February 2005 Archives
February 28, 2005
Photos by Tim and Laurel Casper
My brother and his family spotted this tree in the high desert country of Oregon last week. No explanation. Something about altitude and art?
Photojournalist Jerome Brunet has created a portfolio of images taken in December 2004, throughout Bangkok and Phuket Thailand, ten days before the tsunami hit the shores of South-East Asia. He is selling signed silver-gelatin prints via his web site, with 90 percent of the proceeds going to the Unicef Relief Fund.
February 18, 2005
Kitchen Wall, Alabama, 1936, Walker Evans
While looking at Michael Wolf's photos of back alleys in Hong Kong (one is shown below), I was reminded of this image by Walker Evans. In many ways they seem to have the same sensibility. Depicting the neatness, thriftiness and ingenuity of people living simply, and making the most of their environment. Yet neither of the photos is sentimental -- they are just artful in the way they document what the photographer found worthy to record.
February 17, 2005
Copyright 2004, Michael Wolf, from "Hong Kong: The Front Door/The Back Door"
This week, Michael Wolf was awarded a World Press Photo first prize for a photo series he made for Stern Magazine called China: Factory for the World. He was kind enough to talk with me about the award winning work, as well as the Architecture of Density photos featured in Lens Culture. Our very interesting conversation ranged almost 2 hours and covered a lot of ground. The first installment of our interview is about 11-1/2 minutes. You can listen to it here. (I've got to get better at editing audio recordings -- sorry for the thumping sounds and for the sudden transitions from one topic to the next). Check back later for other excerpts from the interview.
The photo above is part of his companion series of photos intended to accompany the Architecture of Density photographs. Wolf has this to say about these "back door" photos:
"Most Hong Kong people do not have enough private space for their needs, therefore public space becomes private space. Private acts happen in public places: laundry, even vegetables are dried on fences surrounding the housing estates, house plants are raised in back alleys, shoes are jammed under outside water pipes because there is no space inside for them, washed gloves are hung to dry on barbed wire. If there is no more space inside, something must go out: mops, shovels, pots and pans are hung on hooks on the walls outside of apartments. In order to survive in this dense environment, one must be able to adapt. In comparison to the ordered and well planned european cities, Hong Kong is almost like a plant - it grows organically, making space for itself wherever possible. The face of a newly built public housing estate is a blank slate - several years later its facade reflects the ingeneuity and improvisational talents of its inhabitants.
"Through my photographs I am exploring the adaptations to this lack of private space and inviting you to reflect upon what these improvisations reveal about the character of the inhabitants of Hong Kong."
"Hong Kong: The Front Door/The Back Door" will be published by Thames and Hudson in 2005. You can see lots more of Wolf's work at his website.
February 16, 2005
BAGnewsNotes (www.bagnewsnotes.com), one of the more popular political/media blogs in the 'sphere, provides intelligent, opinionated analysis and critique of current news photos. You might want to check it out.
February 7, 2005
John Szarkowski, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Saturday February 5, 2005
Bleary eyed, after a couple days of posting this most recent incarnation of lensculture, I made a mad-dash pilgrimage to SFMOMA to attend a lecture about the "photography" of John Szarkowski, and to hopefully get a chance to meet this man himself who has perhaps had the single-most impact on the acceptance, appreciation and direction of photography in the 20th century. I got my wish. He told me that after a lifetime (so far) of looking at photographs he still gets excited by looking at a great photograph, "but there are a lot of less-than-great photographs..." I asked if I could take his picture. He said, "Here? Now?" I said, "You are here now, and I have a camera." "Well, if this is the place, go ahead." I was nervous, so I arranged myself perhaps too quickly and took two exposures and stopped. He chided me, "Oh. So you're one of those modern photographers who thinks he captured it in one or two frames!" Then, with his permission, I took several more. The photo above, though blurry, captures his playful mood, and is the second frame I exposed. Fun.
See some of Szarkowski's photos here.
Now, these new contributors to lensculture...I am absolutely knocked out by the photograph by Tomas van Houtryve on the home page, the one of the twins suckling at their mother's breasts, the babys' hands, the light, the timeless sad story played out and caught on film just a month or two ago... Jeff Cowen's wild collages, with Sophie taking a picture of us with a polaroid wrapped in plastic while she grabs her crotch with the same hand that holds the camera... Michael Wolf's high-rise balconies with hints of the many many inner-lives within... Victor Blue's soulful descriptions (in photos and words) of Guatemalan's finally finding the remains of their long lost loved ones. Jay Morrison's poetic photoblog entries. Adam K's strangers posing with hands in front of their faces! What a complete joy it is to have encountered these people with their visions, their reporting, their unique responses to things that are happening (or still) in this rapidly changing world. My thanks and gratefulness to everyone who has contributed to this shared territory so far. Cheers!