Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judgement Day

Panel review day is upon what better topic to research than the jurors themselves?

4/17 edit: unfortunately when I finally came across the blog postings with my jurors' information I found there may actually be two Alice McCabe's in the world, and from the sound of it, the below mentioned will not be meeting with me on Monday. Also George Naan? Doesn't seem to exist in the interworld, mayhaps it's spelled differently? Anywho, I still found the 25 year old Alice McCabe to be an interesting human being, so I'll leave the post up.

Alice McCabe was raised in the Australian outback and moved to London when she was six. Deeply inspired by a show of Arthur Boyd's work at the Australian Embassy in 1996, she realised that she wanted to be a painter.

"The theme of the supposed exotica and quest for paradise intrigues me. My new paintings are not about the people or animals that develop in them. I am still not interested in the human body. The figured scenarios provide a tool by which my thoughts can be played out. My work is about the later egos of everyone and the hidden side of everything."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Joel Sternfeld

'Joel Sternfeld, (b. 1944, New York City), is widely regarded as one of the most influential and important fine-art color photographers in the world, noted for his large-format documentary pictures of the United States and establishing color photorgaphy as a respected artistic medium. He has many works in the permanent collections of the MOMA in New York and the Getty in Los Angeles. He has also "raised" and influenced an entire generation of color photographers including Andreas Gursky who borrows many of Sternfeld's techniques and approaches.'

Review: Oxbow Archive by Joel Sternfeld

Thursday, April 9, 2009


"Friday, April 03, 2009
The Singularity
# posted by jdg @ 11:01 AM

Last week I read in the morning paper about a street here where 60 out of 66 homes were vacant or abandoned on a single block. The reporter called it a "ghost street." Yesterday I found myself in the area. Other than an errant sofa, the street was completely empty, almost peaceful. I took a photo of every house on the north side of one block and then stitched them together. If you were to compare the current international housing crisis to a black hole sucking the equity out of our homes, this one-way street near the northern border of Detroit might just be the singularity: the point where the density of the problem defies anyone's ability to comprehend it. These homes started emptying in 2006.

Click on the image below to load a large file in your browser and then zoom and scroll right. This is the entire north side of the block: every home, every lot. You'll notice the fourth and seventh homes appear occupied. Pay attention to the state of all the other houses rather than the terrible stitching job:

This is just another virtually-abandoned block in Detroit. Eventually the burned houses will collapse; the boarded-up houses will burn. Someday it will all be green.

But this is what it looks like today."

At first glance, this photo montage looked like prime 'wild vs. civilization' material. When I opened the accompanying text, however, I realized it was another devastating 'man vs. economy' (read: family man vs. wild with greed corporate man) struggle. If I have to directly answer how this is effecting my photography, one answer would be that I simply can't afford the cost of film and processing anymore. My job security is dubious at best, and somedays I wonder where my next rent check will come from...a switch to digital was one of my first budget cuts; hey man, times are tight.
But, on another note, I could imagine a conceptual shift in this series or a similar offshoot to include the effects of man on man, in turn, returning himself to a lesser degree of civilization.
At the very least, or at the lowest common denominator, you can see how this blog post is relevant to us all. Scary.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Amanda Friedman

Amanda Friedman is originally from suburban Detroit. After graduating from RIT in 1998 she made the move to Los Angeles. She shoots for a variety of different clients including Time, Newsweek, Travel + Leisure, Budget Travel and London’s Sunday Telegraph. Her photos have been published in American Photography annuals 15, 17 and 18 and she was also a 1999 Surface magazine Avant Guardian.

Interview with Amanda Friedman

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Anderson Gallery Entry

....and rejection

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


"We have all become numbed with photography, there is no denying it, but a chunky camera made almost entirely of plastic has been put on this Earth to save us."

Some history on the Dusseldorf School of Photography:  'A group of students at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf in the mid 1970s who studied under the influential photographers Bern and Hiller Becher, known for their rigorous devotion to the 1920s German tradition of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). The Bechers’ photographs were clear, black and white pictures of industrial archetypes.'

And now:  'Word on the street in Berlin has it that there's a massive reorganization going on in Düsseldorf. Apparently, the students were required to sell all their large-format equipment and to instead use Holga toy cameras. Several people independently told me about this, and over the past few days I have been trying to get this confirmed in Düsseldorf (where I know some people). All I managed to find out is that in all of Düsseldorf, Holgas are completely sold out! Apparently, some students are trying to figure out whether using a "Colour Sampler" camera will do - I guess habits are hard to break?!'

This bit o' street gossip made me chuckle when I thought of how I went from using my holga camera to pushing my digital SLR to produce holga-like images. It was simply a matter of cost and convenience for a high-production portfolio series, I still carry my holga with me when I'm shooting outside the context of a series. I would love to hear more about the push to get rid of large format analog photography equipment (required to sell, really? not just asked to put it aside for a semester?), a plastic camera is surely more convenient, but you can't brag that it's much more cost effective or environmentally friendly. It's also an interesting breach from the historical 'New Objectivity' school of photography because you really can't get more subjective or sentimental than a holga image. Maybe it was just a push to put away the giant cameras and force students to get more intimate with their subjects. Hmm.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Myoung Ho Lee

'Myoung Ho Lee, a young artist from South Korea, has produced an elaborate series of photographs that pose some unusual questions about representation, reality, art, environment and seeing.
Simple in concept, complex in execution, he makes us look at a tree in its natural surroundings, but separates the tree artificially from nature by presenting it on an immense white ground, as one would see a painting or photograph on a billboard.
Myoung Ho Lee enacts his works as 'a series of discourse on deconstruction on the photography-act'.'

Press release: Tree

Yossi Milo Gallery

Thursday, March 26, 2009


"The issue here is not whether the photographer manipulated the print but the subject."

"The Directorial Mode: Notes toward a Definition" 1976

A.D. Coleman discusses the addition of the directorial mode of photography to the accepted documentary and straight forms, that in which the photographer 'consciously and intentionally creates events for the express purpose of making images thereof.'

   Coleman sites two recurring controversies and illuminates a third for photographers. The first, he hopes, is settled and over: "the fight to legitimize photographic imagery per se as a suitable vehicle for meaningful creative activity." He continues to ruminate on Strand's insistence on straight photography and finally touches on this new form of fictitious photographing. The essay serves as an interesting benchmark in the evolution of photography, especially when one considers how obsolete the first two issues have become 30 years later. I hardly take a second look at a photograph today if I don't suspect the photographer has synthesized meaning from the elements at his disposal (precisely that which early straight photographers sought not to do). . .if not created the captured scenario entirely.

   Now all that being said, I have to add that I struggle immmensely working in this mode. I use the frame to capture and exclude elements to represent my own agenda-- I have a really hard time staging an entire scene, and especially one that necessitates directing actors/models. Something to do with previsualization, I suppose. . .something Ansel Adams mastered by the 1930s. So there you go, it's all cyclical, or nothing's really changed and I can duck out of this rambling train of thought unnoticed. . .

Monday, March 23, 2009

Juha Nenonen

"I approach my motifs via three classical picture types - the landscape, the portrait and the still life. In many of my works these different types of picture are also mixed together. Thus, in the Motifs series, no immediately accessible, obvious thematic or visual connection between the different works emerges. Two concurrent themes underpin the motifs: The first deals with people´s urge to categorise, to classify, to control, to order and organise, and looks at its subjects from this viewpoint. Another, different world is mirrored in this one, a world that evokes themes that are out of control, themes of vanity and the passage of time. This involves a dialogue between two, if not quite opposite, then at least different points of view.

I have always been interested in mixing fact and fiction in photographs. Most of my works are staged, but they are shot in unstaged - existing - spaces and landscapes. Even when I have not staged them, my pictures convey a sense of staging and arrangedness, a theatrical artificiality."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


"It works profoundly and economically because Hitchcock makes a convincing visual case for a claustrophobic world of fear and psychosis communicated not merely through action but through the visual construction of that world."

Mise-en-scène: Film Style and Interpretation by John Gibbs explores and elucidates constructions of this fundamental concept in thinking about film. In uncovering the history of mise-en-scène within film criticism, and through the detailed exploration of scenes from films as Imitation of Life and Lone Star, John Gibbs makes the case for the importance of a sensitive understanding of film style, and provides an introduction to the skills of close reading. This book thus celebrates film-making as well as film criticism that is alive to the creative possibilities of visual style. 

Setting up shots in the real world with incident lighting means I don't always have control over every element in my images, but I have been making a more marked effort to consider all of the elements that I have to work with. For example, the windows in the background of the Floyd shoot last semester went under my radar, but communicated a very specific meaning to someone else looking at the images. Additionally I am considering more carefully the palate I have been using and will continue to seek out so that I can vary my formula a bit more while maintaining a coherent feeling for the series.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Riitta Päiväläinen

"Riitta Päiväläinen's work could be defined as the emotional archaeology of the ordinary. Using old clothes she finds in second-hand shops and flea markets, Päiväläinen creates installations in landscapes and photographs them. . . For Päiväläinen, the clothes are vestiges of human beings, retaining traces of the history of the person who wore them long after being discarded. The garments represent both the presence and the absence of their former owners. . .

Landscape is not a topographical and objective phenomenon for Päiväläinen. Rather it is subjective and highly evocative, representing the cycle of life. . . The clothes become part of nature which interacts with and animates them."

Riitta Päiväläinen on her Vestige series


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Visiting Artist: Amy Stein

Amy Stein's presentation of both her personal story and her work was a great way to keep up the momentum set in motion by Paul Shambroom (I'll skip the comparison to the inflated mumblings of Alex Pearlstein). Stein took an unusual route to the world of Fine Art Photography, stopping along the way to pick up a BS and MS in Political Science, but this had the added benefit of informing her work, and leaving little room for pretense in her self presentation. She offered up anecdotes of her struggles and doubts along the way which led to an overall inspiring artist lecture.
One aspect in particular that I could relate to regarding Stein's process, was her need for an emotional and creative outlet when working on a particularly structured series. Her "Domesticated" series, staged images featuring some of taxidermy's finest works, explores the boundary and tension between the built environment and the natural world; she describes these scenes as "false natures." Here she has clearly found her niche, but the process is taxing (no pun intended), all of the elements must be pre-visualized and brought together before production can begin.
When Stein feels herself hitting a wall, she hits the road. "Stranded" is a series of roadside cars and their drivers nationwide, incidentally, a sort of socioeconomic profile of the country spanning the second half of the Bush administration. I can see why working on this project offers Stein a bit of relief, once she happens upon someone in need of roadside assistance, all of the elements are there: the physical props of course, but the emotions too, the frustration and vulnerability her photographs capture is incredibly tangible.
Though in many ways these particular series seem diametrical opposites, they both offer a thought provoking portrait of the human condition, in their own way. Stein herself referred to one series as taking a temperature reading of our society right now, I think she hit on this fundamental necessity of photography in both, with great success.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Helsinki School

"By definition the Helsinki School does not exist as an institution. It is not defined by a nationality or specific discipline. It is an approach that has evolved out of a process of teaching where the emphasis is centered on critique, cooperation and the sharing of ideas, where theory meets reality and each generation is given the chance and the time to invent themselves."

"The Helsinki School: Photography by TaiK"

A comprehensive selection of works by up-and-coming Finnish photographers (though mind you, the Helsinki School is not defined by a nationality...) featured in a traveling international exhibition. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Christopher LaMarca

Christopher studied Environmental Studies and Biology at the University of Pregon, a degree that led him to pursue photographic projects documenting environmental issues.

On Forest Defenders series: "I have been photographing these activists and loggers since the summer of 2003. My connection to this project revolves around the passion and endless work that consumes these people who live in the back-country for months at a time; and who are willing to sacrifice their comforts' to stand up for their beliefs.

Although these activists are often seen as radicals or eco-terrorists, little has been documented about their activities outside of these stereotypes. These stunning landscapes will continue to be decimated due to political pressure and lack of education, these are some of last truly wild places left in America."


represented by Redux Pictures

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drive-by Landscape Photography

"It is now obvious why photographers in the North-East photograph people and all things made of concrete while those in the South-West photograph deserts and mountains: because that is what you see outside the car window."

Why Weegee was not a Westerner: or, the secret of successful landscape photography; Bill Jay on Photography

Bill Jay describes the idiosyncrasies of landscape photography from one American coast to the other, including 'the Westerner’s fascination with the land and abhorrence of people' and the compulsion towards 'people and all things made of concrete' in the East.

I was a little burned out on garden research this week so I jumped over to the more general topic of landscape photography. This article isn't particularly informative, but it mentions some legitimate names in photography and was above all, sarcastic and therefore, refreshing. Also I will accept the personal (self-inflicted) jab at photographers who photograph what is immediately available to them, but I will defend myself by pointing out that I explore in person and photograph on foot. I mean it's really only because I don't want to contend with photoshopping out window glare, but still. (<- joke)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joakim Eskildsen

"Joakim Eskildsen was born in Copenhagen in 1971 where he trained with the Royal Court photographer Rigmor Mydtskov. In 1994, he moved to Finland to learn the craft of photographic book making with Pentti Sammallahti at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, graduating with an MA degree in photography in 1998."

"[His] work is based on the theme of the relationships between man, nature and cultures. . .This approach can be related to the works of the humanist photographers in the sense that his intent is no the scientific interrogation or exploration of his subjects, but the creation of an empirical record of his encounters with various peoples and cultures. Submerging himself in the worlds he wishes to explore, Eskildsen resides for extended periods of time with the people he photographs in order to better understand their culture and so as not to violate their intimacy by the simple appropriation of their image. The photographs are presented as a story and are usually accompanied by [text]..."

A Conversation with Joakim Eskildsen

Städtische Galerie, Iserlohn

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Machine in the Garden

"...they depend altogether upon the Liberality of Nature, without endeavouring to improve its Gifts, by Art of Industry."

The Machine in the Garden, Leo Marx

'For over four decades, Leo Marx's work has focused on the relationship between technology and culture in 19th- and 20th-century America. His research helped to define--and continues to give depth to--the area of American studies concerned with the links between scientific and technological advances, and the way society and culture both determine these links. The Machine in the Garden fully examines the difference between the "pastoral" and "progressive" ideals which characterized early 19th-century American culture, and which ultimately evolved into the basis for much of the environmental and nuclear debates of contemporary society.'

A chapter on Gardens offers a perfect dissection of  the ambiguities and inner conflicts regarding the image of (here Virginia as, but in general) The Garden and the meaning men find, or bestow therein. On the one hand it represents the mythology in which the garden is a natural paradise, it "stands for the original unity, the all-sufficing beauty and abundance of the Edenic land of primitive splendor inhabited by noble savages." But then there is also the "actual, man-mad, cultivated piece of ground. This image is also an emblem of abundance, but it refers to abundance produced by work or, in Beverly's idiom, improvement." Marx tells us that even though Beverley (author of The History and Present State of Virginia) has uncovered this contradiction, he is far from comprehending it. The threshold between the two is where my interest falls.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pentti Sammallahti

"Sammallahti has a special relation to man’s best friend and many of his photographs are extremely entertaining pictures of dogs engaged in living their doggie lives."

"...He was a teacher at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki before obtaining, in 1991, a grant from the Finnish state, which allowed him to give up teaching and concentrate entirely on art.

Sammallahti works within the classical black-and-white tradition of photography. . .His approach is influenced by Henri Cartier-Bresson, from whose work he adopted the idea of the decisive moment, meaning the ability of photography to capture a unique moment in the flux of time, and the importance of harmony and balance in composition of a picture. . .As a photographic globetrotter, Sammallahti leaves the beaten track in order to photograph remote locations, places where people still live in close contact with nature. While maintaining a distance which is both respectful of his subjects and necessary to capture any given scene, Sammallahti succeeds in imbuing his photographs with a sense of lyrical intimacy. 

A great lover of nature, Sammallahti often combines the landscape with his portraits of people and animals. But he also pays tribute to nature’s beauty in remarkable, highly contemplative landscape photographs..."

Review by Greg Fallis

Candace Dwan Gallery

Visiting Artist: Paul Shambroom

Paul Shambroom was a breath of fresh air after visiting artist, Alix Pearlstein. In a general sense, the subject matter of his work was more pressing- an investigation of power from local government forums to nuclear reactor sites, which consequently made it more engaging (this generation is concerned not with the antiquated idea of nuclear family units, sorry Pearlstein, but with the increasing reality of [and de-sensitivity to] nuclear war machines). It wasn't just his choice of focus either, Shambroom actually made a point to interact with his audience. Rather than put on pretentious airs, he was a bit self-effacing, just enough for you to accept his legitimacy as a photographer and real person.
Shambroom's work is modest in a lot of ways too. I was almost questioning his merits as a professional photographer when he addressed his aesthetic reasoning for the amateur appearance of his nuclear weapons series; and then he showed a couple images from a landscape series and then I knew that he knew what he was doing with a camera. By the end of his lecture, Shambroom was addressing the sheer nature of photography today, in a dialogue that acknowledged his audience's role in the future of this art form, beyond his own vision.

Overall, a great guy with an interesting vision. Nice pick, Paul.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


reclaim |riˈklām|

verb [ trans. ]

1 retrieve or recover (something previously lost, given, or paid); obtain the return of : he returned three years later to reclaim his title as director of advertising | when Dennis emerged I reclaimed my room. 

redeem (someone) from a state of vice; reform : societies for reclaiming beggars and prostitutes.

archaic tame or civilize (an animal or person).

2 bring (waste land or land formerly under water) under cultivation : little money is available to reclaim and cultivate the desert | [as adj. ] ( reclaimed) reclaimed land.

recover (material) for reuse; recycle : a sufficient weight of plastic could easily be reclaimed.

((, that's a definition loaded with irony))

Beyond Civilization: humanity's next great adventure; Daniel Quinn

"In "Beyond Civilization, " Daniel Quinn challenges the fundamental belief that civilization is the ultimate human social development to be preserved at any cost. Arguing for a movement into the unexplored region beyond civilization as we know it, Quinn presents a radical notion of our world as a temporary experiment in social organization...that is failing. Both a philosopher and a visionary, Quinn exposes the damage we inflict daily on the world around us, and then offers clear and viable alternatives that provide us an "escape route" to a future beyond civilization. Quinn believes that if just some of us are willing to live differently, we may be able to effect enough change to save us all. He explores other past and present cultures, examining what their failures and successes can teach us about our own society. Through his powerful message and shocking revelations, Quinn inspires us to change the fundamental way that we live, asserting that the very nature of humanity is at stake."

So somewhere on the interweb, someone must have posted something about the idea of the environment reclaiming what has been lost to human civilization. I know it's a taboo way of looking at things, but there are natural laws concerning population control and eco-stability and when we blatantly flout those laws- do we not expect the environment to retaliate in defense of herself? The planet is, after all, a living organism; why should we expect anything less? So why can't I find anything interpreting the recent flux of earthquakes and typhoons and floods as self defense? Hmph. Maybe I should appeal to the Biblical crowd and consider the overarching metaphor one could find in the idea of a God smiting his people for living outside of his laws. God....environment, okay that works.

Monday, February 9, 2009


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

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ilkka Halso

"Restauration" is a series of photographs of night scenes in a fictional field hospital where "suffering" species, mainly trees and plants, are depicted in a pseudo scientific context. The installations are first physically assembled and then photographed.

. . .Halso's approach is less rigidly aesthetic and imbued with quiet but critical social commentary, sometimes presented with subtle but barbed humor that exposes the paradox of treating technologically inflicted environmental damage by applying more technology.

[In his] recent series, "Museum of Nature," which he began in 2003, expands on the concept. . .damaged nature is preserved in elaborate, high-tech museum structures. Instead of helping nature to recover in its initial environment, nature is now isolated, cultivated and conserved like works of art. . ."

"Ilkka Halso...Is Constructing Something Natural?"