Splendid Berlin exclusively presents ‘Myopia Utopia’. Photography and commentary by Der Spiegel’s Hilmar Schmundt.
“Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.” Did Henri Cartier-Bresson truly say that? Who knows. But it certainly is an apt quote.
Looking through some old photos to show a friend, I realised I have now been taking out-of-focus pictures for over 20 years. Weirdly many of my perfectly focused shots left me cold when I viewed them again. Some of my more myopic images however, seemed to capture the spirit of place. I call them myopics.
The advertising industry is employing this concept too. Faux street-cred-out-of-focus images are paraded in order to evoke a sense of authenticity. Then there are the artistic unfocused images of those such as Gerhard Richter. When focus becomes automatised, the abstract beauty of bespoke blurred imagery rises in value. Sharp images are all alike. Every unfocused image is unfocused in its own way.
In my case, however, things were more banal than that. I began taking out-of-focus pictures around the time it was discovered I needed glasses. Back then I could not afford an autofocus camera so I used my old out of focus camera instead. In a personal sense these myopics are much more realistic than my focused images, because they offer a glimpse of how the world looks through my bad eyesight. Unfocused images transport a special kind of sharpness of a higher order and therefore undermine Cartier-Bresson’s aperçu. Indeed, perhaps the most bourgeois thing is debating what does and does not qualify as bourgeois in the first place. Instead, take off your glasses and immerse your eyes in this personal myopia utopia.
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