I had forgotten how much fun it is to shoot what's on broadcast TV. In the seventies and the early eighties, a lot of photographers built their entire careers on taking pictures of what was on the telly. The resulting images are somewhat gimmicky and never that interesting, but undeniably fun and entertaining. At the end of the day, the appropriative ease and speed with which you can take pictures of television screens is just too much of a no brainer; which is not to say that ease and speed are not photographically good things. I make enough sweeping generalizations as it is already. Come to think of it, TV stills are to photography, what comic books were to Pop Art in the sixties, it's seen better days. Nevertheless, I am sure that somewhere, somehow, a lone genius is reviving the genre, and is being ignored because of flippantly opinionated people like me.
Still, I would not mind seeing a new wave emerge from that Phoenix' ashes. Problem is, flat screens don't flicker, which is unfortunate since half the fun is working with and around the cathode's flickering rays. On top of it all, to add insults to injury, digital cameras are making the process ever cheaper, quicker and easier.
Case in point, last saturday night, after returning from Slideluck Potshow, which included my work in the mix, I sat in from of my TV, with my girlfriend's new point and shoot and captured "digitally", close to six hundred pics while she slept next to me. Out of those six hundreds, I'd venture to say that almost half turned out nicely, even if they are, in my mind, devoid of value. The other three hundreds fell victim to flicker and delay.
So, out of guilt and shame, I further combined some of them into diptychs to feel like I was actually being creative, as opposed to some late nite fingering perv, pleasuring the trigger for leisure. As for screen stills, the ones I like the most are those where the photographer steps back to include the TV dinner, a fork and a spoon. Something I did not do. In order to make this photographic sub-specie more interesting one would need to create a story board and hunt down images* that best fit the script to create "cathodovelas" using found images available on TV, Youtube or DVDs. If I feel like it some day, I might experiment with it, as for now, I'll stick with large format. Nevertheless, it wouldn't be a bad way to spend an idle saturday night.
*which I am sure has already been attempted.