Baldessari Chapter 3

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S.R.: Maybe let me start from that point, because many historians try to divide between modernist practices of photography and post-modern strategies of photography. Your own work would be the exception, because most of the theoreticians locate the post-modern photography from the appropriationists on, but you were fifteen years, eighteen years earlier with your works because you were already appropriating images from popular culture and developing them to a specific artistic or cultural image. And this is a thing that was always very interesting for me. How did you start using for example images from television ... or popular culture?

J.B.: Okay let's start with from television. It seemed to me that at least at that moment [...], in the early 70s... that's when the Sony Portapack came out and a lot of artists then were able to do video, and film. That was more expensive, of course, but Super 8 or 16. That idea of a photographic imagery was very much in the air, and I was using both film and video and still-photography trying really to figure out my own mind which, specifically in one Greenbergian sense, were the properties of one material and the properties of another material and so on. [...] For a lot people TV was more real than the world around them. This great film with Peter Sellers, »Being There«, from the Jerzy Kosinski novel, where this fellow is totally cut off from society and he learns all his behavior from watching television. It's not too far from the truth. So what I would do, I would just set up a camera in front of the television with a timing-device that would take a photograph every ten minutes, so I wouldn't even have to make an aesthetic decision, the camera would make it for me, and that would be raw material I would use. I would do the same thing by putting a TV camera outside of my studio and then having a feed into here, and I would just be taking photographs, cars going by, people walking by, that sort of thing. I think I could make an argument that that's more real for a lot of people than some snapshot, a photograph they were taking as something where they have been or what have you. We are so accustomed to looking at photographic reproductions that it's more real.

S.R.: So we are all Mr. Chance.

J.B.: (laughs) Yes, I think so.

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