Often what ages us the most has nothing to do with how we look or what we wear. How we respond to change makes us either modern or out of touch.
This past weekend was the annual New Yorker Festival. The Festival spans several days during which many of the magazine’s contributors participate in readings and discussions.
I attended a panel discussion between two well known photographers, Martin Schoeller, a 40-ish man whose work I was not familiar with, and Mary Ellen Mark, a 60+ woman whose work I’ve admired for over 25 years. Their photographs were hung around the gallery in a carefully curated story. Beautiful art is ageless.
The discussion was moderated by their former editor at the New Yorker. Mr. Schoeller was funny, engaging, perceptive, and creative. Ms. Mark was condescending, intimidating, perceptive, and creative.
Personalities are as unique as fingerprints, but the differences didn’t become glaringly apparent until the floor was opened to questions. Someone asked the two about how digital technology was influencing their work. BOOM! The concept of digital photography was embraced by Mr. Schoeller as a game changing medium, and slashed bashed and hashed with ferocity by Ms. Mark who said it was something to be “appreciated” but would not be part of her art.
Considering the importance of digital technology and its integration into almost every part of our lives, her emphatic denunciation seemed defensive and old school. It reminded me of a family story: It seems my great-grandfather fought vehemently against his son’s decision to purchase a car. “Why should I buy a car when I have a barn full of horses that can take me anywhere I want to go?”