Archives

May 2005

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May 31

“I write computer programs to create graphic images.” - Jared Tarbell - These images are quite fascinating; and they possess an unusual beauty. (thanks, John!)
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May 29

I’m a fan of Meghan Petersen’s website - and not just because of the photos.
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May 29

There has been a significant amount of discussion about why “raw” is better than “jpeg” for digital photography. Here’s a site that explains “raw” and offers some links etc. Update: More on raw. No comment necessary really.
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May 28

I’m still quite busy writing grant proposals - that’ll be done next week. Just a brief comment in between; something that has been bothering me for a while: The fact that photographers are now thought of as mere commodities, like in which photographer is “in”, which photographer’s photos will be the next big investment. That really bothers me to no end, as it represents everything (well, almost) that’s wrong with contemporary art.
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May 25

Amnesty International releases its annual report: “Governments around the world betrayed their commitment to human rights in 2004, Amnesty International says.” - full story “Amnesty International called on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating U.S. officials implicated in the development or implementation of interrogation techniques that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. While the U.S. government has failed to conduct a genuinely independent and comprehensive investigation, the officials implicated in these crimes are nonetheless subject to investigation and possible arrest by other nations while traveling abroad, the organization said. The human rights organization warned that at least one dozen former or current U.S. officials are vulnerable to this action. The individuals, who, to date, have either dodged investigation or escaped sanction, include those at the highest levels of government, such as President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, as well as Attorney General Gonzales and former CIA Director George Tenet. They also include government lawyers who advocated or approved setting aside critical protections against torture or recommended interrogation methods that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as military officers who implemented those decisions. While the United States bears primary responsibility for investigating these acts, research by Amnesty International establishes that more than 125 countries have legislation permitting investigation of serious crimes committed outside their borders.” - story
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May 25

Mary Farmilant’s series Columbus Hospital is quite amazing.
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May 24

After his untimely death Werner Bischof did not become an icon like Robert Capa. I personally like Bischof’s work much better. Bischof was always an involved observer and and an artist at the same time - something that, I think, distinuishes a master photojournalist from the rest of the crowd. See many of his photos over at Magnum. There is a retrospective at the Bruce Silverstein Gallery, and a new feature at ZoneZero. (updated post)
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May 23

As you might know, there are a bunch of photo communities out there, most of which aren’t worth mentioning (unless you’re interested in seing lots of rave reviews of bad photos of nakes women). altphoto.com is the notable exception. There are some remarkable photographer who show their work there, incl. some who you’ve already seen here (for example JP Zorn). Just look around a little, and you can discover gems such as the photographer who calls himself drFeelgood (who Mark Tucker pointed out to me).
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May 23

Unlike most people, I don’t subscribe to the idea that war photography does anything to prevent wars. But lots of other people, incl. maybe the Bush government, think otherwise: “The government has blocked the press from soldiers’ funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. The government has prevented the press from taking pictures of the caskets that arrive day after day at the Dover Air Force Base military mortuary in Delaware, the world’s largest funeral home. And the government, by inferring that citizens who question its justifications for this war are disloyal Americans, has intimidated a compliant press from making full use of pictures of the dead and wounded. Also worth noting: President Bush’s latest rationale for the war is that he is trying to ‘spread democracy’ through the world. He says these new democracies must have a ‘free press.’ Yet he says all this while continuing to restrict and limit the American press. There’s a huge disconnect here.” - full story PS: I think the main/sole reason for the Bush government to ban all those photos is to make the photos not interfere with their narrative about the “war on terror”, fought by “heroes”, where only terrorists are being killed. As we have seen during the build-up of the latest Iraq war, pushing a democratic country into a mindless frenzy for war is fairly easy - even if the same country had just gone through a very similar experience (from which it has learned absolutely nothing).
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May 20

Despite the somewhat overly touchy-feely talking in this story about Gary Stochl Uncovered, there are many interesting aspects in there (if you want to ignore the fact that Gary Stochl does “street photography”, which I personally consider to be one of the least interesting kinds of photography you can do - if you want to see street photography talk a walk!). I really like the fact that Gary Stochl stored his photos in a paper shopping bag. It seems to me that the questions “What happens to an artist when he or she has no contact with that artistic community? Is it possible to be a serious artist without those connections—and what happens to the work of an isolated artist?” overemphasize the importance of the so-called “artistic community”; and I’d be more than happy to argue that many aspiring artists would thrive much more easily if they managed to disconnect themselves from their comunity a bit and found out what kind of art they really could create. PS: If one of those cutting-edge German book publishers reads this I wonder who’ll be the first to publish a photo book that comes in a paper shopping bag? (thanks for the link, Wayne!)
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May 19

“In 1979 Tseng Kwong Chi put on a thrift store Mao-era suit to enter a ‘coat-and-tie’ restaurant in New York and was mistaken by the maitre d’ for a Chinese dignitary. The next year he successfully crashed the opening of the Ch’ing dynasty exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art - posing with the rich and famous as a Chinese Communist official. Tseng realized then that he had tapped into a profound theme - one that would drive his artistic career for the next eleven years - ‘the pervasive ignorance of Westerners regarding Asia generally and China specifically.’” (source; more samples)
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May 18

“What Lucas has devised, over six movies, is a terrible puritan dream: a morality tale in which both sides are bent on moral cleansing, and where their differences can be assuaged only by a triumphant circus of violence. Judging from the whoops and crowings that greeted the opening credits, this is the only dream we are good for. We get the films we deserve.” - whole review PS: While the above review might be the only one that trashes what deserves to be trashed, most other reviews are not too far of. Compare this review, whose criticism about wooden acting, horrible lines, and bad filming would mean desaster for any other movie; but then it turns around in the end, claiming the movie isn’t that bad after all. It’s almost like the critic (and basically every other critic whose reviews I read) expected (and got) utter trash, only then to be surprised that it wasn’t quite as horrible as anticipated. You know, if I was a young, aspiring movie director I’d wish I’d get that kind of treatment from critics (or the audience for that matter)!
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May 18

“Ever since the Metropolitan Museum opened its retrospective of ArbusÂ’s photographs, in March, her subjects have been turning up to give their own versions of their lives, an occurrence that is as illuminating and curious as a man in a red turban surfacing at a Van Eyck exhibit.” - full story Update (18 May): There is a similar article in the Washington Post.
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May 17

“For those interested in the question of how our leaders persuaded the country to become embroiled in a counterinsurgency war in Iraq, the Downing Street memorandum offers one more confirmation of the truth. For those, that is, who want to hear.” (full story)
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May 17

Noé Montes’ portfolio contains a set of fairly interesting shots from Los Angeles. Check it out!
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May 17

Since 1994, French photographer Laurence Demaison has done nothing else but self-portraits. Hers are fairly interesting, though - in many cases, it’s almost impossible to still recognize the person.
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May 16

Izima Kaoru started his series “Landscapes with a corpse” when being chief editor of a Japanese fashion magazine. He invites models and actresses to pose as corpses, wearing expensive clothes. Each scene results in a set of photos, as can be clearly seen here. Also see this brief description of his work.
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May 15

Paul Seawright’s photos are often quite spare and understated, even when he goes to Afghanistan, being on commission by the Imperial War Museum (don’t the British have an interesting honesty about their stuff?). See more photos here and here.
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May 15

This following exchange of opinions between a German and an Englishman is quite typical of the kind of atmosphere between Germany and England. On the surface, everything is quite polished, and everybody is good friends. Underneath the surface, ugly sentiments linger and omit a foul stench. I don’t want to add too much to this whole debate; maybe this one comment: The fact that a German has this kind of exchange with somebody from England and not from France does tell us something, and it’s not about Germany. Anyway, let the games begin. It all started with Matthias Matussek, an author of Germany’s ultra-influential weekly Der Spiegel noting that “the British love to hate us Germans. So much so that my 10-year-old son was chased by English school kids chanting ‘Nazi, Nazi’. In fact, the hunt for Nazis has become a neurotic English parlour game. The British really enjoy raking over the German past instead of devoting themselves to their own.” (full text). Not so, responded British author Frederick Taylor, author of a book about the bombing of Dresden (where he argues there were many good reason for the bombing, which happened when the war was long lost for Germany), because even though Matussek’s article “though rather grumpy in tone, makes some good points, especially about the legacy of the British Empire and the causes of the continuing disaster that is the Iraq war. Nevertheless, it does seem rather one-sided.” (full text).
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May 14

Martina Mullaney’s work has a very contemporary look. An excellent example of how, for a photographer, less can be so much more!
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May 13

One of the things that amuse or fascinate English speaking people to no end is the habit of Japanese people to wear tshirts with utterly meaningless or nonsensical slogans on them. In a somewhat similar fashion, I can’t help but be intensely amazed and fascinated by Little Debbie, the maker of cheap pastry, cakes, and cookies (“More than 75 varieties are available with suggested retail prices ranging from 25 cents to $2.99.”). The companies slogan is “Little Debbie Has A Snack For You”, and as if that wasn’t weird enough, they even have trucks that feature this slogan. Pictured above is the evidence. This rather scummy truck is driving around Pittsburgh displaying that slogan. If I had little kids and saw that truck driving down the street I’d make sure they’d get into the house. Fittingly enough, since the last US elections the truck is also featuring a bunch of “W2004” stickers.
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May 12

“In one case - after I did Abu Ghraib, I got a bunch of digital pictures emailed me […] in this case, a bunch of kids were going along in three vehicles. One of them got blown up. The other two units - soldiers ran out, saw some people running, opened up fire. It was a bunch of boys playing soccer. And in the digital videos you see everybody standing around, they pull the bodies together. This is last summer. They pull the bodies together. You see the body parts, the legs and boots of the Americans pulling bodies together. Young kids, I don’t know how old, 13, 15, I guess. And then you see soldiers dropping R.P.G.’s, which are rocket-launched grenades around them. And then they’re called in as an insurgent kill. It’s a kill of, you know, would-be insurgents or resistance and it goes into the computers, and I’m sure it’s briefed. Everybody remembers how My Lai was briefed as a great victory, ‘128 Vietcong killed.’ And so you have that pattern again.” - Seymour Hersh
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May 12

Ten years of Bill Schwab’s photography will very soon be on show at The Halsted Gallery. The photos will also be shown in a new book, for which there exists a pdf preview.
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May 12

Steve Pyke is one of my favourite portrait photographers. I discovered his work when I stumbled upon his book Philosophers in a book shop in New York City. In January 2005, he joined New Yorker magazine as a staff photographer - a position created by the late Richard Avedon. England’s National Portrait Gallery owns an an impressive set of photos done by Steve Pyke. Also noteworthy is Zonezero’s show of Apollo astronauts. (updated re-post)
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May 11

If you’re as sick of the same old (or supposedly new) “alternative” rock posers as I am, check out British band Electrelane. Their new album was just released - excellent!
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May 10

Alfred’s Camera Page is a very lovingly compiled description (incl. tons of photos) of predominantly Soviet old cameras, but you can also find, for example, the Diana or Voigtländer Bessa-L there. Highly recommended for people who love/collect/use old cameras!
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May 10

Here’s an interesting problem for you: Assume for a second that you’re a successful, actually a highly successful photographer whose photos sell for many thousands of dollars. Suddenly, only the very well-to-do can afford to buy your works! There you got a real problem because the market is quite small. What can be done? Here’s an interesting solution: As shown on The View from the Edge of the Universe, you start selling “production stills” from your photo sessions, which each are significantly cheaper than the actual photos but still expensive enough to generate some nice income. What an ingenious idea! Now, you’d only have to add t-shirts and mugs for those people (incl. yours truly) who can’t even afford the “production stills” and you got the whole market covered again!
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May 10

Robert Bechtle is a photorealistic painter whose work are currently on view at SFMOMA. Find more samples here, here, here, and here.
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May 9

Georges Rousse (also see this page) constructs elaborate optical illusions by selectively painting parts of buildings in such a way that, when viewed from a certain direction, a pattern emerges. (Isn’t this description a fine example of how a description can be very precise, yet not too helpful? Have a look at this image: Here, the white circle is formed by those parts of the building that the artist painted white - because you look at it from the direction where all the different white bits of the building form a circle). Update (10 May): This page documents how one of those rooms is prepared. Note how the tedious work is done by students!
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May 5

I just discovered a series of very interesting interviews that Melanie McBride (of chandasutra) has been conducting with bloggers, some of whose blogs I have been reading for quite a while.
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May 5

If you’re a photographer chances are the following has happened to you: You think about a good project, and just before you get to start it you find somebody else has already done it. Enters Henrik Spohler whose “0/1 Dataflow” (filed under “Projekte”) shows the interior architecture of supercomputer centers. Very beautiful!
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May 5

Andrea Botto photography contains a beautiful mix of architectural work, landscapes, and portraits.
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May 4

As regular visitors will certainly be aware of, my friend Tobias Hegele has for quite some time provided links to interesting photography.
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May 3

Josef Schulz (also see this page) studied with Bernd Becher and Thomas Ruff. Doesn’t it show? I really like how the two schools almost blend perfectly here.
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May 3

Natascha Borowsky spends a lot of time collecting what most people would call trash and then taking photos of it. It’s not hard to see who influenced her work. More samples here, here, and here.
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May 2

“The history of the world as blood bath. East German painter Bernhard Heisig has been honoured and vilified by turns.” - story
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