29.2.16


The future looks a little brighter now after being in a kind of photographic limbo. Now I can finally get back in my van and finally finish those projects.

That's not me in the picture above, this is on my first visit to the USA in 1992



Watch this space...

21.2.16

The Cloud..


Now that all of my negatives edited are filed (sort of) they form an archive which I guess one day will be rendered useless, unable to print, or scan, with no idea what the new photographic medium will be.. There is something very satifying about having an archive all in one place, something that just isn't really possible with the digital era. In fact yesterday my brother in-law told me I should store my images in The Cloud. I have never heard of anything that sounds so image un-safe.

One thing I am most pleased about is that there seems to be a lot more interest in physical prints recently. I even had to dust off the old 11/14" folio and get a few prints made to bring it up to date.. Who knows, maybe I will book some darkroom space and get out my dodging kit..

17.2.16

1%

Picked up an excellent book edited by Myles Little today, 1%.


The story of inequality is impossible to ignore these days. My morning commute through Manhattan affords me glimpses of both appalling poverty and magnificent wealth. Everyone from billionaire businessmen to the Pope has spoken out against this troubling development.

While we may think we understand wealth through television and tabloids, what we see represents only a drop in the bucket. In 2014, the highest paid athlete in the world, Floyd Mayweather, made $105 million. In the same year, the highest paid hedge fund manager in the world, Kenneth Griffin, made $1.3 billion. And yet Mayweather is world famous, while for most people Griffin doesn’t register at all. And while we may think we understand inequality, in fact we don’t at all. Harvard Business School asked Americans how much they think major CEOs earn relative to ordinary workers. The median respondent thought the ratio was perhaps 30 to 1. The reality? It's over to 350 to 1.

There is a long history of photography denouncing poverty, such as Jacob Riis’ photos from 19th century New York slums or Mary Ellen Mark’s photos of Seattle’s homeless children. But recent decades have witnessed a boom in strong photography questioning privilege. Consider Jim Goldberg’s "Rich and Poor" shot in San Francisco, or Lauren Greenfield’s "kids + money" shot in Los Angeles.

In curating 1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality, I have tried to gather images that examine wealth globally and in many different ways. One reference point I had for my project was Edward Steichen's 1955 exhibition The Family of Man. Curated in the optimistic postwar era, it presented over 500 documentary photos of very different people from around the world, grouped under common themes such as family, religion and work. It argued for, in Steichen’s words, "the essential oneness of mankind". But as inequality reaches historic levels, I find this thesis less and less viable. Consider, for example, that the 6 heirs to the Walmart fortune own more wealth than the bottom 42% of Americans combined. I wanted to respond to Steichen’s project by finding images on similar themes but taken in the realm of wealth. While The Family of Man was a sprawling, varied and democratic mix of images by both known and unknown photographers, I took a different approach, befitting the exclusive spirit of my topic. I selected a small number of polished, well-crafted, medium format photographs by some of today’s best photographers. I wanted to borrow the language of privilege and use it to observe and critique privilege.

Some of the images map out points in the world of affluence, such as education, leisure and healthcare (while avoiding clich├ęs like fur coats and private jets). Other images are positioned outside the world of the 1%, looking back in. For example, one of Nina Berman’s images shows a crowd of hopefuls attending a church in the American South that teaches that Jesus wants us to be rich. Some images contain juxtapositions of class, such as Guillaume Bonn’s photo of maids in a wealthy Kenyan household. Still other images are more abstract, such as Sasha Bezzubov’s photo of a cloud of golden dust over a logging road in Gabon, which evokes for me the ephemeral nature of wealth.

In March 2015, billionaire private equity investor Paul Tudor Jones II publicly declared that the wealth gap “cannot and will not persist...it will get closed. History always does it. It typically happens in one of three ways: either through revolution, higher taxes, or wars.”

So then, what will it be?

I hope this project helps spur that conversation.

—Myles Little

7.2.16

CALVARIAMS




Originally I was going to keep this projects under wraps in an attempt to create some kind of Blair Witch type internet frenzy. But now I think its time to show what I have been up to. Heres a statement of sorts;



People who know me predominately as a landscape photographer may think of this project as a departure from my work. However, my early interests in photography came about through sculptured forms such as nudes and various still life objects and has always been a sideline to my work. If you combine this with my interest in the beauty of decay often seen in my landscapes, its easy to see the transition.

I have long had a fascination with animal curiosities, be it taxidermy, creatures suspended in formaldehyde, skeletons and in this case the skull itself. Memories of trips to the local museum on a rainy day in the summer holidays are something I still hold dear with its glass boxes full of interesting and exciting beasts.

The actual idea for the Calvariams series started after seeing an image of a pet cat skull. With its big eye sockets and teeth, it looked liked some kind of alien monster, and not some cute fluffy kitten. Intrigued I began looking at other animals skulls and became fascinated at the way different species looked in their afterlife..
The zoology department at the Grant university has the largest collection of animal skulls in the UK. They very kindly allowed me access and I cannot thank them enough as with out them this series would not exist.

As a photographer this project is very much about the striking visual form and textures of a skull as an object. But I soon became interested in the animals themselves and there genetic make up; For example, seeing the size of a crocodiles brain cavity, which is about the size of a peanut simply because it is a predator and does not need a large brain to function.
Several of the skulls in the project are from animals now sadly considered endangered or even extinct such as the Tasmanian Tiger. Although I have tried to keep the edit very much on a visual aesthetic, when you know something is no longer around or very rare, you kind of want it in the show..

The visual impulse for such a project was to shoot the skulls from the front or the side. But I had seen this many times before including Irving Penns wonderful Cranium Architecture series.
Choosing to to shoot the skulls from above was a bit of a risk as I was unsure how certain skulls would look having only seen them from the side and front in the museum catalogue. It can be tricky to go against your first instincts, but one thing I have learnt with landscape photography is that the best images are often not what your eyes see first.
I deliberately chose not to give any scale to the images so you could be looking at a skull which in reality only measures a few inches.

I like to think of the final images as being similar to Inkblots. They can be interpreted visually in different ways depending on the individual.