If each of us is being honest, and sensitive, I think we react to art in many ways much the same as we react to personalities. Some people we like, some people we don't. We might have friends we just met and hardly know but who are friends all the same, and people in our lives who remain strangers despite years of acquaintance. Some people we're attracted to, most we're not. Why? The standard shorthand answer is "chemistry." Good enough—'twill serve.
I know I react that way to sounds—voices and instruments. There are singers' voices I just love (Bob Marley, John Lennon) and others I can't stand (Whitney Houston, for me—nothing against Whitney personally, but I would almost rather be water-boarded than have to listen to "I Will Always Love You" three times. And I fear drowning). Probably each of us is the same way, albeit always with different people and voices and instruments. If you like pop music, try to think of three singers whose voices just reliably send you (sorry, a little Sam Cooke sublimination there) and three you hate regardless of how "good" you know they are.
The instrument I most reliably love is the piano. Don't know why, just do...it's that "personality" thing I guess. Leif Ove Andsnes is my favorite pianist these days (try this for some samplings. Also downloadable on iTunes). You should hear the guy play Haydn—like a house afire—and talk about "flow like oil" (Mozart's instructions as to how his piano music should be played)—Andsnes playing Mozart sounds like it comes directly from God, I swear.
So here's a question. I'm going to try not to load this up with value judgments, try not to make it a challenge or a goad. But are there three photographers whose work meshes with your personality in that way I'm talking about? And three whose work you just can't stand, maybe even for no good reason?
Just something to think about. In fact, I think I'll put on some Andsnes and go think about it myself—I'll get back to you.
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON