be discussed or rewarded for his work anyway?
posted by ncurley at 7:34 AM on July 9, 2002




crunch, I'm glad you take Grey's work so seriously
(thanks to your effort he now has a catalogue ready if he ever gets a gallery show)

ncurley, it's not that he proved us wrong. he just showed -- however childish his manner -- that he really cares about that stuff -- good for him
me, I'd work that much only for work as good as this
but, however, more power to him and to Grey


posted by matteo at 7:39 AM on July 9, 2002


Oh, I know he didn't prove us wrong, note that is was: try to prove us wrong.
posted by ncurley at 7:43 AM on July 9, 2002


All right. This was childish. I only did it because the original message scrolled off the front page.

But again, you guys have to belittle the effort someone has put forth for no apparent reason but to be contrary. I tried to show you idiots what constructive criticism looks like instead of unfounded criticism for the sake of being critical. I give.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's frustrating for you and just annoys the pig.
posted by crunchland at 7:55 AM on July 9, 2002


Oink !
posted by Frasermoo at 8:06 AM on July 9, 2002


I tried to show you idiots what constructive criticism looks like

Baaaaaaaad manners, man. Really bad.

posted by matteo at 8:08 AM on July 9, 2002


Why are you assuming that everyone who doesn't like his work is an uncultured rube? I'm glad you posted such a spirited defense, crunchland -- it's one of the more interesting posts that has been made lately to MetaFilter. However, the arrogance you're displaying here is no less galling than a critic dismissing an artist's work without taking any time to study it.
posted by rcade at 8:10 AM on July 9, 2002


...work as good as this

Thanks for that link, matteo. The book is astonishingly good, too.
posted by normy at 8:25 AM on July 9, 2002


...for no apparent reason but to be contrary...

Geez, Crunchland, you're sounding like Bill O'Reilly dismissing a guest's opposing viewpoint on his show: "Anything I don't agree with is automatically spin."

I don't think muckster, Miguel or Matteo were being blindly contrary, I think they were offering honest criticisms in a public forum. Sorry if you can't handle it. There are always MFA programs you could attend where everyone receives a gold star and a hug no matter how trite their poetry/photography/stories/paintings might be. (Which in turn floods the market with mediocre work, but that's a whole other arguement.)
posted by Karl at 8:36 AM on July 9, 2002


I enjoyed your appreciation, crunchland. It showed me why you like NG's work and the way you detail your reading of them is persuasive. I also prefer loyalty and sticking up for who and what you believe in to mere critical faculties. Well, you have both.

Why present it so aggressively, though? Your appreciation is for Noah's work; not against us, the notorious, yet strangely innocent M Brigade - Muckster, Matteo and me. It's no big deal. It's just that you're WRONG, wrong you hear, WRONG! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2002


I love bareknuckleheaded boxing.
posted by pracowity at 8:58 AM on July 9, 2002


If loving Noah is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
posted by ColdChef at 9:04 AM on July 9, 2002


If loving Noah is wrong, I don't wanna be right - clickin'

*ducks & smiles*
posted by Frasermoo at 9:08 AM on July 9, 2002


Ncurley: It's not like he has posted new work, it is still the same old stuff.

Uh...you mean like the two series that were photographed in California? After he moved. After he stopped updating the prior version of his site. Or the pieces in the gallery(current; not the clearly marked archive) that were also photographed after that time? That old stuff? Oh.

So, why are we wasting out time on a guy who doesn't want to be discussed or rewarded for his work anyway?

I don't recall him ever having a problem with being discussed. He has every opportunity to say so, being a MeFi member, albeit a quiet one. At any rate, that is something totally different from not wanting an (increasingly irrelevant, self-referential, non-representative and masturbatory) award or to even be a party to the proceedings.

Matteo: Mmmmmm, Steichen. Funny enough(just because he's been mentioned a few times), Ansel Adams thought Steichen was the Anti-Christ of photography.
posted by Su at 9:37 AM on July 9, 2002


If loving Noah is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

"Loving Noah" is one thing. (I don't know the man, he could be Albert Schweitzer + Francis of Assisi + Gandhi for all I know -- I don't care)

Loving his photographs is entirely another thing.

You can be a terribly nice, good-hearted and compassionate person and take wishy-washy photographs

(btw Many great artist are/were terrible human beings)

posted by matteo at 9:38 AM on July 9, 2002


Ansel Adams thought Steichen was the Anti-Christ of photography.

And Robert Frank thought (probably still thinks, he just doesn't talk much to journalists anymore) that Adams' work was extremely well-printed postcard crap. Funny, uh?



posted by matteo at 9:40 AM on July 9, 2002


> *ducks & smiles*

Two things that always cheer me up. Some want hugs and kisses, but give me ducks and smiles.
posted by pracowity at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2002


To clarify my point about derailment, again, it's was not irrelevant to point out the right-click limitation. My issue was with how those commenting intentionally or unintentionally altered the development of the discussion with those first few short, single-minded and strong comments (it's this combination of early, short, single-minded and strong, not any one or two of these). Everyone here can start a thread, if you have a separate focus, create a new post, they live or die based mostly on interest but the value of a thread is never based on the number of comments it contains. Someone here earlier said 'respect the link', and it seems when anyone makes a post it would be worthwhile to keep that in mind when commenting, it's part of what has made MetaFilter unique.
posted by yonderboy at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2002


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