September 2008 Archives
September 24, 2008
"Patrick Fenech’s photography is a fertile document of all the aspects of celebratory activity spurred by religion on the Maltese islands. The spectacular colour and visual impact of the Catherine wheels produced by the thirty-six fireworks factories active on the small islands, belie the complex social and religious network in most of Malta’s towns and villages that occasionally escalates into pique between supporters of the various saints and precipitates into riot, sometimes even leading to bloodshed during the actual celebrations."
— artist and curator Vince Briffa, Malta
Read the whole story, and see more photos here at Lens Culture.
September 18, 2008
The mind-numbing precision of mass visual displays as shown in this recent photo of spectators at a public sporting event in North Korea is even more astonishing when you notice that each person's placard is completely unique for the seat they are occupying. The squares of color they are holding up are each made up of smaller pixel areas of differing colors! If someone felt the least bit anarchic, say, and switched signs with the guy in the next seat, the visual illusion would be compromised. Talk about control!
Image is king in one of the most repressed countries in the world.
The caption to the photo above, as shown on Boston.com is:
Young Koreans hold up colored display cards to form a background image for a performance of North Korea's Mass Games on September 12, 2008. The Mass Games are designed to entertain or celebrate holidays, and place emphasis on group dynamics rather than individual prowess. This particular show's name is "Prosper the Motherland!", dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, celebrated on September 9th. (© Eric Lafforgue)
Thanks to Conscientious for providing this bit of insight today.
And here's a look at how the massive coordination effort happens: Short video clip excerpted from "A State of Mind", an documentary about the lives of several Mass Games gymnists within North Korea.
September 16, 2008
The blog Subjectify provides consistently interesting and thought-provoking photos and links, accompanied by personal commentary about contemporary portraiture. I first discovered it when I read the serialized interview with Jessie Mann, the famously-photographed daughter of Sally Mann, as she mused and conversed about the nature of portraiture and identity.
Subjectify also has a knack for finding photo echoes, and likes to explore the similarities of form and composition of photographs made by different photographers and other artists. One posting from mid-summer found a likeness between a scene from the latest Batman movie and an iconic image from Diane Arbus. The similarity is there for sure, but I don't think I would have ever discovered it on my own.
In addition to finding such quirky photo echoes, Subjectify often provides equally arcane asides in the commentary. For instance, we are informed that the Arbus photo above is one of few photographs to have its own Wikipedia page.
I recommend a visit to the blog, but be sure you have an hour or more, because it is difficult to stop trolling through the content.
September 15, 2008
Photographer Kurt Tong interweaves family photos from his childhood in Hong Kong with recent photos he has taken to document some of the many People's Parks that were built (or renamed) in the late 1950s at the beginning of "The Great Leap Forward" in China. In the text which accompanies the photo series, Tong relates these dilapidated public recreational areas to the vanishing memories (personal and public) of Communist-dominated China.
Tong is also one of the 3 winners of the Lens Culture - Rhubarb 2008 Photobook Awards. He's currently designing his new book.
September 13, 2008
With this series of photos called Markings, photographer Jim Vecchi gives us a fresh take on “street” photography. Well, more accurately, these are photos of sidewalks and driveways in older neighborhoods in California, where people seem to take pride in personalizing their walkways with quirky cement patterns and mid-century colors. See the whole collection, and read more...
September 12, 2008
It seems wonderful and ironic that a photographer who uses antiquated tools and techniques to produce her breath-taking work won the top honors in a digital photobook contest.
We were thrilled to learn that Beth Dow received the $25,000 grand prize as the winner of the first-ever Photography Book Now contest, for her work In the Garden. A great selection of Dow's work was featured in Lens Culture last May.
The judges voted her work the best of over 2,000 submissions they received. All of the finalists’ entries can be viewed at this website.
September 11, 2008
The ever-popular Brian Ulrich had some interesting things to say recently about his ongoing series of photographs of people in big retail environments. The interview by Alison Whittington can be found at the website Lost at E Minor.
Here are a couple of choice quotes from Ulrich:
"I simply had to figure out a way to make a picture of [shoppers] that not only captured that psychological consumer moment (the Germans call it Konsumieren Rausch or Consumer Intoxication) but photographs that acted as portraits of specific people whom when looked at in a picture one might know or empathize with."
"The American Girl store in Chicago has teams of employees whose sole job is to fill any gap left by a purchased good. So if someone takes something off the shelf an employee radios to the back and another employee runs out to fill the vacant shelf so it never appears that they are sold out of anything. I spent about 4 hours photographing in that store and I almost had a nervous breakdown."
You can see 24 other photos from Ulrich's mind-crunching Copia series here at Lens Culture.
Also, be sure to check out Brian's personal website/blog, Not If But When, which is always interesting.
Thanks to Sean Smith for the tip about this interview!
September 8, 2008
Lens Culture's Buddha Project is now displaying more than 500 unique images of Buddha contributed from photographers all over the world. The collection of Buddha sightings — public and private — is growing daily. Send your photo, and maybe earn some good karma at the same time!
September 5, 2008
From the series Modifications © Curtis Mann
Curtis Mann's photo-based art is buzzing around the internet these days, and also creating a stir at his solo exhibition in Belgium right now.
Here's a great introduction to his work, thanks to Karsten Lund at the Museum of Contemporary Photography:
For the series Modifications Curtis Mann appropriates and refashions anonymous snapshots that were taken in countries like Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq—places where violent conflicts are deeply rooted and often seem impossible to resolve. Mann states, "I question what I've learned about these places and I realize I usually have to erase most of that knowledge and begin again—more open-minded, more curious, and more hopeful than before." As he submits the found images to substantial physical alterations Mann effectively filters them through a new visual vocabulary, opening them up for himself—and for viewers—to engage in a new search for meaning.
After collecting photographs from photo-sharing websites, estate sales, and online auctions, Mann enlarges them and paints certain parts of the photographs with a clear varnish. When he submerges these prints in household bleach, the varnished areas resist the bleach while the untreated portions of the image are washed away. As a result, large sections of each photograph are replaced by a bright white void, while at its edges gradients of red and yellow bear faint traces of the original image. The varnished areas depict clusters of people, fragments of buildings, or solitary trees, fully visible but isolated in these otherworldly landscapes. These modifications accentuate particular details in the original photographs, hinting at their potential significance.
One of Mann's hopes for this series is to invite new considerations of the effects of large-scale violence, but just as importantly he guides us towards a tangible engagement with the photographic image itself. At stake is our very experience of the medium and our sense of its vulnerabilities. In each of these photographs Mann engages in a complex negotiation between creation and destruction, and between document and fiction. As the bleach strips the picture away Mann probes the limits of photographic credibility. Everything that remains legible takes on a new charge or a metaphorical weight. In his hands the photograph is a malleable thing, providing a gentle reminder that digital imaging might not be such a new world after all.
-Karsten Lund, Research Fellow, Museum of Contemporary Photography
Special thanks to Peg Amison for nudging me about this work again.
September 4, 2008
In this 15-minute video just released by the TED Conferences in Monterey, California, the photo director for National Geographic, David Griffin, talks about the power of photography to go beyond the usual, to connect us to scattered parts of our world. In a talk filled with spectacular images of nature, he demonstrates how using photos helps to tell stories that would never have the same impact with words alone.
Thanks to Filippo Dellosso for this link.
September 3, 2008
"Of all the 'Now & Then' photographic projects (places taken from postcards, families twenty years after, daily self-portraits, etc.), Automotive Monogamy by Matteo Ferrari is definitely among those that strikes me most: it is made of diptychs showing old cars with their owners next to them, re-enacting the same pose of a picture of many years before. While almost everything around them changed. . . their jewel car is always the same, defying time, shining now even more than before."
— From the always interesting bi-lingual (Italian-English) Hippolyte Bayard blog about photography.
I discovered this photo series, while reading a great interview with Joni Sternbach about her alternative-process photography. You can find Joni's wet-plate collodion portraits of surfers in Lens Culture.
September 2, 2008
"What is the invisible age? To a large extent it’s a phenomenon of our society, which sees and values younger women for their beauty and energy. Our society also sees and values older women for their wisdom and character. But, in the eyes of this same society, the 50ish to 65ish woman is of little value and practically invisible."
The Invisible Age is a traveling exhibit curated by Jan Potts and Beth Kientzle. The self-portraits of the 31 women photographers express how it feels to be at the "invisible" age for women in America — between 50 and 65.
Read more here at Lens Culture, and see 34 sample images from the excellent exhibition.