A different kind of moonlight

21moonlight-master768

I’m just another lover of the art of moving pictures, so the Oscars, being about the movie industry, are usually not a place to look for references. Yet, I’m always aware, and I end up finding one or two things worth watching (usually the documentaries). This year, things couldn’t be weirder. Not only is Moonlight an originally brave movie, but I also find the rest of the movies in the competition particularly poor. Because of Moonlight’s director Barry Jenkins‘ choices the movie exists in a very singular dynamic, tense yet comfortable, with characters that survive the stigma of their racial and social condition and gain their own presence, their own sensibility, their own space inside the frame. The colors, the light, the way the camera follows this man’s growth, it’s poetical and yes, Hollywood  doesn’t usually go for that. I guess this year they did and for once the industry awarded truth and originality over spectacle.

© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).
© Bas Losekoot, from the project Christoforus (Christofers boarding school).

Coming across Bas Losekoot‘s project Christoforus I couldn’t help remember the way Jenkins chose to tell the story of that boy, Chiron.

© Bas Losekoot, from the project The Urban Millennium Project: New York.
© Bas Losekoot, from the project The Urban Millennium Project: New York.
© Bas Losekoot, from the project The Urban Millennium Project: New York.
© Bas Losekoot, from the project The Urban Millennium Project: New York.

Regarding The Urban Millennium Project, Losekoot explains his approach:   

As a photographer I was initially trained in the studio. It was only later on that I got interested in urban photography, and I started to combine these genres and bring the lights to the streets. I began to imagine the city as a big studio and it citizens as actors. By approaching the street as a stage, it made me wonder if we might perform our lives. I started to read about performativity theory, for example by the sociologist Erving Goffman – about the presentation of self in everyday life. It seems, in daily life, we are performing social roles and we wear the appropriate mask for that. While commuting the city, we drop this mask and replace it for another one, the mask of ‘self-protection’. I am interested in this mask, because I believe it provides us a lot of information of the self and the construction of identity.

I have a background in cinema where I learned some lighting techniques. I consider my work to be documentary photography combined with cinematic light. I position my flashlights on the street, creating a designated zone where the protagonists are walking into my range of focus and exposure. The lights empower the capacity of photography to really freeze movement. The images suggest off-screen events since they are more about what is outside than inside the frame. They make you wander what just happened or is going to happen next. They are frozen moments that feel unreal – or ‘hyper-real’ as I like to consider them.

Next to the light I am drawn to the working of fast shutter speeds; the unique quality of photography to arrest movement. I try to capture offbeat moments that remain unseen at the everyday speed of life. Working with this apparatus I like the images to appear as film stills out of a non-linear urban continuum. I intend to slow people down and make them dwell on the meaning of inhabiting the new reality of fast growing cities.

to continue reading Losekoot’s great interview by Life Framer, click here.

 

Who’s your favourite photographer? they ask

It’s a question students often ask: who’s your favourite photographer? I don’t have one, nor do I have a favourite director, a favourite musician, a favourite writer and so on. It varies. Having said that, what students usually want when posing that question is to understand what kind of photographs I like, so I usually show them the work of a couple of authors I particularly respond to. For the past couple of years, Robert Zhao Renhui‘s work has been on the top of that list.

Sanne de Wilde, born in Antwerp in 1987, is an author’s who’s work I’ve also been following and her latest project is what brings me to this post. The Island of the Colorblind is a project that brings together the author’s style with the content’s uniqueness. As a result, we get an original aesthetic approach to this universe, being that “this universe” is both the dimension of the achromats as well as the dimension of the photographic language. They are both potentiated through de Wilde’s way of making: her choices regarding color, first and foremost, but mainly the way the “idea of color” contaminates the entire project.

Here’s an excerpt of de Wilde’s statement about The Island of the Colorblind:

In the late eighteenth century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the sole survivors, the king, carried the rare achromatopsia-gen that causes complete colorblindness. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and most islanders started seeing the world in black and white.

[…]

I tried to see the island through their eyes. Daylight is too bright to bear, moonlight turns night into day, colors dance around in shades we cannot imagine. Imagine flames lighting up in black and white, trees turning pink, waves of grey. A rainbow revisited. The islanders often refer to green as their favourite color, growing up in a lush environment, living in the jungle. But green is also the color that the most common kind of colorblindness (deutaranomaly, five out of 100 males) can’t distinguish. I learned that the color the islanders say to ‘see’ most is red. I photographed with a camera converted to infrared, programmed to read the light and the colors different. Nowadays a lot of the Pingelapese have migrated to Pohnpei, the nearest , bigger of the Micronesians island.

In a few months, The Island of the Colorblind will be published and we’ll be able to see it, contemplate it and discuss it properly. I’ll be back with more on the subject once it’s out. For now, a teaser:

© Sanne de Wilde, from the project 'The Island of the Colorblind'.
© Sanne de Wilde, from the project ‘The Island of the Colorblind’.
© Sanne de Wilde, from the project 'The Island of the Colorblind'.
© Sanne de Wilde, from the project ‘The Island of the Colorblind’.

How authenticity came to be mistaken for spontaneity

One Paula Riebschläger writes about photographer Arnaud Ele‘s work:

Far away from orchestrated photo shoots, Ele’s pictures are filled with authenticity expressed in pictures of dreamy landscapes and intimate portraits. He graduated from film school in Geneva and was recently commissioned by Urban Outfitters to create an ad campaign. Although, Ele is already a successful photographer, he keeps steadily reinventing his work. Through the process of taking pictures, he captures special moments and keeps them from being forgotten.

As I see it, Riebschläger’s words about Ele’s photographs are a good example of how the term authenticity is now commonly used as a mere synonym of sincerity, genuineness or spontaneity. So usually when one reads about the “authentic character” of a given work of art, what the writer means is that certain qualities of the work evoke a sense of truthfulness that has been somehow lost. I think this sense of having lost something incredibly important to the way we understand and relate ourselves as human beings, is transversal to every generation. Although “what’s lost” changes, it always seems to allude to some ethical standard that “used to” guaranteed a certain harmony and stability.

In the case of Ele’s photographs, what Riebschläger apparently recognizes as authentic is the intimacy, which she contrasts with the “orchestrated photo shoots”. Yes, consumers don’t like to acknowledge they’re consuming, so these new wave of urban street fashion shoots are there to let the viewer feel more comfortable, because it feels truer, more spontaneous, real, unpretentious, honest, etc. In fact, most of theses productions are just as orchestrated as they “used to be”, they just have different aims and different functions.

So how does this market of spontaneity translate into a photographic style? Precisely by evoking something that “has been lost”, namely the rawer qualities of the analogue: the grainy structure of the silver crystals, the less vivid colors, the lack of sharpness, the blur and so on an so on. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t see any problem in Ele’s photographs (more can be seen here). They highlight every day moments and they all have a certain vitality to them. The problem seems to be the rhetoric that grows around them, a rhetoric that tends to turn them into something they are not: namely authentic and highly out-of-the-box original creative works of art.

© Arnaud Ele.
© Arnaud Ele.
© Arnaud Ele.
© Arnaud Ele.

≡ True color thinking ≡

For the past 4 years, in collaboration with two colleagues – Luis Pavão & Paula Lourenço -, I’ve been teaching Alternative Processes in Photography. One of the courses we used to teach was dedicated to Color Printing Processes, which I particularly enjoyed. About two years ago I decided to tattoo the color scheme on my hand, so I’ll always have a trace of how meaningful these years of teaching have been like.

tattoo_mao

I recently came across a new set of paints called Nameless Paints, by a young designer duo from Japan, Yusuke Imai and Ayami Moteki. Instead of carrying labels with their names, these paints have a deconstructed version of how colors come together to give birth to a new one. Unfortunately, and although I was supposed to be teaching Color Processing since September, we’ve been prevented from teaching, otherwise I would be using this set to show students how creative we can be when we think of color.

nameless-paints-1 nameless-paint-set-1-new

A color archive of the world from the beginning of the 20th century.

⁞ L’Hasard Photographique ⁞

hasard photographique_1Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_5Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_2Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_8Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_6Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_3Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_4Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

hasard photographique_7Sofia Silva, Untitled, from L’Hasard Photographique, 2013/2014

٠ Embroidering photographs is more than a trend ٠

charlotte© Stacey Page, Charlotte.

paula© Stacey Page, Paula, 2011.

todd© Stacey Page, Todd, 2011.

Embroidered photographs have been a trend for some time now and Nihilsentimentalgia has featured examples of such work, like Maurizio Anzeri, Melissa Zexter, Julie Cockburn or David Catá. It so happens that the technique keeps coming up and their makers are enjoying a good deal of promotion and success, which doesn’t say much, since the art market is extremely easy to seduce and exploit, but it’s worth taking a second look.

02Meyer_New_JErseyII_Meyer© Diane Meyer, New Jersey II, from the series Time spent that might otherwise be forgotten.

12Meyer_TheWest© Diane Meyer, The West I, from the series Time spent that might otherwise be forgotten.

There is no denying that on aesthetic, formal and material levels, the result is grand and appealing: the combination of the flat old surface with the new textural one, the combination of the industrial and the handmade, the combination of desaturated images with vibrant thread colours, it all amounts to what seems to be a complex creation with different surfaces and different readings. But is that the case?

I recently cross paths with four more examples of authors working in the field that joins photography and embroidery, namely: Stacey Page, Diane Meyer, Laura McKellar and Hinke Schreuders. They share more than the technical approach to their work: they are all women, they intervene mainly in portraits (Diane Meyer being the exception, for she looks at architecture with a new look), they use striking colour and they mix the old with the new. The trend here is not so much the crossing between the mediums but the revivalist and nostalgic feeling which seems to be taking over all the cultural dimensions, from the visual arts to music and emphasis on fashion.

embroidery© Laura McKellar, Untitled, embroidery.

tumblr_ll2o3ftbQ01qk3loio1_1280 copy© Laura McKellar, Untitled, embroidery.

The fact that they share the same gender has a particular important dimension, for the work with thread is a form of affective labour, which productive value is hard to figure out. The relation between the worker and the work produced is literally bounded by a thread, so it confronts the prevailing idea of the alienated worker that is more of a manager than a producer of things (or ideas for that matter). Although most of these works have little else than their aesthetic surface, their biggest achievement is the evoking of the nostalgic feeling. The hyper-aestheticized surface of the digital photographs and the absurd use of photoshop tools have given a second life to alternative processes, for people lack a sense of materiality and the handprint of the author.

In one interview, author Melissa Zexter says: The photographs were also of anonymous figures and the sewing acted as a map or grid over the figures. For me, sewing was another way to build up a surface and to build upon the content of my photographs. I loved the meditative process of sewing – it was in such contrast to the technologically more immediate art of photography. I was also interested in how thread blended in and reacted to the photographs. The combination of sewing and photography brought together two very different processes that I love. The use of embroidery is a reaction to the photographs and is a process that aids in the transformation of identity of the person or place being photographed.

[to be continued]

worksonpaper7© Hinke Schreuders, works on paper #7.

worksonpaper36 © Hinke Schreuders, works on paper #36.

worksonpaper37© Hinke Schreuders, works on paper #37.

٠ Balaclavas hit the beach ٠

51_4d022f9fecf00af1ffeb62af90344dda© Peng & Chen , from the series Face-kini

51_a4870e632ab6d052f18260c5d9cefd8e© Peng & Chen , from the series Face-kini

In China, it’s the height of the tourist season for Qingdao’s famed beaches. But while many of the town’s visitors want to enjoy the sand and water, they’re not so wild about sunbathing. So they often resort to a local tradition: the face-kini, a sort of light cloth version of a ski mask.

[…]

The beachgoers aren’t showing their support for the balaclava-wearing Russian band Pussy Riot. And , they’re not fans of the film Kick-Ass. Instead, the newspaper says, the head-cover reflects “an ancient sentiment in China, like numerous other countries: a terror of tanning.”

In many cultures, a tan doesn’t imply health and leisure, as it often does in Western advertising. Instead, it’s seen as a connection to outdoor work, and the peasantry. Preserving one’s pale skin, the thinking goes, implies that you lead a pampered, successful life.

51_aadccf86b6167e8ce5c09d5f2946a8b0© Peng & Chen , from the series Face-kini

51_b6815ab3cb124a8b380a5a97c8fa8e44© Peng & Chen , from the series Face-kini

٠ Sculpture & Photography: a love affair ٠

What follows is a selection of photographs from this year shortlisted photographers for one of the most coherent photo-festivals in Europe: Hyères. As is made very clear by the following selection, this prize is also an elegy to the long lasting love affair between photography ans sculpture, with a particular emphasis on the fusion between subject and object (or should I say ‘the crisis of identity’), that has been growing for the past couple of years and ends up being materialized in the form of a mask.

pap05© Marie Rime, both images Untitled, from the series Symétrie de pouvoir, 2013.

arm05© Marie Rime, Untitled, from the series Armures, 2013.

masque03© Marie Rime, both images Untitled, from the series Masques, 2011.

0003© Lorenzo Vitturi, Untitled, from the series Dalston Anatomy, 2013.

cocco© Lorenzo Vitturi, Untitled, from the series Dalston Anatomy, 2013.

oriannelopes-1© Orianne Lopes, Untitled, from the series Les Mélanies, 2013.

Untitled2_retouche_web© Orianne Lopes, Untitled, from the series Pellis Armatura, 2012.

gods-high-4_0© Anna Grzelewska, Editorial work.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg© Birthe Piontek, Untitled, from the series Mimesis, 2013.

2© Birthe Piontek, Untitled, from the series Mimesis, 2013.

tumblr_mw7kvf4dDz1qc41cro1_500© Osma Harvilahti, Untitled.

london_ 076© Osma Harvilahti, Untitled.

61_web6© Virginie Rebetez, Untitled, from the series Under Cover, 2013.

61_web10© Virginie Rebetez, Untitled, from the series Under Cover, 2013.

٠ The near distant future through the eyes of Spike Jonze ٠

hermovie poster

Spike Jonze’s new movie “Her” is a must see! First and foremost because it is an original script, both in the sense that it is new and also in the sense that it is unique, thought-provoking. Because the work is Spike’s own vision of the sort of relationships human will develop with machines in the near future, there is nothing like it. It is an alternate reality but we can all see the proximity between the real, the fiction and the imaginary here.

Its originality is a breath of fresh air; its cinematography (by Hoyte Van Hoytema, also responsible for “The Fighter”) is astonishing; the poster is the best I have seen for a long time, both because it is a crazy good portrait, but also because it really speaks about the core of the movie; the cast is ok with Joaquim Phoenix making such a good performance that one wonders whether any other actor could have played that role, being so fragile, so happy and volatile at the same time.

In conclusion, this movie is about intimacy and the liberty to bound with another person far beyond gender definitions and what normality and morality establish as the correct/incorrect ways to behave/act/be…

٠ Melissa Zexter’s click and stitch: a marriage made in heaven ٠

0x550© Melissa Zexter, Brooklyn Bus Map, from Maps and Memories. Gelatin Silver Print + thread.

0x556© Melissa Zexter, Color Eye Chart, from Maps and Memories. Gelatin Silver Print + thread.

0x559© Melissa Zexter, Cardinal, from Embroidered Portraits. Gelatin Silver Print + thread.

0x5566© Melissa Zexter, Leopard, from Embroidered Portraits. Gelatin Silver Print + thread.

0x5599© Melissa Zexter, Schoolgirls, from Embroidered Portraits. Gelatin Silver Print + thread.

0x55333© Melissa Zexter, Bizzard Lovers, from Other Landscapes. C-print + thread.

0x5598© Melissa Zexter, Willows, from Other Landscapes. C-print + thread.

[…] For me, sewing was another way to build up a surface and to build upon the content of my photographs. I loved the meditative process of sewing – it was in such contrast to the technologically more immediate art of photography. I was also interested in how thread blended in and reacted to the photographs. The combination of sewing and photography brought together two very different processes that I love. The use of embroidery is a reaction to the photographs and is a process that aids in the transformation of identity of the person or place being photographed. […]

I take and print all of my photographs. Some of the photographs are digital prints and others are gelatin silver prints that I make in a darkroom. I take the pictures first and then decide how I am going to change them with the addition of sewing. The thread acts as a connection between the person and myself or place that I have photographed. I always think of the photograph as something from the past and the thread as a reaction to the past and present. The thread makes the photograph more personal to me and allows me to meditate on the image. Combining the two mediums (photography and sewing) allows me to reinvent the photograph; to visually react to a person or a place.

excerpts from an interview published at TextileArtist.org

┐ roots & fruits #15 – Nuno Venâncio └

141_1it reads: We are looking for the sky in between the leafs. Text by Boris.

6913_13it reads: Here, the sun gives us no light, only new shadows. Different ways to face the darkness. Text by Boris.

19217_7it reads: People insist on coming to meet our gaze, invading it. Text by Boris.

2329© Nuno Venâncio, from the series 10 Metros de Cabo/10 Meters of Cable.

Here, easy beauty is eliminated, fulminated, by force, through chock and discontinuity.
Here, there’s no attempt to make sense. We try for symmetry not in the form but in the content – there are casual symmetries in the photographic objects, particularly in those where there is no such deliberation – the irony of everyday events (the symmetry with people is something no one looks out for in the everydayness, except in a staging situation or with some pervert god).
Photographs per se are not symmetrical, there’s no effort to achieve such a valance. In fact, they are askew. The relations between the objects. Everything with its notorious everydayness: each image the start of a journey, coming from a primary need to find out what is around us, in front of us, and grasp it, so that it helps with location, knowing where to go and understanding other places.
There is a constant demand, a quest for something to call our own or something we miss; there is also a searching for a moment, that special visual glimpse, that we can keep before it turns into something else. As if hastily looking for a piece of paper where to hastily scribble in order not to lose a single detail.

Text by Boris, 2013; translation by Sofia Silva.

٠ 21st century food styling ٠

8075500939_6ed8c56764_z© Henry Hargreaves, in collaboration with chef/stylist Caitlin Levin, from the series Mark Rice-Ko.

8075500639_b4b0fb31e9_z© Henry Hargreaves, in collaboration with chef/stylist Caitlin Levin, from the series Mark Rice-Ko.

SarahAnneWard_2© Sarah Anne Ward, in collaboration with food stylist Heather Meldrom, Pollock-rice krispie treats

SarahAnneWard_4© Sarah Anne Ward, in collaboration with food stylist Heather Meldrom, Mondrian-jello jigglers 

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_OCT© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_PUD© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

Catherine_Losing_Gourmand_Still_life_UV© Catherine Losing, from the series The Serpent That Ate Its Own Tail

parliament© Hong Yi (Red), Day 26, from the series 31 days of Food Creativity. Made of Tang orange powder dissolved in water.

squid© Hong Yi (Red), Day 12, from the series 31 days of Food Creativity. Made from squid and squid ink.

lant2© Alexander Crispin, LANTMÄNNEN

Lant-3© Alexander Crispin, LANTMÄNNEN

09_strawberrieschocolate_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings

01_ketchupmustard_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings

07_baconeggs_900© David Schwen, from the series Food Art Pairings

LUNCHEON MEAT ON A COUNTER© Sandy Skoglund

sandy_skoglund_2© Sandy Skoglund

Sung_Yeonju© Sung Yeonju, Banana, from the Wearable Food series

Matt-Walford4© Matt Walford, flatbed food

Matt-Walford5© Matt Walford, flatbed food

٠ Mark (he is) King (maybe) ٠

5666374964_b8eba650f8_b© Mark King, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

mark_king_plastic5© Mark King, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

mark_king_plastic4© Mark King, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

“Back in January I was preparing for a screen printing artist in residency at the Frans Masereel Centre in Kasterlee, Belgium and wanted to go there with a new portrait project already started. One night I ended up shooting a few packs of medium format polaroids and really liked what I got. I later scanned the selects and added color to them in photoshop. The color palette and stoic characters created a new version of the Barbados I was familiar with. Shooting at night under streetlights made for an eerie scene.

Once at the residency, I produced a range of artist’s proofs, adding color to each print piece by piece. The color I add is representative of the local plastic shopping bags. I even traveled to the residency with plastic bags and used them to match with the inks I was laying down. I experimented with and collected many shopping bags for over a year before the residency. They stood out for me as soon as I returned to Barbados. You see them everywhere. Their vibrant colors dominate any environment.”

excerpt from an interview made by Abby Wilcox, from Live Fast Mag

maryam1© Mark King, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

mk_adriana© Mark King, Adriana, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

mk_elena© Mark King, Elena, from the series Plastic, 2011-12

More of Mark’s work here

٠ Animal Affairs, by Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch ٠

tierliebe-gross-05© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, from Animal Love

AnimalLove_GEO_DE_0031© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, tearsheet from Animal Love

549669_10151633614754845_1159705422_n© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, from Animal Love

SecondLife_POLITIKENFOTO_DK© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, from Animal Love

Anatomical_specimen_684199y© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, from Second Life

109© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch

Blickfang_DS_11© Heidi & Hans-Juergen Koch, from Pretty Ugly

More of their work here

┐ Laurie Kang, multiple folds and a print └

IMG_9213sm© Laurie Kang, Untitled, C-print, 2013

Untitled04sm_905© Laurie Kang, Untitled form (Sufficiency), Chromogenic paper, clamp, nail, 2012

RES01_905© Laurie Kang, Untitled Forms (Sufficiency) Chromogenic paper, nail, clamp and C-print, nail, clamp, 2013

01psychogeography© Laurie Kang, Psychogeographic Waterfall, C-prints, 16″ x 20″, 2011

full01SM_905_905© Laurie Kang, Confused archive, 2013

IMG_9246sm_905© Laurie Kang, Natural Image (Unknown duration, Found paper and binder’s board, 2013

Laurie’s website here

┐ Filippo Minelli └

fimi© Filippo Minelli, from Contradictions, ongoing. Project realized (until now) between Cambodia, Vietnam, Mali, China, Italy.

8353973472_ed51443ee6_c5245750451_fe8e9ec71f_b6411632365_ca94b06888_b7394008588_b64c63ca2e_c© Filippo Minelli, all from the project Silence/Shapes, 2010-ongoing

“I started the ongoing series Silence/Shapes in early 2010 to give a physical shape to silence. To realize my idea I chose the chemicals used to create smoke bombs, a medium traditionally devoted to create chaos in political demonstrations, and to juxtapose it with landscapes and natural environments with overtones typical of the romantic and sublime landscape painting of the 19th century.

These environments become composition-relevant in the process and there’s a conceptual side lurking in the work, in which non-object, formalist compositions, due to their location in public space, are open to political interpretations. Social relationships are reflected in the confrontations between color and landscape, individual positions are contrasted with, or inserted into, communal structures; personal imaginations encounter collective image culture.

The aim is to show what is invisible for its own nature. Besides the religious aspects concerning what most of the religions call the ‘hidden manifest’, the political choice of using a violent medium in these landscapes states that beauty can be found in clashing visions.”


www.filippominelli.com

┐ roots & fruits #13 – Ricardo Baltazar └

essen 048essen 049Untitled (4)_1essen 027essen 030© Ricardo Baltazer, all Untitled, from the series Touching from a Distance, 2012

Ricardo’s project Touching from a Distance was shot in Essen, Germany, in 2012. All images are blow-ups of snapshots he took while paving the streets. Inevitably, they refer to the distance between the author and the subject portrayed, as they speak about the desire to get closer. These blow-ups are attempted gazes, attempts at assuring the account of oneself while trying to look at his surroundings. They are as much voyeuristic as they are introspective, in the sense that what one does while looking desperately out, is trying for a way in.

The camera, as an automaton one can trigger to mediate the space between the self and the other, is always a transparent and potentially authentic way of speaking about the way the author is trying to connect. To view the world through a camera is not to connect with it. Either you are in an impulsive rational process of trying to see beyond reality or you choose to try to be in the present. So this is about the process less than it is about the result. The framing, the composition, the colors, are singular points amidst an abstract composition where the lines are created between people’s gazes.

We know what blow-ups looks like, how they all resemble surveillance stills and evoke the invasion of privacy. I’d like to reference Michael Haneke’s Caché about the contemporary obsession with security which comes to be a way of spreading the false notion of power and control over one’s life. What Ricardo exposes here is the opposite, the notion of fragility, as he lets us know of his state of exception, as a foreigner, behaving as an alien who is forced to document his life through the looks of others, in order to prove his existence.

┐ Assaf Shaham – in the gap between the comma and its following letter └

6

1© Assaf Shaham, Untitled, from the series Time After Time and Again

“The work Time after Time and Again deconstructs photography into its components and reassembles them on one surface that encompasses the essence of the photographic act, the fundamentals of color photography, and the marvel that combines light and time into a photograph. At the same time, in a kind of an aside, Shaham also subverts the concept of freezing the moment which religiously accompanies photography and differentiates it from cinema. In a simple but not innocent still photograph, Shaham records movement on a timeline: a landscape depicting a kind of a sundial while simultaneously recording it as it becomes a photograph. In three exposures timed over one hour, in which three filters using the RGB color model, three colored projections were made, marking the location of the stick’s shadow through the sun’s movement over one hour.

Unlike 19th-century early photographs—where the limits of the photographic material’s sensitivity necessitated long exposure to light, making the details that had moved during the exposure into a pale blur or a dark color patch in the photographs—in Shaham’s photographs the movement is recorded with three clear, sharp projections whose location marks the exact time in which each of the color filters was used. The sundial on the sand demonstrates, through a single photograph within one hour, the process that the medium underwent in 170 years, and clearly and succinctly formulates the conceptual differences between continuous and fragmented movement; it is also the conceptual distance between photography and cinema and the gap between the analogue and digital worlds. This is a decisive phase in the evolution of man and machine and in the history of science and ideas, in the technological revolution of knowledge-rich industries, which is, of course, a social and cultural revolution.”

excerpt of the article Assaf Shaham: New Ways to Steal Old Souls, by Nili Goren, as in the Shpilman Institute for Photography. Continue reading here

scan2 copy4print© Assaf Shaham, Full Reflection (700dpi), 2012, from the series The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

scan3© Assaf Shaham, Full Reflection (500dpi), 2012, from the series The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

“Regarding The Emperor’s New Clothes

Imagine two scanners facing one another as they perform the only function they are capable of performing: scanning. They embark on an intense seductive mating ritual. One head moves up, the other one down, they both go down and simultaneously go back up again; In movement, whether in or out of synchronization, they exchange fluids and perform a discursive sexual act.

Susan Sontag claimed that photography is “not such a successful form of intercourse” 1 because the camera maintains a distance between that which is penetrating and that which is being penetrated. Assaf Shaham’s scanners will never feel each other. There will forever be that distance between them, rendering actual contact impossible. The resulting works of this sterile intercourse are yet surprisingly fertile. Flat, mechanical and technological to the extreme, these color fields are exemplary sons of a formalistic dynasty: they are Mondrian’s grandchildren, Rothko’s nephews and Walead Beshty’s adopted children. The yellowish light of the projecting bulb used in the darkroom is here replaced with the bright white light of the scanning device and random strips of lights, the sharp and accurate inkjet prints are favored over chemical photo paper and the ready-made was chosen over the artist’s darkroom.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

Shaham’s work is concerned with the very space between the king’s death and the beginning of his successor’s reign, precisly in the gap between the comma and it’s following letter it happens after photography has been repeatedly murdered; after it died, was re-born, fell down, rotted from within, was salvaged and brought back up on its feet again.

What appears like a large-scale replica of an Ilford photo paper pack leans against a wall, basking in a realistic glory of sorts. It is a marvelous reproduction of the original with a three dimensional appearance that was only altered as the original motif was replaced by the artist: where a harmless consensual image once appeared, Shaham has implanted a photographic rape scene.

In a small piece, dark silhouettes are burnt within a split of a second. It is a black footnote at the endpoint of a prolonged history of power and violence. American radiation in Hiroshima scorched out an eternal memory in real time. The gesture of the original photographer of this image – equally created by the bomb – is reactivated here by Shaham. That photographer is dead, long live the new photographer.”
TEXT BY YAIR BARAK.