Archives

June 2007

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Jun 30

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has recently made quite the fuss about how he is a true independent, who doesn’t fit into the general Democrat-Republican mold. As a result, there has been quite a bit of talk about him running for president - kind of a Crassus of our modern times: A man who uses his considerable wealth to obtain political power. But maybe Mr Bloomberg isn’t quite so different after all. Take the new rules for public photography currently being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, which would open the door to the kind of discriminatory enforcement the current occupant of the White House has been so actively promoting. It’s not hard to see how such a development would be an enormous loss (and a violation of the US’ First Amendment [don’t count on the new Supreme Court to agree with that, though!]) for one of the photography capitals of the world. If you want to do something about it, you can either leave a message for Katherine Oliver, the commissioner in charge, or probably better, get in touch with Mr Bloomberg directly.
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Jun 29

It was to be expected: The Empire strikes back. Ed Winkleman already commented on it, and because bis repitita non placent I should refrain from commenting.
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Jun 28

“Between 2000 and 2006 I together with writer Cia Rinne undertook travels in seven different countries with a view to gaining an insight into the life of the Roma and the conditions they face. We always tried to spend a considerable length of time among the people whom we wanted to learn about and, if possible, to live with them for a while.” - Joakim Eskildsen
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Jun 26

In an absolutely wonderful post about the subjects of one of his photos, BertTeunissen writes: “There was absolutely nothing in the house that they didn’t need to live their lives. When asked if they were lacking anything the man stood up, walked to the chabot in the back of the room, opened it and said: ‘We have everything we need.’ Inside we saw a piece of homemade bread, homemade cheese, homemade chorizo, homemade olive oil and homemade wine. ‘And besides that,’ he said, ‘we have each other,’ and he sat next to her to be photographed.”
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Jun 26

I always wanted to write a very stereotypical music review, so here we go.
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Jun 26

During one of my last visits to the Chelsea gallery scene I thought it would be interesting to take photos of the reception areas in galleries, some of which feature wall-like structures. Needless to say, someone already did it: Andy Freeberg.
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Jun 26

Bernd Becher, one of contemporary photography’s most influential artists, died this past Friday (German news; NY Times).
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Jun 25

I’m just back from wonderful New York to somewhat (actually quite a bit) less wonderful Pittsburgh, and the usual blog activities here are about to commence tomorrow.
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Jun 20

Somehow I find this piece of art (an about 4cm big mammoth carved from ivory, recently found in a cave in Germany and estimated be around 30,000 years old - there’s a [German] article about it here, with more images) quite a bit more exciting than this piece of art (which, given the recent buzz about it, surely needs no introduction).
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Jun 20

Question: What do Christine Collins, Jen Davis, Ben Donaldson, Amy Elkins, Peter Haakon-Thompson, Todd Hido, Alec Soth, Brian Ulrich, and Shen Wei have in common? Answer: They will all participate in a show entitled “A New American Portrait”, opening on June 22 (note the updated date!) at jen bekman, with the show being co-curated by Jen and me. Next question: What portraits do the photographers in the show pick as their favourites? Answer: To be found here.
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Jun 19

Fans of the Polaroid aesthetic will enjoy Wendy Bevan’s work.
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Jun 18

For once, I’m speechless: “They say cameras add ten pounds, but HP digital cameras can help reverse that effect. The slimming feature, available on select HP digital camera models, is a subtle effect that can instantly trim off pounds from the subjects in your photos!”
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Jun 17

“The Sokal Affair was a hoax by physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated on the editorial staff and readership of a then-non-peer-reviewed postmodern cultural studies journal called Social Text (published by Duke University). In 1996, Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University, submitted a pseudoscientific paper for publication in Social Text, as an experiment to see if a journal in that field would, in Sokal’s words: ‘publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if (a) it sounded good and (b) it flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.’” (source) You can find all the details at Alan Sokal’s website. Hmmm, “liberally salted with nonsense” and “sounding good”…
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Jun 17

“How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties. […] ‘I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.’” - full story
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Jun 16

In Karsh: The Art of the Portrait I found this following bit about Yousuf Karsh’s famous portrait of Churchill (which I personally find vastly overrated, especially in light of Karsh’s other output): “There is no doubt that Karsh was presented with an extraordinary piece of luck when Churchill continued to puff on a cigar after taking his designated place for the portrait. But there was more than luck in Karsh’s reaction to the moment. Recognizing, in the first instance, that the big cigar was an inappropriate accessory for this world leader, and then, after his instinctive snatching away of the cigar, perceiving that the resulting expression of belligerence on Churchill’s face offered the right moment to make the exposure - that was an act of genius.” So far, so good - this is right in line with Richard Avedon making the faces of the former king of England and his wife drop by telling them his car ran over a dog, when they were too chipper for his photo shoot. But the interesting bit is still to follow: “A second exposure made after Churchill had recovered his composure shows a slightly smiling, almost cherubic man - the portrait his family preferred, but not the one that became the famous symbol of lion-hearted determination in the face of evil aggression.” (my emphasis) Leaving aside the almost painful cliché (“lion-hearted determination in the face of evil aggression”), the existence of these two portraits - the famous one, and the other one that I have been unable to find anywhere - tells us a lot about how portraiture works. I might be mistaken, but it’s not just the interaction between the photographer and his/her subject that makes a great portrait, it’s also what the viewer wants to see in the result of that process. Update: A reader emailed me to tell me that “you can see the ‘smiling portrait’ and the story of the session, amongst other things, on BBC’s Decisive Moments, ep. 4.”
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Jun 15

It’s Friday, the day you can get away with anything, so here’s some utterly shameless self-promotion (of sorts). I wrote a little something about my favourite “classic” portraits (or at least some of them) over at the jen bekman gallery blog.
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Jun 15

What would an art festival be without a scandal? Or, these days, “scandal”? Take Germany’s Documenta. In the spirit of the cleaning lady who removed one of Joseph Beuys’ fat corners (I never looked up whether that really happens, but it’s something that just should have happened, for the entertainment value) the street cleaners in Kassel (that’s the place where they have that art festival) removed Chilean artist Lotty Rosenfeld’s art work - strips of tape on top of traffic markings, which were supposed to make those markings look like crosses. It seems there is only this German article about it. It quotes the artist as being “personally really hurt” and a spokesperson of the city as saying “At least Mrs Rosenfeld managed to get a reaction that gave her art work the desired attention.” (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing!)
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Jun 15

Check out Peter Menzel’s excellent Hungry Planet. You can see some sample photos here (the photos are in a popup window, ignore the main window, the magazine’s main page) - these photos show what each family eats and drinks per week, with the total amount of money spent and the families’ locations given underneath.
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Jun 14

A couple of days ago, Ed Winkleman posted about a scientist who produces beautiful images, but who refuses to consider herself an artist. As always at his blog, the discussion that followed is quite interesting. Needless to say, part of my interest stems from the fact that in my day job I am a scientist myself, and I keep running into people who just can’t comprehend how a scientist would know something about photography. So when people ask me what I “do”, I’m always a bit of a loss what to say, since I don’t want to define myself through any single activity.
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Jun 14

Jason Falchook latest projects contain some very nice images.
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Jun 13

Phillip Carpenter’s portfolio contains some shots that make me smile, like, for example, this one.
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Jun 12

Robert Phillips’ portfolio contains a series of very nice portraits and interiors.
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Jun 11

Another great find by Mrs Deane: Georg Parthen’s works, with the excellent Multiplex series. You really need to show these movie theaters the way Georg does to realize how gaudy and entirely lacking any kind of atmosphere those places really are.
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Jun 10

What do we know about North Korea? Not much, and not surprisingly so. With the country being one of the most secluded places on Earth, it is also home to a despicable and outright bizarre dictatorship, which doesn’t exactly secure the country a top spot as a tourist attraction. In fact, most people probably wouldn’t know that it actually is possible for Westerners to visit North Korea: You apply four weeks in advance and provide a CV and a reference letter - requirements that might deter not just last-minute tourists. And once you’re accepted, just like in any other Communist dictatorship, you end up in a tour group, with a tour guide who’ll make sure that you basically can’t go anywhere on your own.
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Jun 8

On the day that Council of Europe special investigator Dick Marty reports on the CIA’s secret prisons, Paris Hilton goes back to jail again - and guess what attracts more attention? And as State of the Art reports, the photographer who shot the maybe most iconic Vietnam War photo covers (and I’m tempted to write: is reduced to covering) Paris Hilton.
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Jun 8

There’s a two-part exploration and comparison of the works of Stephen Shore and Andreas Gursky (and others) at Artinfo (part 1, part 2). I am not so sure the comparison succeeds with what it is trying to do (especially in the second part), but it certainly is quite interesting.
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Jun 7

Deborah Guzmán Meyer’s Fact & Fiction portrays people and their fantasies of themselves. Note how things do stay quite realistic for the most part - unlike in, say, “Second Life”, the ultimate escape from reality, where everybody is a popular, sexy superhero.
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Jun 7

Wolfram Hahn’s photos of children watching TV (compare Colin Pantall’s work) shows the effect TV has - especially on children - quite strongly.
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Jun 6

This list is not only quite informative, but also holds quite a few lessons. If you find yourself agreeing to what I just wrote, that might just be a case of confirmation bias.
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Jun 6

Brian just posted about Duane Hanson’s sculptures (find more images and information here and here); maybe for those who want their photography more tactile.
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Jun 6

Found at i heart photograph: Mark Niedermann, whose portfolio contains a whole lot of interesting stuff.
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Jun 5

I quite like Whitney Hubbs’ more recent work, for example nothing happens in june.
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Jun 4

I realize that the list of links on the main page of my blog is hopelessly outdated (in part because the new version of the blog, over at the new hosting, will have an updated list). But given there’s such a large number of truly great photo blogs out there now I thought I’d lean out of the window a bit (hopefully not too far) and list my current favourite photo blogs (and more) here, with the list being hopelessly subjective (as always) and in some sort of order (or not).
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Jun 4

Found at Mrs. Deane: The excellent work of Cédric Delsaux. His being an advertizing photographer does show, but he manages to stay clear of making his personal work look like an ad.
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