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Silverpoetics projects on a lighter form now also on tumblr, with daily posts of single images.

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Joachim Brohm

Steidl, 2008. 120 pp., 40 color illustrations., 11½x9¾”.

Joachim Brohm’s work demonstrates that there are other kinds of “straight” photography in Germany besides the “Becher school.” The effect of Brohm’s work is comparable to that of the Bechers: he equates reproduction and the autonomous image, realism and abstraction, but his vision is different. While Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, or Axel Hutte place classical subjects such as humankind, a landscape, or the city at the center of their work, Brohm’s images seem strangely empty. Their centers seem to have fled; a surface has appeared in front of the camera’s lense that surrounds the actual image. In one image, a high wall obscures a house; one can only see the chimney and the peak of the roof. In another, one can only surmise what can be seen through the holes of a sheet of corrugated iron. Decentralization, the empty center becomes characteristic of Brohm’s work; the dynamic components of the image are pressed to the periphery just as in the paintings of Sam Francis or Clyfford Still.

The coverings – walls, fences, or ceilings – that Brohm photographs stress the two-dimensional character of the photographic image. Sometimes triangles on the edges allow surprising glimpses into the depth of an image, and they prevent one from considering Brohm’s photography as conventional abstract work. Doors and windows also break through the surface. In one of his best works, the structure of a simple rental house’s facade is revealed through its broken stucco. Also, the image is slightly crooked so that the windows are cropped. The special but unspectacular choice of this strange view makes this photograph a rhythmical, appealing representation of muted color.

Brohm also moves the central image around the photograph through the use of strange camera angles. In several works it seems as if the camera had fallen forward off the tripod. Instead of architecture one sees street or grass. And these flat forms are imprinted by structures or signs of the past. For example, tire tracks have created a crucifix in the middle of a golf course. Or storms and damage have left behind traces on walls, signs that appear self-referential in these photographs. The photographed traces become traces on the photographic paper.

Characteristic of Brohm’s work is a dark, cloudy sky that appears white in the photographs. Another photographer would light the image so that the sky would have a gray tone in order to differentiate between image and paper, but Brohm prefers to allow the two to merge. Thus, background and subject are combined and create marked forms beyond the rectangle.

Behind these formal concerns, there lies a political and social content. In a new work – an image of a mosaic with classical decoration – small swastikas actually form the pattern. This is not immediately apparent, but upon closer examination they are evident. This mosaic is still in the entry foyer of the Haus der Kunst in Munich which, in 1937, was dedicated to the city by Adolf Hitler as a National Socialist temple of art.
By: Justin Hoffman & Charles V. Miller, Artforum International, January 1, 1993

(quoted from American Suburb X)

Romancing the banal in a post-print world

Spread around Paris, Lyon, Barcelona and New York the friends Jeremy Egry (b. 1979), Aurélien Arbet (b. 1985), Marco Barrera (b. 1985) and Nicolas Poillot (b. 1978) get together in JSBJ. These French photographers not only produce their own zines and larger collaborative photographic publications, they also host the portfolio based website where they promote a large number of new and talented photographers.

http://www.jesuisunebandedejeunes.com/

Guy Debord and Situationist the Theory of the Derive, and Pyschogeography.

I recently came across the essay “The Poetics of the Derive” written by Vincent Kaufmann. Not being that familiar with Debord’s Derive, and only slightly informed of its predecessor from the Surrealist Andre Breton and his walks through Paris, it quickly raised many questions to tackle. Most specifically the idea of looking at the early photographic works of Eugene Atget, and his systematic walks through Paris cataloging the ephemeral Paris of his time. One which was being demolished to make way for the Modern streets and boulevards that Debord and the Situationist would later lament in the same manner Atget did before. Yet, how might this theoretical construct of the Derive apply to the large amount of contemporary urbanscape photography found in the United States. And even more interesting the actual activity the photographer performs in order to find these locations.

atget_cour

Debord’s Derive is not simple a walk through the streets of the city, of chance encounters. Instead one must move rapidly and decisively through the urban space, with intention. When possible the practice should not be done alone, but in groups of two or three. They should be aware of their surroundings, of the “…ecological analysis of the absolute or relative character of fissures in the urban network, of the role of microclimates, of distinct neighborhoods with no relation to administrative boundaries, and above all of the dominating action of centers of attraction…” (link to essay) Thus the most talented photographers who’s oeuvre includes the investigation of the urbanscape. The walk itself, the interaction of operator, camera, and site breaks down the normal relationship we have with public urban spaces. Their activity alone is the Derive.

Breaking the rules of theory to return to Eugen Atget melancholic catalog of a ghostly Paris that is no longer. His photographs present to us the sites slated to be demolished, of the concrete reality of the demolition not just of squares and houses, but of the intricate means and subtle variations of the daily social realities created and maintained through public works and layout.

The pyschogeography. Atget’s photographs of a forgotten urbanscapes now stand like so many rectangular ghost, an archive of ephemera, of power structures that have morphed, shifted, become temporal and translucent. They function as nostalgic tombstones, racked nicely in a file, viewed sequentially, ordered and precise. Are Atget’s photographs any less powerful than they were in his time period? Or does the contemporary viewer see them only as quaint post cards, a romantic bygone era of a dirtier, grimmer, Paris leaving out the pychogeography of that site and the site that will replace it?

If Atget’s photographs have lost their power to be anything more than romantic nostalgic post cards and coffee table books, then what of the contemporary photographers working within the urbanscape. Their photographs present tangible realities, visual stand ins of the power structures, specifically in the United States. Yet is the mere representation of these sites enough, does it go far enough to instigate more than just chance encounters for the viewer looking at the photographs. And what of the Modernist aesthetic formal qualities laid over these sites. Atget’s Paris is grimy, dark, moody. Contemporary urbanscape photographs are made to be as beautiful as they are not in reality. The photographers activity of finding these sites is the derive, the photograph itself is the pyschogeography, the questioning. But unlike the gritty ghost of Atget’s Paris, their contemporary formal presentation, high gloss, bright colours, fends off the questions raised by their derive. Instead the viewer is left with one word, nostalgia. The photograph becomes a representation of the United States political landscape and the power structures in play as it slowly turns and morphs. Instead of critical action and engagement, we mourn. The United States is changing and morphing its political and social power structures while its identity as super power declines. Its intial status symbols and sturctures that came to represent power have shifted, take on new meaning. Like so many tombstones the contemporary photographic formal aesthetic and their beautiful rendering of the dynamic and shifting urbanscape moots any possible critical interaction. Instead we are presented with lovely nostalgia, and pretty memento mori.

Grant W. Ray

http://grantray.blogspot.com/2009/06/debords-derive-and-pyschogeography.html

see also :

http://www.lepointdujour.eu/fr/psychogeographie

Google Street Photography competition

San Francisco


Postulate

Google Map offers a Street View from its website thanks to a smart camera. To see this street views, simply zoom on the map. Then you’ll be able to navigate inside this virtual space of the city and the country.

This competition is based on this incredible bank of images, and only pictures from Street View can be used for it.

The question of photography in this competition deals with images, mechanically taken. Technique is thought differently: what you need is not a camera but a computer screen.
For the first time, street photography doesn’t need the usual technical aspect of photography. Also, it deals only with wandering and observation. Free of a major restraint, this is a new proposition of representation, of an experimental practice.
http://www.risoom.com/

see also on Streetpulse :

http://streetpulse.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/googleart/

A post from Mrs. Deane

ruine3

Döbrököz

ruine4

Dombovar

… We could not immediately find out where the depicted ruins are (or were) located. The Hungarian names might just have been that: Hungarian versions of geographical names (and they have some funny ones: Lengyelorzsag for Poland, no one has been able to explain me this), but they could also have been names for places that once belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire or parts of Trans-sylvania, now Romania. I did a short web query and found out that, yes, there are many many ruins in Romania (see e.g. this web-archive), but I could not locate these particular ones. Not that it really matters, we are not planning to re-photograph them, and it is the photographs we are interested in, and how they can transform a place and give it a new presence. I don’t how this is for other people, but for me photography is so little about the what of the image and so much about the how it lets appear things, people, situations. Perhaps that is why it is not a problem for me to see, for example, twenty different portfolio’s made in another recent ruinous place, New Orleans. What could be a problem, is if they all look the same to me. It simply cannot be [or perhaps I should say: I refuse to believe] that a certain place appears the same to each and every photographer that comes along. It would be the death of plurality if a thing or a place has a singular mode of being present in the minds of its beholders, and that, to me, would be the real ruin of our world.”

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Taryn Simon

tarynsimon_cryonics1

Cryopreservation Unit

Cryonics Institute

Clinton Township, Michigan

This cryopreservation unit holds the bodies of Rhea and Elaine Ettinger, the mother and first wife of cryonics pioneer, Robert Ettinger. Robert, author of “The Prospect of Immortality” and “Man into Superman” is still alive.

The Cryonics Institute offers cryostasis (freezing) services for individuals and pets upon death. Cryostasis is practiced with the hope that lives will ultimately be extended through future developments in science, technology, and medicine. When, and if, these developments occur, Institute members hope to awake to an extended life in good health, free from disease or the aging process. Cryostasis must begin immediately upon legal death. A person or pet is infused with ice-preventive substances and quickly cooled to a temperature where physical decay virtually stops. The Cryonics Institute charges $28,000 for cryostasis if it is planned well in advance of legal death and $35,000 on shorter notice.

© Taryn Simon

tarynsimon_nuclearwaste

Nuclear Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility Cherenkov Radiation

Hanford Site, U.S. Department of Energy

Southeastern Washington State

Submerged in a pool of water at Hanford Site are 1,936 stainless-steel nuclear-waste capsules containing cesium and strontium. Combined, they contain over 120 million curies of radioactivity. It is estimated to be the most curies under one roof in the United States. The blue glow is created by the Cherenkov Effect which describes the electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle, giving off energy, moves faster than light through a transparent medium. The temperatures of the capsules are as high as 330 degrees Fahrenheit. The pool of water serves as a shield against radiation; a human standing one foot from an unshielded capsule would receive a lethal dose of radiation in less than 10 seconds. Hanford is among the most contaminated sites in the United States.

© Taryn Simon

tarynsimon_cannabis

Research Marijuana Crop Grow Room

National Center for Natural Products Research

Oxford, Mississippi

The National Center for Natural Products Research (NCNPR) is the only facility in the United States which is federally licensed to cultivate cannabis for scientific research. In addition to cultivating cannabis, NCNPR is responsible for analyzing seized marijuana for potency trends, herbicide residuals (paraquat) and fingerprint identification. NCNPR is licensed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and also researches and develops chemicals derived from plants, marine organisms, and other natural products.While 11 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana, a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision allows for the arrest of any individual caught using it for this purpose. Nearly half of the annual arrests for drug violations involve marijuana possession or trafficking.

© Taryn Simon

tarynsimon_playboy

Playboy, Braille Edition

Playboy Enterprises, Inc.

New York, New York

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a division of the U.S. Library of Congress, provides a free national library program of Braille and recorded materials for blind and physically handicapped persons. Magazines included in the NLS’s programs are selected on the basis of demonstrated reader interest. This includes the publishing and distribution of a Braille edition of Playboy. Approximately 10 million American adults read Playboy every month, with 3 million obtaining it through paid circulation. It has included articles by writers such as Norman Mailer, Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kurt Vonnegut and conducted interviews with Salvador Dali, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Malcolm X.

© Taryn Simon


see also Evidence
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