The Twitter feed was added in October 2022, 4 years in, and halfway through the course. It is largely for my own benefit, an easy repository for any useful links with occasional postings.
This blog tracks the activities and progress of my BA in Photography with OCA. It started in 2018 with Expressing your vision, then Context and narrative, Identity & place in 2020-21 and now Landscape, Place & Environment.
I will not be starting LP&E for a few months yet, but I am setting up the web pages for the elements I have documentation for and beginning to think about the assignments in the Melting Pot.
I have a few subjects rattling around my head, so here's a note -
1. Plants in front of architecture:
Flower boxes Barbican;
Choose the piece and then circle to find foliage
2 Sublime - that bridge, tho not a term I associate with imagery
3. Warcraft but probably hold for DIC
4. Spectator food reviews
5. Infrared experiments
[10Aug] Sublime - Not visual - conceptual, eye of a swan
Another Roadside Attraction
[15Aug] Replay - can visuals be sublime? can photographs of visuals artefacts? They can trigger emotions, examples in my case the Miners' Strike, Murtha's New Found Out, that drowned child refugee on the beach. But can any photograph be or convey sublimity / sublimation?
[17Sep] Gasholders, Stations (of the Cross).
I have applied for LPE but not actually received confirmation yet. I&P is going in for November Assessment with a deadline of 30th September. I noted in the throes of assessment,
• monitor all work for potential Assessment LO submission
• Analyse at least one photograph deeply per unit. Analysis technique defined at end of early IP asg feedback - elsewhere? yes here. Use this as grist for FinAss
Brought forward from the I&P Blog.
I'm finalising the I&P submission and winding down the I&P website component, so here's the annual checklist.
[spellchecked to here]
I have toyed with this question since the outset. I started a page on it during C&N and added a gnomic note during I&P (10Jan21),
Delacroix and Salkeld A done deal through venal galleries but Coleman offers a fascinating insight and quote extensively is it art?, C&N
I have not added to it since and will have to refind the Coleman quote.
My conclusion to that point rested on Salkeld's, — if photographs are displayed in institutional galleries and sold in commercial galleries and auction houses, then they are de facto art and any intellectual tugs-of-war are moot.
There is another point to be made though and this arrived with a reading of Douglas Crimp's 1981 essay published in Bolton (1992, pp.3-12), see link.
A precondition for photography to become gallery art is that some of the photographers themselves become known, named artists and that is what Szarkowski was working towards at MoMA.
Development will continue on a new page.
Postmodernism is mentioned in some of the course Readings, so let us state a definition. Modernism too. My source is Gilles Mora's Photo SPEAK (1998) which is a much better book than I expected.
Modernism — is all about straightforward representation. It begins at the end of painterly Pictorialism and about at the end of WW1. It is the beginning of Straight photography, Stieglitz's Photo-Secession and with the F/64 group briefly forming an extremist wing. It lasts through WW2 and probably ends with Robert Frank's The Americans in 1958.
In the meantime, the avant-garde advanced, developed and broadened while Modernism ran out of puff.
Postmodernism — existed to subvert art orthodoxy, exemplars being Sherrie Lavine's copies and Richard Prince's appropriations. Cindy Sherman and Barbara Kruger were also in the vanguard.
PM was sucked into the money machine of venal gallerists and auctioneers and became the new orthodoxy, the same four examples for this phase - Lavine, Prince, Sherman and Kruger will do nicely.
then Post Photography
The photography streams of M and PM were only an afterthought of the main thrust of the movements which affected art as a whole. That is my impressionist view of theoretical developments, arising from my readings so far.
For a more rigorous, academic view, Bull's Photography (2010) often makes a good starting point and this is certainly the case here. I will continue on another page.
Mora, G. (1998) Photo SPEAK. NY: Abbeville Press.
There's a lot going on at the moment, although I've not officially started the course
The Students' Soc is running a series on diversity, outsourced to Diversity and Ability. The first was this week, entitled Diversity & Inclusion. Here's a link. I'll include a few slides and comments below and open a page on the matter.
The content was largely sensible. On disabilities, three models were described, Medical, Social and Celebratory and the Medical criticised for putting down and marginalising those affected. As one of those affected, my view is that the three approaches are not as mutually exclusive as the presentation suggested — many disabilities are just that and changing the terminology does not alter reality. I do not walk or speak or think as well as I used to. That said, it is, of course, wrong to penalise those with problems (and struggling to climb stairs IS a problem) … problems in some areas by not allowing them to function in other areas where they are quite capable. I welcome medical interventions that ameliorate my problems and celebrations are to be welcomed.
The other area covered was bias. The distinction between unconscious and implicit bias was not well explained. We all have them and we should all be aware of them and try to minimise any adverse effects they cause.
In his memorable The Ongoing Moment † Geoff Dyer wrote,
A photo about Diane. Arbus by William Gedney; a photo about Dorothea Lange by Elliott Erwitt … The British critic Gilbert Adair has written that, 'at least for the general public', the peculiar representational standing of photography boils down to this 'question of the pecking order of by and about: London Fields is a novel by Martin Amis about the London of the 1990s; whereas a snapshot of the Queen Mother is first and foremost about the Queen Mother and only secondarily by Cecil Beaton.' Since I find it as difficult to generate interest in a picture about the Queen Mother as I do in a photograph by Beaton I'd prefer to take a different example.*
* It might have been neater if Adair himself had taken a different example: the 1974 picture about mod and moody Martin Amis by Bill Brandt, say. Geoff Dyer, The Ongoing Moment, p.63
That is largely true, and it generated two thoughts:
1 Both Adair and Dyer miss a nuance in the distinction between photographs of and photographs about. This was noted in a rambling comment in the About section. The of—about dimension maps approximately to Szarkowski's Mirrors and Windows, where photographs on the reflective side of the spectrum become increasingly centred on the photographer behind the lens rather than the ostensible object before it. Perhaps there is some three-dimensional model that would allow of, about and by to be plotted.
2 It is the of (more strongly than the about and decidedly not the by) that triggers the punctum - the subject, what is represented by the image, resonates with an individual viewer. While it is undoubtedly the case that some photographers quiver more punctums than others (Don McCullin springs to mind), I cannot think of any punctumial circumstance in which the by is more significant than the of.
My standard list of affecting photographs from C&N all bear this out -
Nick Ut, Villagers Fleeing a Napalm Strike, 1972
Eddie Adams, General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyen Van Lem, on a Saigon street, 1968.
Jeff Widener (AP), Tank Man, Tiananmen Square, 1989
Richard Drew (AP), Falling Man, September 11, 2001
to which must be added
Nilüfer Demir's 2015 photograph of the drowned three-year-old Alan Kurdi
You (or I, at least) have to look up most of the names but I can never forget the images.
Amis's novel must be about. In truth, painted portraits must also be about their subjects, they are impressions and cannot be of. Photography is the only medium that can truly be of and that is its greatest strengths even if photographic portraits can at best be superficial. Get a quote, probably Jay.
There is probably some relationship between the malleability of the object and the potential superficiality of the outcome: at one end of the spectrum is the human ready for their close-up, towards the other end is a bridge (but there are other factors to be interpreted, weather, surroundings) close to the of end is a single subject still life but the photographer still chooses the background and lighting. Nevertheless, the are still ofs in a way a painting can never be.
I have the Adair book now. There's a very long quote here (pp. 35-6), and the full paragraph is below.
By its very essence, then, the photographer's relationship to the objective world will always be far less mediated, far less transparent in representational terms, than that enjoyed by virtually any other type of artist. Or, to simplify, it is at least for the general public a question of the pecking order of by and about: London Fields is a novel by Martin Amis about the London of the nineteen-nineties; whereas a snapshot of the Queen Mother is first and foremost about the Queen Mother and only secondarily by Cecil Beaton. Adair, G. (1992) The Post Modernist Always Rings Twice, p.36
† I pretty much dismissed it as a book of lists in an early appraisal. I was young (early 60s) , I was wrong, I will correct that in due course.
Adair, G. (1992) The Post Modernist Always Rings Twice. London: Fourth Estate
Dyer, G. (2005) The ongoing moment. London: Little, Brown.
Out of action for a fortnight with a tummy bug that turned into a further week in hospital with salmonella and sepsis. That battle is won, but I'm still there for now and should be out by the end of the week.
I'll be as weak as a kitten, but my enthusiasm is beginning to return. No new course invoice from OCA yet, but I’ll chase that up and get on with things.
Chaseup sent 19th Oct.
Paid 25th Oct.
Finally escaped hospital on 26th after 12 days.
Today's PetaPixel has a great piece by Matt Williams, How the Kodak Brownie Changed Privacy Rights Forever. This tells how Kodak's increasingly accessible products and ultimately the $1.25 No 0 Brownie and later $1 model encouraged ever larger numbers of users to challenge (by simply ignoring) notions of trespass, ownership and intellectual property rights.
A key case at the turn of the century was Abigail Robertson who sat for a portrait in a NY studio and was later horrified to see that they had used her image for advertising campaigns for Franklin Mills flour. She eventually sued and in the first hearing the plaintiff's defence was that there was no law saying that they could not use it. The court found in Robertson's favour but this was overturned on appeal.
The Right to Privacy
Warren and Brandeis The Right to Privacy document
It seems to be quite short,
THAT the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law ; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. Political, social, and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common Law, in its eternal youth, grows to meet the demands of society. Thus, in very early times, the law gave a remedy only for phÿsical interference with life and property, for trespasses vi et armis. Then the “right to life” served only to protect the subject from battery in its various forms ; liberty meant freedom from actual restraint ; and the right to property secured to the individual his lands and his cattle. Later, there came a recognition of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and his intellect. Gradually the scope of these legal rights broadened ; and now the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life,— the right to be let alone ; the right to liberty secures the exercise of extensive civil privilèges ; and the term “property” has grown to comprise every possession — intangible, as well as tangible.
Thus, with the recognition of the legal value of sensations, the protection against actual bodily injury was extended to prohibit mere attempts to do such injury; that is, the putting another in Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren, Jr., The Right to Privacy , HARVARD LAW REVIEW VOL. IV. DECEMBER 15, 1890. No. 5.
This takes a while to introduce. In The Spectator Vol. 347 No. 10,077, 16Oct21, Mark McGinness writes at length and glowingly about Granada's 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
His piece tells the story of the production and fully half is devoted to critics' contemporary reviews. Most were warm, but the Kingsly Amis review for the TLS was typically curmudgeonly. Having dismissed the story, the acting and the characterisations, he turns on the camerawork, particularly the scenes in Venice — as to,
… the drowsy chorus who say the whole thing looks ravishing, well yes but so it bloody should. From the way some of them go on, you would think that the camera-team had had a hand in building Christ Church or St Mark's, instead of just pointing their instrument in approximately the right direction and remembering to take the cap off the snout. Kingsly Amis's review for the TLS of Granada's 1981 Brideshead Revisited.
[Still in hospital - Day 11.]
L’Œil de la Photographie reports that Christie's have sold a set of Avedon's delightful Beatles snaps for a cool $1,015,000 USD. An an edition of 6 + 3 APs
It continues, "This is the 3rd highest Avedon price achieved at a public auction, and the 2nd highest in the past year, following the record-shattering price established by Christie’s for Dovima with Elephants at $1.8M."
[26Oct] Free at last.
Quoted in Michael Kenna, Beyond Architecture, 2019, p.11
The test of a work of art
is our affection for it,
not our ability
to explain why it is good. Stanley Kubrick
This was the second of six lectures on diversity organised by the Students' Society and delivered by Roxanne Steel for Diversity and Ability.
Intersectionality concentrated on individual differences and how important it is to be inclusive. I felt that this session was not particularly relevant to OCA students as there is very little staff and student interaction compared to a campus-based HE faculty when not affected by Covid.
I have been spending some time with Edmund Capon's essays (2009) lately, largely regarding Duchamp's Fountain.
I lucked upon Jeffrey Smart's Portrait of Clive James 1991-92 (a painting, but that hardly matters) on page 191 in Capon's essay, Jeffrey Smart, A Man of Great Composure (pp.179-193). This must surely be the finest landscape portrait ever made albeit that is a category I have only just encountered, the only example I know and it relies entirely on already knowing (or rather, not needing to know) what the ostensible subject looks like. In some afterwork for I&P Assignment 1, answering the tutor's question, "what is a portrait? ... [you suggest] that a portrait might only be considered if the subject is looking directly at the lens". My long response included the conclusion,
the face, then, at some angle, perhaps partial or obscured should probably appear in order to satisfy the base requirements of a portrait. In terms of scale, portraits are common in all eras showing full-face, head and shoulders, waist-up, three-quarters or full length [note 3]. Beyond that, in Newman's iconic 1946 portrait of Stravinsky, the face is dwarfed by a grand piano, and so the contextual accessories may be allowed to dominate the composition afterwork for I&P Assignment 1
Smart's portrait, a painting, takes the Newman Stravinsky example to a previously unrealised extreme, but again, it can only be considered a portrait if the viewer does not need to be shown what the subject looks like.
It is glorious.
and probably worth considering a series on similar scales with the subject artificially pasted, perhaps for DIC.
Capon, E. (2009) I blame Duchamp. Australia: Lantern (Penguin).
This is my idea of a fine landscape. From a recent edition of AmPhot, already dumped and this ripped out, so I don't have the date, made with a Rolleifex SL35 and Kodak Ektar. It captures some of the eccentricity of the place (it helps if you’ve been there), an arresting composition and fine, delicate use of focus.
From today's L’Œil de la Photographie,
Last fall, Melissa Lyttle began to document the confederate monuments that have been taken down since George Floyd’s death, a moment in time viewed as a turning point when she felt the U.S. was beginning to try and figure out what it was going to become as a nation. Confederate monuments started coming down in record numbers. So, in April 2021, she began a 5-week, 7,300-mile road trip through the South to record an unravelling — that moment in time when long-held narratives about Southern pride and memorialization of Civil War leaders are literally being knocked off their pedestals.
“I am so thankful to the judges for recognizing this work and allowing me the opportunity to continue photographing all of the Confederate monuments that have come down since George Floyd’s death,” Melissa Lyttle said. “For me, this work has always been about the slow dismantling of the celebration of white supremacy while documenting the changing landscape of a country that is reckoning with racism in public spaces. More than anything, I hope the photographs will provoke conversations about how we got here and, more importantly, where we’re headed as a nation.” L’Œil de la Photographie
Part 1 seems textually unchanged, but this version includes the illustrations. There is a 24 page Introduction that will be processed as Preamble.
From The Friends of Photography (1986) EW:100, Centennial Essays in Honour of Edward Weston. Carmel, CA.: The Friends of Photography.
In photography, discovery and recognition together constitute a special form of creation, for something is brought into the consciousness that was not there before. Paul Vanderbilt in EW:100, Centennial Essays in Honour of Edward Weston, 1986, p.129.
From Richard Misrach, On landscape and meaning, 2020.
… all of photography is interpretation. Its primary illusion is realism, but ultimately it only uses real elements for expression. Misrach, 2020, p.39
I should be at the cenotaph on Eltham High Street photographing conversational groups in uniforms to continue I&P Assignment 4.
Instead, I am at home waiting for my daily District Nurse for my IV antibiotic, see 19th October.
Perhaps next year.
[8Nov] Hold on, Armistice Day might be next Sunday. Another chance.
[14Nov] I didn’t go: I can't blame the nurse who was very early; I can't blame the weather - the rain had stopped; it was either indolence or prudence - I don't have the time to process another 20 images for an old assignment. Perhaps next year.
Two good pieces in L’Œil de la Photographie today.
I'm a sucker for a mirror self portrait, especially when a Rollei is involved.
And it's a lovely story with creditable imagery.
“A dear friend of mine scheduled couriers for DHL. From time to time he would ring and ask if I wanted to catch the next red-eye flight to New York. I always said yes. I was never certain what cargo I was accompanying. I only knew that there would be a ticket waiting for me at the counter and that 5 and a half hours later I would arrive at JFK.” – Janet Delaney
Throughout the 1980s, Janet Delaney’s job in a San Francisco photography lab was punctuated by the last-minute flights she would take to New York as a courier. Within these unexpected pockets of time she spent in New York, Delaney would wander the streets with her Rolleiflex camera, attending to the rhythms and characters of this much-mythologised city. Despite being tired and often lost, the act of photographing made Delaney feel present and alert, in tune with the crowds that pushed past her and mesmerised by the depth of history woven into the city’s structures. The colour photographs that make up this series are brimming with life and reveal the formation of Delaney’s generous approach to photographing streets and the people who inhabit them, capturing the precious mixture of private lives lived in public and transient moments of connection between photographer and subject. With a text by Amanda Maddox.
Janet Delaney (b.1952) is a photographer and educator based in Berkeley, California, whose photographic work draws on research, close observation and personal experience to represent how we live in cities. Delaney is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and has received three National Endowment for the Arts Grants. Her photographs are in public and private collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, de Young Museum, Pilara Foundation, and Oakland Museum of California. Previous publications include Public Matters (2018), South of Market (MACK, 2013), as well as a number of self- published books. L’Œil de la Photographie
Another artist with camera hook.
In Hauterives in the Drôme, on the site of the Palais idéal of Postman Cheval, an exhibition celebrates the photographic and art work of filmmaker Agnès Varda around human constructions. then the links between the two artists resonate very strongly.
There is something obvious when we look at the work of Agnès Varda and that of Postman Cheval pell-mell. If the first is multiple, full of ethereal images and delicate attentions born of many trips while the second is circumscribed to a certain scope of work and particularly tangible, both proceed from the same force of having wanted to follow a Dream. in their life as an artist and to exert it with the belief in a common imagination.
“The example of Postman Cheval’s perseverance with the palace that he took thirty-three years to build on his own and without having studied architecture is finally close to the moment when, at twenty-five, Completely self-taught too, Agnès Varda directed her first film “La Pointe courte” in the port of Sète “, underlines the co-curator of the exhibition, Julia Fabry, who was for a long time the collaborator of Agnès Varda. The human will which triumphs in these two artistic works is corroborated by the taste they both have for naive, often fanciful and sometimes grotesque figures, who emanate from a carnival world who sing the brotherhood of living beings in a great gathering beyond ages, of all appearances and all social ranks. This is what we can see in a film directed by Julia Fabry for the occasion and which is made up of many shots of Agnès Varda films where we follow the filmmaker in search of works of art brut that fascinated her so much. She and Julia Fabry came together twice at the Ideal Palace, which was a major source of inspiration for the director of Cléo de 5 à 7. JEAN-BAPTISTE GAUVIN , L’Œil de la Photographie
arrowed links to related posts
I have mentioned elsewhere my decades-long obsession with Mondrian,
Just a handful of good painters this century. Mondrian, of course. Picasso, maybe five percent of the time, when he wasn't cocking around. But five percent of Picasso is plenty ... Who else? Pollack. Frank Roth. Trossman. Clyfford Still. Darragh Park. Rothko, before he got so far down he forgot to use color. Edwin P. Turnquist
This inclination towards Piet extended to a Stained Glass period beginning in 2010 when I filled the front windows, upstairs and down with transparent versions of various paintings. Underlying the idea was that at night, with the lights on, we would demonstrate my devotion to PM to any passers-by. What actually happened is that the sun shines through the front windows for most of the day providing an occasional entertaining light show on various walls.
Mrs. B. photographed me caught in a shaft of blue a few days ago and this morning I saw a feature I have never noticed before in the hallway via the window over the front door.
Two contrasting stereo images in an email from Antiq-Photo (providers of the Brandt camera image for C&N Asg.3) a nude "Stereoscopic colorized daguerreotype by Félix Jacques Antoine Moulin", fig. 1 - I didn't know there was such a thing as a stereo daguerreotype. Dated 1845, "price on request".
And Mars by E. E. Barnard, a positive stereoscopic photograph taken at Yerkes observatory (figs. 2-3). Just dated "19th" and priced at €500.
From L’Œil de la Photographie a promising report with only one photograph,
Parrotta Contemporary Art will present in the main section a small but precise selection of artworks by the Dutch/Belgium artist Pieter Laurens Mol, the German artist Timm Rautert and the British artist Clare Strand to create a collective booth which inquires into the complexities of life in both fundamental and esoteric ways.
Artists exhibited : Pieter Laurens Mol, Timm Rautert, Clare Strand.
Booth A26 L’Œil de la Photographie
And best of all, I found a birthday present for myself 🥂 last night, a copy of Michael Rababy's California Love – A Visual Mixtape. This came out earlier in the year and seems to be one of the most interesting and diverse photo books i have encountered. The $50 price tag was steep, but the shipping cost to the UK from all the US suppliers was prohibitive - more than the price of the book. Last night I found a copy on Alibris for £47 and £3 shipping. These deals sometimes evaporate, but it's good to have the chance.
One image from the book, Bob Zahn, The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized, might be the Part 2 Eval picture.
I had my introductory tutorial today. It was very useful. It was agreed that:
1. This website is difficult to navigate. I explained that's how I intend it to be (see Preamble) and that I will make other arrangements for FinAss.
It was suggested that I use OCA's Spaces - link.
I'll have a look and comply. But this site remains my principal information repository and I intend to build an LPE Wordpress site too.
2. On the first assignment I was advised to research my subject rather than rush in with a camera - see the submission page. It's a bit late for that, but I will heed the advice.
3. On timing, it was agreed that Asg.1 would be in before Christmas and about two months each subsequently, aiming for November assessment. Submission format - I'm happy with the online submission through Learn, as for I&P.
4. I think I gave every impression of being a silly old bugger, stuck in his ways, an enthusiastic and superficial snapper.
And I've had some correspondence from NZ. The first ever arising from the site,
Thanks for your prompt reply.
I'm a person of a "certain age" (74), an amateur photographer, and I've been browsing through your extensive website with considerable interest.
I came across it through your mention of Terry Barrett. Some years ago I alerted him to an minor error in his book, which I was amazed (as was he) had made it through to the 4th edition undetected.
I'm impressed by the scope of the course you are taking and the amount of work you are obviously putting into it. I took a one-year, full-time course back in the 1980s, but it was nowhere near as searching or comprehensive as yours. Of course, in those days much time was spent in the darkroom producing prints, leaving less time for their analysis and contemplation.
I'm particularly impressed by the extent of your background reading. Although I've read quite a lot of history, it's been confined mostly to American photographers in the age of Strand, Weston, et al, and I'm unfamiliar with many of the photographers you list.
I shoot black and white, large-format film, landscapes, mostly trees. I belong to a small group of like-minded dinosaurs, but most are focused on the process rather than the results, and there's no one with an interest in critical analysis of photographs beyond basic composition. So it's interesting to read your analysis of your own work and your tutors' feedback.
I was particularly taken by your About page. I wonder if I detect a hint of skepticism about the need consciously to develop a "personal voice"? I think a lot of nonsense has been written, and a lot of angst experienced, over this. I strive to produce sharp (f.64), well printed (whatever that means) images of trees that I find attractive. In doing this, I've set out not consciously to develop a style, but simply to make photographs that I like. If other people like them too, well that's nice. And if there's a consistency that has become a recognisable style, then so be it.
I'm not sure that the ramble above is of any value to you, but I thought it worth passing on my interest in what you are doing.
Keep up the good work.
I take great pride and pleasure that such a nice person would take the time to write.
There's a lovely comment on a Times article this morning,
… is there any group more damaging to western civilisation than the French post-modernist intellectuals? Maybe time for reparations, or better still a British made sitcom loosely based on Marcuse, Derrida and Foucault - The Last of the Summer Whine. Hancock, Sellars and Frankie Howard would have had a decent crack at that. Terence Raggett
And from this week's Spectator, vol. 347 no. 10,081, 13th Nov, a review of Face Time: A History of the Photographic Portrait by Phillip Prodger Thames & Hudson, £30, pp. 255 by Laura Freeman, link
Prodger points to a paradox: most cameras are set to take a photograph in 1160th of a second. 'Considering there are 86,400 seconds in a day, and 27,000 days in the average lifespan, this means a single photograph might capture just 1/140 billionth of a person's time on Earth.' A photographer's aim is 'to condense all that is worth knowing about a person - aspirations and fears, talents and shortcomings, humour and affect - into one such microscopic slice of their existence'. Anyone who has ever had to choose a photograph for a dating website, a corporate headshot or a byline pie will know the difficulty. from a review of Face Time: A History of the Photographic Portrait by Phillip Prodger
From L’Œil de la Photographie today,
Docked The fishermen returned, leaving their nets on the shore until the next day. Boats in dry dock reveal their injured hulls. A sailor calls out to me: “come back in a few days, the boats will be magnificent once repainted”. I answer him that I find in the worn sheet metal a very pictorial aspect. The passage of time, as the salt and the tides have marked with their bites the most resistant metal. The wood of the holds, cracked on all sides, still resists under the weight of the boats. The wharf holds seem to have served as a foundation for ships for ages, without weakening. Nets and ropes, they wait for the early morning to leave. The materials are in the image of sailors, of their profession; rough. Yannick Bourcier, from L’Œil de la Photographie
25th Nov - 3. Managing Stress and Anxiety
16th Dec - 4. Understanding Disability
27th Jan - 5. Inclusivity through Accessibility
The next online LPE meetup is scheduled for the evening of the 24th - more details on the forum here: https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/landscape-place-environment-student-zoom-november/15590?u=simon512973
Photographers’ Gallery lectures
Part 2 ✓ started 22Nov
I&P Book ✓ 27Nov writing done, proofing in progress
LPE Wordpress ✓ 22Nov working at last
Treatment Started 17Nov
Another new discovery in the bedroom.
I have nearly figured how to set up a Wordpress subdomain on this site - it's all working except for the images which are all blank,
A delightful little book (literally, 96 pages, 4" x 6½", images scaled accordingly), described on Amazon as Paul O'Kane (Author), Bada Song (Editor), Barnaby Lambert (Contributor). I found this in Waterstones UCL.
It comprises three essays, the first eponymous, which describes O'Kane's journey to photographic contentment that incorporates Eastern religion. Two quotes,
… I had long been tired of the dominance of semiotic evaluation that had surrounded photography perhaps more than any other medium, and had been looking for ways to purge these kinds of readings and tendencies from my own pictures. I liked this picture [below, right] more viscerally than Semiotically,more Photically than Graphically … O'Kane, 2014, pp.23-4
I became diverted by models of Haiku and Satori, Taoism and Zen Buddhism and seemed to be freeing myself - to some extent at least - from the modern, Western philosophical and critical tradition I had encountered as a mature BAFA student, according to which art and artists may have become increasingly academicised, institutionalised and marketised even while sailing under the flag of the progressive and critical. O'Kane, 2014, p.33
Of these terms, a footnote states at the beginning of the essay, "The terms Chemic, Photic, Graphic, Semiotic etc. appear repeatedly in what follows as means by which to break down aspects or facets of photography beyond its unifying title. Capital letters are applied to draw attention to this idiosyncratic device. "
The list and my interpretations is/are:
Chemic - relating to image processing
Digitality - the digital equivalent of Chemic
Graphic - the obvious and objective, denoted [!] aspects of a picture
Photic - the personal, artistic aspects of a picture
Semiotic - subjective interpretation
I'll try to deploy these notions, or my equivalents, in my work.
O'Kane, P (2014) Where is That Light Now? London: eeodo.
From Apollo - The International Arts Magazine, online 19Nov.
Once described as ‘New York’s most famous unknown artist’, Ray Johnson left his mark on Pop, Neo-Dada and conceptual art, most particularly as the founder of the New York Correspondence School, an early social network of artists exchanging ‘mail art’ in the 1940s. His practice ranged from his letters, Nothing performances, collages, drawings and sculpture. Contending that he was most inventive in collaboration, this show examines his work alongside that of his correspondents, including the theorist Dick Higgins and artists Karl Wirsum and William S. Wilson. Find out more from the Art Institute Chicago’s website. Apollo magazine, 19Nov
More good material at Art Institute Chicago.
author (2021) Ray Johnson ℅ [online]. apollo-magazine.com. Available from https://www.apollo-magazine.com/ray-johnson-%E2%84%85/ [Accessed 21 November 2021].
My online meeting this evening with current LPE students. Details here.
An interesting piece today in L’Œil de la Photographie on photography in the Ukraine in the 1970s coming up against Soviet æsthetic oppression.
L’Œil stories disappear at midnight for non-subscribers and so I have stashed it here.
And the Rababy arrived. It is a large format book and so I am no longer surprised at the price of £50. The £3 shipping from the US was a great deal. It is new and wrapped in cellophane (or whatever they use nowadays) and so I have asked Mrs. B. to wrap it for Christmas.
[26Nov] I had a thought on the train today — All series, all projects could be prefixed “aspects of” because that is the most that photography can deliver. Or perhaps there’s no need for the prefix because it is Ubiquitous, universally applicable and blatantly implicit, whatever the project, object or subject.
An alternative to the la Grange / Sontag favourite.
I recognised that … photographic meaning [is] contingent rather than absolute. Grundberg, 2021, p.8
Grundberg, A. (2021) How photography became contemporary art. New Haven, CN: Yale University Press.
From a pre-Christmas article in The Times, 16 best art books 2021, by Rachel Campbell-Johnston and Michael Prodger. One of the pair reviews Magritte: A Life by Alex Danchev and comments,
While he lived a quietly bourgeois life in a Brussels suburb (he even painted in a suit and tie) Magritte said he was “always on the lookout for what has never been seen”. Magritte
Campbell-Johnston & Prodger (2021) 16 best art books 2021 [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/4e77739e-487e-11ec-aa43-5cc5157b09b9? [Accessed 27 November 2021].
photographs … owe their existence to a loose cooperation (quasi-magical, quasi-accidental) between photographer and subject - mediated by an ever simpler and more automated machine, which is tireless, and which even when capricious can produce a result that is interesting and never entirely wrong. Sontag, 1973, p. 41
Sontag, S. (1973) On photography. NY: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
A fine example, glimpsed on an email from Instagram (I subscribe to but rarely look at the #brutalist postings) this morning of how the old rule on converging verticals may be ignored to advantage. The accompanying text,
A quick look at the University of Strathclyde’s McCance Building and Livingstone Tower (Covel, Matthews & Partners, 1964) - apparently Livingstone Tower was initially built as speculative office development so was really quite sprauncy (technical term). In the event, it was never let, so was absorbed into the uni p.halliday,Instagram
[ spellchecked to here]
Two interesting pieces online today,
Aline Smithson in Petapixel, an article by Peter Levitan, from which some Smithson quotes have been extracted,
I grew up in Los Angeles and was always interested in anything to do with the arts – drawing, painting, sewing – and I loved reading fashion magazines. My father was a hobbyist photographer with a darkroom in the basement, and my uncle was an editorial photographer, but I wasn’t bitten by the photography bug until many years later.
I studied art in college with a focus on painting but also learned printmaking, photography, video, and more. I created large colorist oil paintings and was very influenced by California painters like Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Richard Diebenkorn, and David Hockney …
[worked in NY] I eventually moved back to Los Angeles and started a family. I was now the family documentarian and decided to take a photography class to learn how to better use my camera. It was in that class that I discovered my uncle’s 1960’s twin-lens 2.8F Rolleiflex (which I still use today), and it completely shifted how I see.
I realized I could make art with a camera. After that, I never looked back. I spent many years happily anonymous, learning my craft and the darkroom, making work just for me. I began to show my work and just kept going. Eventually, I started teaching and building a community of like-minded photographers in Los Angeles.
In 2007 I started Lenscratch, a daily journal on photography, in order to learn more about the community I was making work in. I made a vow to write about a different photographer every day. Fifteen years later, the site is still going strong. I have an amazing team of editors and we all work for free as a give-back to our community.
[on the Arrangement in Green and Black, Portraits of the Photographer’s Mother series, ] Whistler was a painter I very much admired. The series had serendipitous beginnings – I found a print of Whistler’s Mother at a garage sale and I looked at the composition in a new light, realizing that there was potential for play and humor in recreating it. That same day at various garage sales, I found a leopard coat and hat, a piece of leopard fabric, and a cat painting – and I knew I had my first set-up. I asked my 83-year-old mother if she would be my model and it was an immediate yes.
Over two years, we created 20 tableaux – both of us had so much fun working together, and it was a joyous project since it included all the things I love: my mother, thrifting, eBay, and creating something out of nothing. My mother passed away before she saw the painted images, but I like to think of her traveling the world, as the series has been shown in Russia, Korea, China, Italy, and the U.S. This is the series that launched my career, and it still sells the best. The pieces are hand-painted silver gelatin prints, so each time I sell one, I must print and repaint the piece. But it allows me to spend time with my mother once again. Peter Levitan on Aline Smithson, Petapixel, 11 Dec 21
His name: Daniel Castonguay. He is Canadian. It has just been published in number 24 of the photographic magazine Openeye. We wanted to show you his images and this text. Award-winning photographer Daniel Castonguay is a street photographer based in Montreal, Canada. He is among others, laureate of the ‘Fine Art photo of the year 2019’, at the prestigious MonoVisions Photography Awards in London. Daniel began photography in 1979 as an extracurricular activity and without completely putting aside his passion for photography, he pursued his studies and obtained in 1989, a Professional Electrical Engineering degree at “Université du Québec à Chicoutimi” in Canada.
Living in a great city, he was naturally driven to street photography and depicting quotidian life in its simplest form. When he started in this field of photography, he worked according to the established standards of the style and at a certain point, he got bored of not being able to illustrate the mood of the “moment”. In order to give a more authentic touch to his work, audacious and greatly influenced by the early 20th century pictorialist movement and artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Demachy and Léonard Misonne, he began to process his imagery to make it a little more mysterious. This had the effect of combining simple moments of life with his state of mind, ending up in a unique “creative street photography” style, hence the name of his series “Quotidian Life”.
A part of his work as a “creative street photographer” is to bring this daily life into a world of fantasy, something related to abstraction. This creates a duality, a paradox. The paradox of ordinary life in a universe that exists only in one’s own imagination that can literally be anything but still be able to relate to.
For Daniel, photography is a mode of expression in the same way as writing or playing music. Transmitting an emotion is the essence of his photographic work, bringing the viewer into a story. More specifically, to make the viewer travel in a world of reverie, leaving all the space to imagination.
As Daniel says, “Being a street photographer is above all playing a role in the urban life framework, contributing to its vivacity, its pace and almost belonging to a chaotic scenario. To me, street photography is more than a picture making business, it’s being part of a continuous theatrical sketch where I play the role of a silenced character.” L’Œil de la Photographie 10 December 2021
Results are due in about a week. An OCA email today included a link to samples of course submissions - I think everyone was included - curated by Program Tutor Helen Warburton. Here's mine.
You've found your voice when you stop trying to please other people.
[29Dec] LPE Asg.1 was submitted on 24th December,
Two shows of work to mention, the LIP 2021 Exhibition, LIP Chronicles: Life Goes On . I submitted five (Marnie, Thor, Benson & Hedges, Millie and Frida) from I&P Asg.3, 100 Dogs. One got in - the book of the show had one of everyone's.
LPE discussion group 5th January 8pm:
message link - https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/lpe-zoom-january-2022/15774/4
zoom link - https://oca.zoom.us/j/96259496955?pwd=bllRTjNGbmpkVmUrd1MzazFmVjlzZz09
Diversity meeting - Thu 27th January 17:30-18:30
link - https://us02web.zoom.us/w/84436008571?tk=VDVGxyM3t5qK1AAMqZ6528Sf29ivgrKIXnwxBjYmhtk.DQMAAAATqMc-exZlcDJvRE82V1NGbWIzVDlIWE10bnFBAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA&pwd=dURzNjVXK2JYZmRoUlNVdDc3Wnd5UT09
It is time for the annual documentation of Christmas Tree abuse, part of the running project on plant abuse since EyV Asg.5.
There is some confusion over Bin Day this week and so there may be more examples tomorrow.
While out and about on Asg.2.
From today's L’Œil de la Photographie, interesting pieces by Katrien De Blauwer, though more DIC than LP&E.
Fifty One : Katrien De Blauwer : she won’t open her eyes
In her third solo exhibition at Gallery Fifty One, Katrien De Blauwer (Belgium, 1969) takes the viewer on a journey between dream and reality. With ‘she won’t open her eyes’, the artist adds a remarkable concept series to her oeuvre, filled with formal experiments that mark a shift in her imagery.
The work of Katrien De Blauwer is always partly autobiographical. Although she uses material taken from vintage magazines and turns it into anonymous and universally recognisable images by cutting out the faces, she reassembles and appropriates this found imagery into a new, very personal narrative that is far removed from its original meaning. Created in a spontaneous and intuitive manner – mainly guided by her own emotions – De Blauwer’s photomontages depict her personal life story and memories. In a same way, the series ‘she won’t open her eyes’ found its roots in a personal experience, arisen in a period in which the artist experienced a lack of sleep and started to reflect about the concept of sleep and dreams. A book she read at the time – ‘The House of the Sleeping Beauties’ (1961) by the Japanese writer and Nobel prize winner Yasunari Kawabata (1899-1972) – would eventually become the starting point of this new exhibition.
The novel tells the story of the old man Eguchi and his visits to a house where he can spend the night lying next to a sleeping girl. Descriptions of Eguchi’s actions alternate with the dreams he has in his sleep. The innocence and youthful virginity of the sleeping young girls contrasts with the experienced old man, who struggles with his memories and age. Just like Eguchi encounters a different sleeping young girl with every visit he pays to the mysterious house, De Blauwer invites the viewer on the ground floor of the gallery to enter several rooms, each containing one or more ‘Sleeping Beauties’ surrounded by their dreams. By doing so, she shifts the focus of the story to the point of view of the (sleeping) girls instead of that of the old man. The sleeper is physically present yet mentally absent, finding herself in another time and reality. The moon glooms over her, with a reassuring but at the same time ominous presence. The beauty and the sensuality of the sleeping young girls – with their bare shoulders, elegant hands and silent lips, so characteristic of De Blauwer’s work – contrasts with their often disturbing and unsettling nightmarish dreams. In the latter, movement and comforting nature scenes (animals, mountains, birds, the sea, …), are interspersed with feelings of longing and (the incapacity of) wanting to break out. Although it’s difficult to grasp the ephemeral twilight zone of a dream in which everything fades and mingles, De Blauwer brilliantly succeeds to convert this into striking imagery.
While the ‘Fake Polaroids’ on the upper floor of the gallery focus on separate dream fragments and remind the viewer of the purified compositions for which De Blauwer has been known lately, the dreams on the ground floor are composed of several fragments. In accordance with the different stages of sleep, they come together in a somewhat confusing, stormy narrative that challenges the viewer to look attentively to fathom the story. The way in which multiple image fragments from different contexts are brought together in a narrative whole renders the Dreams very cinematic. References to film are always present in De Blauwer’s work. Not only because of the nouvelle vague- like atmosphere that permeates her work, but also because of the way in which – like a photographer or film-director – the ‘cut’ of her scissors determines what is left visible of a certain scene. With this technique – similar to that of the photomontage or film editing – the artist creates a kind of off-screen event, which was cut out of the frame but is still tangible, bringing about an alienating sense of emptiness and separation. Finally, the montage of several images also have a strong affinity with the ‘notebooks’ the artist has kept since her adolescence. Filled with diverse image – and text fragments and quotes taken from books, newspapers and magazines, the notebooks are a record of De Blauwer’s ever going research. It brings together various influences from literature, art, music, fashion, etc. that eventually trickle through into her work. An example of such a notebook will be on display in the exhibition. L’Œil de la Photographie
A first expedition today for Asg.2 today and, just as interesting, my first outing with analogue film for a decade or two (the image here is digital).
Another good piece today from L’Œil de la Photographie.
Little Big Galerie presents the work of Véronique Evrard with the exhibition Déchirures.
A poster according to the dictionary is a “Written or printed sheet, plastered in a public place and bearing an official, publicity or propagandist announcement, to which an image or a photo can be associated. Our memory is not like these photos exposed to the sun? Fading, with uncertain outlines. Some memories immediately disappear, covered by others, which little by little over time fade away, fade away, torn apart to become nothing more than shadows.
By means of a poster, I wanted to recreate this process. The time that flees, that escapes by fragmenting, and tearing our past, letting the imagination recreate its own images.
As with my characters on the posters that I designed from old photos and exposed to the ravages of time, so all that remains is a feeling, an impression, torn faces
The use of the Zeiss Nettar 6×6 camera combined with an artisanal Washi film achieves this particular result. The real does not seem to be totally captured: the medium resists the visible. It’s up to us to recreate it.
“The photographs, which cannot explain anything by themselves, are inexhaustible incentives to infer, to speculate, to fantasize.” – Susan Sontag
About Véronique Evrard
It is over time and encounters that photography has become for Véronique Evrard the best access to others. At the Agnès Varda School of Photography and Visual Techniques in Brussels, she deepened her technical knowledge, of film and digital photography.
With a resolutely humanist gaze, Véronique Evrard develops through her photos a poetic realism tinged with both nostalgia and optimism. Man in the concrete of his daily life and his environment is for her a primary source of inspiration.
Her work has already been the subject of several exhibitions in France and Belgium.
Véronique Evrard : Déchirures
Until January 18, 2022
Little Big Galerie
L’Œil de la Photographie
L’Œil de la Photographie again, this time Franck Delautre on abandoned shopfonts. The text, from Thierry Maindrault, is interesting,
Carbon copy of a few colleagues, famous because they are less shy, Franck Delautre is the prototype of all the whims to accomplish his projects.
To carry out his inventory of the decline of our human scale businesses, he does not hesitate to travel all over France on his bicycle, with photo equipment and sleeping bag. Between nights under the stars and wanderings from village to village, he catches with his lens the greatest number of distressed fronts or precious details to serve the eloquence of perfect funeral orations.
The man is interesting; but his photographic works are much more so. At first glance, the images are of good quality and free from technical faults. The work of a competent professional who has perhaps spent as much time in the laboratory or in post-production as behind the viewfinder of his camera.
If the subject is indeed important, so is the author of the photographs. Everything is millimetered from the framing which leaves no room for dispute, to the decadence of the colors which inexorably die out. The composition is not outdone in its points of rigor which confront us with the reality of the agonies, for their part the lightings ensure a constant atmosphere whatever the latitudes, the hours or the vagaries of the weather.
It is a pity that this collection of Franck’s works are not exhibited more often, because they deserve it much more than the number of images, half ass jobs spread out abundantly on multitudes of far too accommodating picture rails. Thierry Maindrault, L’Œil de la Photographie
The link provided is firstname.lastname@example.org
Feedback, reasonably positive received on 7th January, my responses posted today.
Two meetings on Saturday, the start of a new series on equality and ethnicity and a selection panel for the forthcoming RPS London members' ex. My two birds and Vauxhall Bridge (see slot above) was chosen.
Happy New Year. Hope you are covid-free.
I've been nosing around you site again. You seem a little despondent over the marks you've been awarded. I've looked at your LP&E Assignment 1 pix and I wonder if I might make a comment or two that may perhaps help?
I like that you've gone for black and white. Of course, I would - it's all I do. Colour can be distracting, especially if it's line and form that you want to emphasise rather than colour.
In general, you seem to get a lot into your shots, so I wonder if you might zoom in a bit and place more emphasis of particular features.
I've cropped some of your images to make the following points: see attached.
The shot with the seagulls: The apartment blocks in the background tower over the bridge and offer a strong contrast between their ugliness and the beauty of the bridge, so you might have strengthened that contrast by using vertical format and including more of the apartments. Well done for catching the seagulls before they took flight, but having two doesn't make for a balanced composition. Having one in the lower left gives the image some balance, although it needs a rather severe crop to achieve that from your original image. Moving a tad to the right to get in more of the bridge while keeping the gull in the lower left might have been better.
The same comment applies to the view across the river with the boat. I've cropped this one in two ways. I really like the crop without the boat. It has an olde world sort of feel about it. Having the trees without leaves enables one to see the buildings behind, so the trees are there, but they don't dominate. It wouldn't be such a good shot in summer (although it would be interesting to take a summer shot for comparison). The buildings are leaning out a bit: you need to keep your camera level to avoid that.
The statues on the bridge are rather lost amongst all their surroundings. To contrast their beauty with all the steel (if that's the point of the shot), I'd focus in much closer.
The shot with the big black sculpture worries me a bit. I don't like the building poking out from behind it. I think you should have moved left to include it all, or (better) moved right to hide it completely. The little mountain of buildings to the left is really interesting and counterbalances the sculpture. And I think the birds are great - empty skies are always a problem.
Hope that helps. If you think I should keep my opinions to myself, just say so.
Brian Smith, 24th January
It's very kind of you take an interest and to write.
I think the main reason I was a bit cross is that I have concluded that however much effort I put into it, I am always going to score in the low 60s because of my scorn for some of the modern attitudes to the medium and "what it's for".
The photographs taken during the course are only one of four criteria in the assessment (1 of 5 for my current course) and so, whatever my degree of satisfaction with the images, I'll always trip over on the theory.
I endorse most of your comments on the photographs, but one of the constraints is formatting. I was told by my first tutor not to mix vertical and horizontal formats in a series and my solution was to crop everything to 6x7 where a mix is less pronounced. But while 6x7 is great for most subjects, it is not ideal for urban landscapes (hence the phrase) especially bridges and so I felt trapped in 4x3 horizontal.
I also included a couple of images I would not have on purely aesthetic grounds because my tutor told me to "research my subject" and I felt obliged to demonstrate this in the series.
But I'm not complaining, I'm content to work within these perceived constraints because at least it gets me out more with a camera - it's a price I'm happy to pay.
On your reworkings, I would have been content with eight documentary close-ups of the statues plus a few contextual longer shots, but this (a) was not possible because of building works and (b) wouldn't (I thought) have pleased my tutor.
I like your cut of the single foreground bird, they weren't there for long.
On the sculpture, I wanted to give that and the bizarre MI6 building on the left equal prominence, but take your point on the background The view across the river was mainly to show the stumps of the old bridge and some context with Tate Britain and the Henry Moore on the opposite bank - it's one of the images included for academic rather than aesthetic reasons.
Thanks again, your comments are always welcome
Brian 24th Jan
Thanks for your reply. You make some good points. I would feel similarly about the course content and emphasis.
I'm curious as to what are the "modern attitudes" towards photography. Recently, I came across the BBC's programme Landscape Artist of the Year (on Youtube) and have watched a few episodes. They are quite interesting (apart from being excruciatingly formulaic), but reinforce the view that "art" means paintings, plus a few peripheral practices such as linocutting and collage, but definitely not photography. There was much debate in (I think) the 1970s about whether photography was art, the general concensus being that it is (or could be). Is there a shift away from that? I guess the explosion of image making that has resulted from digital has changed attitudes.
I take your point about consistency of format. I should have thought of that. When the little group I belong to holds an exhibition, we all use frames of pretty much the same dimensions (same heights, but some variation in the widths) because it gives the exhibition as a whole a uniform look. However, there're different formats within the frames (vertical, square, horizontal) and different widths of matt-board borders surrounding them. I wonder how your tutors would react if you framed your prints (digitally), so that the frames were uniform but the prints within them varied?
Regards - Brian
My reply 26th Jan
The is it art debate has always fascinated me. Here's my view -
C19th It started at the beginning of the medium with the Victorian salons rejecting photography because it was automatic and reproducible, to which some photographers responded by inventing hand-crafted negative and print manipulations to make each print unique - the Pictorialists. Others such as Peter Henry Emerson stuck with straight photography.
Early C20th Stieglitz opened gallery 291 in NY in 1905 to sell "real" art and photographs, he began as a pictorialist, helped found the American branch, the Photo Secessionists, and later began the move away from Pictorialism to Straight Photography, which Ansel Adams and Edward Weston etc. picked up with the f/64 group.
1960s The debate continued until Szarkowski took over at MoMA and started his campaign on two strands, firstly by exhibiting photographs as though they were art and then, realising that it would not happen until there were some Big Name photographers to generate a market, went about making some.
Antonioni's Blow Up and some real life stars (David Bailey etc.) made photography cool.
1970s At the same time, photographs were being used to document art outside the galleries - the happenings of my youth and such things as Earth Art. In this way, artists relied on and became photographers while photographers were becoming artists.
1980s-90s The Young British Artists stirred up the gallery scene and Sattchi saw how to make another fortune. Photographers were tugged along, notably Gursky and the other Düsseldorfers.
As I have written elsewhere, if photographs are displayed in institutional galleries and sold in commercial galleries and auction houses, then they are de facto art and any intellectual and theoretical tugs-of-war are moot.
There is a great book on the subject, Andy Grudberg's How photography became contemporary art (2021).
A photograph of mine from 2018 is to appear in The Life and Works of Robert Wood Classicist and Traveller (1717-1771) by Rachel Finnegan and Lynda Mulvin. It is a picture of Wood's tomb in Putney.
And a good piece from L’Œil de la Photographie today on Arne Svenson
Whether he is photographing sock monkeys, expansive landscapes, or unaware New Yorkers, photographer Arne Svenson looks beyond his subjects to seek out universal truths in the images he captures.
The works on view in “A Beautiful Day” are a natural continuation of Svenson’s controversial series “The Neighbors”, in which he photographed residents of a floor-to-ceiling glass apartment through their windows. Although their identities were obscured—“I was not photographing these subjects as specific, identifiable personages, but more as representations of humankind, of all of us” Svenson said—the opening of the show at Julie Saul Gallery in 2013 came with a lawsuit against Svenson that claimed invasion of privacy among other charges.
Svenson fought these claims later that year and again in 2015: “Defending myself against these charges was one of the greatest challenges of my life, but given censorship as the alternative, I had no choice,” he said.
Now in “A Beautiful Day,” Svenson’s vantage point is the same, but his lens is focused elsewhere: Through two windows, one facing North and one facing West in his Tribeca studio.
Although he hadn’t planned to continue focusing his lens on anonymous subjects, the onset of Covid-19 made the project “a necessity” for him. Not many passersby came through the neighborhood during city-wide mandates to stay at home, but for this reason exactly, the visual stories told by those Svenson photographed are compelling. A man walks by reading a thick book; someone pauses to snap a picture of a tree blooming with white flowers; a pair of stick-thin legs pause in a ballet class-ready first position.
Of both series, Svenson emphasizes, “My aim remains the same: to capture those seemingly banal behaviors in which we all engage and to reveal the wonder, mystery, and beauty of them. L’Œil de la Photographie
Arne Svenson: A Beautiful Day
January 15 – March 19, 2022
Robert Klein Gallery
38 Newbury Street, Suite 402
Boston, MA 02116
Admirable work and the acceptable face of street photography. Note the tie-in of his The Neighbors series to Michael Wolf in Part 2.
The pairing of images was considered at length in IP Part 5, based on Lorant's Chamberlain and the beautiful llama and a BJP article by Michael Grieve.
There was an interesting piece in The Times last week by Tom Whipple, suggesting that when we see human faces in objects (face pareidolia), the faces are likely to be male (who else is old enough to remember Esther Rantzen's early broadcasting days?)
My a priori explanation is that most "famous" people are male, the reasons for which are well rehearsed and invariably deplorable. But Susan Wardle's view is that our brains are programmed to recognise faces and that the recognition of female faces operates on a wider range of characteristics than that for male faces, thus making male identification more likely.
The first three illustrations are all taken from the Times article and are attributed to WALLY MCNAMEE/CORBIS/GETTY IMAGES; BEN HIDER/GETTY IMAGES; SOLENT NEWS/WALES NEWS SERVICE. The fourth is from Lorant.
Grieve, M (2019) Inside Studio Stauss, British Journal of Photography. Issue 7,888, pp.89-92
Lorant. S (1940) Chamberlain and the beautiful llama and 101 more juxtapositions. London: Hulton
Whipple, T. (2022) Seeing Tricky Dicky in a pepper? It’s sex bias [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/874ef3ce-81ed-11ec-b939-57ea9f594ba1 [Accessed 5 February 2022].
From Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy UK. Writing in The Spectator, 5th February edition, not claiming originality, but not citing a source,
As someone once said of human perception: 'We rarely understand what we see — so instead we see what we understand.' Rory Sutherland
This teams up nicely with Sontag/laGrange 'photographs do not seem strongly bound by the intention of the photographer'
and Andy Grundberg's 'photographic meaning [is] contingent rather than absolute'.
Sutherland, R. (2022) Seeing is believing. The Spectator. Vol. 348; no. 10,093, p.61.
• The place where LPE meetings are announced is here - https://discuss.oca-student.com/
• Two ad-hoc meetings coming up, 14th Feb, 7pm, RPS North London, incl. Nick Kemp on landmarks and curiosities of London, their stories and how he’s interpreted them with his use of vintage lens. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/n-london-february-2022-meeting-hybrid-either-in-person-or-online-registration-210605224897
• and 22nd Feb, 6:30pm Time & Photography - Joining link: https://oca.zoom.us/j/97032502391?pwd=MlNtTzI5VHZicENjUWkvY01hSDdJQT09
• the Diversity & Ability workshop series has ended.
• The remaining PILAA Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Programme sessions are:
Session 3: Feb 26th, 2pm - Being Your Authentic Self in the Workplace
Session 4: Mar 19th Self-Censorship and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues
Session 5: Apr 9th Open Forum (theme tbc)
The Times reported yesterday (Malvern, 2022) on a photographic authorship dispute between Clancy Gebler Davies and William Corbett. Gebler Davies was included in the BJP's Portrait of Britain shortlist for her self portrait, wrapped in hair, Hersuit and also in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 2018. The photograph was taken on Corbett's camera and he pressed the button. They both claim to have arranged the lighting.
Clancy Gebler Davies has posted a comment after the Times article, as right.
The article continues, "Mark Stephens, an intellectual property lawyer for the firm Howard Kennedy, said that the rights of authorship depended on whether Corbett had significant creative input. He said Damien Hirst was regarded as the sole author of paintings that were executed by his studio assistants because he was the “creative genius” behind the concept."
Authorship was considered at length in C&N looking at Emin, Brandt and Sherman.
Januszczak, W. (2021) Why black art matters — and the joyful Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/why-black-art-matters-and-the-joyful-royal-academys-summer-exhibition-7kxvtp5h0 [Accessed 16 February 2022].
Malvern, J. (2022) It’s a bad hair day for artist in award row [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/its-a-bad-hair-day-for-artist-in-award-row-tjlg3bwc7 [Accessed 16 February 2022].
The Times (2022) Shortlist for Portrait of Britain 2021, by the British Journal of Photography [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/shortlist-for-portrait-of-britain-2021-by-the-british-journal-of-photography-8dlldghv8 [Accessed 16 February 2022].
An interesting piece in The Times a few days ago, written by Mike Atherton (former England cricket captain) and concerning a photograph by Jimmy Sime taken outside Lords in 1937: the image is well-known enough to have its own Wikipedia page. It was taken on 9th July 1937 after the Eton and Harrow match, a fixture at the ground for 200 years, but, as has just been announced, no longer. The image was published next day in the New Chronicle, used frequently since then to illustrate the English class divide, and come to be known as Toffs and Toughs.
Subsequent research on the subjects revealed that this characterisation was misleading as the "toughs" were respectable London working class kids (not "village boys", as described in Life Magazine, 2nd August 1937) who went on to live contented lives, when compared to the "toffs".
Atherton picks up on this story in order to pass judgment on the current obsession, by some, with identity.
Eton won by 7 wickets.
Information on Sime is hard to come by.
Atherton, M. (2020) This study of class proves the camera can lie [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/401e8a46-90d9-11ec-9569-fea923928840 [Accessed 20 February 2022].
[spellchecked to here]
Tied up with Asg.2, I'm falling behind with misc. blog entries from the real world. I'll note the sources here and might catch up with some in the future:
Petapixel opined on genres - and at the same time I read in Shore's Modern Instances (2022) …
Here's the Petapixel list:
Landscape, Nature, Portrait, Street, Architectural, Sports, Abstract, Astrophotography, Composite, Event, Editorial, Wedding, Product, Travel, Food.
A reader has commented, "Missing: Fashion and more importantly Conceptual / Fine Art photography. "
Here's the Shore (my emphasis)
In the 1964 edition of Bernard Newhall's The History of Photography, he included a final chapter titled "Recent Trends." He described four trends. The Document- a photograph that points to something out in the world and asks us to pay attention to it; The Straight Photograph the self-conscious work of art that asks us to pay attention to the picture itself; The Formalist Photograph -a picture that explores the structural qualities of an image or the formal nature of the medium; and The Equivalent -a photograph that embodies or engenders a state of mind or an emotional state (what T. S. Eliot might have called a picture that functions as an "objective correlative"). These don't need to be separate aesthetic directions. A photograph can be a self-conscious work of art that springs from a perception of the world, clarified by formal understanding, and sensitive to the psychological and poetic resonances of the image. A photograph can address all four at the same time. The best of Evans' images do.
To this Evans added an awareness of the cultural implications of a visual style, as when he spoke of photographing in ":"documentary style". Shore, 2022, p.99
I have the '82 Newhall above my desk and the '64 upstairs. I'll look it up if I remember.
[11Mar] There's an extended quote here.
Gilbreath, T. (2022) 15 Types of Photography: Photo Genres You Should Know [online]. petapixel.com. Available from https://petapixel.com/2022/02/23/types-of-photography-photo-genres-you-should-know/ [Accessed 28 February 2022].
Shore, S. (2022) Modern Instances. London: MACK.
If I buy a film camera it might be a Pentax SEII. Interesting Clash photo (above, right) story that might be the next eval. Pentax ES II: The camera that captured rock’s most iconic photograph. And again.
Next meeting 16th March, 8pm
David Bate essay, The Memory of Photography, see Exc. 3.6
In the photographic camera [man] has created an instrument which retains the fleeting visual impressions Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, 1930
Watching Pieces of Her on Netflix, a Mondrian popped up. I photographed it and, by luck, a SG Window was reflected on the screen. It looks like B362 Study for Composition, 1940-41?, (fig. 1 ) Charcoal, gouache and collage on paper, 33 x 26.7 cm, last I heard, Private collection, on loan to The Art Institute, Chicago.
A similar thing happened with Young Wallander on 19th February (fig. 2). Wallander's father paints the same scene repeatedly, sometimes with the bird (a grouse), sometimes without.
There are parallels with my repeatedly photographing the windows and their effects.
Fig. 3 is a standard SG from 23rd February.
Pullman was reading his essay on the radio today and there's a lovely piece about listening to poetry that reads across to other art forms including photography.
Rather than transcribe it from a replay, I have ordered a copy.
[17Mar] Here it is,
The experience of reading poetry aloud when you don't fully understand it is a curious and complicated one. It's like suddenly discovering that you can play the organ. Rolling swells and peals of sound, powerful rhythms and rich harmonies are at your command; and as you utter them you begin to realise that the sound you're releasing from the words as you speak is part of the reason they're there. The sound is part of the meaning, and that part only comes alive when you speak it. So at this stage it doesn't matter that you don't fully understand everything: you're already far closer to the poem than someone who sits there in silence looking up meanings and references and making assiduous notes.
By the way, someone who does that while listening to music through earphones will never understand it at all.
We need to remind ourselves of this especially if we have anything to do with education. I have come across teachers and student teachers whose job was to teach poetry, but who thought that poetry was only a fancy way of dressing up simple statements to make them look complicated , and that their task was to help their pupils translate the stuff into ordinary English. When they'd translated it, when they'd 'understood' it, the job was done. It had the effect of turning the classroom into a torture chamber, in which everything that made the poem a living thing had been killed and butchered. No one had told such people that poetry is in fact enchantment; that it has the form it does because that very form casts a spell; and that when they thought they were bothered and bewildered, they were in fact being bewitched, and if they -let themselves accept the enchantment and enjoy it, they would eventually understand much more about the poem.
But if they never learn this truth themselves, they can't possibly transmit it to anyone else. Instead, in an atmosphere of suspicion, resentment and hostility, many poems are interrogated until they confess, and what they confess is usually worthless, as the results of torture always are: broken little scraps of information, platitudes, banalities. Never mind! The work has been done according to the instructions, and the result of the interrogation is measured and recorded and tabulated in line with government targets; and this is the process we call education. Pullman, 2017
Pullman, P. (2017) Dæmon voices. Oxford: David Fickling Books.
There's a very good letter in AmPhot this week from Alan Cox,
I've been a fan of Dorothea Lange for a long time, so I was interested in Zelda Cheatle's Final Analysis (11 January issue). I have seen this photograph in two exhibitions, so I can vouch for its emotional power. The impact is almost physical, so I can easily accept that the image reduced Dorothea to tears many years after she took it. On this occasion I found the title especially interesting. Child living in Oklahoma City shacktown, 1936, is a factual, objective description, but it doesn't tell the whole story, and it prompted me to ask, 'What's in a name?'
At the Tate Modern exhibition of photographs from Elton John's collection, the picture was called The Damage is Already Done. Two years later, at the Barbican exhibition of Dorothea's work, the title was Damaged Child. On neither occasion was it suggested that the child in question had learning difficulties, and whether or not this is factually correct I don't think it has anything to do with what Dorothea was trying to say.
This was an overtly political picture from the outset. It formed part of Dorothea's Dust Bowl Era work, which, in collaboration with husband Paul Taylor's text, is credited with influencing Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal agencies. For me, both the AP and the Barbican titles detract from the power of this image. They enable the viewer to move on to the next picture without really considering the message.
But The Damage is Already Done, coupled with the child's expression, seems to point an accusing finger at the viewer, and saying, 'Where were you when I needed you?' I do not know how this image came to have at least three different titles, but each affects its power in important ways.
As a final thought, in April 2000, a copy of this image sold at Christie's for US$70,500 - wealth unimaginable to the child, and even to disadvantaged children today. What would Dorothea have made of that, I wonder?
I'd like to say thank you to Dorothea, and to Zelda. You made me think, and in the 'Final Analysis', isn't that what AP is all about? Alan Cox, 2022
Cox, A. (2022) What's in a name. Amateur Photographer. 15 March 2022, p.22.
Typically, photographs are described in terms of the subject matter: landscape, flowers, journalism, fashion, portraits… Or by technical process: large format, platinum print, digital or analog. And photographic education focuses on technical skills (using Photoshop, mastering your DLSR, night photography) and career development (getting jobs, creating portfolios, building a business)—all-important, certainly, but the smallest part of discussion and education is on the photos themselves. We’re left on our own to learn and improve.
I’d like to propose some language and metrics on which anyone can describe and gauge their own photos, and have a more structured means for improvement, comparison and appreciation. Without specifying an absolute place on any scale where “good” might be — it is up to every picture taker to find their comfortable position, but at least we all can be thinking about them on common scales, and have concrete attributes we can explore. Rubin, 2022
Rubin's categories are:
Things → Moments, static vs. dynamic
Obvious → Cryptic, how long it takes the viewer to (think they) understand the subject
Composition: Formal → Random, orderly, organised vs. complex and purposeless
Authentic → Fabricated, with or without intervention.
Rubin, M. (2022) 8 Useful Ways to Describe and Measure Your Photos [online]. petapixel.com. Available from https://petapixel.com/2022/03/16/8-useful-ways-to-describe-and-measure-your-photos/ [Accessed 17 March 2022].
From the Times today.
A real clothes horse — the art that makes you look twice at everyday objects
Helga Stentzel’s household surrealism, which “finds magic in the mundane”, is the subject of a new exhibition
Helga Stentzel works in the “household surrealism” genre, which to her is about finding magic in the mundane, seeing beauty in imperfections, and connecting to our reality in a new way.
“Even though nature alone has an array of patterns and playful similarities to explore and build on, in my practice I focus on juxtaposition of the natural world with man-made objects, be it a sweater on a clothing line looking like a horse or a slice of bread resembling a dog’s head,’” she says.
“There is something comforting in building a visual link between a highly recognizable object designed by a human being and another equally recognizable object or subject of natural origin. As it is vital for me to reproduce reality in its finest detail, my preferred media are photography and videography with the occasional use of line drawings and digital illustration.
“I keep photoshop editing to a minimum by investing time in creating realistic props. What looks like a quick fix or an effortless match on a photo may take weeks of preparation. For example, I glued 52 green gummy bears to a vine to recreate a bunch of grapes for the My Kind of Grapes photograph. For Hang On! (the image of a polar bear from my Clothing Line Animals series) I hand-painted and embroidered a hat for a greater resemblance with the bear's head.”
The pieces will be on display at The Other Art Fair at Truman Brewery in east London from March 17-20. cite
It is not made clear who concocted the rather lame labels. #14 gives the impression of being translated from another language.
unattributed (2022) A real clothes horse — the art that makes you look twice at everyday objects [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/a-real-clothes-horse-the-art-that-makes-you-look-twice-at-everyday-objects-zrnn3l3kg [Accessed 18 March 2022].
Two personal truths have emerged from LPE so far:
1 When I was awarded 60% for I&P, I thought,
You've found your voice when you stop trying to please other people.
This might be worth refining to,
You won't find your voice until you stop trying to please other people.
2 During Part 3 I concluded that
All landscape photography is by definition site-specific and it is likely that all site-specific photography is landscape.
That last point is not immediately apparent, for example:
some architectural and some external travel photography is site-specific, but arguably, where that is the case, it is also a subset of landscape
and some events might seem sight-specific, for example, the Monaco Grand Prix and the siege of Troy, thus making photographs of the events (if possible) also sight-specific. But this is misleading. Many countries' Grands Prix (for example Germany, the UK, the US) have taken place in various locations: it just so happens that because of its size, the Principality of Monaco can only fit a road race in one place. The siege of Troy is necessarily tied to a location, but was only one event in the larger Trojan War. In both cases, the photograph would be taken where the event happened to take place, not because of the place itself.
#2 has turned into a ramble.
We have encountered Jonathan Miller's nowhere in particular, one aspect of which is torn posters. In August 2021 I reported the acquisition of a copy of Ralston Crawford's Torn Signs, on my watch list for some time. And Walker Evans' Torn Movie Poster, 1930 is well known
L’Œil de la Photographie today featured Kasia Wandycz's Paper, a welcome contribution to the genre,
The destructuring, and the tearing of the paper with the wear of the weather, caught the attention of Kasia Wandycz during her photographic reports and her walks in town.
By observing this material displayed in advertising or political propaganda, by tracing a path like a reporter’s card in “flaneur” mode, she captured its new graphic forms, documenting the passage of time. Aragon, described with nostalgia in Le Paysan de Paris, the structure of the Parisian city impacted by the arrival of contemporary boulevards. Challenged by its poetry, its flush textures and its unexpected colors, the desire to bring this patinated paper back to life seemed obvious to her. Make its beauty appear in its decomposition by reframing, capturing the light, with its personal imprint. Divert the original message to give free rein to a new interpretation.
The year 2020, particularly trying in its suspended time, allowed her to focus more on this noble material and to better observe the displayed, torn paper.
Through her works, Kasia Wandycz pays homage to paper by emphasizing its letters of nobility in a world increasingly oriented towards the smooth and sanitized screen. Its documentation puts into perspective the future of paper, the role it plays in our lives and highlights the technological overconsumption that destroys our ecosystem in an even more frightening way. The series entitled PAPER has been ongoing since 2015.
Of Polish origin, Kasia Wandycz was born in the United States. After graduating with a B.A. specializing in graphic art at Connecticut College, Connecticut, USA, she continued her studies in painting at the Academy of Plastic Arts in Krakow, Poland. She lives in Paris, France, and was a photojournalist for Paris Match magazine for over 25 years.
www.wandycz.fr L’Œil de la Photographie
anon (2022) Kasia Wandycz, Paper [online]. loeildelaphotographie.com. Available from https://loeildelaphotographie.com/en/kasia-wandycz-dv [Accessed 26 March 2022].
But in the meantime, here are two pieces from yesterday's L’Œil de la Photographie.
Form does not exist without emptiness.
The relationship of the void between the built spaces is the base of my artistic approach. I draw from it an artistic and semantic material from which I build my graphic universe. It is not the faithful reproduction of the building that matters to me. While respecting its origin, its nature, its function, I seek new forms. I create tension through disparate shadows, through divergent lines to create a dynamic and harmonic balance. Architect by training, I apprehend the photographic medium following the approach of an architectural design. I analyze the place to soak up its essence and try to collect a small detail without ever losing sight of the unity of the whole. Positioning myself as an observer of space, like the gaze of a wanderer immersing himself in an unknown place. The “urban topology” series attempts to alternate and mix the instantaneous gaze as seen from above to encompass everything and the successive itinerant gaze of the one who walks through this space.
Misa Ato : Topologie Urbaine
from Tuesday March 29 to May 3, 2022
Presence of the artist on April 01 and April 29 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
6 rue Levat 34000 Montpellier, France
Landscapes of ruins, chaos of combat, scenes of victory or defeat, portraits of soldiers or civilians… Images of war, and particularly of past wars, permeate our collective memory, particularly through the prism of photography.
The Musée de l’Armée presents for the first time an exhibition devoted not to the conflict, but to the representation of it through photography, which goes far beyond war reporting. Since the appearance of this new medium on a battlefield in the middle of the 19th century, the relationship between photography and war has been complex, arising from plural practices (amateur or professional), multiple intentions and uses (informing, documenting , to prove, convince, legitimize, deceive, denounce, testify, remember…) in the most varied fields (military, political, economic, but also social, cultural and aesthetic).
Glass plates, contact sheets, albums, portfolios, portraits, stereoscopic views, small and large formats… From the Siege of Rome (1849) to the current war in Syria, via the Civil War, the war of 1870, both world conflicts, the Vietnam War, the Cold War or even the wars of decolonization, the course brings together more than 300 photographs telling the story of a media construction of the war through the image.
Amateur and professional photographers confront the singularity of their views and their objectives, including those of Margaret Bourke-White, Gerda Grepp, Lee Miller, Robert Capa, Paul Corcuff, Marc Riboud, Don McCullin, Gilles Caron, Nick Ut, Yan Morvan, Laurent Van der Stockt, Richard Mosse, Émeric Lhuisset and Michel Slomka.
Through them, themes as diverse as the evolution of the press in the 20th century, the myth of the photojournalist, the conquest of public opinion, the private image, the dramatization of death, the veracity of image, the ethics of the photographer or even the evolution of his status and the emergence of the notion of author. Finally, the Photographs at War exhibition is an opportunity to highlight the exceptional photographic collections of the Musée de l’Armée, rich in more than 60,000 items, as well as its policy of active acquisition from contemporary photographers, such as Philippe de Poulpiquet or Édouard Eli
The first war photographers operated during the siege of Rome by the French army from June to July 1849. First used as archival documents, their photographs represent the new ruins of Rome. But the real boom in war photography occurred during the Crimean War (1853-1856), a theater of operations in which the English photographers Roger Fenton (1818-1869) and James Robertson (1813-1888) were sent to cover the conflict and document daily life
From the 1850s, photography became a veritable source for press illustration. Thanks to the evolution of techniques, the end of the 1880s saw the birth of the golden age of the illustrated press, seducing readers with bold layouts and the construction of photographic stories.
Considered as a testimony to reality, photography became, at the dawn of the great world conflicts, a propaganda weapon for the benefit of belligerents who now produced their own images for the press.
The myth of the photojournalist developed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Hailed for their courage, war photographers travelled close to conflict, thwarting death and censorship to bring back the most authentic images. The United States, during the Vietnam War, gave great freedom to photojournalists, who thus brought back images of the conflict, which have become iconic. Twenty years later, during the first Gulf War, they chose to limit press freedom in theaters of operations, plunging photojournalism into a crisis of representation.
If photography serves as an illustration, it is also a technical means that evolved over time and inventions. From the calotype in the middle of the 19th century to the very long-range thermal camera, the Photographs at War exhibition explores the evolution of these techniques in the service of the image, with the aim of representing a conflict or an era. The 1860s saw the development of studios and houses specializing in the market of photographic prints.
At the end of the 19th century, the rise of the photographic industry allowed a democratization of amateur photography and more and more combatants recorded their experience of war. These millions of private images compete with official images.
Photographies en guerre
April 6 – July 24, 2022
Hôtel national des Invalides
129, rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris, France
Quoted by Jonathan Meades in a review of biographies of Francis Bacon by Michael Peppiatt and France Borel.
An artist is a person who has invented an artist. Meades, 2021, p.19
This attunes with my notion of 19th December, "You've found your voice when you stop trying to please other people".
Meades, J. (2021) Pedro and Ricky come again. London: Unbound.
British photographer Paul Hart’s debut exhibition in the USA opens at the Etherton Gallery. Paul Hart : The Fens features works from the Fenland Series ; FARMED (2009-15), DRAINED (2016-17) and RECLAIMED (2018-19) made by the artist as silver gelatin prints. The exhibition runs from 5th April – 28 May in the Pop-Up Gallery in conjunction with the gallery exhibition Transience by artist Kate Breakey.
Paul Hart (b. 1961) is interested in our relationship with the landscape from both a cultural and an environmental perspective. His work examines human-altered topography and our occupation and stewardship of the land, usually concentrating on one specific geographical region where he photographs intensively over a number of years. He works primarily with the black and white analogue process, using large and medium format film cameras, and his practice involves all aspects of the photographic process from the negative through to the gelatin silver print. Hart has received a number of international awards ; in 2018/19 he was granted the inaugural Wolf Suschitzky Prize (UK/Austria) and was shortlisted for the Mark Rothko Memorial Trust Award (Latvia) and the HARIBAN Award (Japan).
The Fens, originally a region of low-lying marshland in the east of England, has been artificially drained over centuries to provide some of Britain’s most fertile agricultural land. It is a landscape of agribusiness with monoculture at it’s core, defined by human migration and long-term reclamation from the sea. For over ten years Hart has explored this wide-open landscape of straight lines and flat horizons, and nature’s vulnerability within this unsheltered, unprotected environment.
The Etherton Gallery is a long-standing member of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD). Since 1981 the gallery has showcased the icons of the history of photography as well as contemporary artists changing its course, participating in fine art photography fairs including the AIPAD Photography Show NY, Classic Photographs LA, and Paris Photo.
“Hart’s landscapes create a dialogue between art and document, lyricism and storytelling, the sublime and the ordinary… Almost everywhere, rectilinear and regular shapes unfold, impeccably drawn furrows responding to rows of trees, industrial constructions and metal structures… Unlike the sort of landscape photography that long incarnated the collective and historical body of the nation, Hart’s images take on a universal value : the battered and exhausted Fens resonate like a subtle metaphor for what humanity engenders and inflicts on itself.”
Isabelle Bonnet, RECLAIMED, Dewi Lewis Publishing (2020)
Kate Breakey : Transience – Paul Hart : The Fens
5th April – 28th May, 2022
240 S. Convent Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701, USA
As an introduction
If the technique does not make the art, the anteriority does not necessarily make the artist. However, when a new vision emerges in a work long before society has appropriated it, it is sometimes useful to rethink its anteriority. This is the case for certain artists who are or have been part of the Gallery: Anna Blume but also Dany Leriche, Nancy Wilson Pajic and more specifically for this exhibition: Lydia Flem. “Artists are like drums,” she says, “and you don’t always hear them.”
The asymmetrical order of the world
“One autumn afternoon, I was playing with a black feathered mask, an old ivory thimble and, equipped with scissors, I cut out the outline of my hands on photocopies of two love letters exchanged by my parents, seeking to compose a kind of rebus around the mysteries of love and writing. Then, by some association of ideas, as in a dream, or on the analyst’s couch, I suddenly looked in my archives for my first notebooks, which I had kept since the 1960s. dismayed, from the first sentences, which the school imposed to the girls of the time to learn to read and write, trauma of an access to the French language and to the culture which were registered from the start, as evidence, with the color of discrimination:
Dad shaves in the morning, works in his office, drives his car, smokes while reading his newspaper, listens to the radio.
Mom prepares dinner, washes the dishes, irons the laundry, cleans the house, sews and knits.
The most offensive, perhaps, was, in the margin, in capital letters and in red, underlined, the mention TB, very good. Chilling. I had to promise myself from that age that I would oppose this asymmetrical order of the world”. (1)
To be a painter and reverse your destiny
“The figure of Artemisia Gentileschi has become a symbol of the fight that women have been leading to conquer their rights to share the same humanity as those of men. Because the young girl abused, humiliated, and even tortured during the trial for rape, which lasted nine months, from March to November 1612, metamorphosed into one of the rare women painters of the 17th century, admitted, in 1616, to the prestigious Accademia delle Arti del Disegno in Florence. Artemisia reversed her destiny, she invented her own life. What she had always wanted, she became: an artist, free, mistress of herself, soon famous in all the courts of Europe, who through her work expressed the value and the creative power of women. »
The Femicide, a photographic series
“In 2016, with a pair of old scissors in my hand, it occurred to me to zigzag out a few advertisements for women praising luxury perfumes, then I put the scissors, a little rusty, on banal reproductions masterpieces of Western art history. I claim this banality of the form because it resonates with the banality of the content: this thousand-year-old mixture of the exaltation of feminine beauty and the violence that continues to be done to women because they are feminine beings. . This series, I called it “Femicide”, a legal concept born in Latin America, which here has become an aesthetic tool and device.” (2)
“Among the books in my library, I sought out the iconic faces that have celebrated the idealized beauty of women for centuries. I then found a modest pocket book bought during the Parisian exhibition of Artemisia Gentileschi. I recognized one of her most famous paintings, Susanna and the elders, painted around 1610. Out of curiosity, I reread a few pages of this little catalogue. The biblical figure of Susanna, Artemisia Gentileschi, had chosen to represent her with her own features. This tormented body, assaulted by two lustful figures was none other than a self-portrait. This very young pitturessa, a pupil of her own father, Orazio Gentileschi, who taught her the art of painting in the manner of Caravaggio, had just been raped in the studio of this same father, by a friend of the latter, also a painter, supposed to teach her the art of perspective. Agostino Tassi, renowned throughout Rome for his trompe-l’oeil frescoes, promised her marriage, cheated on her, and raped her. But Artemisia lacked neither the audacity nor the talent to dare to assert herself in the face of male domination. Above the body of the betrayed woman, she did not represent, as it is traditional to do, two old men, but only one, the other male figure had the dark curls of a young man, those of Agostino Tassi, her rapist. (1) »
A bit of terminology
In the text of a theatrical comedy by Paul Scarron, written in 1652, the word femicide appears for the first time. Used in the expression “doing femicide”, it translates into the desire expressed by a man to brutalize a woman. In France, the General Commission of Terminology and Neology, which works in conjunction with the French Academy, has recommended its usage in the field of law in 2014, with the meaning of “homicide of a woman, a young girl or a child because of her sex”. It entered the Le Robert dictionary in 2015: “murder of a woman, a girl, because of her sex”. However, it remained absent in 2019 from most dictionaries and in particular from the Trésor de la langue française and was not recognized that same year by the French Academy.
(1) The quotes are taken from two lectures by Lydia Flem at the Maison de l’Amérique Latine, on February 28, 2017 and May 2, 2018, and from the catalog, Lydia Flem, Féminicide éd. Galerie Françoise Paviot, 2021, (off market). https://lydia-flem.com/
(2) Lydia Flem “exhibits” for the first time the 70 unpublished photographs of her video “Féminicide” (1’43), at the Maison de l’Amérique Latine, on February 28, 2017, during an evening devoted to books by Ivan Jablonka, Laetitia ou la fin des hommes (2016), with interventions by Annie Ernaux, Luc Dardenne, Ivan Jablonka, Maurice Olender, Edwy Plenel and François Vitrani.
Artists outside the walls
-Jürgen Nefzger : hanging of the series “Bure or life in the woods” in the “Cellule de performance” exhibition at MABA / Nogent-sur-Marne. April 7 – July 17, 2022
“The Cellule de performance exhibition highlights groups that co-exist together and are united by a common objective, that of paying attention to others, to the world and its various human and non-human ecosystems. » More info https://www.fondationdesartistes.fr/lieu/maba/
-Juliette Agnel : presence of the photographic series “Taharqua” in the exhibition “Pharaoh of the two lands, the African epic of the kings of Napata”. April 28-July 25, 2022
More info https://www.louvre.fr/en-ce-moment/expositions/pharaon-des-deux-terres
Lydia Flem : Féminicides
from April 9 to May 28, 2022
Galerie Françoise Paviot
57 Rue Sainte-Anne
75002 Paris, France
L'ŒIL DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE APRIL 29, 2022
Rizzoli recently released SAVED by Diane Keaton. A visual autobiography of a kind as only Diane Keaton could tell it, via the celebrated star’s idiosyncratic and personal collections and ruminative texts, SAVED offers an unprecedented glimpse into the mind of Diane Keaton.
Rizzoli’s Pam Sommers sparked our interest with the following lines :
SAVED is impossible to pop into an easy category—it is a compendium of quixotic imagery that appeals to…Diane Keaton. She has asked who would care about what she cuts out and pastes into a scrapbook —it’s just what amuses her. But I care and you will too if your world is fed in any way by the visual and how it can be injected with new life in the hands of someone with such a keen appreciation for the beauty of the absurd.
There’s a chapter of images extracted from Clinical Diagnoses of Diseases of the Mouth—a vintage medical book she found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market that taps into her lifelong “horror of teeth”—a phobia shared by more than a few of us.
A trove of portrait transparencies that languished in storage so long that they deteriorated into even more fabulously weird and eerie images.
While many of the images are found, scrapbooked, saved, and collaged into enigmatic and compelling new visions, her own photos are also represented in a chapter titled The Ostentatious Flash—Weegee- and Arbus-esque portraits captured on Hollywood Boulevard, with her vintage Rolleiflex, over decades.
Images of dogs, statues, car crash victims, pigeons, fashion accessories, collages, houses—all gathered into enigmatic, intriguing scrapbooks her whole life and shared in these handsomely designed pages.
About the author: Diane Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress, director, and author whose books with Rizzoli include California Romantica, House, and The House That Pinterest Built. Follow her on Instagram: @Diane_Keaton.
By Diane Keaton
Hardcover / 208 pages / 10” x 12” / 200 photos
$55.00 U.S. / $75.00 CAN; £39.95 U.K. Rizzoli New York / ISBN: 978-0-8478-7128-5
Asg.3 finished at last and submitted late on 30th.
Five in attendance:
Caroline who is just finishing Asg.4
Mirjan from Switzerland, just starting Asg.1
Simon just finishing Asg.5, Acts of Enclosure which was discussed, mostly in terms of image choice and sequencing;
Rod, working on Part 5 and who kindly provided some missing course material
I had just submitted to my tutor and uploaded for the group my Asg.3 which I sought to explain, not very well. The clearest reaction was that the text was allocated more real estate than the images: I tried to explain that would be corrected in the envisaged real, physical piece but the uploaded version was a compromise for digital submission.
I asked for recommendations for creating slideshows - iMovie (which I am now trying).
Next meeting 15th June.
We looked at pictorialism in LPE Part 1 and it is easy to be dismissive of it — I still need to dig out a quote from Bill Jay. But here's a view from from AD. Coleman's The Directorial Mode (1976) a magisterial survey of photohistory.
Pictorialism, then, was the first photographic movement to oppose the imposition of realism as a moral imperative. The pictorialists felt free to exercise full control over the appearance of the final image/ object and, equally, over the event it described. Practitioners staged events - often elaborate ones - for their cameras, and resorted to every device from specially made soft-focus lenses to handwork on the negative in order to produce a final print that matched their vision. Much of the imagery they created was , and is, extremely silly; much of it was, and is still, beautiful and strong. For all their excesses, Anne Engman, Clarence White, F. Holland Day, Gertrude Kasebier, and many others produced some remarkable and durable work. Creatively, the kind of photography we now call pictorialism reached its peak during and shortly after the Photo-Secession era from the turn of the century through the early 1920s. Then it began to come up against the purist attitude. The clash between these two opposing camps came to a head in the pages of Camera Craft, a West Coast magazine, in the early thirties, in the form of a heated exchange of letters between various members and sympathizers of the f/64 movement (among them Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke) and William Mortensen.
Mortensen was a practitioner of and articulate spokesman for pictorialism, though by the time he achieved recognition the form was already in decline. In the minds of most, the purist-pictorialist schism was simplistically conceptualized as hard sharp prints on glossy paper versus soft blurry prints on matte paper. The actual issue at stake was far more complex: it concerned the right of the image-maker to generate every aspect of a photographic image, even to create a "false" reality if required. (Mortensen himself worked almost entirely in the studio, creating elaborate symbolist allegories filled with demons, grotesque, and women both ravishing and ravaged.)
The debate was a draw, at least in retrospect, but second-stage Hegelianism won the day: the aesthetic pendulum swung to purism, and pictorialism fell into disrepute. Mortensen - who, in addition to this debate, was widely published in photography magazines and authored a series of how-to books which are to pictorialism what Ansel Adams's instructional volumes are to purism-was actually purged from the history of photography in what seems a deliberate attempt to break the movement's back.*
* From the first one in 1937 to the most recent of 1964, no edition of Beaumont Newhall's The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present Day - the standard reference in the field - so much as mentions the name of William Mortensen. It will he instructive to see whether the forthcoming edition-a major revision supported by the Guggenheim Foundation-rectifies this omission. In fact, none of the hooks on the history of twentieth-century photography refers to Mortensen. If this could he considered even an oversight, the only questions it would raise would concern standards of scholarship. Since it cannot be construed as anything less than a conscious choice, however, the issue is not only competence but professional ethicality. AD. Coleman, The Directorial Mode, 1976 in Light Readings, 1979, pp. 246-257
I'll check my latest Newhall — in the 1982 edition there is an index entry for Mortensen, but this is not within the 26-page chapter on Pictorial Photography, rather, there is a dismissive line in the long piece on Ansel Adams and the f/64 Group whose work was, "a violent reaction to the weak, sentimental style then popular with the pictorial photographers in California, as seen particularly in the highly sentimental, mildly erotic hand-coloured prints of William Mortensen" (p.192).
At Photo London this week, I snapped the cover of a book on Mortensen that looked interesting (note the Adams quote on the cover, "for us, Mortensen was the anti-Christ", although Coleman (1996, p.99) states that Adams said this of Steichen after the latter supplanted Newhall at MoMA). And Mortensen gets a good, positive entry in Coleman's The Grotesque in Photography (1977).
Coleman A.D. (1977) The Grotesque in Photography . NY: Ridge Press.
Coleman A.D. (1979) Light Readings. NY: OUP.
Coleman, A.D. (1996) Tarnished silver: after the photo boom. Tucson, AZ.: Nazraeli Press.
Newhall, B (1982) The history of photography. London: Secker & Warburg.
A good day out a Photographica. The first person I met of the way in was handing out flyers for the South London Camera Fair, the first since Covid began. I used to attend quite often, and that's where I bought my Pentax 67 with 3 lenses 30+ years ago: I managed not to buy one today, but it was a delight to pick one up again and I noted that the prices are higher today than when I bought mine.
Inside, I expected to buy books, but did not do so. I did find a nice Linhof monopod and a chap selling little compacts converted for IR — and bought a Lumix TZ8 for £85.
Another good piece from L’Œil de la Photographie today.
Global Landscapes is a photographic long term project on the contemporary landscape. It’s based on the awareness that the presence of man has radically changed the environment.
Nothing new, the idea though is to discover again what we take for granted but isn’t.
These images, shot in very different geographic areas, from the United States to Iceland, from Oman to Singapore, show the globalization trademarks that we all know, with differences between countries less and less evident.
Landscapes that look the same everywhere, not just globalized but globalizing, with contradictions and ‘cold’ similitudes; either urban or natural, spaces and environments become mere backgrounds to subjects and objects which, while on one hand seem surreal, ‘out of place’, are on the other “recognized” as part of our daily life.
This contrast is fascinating and unsettling at the same time; photography allows us to go in depth and analyse aspects that normally flow away in indifference, making us reflect upon the “visual excesses” we’re unconsciously dealing with every day and that seldom surface to consciousness.
The Environment is therefore presented here as almost accidental, discordant, where nature seems temporarily or irredeemably defeated.
At the beginning of the visual journey these settings appear normal and familiar, but eventually it’s those discordant elements, the annoying colour of a sign post, the fake reproduction of a landscape on the back of a truck, the ones that we’ll remember.
Man, it seems, is no match for nature.
These photos are included GLOBAL LANDSCAPES book, published in a Fine-Art edition (Massimo Fiameni Editore) in 100 copies (120 pages with 61 color photos 32.5cm * 24.5cm).
Stefano Parisi is a fine-art photographer based in Milan (Italy). In recent years Stefano Parisi has focused his photographic research on anthropized landscape, after a long period dedicated to reportage.
Travel and photography have always been for Parisi two strongly related passions. Trip after trip, his attraction to the landscape and the marks left by man on his environment has become more and more intense, characterizing his photographic research.
I have mentioned elsewhere my volunteering at the Courtauld Institute for their project digitising the Conway photo archive. Another session there today and a new job: my last two visits have involved photographs of Medieval manuscripts, but today I had my first look at the Kersting archive. K. was a prolific landscape photographer in the second half of C20th and he left his archive to Courtaulds.
This task is more rewarding as I can get involved at an earlier stage and sort and select representative images from the blue boxes.
Two good sets in L’Œil de la Photographie this weekend,
The Eclipse offers a panorama of photographs by Stéphane Charpentier in silver black and white, captured over a decade in Greece, a country reflecting a world plunged into economic, political and human crises. But more than a documentary or an intimate essay, The Eclipse reveals different levels of reading and meaning. The book combines poetic images of a suffering humanity, with an iconography that is both symbolic and dreamlike, almost metaphysical. Interludes composed of mosaics of rephotographed prints evoke this density and this contemporary chaos, while the last sequence of images opens onto natural, virgin and dazzling spaces, from which all the light finally springs.
The texts in English and French are transcriptions of recorded dialogues and form a background sound on this present torn between struggle and hope.
Stéphane Charpentier presents an introspective and existential photography in black and white film, ensuring himself all the stages of production, the manual development and the creation of the prints in the darkroom. He has produced numerous exhibitions for nearly twenty years in France and internationally, and he also shows his work in the form of books, photographic films and image and sound performances.
Stéphane Charpentier : The Eclipse
88 images + mosaics
graphics: Typical Organization / photoengraving: Guillaume Geneste
selling price: 38 euros
ISBN : 979-10-95233-13-8
The series examines and reproduces the fact (according to neurological studies I’ve read) that our brains, as a survival mechanism, can only process a few things at a time.
Thus, most of the information we take in visually is thrown out, or given less prominence in order not to overwhelm our senses.
In my work, I’m picking out what I notice the most in an image, and I give it more prominence, either by rotating or enlarging a section, segmenting others, or colorizing select pieces.
I’m trying to replicate what I think my brain is selecting what I see, not what my eyes see.
When not discussing each other's work, the most frequent topic of conversation within the LPE Chat Group is Voice Development. LO5 for for LPE,
LO5 demonstrate increasing autonomy and a developing personal voice, and exercise your communication skills confidently and interact effectively within a learning group
LO5 Your learning log will likely demonstrate your developing personal voice and engagement with your learning community - this could be amongst the OCA student body through forum activity, group work sessions, study visits or regional groups; or your increasing autonomy may relate to interacting with photographers outside OCA. Try to identify where in this project your interactions have helped shape your developing practice, knowledge, understanding and communication skills, then select any aspects of the work that help to show this.
from OCA Learn: https://learn.oca.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=201
In the November 21 meeting, mention had been made of a podcast by the BBC's Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet entitled How I Found My Voice in which she states,
In choosing the questions we ask, we are choosing the answers we want to hear, choosing the stories we want to tell Lyse Doucet How I Found My Voice
This resonated with several members as reading across to their photography and came up again in the June meeting, raised by a member nearing the end of the course. A member mentioned another recent audio item on the way David Bowie reinvented himself for the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (Penna & Clark, 2022). Bowie stated in a 1972 interview
The big struggle was wondering whether I should try and be me, or if I couldn't cope with that, then make up some people and would I be them easier? And that's how Ziggy got started, you see, if I don't like being David Jones, then we'll think of someone else to be for a bit [1:40] David Bowie, 1972
And he subsequently adopted new personæfor later projects. Bowie was malleable and developed a character appropriate to the work at hand: no doubt the work itself was further transformed by the new character in what we economists used to call a self-stroking cycle.
I emailed the person who introduced the Bowie piece, sharing a quote from Alfredo Cramerotti's foreword to David Bate's Notes on Otherness (2022)
… in order to achieve a goal, we need first to imagine a form for it, and then proceed following a set of 'visual instructions'. This, in turn, reminds me of the teaching of the theatre director and playwright, Jerzy Grotowski. For him, one needs to have a 'rigorous' internal structure to be able to shape cultural forms with the force of life. Conversely, it is necessary to have a strong pressure in life to be able to respond with the greatest of the discipline of forms. This suggests that, the more 'intense' a life is - the denser both on psychological and material level - the more form is important as an instrument of the thinking process, and as a tool for physically shaping outcome. Cramerotti in Bate, 2022
In subsequent correspondence, I included my store of thoughts and quotes on the matter of Voice,
My own thought on the matter was "you've found your voice when you stop trying to please other people" - written after a dismal assessment mark for I&P and soon after moderated to "you won't find your voice until you stop trying to please other people". I'll stick to that for now.
Jonathan Meades in Pedro and Ricky come again (2021), in a review of biographies of Francis Bacon by Michael Peppiatt and France Borel quoted Harold Rosenberg, "An artist is a person who has invented an artist."
(That chimes with Bowie).
For PhotoWork (2019) Sasha Wolf asked forty photographers a series of identical questions, including one about their 'natural voice'. Bryan Schutmaat replied, I
I'm not sure any photographer really has a natural voice. Photographers train themselves to follow their tastes and visual interests, and so much influence is funnelled through every click of the shutter that it's hard to say what comes naturally and what is learned or imitated. I also don't think our photographic voices and styles are rigid and immutable.
Bate, D. (2022) Notes on Otherness, Photography as Critical Practice. Bristol: Intellect Books
Ducet, L. (2019) How I Found My Voice [online].intelligencesquared.com. Available from https://intelligencesquared.com/how-i-found-my-voice/ [Accessed 21 Jun 2022].
Meades, J. (2021) Pedro and Ricky come again. London: Unbound.
Penna, T. & Clark, S (2022) Ziggy Stardust at 50 [online]. bbc.co.uk. Available from https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00187c6 [Accessed 21 Jun 2022].
Wolf, S. (2019) Photo Work: forty photographers on process and practice. New York: Aperture Foundation
Just when we thought that it was over, we're down with Covid, whatever the current variant is.
Further on this discussion, my correspondent replied on 28 Jun,
Thank you for this insight. I think there is much more to unravel. It follows the similar lines to Edge Lands, where this looks at different aspects of landscape. The voice looks at the different characteristics of the individual. In both cases the process is comparing and contrasting. The notion of the landscape or the voice adds context to the subject. I know this sounds rather simple but I find taking subjects back to the base level helps me not only understand, it allows me to interpolate. Hopefully if I can improve on my research this should aid developing a project going forward.
and I replied today
I think I understand what you are saying, but that's not the way my head works.
For any project (that being a very loose term), be it self-chosen or OCA-derived, I need a subject (again loose), an intended delivery format and an approach (loose). I juggle combinations until one or more appear satisfactory, then might try them.
The three main problems with this are
1. OCA deadlines often do not allow enough time.
2. OCA's digital delivery only often frustrates my concept
3. sometimes, coming up with a satisfactory solution is sufficient and I don't feel the need to implement it - seeing it in my head is enough.
All of my terms, project, subject, delivery and approach need defining and perhaps relabelling, but they give a hint of my intended meaning.
Instructions for 13th July https://discuss.oca-student.com/t/landscape-place-environment-zoom-july-2022/16663.
Next meeting 10th August.
This is interesting and potentially useful,
Pause in a park or field in summer and look out across the grass and you'll see a multitude of thin, earthy tracks breaking up the swaths of green like shatters in a pane of glass. These are most commonly known as desire paths - although other names include cow paths, desire lines, pirate paths or social trails - and are created when humans (or animals) are drawn in the same direction over and over, flattening the grass and eventually wearing it away.
The term 'desire path' was coined by French scientist, philosopher and poet Gaston Bachelard in his 1958 book La Poetique de! 'Esp ace (o r 'The Poetics of Space'). He described them as paths 'created by usage' which pedestrians have taken to get 'from point A to point B more quickly than the predetermined paths (like sidewalks) that have been put in place'.
The French Marxist theorist Guy Debord wrote in the 1950s that 'progress means breaking through fields where chance holds sway by creating new conditions more favourable to our purpose'. Creating these 'new conditions' can play into the often obstinate nature of human beings. There are paths which shave the tiniest corner off a paved intersection, defiantly disobey prominent 'keep off the grass' signs or force their way through hedges and fences. I've seen paths which seemingly lead to nowhere, strengthened by collective nosiness - or up hills to lookout points, helpful markers left by others who have enjoyed the same view. Glastonbury is covered with them: paths beaten into the ground by weary revellers heading back to their tents. Long after the festival ground is cleared, a network of weaving, wobbling tracks remains. There are even virtual desire paths built into the landscape in certain video games.
Desire lines often denote places where life and movement supersede order and architectural design. Some architects have decided to work with, rather than against, this expression of human desire: following the paths that ought to have been built rather than those that were. Michigan State University, for example, was initially built without footpaths. The architects left the students to create desire paths - demonstrating the most direct or natural route between buildings - and then filled those in with Tarmac. In Finland, city planners watch for the first tracks made in fresh snow and sketch ideas from the trails left behind. Architect Riccardo Marini traces lines of dropped cigarette butts and chewing gum across London to decide where benches should be placed.
Perhaps the most successful desire path is New York's Broadway. According to some urban planners, the route was initially formed by Native American settlers, connecting conurbations across swampland which, in time, gave way to high rises.
Desire paths serve as a physical testament to human decision-making, a celebration of collective disobedience. Next time I cut a corner or push my way through the undergrowth, I'll hope my small act of rebellion will one day become a beaten track. Hannah Tomes, Spectator, 9 July 2022
Tomes, H. (2022) Desire paths. The Spectator. Vol. 340 no. 10,115, 9 July 2022, p.50.
A day trip to Brighton last Saturday.
Positive feedback on the essay Asg4.
The music score has arrived for Asg.5.
Two stories in The Times today which I earmarked for DIC.
Fig. 1, under the heading Tory leadership race: MPs rebuke ‘dangerous’ Nadine Dorries for knife tweet reports that Dorries retweeted this finely detained and precise montage, combining a still from Julius Caesar (Joseph L. Mankiewicz. 1953) and the heads of Boris and Rishi in the foreground and others from the 1922 committee. It is credited to PIXEL8000.
Dathan, M. (2022) Tory leadership race: MPs rebuke ‘dangerous’ Nadine Dorries for knife tweet [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/15e56bf0-10f9-11ed-b5dc-213f5c972cc4 [Accessed 1 August 2022].
Fig. 2 headed Briton’s prosthetic leg edited out for Spanish campaign concerns "launched last week by the Women’s Institute, part of the Ministry of Equality, under the title: “Summer is ours too.” The accompanying artwork shows five women with different body types, ages and ethnicities, and includes a topless woman who has had a single mastectomy". But "Sian Green-Lord said that a photograph of her, in which she proudly shows her prosthetic leg, was used and altered without her permission".
"The Women’s Institute [had] said at the launch: 'The campaign is intended as a response to fatphobia, hatred and the questioning of non-normative bodies — particularly those of women, something that’s most prevalent in the summertime' … It later apologised on social media and said it was resolving the issues raised by the artist and the [unpaid] models.
What a mess. The artist was Arte Mapach.
Sharrock, D. (2022) Briton’s prosthetic leg edited out for Spanish campaign [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/b10902b0-1101-11ed-b5dc-213f5c972cc4 [Accessed 1 August 2022].
Back to work on the Conway archive yesterday. My first chance to try the photographing process - after sorting and numbering all the thousands of boxes of images, each item is photographed using a PhaseOne camera on a large copying workstation. All the photographs that day were of illuminated manuscripts - 5 boxes per shift, around 500 backing sheets, most with a single photograph, some with several.
The subject was a 12th century encyclopedia containing chapters on science, medicine, astrology and astronomy — as I said to my colleague, all the scientific knowledge in the world, nearly all of it nonsense. Only two of the photographs were in colour and the highlight of the show was this full page drawing of a lion.
I mentioned during C&N that the technical requirements for online submissions should be updated, the latest I could find being those in the 2017 edition of EyV, see right.
This is still the latest published version that I am aware of.
Bloomfield, R (2017) Expressing your vision [EyV]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.
A thought today: The attachment of a title declares, or at least implies, the importance of an image, made with intention and with purpose.
This applies whether the image is on a gallery wall, in a family album, in a report or newspaper.
The choice of a declarative Untitled (date optional) is a special case, stating that this is art, made with intention and with purpose.
There are two modes of untitled, firstly as bestowed by the photo-artist while still alive, and secondly bestowed posthumously by a gallery or vendor which has the additional function of emphasising that its maker was an artist.
You never know with cameras this old (or of any age for that matter), but the condition looks good. Leica had to replace some of the sensors, so time will tell. Worth a punt.
[17Aug] The S2 is a delight to use — slow and deliberate (it takes 5 seconds to save a Raw file) but the results are surprisingly good.
[19Aug] The shutter count was just under 1,000 when it arrived, now slightly over. The method of finding it is bizarre -
Two articles of importance recently,
Foeke Postma looks at using reverse image search to discover the locations of old photographs.
Postma, F. (2022) Using New Tech to Investigate Old Photographs [online]. bellingcat.com. Available from https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/2022/08/09/using-new-tech-to-investigate-old-photographs/ [Accessed 15 August 2022].
"A new smartphone app is offering hope to people trying to preserve Ukraine's war-threatened historic buildings.""
ABC News (2022) Ukrainians using new smartphone app to make precious 3D records of war-threatened historic buildings and monuments [online]. abc.net.au. Available from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-10/ukraine-archivists-preserve-lost-buildings/101319376 [Accessed 15 August 2022].
The Times runs a piece every week called My culture fix where, as might be expected, a name lists their favourite films and books etc. I usually read it, eager as ever for useful suggestions.
This week something strange happened: the subject was Taylor Jenkins Reid, an author of whom I have not heard, but, judging from what I thought was her extravagant picture at the top, I expected something lowbrow. The selections did not accord with my expectations and when I got to the music that cheers me up paragraph, the reason became clear. The image in the main body of the paper linking to the article was not TJR (three surnames?), but rather, Lizzo, fig. 3 -
Put on Lizzo and try to be unhappy. I dare you. You can’t. It’s impossible. Her joy is infectious. She knows how to spread it. I adore her. Taylor Jenkins Reid, My culture fix, The Times 17 August 2022
Scrolling back up to the top of the piece, revealed TJR as a rather more demure citizen, fig. 2.
I commented below the article, "I was misled - I expected the choices of the lady in the shiny pink frock. Interesting how that filters one's expectations".
TJR (2022) My culture fix: Taylor Jenkins Reid [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/my-culture-fix-taylor-jenkins-reid-k9qtq76tl [Accessed 18 August 2022].
PATRICIA LANZA AUGUST 18, 2022
An American couple Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison’s fine art photography embodies a world of surreal and symbolic imagery, where Robert is the main character. Their photographs have been displayed in over 45 solo exhibitions and over 100 group shows worldwide and their work can also be found in over thirty-five collections, including the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, The George Eastman House, The Whitney Museum, LACMA, and SFMOMA. Their book, the Architect’s Brother was named as one of “the ten best photography books of the year in 2000 by the New York Times.”
“Our photographs offer visual poems of loss, human struggle and personal exploration with landscapes scarred by technology and over–use. As collaborative artists, we strive to link laborious actions, idiosyncratic rituals, and strangely crude machines metaphorically and poetically into tales about our contemporary experiences. We construct elaborate sets from found objects. Our scenes combine real and constructed landscapes. These scenes have a sense of determination and irony while addressing mankind’s responsibility to heal the damage inflicted on the environment.
Staged images offer endless possibilities for exploration while offering viewers personal interpretation. By allowing viewers to complete the story before them, we allow agency to take hold within them. We develop layers of duality, hope and despair, success and failure, desire and distain, destruction, and stewardship. We explore the fragile human condition, and overarching shadow of environmental destruction. Perhaps the only try hope for the world and our human spirit rests in our ability to imagine.” L’Œil de la Photographie
Links here to website: https://www.parkeharrison.com
Lanza, Patricia (2022) Close UP : Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison by Patricia Lanza [online]. loeildelaphotographie.com. Available from https://loeildelaphotographie.com/en/close-up-robert-and-shana-parkeharrison-by-patricia-lanza-dv/ [Accessed 18 March 2022].
The death of Barbara Thompson, saxophonist, was reported in The Times. One of my few photographs still extant from he 1970s is of her playing Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, where I was living and working at the time (completing tax returns for the rich and/or lazy). Almost certainly using an OM1, later taken in a house burglary.
The Times (2022) Barbara Thompson obituary [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/barbara-thompson-obituary-v7kgckds0 [Accessed 26 August 2022].
The Times also ran an extended piece on Pirelli Calendars that included the statement,
We exist in a very different landscape today compared with 1964, and I think in its simplest terms the Cal [the calendar] serves as a historical record of the evolution of the ownership we have over our bodies. The models, certainly, approve of the direction Pirelli has taken. Vassi Chamberlain, The Times, 21 August 2022
This perceives the Pirelli tradition on a different trajectory to the (to me) standard notion of grubby garage walls and reminds me of Stephen Frailey's reassessment of Helmut Newton,
Emerging alongside the formation of widespread feminist thought, Newton's work was routinely criticized as grandiose proof of the male photographer's misogyny; evidence of a particularly libertine male gaze. More recently, the work has been perceived as promoting a form of female empowerment-domineering and sexually emancipated-and skewing the familiar gender binary. Here, Nadja Auermann's confidence belies her apparent disability and the servile and anonymous male handlers reinforce her power. As is often his strategy, Newton's camera monumentalizes her, and locks the viewer in a position of subservience, the afterthought of her aggression. Stephen Frailey Looking at photography, 2019, p.62
Chamberlain, Vassi (2022) Behind the scenes of the 2023 Pirelli calendar [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/7f962baa-196b-11ed-abb3-33f6138e136a? [Accessed 21 August 2022].
Critic and photographer. I looked him up because Bill Jay mentions a review of his. I was hoping to find a book of his reviews, but there are only essays in other people's monographs.
Here's his Instagram where I found this Buddha.
Here's the passage from Jay,
Honesty Is such a rare commodity in photographic criticism that I am ever anxious to find and praise any writer who states a personal opinion with care and conviction. So my latest straight-talk award goes to George Slade. Reviewing Boulevard, a book of photographs by Adam Bartes in the latest Photo-eyecatalog/magazine, Slade wrote:
Boulevard is a triumph of diffidence, a tour de force of the blasé, a proclamation that ungainly pictures of unspectacular landscapes can be made In nearly any city one chooses. What is striking about these photographs,and this book is that Bartos has found a way to strip the scenic out of both of these nominally picturesque places, and out of his photography … George Slade reviewing Boulevard by Adam Bartes
The book's photographs were taken In Los Angeles and Paris. It is irrelevant whether or not you, or anyone else, agrees with the critic. What is important is that Slade has courageously sidestepped the normal mutual admiration society of photo-panderers and had the guts to state, Here I stand.
There was a remarkable cloud formation in a Times report this week, described as a "Levanter cloud formation over the Rock of Gibraltar on August 24, 2022" (Simons 2022): although technically Levanter refers to the wind (from the Levant), rather than the cloud, that is what the locals call the cloud, according to one comment on the article.
Another unusual cloud pattern, again from the Times, headed Assignment 4 (fig. 2). A Fluctus cloud over the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, officially, though I noted it could be mistaken for "inept use of Photoshop’s Clone Stamp tool" (Asg.4).
Stieglitz and Weston photographed clouds. Newhall (1982, p.171) states that Stieglitz did so to prove that he could succeed with any subject and Coleman (1979, p.241) agrees: Newhall quotes a 1923 article in Amateur Photographer titled How I Came to Photograph Clouds (vol. 56 p. 255), "I wanted to photograph clouds to find out what I had learned in 40 years about photography. Through clouds to put clown my philosophy of life - to show that my photographs were not due to subject matter-not to special trees, or faces, or interiors, to special privileges, clouds were there for everyone". Stieglitz paired clouds with images of everyday objects in a series he called Equivalents. The article is shown as fig. 7.
Weston had a more positive view of clouds, and probably his best known cloud image is paired with a nude (figs. 4 and 5, apologies for the images grabbed on an iPhone from the book). Nancy Newhall (1971 pp. 16-17) quotes Weston's diaries from 1924,
Clouds have been tempting me again. Next to the recording of a fugitive expression, or revealing the pathology of some human being, is there anything more elusive to capture than cloud forms! …
My eyes and thoughts were heavenward indeed — until, glancing down, I saw Tina lying naked on the azotea taking a sun-bath. My cloud "sitting" was ended, my camera turned towards a more earthly theme. Weston in Newhall (ed.) 1971 pp.16-17
I have been looking for years, but never managed to photograph something like Mondrian's Red Cloud, 1907.
Coleman A.D. (1979) Light Readings. NY: OUP.
Newhall, B (1982) The history of photography. London: Secker & Warburg.
Newhall, N. (ed.) (1971) Edward Weston. NY: Aperture.
Simons, Paul (2022) How Rock of Gibraltar was draped in a stunning cloud [online]. thetimes.co.uk. Available from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-rock-of-gibraltar-was-draped-in-a-stunning-cloud-fkqc252n3 [Accessed 1 September 2022].
Stieglitz, A. (1923) How I Came to Photograph Clouds. Amateur Photographer. Vol. 56, p.255.
In a review of Michael Bird's This is Tomorrow: Twentieth century Britain and its Artists, Andrew Lambirth writes,
Sadly, after the 1960s the art becomes less and less interesting, more political and increasingly involved with marketing and commerce. Bird points to the intriguing parallel between the country's shift from manufacturing to services, and the focus of art veering from 'productivist object-making to the conceptual trading floor of pure ideas'. Message had become more important than making, and although these developments may be too close to view objectively, it does look as if art lost its way. Is it so surprising that Tate Modern is more like playground than an art gallery? Andrew Lambirth, 2022
It applies perfectly well to photography too.
Bird, M. (2022) This is Tomorrow: Twentieth century Britain and its Artists. The Spectator. Vol 350 no. 10,123, 3 September 2022, p.31.
Klein has died. I first wrote his entry soon after starting the course, and didn't think much of his work. I'm still not fond of his best-known Gun 1, New York, 1954, but I do love Nina and Simone for the incongruity and the crowd detail. It was the most common image at Photo London this year - at least three dealers were selling prints: it is one of those that's "the bigger the better".
I wrote late last night,
At the risk of stating the obvious, a camera's primary ability is to remind the photographer or inform a viewer what something looked like at a moment in the past. To the extent that a photographer fails to take advantage of that ability — to that extent, they are probably an artist rather than a photographer.
This ties in with Gerry Badger's statement, explored in Assignment 4, that "photography has separated into two parallel worlds … [n]ot art and documentary, but something much more fundamental — between recreating a real world and recreating a fake world" (2010).
Badger, G. (2010) It's Art, But Is It Photography? Some thoughts on Photoshop, in Badger, G. The pleasures of good photographs. New York: Aperture Foundation.
Jean-Luc has died. Although he faded into temper tantrums and irrelevance, his early work influenced me deeply and his deconstructionist approach continues to feed my inclination to reinforce to the viewer (through such as the retention of digital artefacts and, in earlier work, the 'Paterson easel' frame) that these are photographs, only photographs.
LPE Chat last night. One regular has left OCA because of poor quality of service, another is leaving after LPE for a more hands-on course. I think the three main problems are admin staff still working from home (or if they're not, it still seems like it); the mixed quality and responsiveness of tutors (I have been happy with my three since EyV); and wariness of the OU changes. Full report here.
What happens after BAPhot? There’s always the chance of an MAPhot - there are plenty of part time courses, but only if I get a student loan and I think they require a 2.1 BAPhot (will a 2.1 LLB do?). If I can’t get in or can’t get funding then some structure of contacts must be continued. I happened to get a mail from RPS Contemporary which has postal circuits and integral book discussions and that’s a start. My tutor doesn’t like RPS or LIP, but I’ll have to ignore that.
I photographed the Stephen Lawrence memorial for Asg.5.
Most of the projects shown are continuing and I returned to the memorial last week. As I crossed the road from the 161 bus stop, a (literally) little old lady preceded me, having come from the nearby Catholic church. We both turned to approach the memorial and both stopped. She was carrying a small bunch of flowers, cleared an old one and replaced it. She told me that she was at the church on the night he was killed — Stephen's friend Duwayne came to the church, covered in blood, seeking help.
Interesting colour matching between the flowers and the road markings.
[spellchecked to here]
In L’Œil de la Photographie today,
Gueules de Bois / Wooden Faces
The idea, more than ever to defend the forest, to re-examine ourselves, to let the imagination open up to us as long as our forests don’t burn…
I discovered “an eye” as we say in photography and I let this eye travel the realistic or surreal paths by which I go. Poetry taking a part in my approach, I crossed the border.
Look at the trees… They are looking at you!!!
And from then on, poetry will allow you to see all that you do not see.
Joel Hauet (Adagp 1043270)
A long weekend on the IoW included a bus ride to JMC's Dimbola. I had always imagined it as rather grander than the actuality: two double-fronted houses knocked together - it looks big but the rooms are small and rambling. The volunteers running the Trust are a happy bunch. I have always been in two minds on JMC: the work is impressive for the time, but many of her subjects are contrived. I like and respect her much more for the visit.
The portrait of Ellen Terry, fig. 7, Sadness, 1864, is absolutely timeless.
I had pronounced Dimbola in my head as rhyming with tombola, but it seems to be pronounced locally as DIM-bolaa.
I have embraced Twitter platonically. I greet my public as @AldousPhot, full name Beaufort Aldous Phot (the hoped-for, prosaic BAPhot had been taken). I will use it as an easy link store, with occasional photo posts. See top.
LPE is about done. I am now modifying the site for DIC. As usual, I intend to:
• run Part 1 of the course from the (probably out of date) extract available online, and
• tidy up BAPhot LPE (this), see checklist
• and Austere, Wordpress LPE (for assessment), while
• assembling LPE Assessment material
• writing the LPE Zine , and
• setting up the DIC Wordpress site [link to follow].
I'll apply for DIC either when I'm told I have to to maintain academic progress, or when the above is complete, whichever happens sooner.
This is now complete.
This is now done too.
Email received this evening:
Dan Robinson 18:55 (1 hour ago) to Assessment
Dear photography student,
You are receiving this email from me because you are on the assessment team's list for the Spring 2023 assessment event.
This is just a courtesy email to let you know that the Assessment team plan to send out your G-Drive folder invites by midday tomorrow (unless they have any technical issues, which we would update you on should that be the case). I posted this morning to our photography level assessment support discussion thread, with a message of guidance aimed at anyone in photography who may be new to assessment, with links to OCA assessment guidance and our department level support via a forum and live sessions hosted next week. Full OCA assessment guidance was emailed to all students from the email@example.com account on 11 January
Good luck with assessment and see some of you next week!
I have it all just about ready and so will probably make the G Drive submission this weekend.
[29Jan] It's all in the G Drive. That closes on 10th Feb.
author (year) title [online]. website. Available from url [Accessed nn March 2022].
author (year) Title. Location: Publisher.
author (year) Title. Journal. Vol, pages.
[28Dec19] I have been collecting apposite quotes since starting the web site, but rather apathetically because I did not have a convenient means of storing and referencing them. Here's the original page. This is a new plan - stash them in the blog (which I often have) and list the sources here. I'll add navigation arrows through the entries. As currently conceived, the quotes gathered during each course will remain discrete in that blog - I might organise a way around that.
Richard Avedon - surface
Lewis Baltz - style and objectivity
Dawoud Bey - shooting
Nick Blackburn (me) - photography comprises poses and gazes.
Nick Blackburn - a version of a moment
Erwin Blumenfeld - photography is easy (or is it?).
Dorothy Bohm - stop things from disappearing.
David Campany ambiguity
A.D. Coleman - All photographs are fictions
A.D. Coleman - the gaze
A.D. Coleman - art theory
John Coplans - meaninglessness
Joan Didion - the implacable "I"
Paul Dirac - poetry vs. science
Marcel Duchamp - photography vs. painting
William Fox Talbot - chance and charm
Sigmund Freud - fleeting visual impressions
Peter Galassi - Photography is a bastard
Paul Graham - orthodoxy
Robert Graham subject → object
Andy Grundberg - photographic meaning is contingent
Clive James - cargo cult
Bill Jay - photography's destination
Stanley Kubrick - affection
Rene Magritte - what has never been seen
Matisse - objects and surroundings
Duane Michals - large prints
Richard Misrach - large format cameras
Richard Misrach - interpretation
me - why photograph?
Steven Pippin - inverse sophistication
Raghu Rai - faithfully and honestly
Harold Rosenberg - an artist …
Sontag - intention, loosely bound
Sontag - mortality, vulnerability, mutability
Sontag - never entirely wrong
Alec Soth - still photography is incompatible with the narrative sequence.
Tom Stoppard - recognising quality
Rory Sutherland - we see what we understand
Paul Vanderbilt - new consciousness
EJ Walsingham - magicians
Evelyn Waugh - first or a fourth
Edward Weston - the thing itself
Oscar Wilde - on masks