When we sat down at our local coffee shop to talk to next month’s featured artist, Amanda Moore, one topic we had to discuss was the challenge that faces artists who use a camera instead of a brush or chisel in their work. After all, photographic artists like Moore use one of the more useful and adaptable of human inventions, which we tend to view in monolithic terms: as if every photograph is essentially the same kind of object as every other. There is probably no human activity that can’t be, or isn’t photographed, and the utter versatility and inclusiveness of the photographic record—the way it reduces absolutely every human experience to a pictorial event—can lead to the mistake of thinking that the objects that carry off this trick can all be judged by the same set of rules. But of course they can’t, and woe to the would-be lens jockey who thinks they can. A jailhouse portrait will not be welcome at a wedding, nor a snapshot fill the bill in a scientific journal. For once, the reverse is equally so; the truth is that photographic standards are not linear, and what wins the Pulitzer Prize can’t sell the product, while what accompanies your single’s ad won’t get you on the airplane.
For Amanda Moore, questions about art don’t cease to matter when she steps out from behind the viewfinder. Avidly interested in and fiercely opinionated about a whole range of arts—and not only in today’s practitioners, but in their histories as well—she brings knowledge and ideas together with practical experience. In an essay she wrote recently, to be published in our July edition, Moore explores how she feels when friends or strangers hand her a camera and ask her to take their picture. Sure enough, before we were done talking someone from a quartet seated on a nearby curb fulfilled Moore’s prophecy by politely handing her a camera and asking her to “take our picture.” With a gracious smile she rose to oblige, in passing shooting us a complex glance that asked: “Didn’t I tell you?Now do you see?”
— Geoff Wichert
Geoff Wichert has degrees in critical writing and creative nonfiction. He writes about art to settle the arguments going on in his head.
Categories: Daily Bytes