Monday, April 21, 2014

Trevor Paglen's The Last Pictures

In light of our discussion around digital imaging and the archive in the Photo II class today, below is the link I promised detailing Trevor Paglen's project that was referred to.

Commissioned by public art organization Creative Time, The Last Pictures marks a distant satellite with a record from the historical moment from whence it came. Artist Trevor Paglen collaborated with materials scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a micro-etched disc with one hundred photographs, encased in a gold-plated shell, designed to withstand the rigors of space and to last for billions of years. Inspired by years of conversations and interviews with scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers, the images chosen for The Last Pictures tell an impressionistic story of uncertainty, paradox, and anxiety about the future.

Read more about the project HERE.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Recent Exhibitions Featuring the Work of Aitor Orti and Chris Engman

There were two pretty fantastic sounding exhibitions featured on the newsletter for Photography, Film and Video this week (this is a great mailing list to be on, by the way, as they also send out artist opportunities for grants, exhibitions, residencies, education opportunities, etc.).  In light of our conversation regarding the complex relationship around art and photography and the various modes of practice that have become prevalent, the work of Orti and Engman seem particularly apt.

The press release for Ortiz describes his "unrelenting drive to tackle head-on the dilemma between representation and interpretation (perception). In doing so, he forges connections between the content of his images, the physical qualities of the supports he chooses for his works, and the position they occupy in the exhibition space. In consonance, Aitor Ortiz stakes out a broad scope for his work and the relations between the places he photographs, and the conscious and unconscious devices operating in the process of manipulating the image: the eye (interpretation, frame, decontextualisation,…), the photographic camera (focus/out-of-focus, optical distortion, transmission of movement…) and the brain (the limitations of an imperfect device in reading information and its empirical powers: association of concepts...). These relations come together in the exhibition space, where the physical experience once again transcends the actual content of the photographs and becomes part of a process of continuous interaction between representation and the perception of the beholder."

Aitor Ortiz, “NOÚMENOS 003”, 2013 
perforated aluminium plate on lightbox / Aluminum Lochblech auf Lichtbox 
40,9 x 40,9 inches / 104 x 104 cm, Edtion 1/2 (Sourced from press release)
Read more about the work of Ortiz HERE.

Chris Engman, Double Skew, 2014
Digital pigment print
55 x 52.25 x 47 x 37.5 in (Image sourced from

The press release for Engman's exhibition, Ink on Paper, describes it as representing "a temporary shift in [his] artistic practice from photographic documentation of environmental installation phenomena—records of process and the passage of time—to a consideration of photographs themselves as an inherently false, mediated and distancing way to experience the world. By focusing not on outer constructions but on the photograph itself as a constructed challenge to perception, this new body of work continues Engman’s inquiry into the illusive and unknowable nature of reality.

Read more about the work of Engman HERE.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carrie Mae Weems at the Guggenheim

Carrie Mae Weems, Josephine BakerLena Horne, and Katherine Dunham (from “Slow Fade to Black”), 2010–11. Inkjet prints, 49 1/4 x 37 inches (124.5 x 94 cm) each. Collection of the artist. Courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. © Carrie Mae Weems. (Image Sourced from:  E-flux Press Release)

Carrie Mae Weems LIVE: Past Tense/Future Perfect

Friday, April 25–Sunday, April 27, 2014
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
5th Ave at 89th St
New York City

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Photosynthesis - New Feature on Urbanautica's Photoschools

Just received a note from Steve Bisson today, announcing this new feature on Photoschools.  Seems like it could be pretty fun, as anyone can contribute. Here's how he describes it:

"Every 3 weeks we will add a new and different chapter. Each chapter is an open page [where the] contributions of our followers [will be archived]. Thanks to them in less than 24 hours we have created the Dogs page that will keep growing in the future.

This is project is meant to become a tool for students, photographers, educators, and fans of photography.  Proposals for starting new chapters are welcome as well!"

Click HERE to peruse the entire Photoschools site.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Robert Heinecken @ MOMA

Robert Heinecken (American, 1931–2006). Are You Rea #1. 1964–68. Lithograph, 10 13/16 x 7 7/8" (27.4 x 20cm). Mr. and Mrs. Clark Winter Fund. © 2013 The Robert Heinecken Trust (Image Sourced from MoMA)
Opening today in New York, the press release for Robert Heinecken:  Object Matter describes it as "the first retrospective of the groundbreaking work of Robert Heinecken since his death in 2006. [Heinecken] came of age artistically in 1960s Los Angeles, where the burgeoning art scene and proximity to Hollywood provided fertile ground for experimentation. In this environment Heinecken—alongside peers making Pop art and Conceptual art—pushed the boundaries between mediums and between high and popular culture.  Drawing on the countless pictures in magazines, books, pornography, television, and even consumer items such as TV dinners, Heinecken used found images to explore the manufacture of daily life by mass media and the relationship between the original and the copy, both in art and in our culture at large. Thriving on contradictions, friction, and disparity, his examination of American attitudes toward gender, sex, and violence was often humorous and always provocative."

Click HERE to view additional images and read more about the exhibition.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Pantone Portraits

Image Credit:  Angelica Dass (Sourced from feature shoot)
I thought this work on feature shoot yesterday was pretty in keeping with our recent discussions around photography and the body.  It's definitely worth a look.  View more of the images and read about the photographs of Angelica Dass HERE.

Speaking about the work in the interview, Dass states, “If what I wanted was to destroy the concepts of colors associated with race, such as red, yellow, white and black, it would not be logical to use a color scale that works with percentages of these colors. That’s why I chose not to use CMYK or RGB. Pantone works on a neutral scale, where a color has no more importance than another. It’s a very identifiable scale for those in the world of design, but also easily understood by anyone. It provides a way to look objectively at the ‘human object.'"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Whitney Biennial - First Reviews Are Coming In...

Nicely descriptive post on Hyperallergic today detailing curator Michelle Grabner's "floor" at the Whitney. Keep your eyes out for more reviews, as there will likely be a very mixed bag of responses. Click HERE to read the Hyperallergic review and click HERE to peruse the Whitney's website for the Biennial.

Detail of Dawoud Bey’s “Maxine Adams and Amelia Maxwell (from the Birmingham Project)” (2012), two pigmented inkjet prints mounted on Dibond, ed. no. 1/6 (Sourced from Hyperallergic)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Trevor Paglen in Response to, "Is Photography Over?"

It looks like Trevor Paglen is the guest blogger on Still Searching for the coming weeks.  He's provided an overview of his approach to tackling the question(s) posed a couple of years back during a symposium at SFMOMA.  I'm excited to hear what he has to say.  He's setting the conversation up pretty nicely.  In his closing he states that,

"Over the next few weeks, I want begin thinking about how to begin thinking through the 21st Century’s emerging photographic landscape, and the ways both photographic practices and photographs themselves are changing...

I’ll start by introducing the idea of photography as “seeing machines” and explore questions such as: How do we see the world with machines? What happens if we think about photography in terms of imaging systems instead of images?  How can we think about images made-by-machines-for-other-machines? What are the implications of a world in which photography is both ubiquitous and, curiously, largely invisible?"

I recommend reading the entire blog post HERE and following Still Searching so that you are alerted to follow-up posts.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Benefits of Work-in-Progress Feedback

In college studio art courses, students often struggle with longer term projects as the expectations and outcomes generally differ from standard assignments. Rather than working toward completing a particular task with clearly defined parameters, self-directed projects allow students to define their own content and determine their own goals, and offer time for the work to develop over the course of weeks, months or even years.  

In 2012, Tom Griggs of fototazo solicited artists and arts professionals to help his students with this process through a mentoring program that he began publishing semi-regularly on the blog.  I think students will find the feedback useful as they think about how their own work might be interpreted by those not immediately familiar with their practice and process.  

Click the link below to view a set of images by Colombian student photographer Natalia Lopera, along with her mentors responses:

© Natalia Lopera, untitled #8 (Image sourced from fototazo)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review of the ICP Show "What is a Photograph?" on Collector Daily

It seems most of the reviews I've come across of this exhibition are fairly critical of it as being a relatively simplistic overview rather than a challenging grouping of works.  All the same, most reviewers seem pleased with much of the work included, as does Loring Knoblauch in the review on Collector Daily, which you can read HERE.  This is a show worth thinking about, at the very least. I recommend visiting the ICP site and seeking out some of the other reviews, such as the one in The New York Times.

Installation View, What Is a Photograph? @ ICP (Image Sourced from Collector Daily)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Image Stream by Tom Griggs on fototazo

Last week Tom Griggs posted an essay titled, Navigating the Stream - Part I on his blog fototazo, which is sure to be followed up with another insightful and thought provoking essay dealing with the many issues surrounding the ever-shifting nature of photographs in an on-line environment. He concludes Part I with an important distinction between the relatively thoughtless manner of gathering and disseminating images and more carefully considered and challenging presentation strategies.  

He writes,  "I’m talking about the encroaching idea of posting image after unconnected image on Tumblr or wherever as an “artist” and never moving to make something with the images beyond that....ever.  Selecting, editing and curating your work creates meaning and moves photography beyond the superficial, beyond just the aesthetic..."

You can read Griggs' full essay HERE.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Well Deserved Return to Philip-Lorca diCorcia's "Hustlers"

I was pleased to come across this today on Conscientious.  I'm in agreement with most, if not all, of what Colberg has to say.  I've long admired diCorcia's work, and especially this series.  You can read the essay HERE.  I highly recommend it.

Image Credit:  Philip-Lorca diCorcia (Sourced from:  Conscientious)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Opposing Perspectives on Jimmy Nelson's Project, Before They Pass Away

Image Credit:  The Maori, New Zealand. © Jimmy Nelson BV Courtesy teNeues. (Sourced from feature shoot)
I came across an article extolling the power of Jimmy Nelson's portrait series, Before They Pass Away, on the blog feature shoot last week.  I have mixed feelings about this work, and was immediately a bit put off by the overly slick, commercial feel of the images.  But, I was more bothered by the assertion that this work served to "document the last remaining indigenous people of the world." (See the article, Powerful Photos of Vanishing Indigenous People Across the Globe, by clicking HERE.)

I had a suspicion that it wouldn't be hard to find an article that was critical of Nelson's approach, and came across a thoughtful essay on Salon by Elissa Washuta, "The Wrongheaded Obsession with 'Vanishing' Indigenous People." Washuta makes a number of strong points about the work and rightly questions the romanticized aesthetic in relation to the artists "predefined notion of indigenous authenticity, which doesn't align with the realities that have faced indigenous communities since time immemorial" (Washuta).  

I encourage those interested in this work, or in representations of indigenous communities in general, to read over both articles and think carefully about Washuta's suggestion that, 

"Nelson’s evaluation of communities during his lifetime fails to account for the flux experienced over thousands of years. Too often, onlookers expect indigenous peoples to remain static for the entirety of their existence, failing to consider their long histories of change before contact with outsiders."

Narrating War

Such is the title of an upcoming exhibition/program at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin.  Students in Photo II might find interest in this considerate approach to the content of war, especially as it relates to our recent reading in the Wells text on traditions of documentary, historically and now.

Image Credit:  Krieg erzählen | Foto: Sebastian Bolesch (sourced from HKW)
Below is an excerpt from the press release on E-Flux:  

In Narrating War, Haus der Kulturen der Welt deliberately does not take the great catastrophes of the 20th century as its point of reference. Rather, it places conflicts of the recent past and the present at the center, from the civil wars in the former Yugoslavia to the wars in the Middle East, in the Gaza Strip and in Syria. The year 2014 marks not only the centenary of the start of the First World War, but also the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. And, not least, it is the year in which Germany will begin to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. How are the stories of these wars told today? And what is kept silent? Who is allowed to speak, and what fissures, gaps, formulas, and clichés arise when they do?

Reporting, the ur-technique of dealing with information, is not a neutral process. It smooths out and filters, abbreviates and expands on its subject. What formats in texts, pictures, and films are suitable for conveying extreme experiences in war? At what cost? Why do objectifying reports so often fail, and why do so many reporters choose subjective perspectives? Narrating War brings together war correspondents and photographers, editors and academics, soldiers and human rights activists, filmmakers and witnesses from war zones and conflict areas. In roundtables, in panels, and one-on-one, the participants will discuss doubts and fears, errors and the unspoken, coincidences and taboos—the “making of” behind professional reporting which normally remains hidden from news consumers. The discussions will be complemented and contrasted by readings by actors and a selection of extraordinary documentary films put together and commented on. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Darren Campion on Thomas Albdorf

Much of this article should resonate for students in Photo II in relation to our (all too brief) conversation on theoretical frameworks of/for photography.  Writing about the works of Albdorf, Campion suggests:

"However disparate these works may initially appear, concerned as they are with various sorts of photographic production, the sum of what Albdorf has created is a study of the medium that can grapple with its diverse and often contradictory uses. As photography does not submit to a unified aesthetic identity, any response to the sort of questions being asked here will necessarily have to contend with that characteristic evasiveness. If assuming that he is solely engaged with the investigation of photography as such is perhaps to define Albdorf’s work too narrowly – and indeed to misunderstand the wider consequences of photographic representation – reading across his various projects, it seems instead that they are a sustained effort to build a composite image of photography as a means of making the world visible, with each advance being a part of the whole. Albdorf’s diverse approach is ideally situated to untangle the mesh of possibilities that make photography what it is – and which, in turn, determine how it is used."

You can read the full article HERE.
And, to see more of Albdorf's work, click HERE.

Image Credit:  Thomas Albdorf, from the series Former Writer (Sourced from