Archives

June 2005

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Jun 29

Images are telling - as frequent readers of this blog know. When the president of a democratic country prefers to use soldiers as backdrops for his speeches what does that tell us? Maybe this? And what is it supposed to tell us? And, related, you really don’t want to miss reading this article.
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Jun 29

Florian Süssmayer does photo-realistic paintings. Unlike most of the painters that I linked to before, his paintings focus on details of objects. Just click on the links. Many of those paintings and sketches show the surfaces of beergarten tables. (thanks, Felix!)
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Jun 29

As regular visitors know, I rarely - if ever - link to photoblogs for a variety of reasons. But I’m more than happy to make the occasional exception to the rule, if I come across something special. Worksongs contains quite a few very interesting photos (those who wonder what I am talking about might want to start here and click on “Prev” to look at more). (Thanks, Tobias!)
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Jun 27

“Photography can make leaders - or bring them down.” - story
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Jun 27

“4x4 [SUV] advertising is dedicated to manipulating landscapes into generic forms. All that it requires of a landscape is that it evoke the idea of challenge - something resistant to be conquered, something natural to be tamed. A river is valued for its difficulty of fording. A mountain for its dramatic and nameless escarpments. No landscape can be only itself: it must represent an obstacle of some sort. The hypocrisies of 4x4 marketing are dark, multiple and pernicious. Everything about the product urges us to the wrong relationship with our environment. The vehicles themselves are the gargoyle of a rampant and acrid form of individualism: gated communities of one. They bespeak the urge to dominate and crush which is at the root of what Ivan Illich called ‘the 500-year war on sustainability’.” - Robert Macfarlane discusses the impact of car - especially SUV - ads on how we view landscapes. Very interesting.
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Jun 27

Oh boy! Has Diane Arbus reached so much pop-culture notoriety that they have to make a movie about her, with Nicole Kidman (yikes!) playing Diane Arbus? Apparently, they’re already working on it, including work on how to milk the photo market afterwards.
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Jun 24

My little rant about digital photography has caused a bit of a commotion, not unexpectedly along partisan lines. It seems these days, you can’t say anything without making people believe you’re either with (film) or against (digital) them. I really don’t want to add anything to what I wrote. Instead, let me just point out Bruce Barnbaum’s Thoughts about digital photography.
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Jun 24

A book presentation with Julius Shulman doesn’t quite go where people expected it to go when Julius Shulman says “This book is crap.” Read the story here. (thanks, Toby!)
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Jun 23

I have been thinking about digital photography for quite a while, and I simply can’t help but feel that there are too many unresolved issues, which are brushed aside too lightly. I thought I’d write them down; and given that I started my weblog to keep an inventory of links with comments I thought I might as well write about it here.
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Jun 22

Have a look at Elizabeth Heyert’s The Sleepers and The Travelers.
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Jun 22

Sara Padgett’s work is a good representative of a style of photography, which is fairly popular these days (is there a name for it?). Update (8 July): There’s a feature about Sara Padgett’s work in the latest editon of MakingRoom.
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Jun 21

I participated in the MIT weblog survey.
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Jun 21

Here is something interesting: What happens when you commission four photographers to work on the exact same project, namely to “divulge the story of centuries old borgen (‘farm-castles’) and churches”? Have a look at the results at Noorderlicht.
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Jun 20

There’s a new blog jonZfoto, which deals with different aspects of photography and culture. Those familiar with the cassandra pages definitely might want to check it out (even though I bet they already have).
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Jun 20

This just in from Canada: “An exhibition of work by slain Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi has been shut down, following complaints it was too sympathetic to the Palestinian uprising.” (story) You might call it ironic that this is happening to the photos taken by a photographer tortured to death in Iran, but - of course - “ironic” is hardly the right word to use here. (thanks, Tim!)
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Jun 19

“Photographers across the country have complained of getting harassed by law enforcement officials citing security concerns since the September 11 terrorist attacks.” - Link to audio show (seen at notifbutwhen 2)
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Jun 19

Helmar Lerski (1871-1956) created studies of faces. There really is no other way to describe it. If you want to get an idea of what it means watch this film that shows some of the 140 photos done using a single person’s face. Utterly incredible. PS: If you can’t understand a word the presenter is saying don’t worry. It’s Swiss German.
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Jun 19

Trude Fleischmann (1895-1990) was an Austrian photographer (who in 1939 emigrated to the United States) who contributed greatly to portrait and nude photography. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find samples online. There are a bunch of portraits on this site, also don’t miss this portrait and this nude study.
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Jun 17

German electronic music group Kraftwerk made the future (and being a stiff robot) sound cool. Undeterred by the fact that now that we live in what used to be the future it doesn’t look all that cool Kraftwerk have just released something like a “best of” album in the form of a live album, which can only be recommended.
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Jun 16

Julian Germain just had his book For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness published. It is about an elderly man he met: “Charlie was a simple, gentle, man. He loved flowers and the names of flowers. He loved colour and surrounded himself with colour. He loved his wife. Without ever trying or intending to, he showed me that the most important things in life cost nothing at all. He was my antidote to modern living.”
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Jun 15

“With the enthusiastic collaboration of the American news media, the sideshow has somehow become the main attraction in American culture; the weirder the guy, the bigger the headlines. It’s sickening that it takes a columnist in an entertainment magazine to point out that more than 2,000 newspeople covered the Jackson trial — which is only a few hundred more than the number of American servicemen and women who have died in Iraq. On the same day that crowds gathered in Times Square (and around the world) to learn the fate of the Pale Peculiarity, another four suicide bombings took place in that tortured, bleeding country. And if you tell me that news doesn’t belong in Entertainment Weekly, I respond by saying Michael Jackson under a black umbrella doesn’t belong on the front page of the New York Times.” - full story
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Jun 15

The patchiness of information that can be found online mirrors the life and especially the art of Diane Arbus. There are brief introductions here and there, and you can find a couple of radio segments about her or one of her photos. Maybe there are simply too many “weird” photos - or photos of “weird” people or of people society doesn’t like to see: Just look at the photo entitled Patriot, and you realize there’s quite the divide between the official narrative and Diane Arbus’ photos, a divide that in the case of the Patriot photo maybe reflects how society has regressed back from its (partial) willingness to question the wars it was/is involved in, which alone would be worth discussing in detail. But let’s not digress. I don’t know whether the book entitled Revelations, which accompanies the extensive retrospective of her work that is currently touring, reveals much. But it is a fascinating experience. You can’t help but feel that the book and its contents have been very carefully assembled, with Diane Arbus’ daughter Doon Arbus in charge of the project. The book probably has not brought me any closer to gaining a better understanding of Diane Arbus’ life despite (because of?) the very detailed timeline with lots of quotes and letters etc. You don’t really gain much from reading through all of that. At the end, you find the statement “Her suicide seems neither inevitable nor spontaneous, neither perplexing nor intelligible.” followed by the details of the coroner’s report. I can’t help but feel that that is a very odd combination. One might want to read Patricia Bosworth’s biography to understand her life better. As far as the photography is concerned, Revelations couldn’t be any better. The photos are beautifully reproduced, and you get to see lots of “outtakes” and contact sheets of her work. Of course, you could argue about whether you really want to see work that Diane Arbus didn’t feel worthwhile showing. If you don’t want to see it you can save a lot of money by buying the Aperture book. I’m always interested in seeing how photographers create their work, so I enjoyed looking at the contact sheets. They are interesting: The exposures are quite uneven. However, she was a master printer, and I enjoyed reading an article written by her posthumous printer Neil Selkirk about how he re-created her photography’s signature look (which, apparently, does not require any dodging or burning). For example, if you look at the photo Boy with a Straw Hat on the contact sheet you can’t help but be amazed how she got the print to look so good. I think what I got out of reading through the book is that Diane Arbus should be considered as an artist first and then as a photographer. Maybe that’s where the revelation lies that the title promises.
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Jun 14

Chris Buck is a professional portrait photographer some of whose work you have seen someplace already - unless you don’t read magazines.
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Jun 13

Erik Boker’s portfolio contains a fairly large number of interesting portraits.
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Jun 13

“It has been clear for some time now that the American people love art—the museums are choked with visitors and the art market is booming—but hate artists, who are widely regarded as elitist troublemakers. In the old way of thinking, these two things were seen to be irrevocably linked; if we wanted art, we had to endure artists. In the new era, we can perhaps reconfigure.” - whole article (thanks, Kevin!)
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Jun 13

It was probably only a question of time before a photographer would show images taken with an airport’s X-ray scanner. Mauricio Alejo used one - and more.
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Jun 8

David Burnett is a very successful photo journalist whose work you will have seen someplace (like, for example, this photo). What’s interesting about him is that he sometimes uses a Holga plastic camera (see above).
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Jun 8

“The places we inhabit inherently reflect upon us and can help in the exploration of the definition of ourselves as individuals, communities, and societies. […] I want to document these landscapes that are on the fringe of what is man made and what is natural. All of my images are photographs of the edges of major transportation paths. […] These are non-places that in a way define what our society is doing to the natural landscape in the present.” - Chase Browder
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Jun 8

Have a look at the Museum of Modern Art’s utterly cool Russian Avant-Garde Book! (seen at swens blog)
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Jun 5

Little Boy: The Arts of JapanÂ’s Exploding Subculture, on view at the Japan Society in New York (thru 24 July 2005), has generated quite the splash, with the big question being: “What is this all about?” Given we’re dealing with what is called “pop art”, it’s inevitable to encounter the following. First, the reaction of many people who think that this kind of art is basically a joke, and second, some kind of grandiose manifesto written by one of the leading proponents, explaining the vision behind it all. Notice how these two aspects almost seem to go hand-in-hand. Add to that the fact that New York has seen pretty much everything, and you got all the ingredients for some excitement in the art world. I’m not sure what to make of all of this, but I think I can say the following. I don’t think that art necessarily has to be something that requires an enormous effort. If you want to define art that way, you’re restricting it to a craft. Not a good idea. But I’m also quite wary of grandiose manifestos, especially if they contain some sort of idea that foreigners won’t get this kind of art anyway. Having said all that (not much, actually!), there’s an excellent review in the New York Review of Books, written by Ian Buruma, whose book Inventing Japan, 1853-1964 I can’t recommend too much. If you want to have an online look at some of the artists participating in the show, check out Takashi Murakami (interview, bio, more samples), author of the aforementioned manifesto and driving force behind the show, Chiho Aoshima, and Yoshitomo Nara.
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Jun 4

“Frederick Sommer, most widely known as a photographer, also maintained lifelong interests in drawing, painting, collage, poetry and prose.” His photography is currently on view at the Getty Museum (until 4 September). (thanks, Mark!)
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Jun 3

“Science feeds on mystery. As my colleague Matt Ridley has put it: ‘Most scientists are bored by what they have already discovered. It is ignorance that drives them on.’ Science mines ignorance. […] Admissions of ignorance and mystification are vital to good science. It is therefore galling, to say the least, when enemies of science turn those constructive admissions around and abuse them for political advantage. Worse, it threatens the enterprise of science itself. This is exactly the effect that creationism or ‘intelligent design theory’ (ID) is having, especially because its propagandists are slick, superficially plausible and, above all, well financed. ID, by the way, is not a new form of creationism. It simply is creationism disguised, for political reasons, under a new name.” - full story
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Jun 3

Some of the secrets sent to postsecret might not be actual secrets but made up. Does it matter?
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Jun 3

Anita Andrzejewska’s b/w photography has a little bit of a vintage look, despite the modern compositions.
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Jun 2

Have a look at Dan Holdsworth’s mostly eerie landscapes.
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Jun 2

Here’s a bit of propaganda about work I’m involved in: “The Virgo consortium, an international group of astrophysicists from Germany, the UK, Canada and the USA has just released first results from the largest simulation ever of cosmic structure growth and of galaxy and quasar formation.” (source) Make sure you watch those movies, they’re utterly spectacular. More images and movies here.
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Jun 1

In some places, scrap metail simply falls from the sky. Have a look at a photo essay about the scrap-metal dealers of Kazakhstan, who, living in the backyard of Russia’s space programme, collect scrap metal from rocket booster stages that fall onto their land. (seen at things magazine)
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Jun 1

South African photographer Pieter Hugo, featured in the latest edition of photo website ak47, has been working on a set of very interesting projects. Of the work shown on his website, Rwanda impressed me the most (if I may use the word “impress” in this context). These photos have a harrowing power.
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Jun 1

It took a while for Mike Smith’s You’re not from around here: Photographs of East Tennessee to grow on me (more samples). I don’t even know why.
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