The photography site for sore eyes. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.
A bit about Geoff Dyer (and it’s a bit long, so hang on in there).
Geoff Dyer is a kind of theorist. He theorises on photographs. This is my theory on him.
Total boll ocks. Nice fella like, but his ideas were built on pointless theory and scandalous assumption.
He gave a nice lecture. If you like hats. Or jazz. Or white fences. He didn’t take his coat off either. The whole afternoon was strange,
I know it’s difficult to believe that a serious theorist could keep a straight face for an hour as he talked about his analysis of 1920s photography through images with hats in them, but Geoff managed it.
I have to admit I sat there in disbelief for most of the talk. Can you really have an intellectual, photography-based discussion on hats? Evidently, yes.
In my opinion Geoff, who does not take photographs himself, used a great deal of unfounded interpretation of photographs, garnished with a smattering of rhetoric.
It all came to a head when he spoke about one photographer who had taken a picture of a white fence. Geoff claimed the photographer had obviously referenced some previous images of white fences in some cultural tribute. He even wrote in his book.
But the photographer told Geoff this was, in fact, clap trap. He liked the white fence, he took a photo of it.
If ever there was proof needed that over analysis yields pointless theories, this was it. Geoff still writes his books.
He listened a lot in the lecture. So intently was he listening, in fact, that I am convinced we gave him the idea for his next book. ‘If brown is the new black,’ one student asked, ‘what is the new hat?’ Now there’s a Geoff Dyer lecture to miss next year.
Good luck to him, he probably earned more money for that lecture than I take home in a week. And a few of my fellow students stuck up for him. But is he really contributing to the discussion? He is, if you like pointless discussion. Well if the hat fits…
NOTE: The worrying thing is this: I would never have taken a photograph of a white fence but might be tempted to now after Geoff’s lecture. I have been made aware of pointless white fences in photography. My mind has been poisoned. Geoff Dyer has poisoned my mind.