February 25, 2007

Old School

In Moe's, surrounded by so much packaged striving for a certain unintentionally-twee visual hipness, I pick up a cheap remaindered hardback copy of Sylvia Wolf's "Ed Ruscha and Photography" (Whitney 2004). Ruscha's photography clearly charted a lot of the territory I later plodded around aimlessly; it's a shame I didn't know the map except subconsciously or by instinct.

Ruscha's photos (or at least the little I know of them) always please me, always come across as staunchly old school: they don't come off as calculating or theory-driven, just driven. Sure, you can infer a lot of coherent thought and aesthetic ideology behind the scenes, but at least they're not advertisements for a conventional and self-satisfied sort of transgressiveness or illustrated me! me! me! self-absorption. And they have the sort of droll dry humour that puts those all-too-familiar earnest academic attempts at "play" and "playfulness" to shame. All of which does it for me… so I buy the damn thing.

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