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