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Archive for the ‘photography’ Category

Here’s to being here by Lars Mensel

In philosophy, photography, society, technology on March 24, 2015 at 19:41

From: Here’s to being here by Lars Mensel, The European, http://www.theeuropean-magazine.com

The staggering number of smartphone images is of course due to the omnipresence of camera-enabled phones. A popular saying among photographers goes: “The best camera is the one you have with you”, and so the increased number of photos and videos is simply true to the fact that people can easily reach for a camera whenever the opportunity presents itself. It is also due to the emergence of what writer Craig Mod has dubbed “networked lenses” – smartphone cameras that allow for instantaneous sharing with the world. They have enabled a willingness on many peoples’ parts to always keep cameras rolling. In the New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten wrote about how this trend is changing our experience of reality. “Life is footage”, he remarks.

Which brings us back to the smoke-filled cabin of Welch’s flight. What does it mean that his first impulse was to start documenting? As the examples show, constantly filming and taking photos is a development many people have noticed and discussed. But the reactions have been all too predictable: They are often a call to be more mindful in the face of technological progress, to consciously make room for the analogue world in a digital time

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Reposted with permission from: The European

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Photography, Automatism, Mechanicity by Charles Palermo

In art, philology, photography on July 30, 2014 at 16:38

From: Photography, Automatism, Mechanicity by Charles Palermo, NONSITE, http://nonsite.org

Since photography’s beginnings, descriptions of photography have emphasized its mechanical character—the fact that it makes images without the kinds of human actions, such as drawing, traditionally associated with image making.  Philosophical objections to calling photographs signs or representations continue to center on this feature of photography.  Increasingly, as photography has gained wider acceptance as a medium for artistic work, the photographic image’s independence from certain kinds of action traditionally associated with image making has come to seem less like a liability or source of doubt and more like a source of artistic value for the medium.  Either way, and without forgetting the variety of work that can be accomplished with photographic materials and processes, we can speak of pictures made photographically—images of the world made in cameras—as having been made mechanically.  In this sense, “mechanically” clearly means something like “with a machine.”

Of course, cameras do not work purely mechanically.  The operator always plays a role in photography.  Photographs require human agency.  Further, agency has always been understood to depend on the agent’s intention.  That is, we generally exclude from discussions of agency those acts performed (or events precipitated) unintentionally.  If I leave a Polaroid camera on a windowsill, and a breeze from the open window causes the curtain to billow, and the billowing drapery knocks the camera to the floor, and the resulting jolt actuates the shutter causing the camera to make a picture, we may call the result a photograph, but a generally accepted account of agency will stop short of calling the making of the photograph an act.  That is because the act I did perform—setting the camera on the windowsill—cannot be understood (on the account I’ve given) as comprehending anything we could call my intention to take a photograph.  Much less this photograph, the one the Polaroid actually ejected after the fall.

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Reposted with permission from: NONSITE.org

Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson (a.k.a. RAX) by Philippe Theophanidis

In art, documentary, environment, Europe, photography on June 28, 2013 at 21:48

From: Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson (a.k.a. RAX) by Philippe Theophanidis, Aphelis, http://aphelis.net Ragnar Axelsson website: http://www.rax.is/

Last Days of the Arctic, Photos © Ragnar Axelsson, www.RAX.is 2010.

The (above) photo was shot in the small town of Ittoqortoormit (sometimes spelled Illoqqortoormiut), the only permanent settlement in the region of Scoresby Sund. This geographical region is a fjord system on the East coast of Greenland and is said to be the largest fjord system in the world (see Archaeology and Environment in the Scoresby Sund Fjord, p. 7). In 2012, the total population of Ittoqqortoormiit was 477 habitants (see Statistics Greenland: “Population in towns and settlements July 1.st”). The town is located on the 70th parallel north. As a mean of comparison, the Arctic Circle begins at the 66th parallel north (see Wikipedia). The farthest north I have ever lived was on the 55th parallel. Ragnar Axelsson has said of this dog: “He stood up, shook the snow off, then lay down and let the snow cover him again.” (LENS: “Showcase: Black and Very White” December 7, 2009; photo no. 9). In an email exchange with him, I asked about the context in which this photograph was taken. He provided the following, additional details (I added the link): The photograph was taken in a blizzard. The glacier storms in Greenland are called Piteraq and can be so strong that houses are sometimes blown away. It has not happened for many years. … Ragnar Axelsson, also known as RAX, is a renowned, award-winning freelance photographer born in Iceland in 1958. He has been documenting the vanishing lifestyles of various Arctic communities for the past 30 years. Here’s what he has to say about Greenland in particular: Greenland, the biggest Island in the world, is a pearl with harsh elements. Inuites have been there for more than 4.000 years living on the land. In the old days Inuites where living in igloos and small cabins made of stones. It was a struggle for food everyday; hunting birds, fish, whales, seals, walruses and polar bears. Every single part of the hunted animal was being used. Skin for clothing, meat was eaten. The old hunting tradition is fading away as new posibilities in the modern world are taking over. (source: Fotopub.com) … Born and raised near a glacier in Iceland, he has seen the effects of global warming, both at home and in his trips. “One can definitely see it when travelling to the same places, 5 or 10 years later. The landscape is constantly changing. I did not realize the effects at first, I just wanted to go and shoot beautiful photos. I wanted to go where nobody had gone, challenging the cold, the distances and the weather. So many photographers just want to sit around in Africa, naked in the sun,” he joked. Read the post Reposted with permission from: Philippe Theophanidis

The Weaver’s Dance: Briana Blasko by Karolle Rabarison

In art, Asia, culture, photography on June 12, 2013 at 08:29

From: The Weaver’s Dance: Briana Blasko by Karolle Rabarison, The Morning News, http://www.themorningnews.org/gallery/the-weavers-dance

In 1995, San Francisco-born Briana Blasko transplanted to New York City, where she earned a BFA in Photography from Tisch School of the Arts while working at the Annie Leibovitz Studio. Her photographs have appeared in Dance Magazine, the New York Times, India Perspectives, and numerous other publications. These days, Blasko is based in New Delhi and documents textile and dance throughout India.

Briana Blasko:

I have been working as a photographer for 13 years with a specialization in dance photography for the past 9 years. Frequent trips to India since 2003 have informed the conception of this book project through a deep appreciation for the arts and crafts of Indian textiles and dance. For over three and half years, I visited dance schools and festivals across India to research various forms of classical, folk, and tribal dances. Simultaneously, I visited weaving villages in these states to document the costumes and textiles used by the dancers.

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Reposted with permission from: Morning News

 

 

From Disc to Sphere by Volker M. Welter

In architecture, astronomy, ecology, nature, North America, photography, space on May 13, 2013 at 21:43

From: From Disc to Sphere by Volker M. Welter, Cabinet, http://cabinetmagazine.org

In October 1969, at the height of the irrational fears about the imminent detonation of the population bomb, about one hundred hippies assembled in the San Francisco Bay area to stage a “hunger show,” a week-long period of total fasting. The event was inspired by a hashish-induced vision that had come to the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand, when reading Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb. The goal was to personally experience the bodily pain of those who suffer from famine and to issue a warning about the mass starvations predicted for the 1970s. From the outset, the lofty intentions conflicted with a more dreary reality. Originally, the communal fasting was to be held inside an inflatable, one-hundred-by-one-hundred-foot polyethylene pillow. The structure, dubbed Liferaft Earth, was designed by Charlie Tilford, a graduate student in engineering at Columbia University, and the participants were to live exclusively within it for the duration of the fast. But the organizers could neither secure a prominent site nor a permit for the innovative shell, which was deemed to be a fire risk, and so the event took place instead in a motel parking lot in the city of Hayward. There, a four-foot-high inflatable wall delineated a compound within which those who were fasting camped. The press and the curious lingered outside the wall, joined by the occasional participant who could no longer bear the hunger pangs, made worse by the temptations of a nearby Chinese restaurant.

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet

Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian

In books, film, North America, photography, theory, visual arts on April 24, 2013 at 07:39

From: Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian, Cabinet, http://cabinetmagazine.org

Introducing W. Watson-Baker’s 1935 book, World Beneath the Microscope, the English artist and critic William Gaunt wrote:

We are no longer so excited as formerly by the account of trips on the surface … The mind is stretched, uncomfortably sometimes, but with a new fascination, to speed and profundity, to the thought of worlds that lie a million light-years away from us, to the worlds that recede in evolutionary time beneath the lens, to the thought even that they merge or that by some extraordinary trick of relativity the smaller may contain the large. There is an affinity between the telescope and the microscope, between the discovery of stellar space and the discovery of the atom.

The film Powers of Ten was first made as a trial version in 1968, and then remade and released in 1977 in the familiar form that has been so widely disseminated in both film and printed formats. Produced by the Eames Office, the Los Angeles-based firm founded by the husband-and-wife design team, the 1977 version was one of the couple’s final films. In the postwar era of US corporate expansion and ascendancy, the Eameses established relationships with some of the key companies of the time. … While work for corporate clients destined for the international exhibitions of the Cold War period was inevitably situated in an arena of national representation and geopolitical contest, the Eameses were at the same time receiving major commissions explicitly driven by such imperatives. Most notable of these was the film installation Glimpses of the USA, produced the year after the Brussels exposition for the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, coordinated by the United States Information Agency (USIA).

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet

Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin

In ethics, film, nature, photography, theory, visual arts on April 2, 2013 at 20:25

From: Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin, The New Atlantis, http://www.thenewatlantis.com

Rumors of our civilization’s collapse have been somewhat exaggerated. When the National Society of Film Critics announced its awards for the year 2011, the top two films — Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, in first place, and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, in second — were separated by a single vote. It is fitting that they should vie so closely: they are opposite and in some ways equal attempts to show the essential nature of reality and the best way to live in it — openly flouting the au courant truism that art is fit chiefly to interrogate, unsettle, and subvert. Both films debuted at Cannes. If there had been any separation between their release dates, it would seem certain that one was made as a rebuttal to the other, for while the symmetry of the two films is striking, there is a deep philosophical quarrel between them. Von Trier and Malick can’t both be right: Melancholia argues that reality, including life, is best understood in the light of death; The Tree of Life argues that reality, including death, is best understood in the light of life. These propositions are familiar enough; more surprising and important are the force and grandeur with which the two films substantiate them.

The tone and the source of light in The Tree of Life are vital to Malick’s philosophical vision. He is a rhapsode of the Emersonian order — plainly enchanted with the stuff of existence. His world is one of illuminations. Rich, clear light suffuses leaves, grass, fabric, hair, water, even skin. The lovely, if sometimes flickering, radiance of earthly life echoes a deeper, more enduring light. As Mrs. O’Brien says, love smiles through all things. We simply need eyes naked and patient enough to see them as they are. The journey of the movie, from Jack’s conjuring of the Big Bang onwards, is an effort not to impose a novel vision, but to shake the scales from his eyes. In Melancholia, by contrast, things in themselves don’t shine. Life has nothing to say for itself. Illumination always comes from without, whether it is cast by the comforting artifice of human technology, the very occasional glimmer of sunlight, or by the sharp white light of heavenly death. Only one of these sources of light has the power to reveal the truth. For von Trier, to bathe in the stark, blanching light of death is simply to become reconciled with reality; death is the one star that illuminates everything.

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Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis

Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball

In aesthetics, art, biology, nature, photography, science, visual arts on February 24, 2013 at 01:03

From: Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball, http://www.philipball.co.uk

Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa, near Mull in Scotland, has inspired artists (this is Turner) and composers – Felix Mendelsohn wrote his orchestral piece named after the cave in 1829. But it also made an impression on an awestruck Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society, when he sailed to Staffa in 1772 during an expedition to Iceland. This is what he said:

    “Compared to this what are the cathedrals or palaces built by men! Mere models or playthings, as diminutive as his works will always be when compared with those of nature. What now is the boast of the architect! Regularity, the only part in which he fancied himself to exceed his mistress, Nature, is here found in her possession, and here it has been for ages undescribed.”

Banks had noticed that the entrance to the cave was flanked by these great pillars of rock. Close up, you can see the regularity that Banks spoke about: hexagonal cross-sections.

Now, this of course has its counterpart on the west coast of Ireland itself: the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, built in legend by the giant Finn MacCool.

There are something like 40,000 pillars of rock in the giant’s Causeway, and they generally have this extraordinarily regular and geometric honeycomb structure. When we make an architectural pattern like this, it is through careful planning and construction, with each individual element cut to shape and laid in place. At Fingal’s Cave and the Giant’s Causeway, the forces of nature have conspired to produce such a pattern without, we must presume, any blueprint or foresight or design. This is an example of spontaneous pattern formation.

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball

The Spam of the Earth by Hito Steyerl

In culture, government, information science, internet, media, photography, privacy, society on February 17, 2013 at 22:05

From: The Spam of the Earth: Withdrawal from Representation by Hito Steyerl, e-flux, http://www.e-flux.com

Dense clusters of radio waves leave our planet every second. Our letters and snapshots, intimate and official communications, TV broadcasts and text messages drift away from earth in rings, a tectonic architecture of the desires and fears of our times.1 In a few hundred thousand years, extraterrestrial forms of intelligence may incredulously sift through our wireless communications. But imagine the perplexity of those creatures when they actually look at the material. Because a huge percentage of the pictures inadvertently sent off into deep space is actually spam. Any archaeologist, forensic, or historian—in this world or another—will look at it as our legacy and our likeness, a true portrait of our times and ourselves. Imagine a human reconstruction somehow made from this digital rubble. Chances are, it would look like image spam.

Image spam is one of the many dark matters of the digital world; spam tries to avoid detection by filters by presenting its message as an image file. An inordinate amount of these images floats around the globe, desperately vying for human attention.2 They advertise pharmaceuticals, replica items, body enhancements, penny stocks, and degrees. According to the pictures dispersed via image spam, humanity consists of scantily dressed degree-holders with jolly smiles enhanced by orthodontic braces.

Image spam is our message to the future. Instead of a modernist space capsule showing a woman and man on the outside—a family of “man”—our contemporary dispatch to the universe is image spam showing enhanced advertisement mannequins.3 And this is how the universe will see us; it is perhaps even how it sees us now.

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Reposted with permission from: e-flux

The Dream House By Robert Boucheron

In architecture, history, North America, photography, space on February 10, 2013 at 18:02

From: The Dream House By Robert Boucheron, The Montreal Review, http://www.themontrealreview.com

An industry of books and shelter magazines testifies to the popularity of this domestic daydream. Hanley Wood, for example, publishes American Dream Homes, which describes itself as an “annual showcase of our finest designs. . . the year’s most celebrated homes from the most accomplished designers. . . great photography and meticulous descriptions of the exquisite details.”

The photographs rarely include people, and certainly not the celebrity homeowners. That would disrupt the dream, in which the magazine reader is the happy inhabitant. The text reinforces the subliminal message, inviting the reader on a tour, and implying that all this can be yours. The expense is rarely mentioned, partly because it is obvious, but more because the dream does away with practical concerns. You could win the lottery or inherit a fortune. You could move in tomorrow!

There is nothing unclear about the drawings and photographs. The description is realistic, minutely detailed, and loaded with adjectives. The granite countertop is polished, the fireplace mantel is veined marble, the ceramic tile is imported from Italy, and the wood floor is reclaimed oak from a demolished mill. Look closer, and the lighting is too bright, the colors too intense, the glass too clear. The shadows are missing, just as the untidiness of life is missing. Where is the stray shoe, the carpet stain, the magazine left lying on the couch? The photographs, for all their apparent realism, have been carefully arranged, with hidden lights, and then skillfully edited, to remove the fallen leaf from the plants brought in as props.

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Reposted with permission from: The Montreal Review

Snow Job by Anastasia Taylor-Lind

In Asia, ethnicity, Europe, media, photography, sexuality, society on November 25, 2012 at 20:39

From: Snow Job by Anastasia Taylor-Lind, The Caravan, http://www.caravanmagazine.in

THE BLEMISHLESS SUPERMODELS in the glad-rag mags and the haute runways of the London, Paris, New York and Milan fashion weeks are among the most photographed women in the world. Increasingly, these girls originate in Siberia, that legendarily vast Cold War wasteland associated with the terrifying Stalinist Gulag, which today houses a hyper model-casting industry and training schools for kindergarteners to midteens.

Stalin’s paranoid regime, and those that came after, exiled into northeast Russia entire ethnic groups, the spetsposelentsy (special settlers): Volga Germans (the Russlanddeutsche, invited in the 18th century to immigrate by Catherine the Great), Chechens from the Caucasus, Baltic Latvians, Mongol tribes, Inuit, Tatars, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz….

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Reposted with permission from: The Caravan

Kate Middleton: the female body in the post-Berlusconi media by Heather McRobie

In culture, ethics, Europe, gender, government, media, photography, politics, privacy, sexuality on October 3, 2012 at 06:51

From: Kate Middleton: the female body in the post-Berlusconi media by Heather McRobie, Open Democracy, www.opendemocracy.net

So, we have misogyny, power, and lurid gossip-media…feel like something’s missing in the picture? Oh don’t worry, he’s here.  Yes, Berlusconi – the man who made the last year better just because we didn’t have to say his name so often anymore when discussing European politics – in fact owned the media outlet that originally published the photographs of Kate Middleton (a fact which led to some conspiracy-theorising that this was Berlusconi’s revenge on perceived snubs by the British monarchy, according to the Daily Beast’s Barbie Latza Nadeau).  The publication of the photos by a Berlusconi-owned media outlet should thus be a good opportunity for all European media to reflect on how much damage the former Italian prime minister has had on media standards even outside of Italy, not least in respect to the treatment of women.  The 2009 Italian documentary Il Corpo delle Donne analysed how, under Berlusconi’s effective 95% ownership of Italian media, public depictions of women were infantilised, used (often literally) only as decorative props on Italian television, essentially making invisible from public life any woman who was not willing to pneumatically, breathlessly play along with the narrow, porn-ified role granted for them in the media space.  Journalists who tried to report on the dual dominance of corruption and misogyny while Berlusconi held the dual role of head of state and media mogul found themselves intimidated, critics invariably dismissed as prudes.

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Reposted according to CC copyright notice from Open Democracy website

American Mythology by Scott Esposito and Michael Smith

In aesthetics, film, history, North America, philosophy, photography, visual arts on September 16, 2012 at 06:25

From: American Mythology: A Conversation About Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff by Scott Esposito and Michael Smith, The Quarterly Conversation, http://quarterlyconversation.com

Michael Smith: Kelly Reichardt initially came to my attention with her film Wendy and Lucy (2008)—I immediately noticed a sensitivity to social issues and also a relatively spartan aesthetic. She relied on long takes and came across as a patient filmmaker and storyteller. Meek’s Cutoff is a more complete realization of that aesthetic. The opening shots alone are extraordinary in that they don’t constitute a narrative exposition so much as establish the physical nature of a journey being taken by several pioneer families. Using static, relatively long takes, Reichardt shows them performing tasks: crossing a river, drying their clothes, fetching water from a stream, cleaning dishes. These all seem mundane, which is exactly the point. Part of the experience of this film is becoming familiar with the sheer punishment of the Oregon Trail, how the movement westward was full of not only considerable challenges but also what might be called elongation. After the initial sequences, Reichardt employs a beautiful, very slow dissolve in which a wagon train gradually appears on the horizon, and then she cuts to a night shot as clouds slowly move in real time. The journey already seems endless, even though, as viewers, it’s just started for us.

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Reposted with permission from: The Quarterly Conversation

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