Friday, November 21, 2008

William Eggleston

Eggleston has a unique ability to find beauty, and striking displays of color, in ordinary scenes. A dog trotting toward the camera; a Moose lodge; a woman standing by a rural road; a row of country mailboxes; a convenience store; the lobby of a Krystal fast-food restaurant -- all of these ordinary scenes take on new significance in the rich colors of Eggleston's photographs. Eudora Welty suggests that Eggleston sees the complexity and beauty of the mundane world: "The extraordinary, compelling, honest, beautiful and unsparing photographs all have to do with the quality of our lives in the ongoing world: they succeed in showing us the grain of the present, like the cross-section of a tree.... They focus on the mundane world. But no subject is fuller of implications than the mundane world!"

Mark Holborn, in his introduction to Ancient and Modern writes about the dark undercurrent of these mundane scenes as viewed through Eggleston's lens: "[Eggleston's] subjects are, on the surface, the ordinary inhabitants and environs of suburban Memphis and Mississippi--friends, family, barbecues, back yards, a tricycle and the clutter of the mundane. The normality of these subjects is deceptive, for behind the images there is a sense of lurking danger." American artist Edward Ruscha said of Eggleston's work, "When you see a picture he’s taken, you’re stepping into some kind of jagged world that seems like Eggleston World.”

John Szarkowski's introduction to William Eggleston's Guide 1976.

The Getty Museum;

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tableau Vivant

Tableau vivant (plural: tableaux vivants) is French for "living picture." The term describes a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move. The approach thus marries the art forms of the stage with those of painting/photography, and as such it has been of interest to modern photographers. The most recent hey-day of the tableau vivant was the 19th century with virtually nude tableau vivants or "poses plastiques" providing a form of erotic entertainment.

Acting the Part: Photography As Theatre

Marta Weiss

In 'staged' photography the artist takes on the role of a director, creating or staging an image. He or she uses models, props, costumes or lighting, often creating a theatrical quality. This beautifully produced book traces the history of the staged photograph, focusing on such key themes as the artist as actor, art historical imagery, and narratives and allegories. It includes engaging essays on Victorian tableaux vivants, Surrealism, and iconic photographs from the 1930s and 1940s previously thought to be documentary images but that were in fact staged.

This art form, considered a marriage between photography and theater, seems an appropriate influence to cite for anyone working in a staged mode of photography. I think it opens and interesting conversation with the photographic works of Gregory Crewdson who has gone so far as to use Hollywood actors and actresses to heighten the 'film still' aesthetic of his work. On the opposite end of the spectrum, when photography was more of a marvel in and of itself, artists went out of their way to stage live compositions, and hold them, to heighten the 'still film' aesthetic of their performance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

VMFA Submission

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Paul Thulin has read your blog up to this point/entry. Your blog is currently up to date and complete.

Mitch Epstein

"America's best working novelist is not a writer but a photographer. Mitch Epstein's Family Business, a combination of still images, video excerpts, interview texts, and his own commentary, sees the history and destiny of America inscribed upon the circumstances of a single family. And the artist, who is also an ambivalent member of that family, stands in as witness for his particular generation.
Faced with overwhelming reality, Epstein often retreats to an uncharacteristic formalism, turning suitcases, lamps, and filing cabinets into totemic objects. But that only heightens the poignancy of his struggle to pay respect and tell the truth."

The New York Times, March 30, 2007

Mitch Epstein: American Power
Martha Schwendener

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Decisive Moment

"The decisive moment, it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

Henri Cartier-Bresson Reinterprets his Career, by Claude Cookman

History of Photography, Spring 2008

Between 1952 and 1974, Henri Cartier-Bresson significantly revised his understanding of himself as a photojournalist. This article analyses that change and argues that what appears from a superficial reading of interviews and his book The Decisive Moment (1952) to be a rejection of photography and photojournalism was in fact Cartier-Bresson's first public expression of a long-simmering opposition to the consumer society - which he as an ecologist strongly opposed - and to fashion and advertising photography, which he believed promoted unnecessary consumption. It concludes that Cartier-Bresson reinterpreted his past by seeing himself as a surrealist to the denial of having done photojournalism. The article is predicated on the belief that understanding the change in Cartier-Bresson's own conception of his work is essential to a full understanding of it.

I am interested in a sort of new "decisive moment" in photography that moves beyond pure aesthetics. The best expression I have come to for the imagery I would like to work towards is that it is capturing (or in my case creating) the decisive moment when the mundane is suddenly presented with the possibility of transformation into something more; whether it be the external transformation of a run-down alley way into a secret garden utopia, or something that moves internally within the subject.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Larry Sultan

"Some artists have confronted the role photography itself has played in creating and complicating our sense of domestic life. Larry Sultan photographed his father and family over a ten year period spanning the 70s and 80s as part of an elaborate project that included his parents own photos, home movies and statements. This was the Reagan era which preached the values of family life, a version Sultan didn't recognise.

"Photography is there to construct the idea of us as a great family and we go on vacations and take these pictures and then we look at them later and we say, 'Isn't this a great family?' So photography is instrumental in creating family not only as a memento, a souvenir, but also a kind of mythology" (Larry Sultan)."

Review of "Pictures from Home" by Larry Sultan

Bill Charles Gallery

Thursday, November 6, 2008


"I felt that I could use [the computer's] ability to erase the suturing of the [photomontage] elements to reconstitute, synthetically, a traditional pictorial space. That is an unusual use of montage, at least in the context of modernist art. Montage has been a technique fundamentally devoted to the breaking up of traditional pictorial space, and the sense of unity of an image based on that space. Outside of modernism, of course, the montage has been used to continue the traditional idea of spatial illusionism..."

Wall's Tableau Mort, Oxford Art Journal

A conference of papers dedicated to the analysis of individual works, considered necessary, and in praise of the individuation of art work (the kind of systematicity or wholeness demanded by the tableau) which encourages this kind of sustained academic attention.

I am intrigued by Wall's approach, thought not necessarily personally influenced, to creating traditional pictorial spaces. I can't help but draw conclusions between his work and that of Simon Johan, whose seamless composite images are much more visually striking, but have inspired little in the way of academic discussion; both have taken a post-production approach to creating compositions that make reference to the icons of Art History 101. My Photoshop skills are nowhere near the realm of creation (I'm still at base-camp making image corrections), so I will continue to look for compositions in my viewfinder, keeping in mind the classical figurations that have come before me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hannah Starkey

"Hannah Starkey’s filmic tableaux recall the dramatic yet measured tensions of Alfred Hitchcock or Edward Hopper. Working between reality and fiction with the mise-en-scène, Starkey reconstructs real people and observed situations using a vocabulary of codes and signs culled from contemporary urban culture. The everyday locations are fragments of a generic urban environment, while the fictional characters in Starkey’s pictures oscillate between collective (social, political, economic, cultural or geographic) signifiers and stereotypes of individual personalities. These figures are more often than not women – although there is a sense that, as Starkey says, you can make a picture of women that is not necessarily about women.

The figures in her photographs don’t do much; they wait in cafés, linger in a video rental store, stare out of windows on the bus. Isolated by their own thoughts, these figures are intermittently present and remote from their immediate surroundings, caught up by dramas taking place elsewhere. Starkey’s instinct for narrative animates the non-events she depicts"

Bishop, Claire, “Hannah Starkey, Quietly Loaded Moments,” Flash Art v.32 no.207 (Summer 1999): 124-25

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


"Although for long such effects of the lightning flash were regarded with more or less incredulity, or at least doubt, the observations of the last half century have fully confirmed their existence and then frequent recurrence, and established a field of work which has well-merited the careful investigation which it has now for many years received from the world's leading scientists."

"Keraunography", Henry E. Davis, The Photographic News, 10 February 1888, p. 91.

Jay, Bill. "Keraunography:  Notes on the photographic effects of lightning as reported in 19 century journals." The British Journal of Photography, 13 July 1981.

Bil Jay reports on one of the topics commonly reported in the photographic press from the 1850s to the firs years of this century: the phenomenon of keraunography, or the ability of flashes of lightning to produce a photographic image of surrounding objects, often - usually - on the skin or nearby people. His interest was peaked as he noticed that accounts of this phenomena occurred with such frequency, were treated with puzzled respect, often cited historical precedents and laid claim to serious investigations by some of the most-respected scientists of the 19 century.

Maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but it was given a good amount of attention in Victorian era photography magazines, why not pay it some due now? I suppose plausibly I could wait for a thunder storm and try to convince my subject that rather than stand in a pool of light I'd like them to stand in a pool of water and get hit by lightning to prove a bit of 19th century British folklore...Really I was just refreshed by reading about a time when a sense of wonder and mystery still surrounded photography. It's mind boggling where we started and how far we've come in the understanding of natural phenomena and in its technical applications in photography.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

10/21 Lecture

"Kente Strip-Woven Cloth: Its Significance on Both Sides of the Atlantic"

Babatunde Lawal, Professor of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University

Having sat through a handful of weekly 2 1/2 hour lectures given by Professor Lawal on the history of African art, I have really learned to appreciate the way he delivers each sentence (or 3-5 word fragment) with unequalled enthusiasm. It's almost inspiring to hear him express information that he's been teaching for years as if they're bits of information he's just been amazed by for the first time. That's why I was so disappointed to hear him say that, in the interest of time, he would be reading a brief(er) lecture on the history and significance of Kente cloth.

I was glad to hear him addressing a crowd of adult attendees much in the same way that he addresses his VCU class, and also to hear him use many of the same catechisms from class as well. He spoke about the socially constructed nature of the body and of dress, as well as the influence of visuality, culture-specific education of how to interpret symbols. The connections between African cultural activities and symbols to those of the African-American South(e.g. the Gee's Bend quilts) were of particular interest.

Hiroshi Sugimoto

'Central to Sugimoto’s work is the idea that photography is a time machine, a method of preserving and picturing memory and time. Sugimoto sees with the eye of the sculptor, painter, architect, and philosopher. He uses his camera in a myriad of ways to create images that seem to convey his subjects’ essence, whether architectural, sculptural, painterly, or of the natural world. He places extraordinary value on craftsmanship, printing his photographs with meticulous attention and a keen understanding of the nuances of silver-print making and its potential for tonal richness in his seemingly infinite palette of blacks, whites, and grays.'

Art21: Interview on Tradition;

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"I make landscapes, or cityscapes as the case may be, to study the process of settlement as well as to work out for myself what the kind of picture (or photograph) we call a 'landscape' is. This permits me also to recognize the other kinds of pictures with which it has necessary connections, or the other genres that a landscape might conceal within itself." -Jeff Wall

"The Landscape and the Street," from "The Photographer of Modern Life," by Kerry Brougher.

MOCA curator, Kerry Brougher, relates Wall's work thematically and aesthetically to painting, dissecting the evolution of his work into "the modern and problematic landscape."

My work with landscape in some ways bares a connection to photographers who have documented or commented on the process of industrialization, or the encroachment of modern industrial culture on the landscape. In a world already reshaped by industrialization, I find myself attracted to places that have not been maintained, spending time in alleys looking for evidence of the persevering landscape burgeoning up through the cracks, peering over fences to catch a glimpse of someone's personal eden just beyond their garbage bins.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Simen Johan

"In his photographs, Simen Johan explores darkly the human proclivity towards fantasy and our attempts, knowing or otherwise, to craft alternate realities for ourselves." ...I'm leaning towards "otherwise." When I went back and reread the artist blurb about Simen Johan, I immediately recognized how eloquently the author of these words glazed over the fact that Simen Johan has yet to figure out what his art is about.

As intrigued as I was by his images, and impressed as I read about their constructed nature, I felt painfully let down by Johan's inability to speak about the content of his work. He could hardly connect the theme of one image to another within a single series and seemed to be driven completely and purely by aesthetics. This may have been sufficient 10 years ago, but as Paul pointed out at the beginning of the semester, in today's world when everyone has a high quality digital camera and Photoshop, you damn well better have something significant to say about your photography. Maybe, as an internationally exhibiting artist who doesn't always get the chance to explain his work to every audience, it is a blessing that the images are much more engaging on their own, before Johan has a chance to explain that there really is nothing going on behind the work.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson's photographic series capture a particularly American state of normalcy--in dissolution. The viewer, at first seduced by what appears to be an idyllic scene, soon discovers subtle off-kilter elements more akin to Film Noir than an NBC comedy. In a work from his Twilight series, yellow school buses are parked outside white wooden houses, and students stand and lounge around in seeming passivity. Something is happening--what, we don't know. The vision is familiar yet unfamiliar, seemingly benign yet threatening. Crewdson goes to great lengths in dramatizing his disturbing suburban scenes, employing elaborate lighting, cranes, props, and extras, espousing a level of behind-the-scenes preparation more akin to the making of a Hollywood movie than the making of a still image. Here perhaps is one place to locate the eerie unreality and narrativity of his pictures, the creepy attention to detail so out of place, in the ordinary settings he evokes. Middle-class reality meets the other side of the normal here--by way of Sigmund Freud.

"Gregory Crewdson's Photo Alchemy"

Luhring Augustine

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Broken Window Effect

"Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken."

"...vandalism can occur anywhere once communal barriers -- the sense of mutual regard and the obligations of civility -- are lowered by actions that seem to signal that "no one cares."



The idea perpetuating this article and the urban sociology text that it inspired is that preventing disorder is the first step in preventing crime (the field tends to neglect the former which leads to a shallow effect on the latter). The idea behind the theory itself is that broken windows, graffiti, run down homes or businesses give the impression that no one cares about the community and so further vandalism and crime will go unnoticed. Neglecting these minor symptoms is the fastest way to the deterioration of a neighborhood or community.

It wasn't necessarily the connection I was hoping people would make, but since critique, I am still lingering on the idea of alleys as a traditional symbol of danger and fear. I'm not sure it's the direction I want to take this project, but I think it's worth baring in mind the connection, and I think this brings up the first question I should pose to the class: Do these images in alleys suggest the typical fear associated with them or is it just when you begin to think about the transformation of these uncared for spaces that it brings up their usual connotations?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Garry Winogrand


 Winogrand was a street photographer known for his portrayal of America in the mid 20th century. He documented the city and the urban landscape, concentrating on its unusual people and capturing odd juxtapositions of animate and inanimate objects. His photographs catch that odd moment where unrelated activities coincided, and it is the nature of these juxtapositions that sets his work apart from other photographers.

Winogrand said that if he saw a familiar picture in his viewfinder he "would do something to change it" - something that would give him an unsolved problem. He would step back or change to a shorter lens, which gave him more facts to organize, and changed the meaning of the facts by changing the character of their setting. He was interested in how small in relation to the total field can the most important part of the subject be and still be clearly described; Or, more precisely, how is the meaning of the most important part of the subject affected by everything else within the frame.

For his book, Women are Beautiful, Winogrand photographed women on the streets of New York. He pictured them going about their business, unaware that they were being photographed. The women pictured are determined and fierce, and not necessarily feminine or beautiful. The pictures seem to be less about a particular subject than where the subject lies in space and how the light falls to illuminate them and their surroundings.

Comparing apparently contradicting statements statements on the nature of photography by Edward Weston and Garry Winogrand, one can see that they express a shared fascination, central to the work of each, in the difference between photographs and the world they describe, and in the possibility that the former may nevertheless, if good enough, tell us something important about the latter.

Fragment from Winogrand: Figments from the Real World by John Szarkowski

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

mundane |ˌmənˈdān|


1 lacking interest or excitement; dull : seeking a way out of his mundane, humdrum existence.

2 of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one : according to the Shinto doctrine, spirits of the dead can act upon the mundane world.

of, relating to, or denoting the branch of astrology that deals with political, social, economic, and geophysical events and processes.


mundanely adverb

mundaneness noun

mundanity |-ˈdānətē| noun ( pl. -ties).

"There is a group photo pool on the photo-sharing site Flickr made up 

entirely of images of bottle houses. That is, houses made of bottles."

okay...but seriously

"On these sites, photography has become less about the special or rarefied moments of domestic/family living (for such things as holidays, gatherings, baby photos) and more about an immediate, rather fleeting display of one’s discovery of the small and mundane."

"It seems to speak to a new aesthetic and function – one dedicated to the exploration of the urban eye and its relation to decay, alienation, kitsch, and its ability to locate beauty in the mundane (see Figure 4). Some have claimed that it is indeed a new category of photography, called ‘ephemera’."

Murray, Susan. Digital Images, Photo-Sharing, and Our Shifting Notions of Everyday Aesthetics.

Journal of Visual Culture Aug 2008.

"In this article, the author argues that the social use of digital photography as represented on Flickr, signals a shift in the engagement with the everyday image, as it has become less about the special or rarefied moments of domestic living and more about an immediate, rather fleeting, display and collection of one's discovery and framing of the small and mundane. In this way, photography is no longer just the embalmer of time that Andre Bazin once spoke of, but rather a more alive, immediate, and often transitory practice/form. In addition, the everyday image becomes something that even the amateur can create and comment on with relative authority and ease, which works to break down the traditional bifurcation of amateur versus professional categories in image-making."

My work has been taking a turn towards re-creating the 'everyday' or the mundane, and isolating it and photographing it in a way that it begins to look exceptional. This started in the transformation of alley spaces into sort of secret garden spaces, and I think I would like to keep to this idea of people grounded in reality by the most mundane of activities, but finding that possibility of something greater, even if it really only exists in a cerebral space. I am still looking for more academic report on 'the mundane in fine art photography,' but I think it's worth it to bare in mind the effect of casual, social photography and how it has expanded our ideas of appropriate and engaging subject matter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jeff Wall

"Canadian Photographer best known for his large-scale back-lit cibachrome photographs, Wall's work advances an argument for the necessity of pictorial art. Some of Wall's photographs are complicated productions involving cast, sets, crews and digital postproduction. They have been characterized as one-frame cinematic productions. Wall distinguishes between unstaged "documentary" pictures, like Still Creek, Vancouver, winter 2003, and "cinematographic" pictures, produced using a combination of actors, sets, and special effects, such as Overpass, 2001. His signature works are large transparencies mounted on light boxes; he says he conceived this format when he saw back-lit advertisements at bus stops during a trip between Spain and London."

Jeff Wall talks about his piece Milk. “In Milk, as in some of my other pictures, an important part is played by complicated natural forms. The explosion of the milk from the container takes a shape which is not really describable or characterizable, but which provokes many associations. A natural form, with its unpredictable contours, is an expression of infinitesimal metamorphoses of quality. Photography seems perfectly adapted for representing this kind of movement or form. I think this is because the mechanical character of the action of opening and closing the shutter-the substratum of instantaneity which persists in all photography-is the concrete opposite kind of movement from, for example, the flow of a liquid.”

Interview with David Shapiro

Johnen + Schöttle Gallery

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Psychology of Emotion

Cannon-Bard Theory


The Cannon-Bard theory argues that we experience physiological arousal and emotional at the same time, but gives no attention to the role of thoughts or outward behavior.

EXAMPLE:  You are walking down a dark alley late at night.  You hear footsteps behind you and you begin to tremble, your heart beats faster, and your breathing deepens.  At the same time as these physiological changes occur you also experience the emotion of fear.

In this respect complex emotions may be regarded as developments upon basic emotions. Such development may occur due to cultural conditioning or association.

The Psychology of Emotions, Feelings and Thoughts by Mark Pettinelli

"This book puts forth the idea that life is divided into three groups, emotion, thinking, and feeling. These three groups make humans feel in certain ways, thinking, physical stimulus, and emotion all contribute to feeling. But what is the difference between a thought, an emotion, and a feeling? Is there an overlap between the three? Probably, since any emotion can be broken down into the sensations and real events that caused it, and these events all lead to emotions, feelings and thoughts. So emotions, feelings and thoughts all might have the same source, they are just expressed differently in the mind. Where do your emotions, feelings and thoughts rate on a scale of clarity? Where do they rate on a scale of focus and attention? How does understanding the psychology of ones emotions, feelings and thoughts lead to a long term increased consciousness?"

After someone mentioned in critique today the dangerous 'dark alley' standard, I went to research some sort of social psychology that might relate to why dark alleys seem to be intrinsically linked with ideas of threat or danger, but I couldn't find any research directly spelling it out. What I did find were some theories about the process of the human emotional response. I was mostly interested in the link between stimulus and response and ideas of social conditioning replacing the need for an actual physical stimulus (this can lead you to more research about fear and paranoia in particular).

Georgia/Russia Conflict Lecture

A lecture put on this month by the International Students for Social Equality, affiliate of the worldwide Socialist Equality Party, addressed the recent conflict between Georgia and Russia with particular attention paid to the role of the U.S. in instigating the conflict, as well as the its increasingly biased news media coverage. According to the speaker, Georgia's provocation of Russia can only be explained by the United States' (with extensive economic and military ties to Georgia) "deliberately seeking a major escalation of tensions between Russia and the West." He looked for confirmation in the form of the recent missile deal with Poland, claiming it is "clearly directed against Russia, not Iran or North Korea, and would give the U.S. first strike nuclear capability without Russia retaliation."

Some audience members found the inclusion of instances of recent U.S. hypocrisy irrelevant to the discussion, but it did elicit laughter when the speaker quoted President Bush and John McCain on the matter, stating, “Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state...such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century,” “ the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations.” While the speaker did raise some thought-provoking points about the political/economic divisions among Russia, ex-Soviet nations, and Eastern Europe and the role of Western powers, some found his speech overly biased or sensational in light of the his self-proclaimed political affiliation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dana Hoey

"Meticulously staged with models, Hoey's fauxverité photos typically deal with the complex dynamics that come into play when groups of women--most often young women and girls--get together. 

...If you spend enough time with her pictures (and it's easy enough not to want to, their meaning is so hermetic), almost all of them feel that way, as though someone's just said, or is about to say, something she will later regret. In a sense, they turn you into a kind of voyeur, but one who's been dropped into an ongoing, ugly psychodrama without benefit of having met the characters or knowing the backstory.

Of course, despite their documentary appearance, they're all fictions, some more obviously than others.

...It is work that speaks in a coded language of gesture, of the direction of someone's gaze, of the pauses and silences between words that inform and reveal secrets about the ways in which women and girls behave and where they fit in the world. It is work that celebrates a kind of competitive female energy that has sometimes been viewed as self-destructive, but which Hoey and others of her ilk want to reclaim as a kind of power."

"Dana Hoey's Blatant Subtlety"

Friedrich Petzel Gallery






Paul Thulin has read your blog up to this point/entry. Your blog is currently up to date and recorded as complete.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


[The unauthorized publication of a photo of a non-celebrity is] "the price every person must be prepared to pay for a society in which information and opinion flow freely."
-- Arrington v New York Times, 1982.

In 2006, a New York trial court issued a ruling in a case involving one of his photographs. One of diCorcia's New York random subjects was Ermo Nussenzweig, an Orthodox Jew who objected on religious grounds to diCorcia's publishing in an artistic exhibition a photograph taken of him without his permission. The photo's subject argued that his privacy and religious rights had been violated by both the taking and publishing of the photograph of him. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the photograph taken of Nussenzweig on a street is art - not commerce (even though the photographer sold 10 prints of it at $20,000 to $30,000 each) - and therefore is protected by the First Amendment. The judge ruled that New York courts have "recognized that art can be sold, at least in limited editions, and still retain its artistic character (...) First Amendment protection of art is not limited to only starving artists. A profit motive in itself does not necessarily compel a conclusion that art has been used for trade purposes."
Nussenzweig v DiCorcia

I was a little upset at first to hear that an artist would push ahead with a lawsuit brought out of personal duress or religious objection, but as I was searching for more information on the subject of Hassidic Jews and personal images or photographs I actually found more links to stock photos of this religious sect than I did on religious laws limiting them. Now I'm just kind of impressed that a court actually ruled in favor of an artist (after reading about how many blatant copyright issues are dismissed). Maybe it's just indicative of this new era of 'Patriot Acts' where personal privacy is practically nil. Anyway, I guess it's good to know that if I chose to step out of the realm of staged-realism, I would have legal precedence backing me up. For now though I think I'll stick to models and try not to step on any toes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Candice Breitz

Breitz's approach to her integration into a society she presumed to share very little with may be simple, even logical, but it also opens the floodgates to a lot of engaging areas of thought. She brings a whole new credibility to popular culture, often denounced as shallow and insignificant, exploring its role in the shared collective of the most recent generations. Taking it even a step further, her Babel series makes reference to and ties pop culture in with historic, anthropologic and universal themes. The stripping down of popular early-90s music videos into a 'vocabulary of primitive sounds' was truly innovative, especially paired with the use of the audience as their own mixing board (moving between and around the sound channels).

Her interpretation of pop culture as a sort of parent figure, I thought, was particularly perceptive. The panel of mothers and fathers was a really effective reflexive exercise in dissecting exactly what kind of example we have all inadvertently taken from our surrogate TV families. Breitz could have steered her selection of footage to a number of different ends, but she chose to showcase a sort of 'best of' of the dysfunctional, but nonetheless legendary parental figures of cinema. The audience is left with the daunting realization that they may need years of therapy to recover from a second childhood previous unacknowledged.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Philip-Lorca diCorcia

born 1951; American artist photographer

He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Afterwards he went to Yale where, in 1979, he got a Master of Fine Arts in Photography. He now works and lives in New York.

diCorcia alternates between informal snapshots and iconic quality staged compositions that often have a baroque theatricality. Using a carefully planned staging, he takes everyday occurrences beyond the realm of banality, trying to inspire in his picture's spectators an awareness of the psychology and emotion contained in real-life situations. His work could be described as documentary photography mixed with the fictional world of cinema and advertising, which creates a powerful link between reality, fantasy and desire.

During the late 1970s, during diCorcia's early career, he used to situate his friends and family within fictional interior tableaus, that would make the viewer think that the pictures were spontaneous shots of someone's everyday life, when they were in fact carefully staged and planned in beforehand. He would later start photographing random people in urban spaces all around the world. When in Berlin, Calcutta, Hollywood, New York, Rome and Tokyo, he would often hide lights in the pavement, which would iluminate a random subject in a special way, often isolating them from the other people in the street. His photographs would then give a a sense of heightened drama to the passers-by accidental poses, unintended movements and insignificant facial expressions.

His pictures have black humor within them, and have been described as "Rorschach-like", since they can have a different interpretation depending on the viewer. As they are planned beforehand, diCorcia often plants in his concepts issues like the marketing of reality, the commodification of identity, art, and morality.





"Philip-Lorca diCorcia: choice, non-event and truth"