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The Photography 2024 ?


Thierry Maindrault’s Monthly Chronicle

It’s time to wish ourselves a whole bunch of beneficial things for what we will call the start of a new predetermined cycle, a leap year in addition. Above all, it is the moment to remind ourselves that the time, the fruit of our imaginations, which is running really too fast , has deprived us of essential relationships for a decent social life. This short period allows us to find individual exchanges which have become so rare along the year. This first week, in principle festive, becomes an excellent observatory to analyse the evolution of behaviour and our intimate concerns. Why do I bore you with these very banal considerations? Because this year, we have noticed that all the wishes received were accompanied by a more or less significant element of uncertainty.

This is perhaps even more true when best wishes come via photographs. Many of my friends and relations — photographers — sent me their wishes in the form of an image. Now, for many of them, it is often less tiring than putting pen to paper. Incidentally, the photographic story suggests that many talented photographers are rarely hyperactive (unlike, for example, great cooks who are constantly stressed), which surely explains the limited number of photographic masterpieces available. For those who get their hackles up, I refer them to my curiosity, always confronted to the same iconic photographs in all major exhibitions or museum galleries. Photography can almost technically reproduce itself infinitely. This is seen everywhere. We even find photographic prints — post-mortem —, signed on the back by their author, which become a multitude, even in prestigious foundations.

After this little preamble to sharpen our brains for this new year, let’s return to the analysis of our photographic greeting cards. The vintage of this year is particularly good qualitatively in its technical production, with less “stupidity works”, like previous years. Whatever the subject of each artwork, the technical treatments follow the pattern best suited to each image content. The sulphurous provocation of the massacred image, using computer software or drying ovens, seems to be losing momentum. The authors, with or without conscience, leave room for the desire to base their expression on a flexible, peaceful and understandable reading for the recipients. In its technical obligations, creation should find again the right paths – as ancient as they are essential – to expend in a human brain. Reading direction, points of attraction, zones of return of meaning, forms of passive ingestion, limits of discourse, focusing of distances, etc. ; all those forgotten technics in the last two decades are reinstated in the photographs. Finally, let’s hope this isn’t just a slight rush of photographic, pre-extinction adrenaline.

This does not appear to be the case, after some observations made on the recipients of the images. Almost all of the cards we received, with very varied subjects, from stormy seas to still life, offered many sources of reflection to different degrees. Exchange and emotion are also back after a long banishment during which the personal prowess and distress of pseudo-authors took precedence for a lot of people of media and connected intelligentsia. The personalized fixation and restitution of the random wanderings of light seem to take over the mediocre extravagances of many formless, but media worthy, forms. The 2024 trends reveal, in the vast majority of works received, the presence, visible or underlying, of uncertainty. All these photographic images display an abandonment of all so-called reliable forecasts and predictions. It is therefore with uncertainty that we will be happy for the return of Photography in its place, … its true place in many of its various disciplines.

Of course, all this applies to authentic authors. It goes without saying that the millions and millions of photos taken with smartphones and quickly injected “manu militari” into hundreds of social networks are outside the scope of analysis of my findings.

More and more fans of technical and aesthetic developments in photography are reinvesting in the fundamentals. The return of analogic processes and their derivatives, the sensual experimentation of old techniques which have fallen into disuse, the rehabilitation of masterpieces taken out of drawers, the nostalgia for the last jolts of photographic excellence at the end of the last millennial, is a challenge. Those around the photographers, new  font of knowledge  just out of schools, are asking themselves questions. The programs of the same schools give more space to “how to construct and create a photograph?” to replace the current “this is the photography you need to do!”.

Inside the uncertainties, the announced role of promptography, this binary conception of images on a computer, will it impose itself in the brains of the various audiences and in the economic share, already very atrophied, of the resources of Photography. Will this deadly drug, in the long term, grown up under the fallacious pretext of  so-called contemporary Art which looks more like a money making machine, for some?

Enough for today, let’s not attack these 2024 prospects with unjustifiable indigestion. Let us dream that these little signals propagate this inflection, also desired by many young enthusiasts (is this a return of vocations?) on the lookout for a more sincere and less superficial future. It is our personal duty to support and encourage this new developments.

There is no point of spitting on progress and future ideas, once creative, always creative. Quite the contrary; but let’s stop taking the public, especially those of a low cultural level, for suckers likely to swallow whatever soup they want to support an unjustifiable ego or  fill a cash drawer.

Thierry Maindrault – January 12, 2024

your comments about this chronicle and its photography are always welcome at [email protected]

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