Critical Mass doppelgängers

Technology can be a hoot sometimes. James was on the couch with his iPad and I was here at our desk computer and for a good half hour we were both looking at the Critical Mass top 50 web page at the same time, keeping up a running dialog while we checked out the winners. We were having a lovely time going back and forth telling each other to "check out so-and-so" or "so-and-so's work bores me" or "so-and-so's is hilarious (in a good way)" when we soon we realized that there were quite a few instances where one artist's work uncannily resembled another person's. For example:
 Lucia Ganieva
vs.
Mark Lyon
I wonder whether it would feel weird to see images that were so similar to my own in such close proximity. Moving on, here we have:
Jane Fulton Alt
vs. 
Youngsuk Suh
In reading the statements that correspond to the matching series I'm reminded of how subjective the act of interpreting one's work is. Let us move on to developing trays vs. viewfinders:
John Cyr
vs.
Meggan Gould
Or Russia vs. the Ukraine, just add or subtract snow:
Evgenia Arbugaeva
vs.
Misha Friedman
All of this perhaps points to a potential issue with the CM means of judging: because the winners are based on a blind mathematical system of voting there's a large possibility that there could be a lack of variety, as seen above (and in other work on the list which I'm not showing here). I'm not sure if this repetitiveness has always been in evidence--maybe I've just never scrutinized the winners this closely in the past. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to knock Critical Mass, it's a great opportunity for photographers and Photolucida is an amazing organization. But it's an interesting conundrum--jury by a group of 200 can lead in the end to a sort of non-curated whole that gets, well, a little monotonous when all is said and done.

Comments

Asha S said…
it's cool to see the pictures side-by-side. i really enjoyed it.
Kate Wilhelm said…
I haven't looked closely at the winners' work, but I did go through the whole All Entrants cd. I often skipped through a lot of thumbnails because they were very similar. It was the night photography and old wallpaper that got monotonous for me. (Although I love old wallpaper, there was really a lot of it.)
David C. said…
I found Meggan Gould's photo of a viewfinder particularly interesting. I have posted thousands of pictures on Flickr. Far and away, my photos of old viewfinders draw the most views from Flickr users. One of these, a Kodak Duaflex viewfinder, has been viewed over 10,000 times. I just assumed it's because people might be downloading it to use as a texture layer in Photoshop. Maybe instead they perceive great meaning in the dust and scratches. Kudos to Ms.Gould for submitting her work to Critical Mass.
Hi David--thanks for your comment. I also applaud Gould and the other winners for submitting their work and for the honor of being selected. My post isn't meant to be about any one artist's merit per se, but more about the consistent similarities across the board from one series to the next. Very interesting about the popularity of your viewfinder images. Thanks again for chiming in. (And an overdue thank you to you, Asha and Kate, for your thoughts.)

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