Monday, November 23, 2009

Robert Adams

Robert Adams is a photographer, who was born in 1937 in the industrial town of Orange, New Jersey. His photography came to prominence in the "New Topographics" photographic movement. He's received many fellowships and awards including the Guggenheim fellowship (x2), MacArthur fellowship, and Hasselblad Award.

He became interested in the New North American Landscape by looking at Timothy O'Sullivan and William Henery Jackson. He became included in the New Topographics in the 1970s and "Adams approach to photographing these landscapes was to take a stance of apparent neutrality, refraining from any obvious judgements of the subject matter. His images are titled as documents, to establish his neutral position."

I find that his work is very good to look at in relation to my work. His works are of the American West, primarily of landscapes and cityscapes. Much of his work deals with the progressively changing landscapes of these places and people's influence on land. Much of my work deals with this idea, of how the landscape can represent a type of people, without the use of people.


From the New Topographics












Galleries: Fraenkel Gallery and Matthew Marks Gallery
Review
No official website

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Future in Relation to Topographies and Art





Sarah Trigg, American, Lake Vostok with Two Olympias, 2007, Acrylic on panel, 60 x 40 inches

Future quote:

"Today, mostly what we see of the Earth's surface on a daily basis, and what we process subconsciously, is in the form of digitized imagery, not what we see in its true physical form. By pulling this disparate imagery of the Earth into one view, the paintings project the spiritual and physical tensions between technologized culture and the natural landscape." - Sarah Triggs

Article

What i got, and i feel was needed, was an outside curatorial perspective on work revolving around the notion of topographies and the contemporary landscape and the futures it forecasts for us. Although, my current work isn't as apocalyptic as what is described in this article, I feel that I have done work about this subject before, and since this curatorial review is critiquing the contemporary landscape as viewed by emerging artists my work seems to fit in with these artists. I do feel a lot of the same sentiments with this review of this show, and agree that a lot of emerging artists deal with this problem.

My work seems to deal with the landscape and its relatiship with the people that most frequent it. Although, it seems like i am tryig to define a subculture of people by their space and environs, I don't know if that is possible. I know that this work has been a narrative journey of myself and other people's tracks and residues through the culture and landscape that we inhabit, stumble upon, and share. The bike culture is just a device that allows for this project to exist, it's a common thread that envolopes my life and these topographies. Though, I do not know where I am heading, I know i'll get there and discover something amazing through this project and create something that is so unique and yet so common. Only time, engery, and money can tell where this contemporary landscpape eill take me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Social/Cultural Landscape

Social/Cultural Landscape

Cultural Landscapes' have been defined by the World Heritage Committee as distinct geographical areas or properties uniquely "..represent[ing] the combined work of nature and of man.." [1]. This concept has been adapted and developed within international heritage arenas (UNESCO) as part of an international effort to reconcile "..one of the most pervasive dualisms in Western thought - that of nature and culture" [2]

The World Heritage Committee has identified and adopted three categories of cultural landscape, ranging from (i) those landscapes most deliberately 'shaped' by people, through (ii) full range of 'combined' works, to (iii) those least evidently 'shaped' by people (yet highly valued). The three categories extracted from the Committee's Operational Guidelines, are as follows[3]:

(i) "a landscape designed and created intentionally by man";
(ii) an "organically evolved landscape" which may be a "relict (or fossil) landscape" or a "continuing landscape";
(iii) an "associative cultural landscape" which may be valued because of the "religious, artistic or cultural associations of the natural element"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_landscape

"The 'in the field' of anthropology implies a certain relationship to uncharted territory, the wilderness where cultural materials happen. 'Fieldwork is earthbound - intimately involved in the natural and social landscape...Fieldwork would put theory to test; it would ground interpretation.' It is this connection to the field, the grounding in the social landscape, that intrigues me about the anthropological model - the notion that if you walk the streets and inhabit the city, a cognitive order will repair our traumatized experience of cities and the land they territorialize."

- Cornelia H. Butler
From the book "Flight Patterns"

I have chosen this word(s) because I feel that this is one of the more times that I can get specific about my art, in relation to other artists. I am investing the ideas of sub-cultural landscapes, not in any post-colonial terms, but in a specific scene in Contemporary American youth culture, that of the bikers. I feel that I can transcend the idea of a typology of these people and their environments, and create a more abstracted picture of the "scene" of America. By putting my work into a social/cultural landscape and attempting to describe a youth movement through their landscapes and environments, I allow the viewer to create a sub-cultural mapping within their minds, allowing them to create a subjective, but still culturally valid, viewpoint and portrait of this culture in their heads.


Paul Outerbridge

I chose Paul Outerbridge because he was one of the first American photographers to investigate social landscapes in relationship to topographies. He was originally from NYC and then made his eventual move to the west coast around the Laguna Beach, CA area. He photographs with very descriptive texture, formally composed images, and imply a topographic narrative. Much of this work was published after his death, but Outerbridge, from 1955-58, traveled throughout California, Mexico, and South America in search of describing the social landscape in which he explored. This series of photographs were suppoed to be published with accompanying essays that were published in U.S. Camera and other various travel magazines.


Mexico c. 1955 11x14 Digital Cibachrome Print


Mexico c. 1955 11x14 Digital Cibachrome Print

In the mid-1930s, legendary salesman Elmer Wheeler coined a catchy slogan—“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle”—to promote what he believed to be advertising’s most effective strategy. Some years later, in an industry film now available on YouTube, he got even more specific. “The sizzle,” Wheeler explains in his rat-a-tat-tat pitchman’s delivery, “is the tang in the cheese, the crunch in the cracker, the whiff in the coffee.” As recent exhibitions at the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles Public Library confirmed, Paul Outerbridge’s sumptuous and sometimes strange photographs of cheese, crackers, coffee and even more exotic subjects still generate the heat Wheeler was advocating.

A photograph, Outerbridge wrote, “should do something to its beholder; either give a more complete appreciation of beauty, or, if nothing else, even a good mental kick in the pants.”1 Following through on both counts, Outerbridge produced some of the 20th century’s more sublime and outrageous pictures. His exquisite modernist images from the 1920s were featured in glamorous magazines, including Vanity Fair and Vogue. Shifting gears, Outerbridge spent the next decade mastering color photography, producing vivid commercial pictures for corporate clients, as well as, for more rarefied audiences, unsettling nudes that edged toward Surrealism and still seem otherworldly today.

Changing taste shaped responses to Outerbridge’s work, during and after his lifetime. He was a darling of the avant-garde in the ’20s and the highest paid photographer in New York in the ’30s, but a telling 1951 self-portrait that shows Outerbridge in a folding chair, awaiting customers in front of a modest rented booth at a local art fair in Laguna Beach, suggests his changing fortunes. Marcel Duchamp was so taken with Outerbridge’s emblematically modern Ide Collar ad in the November 1922 issue of Vanity Fair that he tore the page out and pinned it up on his studio wall in Paris. Half a century later, in the 1973 book Looking at Photographs, John Szarkowski dismissed Outerbridge’s equally iconic color works as little more than “commercial illustrations.” What is it that makes this work beguiling for some and problematic for others—particularly for curators charged with distilling neat art historical narratives from complex and contradictory material?

One reason—perhaps it’s the reason—we remain fascinated with Outerbridge’s photographs is that he was both an artist and a salesman. Boldly and without apology, he explored photography’s exalted and base natures. The work veers from black-and-white to color, cerebral to carnal, a photographic equivalent of Freud’s Madonna/whore complex. Outerbridge made pictures for art and for commerce. Some are subtle, others shameless. Many were reproduced widely; more than a few were censored and some, including the work in the library’s exhibition, had never even previously been printed. Any single photograph is just as likely to pay homage to classical ideals as it is to celebrate the eclectic. The power and pull of Outerbridge’s ouevre, the reason it grabs and holds our attention, is that it swings both ways.

It’s easy to love Outerbridge’s early and elegant black-and-white works, and to understand why the best of them fetch such extraordinary prices at auction. (Marmon Crankshaft, from 1923, brought $374,400 at Sotheby’s in 2006, well over its high estimate of $150,000.) At New York’s Clarence H. White School of Photography, where he enrolled in 1921, Outerbridge studied with Max Weber, who encouraged students to experiment with lighting, framing and odd vantage points, and to invest their images with the syncopated visual rhythms and brisk look of modernity. Planned out and even carefully diagrammed, images like Top Hat and Mufflers (1924) and H-O Box (1922) combine luxury and everyday objects alike with jazzy riffs on light and shadow. Consumerist longing and erotic desire bounce around within the borders of Outerbridge’s small and velvety platinum prints like water molecules in a pot that’s reached a boil. The physical production of these prints was just as thoughtfully calculated to seduce. Even when platinum and palladium emulsion materials became scarce in the years after World War I, Outerbridge insisted on using them to craft prints whose tonal depth and warmth trump the more meager materiality of conventional processes.

Early in his career, Outerbridge traveled between New York, where he befriended Alfred Stieglitz and became Edward Steichen’s biggest rival, and Paris, where he mingled with Man Ray, Berenice Abbott, Duchamp, Picasso, Picabia, Eugene O’Neill and Josephine Baker. In 1927, he opened and ran, if only for a short time, the most costly and elaborately outfitted photographic studio ever built in Paris. “The men who produce advertising art,” business writer Earnest Elmo Calkins noted in 1928, were “the men represented in the art exhibitions.”2 Outerbridge shuttled back and forth between two worlds, participating in the historic “Film und Foto” exhibition in Stuttgart in 1929, exhibiting at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1932 and billing record fees to clients in the depths of the Great Depression.

Changing times and diminished prosperity, however, triggered a shift in Outerbridge’s esthetic strategy. High-end glamour photography remained central to the marketing of movie stars in the 1930s, but became a much less effective method for selling tangible merchandise as the decade wore on. Sophisticated imagery like Outerbridge’s, which only recently had seemed so modern, began to look out of sync with the reduced circumstances of ordinary Americans’ lives. Understanding that “color appeals more to the senses than to the intellect,”3 Outerbridge shrewdly insured his marketability by making work that was more brightly hued and vibrant as the economy turned sour. In his custom-built, air-conditioned darkroom, he mastered the laborious process of making Carbro prints, whose idiosyncratic, saturated color palette didn’t replicate reality so much as pump it up. Throughout the 1930s, his riveting photographs of dining rooms, tabletop still lifes and displays of necessities like sandwiches and toilet paper—commissioned by clients that included House Beautiful, McCall’s and Scott Paper—attracted attention by offering up heightened visual experiences that bordered on the hyperreal.

The Coffee Drinkers (1940), a campy tableau staged for an A&P supermarket ad, presents a convivial moment: four men sharing a snack and cups of store-brand coffee, perhaps at the end of a long evening. But the studied camaraderie and metrosexual styling seem to suggest something else—that this kaffeeklatsch might just be the over-caffeinated prelude to an even longer night, once some neckties get loosened. Open-ended, sexualized narratives are closer to the surface and harder to ignore in the female nudes Outerbridge began shooting and printing obsessively in luxurious color. Difficult to make (each Carbro print took around nine hours to complete), the nudes proved equally challenging to publish and exhibit. In the 1930s, while the Hayes Code censored overt sexuality in Hollywood feature films, and Technicolor extravaganzas like The Wizard of Oz (1939) upped the ante on visual excitement, Outerbridge was masterminding his own reveries in photographs of women in high heels, garters, rubber swim caps, masks, top hats, kimonos and metal-clawed gloves. Hermetic, fetishized and heavily retouched, images like The Dutch Girl (1936), showing a partially nude young woman in a striking lace cap, are as artificial as they are exquisite, as voluptuous as they are ethereal. It was, and still is, hard not to stare.

Once Kodachrome and Kodacolor products became widely available in the 1940s, the market for pricey Carbro prints evaporated. Soon, the man whose color work stunned crowds when it premiered at the 1936 U.S. Camera Salon in New York, and who wrote the seminal “how-to” book, Photographing in Color, in 1940, found himself out of work. In 1943, Outerbridge moved to Hollywood, thinking there would be a job waiting for him at the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation. When that didn’t pan out, he relocated to Laguna Beach and opened a small portrait studio. In the decade or so before his death in 1958, the master of color photography ran a small women’s sportswear company with his second wife, wrote articles for photo magazines and shot 35mm Kodachrome slides that today look like harbingers of the color photography that followed (William Eggleston’s, for example), but appeared only sporadically in local publications.

Interest in Outerbridge revived in the 1970s after a Los Angeles photo dealer bought most of his extant prints, and the reproduction rights to them, from Outerbridge’s widow. The timing was right: a viable market for photography was percolating, and by mid-decade color photography—no longer a novelty, but an everyday reality for a new generation of baby-boomer photographers and artists—was finally beginning to attract attention, if not quite full acceptance, among the more conservative members of the art photography community. In America’s increasingly image-driven culture, and following Pop art’s appropriation of the vocabulary of mass media, the taint associated with color and commercial photography in the 1950s and ’60s began to fall away. You can see Outerbridge’s legacy in work as diverse as David Lynch’s lurid visuals in the film Blue Velvet, Thomas Demand’s meticulously fabricated tableaux and Loretta Lux’s sweetly hued but creepy portraits of children.

These days, with Outerbridge’s work scattered throughout private and museum collections around the world, exhibitions are rare. When they do occur, it’s a welcome opportunity to re-experience the work’s craftsmanship, audacity and impact. Seen in the midst of the 21st century’s first global economic crisis, these photographs from the worst boom-and-bust cycle of the last century still sizzle. The elegant early images and the more raucous color work that followed indicate how adept Outerbridge was at creating and reflecting desire. No wonder we can’t stop looking.

1 Paul Outerbridge, Photographing in Color, New York, Random House, 1940, p. 55.

2 Paul Martineau, Paul Outerbridge: Command Performance, Los Angeles, J. Paul Getty Museum, 2009, p. 5. 3 Outerbridge, p. 48.

"Paul Outerbridge: Command Performance," curated by Paul Martineau, was on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Mar. 31-Aug. 9, and was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. "Paul Outerbridge: New Color Photographs from Mexico and California, 1948-1955," curated by William A. Ewing, Graham Howe and Philip Prodger, appeared at the Los Angeles Public Library, Mar. 28-June 28.

Article from Art in America National Review http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/features/paul-outerbridge/



Anthony Hernandez

Anthony Hernandez's photographs of public spaces in urban Los Angeles, specifically, their public fishing areas, paint quite an interesting social landscape and topograpy through his banal landscapes. The juxtaposition of this harsh arid climate and these bodies of water seem to defy nature. The use of overexposure in the landscape to create an even more harsh looking reality. Many of the people he photographed in these locate watering holes actually fished for sustenance, to provide for their family. His work really focused on the humanization of urban topographies, blending people with their environs.


Public Fishing Areas: Marina Del Mar, 1979. Silver Gelatin Print 16x20


Public Fishing Areas: #34b Silver Gelatin Print 16x20


Jeff Wall on Anthony Hernandez

By Kevin Griffin 27 May 2009 COMMENTS(0) Culture Seen

Filed under: Kevin Griffin, Culture, Vancouver, Blog, Vancouver Sun, Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, The Vanouver Sun, photography, VAG, Jeff Wall, Anthony Hernandez, Kathleen Bartels, Andreas Gursky

I didn't mind waiting Tuesday morning. I was upstairs on the fourth floor of the Vancouver Art Gallery sitting on a wooden bench. Around me, sitting mostly on the floor on white styrofoam blocks, were the photographs of Anthony Hernandez waiting to be hung.

Beside me, were a pair of white gloves worn by conservationists and curators when they handle art. They'd just been hastily taken off by someone and were lying there by themselves: one was in a crumpled ball; the other was a ghostly memory of the hand that it recently covered.

Publicist Andrew Riley came back to explain the delay. Jeff Wall was on his way but had been delayed by running into Andreas Gursky who was overseeing the installation of his show on the third floor. With two of the world's leading photo artists in the world in the same building at the same time, an encounter was bound to happen. I stared again at the gloves wondering who had worn them.

A few minutes later, Wall arrived with Kathleen Bartels, the VAG's director. The two of them are co-curators of an exhibition of the photographs of Hernandez, a Los Angeles artist. I was there because Wall had, at the last moment, agreed to an interview about the exhibition. I said yes, since it was Wall, but my head was full of Gursky whose exhibition opens on the same day as Hernandez's. I didn't know a thing about Hernandez other than doing a quick Internet search which, it turned out, was largely useless since it covered mostly his recent work and not his earlier photographs. The result was that during the interview I was reduced to lots of head-nodding and "uh-huh" and similiar fillers. That was probably not so bad as Wall is someone who can start talking and continue until he's finished what he's got to say. Which is pretty much how the interview went.

I haven't finished transcribing the interview or translating it into a story. That will be appearing sometime next week in The Vancouver Sun. But here are a few highlights of what Wall said about Hernandez and his work.

"The exhibition traces his career up to about 1985. After that, he changes direction and is doing something other, and not that we're not interested in that, but what he did between 1965 and 1985 I think is kind of relevant and slightly unknown."

On Hernandez's photographs of people waiting at bus stops in Public Transit Areas:

"So this is a turn to doing photography differently and using equipment in a way that hadn't been used too much in the past. It gave a whole new view of the way the world tends to look. This was in the late '70s, so far this kind of move toward a new way of looking at the world, free of, or at least detached from these norms, this is quite an innovation."

On Hernandez's photographs of car repair shops in Automotive Landscapes:

"I think what makes Anthony's work interesting is not these subjects because everyone does these subjects. Robert Frank did them in the '50s. It is a new way of treating that subject with different equipment; therefore, a different outlook."

Anthony Hernandez is at the VAG from Saturday, May 30 to Monday, Sept. 7.

Article from: http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/cultureseen/archive/2009/05/27/jeff-wall-on-anthony-hernandez.aspx

CLUI (Center for Land Use Interpretation)

Now, what I really find interesting about the Center for Land Use Interpretation is that it isn't an artist or photographer, so to speak. But an organization that is "Dedicated to the increase and diffusion of information about how the world's lands are apportioned, utilized and perceived." They want to better understand what it is that humans do to their landscape, they want to understand why we interact with the land like we do. The CLUI is a research institution that has published and been exhibited worldwide. They exist to stimulate discussion on our landscape and how it's being used and appropriated throughout the present day times.


Desert Research Station, 2000. Mixed media installation. dimensions variable


Desert Research Station, 2000. Mixed media installation. dimensions variable


BIRDFOOT Where America's River Dissolves Into the Sea



Vacation: Dauphin Island

The Desert Research Station, in the desert near Barstow, California, was once a thriving educational nature station for biologists and local school groups. In recent years, however, it was abandoned and vandalized. Earlier this year, the CLUI adopted the DRS, and began a renovation of the facility. In November, 2000, the CLUI opened the doors of the DRS to the public once again.

Drawn from the research that the CLUI has been engaged in for years, an informative display about the California desert area is installed in the DRS. In addition, books, brochures and maps of the region are available at the DRS, making it a good point-of-origin to explore and examine the desert region. Visitors are welcome to browse, view videotapes about sites in the desert, talk with informed staff, or just relax in the cool dark interior. Outside, on the grounds of the DRS, relics of the site’s history as a scientific research facility are visible all over the grounds, from an artificial pond, to an active air sampling device. Remnants of a self-guided walking tour make for a fun and easy to follow interpretive enigma.

During this winter season, the DRS is staffed during regular hours, Friday through Sunday 11 - 4, until mid-February. The CLUI will lead two tours to the DRS and environs, on January 13, 2001 and February 3, 2001. To make a reservation for the tour, call the Museum of Contemporary Art at (213) 621-1767. The CLUI would like to thank MoCA for their assistance and support in making the DRS a reality.

http://www.clui.org/clui_4_1/lotl/00f/00f2a.html

Here's another article about CLUI

The Houston oil infrastructure is well known as being ‘far out’. Local relief from Texas-sized boredom includes midnight marijuana-laced drives along the highways southeast of the city, where the world’s largest concentration of oil refineries, chemical plants and related shipping facilities loom and glimmer like an inexhaustible furnace. Sprawling for some 50 miles towards the Gulf of Mexico, this superlatively unnatural landscape is an obvious target for the documentary eye and peripatetic reach of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI).

Given that they have visited the region before in order to augment their database, it is surprising that, having been invited back for a year-long residency for which they established a field office on the banks of Buffalo Bayou/Houston Shipping Channel, CLUI’s take, as represented in the Blaffer Gallery’s ‘Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry’, left much to the imagination.

First encounters with the exhibition occurred, appropriately, outside the gallery, where an automobile-sized, orange UFO was squatted with scant explanation. The ringed, windowed spheroid was actually an oil-rig survival capsule; safety colouring, a pathetic propeller and manufacturer’s labelling betraying its purpose as a marine rescue vehicle. This initial confusion, really a CLUI-intended conflation of science fiction and fact, was amplified inside the gallery.

The Blaffer’s modest second-floor galleries were haunted by an eerie metallic din, bleeding from the soundtrack to Houston Petrochemical Corridor: From the East 610 Loop to the Highway 146 Bridge (all works 2008), a 12-minute ‘land-scan’ tracking the above-mentioned trip beloved of local stoners. Shot from a helicopter with a gyro-stabilized HD camera, the view slides, shifting rather than turning, over machine-megalopolises of cracking towers, pipes, and holding tanks, as well as shocks of swamp green. The footage is redolent of Werner Herzog’s 1992 film of the Kuwait oil fields, Lessons of Darkness. However CLUI’s airborne lens maintains an uncanny evenness that is otherworldly in itself, and ultimately produces a gaze both distant and cold.

This was echoed in Companies, a scatter of 40 framed, letter-sized photographs with corresponding wall texts. Together the images catalogue the Texas office facades and gated headquarters entries of ‘upstream’ (extraction) and ‘downstream’ (processing) industry players. The concrete, steel and glass corporate faces of Exxon Mobil, Goodyear, Halliburton and Boots & Coots are recorded not with the omniscient overviews offered by maps or aerial photos, but with first-hand, on-the-ground accounting. It is a human perspective, but again undeniably and self-consciously that of the alien visitor or scout.

‘Texas Petrochemicalscape: A Portrait Gallery of Selected Petrochemical Sites’ also apes the look of surveillance imaging. A line of 56 aerial photographs ring the gallery, starting with an image taken of Rhodia, Houston, at the entrance, then spanning the state’s strategic oil reserves, BP complexes, and Permian Basin pumpjacks, ending with Valero, El Paso. In the middle of the gallery is the centre of this Texan universe: not quite ‘TX Sweet Light Crude’, but 42 gallons of spent lubricating oil from the University of Houston ‘motor pool’ raised on a central plinth in a clear plastic barrel. It is a final science-fiction token: a slick, silent, black monolith.

Much is made – especially in the accompanying George H.W. Bush-endorsed catalogue – of the CLUI’s ‘objective’ lens, its directness and impartiality in documentation, its drive towards the denotative. CLUI’s appropriation of museological authority and the voice of the institutional expert regularly read more genuine than tongue-in-cheek, more interested in adopting approaches that fall just past the purview of natural history and the art world than offering ironic commentary on epistemology. But in ‘Texas Oil’, CLUI’s mission skews towards aesthticization, specifically a sci-fi sublime. This makes for a sharp-looking exhibition, but where exactly does it leave us?

Houston is ‘Space City’ and a CLUI wall text makes the valid point that the petrochemical industry, as a field of human endeavor and ingenuity, surpasses all interplanetary aims in scope and scale. A nod to the CLUI’s own Robert Smithson-esque roots, the science-fiction aspects of ‘Texas Oil’, like Herzog’s Lessons of Darkness, offers a way of grasping what Rod Serling called the ‘improbable made possible’. But where Herzog’s inversion of Kuwaiti oil fire fiction and fact affects a poignant absurdity, CLUI’s endeavor never quite delivers.

Save for income, employment, and historical stats accompanying Comanies, and a hallway of beguiling pipeline maps, the exhibition lacks didactic and encyclopedic resource materials, exerting its power instead as a set of astonishing images. For a subject premised on penetration, ‘Texas Oil’ skirts a surface-only read. Moreover, despite the promise of advertised bayou boat tours, the show itself remains physically, sensorially and politically clean. If CLUI won’t engage directly in critique, it need not lure us into further mystification; viewers already feel disempowered by an oil industry making record profits in 2008. If anything, it is precisely this lack of information, rather than spectacular image, by which ‘Texas Oil’ incites one to journey into the petrochemicalscape firsthand.

Kurt Mueller

Article from Frieze Magazine: http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/center_for_land_use_interpretation/

Miles Coolidge

Miles Coolidge's work is about where migrant workers live when the harvest season comes about in Mattawa, Washington which seems to be a very heavy into farming and cultivation of the land. I just google earth-ed where Mattawa, Wa was and when i clicked on the satellite view, understood much more about where he was photographing and what kind of communities exist around there. Much to my surprise and liking, there are tons of these circular fields, It really reminded me of some sort of crop circle, but through my knowledge of farming (basically, just being from the midwest) you can tell that there are many farms and/or orchards in which migrant workers would seem to come in and work. I actually have been to a place where migrant workers stay, albeit, i was trespassing in an Orchard in Southern Illinois, and it was run by Mennonites too. The housing units the Coolidge depicts are that of converted shipping containers and have been arranged in a way to provide a sort of social interaction between the worker's families, all being pointed towards a central axis with a commons area.


Near Mattawa. #8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. (14) C-Prints. 2000. 57 3/4 x 50in

Known for his panoramic photographs documenting the suburban landscape, Miles Coolidge transforms erstwhile banalities into insight-provoking curiosities. His straightforward, pared-down style produces clear but complex, and ultimately compelling, layers of meaning. Ancient History (2001), the centerpiece of his recent exhibition, consists of a grid of 160 ink-jet prints on paper that ran the length of the gallery's main wall. The images were scanned from old postcards depicting North American Indian mounds, ranging from the well-known Serpent Mound in Ohio to innocuous-looking hillocks in otherwise untransformed landscapes. The postcards are from the artist's own collection, and each print is three times the size of the original card. During the exhibition, additional copies of the noneditioned prints were stored in a perusable two-drawer file cabinet next to the installation. Available for sale at an inexpensive price, the multiples underscored the issues of mechanical reproduction and collectibility inherent in the postcard format.

Most of the postcards date from the first half of the 20th century and are of the popular hand-tinted type with scalloped edges. A mound's locale is typically identified in print on the face of the card. At the gallery, the arrangement of prints on the wall was roughly oriented to the site's geographic location on the U.S. map, with Ohio's numerous mounds occupying the central section, cards representing Minnesota on the left, and New York, Georgia and Florida on the right. Although each postcard is different, the more popular sites appear in more than one version, just as a tourist attraction today is commemorated on a variety of postcards.

Ancient History evokes a nostalgia for tourism before the era of Disneyland. Now known to have served as cemeteries, platforms for public buildings and other, more obscure purposes over a thousand years ago, mounds such as these were once viewed as mysterious earthworks, incorporating the extremes of nature and artifice. For tourists, they were awe-inspiring sights to be shared through postcards with friends and family back home. Still familiar to residents of the central U.S., mound culture is today scarcely known by people living on the coasts. Thrown into question in Coolidge's work is the exotic nature of the mounds, many of which are no longer preserved, much less visited.

Frances Colpitt "Miles Coolidge at Acme - Brief Article - Statistical Data Included". Art in America. FindArticles.com. 19 Nov, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1248/is_10_89/ai_79276198/


Christina Fernandez

The social landscape that Christina Fernandez is presenting is that of sweatshops in East Los Angeles. These photographs were originally accompanied by excerpts from narratives written by migrant workers and were part of an installation. What drew me to this work was at first the composition and visual aesthetic, but once i delve deeper into the narrative in which is being presented, i found out the topography, and social landscape of the pieces.


Manuela S-t-i-t-c-h-e-d: Coverstich, Eastern Los Angeles, Ca, 1996. C-Prints and Text 30x40in


Manuela S-t-i-t-c-h-e-d: Fashion International 1996. C-Print and Text 30x40in

The Project Series
Project 18: Christina Fernandez
Christina Fernandez
Artist Statement

Lavanderia started as a series of photographs of storefronts along César Chávez Boulevard and other main streets in East Los Angeles. I have always been interested in how the urban landscape speaks through the bits and pieces we leave behind in our day-to-day lives and through other agents of the neighborhood, their graffiti tag names emblazoned on walls and windows of buildings.

Buildings tell of the people who inhabit them and the social context in which they exist. In many ways they are a stage for the daily dramas of life—the mundane, the tragic, the ordinary. Buildings simultaneously conceal and reveal the labor within, the subject of my former work Manuela S-t-i-t-c-h-e-d. A series of eight photographs of sweatshop buildings in East Los Angeles, Manuela S-t-i-t-c-h-e-d was part of an installation that combined the images with text created from the narratives of women who had worked in garment factories.

Photographers have long been interested in labor, from Daguerre’s blurred shoeshine boy in his untitled 1839 photograph of Rue du Temple, to Lewis Hine’s documentation from 1908-1918 of underage workers in factories and mills for the National Child Labor Committee, to Dorothea Lange’s photographs illustrating the harsh Depression realities of rural America for the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration, among others. In these instances, labor was clearly defined as the backbreaking work of the fields, factories, and docks.

The blur of labor, the anonymity of the laborer, the stillness of leisure—Lavanderia is a further investigation of these as well as something entirely new to my work: capturing the movement of people and the artificial light of night through photography. The painter Edward Hopper portrayed the strange light emanating from buildings at night and the emblematic lone figure waiting or contemplating. Hopper’s focus on the mundane details and the psychological tensions of everyday life is echoed in this new body of work.

The men, women, and children pictured in Lavanderia are subjected to the watchful eye of the photographer. The blur of their domestic labor—folding and sorting of clothes, controlling and keeping entertained the bored child—is transplanted to the public realm. The handprints of youngsters on windows illuminated by fluorescent lights are evidence that the washing of clothes is a family event. The etched and graffiti-marked windows are an obstacle to my perfect view. The short depth of field (the shallow range of focus due to a wide-open aperture) further obscures the sometimes lone figures, reinforcing their anonymity.

Lavanderia is rich with binaries—working and waiting, the beautiful but oppressive graffiti, obscured views through windows that are a kind of impenetrable membrane. Although the camera forces engagement between my subjects and myself, as I ask permission to photograph them, Lavanderia is less about connection than about our inability to bridge the spaces between subject and artist.

Article from Pomona College: http://www.pomona.edu/museum/exhibitions/archive/spring2003/fernandez/essay_fernandez.shtml

Zacharias Kunuk (Igloolik Isuma Productions)

What struck me as interesting with Zacharias Kunuk and his Igloolik Isuma Productions was that even though he says he creates documentaries, they're in actuality faux-documentaries. He remembers stories from his life and re-enact them with a cast and crew. He felt that this endeavor was valid, because as an Isuma (or Inuit), he had only seen one movie about his culture. So he no depicts their social landscape through film, and through narrative re-enactment, depicts the nomadic and harsh lifestyle in which they all live.


Film Still

Film Still


Nanugiurutiga
My First Polar Bear



Zacharias Kunuk on his film Atanarjuat, Cannes, filmmaking and Igloolik

In early June, Inuit filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk won the Caméra d'or for best first feature film at the Cannes Film Festival. He spoke to Ian Reid of the Canada Council later in the month from Igloolik, a day after returning from the spring hunt. Excerpts of the interview follow. Kunuk began the interview by describing his film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner).

Ian Reid is Acting Coordinator of the Aboriginal Arts Secretariat at the Canada Council. In the spring of 2000, he spent a week in Igloolik, visiting Zacaharias Kunuk's production company and the Tariagsuk Video Centre.


Z. Kunuk: Atanarjuat is an old story passed down from generation to generation. When I first heard it I was maybe 4 or 5…. A poor old man is cast out from the camp and he's dreaming that he would have sons who would make them rich and wealthy – more food on the table, more oil for the seal oil lamps so their house is warm, and new clothes from the animals they're catching. The son Atanarjuat was the Fast Runner and the son Amaqjuaq the Strong One. And… there was this beautiful young lady who was promised to Oki. But Oki became jealous of Atanarjuat and challenged him to a duel… a punching contest, that Atanarjuat wins with help from a good spirit… and he wins the girl. And from that day Oki wanted to see him dead, and one spring day he crashed their tent and started harpooning it from outside. And Atanarjuat escapes and runs naked on the ice. Everybody knew that story….

When we showed the film here in Igloolik, people… clapped and gave us a pat on the back…. And when we showed it [at Cannes] people clapped and that was OK. And the second showing that we had, people clapped and we had a standing ovation and they were shouting bravo. I thought maybe, maybe we have a chance to win…. And then they told me 'you won, you won the Caméra d'or.' And… my heart was pumping, everything was going so fast and the people, the house, the woman who was talking in French, I couldn't understand one word, and all of a sudden there it was. And my head is stumbling for a speech and they, they were already calling my name and I got up there and… I was speaking Inuktitut and the audience they started to laugh and maybe they thought that maybe that guy's going to go on forever. And I just translated my speech into English. And… I was suddenly in a room with Antonio Banderas and Jody Foster and Nick, Nick… what's his name?

Q. Nolte?
Z. Kunuk:
Yeah. And I'm in the same room with them and… I can't do anything for a minute. And I had a live TV interview and just before that I called home… 6 hours behind… and everybody went yelling in that house. And then… I was put on makeup and then put on TV. And it was so fast.

Q. What were your general impressions of the Cannes Festival?
Z. Kunuk:
Well, I have it all on tape. Getting dressed up was something that I don't usually do…. What I really notice when I'm wearing these power suits is that your neck is really tied down. And, I mean we only tie our heads up here to keep warm from the cold weather….

Q. How did you become interested in filmmaking?
Z. Kunuk:
In 1966 they were showing 16mm films here in Igloolik. And us kids we could go to the children's matinee, which cost a quarter…. And I [became] interested in still photography. I was experimenting with different types of cameras, 35mm cameras, and I was documenting Easter games events or hunting events. And then in 1980 I… bought myself a video camera, Sanyo Beta Max, colour…. In '79 there was the Inuit Project and then in '82 it became Inuit Broadcasting. And in '83… Paul Apak… hired me to work with him at [the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation]. I learned my technical skills from Paul…. In my eight years there I was cameraman, editor, soundman, everything [and] at the end, station manager. [Later] we got out and started this independent company [Igloolik Isuma Productions] and now we're doing great.

Q. What's the nature of your collaboration with your partner and Atanarjuat's photographer Norm Cohn?
Z. Kunuk:
Well I met Norman in 1985 and… I saw his videos and I liked them very much. His camera style is just like my camera style. When I'm shooting, the floor belongs to me. Whether I'm in church or… in a meeting, at a dance, the floor is my floor, I can move anywhere I want to. Probably I would jump right into the middle of the dance and videotape it from the inside and he does that too. My friends would set their lights and tripods and shoot the whole dance from one spot and work with the zoom. I didn't like that.… what's wrong with a shaky camera? It looks more real… more alive.

Q. What impact has the Canada Council for the Arts had on arts activities in Igloolik? (From its early days, Atanarjuat had the support of the Council's media arts program as well as its Millennium Arts Fund.)
Z. Kunuk:
Yeah, a lot of people get involved when we're doing a project. They understand Canada Council. You're the only department who seems to understand our language…. Probably this whole town knows about the Canada Council….

Q. Many of your productions have a documentary quality, which I think is a tribute to the wonderful way that you work with actors.
Z. Kunuk:
Well, here in Igloolik… we're working with families and documenting them. We would tell them what we want to do and they would create their own lines…. We've been working with these people for a long time and we've been training them so they are professionals, professional actors…. In the Inuit way you learn by watching…. The bottom line is that we're trying to show our culture the way it was, since it's been misunderstood a lot.… The only problem I ran into [is] … telling elders, 'Do it again. Take 2…. I mean, you don't talk to your elders like that, but when you're directing them you have to. But they understand that, so it's OK.

Q. What do you think the future of filmmaking in Nunavut might be?
Z. Kunuk:
Well, we're just… trailblazing…. We couldn't say it's the right way. We could just show them how we did it and they can, if they want to, choose different trails.

Q. What's your next project?
Z. Kunuk:
My next project is the early contact with the south… when they started trading. It's when the missionaries came and are preaching the gospel of … God, Jesus and what was going through their heads…. I want to recreate the misunderstanding … and go after true stories.… This summer we're into research. And I would like to get people involved…. That's the story I want to try to film next.

Excerpt from a Canada Council Article

Glen Wilson


Film Still from Desert Fishing, 2000


Film Still from Desert Fishing, 2000

Few other inSITE projects matched that degree of physical and psychic immersion. With close to half of inSITE's projects done in video--projected onto storefront windows, displayed on handheld screens or in viewing rooms at the event's information centers--passive spectatorship became the prevailing mode of experience. Investigating the nature and function of public space has been an implicit theme of inSITE through the years, but what emerged among this latest crop of artists as the primary site for engaging in public discourse was the placeless space of the screen. With so many projects framed in a viewfinder, and so many fewer than usual insinuated into the physical environment, inSITE's overall presence in the region--as well as the community dialogue surrounding it--felt far more diffused than in years past.

Gruner, from Mexico City, showed a video documentation of herself undergoing psychoanalysis in the backseat of a car as she crossed the border. In spite of its coy concept--crossing the geographic border while examining the borders with in the self--and its tantalizing promise of voyeurism, the resulting two-channel video is merely tedious, pocked with psychobabble and self-indulgently raw in form. Jonathan Hernandez, also based in Mexico City, shot a video of under age Americans heading south to drink and dance in Tijuana nightclubs. With roots in prohibition-era drinking and gambling excursions across the border, this current manifestation of pleasure-seeking on the "wild side" offers meaty potential for deeper study, but Hernandez's project is superficial, driven more by the beat of its soundtrack (by the Tijuana band, FUSSIBLE) than by thoughtful vision.

Several other artists shooting in film and video exhibited works of comparably little consequence. Lorna Simpson's Duet and Glen Wilson's Interstice 2001: The Nomad Project were both vacant, self-important efforts, strands of loosely knit scenes that satisfied neither as conventional narrative nor as visual spectacle. Jordan Crandall adopted heat-seeking and stealth cameras used for surveillance by the U.S. Border Patrol to make a series of short films shown on handheld cellular devices. Those imaging systems were devised specifically to reveal what the human eye normally cannot see, but Crandall's fragmentary clips of a woman on an operating table, golfers at night and the engine machinery inside a ship felt drab and familiar. Wholly indifferent, the images were outclassed in sophistication by the high-tech equipment used to record and screen them.

More revelatory in content was a two-part video installation by Dias and Riedweg, sited provocatively on the border, alongside a walkway for pedestrians crossing into Mexico. The videos, projected inside two stark, boxy structures resembling shipping containers, exposed oppositional aspects of border crossing: the groups of men who routinely leap the fence at night and head north, and the training of "Customs Canines" assigned to sniff out northbound contraband, from drugs to humans. Both the cool efficiency of the customs agents and the grittier desperation of the border crossers received relatively dispassionate treatment from the artists. Political underpinnings were left unstated, and the power of the piece rested on its privileged access to activities heard about but not commonly seen.

Author: Leah Ollman is a critic based in San Diego.

Excerpt From Article: Losing Ground: Public Art at the Border - inSITE program

Laurence Aberhart


Midway Beach, Gisborne, 13 June 1986 gelatin Silver print


Nature Morte (silence), Savage Club, Wanganui, 20 February 1986 Gelatin Silver Print

This major exhibition of New Zealand’s most eminent photographer brings together over 200 key works from the last four decades—among them his signature images of landscapes, facades, monuments, and interiors from New Zealand, Australia and further afield. Using a 100 year old view camera, Aberhart produces images which are steeped in the history not only of his subjects but also of his chosen medium. In recent years, Aberhart’s work has been acknowledged as a vital ingredient in the visual arts culture of this country. This exhibition underlines that significance while also asserting that Laurence Aberhart is a photographer of truly international significance.

Laurence Aberhart was born in Nelson in 1949. He travelled to America in 1988 as a Fulbright Fellow and in 1993 to France as the Möet & Chandon Fellow. In 1999 he was artist-in-residence at Dunedin Public Art Gallery. He has staged numerous solo exhibitions in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, America and Asia, including recently Laurence Aberhart: Selected Works, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2005); Laurence Aberhart: Photographs at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2002); Ghostwriting: Photographs of Macau, Macau Museum of Art Macau (2001); All Gates Open: Photographs by Laurence Aberhart, Fisher Gallery, Auckland and touring. His work was included in Flight Patterns, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2000), and is shown regularly in group exhibitions. He is represented by Sue Crockford Gallery, Auckland; Peter McLeavy Gallery, Wellington; McNamara Photography, Wanganui and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. He lives and works in Russell, Northland and travels extensively.

Exhibition curated by City Gallery Wellington’s Gregory O’Brien, working closely with the photographer and the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Justin Paton. The exhibition was developed in partnership with Dunedin Public Art Gallery. A major monograph will be published by Victoria University Press in partnership with City Gallery Wellington and Dunedin Public Art Gallery will be released on the same day as the exhibition opens in Wellington.

http://www.citygallery.org.nz/mainsite/laurence-aberhart.html


Mark Power


Rzeszow, 2004. C-Print dimensions variable



Gdansk, 2004. C-Print dimensions variable


Modern wounds stir ghost of Schindler

Haunting images of the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland hang in the empty factory in Krakow where Oskar Schindler rescued Jews from the horrors of Auschwitz

* Peter Conrad
* The Observer, Sunday 15 July 2007
* Article history

Photomonth 2007
Krakow, Poland

On a ptholed track straggling through the rusty industrial fringes of Krakow, Oskar Schindler's factory looks like a down-at-heel, dishonoured shrine. The paint has peeled from its Art Deco facade, and its bristling metal gate, through which Liam Neeson's limo swept in Schindler's List, is scratched and dented. Its streamlined curves, lucid skylights and bricks of shining cubic glass forlornly recall the idealism of the 1930s: architecture then was supposed to redeem mankind, constructing monuments to the white transparency of what Man Ray called 'the age of light'. But even for the Jewish workers Schindler protected, the factory, as Thomas Keneally puts it in his novel Schindler's Ark, was only a 'relative paradise'. After their shifts, Schindler's unpaid drudges returned to a concentration camp down the road, where they slept in barracks behind an electrified fence.

When Schindler acquired the site, it housed a bankrupt textile works. He installed metal-pressing machinery and converted it to the production of enamelled pots and pans, for use in the kitchens and military canteens of the Third Reich. After the war the Communist government nationalised the factory, which for another 50 years churned out spare parts for radios. Now it stands empty, except for two rooms that house relics of Schindler's tenure and a history of the Krakow ghetto, while pressure groups quarrel over its future. Promoters of tourism want it to house a museum of contemporary art but Jewish leaders insist a place sanctified by suffering should not display Warhol soup cans and Jeff Koons rabbits. Here, as elsewhere, westernisation has its own crass agenda: there are plans to build a hypermarket in the Katyn forest, where Soviet troops massacred Polish prisoners in 1940.

Last month the organisers of Krakow's Photomonth hired the premises and invited the British photographer Mark Power to install a series of exhibitions in the derelict sheds behind the front office. He called his project 'Theatres of War' and presented work by five colleagues preoccupied by conflict and art's attitude to it. The factory became a battlefield, echoing to the muffled thud of explosions.

Geert van Kesteren recreated the jittery chaos of Iraq on multiple screens with a soundtrack of garbled interviews, while Lisa Barnard documented the tragically tacky 'care packages' dispatched to American troops stationed abroad: how can soldiers who ask their families to send them Beanie Babies and whoopee cushions hope to understand the gangs of Islamic insurgents they are fighting? Christopher Stewart investigated the secrets of a so-called 'kill house', hidden somewhere in the emptiness of Arkansas, in which the American army trains specialists to search for combatants who have gone to ground in private homes. Luc Delahaye's panoramas of Baghdad or Kabul showed nature serenely re-absorbing our petty acts of destruction as drifting smoke is slowly erased from a bright, politically neutral sky. Watchtowers on hilltops in South Armagh are absurd mementos of a war that is, we hope, finally over: Donovan Wylie photographed them before their demolition, agreed in exchange for the IRA's surrender of its weapons.

Power, a member of the Magnum agency, is accustomed to working on a grandiose scale: two of his books document the redesign of the Treasury in Whitehall and the inflationary expansion of the Millennium Dome. In Krakow he was confronted by a random cluster of decommissioned sheds with oil-stained floors, pipes going nowhere on the ceilings, dust-clogged sinks with no water connected and a pervasive stink of chemicals and crumbled plaster. But he triumphantly justified the project's theatrical metaphor and turned those empty spaces into a succession of stages, with two excursions into darkened rooms that resembled cinemas.

An unforgiving glare shone through a skylight on Barnard's packages, sealed in those zip-lock plastic bags in which our toiletries are X-rayed at the airport. The cheap items posted out as souvenirs of home to befuddled, disoriented GIs are painfully eloquent. Will a marine on patrol in Baghdad really have time to apply Cool Tie, a moisturised neckerchief for use on sultry summer days? Packages of instant cocoa and marshmallows are a reminder that Americans believe in chocolate as a kind of god, capable of sweetly relieving all problems. For more persistent anxieties there are bags of Tension Tamer, a herbal tea. In adjacent rooms Delahaye's panoramas extended to encompass entire horizons. A dead Taliban fighter lies in a gutter surrounded by onlookers. Power, as he says in the Photomonth catalogue, is fond of epic photographs, which stand at a distance from their subject. Delahaye's version of epic is Homeric not Brechtian, as if he were looking down at the world from the vantage point of the gods: when the angle is wide enough, all human purposes come to seem futile.

Up a creaky, precarious staircase, in the suffocating attic of the same building, Stewart's exploration of the mysterious 'kill house' could have been the set for a Hitchcock film. The windows are blacked out and the only light comes from slats between the floorboards. A long gallery recedes in perspective towards a photograph of another staircase, perhaps curling up to a scaffold. A twisted metal bed with a gutted mattress hints at ways of interrogating detainees; a nail sticking out of a door left ajar whispers about cruel and unusual punishments. The design, as Stewart says, 'follows fear not function'. Across the way, van Kesteren's multimedia show occupied what might be a labyrinthine cinema, humming with the noise of invisible machinery and the detonation of special effects. Arab slogans unreel across the pitted brick walls, blood-red tabloid headlines silently shout on the screens. Spent cartridges litter the corner. Stumbling, you realise you are walking on sand, bogged down in an indoor desert. The uproar of shouting crowds and exploding cars reverberated through a partition into the annex where Wylie's watchtowers hung. Again the mise-en-scene made a sad geopolitical point: Northern Ireland may be pacified but Iraq goes on erupting, and in this congested setting there was no longer a continent to separate them.

After this tour of the sites where our world is splitting apart, a visit to the Schindler memorial above the factory's gates should be soothing. The walls have been painted battleship grey - mournful but not funereal. Solemnly meditative muzak, pastiching Bach, prescribes your mood. Schindler lived in the factory, abandoning his swanky requisitioned apartment in the centre of Krakow when the walling-up of the ghetto obstructed his journeys to and fro. A ledger open on his desk might be his accounts but is a visitors' book. A Scottish couple, a little too overcome by vicarious guilt, had recently testified that they toured the place 'with humiliation in our hearts'. The same page contained a scrawled caricature of a Hassidic Jew, complete with side curls, hook nose and a stigmatising Star of David. Similar figures, carved in wood, are sold as tourist trinkets in the Krakow market square, jostling on the shelves with angels to be strung on Christmas trees and cuddly lime-green gnomes. I remembered a conversation with a local official, whose identity I had better not reveal. I asked him about the Jewish population of Krakow. 'About 60,000 before the war,' he said, 'and maybe 3,000 now.' At the end of the sentence, a barely perceptible smile flickered on his lips.

Of those 60,000, 1,100 were spared, thanks to Schindler. His motives mixed humane compassion with economic self-interest; perhaps he also enjoyed the games of subterfuge he played with the Nazis, confident that he had protectors in the high command. In Krakow there is some irritation with the man's saintly legend. After all, he did not secure a reprieve for the rest of the ghetto, and the road to the airport in Krakow leads on to Oswiecim, better known as Auschwitz. Schindler's list was hardly an ark, which is what Keneally calls it. Noah's ark had room for paired representatives of all species; it preserved all life on earth, rather than whimsically choosing a few hundred specimens to be rescued. The Torah declares that to save one life ensures the salvation of the world. I'm no mystic, so to me that sounds like bad mathematics.

'Of course,' as Power concedes in his catalogue essay, 'photography can't change anything, not really.' In fact, art can make things worse, by telling emollient lies that treat the Holocaust as a victory for the human spirit, as the Schindler myth implicitly does.

But Power underestimates the impact of the work he assembled: a photograph - whether of a dead Taliban or of the sad consumerist trophies that keep up morale on the other side - can wound us, reawakening our human sensitivity. An aesthetic response sometimes ripens into a sense of moral responsibility. Shock and awe shouldn't belong exclusively to the Pentagon and its bombers.

article from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jul/15/poland.peterconrad

Peter Marlow


Nicosia International Airport, abandoned in 1974, and now part of the UN Buffer Zone


Nicosia

interview with john vink paris june 1999

I joined Magnum in 1980. I was attracted not only by its reputation as an organisation which stood up for the rights of photographers, but also by the fact that it seemed to me a place where you could be yourself.

It appeared that the photographers there were doing what they wanted, when much of the time I was doing what someone else wanted. They were a collection of violently different personalities, with very different styles of photography, but they all seemed to belong.

There was also something else very important for me, which was the comfort in the comradeship of other photographers: having somewhere to go where people were enthusiastic about photography, where nobody gave your work or your views a particularly easy time; the honesty could be hard to take at times.

As a young photographer, working for the French photo agency, Sygma, was a fantastic learning curve for me, and I am very grateful for it. But in the end there was something missing. You have to remember that Sygma was a very competitive organisation, with photographers pushing to get on the big news stories and, inevitably, having a contract meant making some compromises about the type of stories I covered. I suppose I'd had enough when a fellow photographer from the agency logged my film as his own, two years running, for an annual feature we worked on together. I could never understand why I never received any royalties from that job. My mission in life then was to become a famous war photographer. It didn't take me very long to realise that that wasn't really me, and I suppose the process of being part of Magnum helped me realise that: I discovered that what I was photographing wasn't really what I was seeing.

To me the best photography is photography in which what interests you in a subliminal way is somehow what you photograph. It wasn't necessary to go to a big war situation and photograph people with guns, dead people; it wasn't necessary just to photograph events.
The most important thing was to try somehow to connect with your own emotions.

I was finding that what fascinated me, for example, was being on a train journey, just looking out of the window and being mesmerised by the things passing by, not necessarily the things that were happening, but just the everyday space between events. I realised that this is what I should be looking for.

I also found that whenever I was taking pictures I was leaving the country. That was very frustrating, so towards the end of the Eighties I started photographing England in a more systematic way places close to home, places where nothing much was happening.

I've had in my mind 'non places' as a working title for this work, the places in between events, for me the most important thing was to try and identify with that feeling and convert it into a photograph.
The landscapes in England that I am doing at the moment really have their foundation in work that I did in Liverpool. I began photographing there in 1985 and spent the next six years putting together a book on the city. It was when Thatcherism was at its height, and Liverpool had no votes for Mrs Thatcher, so its people were somehow dislocated from the democratic process. There was a feeling that nobody cared about the city, especially the government of the day.

It's often been pointed out that there are no people in my pictures. But I really want the viewer to feel there's a person involved: the person may have just stepped out of the frame but they're very present. Their presence is also my presence and this is how I hope to communicate.

If someone was to ask me what the story was behind these pictures, it would be difficult for me to answer. In some ways I just go out with a camera and see what happens, and to me it's a little miracle that these moments come back on film. It's not intentional. I'm not necessarily looking for the things I photograph. I just wander, and take pictures, and somehow something comes back that has my own handwriting on it.

I obviously make the choices about where I'm going, but what happens in the photograph is something that is, in some respects, very uncontrollable.

I'm pleased with the fact that there is some common thread going through many of the pictures. I think with any photography, the most important thing is to wake up in the morning, want to get out of bed and take your camera and go and take pictures. The signature, the style, or the feel of the pictures is not an end in itself.

For me, just taking the pictures is probably not enough. What is enough is the feeling that after you've taken them, and you see the result, and the day after you look at the pictures or a week later you look at the pictures, and they are not quite what you wanted or expected, somehow you just feel better for it.

Interview from personal website: http://www.petermarlow.com/index1.html

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Infrastructure



Cyclists ride in the bike line across the Brooklyn Bridge during the evening commute August 25, 2009 in New York City. Recent improvements in biking infrastructure have led to a 35 percent increase in bicycle commuting in the center of the city between 2007 and 2008. The Department of Transportation recently announced the completion of a three-year project that created 200 miles of bike lanes throughout the city with more scheduled to open next year.




"Besides the environmental benefits of cycling itself (reducing fuel consumption, gasoline production impacts, air and water pollution, and greenhouse effects), let's also look at the environmental benefits of designing infrastructure for bikes.

Four main environmental benefits come to mind in this category: reduction of stormwater runoff, reduction of urban heat island effect, increased green space, and less building material."


When I read this article, I already knew that new infrastructure was needed for cities to thrive in the world's new attempt at becoming eco-friendly, but there were a few things that i didn't think of that the article talks about, like how bike infrastructure is much more efficient and eco-friendly than just regular pavement and vehicle centric infrastructure.

When making biking infrastructure, the amount of materials, labor, and pollution created vastly dwarfs the amount needed for things vehicle related. In California, bikers have created an event where they park in regular parking spaces to see the amount of room that's being wasted on just one car, the article says twelve bikes can fit into just one parking stall. I feel that it also brings up good points about the idea that we are overheating our cities in the summer with the amount of asphalt we use, it creates a black pavement where heat is absorbed rather than reflected. The absorption of heat from the sun heats the city up even more, creating a bigger need for air conditioning. Also, with the reduction in the size of the amount of pavement used for creating a bike path, it creates less run off, hardly any oil runoff, less heat built up, and creates more room for natural cooling mechanisms. By that I mean plants and trees that create shade and help convert CO-2 into oxygen.

People need to become aware of these possibilities and ideas that are being presented into this article. Another little tidbit that wasn't talked about in this article, is that with the creating of these modern day infrastructures, it creates green jobs and helps the labor/construction/union groups to stay in business and work.


Kessler, Lori. "Designing for Bikes: Environmental Benefits | Momentum - The Magazine For Self Propelled People!" Momentum - The Magazine For Self Propelled People! 1 Nov. 2008. Web. .

Thursday, November 5, 2009

San Francisco in Essence





Well, I don't feel that there is a necessity for a quote in this blog post, but I feel that i can rant on about my feelings towards what I feel they are describing in this article. Though, the article seems to be a very much Pro-San Francisco text, it brings up good points and ideas for other cities to latch on to and grow from.

Momentum is the magazine/internet source i got this from and they talk about all of the activism, events, community, and culture that surrounds the Bay area and its inhabitants that bike. They say of the 800,000 people living in the city that 120,000 of them say they ride a bike, and roughly 5% of them claim it being their primary mode of transportation. So that means at least 40,000 people ride a bike through the cities streets a day. The text also talks of how the city is and has always been a cultural hotbed ever since the 1950s and 60s when the beatniks and hippies arrived. They continue to say that since 1970, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), became an advocacy group for bikers everywhere. They've fought for bike lanes and easier access to cross-transit for bikers, meaning that they got the city to allow bikes on their trains and regional transit systems, buses, and forced the city to create new infrastructure for bikers only.

The article is pretty upfront about its point though, it really seems that they want every city to be like San Francisco, and from what i've heard about it, I can't blame them it seems like an awesome place, but i digress. Cities and communities of bikers should learn from this city and understand that it takes a long time for cities to respond to demands for people that don't invest their money in vehicular transportation, but people still need to push on and fight for their rights to share the roads with cars, trucks, and buses. People must fight for a safe coexistence of bikers, pedestrians, and vehicular traffic. Bike Lanes are a must for safety (cough...cough...RICHMOND, VA). With a surging populous of people putting their car keys down and dusting off their old bikes and pedaling to work, cities must respond to the growing concerns of ecological disaster. The mayor's of any city must realize that being a vehicle centric society is causing our cities to become ugly, muggy, and full of pollution and traffic. If they realize that they can clean up their city by making biking and its infrastructure a priority, then in turn the city will clean up its act.

I don't think people realize the true beauty of the places they live, weather it's in a big metropolis, a college town, a rural village, or anything in between, until they bike through it on a warm sunny day.


Steele, Kristen. "San Francisco | Momentum - The Magazine For Self Propelled People!" Momentum - The Magazine For Self Propelled People! 1 Nov. 2008. Web. .

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chris Steele-Perkins







Images are from the book "Euro Visions"

Chris Steele-Perkins has been a Magnum photographer since 1982. Most of his work revolves around 3rd world countries that are stricken with poverty, war, famine, and strife. But the series of work that I am focusing on of his is the series "Slovakia." In Slovakia, he embarks on a photographic journey through a country where he has little knowledge of and no sense of their language. He used a friend photographer from Slovakia, Andrej Ban, to be his guide and translator. He doesn't use title because he feels that when titles are used, they guide the photograph too much and don't let the images transform as much as they can. A quote from an interview in the book "Euro Visions" that I have taken a fancy for is this:

"Clearly Photographs describe everything and explain nothing. It is a strength because i like ambiguity in photographs, and sometimes when you put a caption on it, it starts to limit that ambiguity and pushes you down one direction. In situations where there are really big political or social issues at stake, like a war going on, the caption is essential. There is a real purpose to it. But when you step back from those situations, I like the idea that the photographs, their ambiguity or strangeness, or lack of immediate meaning can kind of come out. In books that I have done previously, my captions are pretty limited, minimal." P.150-51

His photographs are primarily landscapes, and I feel that this series is topographical in certain aspects. He is using the landscape of Slovakia to transform and communicate with a culture in which many have no idea. These landscapes describe the people, their hard working pedigree, how many of them are raised and how they make ends meet with their cultural situation.

This is something that I am aspiring towards and seeing if it is at all possible to describe a sub culture of people with just the use of landscape. I am creating a visual survey of a social landscape and trying to analyze the need for a current American Topographic tradition by focusing on the contemporary, rather than the past. Seeing if a culture can be described through landscape photography.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Initiative


Bike Lot for Postal and Delivery Service


Converted bikes for taxi service


"Increases in train ridership, funding for better bike-train connections — looks good. Hopefully, the US will take a hint and create similar programs. With the increased ridership bicycle access can provide, this would help to fuel the US’ lagging train ridership
."

Now, this quote seems vague and almost irrelevant to biking in which i am focusing on, but I do feel that there's at least a little amount, if not more, of eco-concern that is involved in my work. These articles, and many others, say that if a country wants to become more eco-friendly, their systems of transportation must work together, rather than compete for funds in an already tight global economy. England, and other European Union countries, have already realized this, that transportation services thrive upon each other. England has put 14 million pounds into a revamp of train and biking services. 14 mil. pounds! Granted the country is much smaller than our own, but we as a nation have PREACHED about how we want to become less dependent on oil! In my opinion, when the government bails out the auto industry with BILLIONS of dollars to try and help out the CEOs of vast empires of corporations, there seems to be a bit of a contradiction in their ways. This gets off topic, but General Motors and Chrysler are terminally wounded companies anyways, with really shitty cars! Ford really didn't need that much help they own so many other car companies that would would have survived. If America would have invested that money into public transportation, biking, trains, and the infrastructure that is required to maintain such things, then our outlook on becoming a GREEN nation would have been brighter. The transportation industries must network and help each other out, build upon one another. If America took some of that billions of dollars from the auto industy and put it into a new American Global Green Initiative (I just made that up too) then we (America) could try to look towards the future, rather than trying to fix the past.

Shahan, Zachary. "Bikes & Trains - New Initiative For England : Ecowordly." Web log post. EcoWorldy. 30 Sept. 2009. Web. .


http://ecoworldly.com/2009/09/30/bikes-trains-new-initiative-for-england/
http://ecoworldly.com/2009/10/25/7-berlin-germany-great-bicycle-city-photo-tour/

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jim Goldberg

Jim Goldberg is a photographer that is currently with the prestigious Magnum Photographers group. His photographic works are a new form of documentary, the work is much more corrupted than, say, a photojournalist. The photography of his that i have chosen to focus on is his series named "Raised By Wolves." A project where he followed teenagers and adolescents in the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles. This series was shot from 1987-1993 where he interviewed and photographed the teens, their social workers, and the police that wrangle these youths up. By photographing all of these aspects and people, he find a very developed and diverse subject matter that really works with how he presents these images, in a book. That's another reason that I have chosen to talk about him, I feel that possibly my current works is going to be best suited in a book format, possibly not as a traditional book, but maybe an accordion style book (i.e. Ed Ruscha's Gas Station book).

I hope that I can really follow and understand how Jim Goldberg photographs and how he looks at imagery. I want to take as much as i can from him. This book is presented as almost a scrapbook of ideas, photos, film stills, and handwritten texts that help convey the legitimacy of this series. At this book's roots, it is a compassionate tale of the lives of adolescent, displaced and misunderstood youths of urban America. It involves their drug lives, love lives, survival, violence, exploitation, and their pursuit of happiness.






All Photographs have variable dimensions and are from the Series "Raised By Wolves" 1987-1993.

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