Sunday, October 31, 2010
Like Kahn, Ventosa uses imagery that was originally recognizable and famous in it's own right, but in Ventosa's case, he chooses objects like landmarks and carousels. He also takes the original images himself rather than appropriating someone else's images. (this one is the niftiest looking one of his, in my opinion)
So their concepts are slightly different, but the outcome? It's almost the same. Another name that came up in my search was Jason Salavon. He did composite images of playboy centerfolds(by decade), homes for sale, and blowjobs, to name a few.
So where do they go from here? The initial idea was cool, take a bunch of images and layer them, then BAM! you get this amorphous-yet-still-identifiable resultant image. Once you've done that a few times, and the bandwagon is headed down the road, how, as artists, will they proceed? At first I thought the images were really interesting, but after doing the research for these posts, I'm already bored by the images resulting from these concepts. Perhaps that's a judgement on my attention-span, but after a while, the "gimmick" of layering becomes exhausted unless a new perspective can be given to it.
When something has "been done", then what do you do? I think it's a question that we, as emerging photographers, have to ask ourselves constantly... and the answer very rarely seems to be very clear.
Today, we look at Idris Kahn's "every..." series
Idris Khan I found while leafing through the reGeneration photography book. Khan takes multiple images and layers them digitally, playing with the opacity. Doing so he hopes to obscure the original meanings inherent in each image/object, while bringing out new ones that arise when the images are combined. The images he uses are travel photos, photos by other photographers, and photos of famous books. He gets inspiration (and nabs images) from Caravaggio, Muybridge, the Betchers, and others.
The following image is Chopin's Nocturnes for the piano:
The somewhat ghostly quality of the layered images is great, I love that stuff. That fact that he is reinterpreting pre-existing things leaves me with mixed feelings. Part of me loves that he's taking something solid, something recognized (and in some cases, revered) and making it more ethereal by showing all aspects of it at once. Part of me wants him to have done it all himself. What I mean by that, is to go and take the photos of the water-towers, or to go and write out the bars of music himself before photographing them all... to take images that he created and layer them, further cementing his appropriation of the object in question. Yes, it's a lot of work to do those things... but this work is all about the concept in the first place, so why should he let the fact that it's extra work keep him from really cinching the deal?
(Part II: Pep Ventosa coming soon!)
Sifting through photographers from books in the library can be fun. Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming... so many names, so many different types of photographs. I recently came across a book called reGeneration, presented by the Aperture Foundation. This book claims that it has found the upcoming and soon-to-be-influential photographers of the next 20 years. How could I resist opening it up and taking a look?
The photos above are by Mauren Brodbeck, a woman born in Switzerland who went to the Art Center of College Design here in the US, and the Vancouver Film School in Canada. The blurb in the book about her is as follows:
"[She] examines the built spaces that are created inside cities by photographing buildings that are considered ordinary parts of the urban landscape... objects that are both present and absent, neutral masses that occupy space, but never attract the attention of passers-by. By pointing her camera at structures that could be called insignificant, she transforms them into sculptures with a powerful visual technique that she has developed, using blocks of monochrome color that are sometimes present in situ and sometimes created afterwards by blocking out the buildings. Mauren Brodbeck believes that the medium of photography has a part to play in renewing the way that we look at the often banal-seeming world around us."(44)
My first reaction after both seeing the images and reading the blurb is: "Whaaa?"
First, I have to point out, Brodbeck didn't develop the technique of masking. That's been around for QUITE some time in other mediums. It's even been used in photography. Second, making a 3-d object appear flat, featureless, and all one color does not turn it into a sculpture. It turns it into a flat, featureless color swatch.
But the thing that sticks out to me MOST about these photos is this:
Brodbeck takes boring photos of boring things. The angles of the photos, the subject of the photos... they're all pretty boring (and this is coming from someone who *loves* architecture). Then, she takes these boring photographs, picks what sometimes seems like an arbitrary object in it, and paints a solid color on it... usually in some sort of digital medium (EG Photoshop). She doesn't use the mask to create anything fanciful, or use the boring photos to sneak in something that the viewer might miss (like people making funny faces peeking out from windows that are so far away they're almost obscured)... or, I don't even know... just... anything that is interesting. No. Just a mask of color. How does this make a "banal-seeming world" seem any less banal?
Bleh. This is what photography is going to be in 20 years? I'll be the weirdo with photos of me in an aluminum foil cap fending off pasteboard aliens with a spatula. At least that'll give people something to laugh at, and won't bore them to death, even if it won't get my name in a book of "influential photographers."
Holger Pooten is a photographer that does art photography as well as commercial work and both are quite interesting. His work has a kind of dark humor to it, somewhat disturbing in some of the images. The color photos have beautiful rich colors and really good use of studio lighting as well. His use of lighting creates great shadows to many of the photos he has done.
Friday, October 29, 2010
In my research for the tableau project I was looking at various photographers that do work in this style. I was very impressed by much of the work done by Arthur Tress. His work is quite intriguing and some of the photos are set in a surreal kind of environment which really gives the pieces an edge. The scenes seem to create a mood that can lead the viewer into another world. The photos are visually striking and compositionally very well done as one would expect from an artist of this caliber.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
I stumbled across a photographer in last weeks New York Times. His name is Vik Muniz and he grew up in a dictatorship in Brazil. He now lives and works in New York. His work covers a lot of ground, and works in many different ways. The piece in the times talks about his series "Pictures of Garbage". In these, he went to a landfill in Brazil and hired "catadores" (informal work force) to sort through trash to make his images. They come out strangely familiar, as he remakes classic images. He combines sculpture, drawing and photography in these pieces. In the top photo, he remakes Death of Marat by David. He draws himself in and places himself amid the trash of the landfill. The second photo is from his series "Sugar Children". He went to a sugar plantation and photographed children of the workers. He took the poloroids and then "drew" the children with the sugars he had brought home. The final pieces are photographs of these drawings. The trash series engages viewers in a discussion about our overfilled landfills in Brazil, and around the world. He also is making commentary about the lowly workers of Brazil and their station in that world. I thought at first that he was taking advantage, but he paid them due wages and also gave to a charity that helps these workers.
Monday, October 25, 2010
So last year when I was in Berlin I found this gallery called the 'Abnormals Gallery' and the had these video installation down in their basement of this photographers work and I thought it was interesting and it didn't do much beyond that. Yesterday I received an email from the about that same artist and this time he is having an exhibition of his still photographs.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Following Libby's advice, I went to the library while waiting for the appropriate time to go home and buried myself in the photo books located there. One of the photographers that I saw was Michael Wolf's book titled "Transparent City." These images are meticulously taken, and focus on one aspect or another of incredibly HUGE buildings in Hong Kong (as well as some in Chicago, I believe). They completely remove the horizon line, eliminating earth and sky so that the viewer is confronted with the near-overwhelming monumental feel of the buildings he shoots. Throughout the book, Wolf pulls us back from the incredible encompassing images and presents the viewer with details that can be found throughout the images... private settings that can be seen through the high-rise windows of impersonal architecture.
The buildings shown have no perspective distortion and are shown as flat planes, most likely captured by a view camera. The multitudinous small windows have a very inhuman, mechanical feel to them, and it is easy to feel lost in the sea of them...but the juxtaposition of the close-ups makes the viewer feel that sort of brain warping that comes from trying to gain mental perspective in such an environment. You have the opportunity to see people without their mental "masks" up, as they do not always realize they are being observed, and the personal touches throughout the architecturally imposed sameness helps to foster a sense of the city being a grand stage, each tiny box an entire world unto itself.
Upon initial glance, I was almost bored by these images. pictures of high-rise buildings have been done before, and they all begin to look very similar, regardless of crispness of image. What made me really stop and check out the book from the library for a closer inspection and read was the addition of the more intimate images. One set without the other would be an incomplete piece, Wolf's concept requires both to be present to really give the viewer the intended perspective. I have no complaint on craftsmanship here, they're impeccably printed, and even when he uses come extreme close-ups that are very pixellated, they only serve to emphasize the idea that humanity exists behind the anonymity.
Andrea Modica’s work entitled Still Life is a very interesting work in that it plays on the word still life that we normally would think of in art. Some of the photographs are leaning to the sick or slightly disturbing. It is a small amount of images but I feel it does work well as an exhibit.
The photos are not titled but the first image I am posting is of what appears to be a tiny baby in a jar and does seem to give you a response when you see it and possibly not a good one or a warm and fuzzy one I should say.
As for composition I think all of the photos are an excellent choice of position of object, lighting and, the images chosen. I particularly love the lighting in the second image of the eggs in the bowl the reflection on the mirror and the way the shadows create different lines is quite striking.
In her work entitled Fountain the lighting she is using and the images work well together to really set a mood for the photos. This series has quite a few very striking photos. Her manipulation of the lighting to create leading lines is very effective in drawing the viewer into the work particularly in the one of the back of a nude where the light really draws your eye to the focus of the photo as well as creates its own focal point.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The piece above, “Couples Therapy”, appears at once humorous and just a little macabre.The bright colors she uses attract viewers and beg for a closer look. But after further investigation the image lays bare the seemingly complex nature of couple relationships.
The next piece, “Choice”, also conveys a simple truth for what sometimes appears to be complicated situations for many people. Many times in life we are faced with what we feel are difficult choices, but at the core of each alternative, we find the essence of what each option represents.
The themes that Grace Weston addresses are universal. They may or may not be subjects that she has experienced herself, but are no doubt topics that many people will understand immediately and relate to. Her art imparts a sense of understanding that I think many people will find reassuring. While it is very easy to interpret, there is still room for the viewer to bring their own history to the work and fill in the gaps.
It's always really nice to see a photographer who throws something new into the mix of the traditional, but I only wish I had found this guy before we started our self-portrait assignment. Kyung Woo Chun uses extremely slow shutter speeds to capture his subjects in portrait. The effect gives way to something that all humans have in common, something that is not often portrayed in portraiture and that is the transient quality of life and the inevitable end of each of our existences. This is a theme that I am very much interested in and it was quite enjoyable to witness it employed in someone else's work. Each photo illustrates a subject who has a ghostly appearance as if they are just out of the reach of those of us existing in this world. The subjects seem to exist just beyond a veil, as if they are nothing but a vague memory. There is often just a hint of color, a streak of red, a blur of green, which aid to the feeling of hollowness that I sense in Chun's work.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
This weekend at the SPESC Conference in Arkansas we saw a number of people give presentations on their recent works. One of these individuals was Christopher Jordan (a faculty member of the University of Alabama), who was discussing his most recent endeavor: "Suburban Sublime."
His talk about the work was well thought out, and the way he was able to describe all the different thoughts and concepts that went into the work in a coherent way really impressed me. I understand the difficulty intelligent description presents when you have a number of disparate things that are coming together in one work, and his ability to do so was refreshing.
The ephemeral, near-abstract, qualities of this body of work are produced by "rephotographing" images of suburban structures and situations. Jordan takes a photo of the building or other object, and then projects or prints the image onto translucent or transparent papers and other light-emitting or distorting objects. By manipulating those objects, he creates the effect or distortion desired, and then takes another photograph of this final combination. Many of his influences for this work come from the Pictorialist school of imagery, as well as various artists that have looked to express various states of spirituality and enlightenment through art.
I personally dislike the cookie-cutter, monotonous, and all around just plain unimaginative qualities of suburbia; qualities which have been pointed out and illustrated by photographers a great deal in recent years. Jordan has, on the other hand, taken this work and shown us an imaginative, haunting, and unique perspective on the suburban landscape. I loved hearing about all of the lengths that he went to in creating these works, to get just the right effect, and I am utterly enchanted by the final product of his endeavors. Through both the description and outcome of this body of work, as well as my own investigations on his previous works, Christopher Jordan has definitely landed my list of photographers to watch.
Libby... these are totally yummy! (btw, the name of his work at the top of this entry is the link to his website. Check it out!)
(The image on the left is one of many that were shown at the gallery. You can't really take pictures there, so the image I talked about isn't shown, I just happened to find this on Klint's Flicker page.)
I visited SAMA a second time in a week, this time to see the Klint brother’s exhibition. I practically went and saw Gerardo Montiel Klint. It was the one with a lady sitting on a stool at a table, half of her glass of water filled, with a set of pills on the table labeled Prozac 20 Dispersible. She is reading a book named “Himnos a la noche”. Anthem of the night is a loose translation of the name. The setting has an interesting angle (perspective) due to the house and the hallway. We also have in the photo four small light sources throughout the image that are red and a fifth that looks to just be hitting the figure. What is the meaning behind it? Does it related to all the other elements being shown with the figure? What is the story being told? This image certainly keeps you asking questions, and leaves you wanting answers that you yourself may have to just try to answer. I just see it see a story with all of them that shows a certain type of fear that women had to face with. With the way the figure has been staged it does remind me of the conversation we had in class about theatrical settings. Does it help the artist convey his thought over to the viewer? It may in fact just be a little bit to stage for me, but the photo just might be showing and presenting how these women are being frozen and stuck at the moment of their thoughts. The over all, the print quality of the image looks really nice, and the idea for this image came across wonderfully with the use of all the colors, that work together quite nicely.
The Akrotiri Project
This was being shown at Trinity University, and I have to say a few things, unlike UTSA’s gallery when I walked I looked at a few images I noticed they were only pinned with numbers on them, no titles? I didn’t know what the name of the pieces was, or what the whole collection of works was even about. There wasn’t a handout with a preface and I was only able to figure out the names of the pieces when I asked the girl at the front desk. She had the names on this list of two pages inside this notebook. So I had to awkwardly carry her book to read the names of the pieces. So that kind of gave me a different opinion about the photos even before I viewed them.
The first one I saw was on the right side of the wall nearest to the window it was called “The Royal Road, Knossos, Crete.” The image has signs of photo tinkering within it, it actually a lot of the photos in this collection had it. This particular image was combining a visual landscape with a stone pathway in the middle. It had trees growing on either side surrounding/ bordering the image and in the middle there is a little cut within the trees and you are able to see a wired fence and a telephone pole…I don’t think the was supposed to be intentional, it looks like the artist tried to cover it up as well, with the photo edited image that was layered above it. It was to me something like a stylized image of a wall painting with a figure of a man wearing an elaborated headdress and surrounded with what seemed to be some sort of exotic flower. All together the composition of this piece was a bit lacking. I personally feel that the photo shopped man was a bit too big and blurry for the landscape, and the way he was cropped into the image seemed to be halfhearted. It was just more apparent to me that there wasn’t much thought put into the shoot unlike the ones I just saw at UTSA with “China Today”.
Most feel like they don't make good use of lighting and others just don’t make sense when she was using the transparency part of layering two images together. I don’t want to be mean , but I just didn’t have any connection to this photographers images, and I was unable to figure out what she was trying to convey with them.
Today’s China World Tour
China Photographs Association
So today I went to also go see the “Today’s China” photographs. I was the only one there at the time, but after I walked in I guess it let other people have an excuse to follow and the room became one with two to one with five. When you first walk into the room though, you get a handout with the preface about the exhibition and as well as one with the list of all the titles of the images within the gallery. I’m mentioning this because in my next entry with Trinity I want to point out some differences of galleries. My professor from Mesoamerica class mention that the location and surroundings the artwork is placed for the viewer is just as important when it comes to reading the piece as a whole.
Some images I saw when looking through the gallery were first “Mount Taishan.” It had an interesting angle from the photo. You could see how slanted and rounded the stone wall/hill was. It was very captivating to know that the lettering which is written on this stone was written from top to bottom and it looks perfectly straight and all of them all equal sizes. Image how hard it must have been to get them to be like that! In the background you can see the stone stair case and within the image it makes a very interesting composition element because it is bit slanted and angled in the corner of the photo.
“Mount Huangshan” is an image of this giant mountain, that shows the process of nature creating such an elaborated and stunning work of art that is awe aspiring. The photo not only shows the grandeur of the mountain but weaves it together with this huge towering case of clouds in its background. You don’t even notice its clouds at first! I thought it was the white of the photo paper. A funny note in this is that if you look closely you can see houses, people, and even the stone stairway across the left middle side of the photo. There is many great elements in this shot itself, with the hidden Easter eggs with the people on the mountain and the use of taking the image in an appealing angle/view that makes you really tilt your head when you view it.
All the images present china as the wonderfully historic place of culture and colorful ritual that it is. I don't think I ever knew how pretty landscapes can be until looking at these photos. I wouldn't mind even having a print of one of these within my home. They give off such a peaceful presence. It really does remind me that there's much more to see in this life and it give me another good reason to make myself travel to go and see such places for myself. A photo can only do so much for you.
Monday, October 4, 2010
I saw these images and was absolutely blown away at how beautiful they were. I read a little further and apparently he actually prints on a transparent velum and then applies the gold leaf to the back of the print. I think the thing that I am most impressed with is the fact that the print process doesn't 100% make the prints, even if the images were printed as silver gelatin they would still be good images. The gold leaf adds such a quality though that the images take on a whole new dementionality and just utter richness. It feels like the printing process of royality and the Vatican, I could seriously see this style on the walls of Vatican City.