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Lewis Baltz - Quotes

The questioning of the photograph in its relation to reality, the interrogation of representation, the famous crisis of representation, really took place before digital technology. Digital technology is not the villain here, it simply offers another dimension.
Baltz, Lewis.

Jean Nouvel is interested in a building that would respond to change in temperature, in time, in use. He's always been fascinated by the idea of integrating architectural space with image space, signage. Jean proposed making columns of images, and then we began talking about what kind of images these would be, how these columns would be structured, whether they would be autonomously illuminated, or whether they would respond the light in the building, what kind of subjects would be interesting to introduce in this particular building. It is not a question of putting my work into Nouvel's building but a question of using that building and the activities in that building as a way of generating a dialogue of images.
Baltz, Lewis.

I assume that once something goes on the Internet, it belongs to everybody.
Baltz, Lewis.

I never had any profound loyalty to the idea of photography as a medium but simply as the most efficient way of making or recording an image.
Baltz, Lewis.

I think it's interesting that the questioning of the photograph in its relation to the reality, the interrogation of representation, the famous crisis of representation, really all took place before digital technology. Digital technology … is not the villain here. It simply offers another dimension. I'm not sure if it's a farther remove from reality than analogue. I think if we can speak of reality, if reality and representation can be spoken of in the same sentence, if reality even exists any more, digital is simply another way of encoding that reality.
Baltz, Lewis.

Photography is less material than painting; digital is less material. But the dematerialisation of art again is something that began thirty years ago as a conceptual gesture and long before people realised that it was not only a possibility but would in fact become the dominant technology.
Baltz, Lewis.

Almost everything now has that possibility, maybe even the necessity, of some kind of digital interface or intervention. So in that sense, the sense that it proliferates, that it's everywhere in society, I think that will yet further detach people from whatever 19th century idea they had about reality, the phenomenal world and their relation to it and in it.
Baltz, Lewis.

Cinema structured time in a very different way than any other medium had ever devised before. With video you have a double structure. You have that structuring of time in cinema but also you have this possibility of zapping , that is, the director of the film is not absolutely the final determiner of the order or the speed in which you see the images. … That's a different kind of time; that's a different kind of intervention. It's an intervention done by a user, in their real time.
Baltz, Lewis.

The digital technology may make it possible, at least theoretically possible, for everyone to be everywhere all the time. This really runs in a way counter to the post-modernism dictum of the disappearance of the subject. You could say it becomes the multiplicity of the subject. The subject is no longer one. The subject is two or four or many or billions.
Baltz, Lewis.

To work in a way integrated with architecture, I think the work we're speaking about here is not a question of putting my work in his building but a question of using that building and the activities in that building as a way of generating a dialogue in images. The work is not even site-specific, it's really site-generated. It's something that's made exclusively for that space and that space with its present series of functions. In that sense it becomes like most works today ephemeral.
Baltz, Lewis.

[The] question of [the] medium is something that seems to be kind of mercifully disappearing now. I don't think anyone really identifies themselves by the medium, except maybe painters — who will hate me for saying that.
Baltz, Lewis.

It seems like there's another generation that's arising; that it's almost become a genetic change. There children all over the world who seem to have some innate ability to deal with information on the screen, to manipulate digital symbols, to feel comfortable with this as though they had drunk it in with their mother's milk. It is almost their second nature. And perhaps a new kind of human being is evolving in front of us and we're not sure how to name it yet.
Baltz, Lewis.

What I found that was younger artists no one is going to be media-defined. They simply take for granted that all these mediums such as computer, video, photography, film are available and have their particular qualities. They move very gracefully from one to another. So I think that question of medium is something that seems to be kind of mercifully disappearing.
Baltz, Lewis.

Other than in very specialised circumstances, photography has been left behind as a descriptive medium. Of course this loss of utility renders it more available to an aesthetic reading. Since the beginning photography has insisted on its place among the fine arts, now it has arrived, though in ways and for reasons unsuspected by most of its partisans.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

My work on public projects is site-determined. The place, its history, its particularities dictate the work that I make and the way in which I choose to have it enter the public arena.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

In becoming inutile - no longer content-driven - photography became self-reflexive, much as painting did from the time of Manet.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

To speak about the relationship between photography and present reality (or urgent reality) is to mention your own relationship with political involvement. At Groningen, for example, you put your work in the public domain. What does it mean for you to engage in this type of intervention? What made you decide to do it?
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

All civilized nations (as well as those that are not) pay lip service to the idea of ‘Good Government’, although its meaning varies dramatically from place to place.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

The idea of beauty is completely arbitrary. Duchamp saw this clearly and acted on it: you don’t put an object in a museum because it’s beautiful; an object is beautiful because you put it in a museum.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

Everything is photogenic once it has been photographed. The - successful - mission of photography was to deliver the world and all its contents into the category of the picturesque. None of which has anything to do with art.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

... the politics I was addressing were not parochial but, I hoped, something more general: the line that we draw between the ‘clean’ and the ‘unclean’.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

One of photography’s early attractions for me was that it was - or could be made to appear to be - almost the same as ordinary vision; or at least it was the closest thing to that the arts offered. It had the illusion of being unmediated seeing, and it was that quality that I wanted to exploit.
Baltz, Lewis. "Interview" in: American SuburbX. 2009.

The video can provide all the information that a photograph contains and a lot more: in the video there’s movement, sound, and time passing by. Despite that, photography still preserves its same power to seduce and charm. A sign that it still has a function and a collocation in the complex contemporary semiotic system.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

In truth I don’t like talking of my projects until I have finished them. It’s a superstitious thing, or perhaps just embarrassment. When you start a new project, sometimes you end up not completing it, or having a better idea which turns it in something completely different. I don’t like talking of something which might never happen.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

The Mission Photographique Transmanche commissioned very many photographic works for many years.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

The only thing that associated all the shows in those years, is Paris, as in New York, London, San Francisco alike, everywhere there was a sense of tiredness. The sensation being the one of looking at a mean which had stopped, reached its pinnacle of expression, beyond which it would have been impossible to go. Therefore my challenge was to explore the limits of the photographic, the point before which language could have exploded. This meant to go out and look for the things that couldn’t be photographed.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

I’ve always had an interest in the industrial landscape. I’ve always been attracted by the work of German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch, who in the twenties started to take pictures of factories, machinery, industrial revolution landscape.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

Mechanics had been substituted with electronics and digital. Technologies, in a short time had become invisible.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

It is not in my nature to carry on with things infinitely: what’s done is done. 89-91, Sites of Technology is a project which in that moment had been carried out in the best possible way, in the best conditions. Now I couldn’t add anything more significant on it.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

I do not like the States. I think that things there are increasingly getting worse from several points of view: politically, economically, culturally. The States are going through a long period of decadence, which started around the Reagan era. I like it very much in Europe. Venice is perfect, it is paradise.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

When I finished high school, I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t like school. I found it stupid, I only wanted to go to work. But those were the years of Vietnam, and I didn’t want to leave. So I enrolled in San Francisco Art Institute, and it was incredible: it was the Summer of Love, we could study what ever pleased us more. We were very free. So I could study photography and art. Then I went to study at Claremont Graduate School, where they had a very interesting photography programme. There had the opportunity to study with very clever people who became famous. That was when I did my project The Tract Houses, which was exhibited at the Castelli Gallery in New York. So that is how my career as a photographer started.
Baltz, Lewis, Cecilia Pirovano, Stefano Graziani and Antonello Frongia. "The disappearance of reality." in: Ventura Broadcast. 2006. (English).

I think it goes back to my relation with analogue photos. I never had any profound loyalty to the idea of photography as a medium but simply as the most efficient way of making or recording an image. And that has changed over the last few years. Now the most efficient way is to work with digital or with digital-analogue or between the two. Eventually, I'm sure it will be entirely digital. It's simply the prevailing technology, the available technology now. I think in the future we won't even have a choice.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

Digital technology, you see, is not the villain here. It simply offers another dimension. I'm not sure if it's a farther remove from reality than analogue. I think if we can speak of reality, if reality and representation can be spoken of in the same sentence, if reality even exists any more, digital is simply another way of encoding that reality.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

Photography is less material than painting; digital is less material. But the dematerialisation of art again is something that began thirty years ago as a conceptual gesture and long before people realised that it was not only a possibility but would in fact become the dominant technology.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

People are on the Internet, people work with digital cameras. Almost everything now has that possibility, maybe even the necessity, of some kind of digital interface or intervention. So in that sense, the sense that it proliferates, that it's everywhere in society, I think that will yet further detach people from whatever 19th century idea they had about reality, the phenomenal world and their relation to it and in it. Whether that change is an improvement or we are entering a dangerous brave new world, it's really impossible to say. In any case, it is the reality, it's the world we are entering, it's the world we're already half into.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

The digital technology may make it possible, at least theoretically possible, for everyone to be everywhere all the time. This really runs in a way counter to the post-modernism dictum of the disappearance of the subject. You could say it becomes the multiplicity of the subject. The subject is no longer one. The subject is two or four or many or billions.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

And what I found was that with the younger artists, the people under 35, no one is going to be media-defined. No one would speak of themselves as a "computer artist", as a "video artist", as a "photographer", as a "filmmaker". They simply take for granted that all these mediums are available and have their particular qualities. They move very gracefully from one to another. So again I think that question of medium is something that seems to be kind of mercifully disappearing now. I don't think anyone really identifies themselves by the medium, except maybe painters—who will hate me for saying that.
Baltz, Lewis. "Subjects and objects of the new technological culture: Interview" in: MediaMente. 1998.

Typical choices are valley bottoms or the flood plains of rivers. As this type of land is originally often agricultural, the development of one or more large industrial areas may cause severe dislocations in the local economy, such as have occurred in parts of Orange and Santa Clara counties, where agriculture has been almost completely supplanted by the development of industry.
Baltz, Lewis. "Notes on Recent Industrial Developments in Southern California. in: Images. Vol. 17, No. 2, 1974. p. 1- 10. (English)

Broad interior streets are designed to accommodate large numbers of heavy vehicles. Lot sizes, setbacks, and other zoning determinations are incorporated into the master plan and maintained uniformly throughout the development.
Baltz, Lewis. "Notes on Recent Industrial Developments in Southern California. in: Images. Vol. 17, No. 2, 1974. p. 1- 10. (English)

Often companies tend to select names which obscure the nature of their activities and the identity of their owners. These names are often drawn from the terminology of space exploration, cybernetics, electronics, plastics, and similar new technologies.
Baltz, Lewis. "Notes on Recent Industrial Developments in Southern California. in: Images. Vol. 17, No. 2, 1974. p. 1- 10. (English)

Industries which tenant the new industrial parks are often induced to locate there by neighboring communities which regard light industry as an economic asset. Characteristics of heavy manufacturing and extraction industries, such as air, water and noise pollution, unsightly structures, and the necessity of a large unskilled labor force are explicitly absent from the new industries.
Baltz, Lewis. "Notes on Recent Industrial Developments in Southern California. in: Images. Vol. 17, No. 2, 1974. p. 1- 10. (English)