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Too many images


Wunderkind novelist Jonathan Safran Foer and badboy British artist Damien Hirst make unrelated appearances in this week’s New York Times magazine. Unrelated, but for this nice coincidence in how the Net has affected each artist’s craft.

From the Jonathan Safran Foer profile:

Full-page photographs, all in arty black-and-white, are woven into the narrative, and typography is at times deployed toward pictorial ends. Page 26, for example, comes with only one tiny word — ”Help” — marooned in a vast desert of white. At the opposite extreme, Page 284 is so crowded with words printed on top of words that you cannot decipher them, except as a vertical slab of black, a tombstone of type, or perhaps (like the photograph on Page 318) a velvety night sky. The book also includes a dozen or so grainy newslike photographs that risk offense by appropriating the image of a body falling from the towers — albeit a digitally simulated image — for artistic gain.

”The moment when I chose to put the photographs in the book,” Foer said, ”I was browsing around the Internet. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at — beheadings, C-sections, shark attacks, people jumping from planes with broken parachutes. It made me wonder what it must be like to be young right now. Kids are subjected to images that adults aren’t because a) their curiosity for the grotesque is greater and b) their ability to access it is greater.”

From the Damient Hirst interview:

NYT: [Can we] expect to see seascapes in your show?

DH: No. There are 30 paintings in the show, and most of them are based on photographs from newspapers and magazines.

NYT: I’m sorry to hear that. It seems that most painters today are basing their work on photographs.

DH: There are so many images in the world. An artist doesn’t really need to create anymore.

Posted 28 February 2005