Sunsets in Camera Obscura
“Sunsets are everywhere. Nightly they appear, vast and humbling, orange, pink and purple. Like snowflakes, it is said that every single one is different. Natural, ephemeral and beautiful [ … ] Sunset photographs, however, are a different matter: they have come to represent the most predictable, culturally devalued and banal of image-making practices. Critics dismiss them as ‘chocolate box’ or ‘picture postcard’; they are seen as clichés” ( Annebella Pollen, http://eitherand.org/reconsidering-amateur-photography/when-cliche-not-cliche-reconsidering-mass-produced/).
Regardless of this ‘demerit badge’ that taints sunsets photographs ( but see When a cliché is a cliché? Reconsidering Mass-Produced Sunsets, by A. Pollen in the above site, for a discussion and an essential bibliography on the subject) , the Internet is swarmed with them in large numbers, everyday
Susan Sontag explains: "In photography's earliest decades, photographs were expected to be idealized images. This is still the aim of most amateur photographers, for whom a beautiful photograph is a photograph of something beautiful, like a woman, a sunset" (On Photography, London 1979).
That is: sunset photographs are the products of the aesthetically naive.
The claim that a beautiful photo is just a mirror of the beauty that was before the lens – which is exactly what makes them naive, Sontag says - is an instance of the myth of objective immediacy, i.e. the idea that what gives a shot its meaning is its purported direct and intimate relationship with reality, rather than the function it can perform within the cognitive and emotional contexts of our practices.
Experimenting with pinhole photography applied to this popular subject, as in the photos I'm presenting here, aims to question this alleged intimate relationship and to return to sunsets photography a bit of its problematic nature.