Came across this on Reddit. Check out the link, look at the photo, read (or skim) the comments, then come back here…

Click the link below to see my comments on the matter.

OK, so apparently Flickr has this “DeleteMe or SaveMe” thing going on where people submit photos for review, then the audience at large (i.e. the internets) judges whether the photo is worthy to be saved, or should be deleted. Now whoever posted this image chose a “classic” photo from a famous photographer (I’m guessing Cartier-Bresson, from the subtitle of the picture I admit I do not know him) and wanted to see what the so-called experts would say. Of course, many people came out and denounced its lack of focus, lack of subject, and some people even gave hints as to how the photographer can improve next time.

Then some people who recognized the photo of course give the old wink, wink, nudge, nudge as they critique the critique-ers.

So what does that tell you about us, society, as a whole?

Well, ultimately really nothing, but just bear with me here. Is the photo out of focus? yep. Can you tell what the subject is? not entirely no. Does it matter? well…

If it’s “art” then it doesn’t really matter. You either get what the artist is saying or you don’t. Maybe the photographer intended it to look that way. He may have spent hours getting the settings just right for the lighting and then stood there waiting for somebody on a bike to roll past. Or… he may have seen the guy on the bike rolling towards him and quickly snatched his camera out of his bag and took the shot. Maybe hes trying to convey movement, either to the left ;) or downward via the spiraling staircase. Maybe he’s trying to show something grander like life keeps moving, or just the contrast between the geometries (square vs round). We’ll never know (unless of course the guy is alive and someone asks him).

It just goes to show that so many people are so insistent on things being “perfect” that they forget that life isn’t perfect. Life is rarely in focus, and sometimes we’re not entirely sure what it is that we’re looking at. It also goes to show that sometimes by people focusing (pun intended) on the little things they miss the big picture (pun not intended). It also shows the power of group persuasion. When one person sees something, now everybody sees it too, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.

I recall one story where a designer (not me) made a cover for a proposal. It had a picture of a satellite on it. The writers had a good chuckle over the silly designer putting a “ceiling fan” on the cover. “Please tell the designer to use another picture of a satellite that DOESN’T look like a ceiling fan.” You all know what a satellite looks like, right? its usually got a cylinder for a body and solar panels on arms that extend away from it. It looks amazingly like a…. ceiling FAN (albeit one with only 2 fan blades). Have you ever seen a picture of a satellite that *doesn’t* look like a ceiling fan? I have. It’s called Sputnik. And it looks like a WWII sea mine…

You know what else it shows? The other side of sheep-like behavior that people are prone to. Since it is done by a famous photographer it *must* be art. All those who criticized the photo must be ignorant oafs since they didn’t appreciate the “art” of the photographer.

Which of course begs the question “If some unknown took the exact same photo is it still art?”

One response to “Food for thought, Mario’s Bike

  1. well said sir. agreements all around… but not in the sheepish way or whatever.

    …what were we talking about again?

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