A different kind of moonlight


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.


┐ The Invisible Matter of Caleb Charland └

tumblr_mfctj4im8J1qawuaao1_500© Caleb Charland, Fibonacci’s Pendulum, 2011

tumblr_mcset3P4AV1qz7ymyo1_r1_1280© Caleb Charland, Orange Battery, 2012

“Recently one Sunday I spent the day at the kitchen table playing with oranges, copper wires and galvanized nails. My hope was that I could make this on going project work with a single piece of fruit. I tried cutting it into slices and wedges but that ever present voice in my head reminded me the SIMPLER IS BETTER. It only seemed logical to use the orange’s natural wedges as the cells for the battery. The wedges are held up-right with an armature of small wooden skewers. The LED is nestled with in the bounds of the orange wedges. I’m still amazed this worked…though it did require 14 hours of exposure.”

333© Caleb Charland, Sparkler Through Crystal Ball, 2007

111© Caleb Charland, Blue Chalk Snap Line, 2012

222© Caleb Charland, Table with Mylar and Flashlight, 2009

444© Caleb Charland, Apple Trees and LEDs, 2011

I began installing the work at 9 in the morning. I had no frame of reference for how long the process would actually take. I didn’t want to start too early fearing I would get done too soon and potentially wear out the “batteries” before I could start my photographic exposure, thus wasting a lot of time and fruit. I worked all day and took no break, I was still wiring the orchard after sunset. I finished install at 8 pm then began my 4 hour exposure on photographic film. The final image was created using a large format camera that uses color film measuring 4×5 inches.making of video here

More of Caleb’s work here

┐ A discussion worth having └

Back at the SIP blog, Rotem Rozental posted about Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin’s collaborative project about the nature of photography. Their work, their questions, could be the starting point of a discussion always worth having.
On their site, Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin made available some audio files where you can listen to them talking about essential questions concerning photography (though these are very very short and subjective ideas, don’t expect to hear something ground-breaking). Lauren and Richard talk about Influences and abstraction in photography, Creating Pictures and materiality, Removing narrative in photography, Influences, Minimalism, The importance of the print and Seriality.

BenariHenkin_Pictures_Image6© Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin, Pictures

As photography has matured into its own artistic medium, narrative has become the conceptual foundation on which most work is created. The act of viewing an image is no longer sufficient. Content has been replaced by context. More and more, photographers, gallerists and critics insist on story. Images have become testimony and photographers, witnesses. The photographic object itself has become evidence. Most photography now sets out to answer questions while other artistic mediums set out to raise them.

We began this project by asking what photography can achieve in the absence of narrative. We wanted to know if the essential language of light, texture and tone was enough to hold the viewer. It wasn’t. What was missing was the artist’s hand, the photographer’s eye. We set out to push the camera beyond its natural tendency for pure representation and investigate its capacity to convey the artist’s expressive mark.

Rejecting the current trend toward the accidental in photographic abstraction, Pictures reasserts the photographer’s eye. Authority and indexicality are explored through the artists’s rendering of abstraction in the recognizable, the everyday. By pairing large landscapes of the familiar with small studio constructions of household materials, the photographers reaffirm the sensual power of form. Scale and reference are ambiguous. Narrative is removed. The images are disorienting. They challenge the viewer to rethink old habits of seeing.

BenariHenkin_Pictures_Image4© Richard Benari and Lauren Henkin, Pictures

Pictures is as much about the object as it is about deep looking. The subtly of the tonal shifts and the way the prints annex the ambient light in which they’re viewed helps argue for the uniquely tactile quality of the photographic print and how important it is to the viewing experience. Careful split-toning, combined with the artists’ decision to print on etching rag, renders the image in an almost three-dimensional way. The tension between the flatness of the compositions and the three-dimensional feel of the prints helps to hold the viewer, encouraging a long and quiet engagement.

┐ Cooper & Gorfer └

© Cooper & Gorfer, from My Quiet of Gold

© Cooper & Gorfer, from My Quiet of Gold

© Cooper & Gorfer, from My Quiet of Gold

© Cooper & Gorfer, from My Quiet of Gold

“The artist duo Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer work at the intersection of contemporary photography with painting of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Their photographic installations move fluidly between reality and imagination, technical and artistic interpretation, and collective myth and personal narrative.(…)

For their book My Quiet of Gold, Cooper and Gorfer traveled to the rural areas of Kyrgyzstan to collect sagas and stories in conversations and interviews with local inhabitants. Out of these tales, the duo created striking photographic portraits that go far beyond mere documentation to tell and visually interpret romantic-melancholy stories of love, sorrow, and betrayal in a completely new and non-linear ways.

Because their carefully staged motifs are then reworked digitally, another layer of fiction mixes with fact and pictorial choreography with photography. This unique blend creates a powerful new whole from the visual and narrative threads so organically and intuitively woven together by the artists.”

in Gestalten

their work can be seen here

┐ Tokihiro Sato └

© Tokihiro Sato, #149, 1992

© Tokihiro Sato, #170 Manji, 1992

© Tokihiro Sato, Yura #339, 2001

“The Photo-Respiration series is Sato’s most well known work. When we approached him with our request for a cover photo, we were delighted to learn that he has been continuing to work on the series up until now, as the above 2008 image Shirakami #1 illustrates. Photo-respiration consists of two sub-streams, Breathing Light and Breathing Shadows. To make these photographs, Sato opens up the lens on his 8 x 10 camera for an extended exposure, sometimes up to three hours, and subsequently physically enters the scene in front of the frame. In Breathing Shadows a flashlight is pointed at the camera at nighttime or in a darkened space. In Breathing Light he uses a mirror to reflect light back toward the lens by day. In both cases he then moves around in the scene adding streaks or spots of light to the image. Ironically a long exposure of a person becomes a photo without anyone in it, but the viewer infers the person’s presence from the resulting image.

The title Photo-Respiration was chosen, according to Sato, because in the photographs he makes “a direct connection between my breath and the act of tracing out the light.” In his view this has the same significance as in monotonous activities such as long distance running or swimming, when one’s focus is only on breathing. The fact that Sato accommodates the three-dimensional real world by tracing it through his person into the image is often attributed to his training as a sculptor, although naturally the concept of dimensional collapse is part of the medium and a consideration for every photographer.

The resulting photographs have a very timeless and lyrical feel about them and this impression persists even after learning about the technique that was used to create them. In fact, knowing the method of creation adds to the enjoyment of the work. As always, it is the viewer who makes the image once more when facing it and doing so is a delightful moment. Interpretation is tempting, but one should be careful not to jump to quick associations. In an Q&A session, Sato was once asked what the reflections of light “represented” to him: perhaps fireflies, or marching pieces of string? His response was that representation is not his intention. All they represent is where he stood shining the light into the camera.”

source: japan exposures

more of Tokihiro’s work here