Is tilt-shift photography’s auto-tune?

© Vincent Laforet

© Vincent Laforet

There has been a big debate going on in the musical blogosphere about the auto-tune. Kanye West has his fair share of responsibility for this as his last album, 808s & Heartbreak, didn’t contain any rapping whatsoever and just involved him warbling into his vocoder. This man cannot sing to save his life (if you listen to the live versions of any of the “808″ tracks, even through an auto-tune his voice manages to be ropey), but he decided that sing he would by getting a computer to do it for him. There is a lot of hate for the auto-tune as people see it as a way of hiding a total lack of ability behind a vocal gadget. In theory I would tend to agree with this perspective, and yet I liked Kanye’s album, and I think the auto-tune has been used brilliantly in other contexts (see DJ/rupture for more on this).

Recently, has had me wondering whether photography has found its equivalent of the auto-tune bête noire with the explosion of the tilt-shift phenomenon? In the last year or so, tilt-shift has been spreading across the globe like swine flu (I think flickr may actually end up losing an arm to it), to the point where  if you can’t be bothered to figure out how to take a tilt-shift photograph, this program will make one for you from. Whereas I actually fall into the pro-auto-tune camp (although I am still pretty close to the fence) I have less patience for the tilt-shift phenomenon. I think this is a case of the technique (gimmick?) being too overwhelming for there to be room to do anything personal or individual with it. Monsieur Colberg recently commented on something similar in regard to Thomas Ruff‘s recent “jpegs”: the difficulty of getting beyond the technique to the idea. I don’t think tilt-shift is inherently evil…I even sort of liked Naoki Honjo’s Small Planet, which is one of the recent ‘fine art’ contributions to the t-s world. However, I can’t help wondering if the series works despite the technique rather than because of it.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 10 June 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I don’t find this nearly as irritating as skewing the horizon in photos that do not support it.

  2. Posted 24 June 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    If tilt-shift is auto-tune, then HDR is definitely photography’s vocoder.

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