Archives

July 2007

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Jul 31

Si-Chan Park is one of Peter Bialobrzeski’s students. Looks like Peter Bialobrzeski has built a new German photo powerhouse, this one not located in Düsseldorf. Check out Si-Chan Park’s most recent work.
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Jul 30

“Ingmar Bergman, the ‘poet with the camera’ who was one of the greatest directors in motion picture history [and who hated to watch his own movies], died Monday at the age of 89, Swedish news media have reported.” (story)
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Jul 30

Roger Richards, formerly a photojournalist (see my conversation with him), is now working on personal work. I quite like part one of his “Dispatch from the Empire”.
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Jul 27

I’ve long been fascinated by Dutch classical landscape paintings, with their sweeping, majestic skies, underneath of which you often find the somewhat barren Dutch landscape, sometimes with a city somewhere small, seen from afar. Art historians and theorists are probably much better suited to talk about these paintings than I am, and I admit I have no idea what they might talk about. For me, these paintings resonate with something inside of me for two reasons. First, these Dutch paintings show a landscape very similar to the one I grew up in. And second, they convey a sense of humility: We like to think of us humans as the masters of this planet, but when we are really honest and step back a little, we actually have very little power.
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Jul 27

“An orangutan is holding his first solo exhibition of his paintings in a zoo in Germany. Like many artists, he knows the therapeutic value of art: He took up painting after his partner died. […] Now Buschi, whose chosen medium is fingerpaints on paper, is holding his first solo show at the age of 34. His paintings are being shown in the ape house of Osnabrück Zoo and can be bought by visitors.” - story
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Jul 26

“We, the undersigned, believe that the new rules currently under consideration for Film Permits (Chapter 9, Title 43 of the City Rules of New York) will have an irrevocable impact on independent filmmakers and photographers and their ability to engage in creative work in New York.” - sign here (you’re in good company! - background here)
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Jul 26

While working on my most recent Personal Favourites post, I spent some time thinking about photographic formats again - a topic that does not get a lot of attention and that typically only comes up in the (unfortunate) form of print sizes. Of course, size is just one aspect, the other one is the aspect ratio. Ignoring diptychs or spherical exposures, rectangular images are most common, with the two extremes (width and height equal [a square] and width much larger than height [a panorama]) being somewhat rare. The latter extreme, the panorama, seems most unusual, and of all the formats it might be the one hardest to work with.
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Jul 26

“Using computer-vision technology to automate the registration process, one can now for the first time view almost the entire collection of the Prokudin-Gorskii photographs in color. […] The resolution is fairly low […] In addition, the warping process introduces some blur, further degrading the sharpness of the images. Finally, there was no attempt to retouch the images to remove the many scanning artifacts, dirt and other damage that was done to the originals” (source) Hopefully, the extra work needed to get the full set in maximum quality will be done some time.
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Jul 26

Christian Güssow’s series Leidenschaft [passion] portrays athletes during and briefly after training.
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Jul 25

Günter Grass’ admission that he was a member of the Waffen SS has proven to be a welcome opportunity for those eager to strike a righteous posture whenever possible (think, for example, Christopher Hitchens). Interestingly enough, many well-known colleagues of Grass’ have refused to follow that pattern (the latest of them John Irving in the New York Times), and now there’s Timothy Garton Ash’s new piece, well worth the read.
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Jul 25

I always tell people it’s easier to get a doctorate in astrophysics first and then to do something else, but I’ve just been proven wrong: “Brian May is completing his doctorate in astrophysics, more than 30 years after he abandoned his studies to form the rock group Queen.” (story; my emphasis)
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Jul 25

I like how some of Jürgen Nefzger’s photography deal with ecological issues (seen at Mrs. Deane’s).
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Jul 24

“If you happen by 3701 N. Fairfax Drive in Arlington and decide you have a sudden craving for a photograph of a generic suburban office building, and you point your camera at said structure, you will rather quickly be greeted by uniformed security folks who will demand that you delete the image and require that you give up various personal information. When Keith McCammon unwittingly took a picture of that building, he was launched on an odyssey that has so far involved an Arlington police officer, the chief of police and the defense of the United States of America.” - story
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Jul 24

I have long been an avid follower of contemporary Chinese photography, which still is not quite as easily accessible as it should be. Fortunately, there is now a slowly increasing number of books showcasing Chinese photography, with 3030: New Photography in China being just the latest one of these.
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Jul 24

Andreas Gursky’s “99 Cents” is not just one of my personal favourites, it probably is the one, the photo that I would name - when pressed - as my personal favourite photo. For me, “99 Cents” embodies all that makes contemporary photography the exciting art form that it has become.
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Jul 23

If you are an expatriate, someone who is living outside of his native country and culture, at some stage you get to realize that the cultural background of your host country divides into two parts, one which you can adapt to (given a surprisingly large amount of actual work) and another one, which will forever remain foreign to you. The latter I like to call the inexplicable, the stuff that will never make any real sense. Needless to say, you never get to understand what the inexplicable is as far as your home country is concerned, while it is quite easy to experience it in your host country. But to make matters even more confusing if a foreigner points out your own country’s idiosyncrasies you usually react with indignation - indignation simply because what other people often find outright absurd makes perfect sense to you! But things are easier to understand if we use an example. So - given I am an expat living in the US - let’s pick the issue of gun ownership in the US.
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Jul 23

Hanna Liden’s (photographic) world is filled with masked figures in somewhat unpleasant landscapes.
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Jul 20

“In the piece ‘Still Life’ I am trying to arrange objects from the food industry and create relationships between them. […] The conceptual framework - packaged food from the supermarket - displays a part of our visual environment. This is very interesting to me because the original food has already been processed, formed, and designed. Composing these objects by visual criteria often results in a comedic effect that is rather provoked than consciously planned.” - Heiko Rintelen (also see this page and this page)
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Jul 19

Picking up what I linked to yesterday (and then there’s a bit more here - scroll down to the comments), it is interesting to see how once editorial work (done by fine-art photographers) is concerned, there is a new complex of topics. For the photographers there are some new problems to tackle (see Alec’s comment), and it seems to me that everybody else has to deal with expectations. We know what photographer X has been doing for a while, and we simply expect to find something along those lines in his or her editorial work - an expectation that (just like any other expectation) is not very helpful (even though it’s exactly the kind of expectation that certain magazines seem to count on when hiring well-known fine-art photographers for editorial work).
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Jul 19

“People who are narrow-minded and dogmatic have a poorer working memory capacity, which is what makes it harder for them to process new information. That’s according to Adam Brown who tested 212 university students on a verbal working memory task.” - story
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Jul 19

The interesting thing about Corey Arnold’s portfolio is that apart from some interesting imagery of overfishing, there are some unexpected gems (like the one above).
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Jul 18

Liz Kuball commented on recent editorial work by Todd Hido, and Andrew Hetherington (who knows a thing or two about editorial work) responds - a must read for everybody who has ever been disappointed about editorial work by a fine-art photographer!
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Jul 17

I can’t resist posting this link (scroll down for the real madness!).
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Jul 16

What do these portraits tell us about the persons they show? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? Isn’t that interesting?
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Jul 16

This review of some of Florian Maier-Aichen’s work neatly makes the case against, as the reviewer calls it, “modern photographic orthodoxy […] that the world seen directly through a camera’s lens is richer than imagination in creative possibility.”
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Jul 16

Mark Sullo was kind enough to point out this following article (incl. the bits I’m going to talk about). The article, He finds beauty in the basic, is about Taj Forer’s Threefold Sun, and on the second page, you can find the following: “Forer’s work fits every definition of ‘documentary photography.’ His settings are found (not staged), his images are straight (not manipulated digitally) and his photographs feel intensely natural.”
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Jul 15

It is somewhat of a cliché that contemporary photography has become sterile. It is supposed to be addicted to cold imagery, which is mostly devoid of humans. In any cliché, there is a grain of truth. But because it really is just a tiny grain and because the cliché ultimately is just an oversimplification and distortion, it does not provide a useful basis from which to explore contemporary photography. A beautiful example for why this cliché is so flawed is provided by Taj Forer’s Threefold Sun. Threefold Sun is firmly rooted in contemporary photography, and its photos contain a very quiet poetry.
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Jul 14

If I was to ask you to name an American 20th Century portrait photographer, I think Sally Mann’s name would probably not be the first one to come up. It is true, there are lots of well-known American 20th Century portrait photographers, some of which I already talked about on this blog, like for example Richard Avedon. But somehow, Sally Mann doesn’t seem to register in a way Richard Avedon does. I find that very unfortunate.
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Jul 13

There are some very interesting portraits in Rachael Dunville’s portfolio.
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Jul 12

Via The Sonic Blog come these two following links, photographic exhibitions of two different countries. The first, How We Are at the Tate Britain, the second, Leidkultur, a portrait of Germany online (use the pull-down menu at the top right to access photo series). I think the two shows are most interesting when compared with each other - two ways of introspection, two different ideas of how much there is to celebrate.
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Jul 12

Christiane Feser’s Frauen shows women the way we are used to see them in magazines or in ads - namely heavily airbrushed - but out of the context of those magazines or ads. The effect is quite startling. Unfortunately, the website is German language only, but most of the portfolios are pretty obvious without the text.
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Jul 12

“In my photography, I usually focus on people and decisive moments, fleeting moments in time that happen and are gone. When I went back to Lebanon after this most recent war between Hezbollah and Israel, I went with the intention of photographing the people dealing with loss and reconstruction, hoping to capture these moments and expressions that will tell the story of what they have been through and how they are dealing with it.” - Rania Matar
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Jul 11

It seems to me that many questions about photography - like, for example, the one just discussed by Shane - boil down to the complex of authenticity. I find it quite interesting to see how many people still want a photograph to be absolutely authentic. It has to depict something that really happened or that really exists that way. So “street photography” is taken as more authentic (or honest) than, say, staged photography (a variant of this is the “reality TV” craze, which shows “real” people and their “real” problems). I really don’t know how useful such an approach to photography is. If we were to make authenticity our criterion for what is good and bad photography, we would limit our experience of photography as an art form quite severely.
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Jul 11

“Lux documents the artificial glow produced by major cities in the 3 brightest regions as seen on a NASA map of the world at night.” - Christina Seely
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Jul 9

“John Szarkowski, a curator who almost single-handedly elevated photography’s status in the last half-century to that of a fine art, making his case in seminal writings and landmark exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, died in on Saturday in Pittsfield, Mass. He was 81.” - NY Times obituary
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Jul 9

At first, I wasn’t sure whether Randa Mirza’s On Media, Tourism and War Photography works. But then I realized that since I wasn’t living in a country ravaged by war and intermittently a tourist attraction, my view of things was probably a bit different.
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Jul 8

For me, Ernst Haas’s “Homecoming” is one of the best photojournalistic projects ever done. This particular photo might just say everything the whole series says at once.
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Jul 7

I find Gideon Barnett’s series “Flora” quite interesting.
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Jul 6

The Exposure Project picks up a topic that I have been worried about for quite a while: “Catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina certainly need to be documented, in order to bring awareness and understanding to issues that require resolution. However, when this documentation becomes too abundant it can act counterproductively. The real questions that need to be asked are, is there a point of saturation where this imagery become ineffective? And to what extent is this work created at the emotional expense of those truly impacted?” Note that this discussion is not necessarily about whether or not to show people!
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Jul 5

Justin James Reed just published an excellent post, which talks about an important point that is very rarely discussed: “One other element that always lingers in the background for a photographer that works in a method like Burtynsky is the issue of access. […] Which brings me to Polidori and Gursky. It seems to me that a lot of the imagery that I associate with these photographers is deeply rooted in the idea of access. Images of factories by Gursky and Burtynsky seem to separate themselves very thinly in terms of individuality and complexity.” Also note the related post by Liz Kuball. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but I do think that Alec Soth’s comments about tactile photography are - at least in part - somewhat related to this.
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Jul 5

“Franziska Augstein takes a critical look at media muckraking that’s uncovered the Nazi pasts of a new group of leftist intellectuals.” About these most recent “revelations”, an intellectual (one of the few Jewish Holocaust survivors who stayed in Germany after the war) noted that what they really showed was that Germans were still happy to be informers, and it’s hard to see how he doesn’t have a point.
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Jul 5

I really like Melissa Catanese’s “Jungle” and “Garden” series.
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Jul 4

“A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles. It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt… And if we feel their power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the happiest situation in which we can exist. If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.” - Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, June 4, 1798 in The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, p. 1050 (found here)
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Jul 4

Five years ago, I started to compile this blog. I honestly never thought it would develop into what it is now; and since I don’t have a masterplan I don’t know what it will turn into over the next five years. But so far it has been a lot of fun - and a lot of very hard work (with the occasional bouts of quite serious doubt). Of course, without the generosity of the many people who were (and are) happy to contribute - by sending emails with links or comments or by being willing to participate in the conversations - the blog would not be what it is now. My thanks to everybody who contributed!
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Jul 3

Via Pruned come photos of Super-Kamiokande, a gigantic underground neutrino detector. With scientific faith now replacing religious faith in many parts of the world (certain restrictions apply), is it a surprise to see certain images? (Of course, Gursky fans will be familiar Super-K.)
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Jul 3

Check out the photography of Lauro Henno.
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Jul 2

Astrid Korntheuer studies the photography of vegetation. It’s quite interesting how the results, which require a bit more than just a casual glance, have a lot of depth.
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Jul 1

Even though this is already a few weeks old, you might not have heard of it, and it’s quite relevant for a variety of reasons: “Three years ago, Lara Coton took a self-portrait and uploaded the image to deviantart and Flickr. Today, that image is being used as the front cover to a pornography DVD. The only problem is, Coton was 14 when the image was taken and she never gave permission for anyone to use her picture.” (source) You can find Lara’s Flickr page with her post here. Breaking News: Mrs Deane reports it’s a hoax. Sic perdit gloria mundi.
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Jul 1

One of the internet’s inherent features is that you don’t really know who you are dealing with. I could be a teenage school girl, posing as a thirty nine year old research scientists who is very interested in contemporary photography (people who met me in person know that that’s not the case). In reality, though, it is a bit more likely that this posing would happen the other way around, especially if you entered the world of online games or “metaverses”, the most well known appear to be “Second Life”. I personally find these kinds of games not very interesting, and since I already have a life that I’m quite happy with, I don’t really need a second one. What I do find interesting, though, is to see what motivates people who participate in those kinds of online activities, and that’s exactly what Robbie Cooper’s Alter Ego is all about.
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