W Photography embraces the changes taking place in photography, including the fine print, at this turn of a century and millenium. While largely technology driven, they are also cultural and aesthetic. New methods to produce prints provide an ever widening range of alternatives to the artists and propel a re-thinking of what may constitute a fine print as well as its content, a new critical assessment of exactly what is being communicated. It is a re-invention of the descriptive and expressive potential of photography. All processes, past and present, see resurgence and evolution of vision, and elevation in the printmaking craft.
Photography is not painting and only in some ways similar to works on paper. The capture of light, usually by a lens, is definitive, as is reproducibility. Once captured, what happens then is simply extraordinary in its multiplicity and undergoing profound change. Is the exposed negative the original work, the digital file, or the print? What is a copy? Whatever the answers, it is the print encompassing all the artists choices that is the most permanent and collectible. Appreciation of the medium needs to embrace these qualities.
Aesthetically it is also the beginning of a new era. Since its invention, photography and painting have mutually influenced each other. The early Pictorialists sought to emulate then current painting styles and enhance acceptibility. Straight photography grew in reaction, embracing the differences from painting, and constitutes a broad body of Modern work. Post-Modern work turns largely conceptual to an examination of photography itself, cultural issues, and the photographer. While a gross simplification, this shouldnt imply future outgrowth solely from that movement. Rather well see a fully post-Post Modern era encompassing new multiplicity even as aesthetic lines blur and photography is more often shown with other art. Still, photography will be photography. Much remains as yet undefined. That is the excitement.
Look for what is being said in the art. Look for that something more beyond re-iteration, a fuller use and understanding of our visual heritage, a particular talent for photographic vision - things as you havent quite seen them before, or challenging to assumptions about the very nature of perception and reality. See how the artist treats these issues. Rely on your judgment of the intrinsic qualities. We are on the cusp of a stimulating transformation.