Monday, 12 October 2009

The Golfographer is Born

Spreadsheets, like sleeping bags, don’t lie (but it’s a romantic thought – them lying together, one on top of the other). There’s no getting around it, our degree course in Golf Course Management is turning out photographers. Fact. If it were wedding photographers it would be understandable, as a terrible amount of wedding receptions take place on golf courses every weekend. Or if it were Landscape photographers, one could see some connection – the modern concept of golf courses being the last real countryside and so on. No, it’s a very specific kind of idea-led, directorially minded photographer that degrees in golf appear to be producing. The Golfographer is born. How about some marketing blurb? The Golfographer hovers somewhere above the accepted perspective; Art is the food of golf; golf greens are the new painters palates (you put your thumb through the hole); bunkers are really giant potato crisps (bunkers eat your balls so bite the bunker back). To land in a bunker you have to slice the ball (slice, meaning miss-hit the ball). To make a chip (crisp) you have to slice the potato. And to get out of the bunker/crisp you have to play a chip-shot.

Golf clubs (irons and woods) perform exactly the same function as camera lenses – focus the aim over different distances. Armed with the golf bag as camera bag, swapping balls for pixels the Golfographer is equipped to negotiate the most abstract of principles; Familiar with the Psychogeographer? Meet the Golfographer. None of this however, is new.
Consider Allphonse Allais (1854-1905), a French writer (who specialised in ‘speculative journalism’). Allais (even though he wasn’t a painter) was the first man in history to paint an abstract picture. In the 1890’s it was an accepted criticism of modern painters that they could not draw or paint; so Allais decided to hold an exhibition of writers who genuinely could not draw or paint. The show was called the Salon des Incoherents, and Allais exhibited a large, totally white rectangular canvas. It was entitled ‘Anaemic Young Girls Going to their First Communion through a Blizzard’. He was so pleased with it he painted six more, one of which is a red rectangle entitled ‘Apoplectic Cardinals Harvesting Tomatoes by the Red Sea’. Theses strange abstract paintings (the only paintings Allais ever made) pre-date Yves Klein’s monochromes and Rothko’s black, green, orange and magenta canvases by half a century. But was the British abstractionist Victor Pasmore, the first artist to interpret golf courses from a modernist perspective, without intending to do so?

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