Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Space Framed Week 5

Next week, we will be back to the usual time- 11, and will be looking at the photography of the street.

William Klein, St Patrick's Day, fifth avenue 1954-55

Caroline and Stefan will be looking at William Klein, in particular his book 'Life is Good and Good For You in New York Trance Witness Revels' and reading Chapter 17 in 'Bystander' by Joel Meyerowitz and Colin Westerbeck.

Garry Winogrand

Luke, Orla and Su will be tackling Garry Winogrand;his book 'The Man in the Crowd' will be put on temporary reserve in the library, plus the last chapter of 'Bystander' contains some more context.

Stephen Shore, Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, June 21 1975.

John, Brian and Sarah will be examining Stephen Shore's work, in particular 'Uncommon Places' but also delving into later aspects of his work and how it has developed over time.

Also, New Topographics is still on temporary reserve. The introductory essay by Britt Salvesen is worth a read, especially in light of our discussion today.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some thoughts on serial imagery from the New Topographics.
'The whole notion of series allows you to see that a fairly coherent formal position was being worked out...The series is what gives the individual photograph its interest...'
Frank Gohlke, quoted in New Topographics, essay by Britt Salvesen, as introduction to the book New Topographics, 2009.

'There are sufficient indications in the emergence of Serial Imagery over the past decade in the United States that the rhythms attendant upon the Serial style ritually celebrate, if only obliquely or subliminally, overtones of American life...Serial Imagery is particularly fitted to reflect its contemporary environment, because of the open and unplanned nature of its internal dialogue, its highly systematic yet flexible process of production, its high degree of specialization, and its narrow deep focus on a single issue.'
John Coplan, Ibid

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

new topographics - photographs of a man-altered landscape

Here's a link to a guardian article on the issue of the book 'New Topographics'.

Also, as a background, I came across a photograph by William Garnett in the essay by Britt Salvesen at the start of the book.
He was hired by a developer to photograph the construction of new housing at Lakewood, on the outskirts of LA. Lakewood was the second major postwar housing development built in the US. 17,500 tract houses were built using mass production methods on 3,500 acres of cleared farmland.

Grading Lakewood, California 1950

Trenching Lakewood, California 1950

Foundations & Slabs, Lakewood, California 1950

Framing Lakewood, California 1950

The resulting photographs were useful, but they are captured in a way that communicates Garnett's sentiment on his assignment:

'I was hired commercially to illustrate the growth of that housing project. I didn't approve
of what they were doing. Seventeen thousand houses with five floor plans, and they all
looked alike, and there was not a tree in sight when they got through.'
—William A. Garnett

They also bring to mind some of the work of David Maisel or Edward Burtynsky documenting man's effect on the landscape from the air.

Monday, February 8, 2010

As a start to this week's research, here Robert Adams discusses photograph selection and presentation.

Space Framed Week 4

Next Week, we will discuss the journey in the work of 3 photographers: Robert Frank, Walker Evans & Robert Adams.
Sarah & Orla will be takingWalker Evans' book 'American Photographs', plus essays on it.
Brian, Su & John will be looking at Robert Frank's 'The Americans', plus 'Looking in: Robert Frank's the Americans', ed by Sarah Greenough (esp first essay by Sarah Greenough: Zurich to NY)
Stefan, Caroline & Luke have opted for Robert Adams 'New Topographics' (esp main essay by Britt Salvesen)
All of the books are on temporary reserve in the library until next week.

When looking at the books, try to address two issues:
-How are the photographers observing and recording the relationships between people and their surroundings; how are they framing inhabited space and what reading does this give us?
- How are these photographs presented to us, how are they selected, edited, ordered and printed, and what do these further processes tell us?

During the week, try to post any extra information you find on the blog, to aid the discussion next Monday @ 11.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stefan Storz

Henri Carier-Bresson
Children playing in Ruins
Seville, Spain, 1933

The reason i chose this picture is because it affected my emotion in a different way.

When i started to consider the picture i got the feeling that the time stands still, nothing happens. The ruins are  lying around, there is no evidence of rebuilding them. The children are standing around, waiting or playing with the ruins but there is no evidence  of an atmosphere of departure.

Afterwards i started to consider  the expression of the children faces. In some faces you can see a sadness and a desperation that appears to reflect  the devastation of past happenings. I myself can could feel the hopelessness and sadness.

When i considered the expression of the children in the forground. i get the impression that these children are curious, looking into the camera  without fear of what is to come. Because of that i started to think about the future of these children and this situation. I realized that only young boys are shown in the photograpy, no adults and no girls. These children are young, they are able to start a fresh and to rebuild their lives. Because of this i feel hopeful for these children and i also begin to think i would like to help them and further understand their situation.

Something stopped me going futher in. I realized that i have had this impression the whole time, but i couldn’t find out what caused this. The wall is a barrier stopping me from entering into the story captured by the photographer. The hole in the wall has created a distance between the contemplator and the picture. It is also responsible  for the deepness in the picture and it gives the picture a better and stronger focus of the story.

And  i also think that the children are devided in three different groups of character by the wall.

The children in the foreground seem curious and more open, the children in the middle ground appear afraid, hanging around and don’t no what to do and the children in the backround - they are playing with stones against each other and two of them are standing there with a stone in their hand and looking directly in the camera as if they want to warn the photographer.

Even though i knew that the picture was taken in the 1933s, I get the feeling that this picture is timeless, it could also has been taken yesterday.

Joel Sternfeld

McLean, Virginia, December 1978

At first glance I found this photograph beguiling. A fireman buying a pumpkin while a house blazes in the backround - in December. This image appears in Sternfeld's most known book, American Prospects (1978). The book explores the irony of human-altered landscapes in the United States.

It was later revealed that the fire in this image was no accident but part of a practical training exercise carried out by the local MVFD. What is important is that there was no prior arrangement between the MVFD and Sternfeld to have this photograph taken. Sternfeld came upon the scene mid-afternoon, set up the 8x10 he had stored in his car and captured the image. Chance favours the prepared mind and Sternfeld in this case happened to be in the right place at the right time. The setting, season and time of day are all important aspects of this images's formation.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Garry Winogrand

Texas state fair, Dallas, 1964.

A photographers eye captures something that no one else sees, composed or a split second, a message is translated and highlighted on film. Significance is unfortunately commonly related to the scale of events, however capturing it in the reality of everyday is something far more profound. Being able to identify those fleeting moments but more importantly capturing and being able to share them requires a eye that is rooted in the celebration of the habitual.

With the eyes of the fair focused on the main event Garry Winogrand notices the significance of a man holding his steer. The steer swinging his head and tongue at the handler statson, a split second of symmetry is created and captured on a static piece of film. As quickly as the moment arose it dissolves back into the chaos of the fair. The steer gazes at the camera, like a model posing, capturing the limelight. Its youth and energy frustrating it’s exhausted but experienced handler, but like a father and child the issue of control is firm established.

"I like to think of photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium, by letting it do what it does best, describe. And respect for the subject, by describing as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."

Garry Winogrand

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Broadway Convertible, New York, by Louis Faurer c.1949

Out of all of the photographs in the "Picturing New York"exhibition portraying the city in so many different ways, this photograph stood out to me because it portrays the city in a way that I have personally experienced it. Like the many people who go to New York for the first time, the feeling of excitement and awe is captured in this image. It, for me has a nostalgic dimension, very similar to a song you hear which reminds you of an event, a person or an experience in your past. In that way, a photograph, any photograph for that matter, can have so many unforeseeable and unimaginable effects on the viewer in addition to anything the photographer is trying to portray.

Louis Fraurer moved from Philadelphia to New York in 1947 where he met Robert Frank, a Swiss photographer. They quickly discovered a shared alienation from postwar America, along with a disdain for the cutthroat monde de mode. Frauer worked at a fashion photographer for more then twenty years but its his personal work from the '40s, '50s, and '60s for which he is best remembered. He photographed the streets of New York and Philadelphia, capturing the restless energy of urban life. Faurer experimented with blur, grain, double exposures, sandwiched negatives, reflections, slow film speeds, and low lighting to achieve the effects he was seeking. As exacting in the darkroom as he was in the field, he was notorious for being a tireless perfectionist when it came to cropping and printing his work.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just to add to Alice's note, I think of the six episodes of Genius, the two most useful to watch would be Paper Movies and Documents for Artists, although it is all very good. Someone might check if there is already a dvd copy on reserve in the library as I remember putting it on reserve at some point..

Space Framed Week 3

To aid and abet our proposed group discussion on the history of Photography on 8 Feb @ 11, the assignment this week is to watch 'The Genius of Photography', a BBC documentary. Most of this can be found online, and we will post some links to particularly relevant parts on the blog. It is a good idea to watch as much of this as possible, as it gives a good, broad introduction to the subject.

Also, following on from the posts last week, post your chosen image from 'Picturing New York' to the blog, plus a brief verbal description in time for the discussion next week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Idaho 1972, Lee Friedlander

Together with figures such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander transformed American documentary photography in the 1960's. By the late 1970's he was widely seen as one of the most penetrating photographers of American cities. In Friedlander’s images, surfaces are frequently broken, disrupted, or complicated; objects jut forward, obscuring others. Mirrors and windows reflect and refract events already in flux. Through his oblique take on the social and visual fabric of townscapes, unexpected patterns and social processes emerge.
I choose this image because I liked the interruption of the wing mirror in the picture. I gives another dimension to the picture, placing the photographer and therefore, the viewer in relation to the landscape. The picture is divided in three parts, showing three different images of the same landscape. The view to the left and right of the wing mirror could be conceived as two completely different photographs but the cloud in the sky connects the two together, almost assuring the viewer that it is only one image.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Space Framed Week 2

We'll meet at reception to the 'Picturing New York' exhibition at IMMA at 4pm on Tuesday 02 Feb.
Have a photograph from the exhibition selected for the group discussion.
Some books to look at:
'Picturing New York' - Catalogue of the exhibition on Temporary Reserve in the Library
'Bystander - A History of Street Photography' - Colin Westerbeck & Joel Meyerowitz
'Life is good and good for you in New York' - William Klein