As encouraging as it is to see a roll film camera being produced (as I have mentioned on here previously) and as much as I want one, this does not stop me thinking that it is way, way, way overpriced and not the kind of camera you would want to bump with the bellows open as I think it would fall to bits. You can also guarantee that next year it will be worth twenty pence, just like the New Pentax I bought a few years ago (now that camera is a work horse, but twice the size and four times the weight. But you can change the lenses.)
I see this camera as an emergency back-up hidden in a camera bag, or perhaps a weekend getaway when they all think you havn't brought a camera.
Got to love that format though..
Wonder if it will fit in my back pocket..
I was delighted to see that Peter Bialobrzeski has brought out a new body of work in book form entitled Paradise Now. I have mentioned PB on here a few times as I think his work is pretty sweet. You can see a number of the images here.
A lot of the work reminds me of Thomas Struth and to be honest they don't really bounce the ball and fill my hole compared to his other work, my favorite being Neon Tigers. Theres just too much 'clutter' for my liking and I have seen this technique of shooting trees and foliage using artificial light done to death, and that includes my own work.
Below in red is a review of the book from this weeks BJP and I have to agree with the last paragraph, so please read on.
Maybe it's because JG Ballard died last week but this book makes me think of science fiction. In front of the hypermodern cityscape, the jungle looms malevolently, threatening to overwhelm civilisation altogether. In fact, Peter Bialobrzeski's images document something rather more subtle, if no less dystopian - the effect of artificial light on urban growth.
'Paradise Now features fragments of nature - some staged, others untouched and unaffected by urban growth - located on the periphery of the artificially lit infrastructure of Asian metropolises,' he writes. 'Unlike daylight, the lights of the big city do not go in any particular direction. Artificial suns made of sodium lights, automobile headlights and illuminated skyscrapers form a kind of "vernacular light" that causes this urban "super greenery" to oscillate between hyperrealistic and surrealistic.'
The illuminated trees are backdropped by starless light-polluted skies, and the effect is eerily striking. But he isn't just photographing them because they look good. Inspired by Walker Evans' notion of history-in-the-making - 'I am interested in what any present time will look like as the past' - he's out to record early 21st century urban decadence. 'The photographs celebrate the lush growth as a sign of hope, yet they provoke the question of whether we can still responsibly account for this kind of illumination given the prognosticated climate catastrophe,' he writes. 'If we become sensible to our responsibility, then we will have to resort to technologies that put a halt to the waste - and these pictures will become historical. The photographs will remind us that decadence and stupidity almost always look quite pretty.'
It's paradise now but, as the title implies, it will shortly be Paradise Lost. And, as in John Milton's Biblical tale, the loss will be because of human fallibility. It's an interesting idea and it's, largely, impeccably executed. Bialobrzeski, who is a professor for photography at the University for the Arts, Bremen and shoots for Newsweek, Le Monde and Der Speigel amongst others, used a 4x5 Linhof camera for the project, shooting at dusk with exposures up to eight minutes long. Human beings are all but eradicated from the resulting images, leaving only the beautiful but corrupt cities they have built.
But I find it a little strange Bialobrzeski has opted create some of the images in postproduction, illustrating 'an idea of the world rather than a reality that can be replicated'. Because really, recording the contemporary landscape for posterity is one thing: recording the contemporary imaginative landscape is quite another, although equally valid in its own right. Which takes us neatly back to JG Ballard...
Diane SmythIn print
Paradise Now by Peter Bialobrzeski is published by Hatje Cantz (ISBN: 978-3-7757-2332-9), priced £55.
And so my friends it would seem that behind the scenes of the photographic world two committed cogs of photography have been creating a small empire. Michael Diemar and Laura Noble (the Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia of photography) are opening there doors on the 7th of May for what promises to be a huge benefit to london and its followers of the photography medium.
I myself will be part of the gallery in terms of a represented photographer and look forward to working with them both. I should also mention that they are both good friends of mine which is a bonus to boot.
So I ask you to watch this space as I comment on the progress of the gallery, and also to pop along to 66 Wells Street on the 7th if you get the chance...
Heres to good things....
I hate the idea of portfolio reviews at the best of times. But to have your work slated at (and I quote) £215.00 for one day, £360.0 for two days, and heaven forbid £460.00 for three days, is quite frankly crazy.
I will spend the day with you for free, buy you a sandwich, make you laugh and look at your work for nothing. But who are you? I hear you say. Well I bet I know a lot more than the line up they have this year...
Remember Rhubarb is bitter and the leaves are deadly. (I think I wrote that last year..)
Save your money and use it to travel somewhere to take pictures (but not Mexico..)
It feels like I have been in the North for over a year now (just over a week) as time really does go slowly here, especially if you are getting up early to catch that morning glow, and then hanging round all day to catch the evening glow. But I have been trapped in the flowery room all too long and plan to make my escape this evening under cover of darkness..
Bags packed, with a belly full of pies....
I should be on Twitter..
DEIMAR/NOBLE PHOTOGRAPHY OPENS NEW GALLERY IN LONDON ON MAY 7th WITH JENNIE GUNHAMMAR EXHIBITIONLondon's newest Fitzrovia-area gallery, Deimar/Noble Photography, will open May 7 with works by the Swedish-born photographer, Jennie Gunhammar.
Within its large West End premises, Deimar/Noble will stock and exhibit a wide range of photographic work from the medium's early masters to current and cutting-edge contemporary work.
The gallery maintains an education department and conducts courses for collectors and photographers, as well as portfolio reviews for students.
Diemar/Noble was founded by Michael Diemar, photographic consultant and lecturer, and Laura Noble, artist, curator, writer, photographic consultant and the author of "The Art of Collecting Photography".
In this inaugural exhibition the images form an intimate portrait of Gunhammar's sister, Jess with her partner Stan and the couple's life together in north London. Underlying the images of Jess and Stan as an everyday loving couple in an everyday loving relationship is the fact that their lives are marred by their respective illnesses. Stan suffers from
Parkinson's disease and Jess from Lupus, a chronic disorder affecting the immune system and a disease with which Jennie herself has also been diagnosed.
Through her images Gunhammar captures not only the love and tenderness in Jess and Stan's daily life but also the difficulties and anguish they live with, whether it's Stan waiting for test results in an NHS corridor or Jess huddled on a hospital bed, her entire body aching. The photographs explore the poetry of their day-to-day life, the love and support within their relationship despite never being far from the shadow of illness.
Gunhammar's images show us that despite all, immense beauty prevails on both a visual and spiritual level. With remarkable sensitivity these images bare witness to the relationship of the couple, but also to the special and close bond between the photographer and her sister.
Jennie Gunhammar herself is based in London. A book, entitled "somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond" (published by Damiani) also accompanies this exhibition of the same name.
The exhibition runs from May 7-June 12, 2009. Gallery hours are from 11am-6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Diemar/Noble Photography is located at 66/67 Wells Street, London W1T 3PY.
I was chuffed to hear that Robert Adams won the Hasselblad Award this year not just because I admire his work greatly, but because he kept it up even though he was skint (something he describes as irritating and a constant burden on The Genius Of Photography). He didn't happen to pull up in his Rolla get out, take a snap and then drive away slowly..
This is a photographer truly admire and has done so much for photography . Who knows maybe in forty years I might get the Lomo Award or something as I am also skint..(and burdened)...
Nice one Robby..
What first drew me to Paul J Harvey's work where his fabulous images of Iceland (above) which I happen to think are some of the best I have seen, and believe me I have seen a lot. A challenging place indeed, and not just because of the topsy turvy weather, but because every bugger goes there. So when I see some images that send the rest sideways, I take note.
But this is not the main reason for this post here on the Mode that was B. It seems that PJH has been to all the places I have including the good old smell fest that is The Salton Sea. The picture above of the cars is a scene I have seen several times and this one happens to be an angle I particularly like. The thing is, on all my trips to the area (round about 20) I never found these cars. I explored every inch of that flaming place and not a sniff.....
And so if anyone is reading this (including PJ) and could tell me exactly where these rusty beasts are, I would be most grateful. Only then will my project be complete (thought I would say that for dramatic effect..)
Some wonderful work from Anna Shteynshleyger who I believe was recently awarded a precious Guggenheim fellowship thingy. Her Siberia project is beautiful and rather calming... At least it is to me.
Heres a quote I stole from her (this is the kind of thing I like to hear)
“I’m not interested in the political side of it at all. I don’t deny it and know it filters into the work, but I’m just not approaching it from that perspective. I’m interested in exploring inner exile and profound beauty as redemptive and liberating. There is that famous Dostoyevsky quote that ‘Beauty will redeem the world.’”
On many occasion I seem to find myself in buildings of disrepair . Old cinemas, hotels, dungeons,
crypts, sheds, diners and the odd clapped out bingo hall. Today was no exception, and having cast my fears aside I entered the dark rat infested top secret army barracks last used during the second world war. Once my eyes adjusted I made my way through the peeling corridors and cobwebs as thick as Grannies blanket. Small shafts of light cut the dusty air like light sabers as I made my way through a narrow passage. At the end of the passage was a pool of soft pink light and as I got closer I could just about see some writing on one of the walls. A few more steps and I heard a scream, and yes my friends it was me, screaming like a girl as I made out the words CHANGING AREA written in big black letters. I think it was the realization of being in the middle of a shower area with three pitch black doorways left right and center. It was like a walk in a Haunted House at the fair or a trip to some evil relatives house on the hill....with vampires. I was frozen, but not with fear (or because I was cold), but because I just knew I had to get a shot and knew I couldn't leave without at least one frame. It was one of the longest thirty minute exposure of my life and I am still convinced I was not alone (maybe I would of found out had I put my head lamp on full power....).
Well I made it through the darkness and lived to tell the tale safe to say I paid no attention to the artful shafts of light and cobwebs as I scrambled to the sunshine outside.... Then I tripped on a tuft of grass and in order to save my precious camera with both hands I managed to land head first into a half moist cow pat, my shiny head breaking through the outer crust and sliding through the mire like a kiddy on rolla skates....
THE NORTHERN WAY TODAY
NEWS IN BRIEF
Doyle once again realizes the importance of the photo album as various family members show him pictures of his little willy as a baby and his mother tells of the fear that she thought he had ginger hair when he was born…
Upon returning to his car parked down a country lane after an intense long exposure in a field, Doyle finds the police awaiting his arrival. The officer aged twelve and a half asks him what he has been doing even though Doyle is carrying a camera on a tripod. Sensing the police officers youth and inexperience Doyle told the man child; ‘I have been planting potatoes and digging drainage in the lower field.’ ‘Oh, alright then I’ll leave you to it’ the youth replied. As the toddler drove off in his enormous Volvo Doyle actually called the officer ‘Son’ a natural reaction and a sign that he is getting no younger…
DOYLE TAKES DISLIKE TO SCOTS….
After a near miss with yet another youth Doyle talks bravely of how he was almost killed by a oversized Scottish child on a bicycle.
‘There I was minding my business walking along a narrow footpath when a young boy the size of a hippo on a bike rode along side me and then proceeded to fall sideways sending me into a prickly bush. I knew he was Scottish because I was in Scotland..’
Doyle remains calm yet stable at his parents home.
Right now there are dozens if not hundreds of final year photography students musing the veracity of photojournalism in the digital age for their graduation thesis. So this one's for you....
Earlier this year the judges of Denmark's Picture of The Year contest decided to ask some questions about a set of pictures they felt uncomfortable about. Just how much Photoshopping had been done? Did the pictures cross the line between simple cropping and enhancement into unseen territory?
They asked Klavs Bo Christensen to submit his unedited raw photos from Haiti, and they didn't like what they saw. To them, the colours in the edited comparisons were 'too much', too 'surreal', and ultimately they rejected them. But, says the aggrieved photojournalist, can you really judge reality by looking at a raw file?
'In my opinion, a raw file has nothing to do with reality and I do not think you can judge the finished image and the use of Photoshop by looking at [it]... 'There are also huge differences between raw conversion tools, and on how the files from different cameras are converted. And there are significant differences in the profile you choose to use in the conversion tool for each camera.'
Now pressefotografforbundet.dk presents the before-and-after shots in a translated article that offers a fascinating insight into the dilemmas faced by photographers, editors, jurors and just about anybody with a healthy interest in news media.
There's no doubt about the striking difference between the two sets of images, but are they any different from a little old-fashioned darkroom magic? And if a raw file doesn't constitute a sufficient 'digital negative' can any such thing ever exist? Does it really matter when a simple change of shutter speed would have delivered a different image anyway?
Personaly I think too many photographers are realying on post production. The days of clean backdrops and good make up are over. But I am not about to go off on one again, its like flogging a dead horse....
As I am in the homeland I thought I would reminisce a bit...
For those of you who know a little about my past you will know I spent a fair few years processing films and producing fine hand prints. My first attempt at processing a roll of film took place in my parents bathroom when I was ten. I replaced the above bulb with a red one from the electric fire, removed the film from its cassette, and proceeded to bathe the celluloid in a warm solution of water mixed with my mothers Timotei shampoo. Naturally nothing happened. And then I realised I forgot to add conditioner...
Thankfully things have moved on since then as now I always use conditioner (no hair jokes please)..
So once again I find I have journeyed northwards and become shrouded in midst in a land of pies and ancient battle grounds. As with the North Shore project I plan to keep all my peeps up to date with my latest project. But as this project has not even started, and may in fact not even start, I will not get too carried away.
There is always an element of doubt before I embark on a photographic venture and this time is no different. As I watched the little lambs skip for joy across the meadows through the speeding window of the west coast 'wobble' train, my enthusiasm began to slip away like a bogie in the bath tub..
Traveling to the far flung corners of the globe to places unfamiliar will almost always create a sense of visual excitement as everything is new. This is always a danger for photographers as its easy to become picture postcard snap happy (something Eddy Weston wrote about frequently in his Daybooks regarding places like Mexico) It tends to be the exact opposite when coming back to somewhere you know well, but this is where the skill of the photographer must come into play and they must look, rather than see..
I wanted to post this here for you all to read as it is quite simply a beautifully written piece regarding my Salton Sea project. Its by a very good writer friend of mine and was originally intended as a book forward. But things change, people have fights and small battles are fought. I do plan to bring the Salton work into the light and there is at present talk of a new book thingy, but who knows the truth surrounding such things... This is one of the dangers of running several projects at once as it becomes far to easy to neglect certain images and bodies of work. One minute your in the desert, the next thing your knee deep in snow or perhaps up a cherry tree...
Anyways read this and weep;
The Salton Sea foreword
Upon first reflection, it is the absence of life that is most apparent in Marcus Doyle's work. Yet, closer inspection finds that life is indeed there, but it is hidden and far from view, subterranean, almost outlawed. And so it is at southern California's Salton Sea; the largest lake in California, which was formed in 1905 after heavy rains and melting snow, caused the Colorado River to flood and breach at the Imperial Valley. For a time the Salton Sea was actually a bigger tourist attraction than Yosemite National Park, but now is little more than a sparsely inhabited ghost town, haunting visitors with lives once lived, others only half lived, and some never even begun.
To an outsider the Salton Sea probably represents an apocalyptic vision of the future, a man-made seaside town that has been ravaged by nature; chaotic, dirty, disorganized and left to rot like the dead fish that often gather up on its shores. But that is only the starting point for Marcus Doyle; it is the beauty amidst the tragedy that truly interests him. When viewing Doyle's work you are reminded of the old adage, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Viewed at the right hour and in just the right light, even the most dank, destroyed place may take on a beauty and truth that can change our perceptions of that which we call paradise. Without an artist like Doyle to stop time and capture the oft-unseen beauty, we may never behold its profound magnificence.
Doyle avoids the well-trodden path of previous explorers of the Salton Sea, choosing instead to focus on the splendor that once was. As in all his work, he is more interested in how life operates in spite of concrete intrusion or ruin through flood--there is never a sense of pity, more so a feeling of respect for the valiance and heroism that emerges from the swamp of hardship. But he also inadvertently finds a strange renewal, a kind of re-birth that the current residents form by their determined presence in the face of such slow decay.
From my own firsthand experience (I made three trips out to the Salton Sea), I have learned that beneath Doyle's meticulous planning and carefully thought out composition lies what some might call the music of chance, in other words, openness to spontaneity, where rather than being constrained by the ever changing strands of light, he instead works with the moving picture, like a jazz musician takes a note and riffs on it during a jamming session. His process is slow. He is dedicated to capturing within the swiftly sinking magic hour and often only procures a couple of photographs per trip. His shots are always first seen and then noted down. He lives with them in his mind allowing time to pass (often weeks) and then sees them again with fresh eyes on the day of the trip. The resulting shots are then reinterpreted through his relationship to the light as it makes a willing supplication to the coming darkness.
Upon talking to Marcus (often on our long trips back and forth out to the desert) he expressed a strong advocacy for the process of film in all its various stages; the taking of the picture, the uncertainty of what is captured, the time that passes and finally the reveal in the developing. Interestingly, in his early years Doyle developed and printed pictures for many respected photographers who trusted his dedication to perfection in the final outcome. Now it is he who is able to put the finishing touch to the work as it eventually reaches completion. For him there are artistic decisions and choices made within each stage, even before the shot has been developed. What is clear is that he is more drawn to this storied way of taking pictures than the immediate gratification of digital photography.
For Doyle The Salton Sea quickly became more than just an interesting place to take photographs. As the project took shape it became as much about the journey there and back, morphing into what Doyle began to lovingly refer to as “the daytrip.” A word that for him harkens back to his childhood when like all traditional British families his parents would organize seasonal day trips to seaside towns such as Blackpool, Morcambe and Whitley Bay--all of which have featured prominently in his growth as an artist. In fact he studied photography in Blackpool. One of his most recognizable works (#8 Whitley Bay) highlights this stark, lonely coastal town, filled with the ghosts of people who have come and gone, a place that calls out to be populated again with the bustle, noise and charm of life. The Salton Sea certainly lends itself to Doyle’s aesthetic. Indeed, it is worth remembering that the incredible popularity of the town in the fifties had started to rapidly decline in the late sixties/early seventies and by the mid eighties the state was warning residents of the high toxicity levels in the lake. Along with the increased toxins came high levels of Saline, (the Sea actually has an even greater saline quality than ocean water) which in turn caused a sudden increase in Phytoplankton algae; an organism that has a rather foul smell not unlike rotten eggs. This decay saw to it that by the late eighties the people were all but gone and what remained was a feeling of what once was. That void and energy left behind when the people leave, is a mystery to which Marcus Doyle’s photography seems inextricably bound.
Much has been made of the dilapidation of this once thriving community, but Doyle’s lens often chooses instead to focus on the regenerative quality of man in the face of such despair. Many of the photographs in this series show signs of life that is not only still present, but also actually coming back to the area. This regeneration is mirrored in the sea, which is constantly re-circulating, due in large part to agricultural run-off from irrigation in the Imperial and Coachella Valleys.
The heart of Marcus Doyle’s work beats with disparity. The pictures are often of modern subjects, but the process of taking them is very old. Pictures such as #___ and #___ also show us that there is something otherworldly about the work, almost as if the people have been removed by someone or something. Perhaps the most astonishing truth is that he never removes anything from his pictures either manually or digitally. This is the world as we know it, albeit for brief glimpses. There has been no alien abduction. Instead we are left with an eerie, yet comfortable feeling that when faced with no people, it only makes us see the landscape with even more clarity and elucidation.
At first glance, the Salton Sea represents a world marginalized and separate to the world in which most of us live. However, look a little deeper, as in each time the water recedes, and what comes to the surface are the same lives, pastimes and habits you might find anywhere else in America. People watch television, make dinner, read a book--it is only the grandeur and serenity that is missing. Perhaps from the outside it looks very different but once inside it all, we see a familiar fumbling toward the same inevitable end; where the only thing that can be hoped for is a life lived.
When the world around us is shouting "Wheres my money?" "How much? " and "Kiss my ass Mo Fo" ... I thought I would send out a message wishing you all peace and happiness this Easter time.
When I was younger, Easter Monday was always spent in the Lake District on a traditional long walk amongst the volcanoes. I believe it may have been times like these that installed my love of the landscape, the great outdoors and pocket knives...
As you will know I am always fascinated how people come to have photography as a huge part of their lives, those little things early on that trigger the creative gene. I encourage it, nurture it and devourer it. Not unlike a big fat chocolate egg...
Today was one of those days when you walk down the street with your portfolio name tag on the outside. Sunshine, a slight breeze, and a wink from the ladies I paraded through Clerkenwell like a lion on the Serengeti. And so with a leap in my step and a twinkle in my eye I averted my gaze and adjusted my eyes when stepping into Hoopers Gallery to behold John Swanell's latest show of landscapes.
To be honest (but fair) I have never had much time for Swannies landscapes, but as landscape is my forte, I felt I should take a look. Despite the rich fruity colours and warm sunny skies I was left a little cold. Theres just no creative eye behind these fancy prints. Wonderful locations albeit but there just images taken in the middle of the day and do nothing to tickle the senses other make you want to go there and do a better job..
Shame really as I love his older work with the nudes.
May I also be so bold as to tell you that I printed many a fine nude for Mr Swannell back in the days of the darkroom and first met the little chap when I was but an apprentice. What I will always remember is how he used to take his coffee. Not because he always had it black with five sugars. But because of his reaction to my question;
"Mr Swannell, Do you like your coffee like your women, dark and sweet."
"Are you a printer or a comedian?"
"Well I am more of a comedian at the moment"
"So go and do me some funny prints....And make them sweet while you are at it......"
Your right in thinking I was a cocky little twit back then...
What better way to spend your Easter weekend looking at something delightful...
Remember that Easter is a time for not only rolling eggs, going to church and eating chocolate, but also buying large photographic prints.
Heres a few quotes from the show;
I think I am going to weep (not true)
That would look good in my house.
How'd you do that then?
Thats not real.
So where did you take this?
That won't fit in my house.
Cant afford it, but if I could.
I could buy it but...
Sorry how much did you say.
Got anything smaller.
I was walking past and so I came in, are these photographs. This wine is nice..
Is this a shop?
Could you explain the edition.
Could you repeat that.
Can I get a discount.
What can you do for cash.
Will you do a trade for a fur rug.
Excuse me do you work here.
Could you tell me who took these?
I think I might be quite drunk..
My intention was never to go out and 'do my own version' of these images. But more a case of searching for images I have done that where similar in content. I am not afraid to show the influences in my work and would never try to pass myself off as a total original....So there.....
Although I am not against technology and the way it may shape the photography world. I do fear the speed in which it does so leaving no time for reflection, editing, and things like the longevity of the image process. The days of photographers 'sitting on,' and thinking about an edit over time seem to have vanished in the twinkling of an eye. Negatives have been laid to rest, perhaps the edition is finished or more likely they have become digital files kept on a hard drive. There is now a huge unanswered question as to how long an actual print may last with the introduction of new pigment inks and massive inkjet printers capable of producing a mural sized prints in a matter of minutes. Silver has been replaced with The Pixel, chemicals replaced with computer chips. The Image no longer has the preciousness of an object as framed ink jets fade away on grannies dresser.
To me it will always be like the pencil being replaced by the ball point pen. They both do the same job, but are entirely different. The pencil may smudge and can be rubbed out, but the ink in a pen will vanish long before the graphite in the pencil...
I think it is worth mentioning that in a world of turmoil and financial crisis things in the art world will never be the same. From my latest show (only one week left) all the people that have bought work have done so for two reasons. One, because they like it. And two, because they want something that could be used as an investment and sold on in the years to come. If I produced work that only had a short shelf life, it would be dishonest and a con. I only hope that others like me will think the same way.
Thats all I have to say.
Richard Misrach has retired his negatives, the below works are only
available on the secondary market. Please contact the gallery if you
are interested in any works since "On the Beach".