Friday, December 12, 2008

Quite the get-together

Weschler, Irwin and Hockney in the same room. Can I apply for my fly-on-the-wall license now?
Even so, Hockney emphatically disagreed with Irwin’s characterization of the cubist challenge, already insisting to me just a few weeks later (for in the meantime he’d invited me to start visiting more regularly so that I might compose a text for a planned coffee-table book surveying the photocollage cameraworks series on which he’d only just launched out upon), “No! Cubism was precisely about saving the possibility of figuration, this ages-old need of human beings, going all the way back to Lascaux, to render the world in two dimensions, and saving that possibility at the moment of its greatest crisis, what with the onslaught of photography with all its false claims to being able to accomplish such figuration better and more objectively. It was about asserting all the things photography couldn’t capture: time, multiple vantages, and the sense of lived and living experience.” (For his part, critics often got Hockney all wrong as well, misinterpreting the intensity of the ways he would presently be engaging photography—taking literally hundreds of thousands of photos, coming to feel that the Old Masters themselves had been in thrall to a similar optical aesthetic—as a celebration of the photographic over the painterly, and specifically the post-optical painterly, when in fact all along he’d been engaged in a rigorous critique of photography and the optical as “all right,” in his words, “if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops, for a split second, but that’s not how the world really is.”)

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