Archive for March, 2010

Jack Chambers – The Hart of London

March 29, 2010

I was introduced to Jack Chambers’ ambitious and experimental film The Hart of London back in college when I studied cinema over 10 years ago. I can say with no exaggeration that the film’s images are still imprinted on my retina.

I’ll never forget my first experience with this masterful film which in part examines the interaction of nature and civilization in the city of London, Ontario as well as ideas of life and death in it’s many forms. The black & white and color film is far from easy to watch as it has it’s own slowly defrosting rhythm as well as some intense moments of shocking color but it rewards the patient viewer with a life changing cinematic experience.

Rarely screened and absolutely breathtaking in it’s beauty (Chambers was also a great painter), The Hart of London is screening this week in New York at Light Industry. Carolee Schneemann will introduce the film.

Don’t miss this very special and rare opportunity.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 7:30pm
The Hart of London
Light Industry
177 Livingston Street
Brooklyn, New York

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The Artist is Present

March 24, 2010

You don’t have to go to MoMA to experience Marina Abramović’s current performance, The Artist is Present taking place in the big atrium of the museum, although you definitely should.

Now you can get a glimpse of what’s happening by watching a live video feed from the comfort of your own computer.

Unfortunately the feed only lasts a couple of minutes before it times out, but you can keep reloading the page if you like. The feed gives you no idea of what the actual performance feels or looks like but it is somewhat interesting nonetheless although the ambiance of the piece is definitely missing and it’s not a 360˚ rotating view.

When I was there the first person I saw get up from the chair was a young woman who ran out of the atrium as fast as she could while tears were falling down her face. I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit in that chair but the woman’s tears definitely tell you something about the intensity of the experience.

There are also plenty of other videos and behind the scenes to see on the exhibition website.

Layard Thompson, one of performers re-performing many of Abramović’s older performances in the historical section of the exhibition is keeping an online journal of his experiences here.

Speaking about his experience of standing naked on one side of a narrow entrance way during one of the performances (a nude woman stands across from him creating a narrow space for the visitors to walk through), Thompson had this to say:

“…the old men who view her body with objectifying intent, the teenage girls who skip past us on the heels of their discomfort, the gay men who face me and are more intent to make eye contact, the demure well-to-do ladies who take extreme care in not touching as they pass our bodies…”

Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present continues through May 31, 2010.

Way too much to see

March 24, 2010

from Nick Relph’s show at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Robert Ryman, Large-Small, Thick-Thin, Light Reflecting, Light Absorbing at Pace Wildenstein
through March 27, 2010

Hannah Whitaker, Victory Over The Sun at Kumukumu Gallery
through March 28, 2010

Beat Streuli, NYC 91/09 at Murray Guy
through April 3, 2010

Nick Relph at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise
through April 3, 2010

Kenneth Josephson at Gitterman Gallery
through April 17, 2010

Ryan McGinley, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere at Team Gallery
through April 17, 2010

Candida Höfer, Florence and Naples at Sonnabend Gallery
through April 17, 2010

R. Crumb, The Bible Illuminated at David Zwirner
through April 17, 2010

James Welling, Glass House at David Zwirner
through April 24, 2010

Marlene Dumas, Against the Wall at David Zwirner
through April 24, 2010

Catherine Opie, Girlfriends at Gladstone Gallery
through April, 24, 2010

Inez Van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin & Eugene Van Lamsweerde, Sculptographs at Andrea Rosen Gallery
through May 1, 2010

Carol Bove at Kimmerich
through May 1, 2010

Shipping Update

March 22, 2010

The first copies of Star Quality were shipped out today and should be arriving in people’s mailboxes in the next couple of days.

If you placed an order already and don’t receive your book by the end of the week, please let me know. For those outside of the USA, the book might take a bit longer to get to you.

The response has been great so far and I appreciate all the support and kind words. If you haven’t placed an order or were planning to, there are still a few copies left of the first 50 books.

One thing I forgot to mention before is that a subscription to the entire series of books will only be available while supplies of Star Quality last. Therefore only those who have ordered a copy of Star Quality on it’s own will be able to subscribe to the entire series once that book is sold out.

Digital Decay

March 22, 2010

As research libraries and archives are discovering, “born-digital” materials — those initially created in electronic form — are much more complicated and costly to preserve than anticipated.

The above quote is from an article in last week’s New York Times about writer Salman Rushdie’s digital archive being preserved and put on display at Emory University.

They mention that there are 18 gigabytes of data to store but that’s nothing compared with photograhy in the digital age. Data backup and archiving is a huge problem that we must all deal with and reading this article is only making me nervous. It’s certainly not like the old days of negatives and contact sheets.

Strangely, all this thinking about archives is also making me think about the photographic vintage print market and how that will probably dry up in the coming years as young photographers are printing less and less and as a result, putting less one off or random prints into storage.

Star Quality

March 15, 2010

Copies of Star Quality are now completely Sold Out.

Be Bop A Lula

March 14, 2010

Viviane Sassen

March 14, 2010

Viviane Sassen’s work has been getting seemingly endless mention recently.

From my perspective the attention seemed to all get started with this write-up about her work by Vince Aletti written in Modern Painters back in April 2009, at least that’s where I first heard about her.

Sassen’s exhibition currently on view at Danziger Projects is a perfect exception to the previous post’s discussion about the democratic screen.

I first saw Sassen’s beautiful images on a computer screen but they are even more gorgeous, seductive and mysterious in person. The reason is obvious when you see the show. The prints are perfectly printed, framed and hung on the wall demonstrating exactly what she wants us to see. The most striking thing about the prints and the images in general is how dark some of them are. Sassen is the only photographer I can think of who uses shadow in such a dramatic and unique way.

Sassen also uses color in an interesting way, not through saturation necessarily, but through her use of subjective color printing techniques. Some of the prints are excessively blue or cyan and that lends a very different feeling and atmosphere to the prints that I find hard to put into words.

Whatever she is doing, one can tell that Sassen really cares about her photographs, they are obviously well crafted and intelligently considered.

Viviane Sassen is on view at Danziger Projects through April 10, 2010.

The Democratic Screen

March 14, 2010

One can argue about many issues having to do with contemporary photography and the computer. The never ending debate surrounding digital manipulation and questions of photographic truth is one such issue. Another important, but much less discussed issue has to do with the beauty and seductive quality of the back-lit screen you are now reading these words on.

Most of the photographs we see on a daily basis are viewed on a computer screen and are uniform in their presentation. Excluding subject matter and style, these photographs are bright, back-lit and roughly the same size.

In many cases the experience of looking at these same pictures, in print or on the wall, has a tendency to underwhelm. Of course this is a personal opinion but I would argue that the problem stems from the democratizing or illusory effect created by the computer screen itself.

There have been a number of exhibitions I have seen over the past couple of years that have lead me to this conclusion, exhibitions where I actually love the work of the artist but am less than excited by the presence of the same work on the physical wall. Needless to say, I have experienced this with some of my own work once it leaves the computer screen.

What is happening in this translation from screen to print then becomes the essential question.

One of the main problems involved in this equation seems to be that as a new generation of photographers who rely heavily on the computer and digital photography, we are losing the connection to the printed image as well as the skill involved in making a photographic print. Sometimes skill in making a print isn’t even the problem, as we are also losing the ability to judge good prints from bad prints when we see them.

This is evident in that many people just accept what they see and think is normal for digital photographic prints: noise, pixelization and over-sharpening. This applies for photographers, gallerists, curators as well as collectors. It’s unbelievable what some people are willing to look at or even pay for. It seems as though the idea of the image has become more important than the actual photographic object containing that image.

Sometimes though, the loss of impact occurs and there is absolutely nothing wrong with the prints themselves.

There are of course exceptions to this argument, but most of the exceptions seem related to print size and scale. If a print is very large, we tend to be wowed by the scale factor and are even more willing to overlook print issues as well as the relationship to the screen.

The same could be said for extra small prints which deliver a compact density of information, like 8×10 contact prints. Think of Stephen Shore’s original contact prints from Uncommon Places or small polaroids like Saul Fletcher’s, both never cease to have an impact.

Another exception, which especially surprises me, could be the continued beauty and impact of a gelatin silver black & white photograph. Think of Timothy Briner’s Boonville or Cara Phillips’ Ultraviolet Beauties (full disclosure: they are both friends) or even Jacob Aue Sobol, whose gorgeous prints I saw a while back and Daido Moriyama’s Hawaii currently on view at Luhring Augustine. This is not to say that there aren’t some very nice inkjet or pigment based black and white photographs being exhibited, there definitely are, but the ratio of success hasn’t been very promising.

Another exception that is hard to explain is the enduring value, power and impact of the photographic book. Unlike the printed gallery image, the photographic book appears to be excelling in the digital era with its sustaining impact. The difference is that the book itself offers a very personal as well as physical experience that accumulates in the viewer over time. The book also stresses the narrative possibilities inherent in the still image as well as the medium of photography itself.

So what are the solutions to this ever-expanding problem?

Short of exhibiting all our photographs in ever expanding (or shrinking) proportions or on giant computer screens, (something I am definitely not opposed to and something we will certainly be seeing in the very near future), I am really not sure what the answer is.

The only option seems to be to think about our relation to the screen more implicitly and bear in mind how we exhibit and present our works in the physical world. Consider how you print, frame and display your photographs. Realize that photographs are physical objects not unlike sculpture, objects that need to have an impact and presence when seen, objects that compel us to look, more deeply and with intensive thought.

The Photographic Project – Star Quality

March 10, 2010

To request the above photographic book:

Send an email (subject: Star Quality) to horses [at] horsesthink.com with your name and mailing address.

If you are the first person to respond after the posting, you will receive this book in the mail.

Star Quality
8 x 10 inches, 20.32 x 25.4 cm
Perfect Bound
Color and Black & White
32 pages
Soft Cover
Digital offset
Edition of 100

Information about purchasing this book will be available very soon, thank you for your patience.

 

The music accompanying the Star Quality book trailer is an excerpt of You Made Me Love You performed by Judy Garland.

*This photographic book is no longer available.