Archives

September 2008

SELECT A MONTH:

Sep 30

A must-read post by Simon Roberts on editing one’s work.
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Sep 30

Samantha Cohn’s portfolio contains some nice portraiture.
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Sep 30

Berlin, 1948, a now unknown photographer starts to survey Berlin, using a plate camera, eventually compiling 1,500 photographs. Attempts to learn about the identity of the photographer have so far not been successful. You can see a selection of the photos here (the text is in German, but it’s straightforward to look through the images, which, btw, go on display at a Berlin museum later this year).
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Sep 29

“‘The Aesthetics of Terror’, an exhibition scheduled for launch this November at the Chelsea Art Museum has been canceled.” (story)
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Sep 29

Philipp Ebeling’s selection of stories contains a lot of good photography.
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Sep 27

“Avedon never made any pretence to objectivity; the notion of the dispassionate lens he wrote off as delusion. His work, he said, was at least as much about him as his subjects: a vast collective self-portrait of the compulsions he projected on to America’s faces and figures. […] As hip as he mostly was, Avedon was, at root, an old-style Jewish moralist whose texts were written in freckles and furrows, pits and pocks. Sometimes those marks and blemishes, which stood out so sharply in front of the white sheet against which his subjects posed, were lit as poetic expressions of the persona. Avedon took delight in tweaking - or annihilating - the expected icon.” (story)
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Sep 26

—> I’m happy to be able to announce the second Towards a Personal Vision photography workshop, for practicing photographers and advanced students in photography, to be held in Northampton (Massachusetts) from November 7, 2008 until (and incl.) November 9, 2008 by Robert Lyons and myself. Find my interview with Robert here. Further information about the scope of the workshop and about how to sign up etc. can be found on this page or in this (pdf) brochure.
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Sep 26

The clown might be the profession most secretly despised. Children actually hate clowns, research I can back up with what friends have told me (as a kid, I found clowns not so much scary as outright annoying). Siri Hayes’ portraits of clowns add another twist to the whole complex, in that the clowns/actors (or whatever you call a person who plays a clown) the process of getting rid off their makeup, and there’s a (short) interview with Siri Hayes at Zoum Zoum (where I found the work).
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Sep 26

Barbara Hilski’s images are visually complex, even though they are constructed in a fairly simple manner.
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Sep 26

Henryk Gorecki: Symphony No. 3, 2nd movement (“Lento e Largo”)
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Sep 25

“The bloody legacy of the Baader Meinhof Gang which caused mayhem across West Germany with its politically-motivated assassinations, bombings and kidnappings is to be portrayed on cinema screens this week in a new film which claims to debunk the myth of 1970s terrorist chic. Just how raw the darkest chapter in Germany’s postwar history remains has been demonstrated by the angry reaction that the Baader Meinhof Komplex has prompted from victims’ families, the children of gang members and historians.” (story)
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Sep 25

This just in, from Hasted Hunt gallery: Martin Schoeller’s portrait Barack Obama, 11” by 14” archival pigment print, edition of 500, signed and numbered by Martin Schoeller, $250 (plus shipping and handling [$18 in the US]), 100% of the proceeds go to the Obama campaign. 212.627.0006 or info@hastedhunt.com
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Sep 25

“When Jakob Nielsen, a Web researcher, tested 232 people for how they read pages on screens, a curious disposition emerged. […] Nielsen has gauged user habits and screen experiences for years, charting people’s online navigations and aims, using eye-tracking tools to map how vision moves and rests. In this study, he found that people took in hundreds of pages ‘in a pattern that’s very different from what you learned in school.’ It looks like a capital letter F. At the top, users read all the way across, but as they proceed their descent quickens and horizontal sight contracts, with a slowdown around the middle of the page. Near the bottom, eyes move almost vertically, the lower-right corner of the page largely ignored. It happens quickly, too. ‘F for fast,’ Nielsen wrote in a column. ‘That’s how users read your precious content.’” - story
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Sep 25

Cornelia Hediger’s “Doppelgänger” series makes me imagine David Hockney meeting Kelli Connell. Interesting.
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Sep 24

One of the things that people like to ask me is how to get their photography out for people to see. Having a website is a good idea, but then how do you actually make sure there are actual visitors to the site? And how does one go about finding people who will look at one’s work? Obviously, this is quite a complex problem to tackle, and the answers are not simple and straightforward. One competition that I like to tell people about is Critical Mass, which has just opened registration for this year’s round (it’ll be open until 6 October 2008).
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Sep 24

“Gerhard Richter is not a believer. In anything. ‘I believe in nothing’ is the most famous thing he has said, his equivalent of Warhol’s ‘I want to be a machine’ and belief that ‘everybody should be like everybody’. (‘I want to be like everyone else, think what everyone else thinks, do what is being done anyway’: Richter, ‘Notes’, 1964.)” - story
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Sep 24

Some interesting imagery over at Xia Tio’s site.
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Sep 23

I’m not sure I like all of Alexander Binder’s very experimental imagery, but there are some gems. I find Autobahn oddly fascinating.
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Sep 22

When hearing about Reinhard Krause’s Windmills in Eastern Germany, my initial reaction was to wonder what could possibly be interesting about those. Little did I know. Shot a bit Becheresque, Windmills in Eastern Germany contains lots of extremely beautiful images, and I’m quite glad Reinhard did not aim for a pure typology look.
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Sep 22

There are many different ways to create political art. One possibility is to use a photo shoot to take unflattering images (to thus abuse your client-employer relationship, and to then add insult to injury by saying in public that your employer was stupid to hire you in the first place) and to then deface those images in a Photoshop hack job, essentially creating what amounts to the kind of “art” one typically finds on the walls of public bathrooms. Phillip Toledano knew he could do much better than that and decided to do an installation project, called America - The Gift Shop: “If American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell?” For example, Abu Ghraib bobble heads (like the one shown above).
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Sep 19

My favourite Talking Heads song (and I love the… well… “dance” moves). Another real classic, an early version (I usually like their earlier, sparser stuff better):
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Sep 19

“A new sculpture in a southern German town square has tourists snapping pictures and politicians arguing about the role of public art. The work shows Angela Merkel naked, along with other politicians, and the artist is unapologetic. He calls the work his ‘group-sex relief.’” - story
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Sep 19

I like Billie Mandle’s photography of confessional chambers (or whatever those are called) confessionals, even though I would have preferred to get more information on the project instead of a cryptic one liner from the Bible.
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Sep 18

Andreas Ren’s portrayal of sterile public places is right up my alley.
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Sep 18

If you’re like me you probably think you sort of know about enough about the financial market, and you kind of know what’s going on, you think you can maybe explain why bailing out some bank can be a good idea, and, anyway, all your savings are “FDIC insured” anyway. But the details are kind of muddy, and hey, who wants to know all the details anyway? But then, maybe it would help if someone explained what buying out AIG actually means and whether or not we’re in a mess. If you’re interested in that go no further than here (thanks, Richard, for sharing!) and listen (and then, when you’re done, do some breathing exercises to get your pulse back to normal).
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Sep 18

It’s funny, I recently bought the two Philip K. Dick volumes (1, 2) of The Library of America, and I ran into exactly the same problem as this writer: “The books are lovely, lovely objects. They are about the nicest books I have. […] What is really hard, though, is to read them. The books are so gorgeous, so marmoreal, that I find them unreadable. Not unreadable in the Pierre Bourdieu/Edward Bulwer-Lytton sense, and not unreadable in theory – I want to read them, I really do. It’s just that in practice, I don’t. […] What is it about these amazingly gorgeous books that makes one not want to read them?”
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Sep 18

Catherine Balet’s project “Identity” explores how clothes (and “accessories”) are used to define people’s identities.
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Sep 18

“The artist, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state. The great artist is thus a solitary figure. […] In pursuing his perceptions of reality, he must often sail against the currents of his time. This is not a popular role. […] I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth. […] In free society art is not a weapon and it does not belong to the spheres of polemic and ideology. Artists are not engineers of the soul. […] And the nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost’s hired man, the fate of having ‘nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope.’” - President John F. Kennedy, in remarks given at Amherst College, October 26, 1963
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Sep 18

“What is censorship? Censorship is a form of prohibition and punishment. Ever since the 15th century products of the printing press have been subject to censorship and since the 20th century the same has applied to film, radio, television and the Internet. Censorship thus relates to public communication and content in word, image and sound.” - An excellent overview from the Persmuseum in Amsterdam. Many of the examples are from Holland, but that doesn’t take away from a look at censorship from 1600 until today.
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Sep 18

“I am a huge admirer of Damien Hirst. Not of the art, which is rubbish, but of the sheer productivity and exuberance he brings to his life’s work of fleecing rich idiots. ‘Oh Damien, you’re a genius. Screw me over again.’ ‘Why not,’ he says, munching a bacon butty.” - Clive Crook
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Sep 17

While this presentation of photos from North Korea offers nothing new really (in terms of the kinds of imagery it presents), I did, however, learn one thing: I always thought of those cards that people are holding to create large-scale mosaics as pixels. In fact, I was so convinced that there were pixels that I never bother to look more closely at Andreas Gursky’s photos. However, as you can see above (I cut out a small region and blew it up), these cards (or pieces of paper or whatever they are) contain smaller units! So creating those mosaics doesn’t just require someone pixelating some image and then producing uniform cards, it means producing quite a few very specific cards that can only be used in their correct positions. That’s a mind-blowingly absurd effort in a country where most people don’t even have enough to eat!
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Sep 17

Rob Hornstra has been in my list of people to link to ever since I found him on Mrs. Deane’s blog. His work on the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, taken before the recent war in the region, is a welcome reminder of the value of photojournalism.
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Sep 17

Check out Jake Stangel’s “Transamerica” - it’s a bit hit and miss, but there are some gems in it.
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Sep 17

“John Heartfield was a pioneer of modern photomontage. Working in Germany and Czechoslovakia between the two world wars, he developed a unique method of appropriating and reusing photographs to powerful political effect. At a time of great uncertainty, Heartfield’s agitated images forecasted and reflected the chaos Germany experienced in the 1920s and ’30s as it slipped toward social and political catastrophe. In this climate, communists, Nazis, and other partisans clashed in the press, at the ballot box, and on the streets. The impact of Heartfield’s images was so great that they helped transform photomontage into a powerful form of mass communication.” (source) You can find many more images here and here.
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Sep 16

There are many overphotographed places in the world - Transylvania is certainly not one of them. So kudos to Laura Marina for taking us there.
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Sep 15

Dustin Shum just turned his it isnae disney series into the book “Themeless Parks”, which you can buy directly via his website - I own a copy, and you really want to do yourself a favour and get one (it’s only $23 for a hardcover that usually would set you back at least $40 to 50).
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Sep 14

The story: Photographer Jill Greenberg is hired by the magazine The Atlantic to take a portrait of Republican presidential candidate John McCain for the magazine’s October issue. “After getting that shot, Greenberg asked McCain to ‘please come over here’ for one more set-up before the 15-minute shoot was over. There, she had a beauty dish with a modeling light set up. ‘That’s what he thought he was being lit by,’ Greenberg says. ‘But that wasn’t firing.’ What was firing was a strobe positioned below him, which cast the horror movie shadows across his face and on the wall right behind him. ‘He had no idea he was being lit from below,’ Greenberg says. And his handlers didn’t seem to notice it either. ‘I guess they’re not very sophisticated,’ she adds.” (source; let’s keep the “not very sophisticated” in mind!).
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Sep 13

I’m a bit torn about Vincent Fournier’s “Tour Operator”, but “Space Project” I like a lot.
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Sep 13

Lies by The Rolling Stones. Hey, what a catchy tune! And such simple lyrics: “Lies, dripping off your mouth like dirt / Lies, lies in every step you walk / Lies, whispered sweetly in my ear / Lies, how do I get out of here?”
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Sep 12

“…the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats ‘just don’t get it,’ this is the ‘it’ to which they refer.” - Jonathan Haidt (italics as in original text)
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Sep 12

I have been sick for a few days now, so it’s time for something light and groovy.
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Sep 12

For her series “Über den militärischen Raum” [On military space], Joanna Kosowska visited the ruins of German World War II fortifications, amongst them Hitler’s headquarter and submarine bunkers.
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Sep 11

There is a period in your life when you’re not old enough to fully realize what’s going on, so that you’re still reduced to taking it all in, maybe wondering why things are so ajar. I’ve always thought this is a good explanation for the “Eighties” craze that we witnessed a little while ago - most of the people who really enjoyed the re-enactment hadn’t lived through the 1980s (if they had, they would have surely noticed that it was a hideous time). Since I was born in 1968, for me the 1970s are the period where things just kept happening, with me just noticing but not understanding. I remember driving in my dad’s car, listening to Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn” being number one in the US and then walking on those same Autobahns, which were closed down for traffic because oil was too expensive. I thought that all was kind of neat, but then what six-year olds find neat, most adults might not enjoy all that much.
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Sep 11

Found over at Mrs. Deane’s: The photography of Laurent Gueneau.
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Sep 10

These are exciting times for contemporary photography, with vast amounts of new work to be seen, vast numbers of books published, vast numbers of young photographers emerging. Looking back over the past few years, one thing appears to be unchanged, though: Only every so often, one encounters photography that has the ability to stop one in its tracks, that makes everything else disappear for a moment. Those moments are to be cherished, especially since they’re so rare, so unpredictable.
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Sep 10

I just came across a tremendous collection of historical German photography, bpk. Its images can be downloaded for a fee, but you can look at samples for free (those come with a watermark, though). Here’s are some noteworthy sets by various photographers.
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Sep 10

Sebastian Lemm’s website is filled with very conceptual art work, a lot of which works with an overabundance of shapes.
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Sep 9

Chris Schedel’s Coming Home Never Felt So Good shows Midwestern suburban housing subdivisions - before the real-estate bubble burst (which is now transforming many of those areas into America’s newest ghost towns).
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Sep 8

Television famously has been described as a self-referential medium, but it appears that it might be time to move beyond that. TV has now come to create its own actual reality, in what one could call an evolutionary step. And unlike in the case of the American ultra-conservatives’ version of such a newly (“faith based”) reality, this one is truly going to stay with us: the “faith based” reality only exists if you believe in it or, probably more accurately, if you want to believe in it; TV’s new reality exists even if you don’t want to believe it’s true. In this sense, what is called “reality TV” is not some form of TV any longer, it is a symbiosis of reality and TV, and it is not going away if we switch off the TV set.
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Sep 6

I wasn’t going to cover this stuff here, but these two clips are too good not to link to them. So if you missed (“missed”) the convention coverage, here are two one-minute summaries: Democrats, Republicans. And now go and enjoy your weekends!
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Sep 5

There was a moment in the Sally Mann documentary recommended here earlier that I found very striking: After having finished her series “What Remains”, and after having agreed on getting the work shown at some very prestigious New York gallery, Sally Mann is being informed that the gallery decided to cancel the show. Of course, she is very upset about this (who wouldn’t be?); and then while she’s trying to understand what might possibly be the reason, I noticed that one obvious possible explanation is never brought up: Maybe the work simply isn’t that good. She never entertains that idea. I found that striking.
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Sep 5

When you download the pdf from this page the document might look weird at first for those not used to looking at scientific papers. But keep flipping the pages to see some of the art work… I’m aware of the fact that this might be really just a fringe issue for this blog, but I’m sure there are enough people out there who’ll enjoy seeing this stuff.
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Sep 5

Is it Friday again already? - I can’t help it, it’s time for a bit of German electronica here. This one’s To Rococo Rot (I love the visuals).
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Sep 4

A lot of Elmar Haardt’s photography deals with borders and/or with the (old) West meeting the (old) East.
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Sep 4

Jessica Backhaus’ photography is centered on quiet moments.
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Sep 3

What John McCain is now learning the hard way right is that properly vetting the pick for vice president is a very good idea (just as an aside, his pick of an ultra-conservative governor with basically no experience and a whole bunch of scandals despite her young age is extremely amusing). Proper vetting is also a good idea for people who just want to forward an image that supposedly shows Sarah Palin, posing with a gun and an American flag bikini: A two-second Google investigation reveals it’s not real.
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Sep 3

Mary Frey just finished setting up her website, which gives an overview of her work all the way back to 1979. Make sure to look through all the projects since they are very different.
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Sep 3

In an earlier post, I looked into the kinds of problems one can get with “on-demand” book publishing - where you send off your book (actual the electronic version of it) to be printed somewhere else (only to then get it back with strong magenta casts on thin paper, for example). What appears to be somewhat forgotten is that before on-demand publishing existed, photographers published their own books simply (or maybe I should write “simply”) by printing photographs and then by binding the pages into a book (or getting this last bit done by someone with the necessary skill set).
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Sep 2

“An Associated Press photographer and a Democracy Now! TV and radio show host were among those arrested at an anti-war march on the first day of the Republican National Convention. Both were released hours later. […] David Ake, an AP assistant chief of bureau in Washington, said he was concerned by the arrest of Rourke, a Philadelphia-based photographer. ‘Covering news is a constitutionally protected activity, and covering a riot is part of that coverage,’ Ake said. ‘Photographers should not be detained for covering breaking news.’” - story
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Sep 1

You know, this latest Vogue shoot in India, where, for example, “an old woman missing her upper front teeth holds a child in rumpled clothes - who is wearing a Fendi bib (retail price, about $100)” is just the tip of the iceberg called the “fashion” industry. The shoot is basically the logical continuation of a philosophy (big word for something so measly, I know) that will do just about anything to push clothes that basically nobody needs (and the photography is usually as disposable as the “fashion” product, because once it’s shown it already loses its luster, and something new has to be found).
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Sep 1

Mathieu Bernard-Reymond’s series “TV” has just been published. Constructed from photographs and images grabbed from TVs, it shows a sinister world, where it’s not clear what is real and what is not. (updated entry)
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