Michael Kimmelman on a new Walker Evans show. Walker Evans is one of my most favorite photographers ever. Echoes in this beautifully written article explain enough of why that is, and the only addition I have to make is that Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a book that falls into that category of “everything.” Some books, regardless of the actual narrative, are about everything; they can be references for so many thoughts and situations and expriences. House of Leaves of course, the source of the name of this blog, is another. One Hundred Years of Solitude is another. The Giver. Catch 22. There are a bunch more.
Anyhow, Kimmelman is usually a thoughtful writer, and in this piece you can tell that he is in my camp when it comes to Walker Evans. And he poses an interesting question:
Is photography closer to music and theater, or to painting? A painting is what it is, and copies of it are not the same. Music and theater exist through their variety of interpretations.
I guess I never thought about categorizing various mediums in this way, and while I understand the point he is making, I just don’t think that I agree. The “variety of interpretations” of a piece of music definitely affect meaning through context, but there really is a fundamental being, also: “it is what it is.” Why would one assign that kind of presence to one form of art over another? Besides, music recorded is an entirely differeny consideration from music performed live.
You can argue it the other way, also. A painting is not just a painting. A painting in a museum is entirely different from one on an easel, or one hanging in your parent’s bathroom, or one stored away in the garage.
A thing that is created is one thing. The context(s) in which is affects other people is completely another. No matter how you see/hear(touch/taste/feel) it.