Archives

November 2004

SELECT A MONTH:

Nov 30

It is not very hard to see why mainstream America keeps belittling Noam Chomsky as an “extremist”: “On the eve of the 2000 elections, about 75% of the electorate regarded it as a game played by rich contributors, party managers, and the PR industry, which trains candidates to project images and produce meaningless phrases that might win some votes. Very likely, that is why the population paid little attention to the ‘stolen election’ that greatly exercised educated sectors. And it is why they are likely to pay little attention to campaigns about alleged fraud in 2004. If one is flipping a coin to pick the King, it is of no great concern if the coin is biased. “In 2000, ‘issue awareness’ - knowledge of the stands of the candidate-producing organizations on issues - reached an all-time low. Currently available evidence suggests it may have been even lower in 2004. About 10% of voters said their choice would be based on the candidate’s ‘agendas/ideas/platforms/goals’; 6% for Bush voters, 13% for Kerry voters (Gallup). The rest would vote for what the industry calls ‘qualities’ or ‘values,’ which are the political counterpart to toothpaste ads. The most careful studies (PIPA) found that voters had little idea of the stand of the candidates on matters that concerned them. Bush voters tended to believe that he shared their beliefs, even though the Republican Party rejected them, often explicitly. Investigating the sources used in the studies, we find that the same was largely true of Kerry voters, unless we give highly sympathetic interpretations to vague statements that most voters had probably never heard.” (my emphasis) Needless to say, this essay about the 2004 election contains more useful information and meaningful analysis than anything else I’ve seen so far.
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Nov 29

I very rarely look at or link to photologs. One the best - if not the best - photolog I am aware of is orbit1, which I pointed out earlier. Having looked through it again today I feel I need to repeat my recommendation to look at it.
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Nov 29

File Magazine just added Stan Banos’ Pet Cemetery Project to their galleries. Check it out!
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Nov 28

Kiran Master’s photography shows us the mundane in a very deadpan and strangely appealing way. Excellent!
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Nov 28

I just bought a new digital camera - a (cheap) digital SLR. My choice was more or less dictated by the fact that the only digital cameras with acceptable performance (nb: acceptable performance is quite subjective) are SLR’s. As much as I hate SLR’s, there just was no other choice. But check out the Epson R-D1, the first digital rangefinder camera, which seems to be modeled after some of the Voigländers (and not really after a Leica as they seem to indicate there). If you have never used a rangefinder you probably won’t be able to appreciate why this is utterly cool. Also check out Epson’s official info sheet.
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Nov 27

If there is any one city that has been inspiring photographers the most it must be New York City. Situated on a narrow island, this moloch made of stone, concrete and steel contains some of the most potent symbols of modern and classic America: Wall Street, Broadway, Times Square, and, of course, the place known as “Ground Zero”. New York City became the target of Islamic fundamentalists, and for ultra-conservative Americans, it has also become the symbol of everything that (supposedly) is wrong with the country. What irony! The city’s magic is inescapable, and you can use it for pretty much anything - including the shameless exploitation of the deaths of 3,000 of New York’s inhabitants to win an election.
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Nov 26

This is hardly new for those who follow the news regularly but it’s well worth the read anyway (despite of the use of the Kindergartenesque ‘evil’ in there): “All humans are capable of committing torture and other ‘acts of great evil’. That is the unhappy conclusion drawn from an analysis of psychological studies. Over 25,000 psychological studies involving eight million participants support this finding, say Susan Fiske and colleagues at Princeton University in New York, US.”
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Nov 25

I found a nifty website that has an excellent Photoshop tutorial.
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Nov 25

Achim Lippoth is a commercial photographer who has quite a few gems in his editorial portfolio. Also don’t miss his photos of young Chinese athletes.
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Nov 25

“The focus lay on the identity of the individual in relation to his or her nationality and history, but also in the light of prejudices and clich駸. Starting with generalisations such as ‘typically German’ through to the absolute denial of national identity such as ‘Iï½´m not German, Iï½´m me’, more reflective and nuanced tones gradually appeared. After this the individual participants devoted themselves in photographic terms to their chosen aspect of the subject.” - from the description of the show
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Nov 24

“The weekly compendium of articles and analyses of global affairs from Britain’s liberal Guardian newspaper has long been regarded as an antidote to government controlled, spun and inept local media. Nelson Mandela, when he was held in South Africa’s Pollsmor Prison, referred to the Weekly Guardian as a ‘window on the wider world.’ “But is it really appropriate to compare the United States in 2004 with a warped media market like South Africa during apartheid days? “Actually, the comparison may be a bit unfair to South African media in the apartheid era—when many courageous journalists struggled to speak truth to power.” - full text
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Nov 23

This spam email amused me greatly. It was apparently written by somebody who is a fan of 1970’s heavy metal bands (or ice cream makers) - the ones that added weird umlauts to their names to make those look (sound?) more appealing: “Gët Thë Lowëst Pricë Avaliablë, You Dësërvë It! XXXXX ìs thë fìrst nìcotìnë-frëÂë pìll thât, âs pârt of â comprëhënsìvë progrâm from your hëÂâlth cârë profëssìonâl, cân hëlp you stop smokìng. XXXXX ìs usëd ìn smokìng cëssâtìon. (SMOKìNG DëTëRRëNT) XXXXX ìs thë fìrst nìcotìnë-frëÂë pìll to hëlp you QUìT SMOKìNG.â prëscrìptìon mëdìcìnë,XXXXX hâs hëlpëd mâny smokërs, ëvën thosë who hâvë smokëd 20 yëÂârs or morë, put down thëÂìr cìgârëttës. No onë hâs to know you’rë usìng ìt.” You just can’t make this shit up. Amazing!
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Nov 23

Xavier Ribas’s photography shows us places that we’re aware of fairly well - as they are so generic. But they somehow appear to be somewhat unsettling when presented this way, especially since many of the photos don’t have any humans in them.
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Nov 20

When reading this article about the experiences of an American living in Paris after the recent US election I realized how his experience is very similar to my experiences as a German expat living in the US. I think, in the end, there is some sort of universal expat feeling.
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Nov 20

I’m going to be visiting Frankfurt - one of my favourite German cities - in not quite two weeks; and I just came across a website that describes how Frankfurt was rebuilt after WWII. Unfortunately, it’s in German only. The photos are here, and it’s more or less straightforward to look through the photos, given the dates next to the links. There are also links that show some of the places today. For that, click on the yellow links next to the photos that say “heute”. Highlights: Reconstruction of the city center (with drastic photos of the destruction and the replacement of those destroyed quaint houses with hideous 1950’s blocks), technical reconstructions (with cool/weird 1950’s technology), the shopping district, and - especially cool: “modern” architecture 1949-53, 1954-59, and 1960-66.
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Nov 19

After calling George Bush jr incompetent on its cover and endorsing John Kerry (we got quite worried here at Conscientious!), The Economist is now back on track, claiming that “George Bush’s victory had more to do with hope and growth”. Or maybe that’s that famous British humour everybody keeps talking about?
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Nov 19

The winners of this years College Photographer of the Year have been announced; and it is quite interesting to look at the winning portfolios. As can be expected, there is a correlation with the topics that people are obsessed about (sex, religion, and violence). Needless to say, that’s just how most photojournalism works. In any case, here is a list of the people/projects that struck me the most - I think you definitely want to look at all the other stuff, too (especially since there is a large “sports photography” section - I think sports photography is even less interesting than for example still lives, but that’s just me). Elyse Butler’s “Sexual Tension” won gold in the “documentary” category. In this category, it’s hard to pick a winner given the quality of the different projects. Check out Uwe H. Martin’s “Tales from Bangladesh” and especially Evan Semon’s untitled project (you need to scroll down for that on the page - this particular page isn’t set up very well). I think my favourite in this category is Evan Semon’s project. The story of a married couple where the husband is undergoing sex change surgery alone is very interesting; and Evan Semon did an amazing job to portray what they’re going through. In the “picture story” category, I was impressed with Krisanne Johnson’s “The Old German Baptists” and Denis Rochefort’s “Scene of Identity”. Lots of interesting photos can also be found on page that shows the winning images in the personal vision and the portrait categories.
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Nov 18

Joshua Hoffine’s “Horror Photography” presents the whole set of American nightmares.
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Nov 18

Daido Moriyama is one of Japan’s most important contemporary photographers.
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Nov 17

Michaël David André’s photos are like a mix between Thomas Ruff’s digital remixed internet pornography and Francis Bacon’s nightmarish creatures. And all that using Polaroid SX-70 manipulations. Update(23 Nov 2004): Michaël David André emailed me and noted that “the distortion in my photos is not the result of the traditional sx-70 image manipulation technic but a technic I’ve developped using optical and magnifying lens in front of the camera during the shooting.” This makes it even more interesting.
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Nov 17

I used to simply make fun of stuff like this; but I find this increasingly hard - given that it’s people with a medieval mindset like this who represent the most important constituency of George W. Bush.
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Nov 15

Anne Schwalbe is a German photographer whose melancholic landscapes remind me of where I grew up.
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Nov 11

If you’re looking for a book that discusses contemporary photography- incl. many of the photographers that I already mentioned here - your search has come to an end. Charlotte Cotton’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art, part of Thames & Hudson’s utterly excellent World of Art series, is exactly the book that anybody interested in contemporary photography needs to add to his/her collection. PS: Having just looked through the book I realized how many of the leading contemporary photographers can already be found here. But get the book anyway!
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Nov 10

There is a nice selection of photos by Paul Baron at the George Eastman House. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out more about Paul Baron.
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Nov 9

“Without a comprehensive, independent investigation into the United States’ torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the conditions remain for further abuses to occur, Amnesty International warned today as it released a 200-page report cataloguing the United States’ three-year descent into the use of torture. The report was released 6 months after CBS News first broadcast the photographs of torture at Abu Ghraib. […] “‘Many questions remain unanswered, responsible individuals are beyond the scope of investigation, policies that facilitate torture remain in place, and prisoners continue to be held in secret detention,’ said Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA. ‘The failure to substantially change policy and practice after the scandal of Abu Ghraib leaves the US government completely lacking in credibility when it asserts its opposition to torture.’ “In the report […] the organization documents the pattern of human rights violations that run from Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib via Guantç–£amo Bay and extend to ‘secret’ overseas detention facilities. It outlines how, despite the administration’s claims that the atrocities of September 11, 2001, ushered in a ‘new paradigm’ requiring ‘new thinking,’ the US has fallen into a historically familiar pattern of violating human rights in the name of national security.” (full text here; my emphasis) Update (11 Nov 04): One of the key architects of the systematic and widespread human rights violations is about to become US Attorney General.
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Nov 8

Check out Lydia Goldblatt’s “And the Word was God”.
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Nov 7

There is a fairly large community of photographers who focus on taking photos of nude women in abandoned buildings/ruins. I am baffled! And I will be grateful for any explanation as to why this subject matter is so fascinating.
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Nov 5

I’m quite impressed by Thomas Zika’s series Bathers. Starting with holiday catalogues, Thomas Zika re-works the photos found therein to create these weird, almost monochrome images (description of the project).
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Nov 5

“For the past four years I have traveled throughout America and Eastern Europe photographing sites that represent important political and social events in contemporary world history. […] Acting as a kind of visual historian I seek to create images that convey a unique and important view of select aspects of World History. Within architecture and landscapes I find my true subject, the detritus of civilization, and seek to explore the way we define and relate to its existence.” - Brian McKee
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Nov 4

Wijnanda Deroo’s interiors remind me a little bit of Candida Höfer’s.
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Nov 4

The other day, architectural photographer Ezra Stoller died. Find some of his work here and here. (found at coincidences)
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Nov 3

We got an answer for the question posed earlier: Yes, the public are idiots.
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Nov 3

If you don’t have the money to buy a digital SLR you inevitably have to deal with digital noise (digital SLRs have vastly larger and better imaging chips). So far, I used to work with Neatimage, which I recommended here a while back. The other day, John P. brought Noiseware to my attention. Having processed about three dozen photos I think Noiseware is indeed a bit better. Update: Mark T. told me about another tool called Noise Ninja.
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Nov 3

I really like Rich Miceli’s photography, especially the “Ocean Parkway” project (NB: The page seems to load quite slowly).
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