James Balog, art and journalism

Listening to James Balog I realized there is another point on our spectrum; journalism.  At another point is the “political expressionist” and then, somewhere else, is the political artist (which maybe we need a more descriptive name).

Balog brings back reports, takes photos, and shows images of climate change.  Most of the affect on power is a non-direct effect of displaying the images and the support of the work.

Steve D., we should talk about mapping this out because I think these distinctions could really help explain.

In The Arctic, A Time-Lapse View Of Climate Change : NPR

Fresh Air from WHYY, March 18, 2009 · Intent on documenting the effects of climate change, nature photographer James Balog ventured into ice-bound regions with 26 time-lapse cameras, which he programmed to shoot a frame every daylight hour for three years. The resulting images — which make up Balog’s “Extreme Ice Survey” project — show ice sheets and glaciers breaking apart and disappearing. Balog calls the melting of glaciers “the most visible, tangible manifestations of climate change on the planet today.”
In The Arctic, A Time-Lapse View Of Climate Change : NPR

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  1. Journalism may be as large a category as “artist.” .

    On the one side there are the 18th C political editors, the 19th and early 20th C Muckrakers, and the writers for the Underground Press from the 1960s on — all of whom presented information in such a way as to excite their audience to provoke sort of political action. (Think of Upton Sinclair’s THe Jungle)

    On the other side is the ideal of Objective Journalism that took hold in the early 20th C with the Times et al. Ostensibly the purpose of this sort of journalism is to provide unbiased information that literally records and communicates objective reality. There is a politics behind this: a well informed citizenry and so forth, but the political outcome is secondary and, again ostensibly, politically neutral.

    Someplace in the middle of all of this is Sensationalism: selling papers through political, moral, criminal outrage.

    If you think about journalism this way then it actually mirrors the way we’ve been thinking about art. On one side are the communicators of reality (albeit that reality may be a subjective mood or the current vogue of the art world_ and on the other are those artist who consciously think about how their art will lead to social action on the part of their audience. And in the middle is the public outrage of “political expressionism”

    Sorry if this sounds like a wonkish lecture on the history of newspapers; it’s n occupational hazard

  2. ok, well let’s call it “artist as journalist” or “artist as reporter.” Or does my whole thing fall apart? You know what I mean right?

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