Archives

October 2005

SELECT A MONTH:

Oct 31

“Though undeniably photo-documentary in nature, Sarfati’s work is defined through an opposition to the editorial urge to fix narratives to her subjects. Her images create a loose, layered and intensely rich visual project that allows us, the viewers, to consider the complexities of any place or time, triggering emotions and thoughts that move well beyond the ostensible subjects of her photographs.”
Read more »

Oct 28

Amanda Koster is behind the This is beautiful project. Given the differences in perception of the human body in different countries, Americans and non-Americans will probably react quite differently to the project.
Read more »

Oct 28

Carrie Schneider’s portfolio contains a set of interesting projects.
Read more »

Oct 28

“A bitter debate about how to teach evolution in U.S. high schools is prompting a crisis of confidence among scientists, and some senior academics warn that science itself is under assault.” - story And speaking of “intelligent design”, this article exposes “ID” for what it is: Monty Pythonesque nonsense: “So, this is my theory, which belongs to me, and goes as follows. All intelligently designed things are brought about by an intelligent designer through a process of intelligently conducted design.”
Read more »

Oct 27

“Years ago I came across a tiny, misshapen oval grey painting, by the late Blinky Palermo, at ARCO, Madrid’s international art fair. […] I cannot say what exactly Palermo’s painting meant, if it means anything at all. This is just the sort of thing suspicious viewers might take as evidence that, for more than a century, artists have been making their work in bad faith, pulling the wool over people’s eyes and having a laugh at our expense. This prejudice is hard to budge, even though it is nonsense; not least because no one would go to all that trouble and invest so much of themselves in perpetrating such a gigantic and elaborate confidence trick. Unless, that is, the whole scam were itself a conceptual artwork, or a bogus new religion.” - Adrian Searle on contemporary art
Read more »

Oct 27

“I reject the idea that the Republicans are the bad guys and the Democrats the good guys. It tends to be much more structural than that, more a question of how high the stakes are and who has the opportunity. And where you have a series of elections, as we’ve seen in the last few years, where the stakes are high and the count appears to be very close, you have absolutely ripe conditions for both party organizations to push for every conceivable advantage. In many cases the way they push for that advantage will often flirt with the boundaries of the permissible and in some cases go beyond it.” - Interview with Andrew Gumbel
Read more »

Oct 27

Elena Dorfman’s latest photo project is called Still Lovers, and it portrays the owners of “Real Dolls” - life size dolls, custom-made to be used as sex toys - and their dolls. Sex sells, the cynic might say (and as always, the cynic is partly right); but you probably want to read this companion article from Salon.com to get a better idea what this might be all about. Needless to say, Salon.com received a lot of angry letters.
Read more »

Oct 26

In a sense, this whole Plamegate affair looks like what you would happen is you created a mix between Kabuki theater, The Night Before Christmas, and the movie Groundhog Day, with the country waking up every morning (like Bill Murray’s character in the movie) to find the same headlines over and over again (something along the lines that Santa Claus will surely deliver indictments today), Democrats gleefully rubbing their hands in anticipation of the gift they so desperately need since they exchanged their spine with the political equivalent of tertiary syphillis (dementia, tremors, loss of coordination, paralysis, blindness), and the general going through an extremely ritualized routine of pretending to be seriously surprised and appalled by what everybody has known for such a long time (as Maureen Dowd pointed out: “It’s exactly what we thought was going on, but we never thought we’d actually hear the lurid details”). Amazing.
Read more »

Oct 26

Check out James Deavin’s photography.
Read more »

Oct 25

I’ve just come across a selection of very early colour photography, done in Britain. First is JCA Redhead (1886-1954), who “had access to supplies of scarce Kodachrome colour film” during World War II and “took many colour portraits of politicians, high-ranking military figures and celebrities as well as ordinary people involved in the war effort.” Check out the portraits of Yousuf Karsh and Margaret Bourke-White. Then, there is Walter Bird (1903-1969), who shot colour photos in the 1930s, using “a newly available colour process, Vivex. Vivex was a variant of the Carbro process, developed by Dr D A Spencer FRPS at the Colour Photographs (British & Foreign) Ltd factory in Willesden. Marketed between 1931-39, it enabled photographers, like Bird, to produce colour prints of high quality and rich intensity.” It can’t really get any more gorgeous than this. Lastly, there’s W J Pilkington (1912-2000), who, using “a one-shot colour separation camera, he produced colour photographs for commercial purposes, including recipe books, mail-order catalogues and book jackets.” Yes, this is a swimsuit photo, but it got more style and class than a whole decade of “Swimsuit Illustrated”.
Read more »

Oct 24

Alex ten Napel shoots portraits. My personal favourites are “Faces of Alzheimer” and “Bathing People”.
Read more »

Oct 24

Jody Zellen is a visual artists whose “photography” portfolio contains many digital collages. Interesting stuff. (thanks, John!)
Read more »

Oct 21

“Thousands of colour photographs of art treasures, commissioned by Hitler at the height of World War II, have been published on the internet. [Note: The site appears to be only in German, and it’s utterly cumbersome to navigate through. The images are amazing, though. - JMC] As the Allies bombarded Germany, Hitler ordered photos to be taken of the greatest artworks before they were lost forever. Many were subsequently destroyed. […] The photographers, working between 1943 and 1945, used the most up to date technology available to take more than 60,000 photographs. […] The slides were passed to the Central Institute for Art History in Munich and the Marburg Photographic Archive, and in 2002 the archivists began to digitize the pictures.” - BBC story
Read more »

Oct 21

Hu Yang’s Shanghai Living shows people in their living places in Shanghai, with short statements by those people. Amazing. (seen at Ashley Benigno’s blog)
Read more »

Oct 21

“The internet feels like a giant reliquary at times. On bad days, idling around looking for something interesting is bit like being stuck in a newsagents stocked only with men’s interest magazines, from lurid bikini specials to railway modelling journals, superficial visual snippets that are served up without any sense of discovery, backstory or depth, as if they existed solely to sate an appetite for soundbites (viral culture has a lot to answer for). Sometimes a trawl through the big sites […] is like methodically working your way through a box of good chocolates - good at first, then swiftly becoming something of a chore, and a regretful one at that. Whereas chasing links, making connections and following leads is a little like observing a saint’s relic, the reliquary’s little window revealing a tiny morsel of bone or scrap of cloth, leaving the imagination to fill in the corporeal blanks.” - thingsmagazine.net
Read more »

Oct 21

Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s photography is carefully staged, very well crafted, and somewhat unsettling. Also check out their works at Christopher Cutts Gallery and Claire Oliver. (thanks, Iwan!)
Read more »

Oct 20

“We are preconditioned to believe that a photograph tells the truth. I’m interested in this play of reality between photography, mass media and painting. […] I want these works to have that feeling of veneer, trying to discern the real from the fake.” - Chris Scarborough
Read more »

Oct 20

Have a look at PBS’ special The Torture Question. I have some reservations about parts of that documentary, in particular about how they set it up. Often, a debate about torture is being argued along the lines “Can we torture people if thousands of lives are at stake?” But that’s an absurd entry point for the debate for the following reason: You pretty much do not know a priori whether you are dealing with such a case (“24” is a TV show, and a bad one - I’ve noticed how people are only too eager to replace reality with Hollywood fantasies). Which then leads to the situation where torture ends up being applied on a wide scale. In the end, if you support the torture of people under extreme circumstances (“terrorist knows about nuclear bomb in New York City”) you end up getting wide-spread applications of torture (Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, etc.). History is full of examples for this, and sadly enough, the US is now part of that history. In a sense, the debate in the US about torture is very similar to the debate about whether oral sex qualifies as sex or not.
Read more »

Oct 20

Byung-Hun Min’s photography displays a kind of sensibility towards nature that is different from the Western one.
Read more »

Oct 19

This article caught my attention: “In theory, Wikipedia is a beautiful thing - it has to be a beautiful thing if the Web is leading us to a higher consciousness. In reality, though, Wikipedia isn’t very good at all. Certainly, it’s useful - I regularly consult it to get a quick gloss on a subject. But at a factual level it’s unreliable, and the writing is often appalling. I wouldn’t depend on it as a source, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a student writing a research paper.” The counter argument basically states that - to pharse it a bit cynically - the Wikipedia is crap, but it’s free.
Read more »

Oct 19

Richard Avedon was such icon of portrait photography that he could get away with showing almost no photos on his website. You don’t have to see the photos again because you already have. There are a variey of shows and exhibitions online of which I’m going to list only a few: The Metropolitan Museum’s Special Exhibition, PBS’ American Masters, PDN’s Legends Online. In the late 1970’s, Richard Avedon decided to embark on a project quite different from his usual work and to travel out west to take photos of people there. The resulting work In The American West has been hailed as one of his finest achievements and deservedly so. The book, long out of print, has just been re-issued. Laura Wilson, who worked with him during the trip, recently published her account of it. Digital Journalist has an introduction that features lots of photos (click on the thumbnails to get larger version that include explanatory text). Also see this page, which includes some audio material. The more intellectually inclined, who is not afraid to read material longer than three sentences, might enjoy Stylistic Trials and Documentary Tribulations in Richard Avedon’s In the American West - I myself, while usually fond of reading, am not very interested in reading about photography; it’s a visual art, after all, and too much babbling just gets in the way (but that’s just me). If you don’t want to just look at a book, you can also travel to Texas and see the show (open until 8 January 2006). make sure to also look at Avedon’s Lone Stars - Then and Now. There also is a review of the book, courtesy of Britain’s The Guardian. (updated post)
Read more »

Oct 16

Here’s a treat of a special kind: Listen to Ian Parker’s narration about Dubai’s new architecture and watch breathtaking photos by Robert Polidori. When I saw one of the photos in the magazine, I first thought “Hey, that’s a cool illustration” - until I realized that it was a photo.
Read more »

Oct 14

“The ‘Morning After Portraits’ are portraits of people in front of their medicine cabinets or in their local pharmacies with hangovers, migraines, morning sickness and other maladies self-inflicted or bestowed by nature from the night before.” - Andy Diaz Hope
Read more »

Oct 14

“Last Thursday on Countdown, I referred to the latest terror threat - the reported bomb plot against the New York City subway system - in terms of its timing. President BushÂ’s speech about the war on terror had come earlier the same day, as had the breaking news of the possible indictment of Karl Rove in the CIA leak investigation. I suggested that in the last three years there had been about 13 similar coincidences - a political downturn for the administration, followed by a ‘terror event’ - a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning.” - story
Read more »

Oct 14

“I don’t hate Apple. I don’t even hate Apple-lovers. I do, however, possess deep odium for the legions of Apple polishers in the press corps who salute every shiny gadget the company parades through downtown Cupertino as if they were members of the Supreme Soviet viewing the latest ICBMs at the May Day parade.” - story In a sense, Apple’s genius isn’t so much the mp3 player itself or the design (which I myself find amazingly underwhelming). It is the way how they combined a successful object with the notion of “upgrades”. In a sense, Apple’s “ipod” is a combination of Sony’s walkman and of cell phones, which also get new (and utterly useless) features continously. Since everybody is literally buying the notion that you just have to get “upgraded” versions all the time, and since Apple manages to maintain an inexplicable extra mystique (supposedly everything they produce is “cool”; note how just years ago, the general public disliked Apple for that very reason: Only utter nerds would use their products), it’s easy to see how Apple has hit the entrepreneurial jackpot. For now.
Read more »

Oct 14

It seems that with such limited subject matter as the human face, there is only so much you can do as a photographer if you want to take portraits. Not so! Just have a look at Melanie Wiora’s utterly stunning Aussen ist in mir series to see what I mean. These photos are what you’d get if you took away all that Hallmarky whimsicalness from Loretta Lux’s work.
Read more »

Oct 14

Monika Czosnowska’s series “Novices” contains quite a few photos that reminded me of classic Dutch paintings. Impressive!
Read more »

Oct 12

“We’ve seen them all hundreds of times. So why would anyone spend 8 [bucks/quid] to see Diane Arbus’s photographs again?” - this is an interesting question, isn’t it? Also see this article.
Read more »

Oct 12

Clayton James Cubitt has been documenting the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, with his very personal Operation Eden. His portraits of Katrina survivors are most impressive.
Read more »

Oct 11

In An Anatomy of Megachurches, Witold Rybczynski looks at and discusses large, contemporary American churches - and let’s really call those places churches and not “places of worship”, because there are so many more “places of worship”, which, officially, are not churches at all.
Read more »

Oct 11

Victor Bergen-Henegouwen’s portraits look very modern. Given the lack of information on the page, I find it hard what to make of them, though - they appear sterile.
Read more »

Oct 10

“We rarely see locked-up children because the laws established to protect their privacy have also kept them shut away from view. Fortunately, photographer Steve Liss gained unprecedented access to this hidden world and brings us face-to-face with some of the young people we are locking away by the multitudes – 104,413 in public and private facilities on any given day in 2001.” - from the introduction to No Place for Children
Read more »

Oct 10

More photorealistic painting: The work of Linden Frederick. (thanks, Greg!)
Read more »

Oct 9

“A New York federal court judge has rejected photographer Bill Diodato’s lawsuit alleging that the Kate Spade fashion accessories company illegally copied one of Diodato’s images for use in an ad campaign. The court’s decision was based on the principle that copyright protects only the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. The two photos in dispute were based on the same concept-a stylish woman’s legs, as they appear from beneath a bathroom stall-but the photos expressed that concept differently, the court concluded.” - story (my emphasis)
Read more »

Oct 7

“I take photographs of strangers. They are people unknown to me, whose lives I briefly investigate through the act of photography. The strangers select themselves by responding to notices I post around town or online, announcing that I need subjects for portraits.” - Siri Kaur
Read more »

Oct 6

“I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America’s fabled ‘marketplace of ideas’ now functions. How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it’s almost as if America has entered ‘an alternate universe’?” - full speech
Read more »

Oct 5

Those who have frequented this weblog on a regular basis will not be surprised by my appreciation of the paintings of William Steiger.
Read more »

Oct 5

Sage Sohier’s portfolio contains some interesting projects, of which I like “Perfectible Worlds” the best.
Read more »

Oct 4

Have a look at these pretty spectacular photos from inside the eye of hurricane Katrina.
Read more »

Oct 4

“Polaroid will be discontinuing the manufacture of its SX-70/Time-Zero film within the first 3 months of 2006 due to the phasing out of components used in the production of this film.” (details) I’m a bit torn between thinking that this is indeed a loss and just shrugging my shoulders. I am glad that Polaroid managed to stay in business - it’s amazing to see how their technical ingenuity has been inversely proportional to their capability of doing business, and it’s no real surprise they’re getting rid of those product lines that don’t sell enough. I for one, was much sadder to see the instant slide film go. In any case, is the film such a loss? It’s true, it’s a unique film and all that, but then the “unique” here means that the photo might or might not bear some resemblance to the actual scene, with typically the latter being the case. As for those manipulations that you can do, that’s certainly nice. But still, I can’t escape the feeling that once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. I’m sure “toy camera” fans will disagree with me but if you really want bad unusual colours with smudges start up Photoshop. Yeah, I know (please don’t send email because of this) digital is not the same, bla bla bla. Maybe it’s really time people got over this whole silly debate about whether or not digital or film is better. It’s such a waste of everybody’s time!
Read more »

Oct 4

I was going to commend the new Du bist Deutschland (You are Germany) campaign for going beyond the trans-Atlantic equivalent “USA Number One Whoo-Hoo”, but after having watched a few of the ads I really can’t back that up. “Twenty five media enterprises, major corporations, Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, the public and the major private channels are all currently waging a campaign ‘Du bist Deutschland’ to boost the mood in Germany. It is the answer of the cumulative power of the media to German misery. But unfortunately it’s also an insult to the viewers.” (story)
Read more »

Oct 3

I’m filing this list of Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 under “General Photography” because I’ve run into so many websites, which contain problems like the ones mentioned in the list, in particular problems with Flash. I especially like the sentence “most of the Flash that Web users encounter each day is bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people.”
Read more »

Oct 2

Burkhard Schittny digitally manipulates his photographs. I’m not sure I like all the different results, but I’m very impressed by his “Bacon” series.
Read more »

Oct 2

I revisited Chinese photographer Wang Qingsong’s website and was - again - quite impressed with his work. His more recent tableau pieces are excellent, and I especially like the simple statements that go with them. His elaborately staged scenes remind me of Gregory Crewdson’s work. In any case, make sure to look at the two masterpieces China Mansion and Romantique. I think those must be some of the most creative commentaries I’ve ever seen on Western culture entering another culture. Also don’t miss Night Revels of Lao Li, made available online by The First Post. (updated post)
Read more »

Oct 1

“With Lynndie England’s conviction earlier this week, nine US soldiers have now been sentenced for their role in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. But is it enough? DER SPIEGEL looks at two lives destroyed by Abu Ghraib. One, an Iraqi community leader — the other, his American guard.” - story
Read more »