Through the Lens: Uta Barth

Everything is pointing to one’s own activity of looking, to an awareness and sort of hyper-consciousness of visual perception. The only way I know how to invite this experience is by removing the other things (i.e., subject matter) for you to think about.

Uta Barth

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This one is my most favorite, obviously.

Ever since I learned photography in 2010, I never really interested in any genre that people taught me. In Uni, because I studied Journalism, there are only 3 main genre I necessarily need to learn, Human Interest, Landscape, and Journalistic of course. And outside the class, I joined photography club where I can explore a little more but none of them suited me. Of course there are some genre I enjoy such as Nature, Wildlife and Sports (only snowboarding though).

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I like those, and of course we need lot of photographers to do just those genres. We need those kind of photograph for reasons, but I have to disagree when photographs would only matter when it’s Human Interest, Landscape, or Documentary. Maybe because of my tendency in joy on the little things so somehow those genres don’t feel enough.

There are so many genre in photography, yet I felt genre-less.

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It feels like you can almost hear the silence in this one.

Then I found out about her, and never feel understood that way before.

“In a subtle way, Uta Barth uses that blur to ask the viewer a question: is the world around us only important because it is around us? Is our physical environment only worthwhile as a backdrop for ourselves, or the things we want to focus on? By drawing our attention to the blurred foreground and background and away from what would be the clear subject, Barth is reminding us that the world and everything in it exists independent of us and independent of anything to do with us. The world is NOT just our background.”

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Or the warmth.

I found that in utata.org (nice article by the way) and I don’t see why I have to disagree. The world is NOT just our background, it’s a part of us as we are part of it. You see, how much people say about photography is about capturing the moments, it is true. But then as Greg Fallis wrote in that article, “By focusing on where the subject would be in a conventional photograph and by overtly calling the viewer’s attention to the absence of the subject, Barth is, in effect, turning the viewer into the subject. When the viewer is the subject, the photograph is no longer about what is in the photograph; it’s about the act of looking at the photograph.”

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Leave the rest for your imagination.

Spend minutes just to take a good look at one of her works, always make me wonder, “what makes me enjoying her this way?”. Again, Greg Fallis explained what I failed, “When the viewer is the subject, the photograph is no longer about what is in the photograph; it’s about the act of looking at the photograph”. When we see a photograph with someone in it, we would see him/her/them, and thinking about the story they had in their gesture, and eyes. And things in the background would be these things that help us see the story. But when there is no one in it, like Fallis wrote, it’s about the act of looking at the photograph.

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Her photos make me feel like I can stay there, in that world she captured, wherever it is.

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I think I can stand here for hours and would totally kick your feet you come with me and say, “we should go home now”.

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