Archives

January 2010

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Jan 31

Some time ago, I went to a talk given by Joel Sternfeld at UMass, where some of his Oxbow Archive photography was on display. I thought I’d get to be presented with some insight into that project. As it turned out, Sternfeld decided to go through all his work, including (and focusing on) some very old street photography. Good thing I love street photography so much! Joking aside, at the very end of the talk, Sternfeld had a special surprise for his audience - and who wouldn’t be giddy about getting to see new work by a great photographer? My giddy excitement quickly turned into an “uh-oh” feeling when he pulled out his iPhone and started talking about some trip to Dubai.
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Jan 29

Now that Apple unveiled their Colour Kindle (they’re calling it “iPad”) it will be interesting to see what kind of photography books might be produced for it. I can’t and won’t pretend I’m eagerly awaiting those, but of course I’m curious. Here’s the thing, though. As much as I appreciate new technologies for what they allow people to do, I’m still mostly focusing on what it actually is these new technologies are being applied to.
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Jan 29

To a large extent, contemporary photography looks the way it does because of two major revolutions. The first, originating in the US in the 1970s, not only made colour photography the dominant image mode, but also opened up new ways of seeing. The second, originating in Düsseldorf, Germany, very forcefully also made us see things in new ways. Thankfully, there are now two new books that talk about these two revolutions. The first, Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980, I reviewed last week. The second, The Düsseldorf School of Photography is the subject of this review.
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Jan 28

If you have been following this blog for a while you will remember this mosaic from one of my earlier posts, where I tried to tackle the problem of plagiarism. How can one decide when to cry foul? What is a good way to approach this complex? I’m not sure I have a better answer now than three and half years ago, but I’ve thought about it more; and it’s worthwhile to come back to this topic.
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Jan 28

There is a great interview with Domingo Milella over at Hippolyte Bayard, which you really don’t want to miss.
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Jan 28

You’ve probably seen articles like this one, entitled Why information should remain free, by Tom White. It does seem to make a lot of sense, right? After all, the web does away with all those pesky problems about distribution, ink and paper - so why should information not be free? The problem with all of this is that it ignores the fact that someone will have to pay the salaries of the people who put that information online, and curiously enough, that aspect I almost never see addressed anywhere. It’s great to talk about how information should be free - even though it feels a bit like trying to argue with a bumper sticker, doesn’t it? (updated below)
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Jan 28

In Invasive Species, Anna Collette uses plants as metaphors for the state of the world we live in (see her bio for some details on her work).
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Jan 27

From what I read and hear from people there seems to be a steadily growing discontent with the coverage of the Haiti earthquake. If I tried to assemble a list of links it would probably be incomplete, here are just two articles I came across that struck me as noteworthy (no doubt there are many more). Haiti coverage: ‘Disaster porn’? is a collection of links plus short summaries itself. More to the point of photography, Does Haiti’s Crisis Call for a New Photojournalism? is a very interesting piece by Michael David Murphy. (updated below)
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Jan 27

“These bleak images from Siberia, which I once gave up as lost due to an accident in development, have been brought back to life through careful scanning. By putting contradictory feelings side by side, I tried to recreate the rudeness and the fullness of this landscape.” - Emile Hyperion Dubuisson about his Siberia, the far north (I like the exterior shots much better than the interior ones)
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Jan 26

“I think the crucial difference is that curating should really imply more than a process of selection. Ideally it should not only be based on in-depth research into a particular area, but it should also attempt to contribute new ideas that shed light on some unseen aspect or that allow us to see things in a new context. When I think of the best curated photography shows over the past decade, they were all based on several years of painstaking research and all attempted to say something new about their subject.” - Marc Feustel
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Jan 26

Christian Hagemann’s In your face, God! appeals to the astronomer and critic in me: It shows crumpled images of cosmic objects, in which the flash-light reflections from the creases and crinkles look just like stars.
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Jan 25

Anders Birch sent me the link to Face the Climate, a new project he is part of: “Climate change is often described through news about scientific reports or political negotiations. However, climate change is a global phenomenon affecting us all. Consequently, Face the Climate has visited nine families in nine different countries in order to report how climate change is affecting their lives. By telling the stories of individual people, we seek to make a complex subject more tangible - thereby unfolding the large scale context of climate change.” The site features photography (incl. 360 panoramas you can control yourself), videos, articles (which you can download)… setting the benchmark for what photojournalism can look like in this year 2010.
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Jan 25

“Professional and amateur photographers have gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against terror stop and searches.” (story; photo by Michael Perrin, from the BBC’s website)
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Jan 25

The winner and runners-up of Picture Black Friday are now on view at the website. Have a look!
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Jan 25

When I looked into virginity pledge rings the other day (for use in this post), I had no idea that the concept existed outside of a religious context. Today, the Ostkreuz blog features an interview with photographer Pepa Hristová about “sworn virgins” in Albania: “‘Sworn Virgins’ are women, who have sworn for a life-long virginity in order to fit into the role of men. This has nothing to do with transsexualism. Instead, it is about a rise in the hierarchy of the strictly patriarchal society in Albania; from there on they are classified as men.”
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Jan 25

Philippe Piron’s portfolio is filled with dystopian images taken in French suburbs and business-parks. Some of the projects could use a tighter edit, but all in all, it’s a chilling reminder what we have turned many of our environments into.
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Jan 24

A little while ago, I presented some examples from a very old book that explains how photos were retouched before computers were available. One of the things I love about the blog is that many of my posts make readers write in to tell me stories about something I mentioned here. This following one might be one of the best stories I’ve ever heard.
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Jan 22

It is a well-known fact that the 1970s witnessed the emergence of colour photography as an art form. But just like in the case of the Founding Fathers - where everybody can usually name the one on the $1 bill - there is more to the story than just that small number of names or bodies of work that everybody is so familiar with today. For those interested in this part of photography history, there now is Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980. The book chronicles the emergence of colour photography in the US in the cultural context of its time, smartly outlining the work - and individual evolution - of a large number of practitioners.
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Jan 22

The photography magazine market currently is experiencing some change as small, independently produced periodicals are breaking into a market that - let’s face it - had become rather stale. A wonderful example of such a new magazine is Publication, “a biannual periodical produced by street photographers for street photographers,” the brain child of Nick Turpin.
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Jan 22

With 56 - at the time of this writing - listings (in just over two weeks!), The Independent Photo Book is clearly showing that there are lots of independently produced photo books and zines to be found, and I’ve already heard from various sources that the site has generated sales. To repeat: If you send us a book/zine that falls into this category (please stick by the format outlined on the blog so listing the book/zine is a breeze), we will list it. If you don’t have your own book but are curious about independently produced ones and haven’t visited the site go and have a peek!
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Jan 21

The kerfuffle over the supposedly staged prize winning picture of a wolf is yet another reminder that there is a problem, but the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the problem arises from how we view photography, from what we expect photographs to show or do. Here are some thoughts, which, incomplete as they might be, might lead to something. I’ve wanted to write about this for a while, the wolf might just be a good occasion to do it.
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Jan 21

When I’m in the car with my wife and we come across a pile of dirt or rubble or sand (or anything likes that), she likes to tease me by pointing out that there is a great photo opportunity. It is true that there are quite a few (male) photographers who have whole portfolios of these kinds of piles, such as Nils Kilnger (found today at Hippolyte Bayard). The website is in German only, but you can probably find your way around. The “Fields” are very nice, btw (even though the images on the website are a bit too small to do the photographs any justice).
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Jan 21

I found Shigeru Takato’s work over at Mrs Deane. What really struck me were not the TV studios (which I had seen in similar form somewhere else - I’m pretty sure I linked to it at some stage), but the Our Elusive Cosmos project - images of landscapes that have a connection with actual or imagines space exploration. You might be able to guess what the above landscape was used for (click on the image to see a slightly larger version).
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Jan 20

There are two must-read blog posts, both filled to the brim with links, about Haiti and photography there. dvafoto have this post, with some thoughts about photojournalism and its role. And Pete has a huge post, telling you where to look if you want to donate, see photos, see in-depth coverage, get some background, …
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Jan 20

dvafoto have a great interview with photographer Jeremy M. Lange about his project “The War At Home” - make sure to check it out!
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Jan 20

For those interested in a photographer portraying family, there is Chris Verene’s work. I especially like how The Galesburg Series combines portraiture with other types of photography.
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Jan 19

The above photo, taken by Sandy Carson, is the winning image of Picture Black Friday. Congratulations, Sandy! Stay tuned for further updates about the runners-up etc. very soon!
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Jan 19

Hugo Fernandes’ photography has a bit of a cinematic feel to it.
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Jan 18

There is a brand-new photography MFA program I have become involved with, the Hartford Art School Limited-Residency MFA Program. Limited residency here means that unlike in other MFA programs, the photographers work independently, meeting with their advisers and teachers for an intensive on-campus session in the Summer (in Hartford), plus for off-campus sessions in the Fall and Spring. The latter will happen in locations such as, for example, New York City or Berlin/Leipzig (there will be others, yet to be confirmed) - places where there is a strong photography presence, and there will be direct interactions with practitioners there, as well as with advisers and teachers who will travel along.
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Jan 18

Today, I came across a post that made me remember my earlier comments on photo books: Alberto Hernandez’s Hybrid Novels (found here). “A hybrid novel can be seen as a hybrid image-text novel, not a children’s book, graphic novel/comic or gift book but a book where written text and graphic devices such as illustration, photography, information graphics or typographic treatments may interject in order to hold a readers’ interest, adding interactiveness to the book and also giving the printed page a multidimensional visual surface.”
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Jan 18

Sebastian Mölleken’s A40 portrays Germany’s Ruhr region along the A40 highway, using landscapes and portraits. Very impressive work!
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Jan 17

Great video interview with Roger Ballen over at Lens Culture
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Jan 15

I had been familiar with a lot of images by Bruce Davidson, but most of them never got me very excited. I know, people love the subway pictures, or the circus ones, or the gang ones, but I never had any connection with those images. Needless to say, a recent exhibition at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery provided a good opportunity to see many of the photographer’s images. Of course I went, because looking at something you still need to discover can be so much more rewarding than seeing something you already know. For the most part, the show did not change my impression of the work very much, though. But I noticed that there were some images, which really stood out for me, work that I was unfamiliar with.
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Jan 15

After a few thousand years of human (ab)use, our planet isn’t in such a great shape any longer. Granted, over the course of its history it has seen worse, but in pretty much all of those abysmal phases there weren’t any humans around whose very survival depended on temperate living conditions. If scientific data are correct our home planet’s atmosphere is heating at a rate that will make large-scale climate change inevitable - unless we do something about it. Oh, and we better do it yesterday. Of course, there are those experts who disagree, but you only have to have a brief look at their scientific record and at who funds their research to get an idea how credible they really are: Not very much.
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Jan 14

Colourizing b/w photographs is nothing new (behind me, on my book shelve, there’s a colourized tintype from the late 1800s), but you don’t see it that much any more these days. Florian Merkel has a portfolio of such work, with some rather beautiful images.
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Jan 13

I’m sure you’ve heard of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. Ed Winkleman posted a long list of organizations that will accept donations. You can also simply donate at the American Red Cross’ website.
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Jan 13

Klaus Muenzner’s What’s Left Behind shows the Eastern German countryside, 20 years after the reunification. Also not to be missed: Homeless.
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Jan 12

I don’t link to photographers from South America much simply because their work is so hard to find online (the same, of course, is true for photographers from Africa). I came across Pablo Cabado’s work on Mrs Deane - the project entitled 37°57’35.35”S 57°34’49.34”W shows a derelict amusement park in Argentina.
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Jan 12

The title of this image by Kirill Kuletski is “Allergy hospital smoking area,” which brings up so many questions (Smoking? Underground? In an allergy hospital? Which is really just some underground mine? What part of that corner is that “area”? And what allergy hospital allows its patients to smoke? etc.). The image is part of Speleotherapy.
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Jan 11

If you’re following art blogs I’m sure you have heard about commercial gallerist Jeffrey Deitch getting hired as director by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art - Tyler collects up some responses and reacts to them here. When I heard about LA MoCA’s decision my first reaction was a bit of surprise, and then I was reminded of what we often get to see in the world of Washington politics.
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Jan 11

Ute Friederike Schernau’s All About Eve (and Adam) examines the roles played (and supposed to be played) by women and men.
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Jan 11

About his einer Fred Hüning writes: “Pictures of my work ‘einer / the one’ tell a story of love. Also of the wish for a child together and of a mother´s permanent fear - on the basis of her own previous experiences - to lose this planned child again. And eventually a story of a painful 30 hour birth of a healthy child.”
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Jan 11

Unless You Will is a new(ish) magazine, now presenting its third edition: “Sometimes a photo can evoke high feelings of emotion or nostalgia and in a roundabout way it becomes a means of expressing ourselves as photographers. UYW strives to showcase photographers who add layers of meaning and capture these feelings.” Not new, but re-designed and vastly improved (away from a cluttered Flash site to a simple and classy look): Fraction Magazine, now out with its issue ten. Check them out!
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Jan 9

One of my finds of a trip to Troubadour Books (which might be the closest you can get to being inside Borges’ Library of Babel; see a couple of posts about Troubadour here and here) is a book called “The Art of Retouching and Improving Negatives and Prints” (ThARINP), which, and this I learned just now, is available at the Internet Archive (Needless to say, I prefer my 1948 copy). ThARINP tells you how photographers Photoshopped portraits before they had computers.
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Jan 8

Beauty is big business. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s cosmetic surgery statistics, in 2008, 355,671 breast augmentations were done (compared with 101,176 in 1997), 341,144 cases of liposuction (1997: 176,863), and 147,392 cases of abdominoplasty (1997: 34,002). If one believes Plastic Surgery Prices, the average price of a breast augmentation (implant/enlargement) lies in the range of $5,500 - $7,000. If you take a number somewhere in that range, say $6000, and you multiply the number of breast augmentations with that price, you’ll end up with a total amount of money in excess of two billion dollars (2,134 million US$). Of course, there are various uncertainties - the number of procedures has a 3% error, and taking an average number for the procedure will only give you a ball-park number. But even if you assume that there are so many uncertainties that you got twice the amount of money actually spent, you’re still at one billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. And that’s only breast augmentations.
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Jan 8

I’ve noted that information about independently produced photo books and zines (publications by small publishers or self-published work that is not available via Amazon.com or chain book shops) is often hard to come by. When I go to shops specializing in photo books - such as Dashwood in NYC - the sheer number of such publications I have never heard about always makes me a little sad, because I know there are so many publications I never heard about. (updated below)
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Jan 8

Via Mrs Deane comes Photobibliothek, a German-language page (based in Switzerland), which, however, is easy to use even for people who don’t speak German: Simply click your way through the images on that page (the names and years are obvious). There also is the Artist Book Database, which is very simple to use.
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Jan 7

A couple of days ago, Carmen Winant emailed me about a collective show in memory of Larry Sultan. I suggested making the call public, and the California College of the Arts agreed to it. Find the call for submissions below. This is a great opportunity to honour a photographer who will be sorely missed.
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Jan 7

At the end of “collage week”, Aislinn Leggett’s Lost Faces seems like a good way to get back to “real” photography, or maybe more accurately in this case to contemporary (digital) photomontage (which, I realized, would be another very good topic for a week).
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Jan 7

Daniel Gordon’s collages cover the somewhat disturbing part of the spectrum - probably not safe for work.
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Jan 6

The current edition of Visura Magazine features Larry Fink’s The Beats - something you don’t want to miss.
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Jan 6

Chris Hedges wrote an article about two photography books (Peter van Agtmael’s “2nd Tour Hope I don’t Die” and Lori Grinker’s “Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict”) entitled The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See. In response, Jim Johnson wrote a very smart post (where I found Chris’ original article), noting that “Hedges neglects at least two crucial matters. The first is whether war photographs might have the effect he supposes. […] the second […] is whether even if photographs had the requisite effects it would or could matter to the underlying reality of war and collective violence.” Two important posts, which touch upon many aspects of what war photography might be able to do, what its limitations might be, and what those limitations might arise from.
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Jan 6

I suppose some of April Gertler’s collages (there is no link to the “collage” category, so make sure to look at the other bodies of work, too) are not strictly collages, since they use more than cut-up images and glue. So purists can call them “mixed media” - the rest of us can just enjoy the work.
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Jan 5

Looking through Jeffrey Meyer’s collages will keep you busy for the rest of the day. I’m not sure I like everything, but some very good stuff.
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Jan 5

John Stezaker’s might be the “simplest” collage art: He combines two images, to create a new one. Even though I don’t think this approach always works, it usually leads to startling effects.
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Jan 5

When artist Dash Snow died last year, I was wondering what it was that made his art so great. I never received an answer to that (go figure!). Various people mentioned that his collages were the best work he did. What that actually says I don’t know, maybe you can figure it out.
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Jan 4

“At first glance the new issue of Germany’s Brigitte looks just like a normal fashion magazine. Attractive, perfectly made-up young women show off stylish clothes from labels like French Connection, Escada and H&M, glancing flirtatiously over their shoulders, pouting their lips or staring pensively into the distance. But something about the photos looks different. A prominent tummy here and noticeable wrinkles there reveal that these are not size-zero Amazons straight from the catwalk, but real women. As of the January issue, which hit the newsstands Saturday, Brigitte will use only amateur models in its fashion shoots.” - story
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Jan 4

Mark Boellaard’s collage art is deceptively simple, often just using a few new elements on top of an image to achieve often startling effects.
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Jan 4

Ofer Wolberger is well known online, in part because of his wonderful blog. In addition to photography, his website also contains sets of collages, divided into Anatomy of a Collage and Collage Portraits.
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Jan 4

I have long been fascinated by collages, and I thought I’ll have a week showing only collage work. Collages, of course, usually involve photography (so there’s a connection with the usual focus of the blog), and at least in principle they’re easy to make. All you need are a bunch of images, scissors and some glue. That doesn’t fully explain why collages might be the most underrated art form, though. After all, to take a photograph all you have to do is to aim your camera and press the shutter. There definitely is something peculiar about collages, and I’ve collected some artists to feature this week. The selection is in no way supposed to be definitive - I’m sure there are artists that I missed. Regular (“pure” photography) posting will resume this Friday - with new photo book reviews. In the meantime, enjoy the strange worlds of collage art!
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Jan 3

Szymon Roginski’s o mia o, a collaboration with Kasia Korzeniecka, is one of the most inventive fashion photo projects I’ve seen in a long time - the image show actual three-dimensional objects, arranged to re-create the original photographs.
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Jan 1

Wishing all my readers a very happy, healthy, and successful New Year 2010!
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