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Maybe its just the angry cynicism of youth versus the accepted wisdom of being in your seventies, maybe it’s a point of education amassed over decades, but his unbridled positivism about the direction of our culture is just leaving me cold.
In an interview given to issue 43 of The Idler (which I would strongly recommend to anyone with a few hours to spend, er, idling) he talked impressively on the evolution of photography from the renaissance until the present digital revolution. He remarked, of the current Youtube / Facebook phenomenon, ‘Your kids can make perfectly good pictures about dancing and music, they can make them themselves.’
Perfectly good pictures. There’s the brunt, the thing that hit me, perfectly good? Certainly, most phones have amazing cameras now, and photoshop’s a wonderful thing, but perfectly good? I kind of have to disagree, and not just as someone trying to defend his position and wage. A glance through Facebook will reveal a multitude of young women in the same pouting pose, or young men in a slightly more masculine one, is this uniformity, then, the perfect image?
Hockney goes on to talk of how, as images become increasingly common currency, as they are traded more and more over digital wires, we will begin to discuss the making of images more. As if people will suddenly be talking semiotics instead of trying to pose like Rhianna. I remain unconvinced.
Take Jordan (please, please take her). Here we have a woman who has, very successfully, crowbarred her image into every conceivable mass stereotype of fame over the last decade or so. By ensuring her image fits into the glamour model / celebrity mother / celebrity relationship jumper / tabloid friendly instant life story mould she has carved fame and fortune (albeit at the cost of her own basic humanity). What is disconcerting though, is how she’s managed to ‘inspire’ a generation of young women to aim to become, not doctors or artists or professors, but glamour models or footballers wives. And now we learn she is to host her own TV show in a bid to find the ‘next Jordan’. The next attention desperate, mess of a celebrity puppet, the next person to be crowbarred into the same posture she crowbarred herself into. Apparently 50,000 otherwise intelligent young women are vying for the opportunity. You could make this up, unfortunately you just don’t have to.
But this is the paradigm that needs to be shifted, the process of thought that should be asking how images are made and their meanings metaphysically, not what images can make and what that means materially. David, Mr Hockney, you are older, you are wiser than I, please please please, please be right.