Archives

June 2010

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Jun 30

I like David Strohl’s To Drift Savanna, which contains some very beautiful work.
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Jun 29

The geek in me has long been interested in ways to move away from simple square pixels, all of the same size. One of the ideas I came up with was to allow for pixels of different size, albeit still squares. But why squares? Why not use circles? Of course, the answer is obvious, since you cannot possible fill the whole image area unless you allow for infinitely small pixels. But you can also just ignore that problem; and after a lot of programming and testing the above image is my best attempt to produce circle pixels (with different sizes - click on the image to see a larger version, which will give you an idea how this works). Needless to say, what you really want are shapes that actually can fill the image area, and that aren’t squares. (more)
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Jun 29

Dawin Meckel’s portrait of Detroit is by far the best I’ve seen so far. Instead of focusing on ruins, Dawin went to include a much wider view, and he took photos of people living in Detroit. You can probably still debate whether his is the “true” Detroit (who is to say really?), but I wager nobody will think of “ruin porn”.
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Jun 28

Artist/project statements have got to be the most dreaded aspect of photography. I’ve had many conversations with people about particularly bad statements or about how they are supposed to be written. I have some ideas how they might be written, and I’m sure there are many others. After a lot of thinking about it and quite a few hours of writing and editing, I decided to publish the little essay I came up with, hoping that some people might find it useful/helpful.
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Jun 28

Tony Fouhse just published some thoughts on (art) photography on newsprint: “looking at these pix on the kitchen table with my morning cup of coffee is like seeing the news as poetry.”
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Jun 28

The photography on Lorenzo Durantini’s website is very diverse, so picking an example made was difficult. In the end, I decided to go with an example from Taking Things Apart, a type of work that might be a bit neglected on this blog.
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Jun 25

The official description of Willem Popelier’s ____ And Willem talks of “identity,” “representation,” and “mankind’s image of himself,” and I suppose that’s how you can read this book. I’m not sure, though, whether such an almost academic approach might not limit its appeal. I think the book has a wider appeal than merely being interesting for those interested in “mankind’s image of himself.” So what is ____ And Willem all about anyway? (more)
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Jun 25

Alec Soth’s One Mississippi was published as part of Nazraeli Press’ ongoing series One Picture Books. Strictly speaking, the name isn’t quite correct. There isn’t just one picture in the book, there are twelve: eleven reproductions and one original photograph, all previously unpublished. So “one picture” refers to the one original print you get with each book, the idea behind the series being that “anybody should be able to buy an original artwork” (source). (more)
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Jun 25

You take a topic that’s more or less well defined, you unleash a group of accomplished, diverse photographers, and you assemble what you get back in a book. Not a bad idea for a book, albeit one we don’t get to see as often as you’d imagine. Of course, you’ll remember Magnum’s Georgian Spring, which involved some of photography’s heaviest hitters. Now there is Ostkreuz’s The City (the original title has the German version, Die Stadt, in its title, which I’ll omit in the following for reason of convenience), showcasing photography taken by the eighteen members of that German photography agency. (more)
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Jun 24

Tyler Green features a veritable Eadweard Muybridge marathon this week, starting here.
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Jun 24

There are a lot of images in André Cepeda’s Ontem, but it’s well worth a good look.
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Jun 23

Pascal Shirley’s website is filled with great portraiture.
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Jun 22

For Reconstructed Memories, Liz Steketee created her own, fake vintage family photos. Since they are printed to look like actual vintage photos, they’re somewhat more impressive in real life, but the images online give a pretty good idea of what things look like.
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Jun 21

Adam Krause’s Carnivores + Destructors portrays people obsessed with the singer Morrissey and their surroundings.
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Jun 21

Indre Serpytyte is one of the photographers featured at the 2010 Hyères Festival of Fashion and Photography. There, I had a longer conversation with her about her work and its background. A new conversation at Conscientious Extended, conducted after coming back, touches upon many aspects of Indre’s work. (more)
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Jun 18

The other day, someone asked me why I liked self-published or independently published photo books (photo credit: Noah Beil; see this post). It’s a pretty simple question, the only problem being that up until that moment I had never thought about it. I had thought about all the various aspects, but I had not put them together. (more)
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Jun 18

How do you review a book like Queen Ann P.S. Belly Cut Off? Maybe a good way to start is to note that, yes, that is indeed the title of the book: Queen Ann P.S. Belly Cut Off, and if you look at the publisher’s description, you will learn where/how to order the book, plus a whole lot more about the book itself: I was going to write that “the suggestive, intimate force of the ‘found’ photographic material and other personal documents, as well as the sequencing of the images as a whole, are both deliberately arranged with great precision,” but, alas!, the publisher beat me to it! (more)
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Jun 18

Given how popular many types of sport are, I’m always a bit surprised how little non-specialized photography is produced around it. Of course, there are all those photographers with their fancy cameras and huge zoom lenses that produce the images you get to see in newspapers or in dedicated publications. But those photographs typically are “action” shots that, at best, tell you a lot about some particular sports event - some game or competition - but very little, if anything, about the cultural value that is attached to the game or sport in general. Regardless of whatever you might think about any given sport, there usually is a large and often surprisingly complex cultural component to it, which is where interesting photography can be produced. Just to give an example, I really could not possibly sit through a curling match, but a photography project about the people who play curling might actually be interesting. (more)
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Jun 17

“Between then and now is a documentary project about people and places from a vanishing world. This vanishing world is situated in the Bavarian Forest, which is characterized by its rural structure and which is undergoing massive shifts from a traditional to a modern society.” - Evi Lemberger
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Jun 16

For Down These Mean Streets Will Steacy and Michael Mazzeo Gallery produced a tabloid-style newspaper with images, journal entries, maps, and notes. The first ten people to email me (subject line “Me Me Me!”) will receive a copy for free. Update: OK, the free copies are gone…
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Jun 16

Maisie Crow’s Love Me is a beautiful portrait of a young woman living in Southeast Ohio.
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Jun 15

“Is there still a role for pirate radio stations in the podcast era?” asks Bertus Gerssen. Apparently, there is, even though I would have imagined them to look a bit more piratey.
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Jun 14

There’s a great article about photographer Stephen Gill and his self-published photo books here. A must read for all photo-book fans.
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Jun 14

Despite its prosaic title, Michael Cevoli’s Northeast shines, mixing still lives, portraits, and landscapes. (via)
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Jun 14

In my review of Marco Duyvendijk’s Eastward Bound I was able to only talk about, but not show, Marco’s portraits of Oana, a young woman whose portrait he has taken many times. In a new, exclusive feature on Conscientious Extended Marco now presents the photographs and their story.
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Jun 11

There is a divide between photography and, well, I suppose we might want to call it image making. Many photographers spend quite a bit of time explaining that their work still is photography even though it violates photographic orthodoxy. At least for a while, Chuck Close seems to have found himself on the other side of that divide, “risking” to be seen as crossing over into photography. It’s all about perception, of course. The divide is fairly useless unless you’re a lazy critic or an academic whose thinking has become as tenured as the career: Permanently stuck in a comfortable position. (more)
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Jun 10

Guy Batey calls his The Melancholy of Objects a “a series of portraits of the objects […] found lost or discarded on the streets of Southwark in south-east London.” And they do indeed come across as portraits. (thanks, Kevin!)
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Jun 10

The BP Oil Disaster is dominating large parts of the news, and a pervasive combination of frustration and anger is spreading across the country (check out the size of the spill here). Of course, there are good reasons to be angry at BP and at the government. But it might be worthwhile to step back a little and to realize that ultimately, we all bear responsibility. BP (and other companies) are drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico because our cars need more fuel, and we’ve used up all sources that are easily accessible. BP has a lousy safety record and was unprepared for what just happened because the people we elected let them get away with all of that. Make no mistake, I don’t want BP to get off the hook. But I also think that to prevent future spills it will take more than just oil companies cleaning up their act (and the Coast at the Gulf). It also takes us using less of the stuff that they extract from the ground at such terrible cost for the environment. So now might be a good time to revisit Susan Bell and Mitch Epstein’s What is American Power? (here is a photo of an oil rig from that project)
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Jun 9

I came across Reuben Cox’s Record Shack the other day (here), and I liked it because it reflects the atmosphere in such places very well.
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Jun 9

Just like most people, I have photographs from my childhood, and I occasionally look through them. Of course, I don’t remember everything about each individual image - in the earliest cases, I don’t remember anything - but for most photographs I do at least remember something. I know what the images mean, I know about the situations. With memory being very fickle and complicated we could of course argue about what these memories mean and whether they accurately reflect what really happened. But that aside, there’s something about these photographs that helps define me in some way - and part of it has to do with the fact that the number of childhood photographs in my possession is limited. (more)
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Jun 8

In a new, exclusive feature, Will Steacy talks about his project Down These Mean Streets, on view at Michael Mazzeo Gallery from June 10 until July 16, 2010. Find a podcast about the project here.
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Jun 8

Isabelle Pateer’s Manufacturing Apathy portrays workers in a metal factory in Ukraine.
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Jun 7

Referring to my earlier link to a post by David Campbell, Jonathon Demske (thank you!) sent me the link to this talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie, which, trust me, you don’t want to miss. Well worth your time.
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Jun 7

Steven Barritt’s Anachronisms “aims to explore the historical and contemporary relationship between painting and photography.” Excellent.
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Jun 4

At the end of World War II, large parts of Germany, especially the cities, lay in ruins. It was mostly due to what Germans call the Wirtschaftswunder (“economic miracle”) that in surprisingly little time in the West everything was back to normal - or maybe more accurately to a new normal. Cities got rebuild, as did factories. While East Germany ended up being stuck in yet another dictatorship, this one Communist, for forty more years, West Germany developed into a stable democracy. Along with the Wirtschaftswunder came the happy and carefree days of the 1950s, which, as it turns out, were pretty similar to the Eisenhower years in the US. As long as you didn’t ask any questions, you were golden, and who wanted to ask questions anyway, what with the Communist menace next door. (more)
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Jun 4

To a very large extent, the value of a portrait is determined by its emotional contents: A photo of a person that moves us - in whatever way - has much more of an impact on us than one that leaves us cold. This aspect of portraiture is especially important for images of a photographer’s immediate family, where the artist’s task is to produce photographs that take the emotional qualities s/he knows very (often too) well and to share them with the viewers: The artist has to detach her/himself to some extent to avoid falling into the trap of sentimentality (or outright kitsch), while s/he can’t allow her/himself to become too detached. (more)
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Jun 3

When in the context of the art world an author starts talking about a colleague’s piece, referring to it as a “review” (note the quotes), you know what to expect. And sure enough, David Levi Strauss is not very happy about a piece by Andy Grundberg, which was published in the Summer 2010 issue of Aperture magazine and which is, alas, not available online. Since the criticism mostly seems to center on “the institutional arbiters,” I’m hoping the original piece will be made available online, too, because there is a real discussion to be had. Update (3 June 2010): There now is a link to the original review, plus a short response by Grundberg.
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Jun 3

This just in: “As photojournalists prepare return to Perpignan in early September for the 22nd International photojournalism festival, Jean-François Leroy, Visa Pour l’Image’s co-founder, has hit out at Photoshop abuses in the field, vowing to ask for raw files for the festival 2011 edition.” This following quote - by Leroy - struck me: “For example, I’ve recently received a project on Afghanistan. It’s magnificent, but I personally think that without the diverse Photoshop filters used by the photographer, the images would have been even better. The framing of the action and of the subject was just perfect. He didn’t need to change anything in post-production. But now I can’t show these images at Visa. I just can’t.” Really? Will photojournalists be happy about having to deal with yet another person inserting himself as an extra editor? (more)
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Jun 3

“I merge images from different times and places to juxtapose ancient and modern, mythical and real, imagined and lived. I collage appropriated popular Indian ‘calendar art’ imagery of Hindu deities into my photographs. In bringing this storied imagery into the contemporary world, I am referencing contemporary clashes of values and cultures that are occurring on the subcontinent. By removing these printed gods from spiritual contemplation in sylvan glades and temples, and bringing them into the chaotic capitalist hurly burly that is contemporary India, I want to show how the Hindu pantheon, representing an imperturbable and entirely non-western view of reality really do walk the streets of postmodern India.” - Neil Chowdhury
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Jun 2

The following is just part of why this article is a must read: “In a study published in the journal Media Psychology, researchers had more than 100 volunteers watch a presentation about the country of Mali, played through a Web browser. Some watched a text-only version. Others watched a version that incorporated video. Afterward, the subjects were quizzed on the material. Compared to the multimedia viewers, the text-only viewers answered significantly more questions correctly; they also found the presentation to be more interesting, more educational, more understandable, and more enjoyable.” The irony, of course, is that the online version has lots of links in the text - which will probably do exactly what the author is worried about.
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Jun 2

For The Devil’s Den Dana Mueller went to look for traces of camps for German WWII prisoners of war in the US.
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Jun 2

On The Media just published the transcript of a 2008 broadcast on editorial portrait photography. It’s a worthwhile read, even though some of the questions asked in the piece are not nearly as clear-cut as the author makes them look. What exactly is “fairness” in the context of portrait photography? That’s not as a simple question as it seems. What is more, when a photographer is hired to do her or his job, why would s/he then not do just that, namely what s/he is well known for? Shouldn’t we instead be talking to the photo editors who decide to hire a photographer known for, say, taking photographs from way below the waist line? Needless to say, with a photographer bragging “I went to art school, so I don’t know what those canons and ethics are.” you can be sure what people will be really talking about.
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Jun 1

The Spring/Summer 2010 issue of Photoworks features an article about independent photo book publishing, written by Joachim Schmid (incl. a shout-out to The Independent Photo Book blog). If you’re still baffled what independent photo book publishing is about Schmid’s article offers a great introduction to the topic.
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Jun 1

“The visual story that needs to be told about ‘Africa’ is not a single story. It is a series of stories assembled to end the idea of a singular ‘Africa’. We need accounts of complexity, contrasts, and diversity that are drawn from the everyday as much as the exceptional. We need reports that are aware of their own construction and understand how they either affirm or challenge stereotypes.” - David Campbell
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Jun 1

“In Wide Receivers I am interested in how society and human behavior are becoming simultaneously tribalized and atomized amidst the ever increasing noise of mass (over)communication, media, and electronic handheld devices. I create visual fictions that seduce the viewer into exploring observations I draw directly from the world - a process possibly similar to caricature and re-invention.” - Monika Sziladi
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