A Number of Updates

So after a week here at Parsons I've finally found the the time to update! It's been an interesting week so far. First of all, I have never walked so much in my life. I just wanted to get that out of the way. Welcome Weekend was fun, but these past few days I've gone out and explored the island with my camera. I think I should work on "socializing" a bit more, but honestly it's such a weird environment! I'm waiting for time to work the kinks out.

Before I left both Andreas Gursky and Topologies by Edgars Martins came. It's very interesting that I've ordered them together because although they both work large format, Martins doesn't touch his work while Gursky edits the crap out of them digitally. Me? I'm more of a Martins guy. But I have to say the Gursky book definately opened by eyes and helped me appreciate his work. I love books like these that go deep into the process of the photographer. I haven't gone to college yet but I'm betting these are some of the best textbooks available. I know I've learned a lot from them.

Sponser a young photographer's education: Buy him this book!

Steidl, (the same people who just re-released The Americans) released Wake by Adam Jeppesen with beautiful pictures inside. All I've seen so far are the online spreads, but once I can afford it I'm ordering right away. Best part: pictures made in "backwoods of Finland". I'm sorry but, isn't all of Finland considered "backwoods"?

(beautiful cover)

** As an aside, why are all of my favorite bands either sold out or too expensive? (And when people got in for free, why didn't they ask me to come!?) Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Sigur Ros. It's all a stab in the chest. Next thing I know Beirut will have a show in NYC and there will be no tickets left for me.

As for the work I've been doing, you can see a limited sampling of *crap shots* on flickr. (I really don't like them anymore) But otherwise, you'll have to wait till I get them developed. I'm actually using film now! Hurah!

Surprise, surprise.

Yes, I gotta medium format. Now I can be all professional and ish. I think that's it. I've been really conversative with my film. I'd walk for hours but only take two to five shots a day. Whereas digital might be 70 shots? Crazy huh. I need a lightmeter. And I need to focus. I've been pretty philosophically abut my photography lately. I really have to get stuff done this year. See you again when classes start.

** Um, we have phase 1 digital backs available for rental. Hell yes!

Posted at at 9:37 PM on Thursday, August 28, 2008 by Posted by Jack | 0 comments   | Filed under:

I Love This Man & Other Things

Edward Burtynsky. I love this man. How could I love... what's the word, someone so - so...Canadian? It's not too hard. If you haven't already checked out his work, (which is completely understandable, im sure hes on your list of people with names ending in 'sky' and you just haven't gotten to him yet) I would strongly suggest taking a peek (a long peek) at his site I'll list at the bottom of this post. Very classic stuff. In fact I'm going to feature a few of my favorite shots, so unless you're quick on the back button you've already seen them.

Back to reality. I came upon his pictures while cleaning out 300 gigabytes worth of crap. I'm reformatting tomorrow, by the way. Gonna be running a tight ship in college. I didn't really intend on posting tonight but I wanted to post about this guy before Windows ate him somehow.

Mmm, smell that? It's the smell of fresh Canadian Photography. Smells like pine. (that is what Canada smells like, right?)

Posted at at 10:51 PM on Sunday, August 10, 2008 by Posted by Jack | 0 comments   | Filed under:

Blog Without Pictures

In my previous post last night I reflected on the merit of Edgar Martin's work Topologies. The discussion (for those too lazy to scroll) went like this:

One book I've passed over before which caught my eye again was Topologies by Edgar Martins. I remember when it first came out I snubbed it because I didn't immediately like the whole 'black sky' deal he had going on. I figured it was some cheap photoshop work that was trying too hard to be art. On second viewing I read no photoshop was involved with the whole image making process. Does that make the picture better for me? Yes. I won't touch on that part now... arguing the specifics makes for a very long (but at the same time very interesting) post.

On it's own, the black sky image would not have elicited the same response. It's coupling with similar 'black images' and other bona fide pictures together in a single work is what made me question its merit. Awhile back I read the first post of Concientious's When The Medium Becomes The Message. Colberg stressed the importance of end result, rather than a focus on the process. While I agree completely with this statement, the process of the photograph is irrevocably tied to the end result of the picture. This may seem obvious, but you have to remember the process used is also a mirror of the photographer's intention. Saying "all tilt-shift photography is great" is obviously not accurate at all. In fact, I hate most tilt-shift shots. But that's just me. If the use of tilt-shift to alter perspective made the photo great, then that is surely a use of process for an end result. If the photographer chose a normal lens, it's very possible the photograph could have lost it's impact that made it great in the first place. I know this a drastic use of an example- since tilt-shift itself is drastic- but the same line of thought applies to all uses of photography.

I just got done reading the new Words Without Pictures essay "A Picture You
Already Know." Although the focus was repetition in photography, there was a portion which touched upon the originality of vision:

"Chuck Close observed that “photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent and the hardest medium in which to have a personal vision because there’s no touch, there’s no hand, there’s no physicality, there’s no interface.”[1] Without the unique particularities of drawing or rendering to shape the forms and contours of the image, and without the characteristic marks of a paintbrush, palette knife, or hand to create and shape the actual surface of the picture, the photographer depends on available technical options to convey his or her intentions. Which camera format and lens focal length should receive the intended view? Which photographic surface should receive the resulting image (matte or glossy paper, Kodak Endura or Fuji Crystal Archive, etc.)? These technical parameters focus the range of expression and make repetition in photography even more pronounced than in other visual arts. It makes the photographs of two different photographers look more similar than the paintings of two different painters. It can also seem to imply that photographers are revisiting the same themes, iconographies, and styles when, in fact, the range of subjects in the history of visual representation has gradually expanded over time."

These technical factors often define the limits of the photographer since he needs to limit his method in order to achieve his vision. 35mm or 8x10? Even the choice of camera is a reflection of intention. You might say you love the genuine expression of 35mm photographs. Although this is a giant leap in generalizations, isn't a 35mm SLR more conducive to capturing someone in a moment? This of course depends upon location (street, studio) and the use of the camera. The negative size and deliberate under or over exposure must be thought out ahead of time if the photographer has a deliberate intention and defined vision for the photograph. The end result or 'presentation' is then tied to the photographic process. That's obvious. The real question is whether the use of a certain process will make a picture great. Although the answer is no, again, the use of any process is a reflection of the photographer's intention; it is him using one of the only 'hands' he has in the pursuit of his image.

But what does the intent of process have to do with Martins' photograph? I might get shit for this, but the use of the digital darkroom extends the photographers hands to an unlimited reach- an unnatural reach. Far from being the most limited medium, today photography is often the most used and manipulated. Digital art is not photography, but photography is soon becoming a digital art. Although I have no problem with digital art and manipulations, in order for a picture to be labelled 'photography' the intention and process must be seriously considered. Putting digitally altered work next to, or in the same book as more 'genuine' photography isn't my taste. I wouldn't say it is flat out wrong, but to me it does not belong. But as the digital world and changing market evolve, photographers will be collaborators in more mixed media and photoshop use than ever before. Demanding advertising jobs want perfection. This identity crisis will face photographers with a serious question: at what point does a work become digital art? Personally, the answer is when you realize you are simply putting together a collage rather than orchestrating the necessitiesfor the shot to exist by itself. Although you become an artist with unlimited freedom, it is theese limits which define photography as a medium; this repetition is what makes photography beautiful.

** Funniest part is: the shot in question is simply a beach shot at night. In Portugal, I think. It's one of the 'non-places' thats so pervasive in his work (airport runways, anyone?)

*** august 13th- stumbled across this article and figured I would attach it to this post

Posted at at 7:02 PM on Monday, August 4, 2008 by Posted by Jack | 0 comments   | Filed under:

I Like Books, But I Don't Like To Read: Photo Books I Want This Christmas

That's a lie. I do like to read. I almost finished up King Leopold's Ghost today, which is the true story of Heart of Darkness and what really went down in the Congo. I've been a little bad because I remember buying that book when it was cold out. Oh well. It's not really a tossup between photo books and normal books; I think photobooks will suffice when there is not enough room on the wall for a full body of work. (no really?) Otherwise, the prints themselves are amazing and I think anyone would agree with me on that. When I was at the Aperture Building this past Friday I saw them taking down Richard Ross's Architecture of Authority and wow did that print look amazing! The cover of the book, which was right next to me, had a bluish tint to it and sadly lost it's effect when confined to the 'borders' of the book itself. It looked beautiful on the wall. I never really liked that picture until that moment. 

Before I get to Fiday, I won't to complain for a short paragraph. After the last post about Heima/McGinley I broke down and ordered Heima from this website. I looked all over online and no one had the limited edition booklet except them. Not odd at all this random site had it right? No. Yes, actually. It turns out it isn't the special edition at all. I got jipped. Now I have to call and get my money back, go to the post office, ship it back...etc. Pain in my ass. I really want that damn book.

Friday consisted of going to a few galleries with my good photographer friend Camilo Godoy. He's a great photographer - really creative and pretty regular with the amount of work he turns up. (probably the #1 way to improve) Check out his flickr stream here. 

We went to a few hundred galleries, had paninis next to my dorm, almost got out cameras stolen and had crepes under these 3 amazing buildings next to the NYU campus. First place we checked out Cancelled, Erased & Removed at the Sean Kelly Gallery on W29th. This was probably the most interesting non-photography show of the day for me. All of the work echoed the title of the show; all work was either erased, tore down, removed or manipulated in some way. Very cool. I'm not going to list the rest of the non-photography shows but I have to say they taught me how to look at art. A lot of the time I was disinterested but after the conversation in my head ended I settled on the obvious but nonetheless enlightening realization. Thank god that happened before art school. (Speaking of, my loan is still in limbo. I'm trying to get the best rate possible.)

Before we even went to The City my recommendationwas Asako Narahasi's half awake and half asleep in the waterI'm not sure if I've blogged about this before but it's worth mentioning. Overall the show was pretty satisfying. Along with Narahasi was The Hyena And Other Men and Horizons by Szetsong Leong.  Some of the work was just okay but the rest of the gems make up for it. I'll post some of my favorites. 


While we were watching them dismantle the whole exhibit at Aperture I thumbed through some books for sale. One that caught my eye was Uncommon Places by Stephen Shore. I don't have much to say about that besides I liked what I saw (which was little.)  One book I've passed over before which caught my eye again was Topologies by Edgar Martins. I remember when it first came out I snubbed it because I didn't immediately like the whole 'black sky' deal he had going on. I figured it was some cheap photoshop work that was trying too hard to be art. On second viewing I read no photoshop was involved with the whole image making process. Does that make the picture better for me? Yes. I won't touch on that part now... arguing the specifics makes for a very long (but at the same time very interesting) post. Now to be fair I really enjoyed the black sky set the second time around, before reading it wasn't a cheap photoshop trick. There were a few amazing shots that made me fall in love with the book in that brief encounter. I'll try and list some here (i haven't seen much.)

At the end of the night, sitting down on a concrete wall, I realized living in New York City will be one of the highlights of my life. That day made me love the city I was really unsure of if you asked my opinion last year. 

Not to extend my post even further but I have a lot to cover! I haven't been home in three-four days! I don't like to split up post-subject matter too much but separate posts would make no sense at this point. I went kayaking today and as expected, I loved it. It was a four hour trip but nearing the end I was wishing for more. I'm really happy I've found another great hobby. And no, I did not bring my camera... I was too scared. I wish I did. 

Posted at at 9:57 PM on Sunday, August 3, 2008 by Posted by Jack | 0 comments   | Filed under: