Archives

May 2007

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May 31

Having a full-time job and running a blog like this one and trying to do actual photography often runs into the somewhat annoying problem that the day only has 24 hours, a fraction of which is already taken up by such activities as eating and sleeping. I am quite happy to now be able to be in a situation where I actually managed to also take some care of the last of these aforementioned three activities, namely working on my own photography; I’m almost done with the completely new and improved (film!) version of one of my older projects, with another project well on the way. Since I have been trying to avoid shameless self-promotion (there’s enough of that all over the web already), I haven’t really talked about this much here; but since I’m in the process of moving this blog and my own website to new hosting (almost done - what a waste of valuable time that was!), I will also completely revamp my photography site. All that - hopefully - in early June…
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May 31

“A 27-year-old man described as one of the world’s most prolific spammers was arrested Wednesday, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.” (source; my emphasis)
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May 31

Olivier Roller’s website changed a bit since I linked to it back in 2003. Many of the portraits are very nice; unfortunately, the website is set up a bit weirdly (some of the thumbnails cannot be viewed larger, others can; and some images have terrible jpg compression artifacts).
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May 31

Over at (Notes on) Politics, Theory & Photography Jim discusses a very interesting case of how a photographer carefully choosing a certain viewpoint changes the overall picture - and its impact - quite a bit. And then, in the final story - which appeared in the most prominent newspaper in the US, the image was cropped, again changing the impact of the photo. It’s interesting how most people would probably find something like this not problematic, but then a photographer who edits out some feet in a photo taken at some high-school sports event in the middle of nowhere gets fired for altering his photography. Make no mistake, photographers have always used cropping and framing - after all, that is part of photography - but I think it’s worthwhile to keep this in mind when getting so agitated about “digital manipulations”.
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May 30

Someone emailed to me tell me about Robin Collyer who in the mid-1990s, did work similar to Gregor Graf’s and Matt Siber’s.
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May 29

Since we’re at it today, compare Gregor Graf’s “Hidden Town” with Matt Siber’s “Untitled Project”. And also don’t miss Matt’s “Floating Logos”.
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May 29

“My new marching orders made it clear where the recruit with my name was to undergo basic training: on a drill ground of the Waffen S.S., as a panzer gunner, somewhere far off in the Bohemian Woods. […] for decades I refused to admit to the word, to the double letters. What I accepted with the stupid pride of youth I wanted to conceal after the war out of a recurrent sense of shame. But the burden remained, and no one could alleviate it. True, during the tank-gunner training, which kept me numb throughout the autumn and winter, there was no mention of the war crimes that later came to light. But the ignorance I claim cannot blind me to the fact that I had been incorporated into a system that had planned, organized, and carried out the extermination of millions of people. Even if I could not be accused of active complicity, there remains to this day a residue that is all too commonly called joint responsibility. I will have to live with it for the rest of my life.” - Günter Grass; a long and important read.
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May 29

This through The Sonic Blog: Gregor Graf is a multimedia artist, whose project “Hidden Town” shows two cities, with all signs (traffic signs, ads, etc.) removed. The results are quite interesting.
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May 29

State of the Art reports on an article from the New York Times, in which it is noted that “since last year the military has enforced new embedding rules that require photographers to obtain consent from wounded soldiers before images of them can be published.” I have to say, that’s quite the ingenious way to prevent the public from seeing the consequences of George W. Bush’s disastrous Iraq war (which, lest we forget this, also is the war of all those Senators who gave Bush the authorization for it and of those Senators who just handed Bush more money for it with no strings attached). So now we’re in the absurd situation where people can’t do anything about the war (because anything other than letting the President do whatever he wants would not “support the troops”), and citizens can’t see what’s going on (because taking photos of wounded and dead soldiers would not “support the troops”). There’s a lot of stuff that I could add now, but since Al Gore has already written about it, let me just recommend The Assault on Reason. Do yourselves a favour (if you live in the US, that is; I don’t think it’s out anywhere else yet) and buy and read the book.
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May 28

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.” (Albert Einstein) In this spirit, here’s The Creation Museum, where, according to the LA Times, “Bamm-Bamm and Dino played together”. Don’t miss to look at these photos.
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May 28

“German expressionist artist Jörg Immendorff - known both for his artistic charisma and his colorful lifestyle, died on Monday after a long illness, his wife said. He was 61. One of Germany’s foremost modern artists, the 61-year-old had been suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease which attacks and destroys nerve cells in the brain.” (story) Find some more information (including Immendorf’s official portrait of former Chancellor Schröder - c.f. this entry from a little while ago) here, and discussion of his “Cafe Deutschland” series here.
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May 28

Rinko Kawauchi (also see this page) is a rising Japanese photography star, whose output I personally find quite hit-and-miss. There are lots of very beautiful photos amongst others that are… well… Update (29 May): There’s a nice interview with Rinko Kawauchi here.
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May 27

There’s a certain thrill about finding a stranger’s family album at a thrift store and then to look at the life of that stranger and his or her family. Or rather the life as that stranger wanted to have it preserved, because - ultimately - as Martin Parr noted, family albums are really just propaganda: They are intended to show the family in a positive way. Of course, if you are aware of this, there still is nothing you can do about it, but you can try to work with it - and that is what Andrea Stern did with her Inheritance.
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May 27

“That Leni Riefenstahl was rather a monster is not really in dispute. And if it ever was, two new biographies provide enough information to nail her.” Thus starts a review of two new Riefenstahl biographies by Ian Buruma. As a true bonus, The New York Review of Books has also made available Susan Sontag’s famous 1975 review of Riefenstahl’s ‘The Last of the Nuba’; a fascinating read, despite, given some new revelations, some minor inaccuracies concerning some of the fact - back in 1975, Riefenstahl was still alive and quite actively working on distorting the facts.
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May 26

“Professor Eric Faden of Bucknell University created this humorous, yet informative, review of copyright principles delivered through the words of the very folks we can thank for nearly endless copyright terms.”
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May 25

I really like Mark Brautigam’s On Wisconsin.
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May 25

There are some very interesting portraits in Ye Rin Mok’s portfolio.
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May 24

There are lots of things that could be said about what’s going on in Iraq. Since there are already lots of things that are being said I don’t think there’s anything to add for me. However, just the other day, in this endless flow of “news” about bombs and dead soldiers (and always scores of dead civilians, which isn’t really newsworthy any longer), there was this feature in the New York Times, and it hit me: That was the New York Times’ Vietnam War moment, with coverage of an ambush on US troops that looked just like what we so far only used to see in documentaries about the Vietnam War (watch it before they make it disappear behind their commercial firewall).
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May 24

Sara Wight’s “Beyond the Horizon” is a beautiful meditation on humans’ place in this world.
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May 23

Yann Mingard’s website contains a few quite interesting projects - don’t miss “Twilight”!
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May 23

Those interested in the work of Elinor Carucci can find a good article about her work here. Update (24 May): Jim at (Notes on) Politics, Theory & Photography comments on Elinor Carucci’s work: “This sort of exhibitionism strikes me a wholly self-indulgent and completely uninteresting.”
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May 22

After reading this interesting article by Arthur Danto about the MoMA Jeff Wall show it occured to me what really confused me about discussions like this one (and many others I’ve seen recently): Reviewers and writers often spend considerable time on explaining why certain photography in fact isn’t really photography but, instead, painting or cinema. It’s almost like these reviewers and writers restrict photography to something that, in essence, is really quite mundane, and whenver a photographer falls outside of that mundane, then it’s not photography any longer. So we are told we are looking at a photo by Jeff Wall, but it isn’t really a photo, because a photo can’t possibly have the complexity that we see (some of the discussion of Andreas Gursky’s work falls into the same category). I can’t accept this, and I think part of it might be a generational issue: I never grew up thinking that photography’s role is restricted to the mundane.
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May 21

Adam Nadel is a photojournalist, whose projects Portraits of Noncombatants and Rwanda Testimonies are both excellent and utterly compelling work. “My hope is for this project [Portraits of Noncombatants] to provide [a] counter-point and connect the viewer, without sensationalism and voyeurism, to the consequences of war, and to create an opportunity for the public to better comprehend the effect on individuals.” (Adam Nadel)
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May 18

Colin Pantall’s “Sofa Portraits” show his young daughter watching TV. In his own words “Sofa Portraits show the mental and physical escapism of childhood, the moments when Isabel’s gaze latches onto her imaginary world and her body sprawls over the sofa.”
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May 17

“[Vivienne] Westwood can’t help herself. The broad message of her piece is: the philistines are upon us! […] ‘My biggest criticism is how can people be so easily satisfied? Even people with talent.’ She sends up conceptual art as ‘a symphony composed on the remaining three keys of a broken piano, combined with the random throwing of marbles at a urinal’.” - story
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May 17

Timo Burgmeier studied architecture before becoming a photographer. His photography consequently studies architecture or, in this case, what he calls “fake” architecture: Buildings built out of their original context (often in the new context of entertainment), such as the German looking village above, built in South Korea. See more of his work here.
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May 16

I am quite impressed by Ira Vinokurova’s portraiture. See more of her work here and here.
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May 15

A while ago, a photographer who had made quite splash with his first book was about to publish his second one. As I followed some of the discussions about what to expect from that second book I couldn’t help but notice the similarities with the kinds of discussions usually to be held when a rock band or some pop star releases a second album after a very successful first one. I thought that maybe that wasn’t a very good way to deal with photography.
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May 15

For reasons that will probably be obvious I find the research mentioned here quite interesting. When I’m extremely tired, my brain’s switch that controls which language to use ceases to work properly, usually much to the amusement of my wife. And it’s also quite interesting that when I swear I automatically mix words from both languages (German and English) - I guess in that case the switch does get circumvented altogether.
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May 15

There’s quite a bit of interesting photography found on Alana Celli’s website so check it out!
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May 14

Signe Vad’s portfolio contains a diverse set of projects, each of which contains some interesting work - so if you don’t like one make sure to look at the others (there’s some information on each project under “info”).
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May 11

“It has long been predicted that traditional books are about to be replaced by little machines on which you can download any novel you fancy. But the technology has never really been up to the job - until now. Here Andrew Marr, who treasures his smelly, beautiful library of real books, spends a month with one of the new gadgets.” (story)
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May 11

Keith Johnson’s portfolio contains a large number of very interesting landscapes.
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May 10

Was the Antikythera Mechanism the world’s first computer?
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May 10

Selected highlights from the 2006 FotoFest Beijing can now be found here. I have long been very interested in photography coming out of China, and if you look at the different works to be seen on that site, you might get an idea why.
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May 10

Over at The Sonic Blog, I found the photography of Anastasia Khoroshilova, predominantly portraiture. This page offers a nice simple overview of her work.
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May 9

Susana Raab’s portfolio contains a bunch of interesting projects, of which I like “Consumed” and “Off-Season” the best.
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May 8

“An original work by artists […] Gilbert and George would normally set you back many thousands of pounds. But from 11.30pm [6:30pm EST] tonight a piece [‘Planned’] is being made available to anyone who wants it - for free. […] Planed will be available to download at bbc.co.uk/imagine and Guardian.co.uk/art.”
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May 8

Todd Eberle’s most recent project is called “Architectural Abstractions”. See some more of those here.
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May 7

How a Photo Can Ruin Your Life sounds like one of those headlines from the local 10pm “news” (“This man now sporting a beard - tonight at ten”), but in fact it does address quite a few very serious issues: “The FBI has issued blanket requests to photo processing labs and computer repair shops in some cities to be on the lookout for pictures of kids in compromising positions, urging them to call the authorities whether they’re sure or not about a picture’s legality. The big national chains that have photo processing labs […] have company policies that compel them to notify the police about any criminal activity they see in customers’ photos. And when children are involved, they’re more than willing to err on the side of caution.”
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May 7

Johan Rosenmunthe’s “Image Remembering” is what I’d call a photographic remix of photos left behind by his grandfather.
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May 7

“‘Manufacturing Dissent’ will have its premiere on March 10 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. To say it sheds an unflattering light on Moore — whose work includes the hit ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and the Oscar-winning ‘Bowling for Columbine’ — would be an understatement.” - full story
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May 7

If you’re surprised to see this cover of the “New York Post” on this blog, you will be even more surprised by the following account, written by my friend Richard Renaldi. Richard had told me about the basics of the story a little while ago, and I had offered him to publish his account on my blog. This morning, I received an email with Richard’s side of the story, to be found below the fold (I added a few links).
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May 5

When I was a teenager, I used to spend a fair amount of time with a group of like-minded peers at a local store, which sold audio equipment but also had a table with “home computers”. That was before 8bit computers had the aura of being “cool” (just like, as an aside, being a fan of Kraftwerk back then was considered anything but “hip”). In fact, when I programmed a Commodore 64 “home computer” to play Johann Sebastian Bach’s Italian Concerto at my high school’s chamber music concert and then also distributed a leaflet that claimed that computers were to play a major part in music, all I got was hundreds of quite blank stares. Or maybe it was me demonstrating what aforementioned Concerto sounded like when played backwards. I remember that some people were nodding wisely, because probably they had always figured that there was something strange about that quiet, lanky kid.
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May 4

“For the last 25 years Joachim Schmid has challenged the traditional and prevailing idea of ‘art photography’. Instead, he has championed the importance of photographs that are produced and seen everyday; ranging from passport photos, to high street studio portraits, ID cards and, more recently, the Internet.” (this quote found on his site) Two reviews, covering the full range of appreciation of his work: one, two.
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May 4

The other day, I came across a fine, yet somewhat ubiquitous example, of how our culture “thrives” to a large extent by turning art into kitsch (this the tricke-down effect in art). Someone had Albrecht Dürer’s “Hands of the Apostle” as a kitschy vanity license plate (kind of as if you turned something like this into a license plate). And then, just yesterday, Alec Soth showed another fine example, where the original art work, which had caused a scandal back when it was produced (for more than just one reason btw), was turned into kitsch - with the original model being part of the show.
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May 3

When I look at how Paint by Number kits’ selling point was “Every Man a Rembrandt!” I just can’t escape to notice similarities with current claims about photography, involving digital photography and Flickr… And there appears to be even more: Just compare how the craze about older paint-by-numbers is not that dissimilar from the one about, say, found photographs.
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May 3

It’s really just my own fault, since I didn’t switch hosting last time I had these problems. So if you experience any problems accessing the site, I’m sorry. I’m very busy already, but it looks like there’s no way around me dealing with getting new hosting and moving everything to a new company. So things might be choppy for some more time, hopefully for not too long. Update (3 May): I just signed up for new hosting. I’ll transfer the data over the next few days…
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May 3

“Charles Weever Cushman, amateur photographer and Indiana University alumnus, bequeathed approximately 14,500 Kodachrome color slides to his alma mater. The photographs in this collection bridge a thirty-two year span from 1938 to 1969, during which time he extensively documented the United States as well as other countries.” This, of course, being a treasure trove of early colour work, previously linked to by Christian - which I managed to miss nevertheless, so thanks, Jacob, for telling me about it!
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May 3

“Luigi Ghirri revolutionized Italian photography in the 1970s with his fresh color snap-shot style observations of Italian contemporary culture. His small delicately colored prints were conceived in series to create visual poems- gentle but direct. The small scale and modest demeanor of his prints belie their power. Much of the work anticipates the large scale contemporary work of photographers ranging from Miguel Rio Branco to Andreas Gursky.” (source) See some more photos here.
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May 3

Over at Whats the jackanory?, I found this very interesting discussion with Martin Parr (about 44MB) - do yourself a favour, and check it out!
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May 2

The British not only have a Queen, but they also have artists portray her in what might or might not be regular intervals. What I find interesting about this is that instead of opting for a safe artist, namely someone who’d paint the umpteenth run-of-the-mill painting, quite often you get someone who’ll do something different, which makes things quite interesting (just as an aside, I think in Germany the Chancellor gets to pick who will paint his/her portrait - there’s only one - and that typically is also quite revealing and interesting). A few years back, one of my favourite painters, Lucian Freud, was commissioned to paint the Queen, and the result was utterly excellent. This year, they asked Annie Leibovitz. If you view this from a photography point of view, this is about as undaring and safe a choice as it could possibly be - but it’s a photographer they asked and not a painter. Read a glowing review here. I guess the keywords in that review are what the writer sees as the task of the portrait, namely that of “beautifying age and celebrating majesty.” Well, you know,… that they got - and really nothing else. Update (3 May): “News” channel CNN reports: Two critics “not amused” by the portrait. For extra amusement note at what CNN decided to use as story “highlights”. Update (7 May(: The official site about these ortraits can be found here.
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May 2

While the spacecraft bound for Pluto, the just demoted former planet, has an incredibly goofy name, its cameras are quite excellent. And yes, this is a real movie. I’m afraid learning about the resolution of the cameras on board of the spacecraft might shatter people’s obsession with “Megapixels” - but that’s just to prove that it’s not the number of “Megapixels” that determines whether you get a good photo, it’s how you use the camera.
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May 2

John Hinde was a colour photo pioneer. “Chances are you’ve never heard of him, but it’s more than likely that you’ll have seen some of his work. Hinde is a (mostly unsung) pioneer of colour photography; overlooked because he spent his time producing holiday postcards.” (source, with very neat samples). He recently became somewhat more widely known because of the Butlin’s Photographs (some of which you can see here). There appears to be a John Hinde website, but it won’t load for me right now…
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May 1

Regardless of whether there’s more to the whole than just the parts, the plethora of things that can be said about Lee Miller indicate that her life was quite unusual. Sadly enough, it ended in depression and alcohol - with a neglected cache of 40,000 negatives and 500 prints in the attic, which werediscovered after her death by her only son. She was the first woman to appear in an ad for menstrual pads (in a photo taken by Edward Steichen) and model and lover of Man Ray, before she became a photographer herself, and not just “a” photographer, but one of the finest ones of her days. During World War II, she worked as a daring war photographer who took the famous photos of the dead concentration camp guard in Dachau and the dead mayor’s daughter in (I believe Dresden), and she had her photo taken Hitler’s bathtub in Munich. Find two long accounts of her life here and here, both well worth the read.
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May 1

When I saw this photo for the first time, I stopped what I was doing (I think I was actually walking somewhere in Amsterdam) and I stared at it for what must have been a long time. It’s a photo by Ed van der Elsken, a Dutch photojournalist. Most of his work is in b/w, but look at the colour work! I wanted to link to his work earlier, and since I’ll be focusing on early unknown colour photography this week, now is the time. (updated entry - thanks, Pim!) PS: I got an email saying that the link to Ed van der Elsken’s doesn’t work right. I can’t reproduce the problem here, it works fine for me; but another way to get to the images is to use the museum’s main site and then to use the “Search” function.
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