It has come to my attention that anyone discussing art who wishes to be taken seriously must have a pretentious collection of thoughts that they project upon the world as if they are received wisdom from On High, universally applicable to all humanity in perpetuity. In order to correct this egregious oversight on my part, I present you with The Filmosaur Manifesto.
A spectre is haunting the world – the spectre of bad photography. The world is cursed with an ever-increasing tide of photos that should never have been seen, and if nothing is done, we will be overwhelmed, drowned in mediocrity or worse. If the medium is to be preserved, it must be reborn in the eyes of its practitioners. Here, therefore, I present a path to salvation, a means by which photography may once again be shown without endangering the public welfare. In order to properly emphasize the power and force contained in this document, it goes to 11.
- Never show boring work. Most photographs are boring, but this doesn’t mean you have to inflict them on unsuspecting viewers. Choose wisely what you show in public – the viewer will think better of your work if it is carefully selected and interesting. Art should never measured by mass or volume. Be your own harshest critic.
- A photograph is a photograph. Magritte’s The Treachery of Images is correct. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – it is not a pipe, but an image of a pipe. Your photograph is not the thing being photographed, nor should you intend it to be. You are creating a photograph, a thing in and of itself – do not seek to reproduce what you see, but to produce something that will be seen for its own sake.
- Perception is reality. What a viewer sees when they look at a photograph is their reality, which may be completely detached from the reality you saw when you made the photo. The reality you saw is irrelevant. What matters is the photograph and how it is seen – this is the reality the photographer creates.
- Do not photograph in a vacuum. Photography has been practiced for over a century and a half, yet many photographers never look critically at anything but their own work, if even that. If you don’t know what has been done already, how can you possibly meaningfully evaluate your own photographs? A photographer must be both a creator and consumer of photography; creation without reference is self-delusion.
- Whenever there is doubt, there is no doubt. If there is any question at all as to whether a photograph you have made is good or not, it isn’t. Good work announces itself when it enters the room; mediocre work sneaks in through the kitchen.
- The camera doesn’t matter. No one but you cares what camera you used to produce a photo, just as no one cares what sort of brush Da Vinci used or what sort of chisel Michelangelo used. The end result is what matters. The artist selects their own tools for their own purposes; the viewer could not care less, so do not bore them with technical information that can only detract from the attention given to your work.
- Command the machine. In order that art be the product of the artist, the photographer must impose his will upon the camera. Painters compose their own palettes, demanding the pigments provide them the vision they seek. The photographer must make the same demands upon their camera, lens, and film. In the digital realm, it is all the more important, lest your work be merely the banal product of algorithms designed by corporations for maximum public acceptance.
- Photographs have no meaning. You may feel a certain way about a photograph, but you cannot and should not attempt to impose this feeling on the viewer. If a photograph evokes a consistent emotional response from its viewers, it is because they are reacting to what they see, not what you told them they are looking at and what it means. If a viewer has no reason to engage with a photograph, they won’t; only through this engagement will a photograph have meaning to them as an individual.
- Conformity is the enemy. In a world of ephemeral media trends, far too many succumb to the instinct to join the herd. The result of this failure is that photographs look increasingly alike. Only by ignoring peer pressure and discarding social conformity can a photographer transcend convergence with every other photographer. A photographer’s rules must be their own, and as such they are inviolable.
- Imperfection is the path to perfection. A technically perfect photograph is certain to be mind-numbingly dull, as it is clear the photographer was first focused on the technical, rather than the artistic. The viewer of photography is not looking for technical perfection; they are looking for work that creates emotion. Imperfection can evoke far greater and more complex emotions than perfection ever will.
- Never accept success. The moment a photographer decides they are fully competent in their work is the moment they die. The very thought that there is an end point to the development of a photographer’s work is the most destructive idea imaginable. Any photographer who believes they have reached the pinnacle of their own abilities will produce nothing but bad work after that moment.
Rise against the oppression of bad photography! You have nothing to lose but your chains!