Archives

July 2012

SELECT A MONTH:

Jul 31

A view of the contemporary Romanian landscape: Michele Bressan’s Into the Ordinary. Also make sure to check out Landscape Study #1 (try not to get too irritated about the way the scrolling works).
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Jul 30

Tiane Doan na Champassak’s Spleen and Ideal “form[s] the first part of a larger body of work in progress, born out of a persistent urge to photographically confront questions regarding gender and sexuality.”
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Jul 26

Luis Barragán was a very well-known, influential architect, whose house was converted into a museum after his death. To get a quick, simple impression what the house looks like inside (especially if you’re unable to read Spanish - like yours truly), visit this page. Noritoshi Hirakawa is a contemporary Japanese artist, working in photography, film, dance, installation and performance. Speaking about his photography, the artist said “The camera can be a very good excuse to connect men’s and women’s desires.” (quoted from this page, which features some photographs). Now what happens when you - metaphorically speaking - throw the Casa Barragán and Noritoshi Hirakawa into one pot? (more)
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Jul 25

“This body of work is about my family in the wake of my parent’s divorce. Through making these photographs I show the change in our family dynamics and domestic life. I explore universal themes of loss, change, and intimate and familial relationships.” - Alex Nelson about From Here on Out
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Jul 25

It appears there will be a Hipstamatic Foundation for Photojournalism. Is that a good idea? The British Journal of Photography asked a diverse group of people, which yields a predictable range of opinions. There’s one interesting nugget, near the end, where Chris Anderson notes “There is a reason I read The New York Times. Sure they may make mistakes, and I may not always agree with their editorial page, but they make an attempt at accuracy and objectivity. They may not always get it right, but their reputation - indeed their business - depends on doing every thing they can to be as accurate and objective as possible.” And this might really where it truly gets interesting. (more)
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Jul 24

In a new follow-up Edward Rozzo appears puzzled by me stating that “the vast majority of people trust photography in the vast majority of cases perfectly well” (source) and that “We all know that all photography is fiction: as a photographer you make choices, which influence the photograph enough for it to be more of a fiction than a fact.” (source) How can this be? Isn’t that a contradiction? The answer is: No, it isn’t. That’s the beauty of photography, that’s how photography works. Under most circumstances most people are perfectly happy to suspend their disbelief1 in the artifact “photograph,” to take it for what it is not, at least theoretically. (more)
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Jul 24

Thomas Humery’s Utopia mixes different types of photographs (incl. archival ones) and presents them in a way online that I’m sure will annoy the purists (who prefer to see one photo at a time).
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Jul 23

Last week, a flurry of articles and commentaries about Instagram/Hipstamatic was published, many of them bemoaning the apps’ popularity, arguing, in some way or another, that the apps were bad for photography. Two articles appeared to be breaking out of the circles most of the other ones seem(ed) to be running in. Jon Anderson wrote about ‘democratization’ and what that might really mean. And David Campbell asked for the conversation to move forward, instead of incessantly focusing on aesthetics. For that to happen, I think we need to realize that context matters. Find the full piece here. (image by Andrew Hetherington - thank you!)
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Jul 21

“The vehement opposition to these apps [Hipstamatic, Instagram - JMC] commonly operates in terms of ideas of ‘legitimate photography’ versus ‘illegitimate photography’, in which a supposedly new realm of popular manipulation is undercutting the cultural status of established photography, all infused with a professional anxiety about the influence of ‘amateurs’. We’ve got to get beyond this frame. I’ve long argued that we have to reposition debates about photography so we recognise the inherent and unavoidable place of aesthetics and representation in the production of each and every photographic image, not [sic!] matter who is making them.” - David Campbell
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Jul 21

“Techno-aesthetic changes have nothing to do with ‘ruining’ photography, and the so called ‘democratization’ of the medium, insofar as it entails more people taking pictures, is not a threat to anyone who wishes to devote him or herself to a serious exploration of the medium. […] If you look at digital technology from the perspective of individual creative freedom and editorial control, it certainly looks like a good deal; but if you look at it in terms of the collective effects, and the market forces that are shaping up to profit from it, then the bargain is at best Faustian. On the one hand, you have greater independence, but on the other there is increasing fragmentation of information sources which bewilders the consumers instead of enlightening them, and forces the independent producer more and more into an information ghetto that is deprived of cultural heft.” - Jon Anderson
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Jul 20

There is a new type of photography in town, which excites me as much as it exasperates me. Maybe it’s not even really new, maybe it’s a variant of something done earlier (not unlikely). Regardless, you have probably seen this type of photography: The simplest way to describe it is to say that it looks inwards, towards itself - and this is what excites and exasperates me at the same time. On the one hand, I enjoy seeing the playfulness, the forms, the subversion of the medium. On the other hand, the inherent navel-gazing bothers me. Needless to say, since this kind of photography seemingly offers so little to rub against1 this contradiction has me engage with it, and that I enjoy. Lodret Vandret just published Hired Hand, a wonderful selection for those interested in seeing more. Recommended. (more)
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Jul 19

In 1964, newly independent Zambia started competing with the US and the Soviet Union, to win the race to the moon. Mind you, this was not an official idea. Instead, Makuka Nkoloso, a school teacher, had retired from his job to start Zambia’s space agency, and to put an assortment of people (and a cat) into space. For reasons that are not very hard to understand things didn’t quite pan out. Nkoloso never got to launch his rocket. Photographer Cristina De Middel’s The Afronauts now visually re-created the program. (more)
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Jul 18

The British Journal of Photography features a great article about the use of newsprint by photographers. My favourite quote comes from Rob Hornstra: “That’s the problem we’re facing, people are still thinking about the idea of it being an actual newspaper. You shouldn’t. You should think about it as being a series of pages with which you can do whatever you want. Most of the newspapers I’ve seen are still fairly conservative. But you can turn it in all directions; readers can create their own layout and sequence. You can fold it in two or in four. You can print images across several spreads to make posters.”
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Jul 18

This is an image from Michael Lämmler’s often cryptic and occasionally comical Death Star.
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Jul 17

“It’s not quite right to say that society’s collective failure of imagination stems from a slump in innovation. I would suggest a different explanation. What we are seeing is not a slowdown in the pace of innovation but a shift in its focus. Americans are as creative as ever, but today’s buzz and big-money speculation are devoted to smaller-scale, less far-reaching, less conspicuous advances. We are getting precisely the kind of innovation that we desire—and deserve. […] if we want to see a resurgence in big thinking and grand invention, if we want to promote breakthroughs that will improve not only our own lives but those of our grandchildren, we need to enlarge our aspirations. We need to look outward again. If our own dreams are small and self-centered, we can hardly blame inventors for producing trifles.” - Nicholas Carr (my emphasis)
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Jul 17

Edward Rozzo wrote a response to my Photography After Photography? (A Provocation). I’m very much interested in continuing the debate, because I think there is something to be gained here. Rozzo and I seem to be in agreement about various things, but of course it’s always much more interesting to first talk about what we can’t (yet?) agree on. Find the full piece here. (image courtesy Andrew Hetherington - thank you!)
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Jul 16

“During the 1940s and the 1950s 140,000 people from the Bieszczady Mountains region in south-eastern Poland were displaced as a result of post World War II political decisions. Thousands of them died in a fight for their right to remain on their land. Every spring hundreds of wild orchards bloom marking the boundaries of the 5,128 houses and farms which were erased from the face of the earth.” - Joanna Piotrowska about her 5128
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Jul 13

Like most forms of art, photography frustrates its practitioners because of its limitations. If only… But just look at what movies have turned into since computer technology enabled their makers to overcome limitations: Out went the imagination, and this means not just the makers’ but also ours. What there left to imagine, when a computer rendering can show it all? Limitations engender imagination. Photography is not exempt from this rule, even though it is by far the geekiest of all art forms (what other form of art would have so many of its practitioners obsess over completely irrelevant technicalities?). Without its many limitations photography would be a soulless endeavour. Actually, it’s even better than that: What makes photography truly unique is that it looks like it just does it all, shows it all, when in fact it doesn’t. That is where you can find or make your stories, when you’re a photographer, right there. (more)
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Jul 12

I had been looking forward to seeing Sergey Chilikov’s photography in book form, because most of it is so hard to come by. And it’s never quite clear how well photographs seen on the web hold up once being printed on paper. Chilikov’s work in particular had me slightly puzzled when I viewed it online: What is going on in these photographs? There clearly is an artistic vision at play that is different from most of contemporary photography. Selected Works 1978-, just published, now gives a wider audience the opportunity to experience the strange world created by Sergey Chilikov. (more)
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Jul 11

Noah Kalina has been producing little pieces that at first look like animated gifs, but that then turn out to be something else, a perfect cross between a photograph and a movie. There’s Pool, for example, probably a good first one to look at. Others include Kevin or the magnificent Fire.
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Jul 11

Casa De Campo by Antonio Xoubanova centers on a huge public park in Madrid, Spain, combining portraiture with landscapes. (via)
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Jul 10

Great piece by Blake Andrews about the object and photography, using Fuji Instax photographs as examples (image: July 4th, 2012, by Blake; via Instax Gratification)
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Jul 10

Paola de Grenet’s Yo Solo looks at the different aspects of being single.
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Jul 9

“Recently, I had an abortion, which I documented with a hidden mobile phone camera and then shared the images on the internet. […] My hope is this project will help dispel the fear, lies and hysteria around abortion, and empower women to make educated decisions for their bodies. […] Experiencing my own abortion and photographing the result was a sobering experience. As a woman, I reckon with the power of images every day. But after my abortion, I realised images are literally being used as a weapon to petrify and assault viewers into fear, shame, and isolation. The protesters’ heartless use of lifeless foetus images made me feel cheated, lied to and manipulated. It was just propaganda: intended to shake the core of my deepest biological, intellectual and emotional foundation.” - an anonymous photographer, who wrote about her experience on The Guardian’s website and who set up thisismyabortion.com
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Jul 9

If the medium is not supposed to be the message, you’re setting yourself up for quite the challenge is you work with the kinds of analogue photography processes Ester Vonplon is employing: How not to make that particular aesthetic the center of attention? It’s a trap, but Vonplon manages to extricate herself with ease. (via)
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Jul 7

Ten years ago, I started to compile this website. I suppose I could write a little bit about the past ten years, or a little bit about the next ten years (quo vado?), but I am not very interested in those options. I want to say this, though (and that’s about all I’m going to say about this website): I’m very happy about what this site has turned into. I never had any plan other than creating a site where one could conveniently find a large collection of (mostly) contemporary photography. That I’ve done, and I’ve added other content, in the form of writing and interviews. (more)
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Jul 6

The main problem of nuclear power is that it essentially requires the companies that run the plants and the governments that oversee them to constantly lie to the general public. If the general public was being properly informed about what running a nuclear-power plant entails and what risks exist, there’d be no way the general public would approve. Nuclear power is probably the stupidest and most reckless form of generating energy ever invented: Take some of the most dangerous materials in the world, put them into a pressure cooker, have them turn into even more dangerous materials that you then have to store for tens of thousands of years, away from any living being, and hope that the whole thing doesn’t blow up at any given moment. Which, of course, it will, eventually and somewhere because that’s just the nature of the beast: Any man-made machine contains an inherent risk of failing, which is not zero and which never can be made zero, especially not since humans will have to run it, and humans tend to make mistakes. (more)
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Jul 5

There’s something visceral about Jerry Spagnoli’s American Dreaming that gets lost the moment the book gets translated into an electronic form. For the reviews on this site I photograph the photobooks so that readers get the chance to see selected spreads. Working on the images for this review, I noticed that looking at the images on the screen of my camera was very different than looking at them in the book. Even seeing the images on the screen (as you can when you click on the icons on the side) does not quite reproduce the feeling you get when looking at the book. There is more to this, though, than merely the difference between the object and the flat screen - it’s the images themselves, which lose all their power. (more)
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Jul 4

Interspace by Kelly Kristin Jones is filled with very nice portraits. (via LPV Magazine)
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Jul 3

Over the past decades, the photograph itself, the object on the wall, has become more important. Why is that? I actually think there is no simple answer. Instead, we seem to be witnessing several developments coming together at the same time. Find the full piece here.
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Jul 3

This is an image from Gergely Szatmari’s Meadowlands - not necessarily a particularly new subject matter, but the photographer found quite a few great shots. Also make sure to check out American Idler.
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Jul 2

This is a image from Nathan Cyprys’ Ayre (of Distances). The project contains some multimedia - really just photography done with different means (or maybe expanding the idea what a photograph can be).
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