Alec Soth should have been a writer
Actually, he is.Walker Art Center blog, one of the better arts blogs in town, recently opened a lot of eyes ('round here, anyhow) to an even better one: Alec Soth. The local fine art photographer is already a superstar in New York and beyond for his beautiful, sad, and often quirky large-format work, but just four months into his new online writing venture, Soth is already being hailed as one of the best arts bloggers on the Internet.
Whether he's describing his own artistic process, posting the occassional poem, keeping us up on his career moves, or (most often) showing off the work of other photographers he admires, Soth's writing is witty, analytical, thoughtful, and clear enough to delight even those readers who aren't interested in fine art photography--or rather, don't yet know they are. In this age of DIY user-creationism, you hear a lot about the difference between "thinking visually" and "thinking verbally," and Soth's blog--with its poetic images and descriptive prose--proves how bullshit that line of thought is. Words and images aren't polar opposites; they aren't even two poles on the same spectrum. The relationship is deeper than that. They're signifiers of the same thing. Which is to say--and arts grant proofreaders may disagree here--visual artists are often better writers than they let on.
As Soth himself says in this post about book jacket art, specifically portraits of authors: "How do these portraits alter the way we read the author? I'm not sure. All I know is that pictures change words as much as words change pictures."
Quit that master's class and go read Soth's archive.