Thursday, September 29, 2011

New I Am Logan Square Blogger

OH. hey. In case you didnt know, i've been working for this quaint little gallery down the road from me. quaintly BADASS. I Am Logan Square is a non-profit arts organization supporting artists in the area.

I photograph for them and write blogs. like this thing. but over there. yes, there. CHECK IT!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bidwells, keeping NEO real since...awhile.

The Transformer Station, Rendering of Future Planned Addition

The Transformer Station. did'ya hear, did'ya hear? This is huge news for any artist living in Ohio. It'll probably be big news for any artist, anywhere, especially photographers. For anyone who doesnt know, Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell are huge supporters and collectors of contemporary art and photography, based in lil' ol' Northeast Ohio.
     Whats more, The Transformer Station project is only one of many ways they're helping foster their community and support education of contemporary art and photography. Recently, gifts through the Bidwell Foundation have made possible the first monograph by Brian Ulrich, Is This Place Great or What, as well as his first ever major museum exhibition and retrospective, Copia - Retail, Thrift and Dark Stores. Nor can we forget their continued support of the Meyers School of Art Photography Program with the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Visiting Photographer Series and the Bidwell Travel Scholars fund(yes, I'm on my phone. I think I was working out some framing kinks for my senior show..), through which I was able to meet and critique with some of my favorite photographers, and travel to AIPAD in New York.

     The Transformer Station itself will be in collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art, and for the first time in it's history, give the CMA a presence on the west side of town. Intended as a contemporary outlet for the CMA, "The transformer Station will serve as a laboratory, think tank and place to uncover new opportunities by encouraging the Cleveland Museum of Art’s curators and collaborators to develop installations more spontaneously, take more risks and explore radical ideas as well as new media." The Station with also be a space to house the Bidwell's ever growing contemporary photography collection as well as a place to showcase and share their amazing collection with the community. I remember speaking with Laura Bidwell a year or so ago, before the Station was the Station, and she mentioned they were looking for a place just like this. A place to encourage artists in the community, bring attention to the area, and a way for them to share the excitement of beholding an actual, physical print from some of Photography's biggest names, right in their own backyard.

    I may not be in NE Ohio anymore, but anyone who's grown up there knows there's always a little piece of you that stays behind. So I'm sure I join artists from all over the community in tipping my hat to the Bidwells and saying, how excited I am to see this coming together, and "Thanks!" This is one 
step closer to NE Ohio becoming a major hub for contemporary art and photography.

read more here

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Never Ending Polaroid

This is one of the baddest assed things ive seen in awhile. Bob Nanna (of Braid/Hey Mercedes/The City on Film FTW!) takes polaroids of people holding polaroids...of the previous polaroids. It sounds a bit boring and literal, dare say almost gimmicky, at first, but upon viewing, you find Sir Nanna started this in '01 and has been continuing it throughout his extensive touring with his various many influential bands of the independent rock scene, in what ends up being an indie rock archive of sorts. This tickles my fancy both as a documentary of my hands down favorite era of music, as well as a refreshingly intelligent and creative use of the archival properties of photography.!/neverendingpolaroid

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

MAAF...if you're in-the-know.

MILWAUKEE.AVENUE.ARTS.FESTIVAL. whoooooa. how do you even talk about a fest that was over 30 galleries, 8 food vendors, 40 bands and spanned almost a whole mile down Milwaukee ave. a little like that, I suppose. or with A LOT OF PHOTOS. well, if a pictures worth 1000 words…then let this post be long!

see! if you missed it, you MISSED IT. Honestly, I'm entirely confused how. WE HAD FENCES! big ones! around the ACTUAL Logan Square. traffic block, even. noooo, you couldn't have missed it. so lets chat about it! what was your favorite part? did you see White Mystery TEAR UP the main stage on Saturday?! that was art. beautiful, loud, noisy, awesome art. (good luck to them on tour, etc etc!)

how about the new Logan Square Arts Center/Hairpin Lofts? Flat Iron Building, eat your heart out, Logan Square has GOT IT. right? hmmmm, probably.

At any rate, this year's MAAF blew last year's out of the water, by all accounts. Not that last year's was bad or anything, its just kind of like The Terminator and T2. T1 is a classic, you love it, and it paves the way for T2, absolutely. But come on, the T-1000. THIS YEAR'S MAAF WAS THE T-1000. chew on that. Speaking of which, Mayor Rahm came out. BOOYA.

I'm not even going to try to review it, really. i'm just going to leave it at spastic outbursts and be done with it. I shot over 500 photos on saturday, and it was exhausting. I edited over 500 photos the following week (along with entertain a revolving door of out of town friends throughout the week. oi, the timing!). I'm exhausted just thinking about how to tackle all of that into words.

so i wont!

(except, we had a trolly. A MUTHA FUCKIN MAAF TROLLY!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Deardoff is back

ATTN LF and oldschool photographers: Deardoff is back! thought you might get a kick out of this. After 20 years of no production, Barry Cochran (who apparently worked for a Japanese reincarnation of Deardoff and specializes in selling DD parts) and his wife bought the rights, blueprints and name of Deardoff & Sons and are making new cameras. now thats interesting.

i don't actually shoot large format, but i know Deardoffs are regarded as the Leica of LF photography by many, and i know quite a few people who might get a kick out of this.

Deardoff Cameras

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vernacular Art, Photography and Documentation

I was reading through the No Caption Needed Blog (written by the authors of the book No Caption Needed, U of Chicago Press), and i stumbled across an interesting show going on at Duke University. Flesh & Metal, Bodies & Buildings: Works from Jonathan Hyman's Archive of Vernacular Memorials can be viewed through the online galleries, with accompanying text.

The show is actually a lot more complex than it appears, though i don't think this was intentional. Hyman has an MFA in Painting from Duke U, with "photographic training." the vagueness of the attempted justification was the first eyebrow raiser. Why does it need justification as a photographic show? The statement gives an immediate air of self-realized photographic amateur-ness, and i'll admit that i'm always a bit weary of painters-turned-photographers, who seem to say "well yeah...but now all i have to do is push a button." However, one of my favorite photo series, Rays A Laugh, is by Richard Billingham, a painter-turned-photographer.

As you begin to flip through the show, you start to realize that the camera is not (primarily) being used as an artistic device, but rather almost purely as a documentation device. the "artistic" content lies in the dialog between the symbols in the photos, how theyre being used and what they represent. But that's exactly what got me thinking. That dialog IS the language of photography, however, i think that dialog is missing one more element: the photographer (or in other terms, the composition.)

If a photo inherently speaks of it's symbols, what theyre representing, and how they fit in a social context, then the way the photographer represents these elements is what separates the photos from the art of photography and the art of documentation. In the case of Hyman's show, the photographs begin to get repetitive, photos of tattoos on people's backs, photos of wall graffiti, patriotic graffiti, etc. The thing that troubled me is it became obvious that Hyman was trying to fight the repetition by shooting the walls or what-have-you from varying and, most importantly, arbitrary angles. Obviously, one way to avoid repetition is to vary the perspective, but when the perspective adds no more comment or meaning to the photograph than the same object shot at a different angle, thats when the power of documentation can be harmed by the attempt to seem artful. compare these three photos:

now look at this one:

the deadpan manner of this last photograph better showcases the element of the graffiti art, its message, and how it relates to its temporal context. It does this all without a distracting arbitrary attempt at artful composition, which makes the composition more interesting. I'm not saying that all documentary photography should be deadpan. If your primary focus is the art of photography, and you know how to make a interesting and loaded composition, please do! Brian Ulrich is a contemporary master of documentary-style and deadpan photography, while still loading his compositions with thoughtful, subtle and powerful elements.

Of course, i'm not dissing the document in anyway. Post-modernism brought the deadpan archival elements of photography to the forefront. To strip away the photographer's voice, and use the photograph as a frozen moment in time, and see how it speaks purely as a social element is an interesting and powerful element of photography, if thats what the photograph is being used for. And i think thats what this show was attempting, overall, or should have been.

in the end, one of my favorite "art of photography" photos of the series was the last image

Formally: The red of the car mimics the red of the "God Bless America," while the arch of the woman's back mimics the stretching of the towers in the graffiti. Socially: the woman appears islamic, in front of a 9/11 memorial. I'll leave it to you as to who's eyes and opinions you'll view that statement, i'm just pointing out that it has a significant amount of social weight. What id like to point out here is that anyone who studies photography can easily pick apart the elements of this photo and how they relate well within the composition and perspective, in more than a "documentary" sense. What annoys me is that Hyman realizes this dialog and goes on to describe it, flat out. I'm not sure if this is a "Hey look, i got a good one!" statement, or a statement to make clear the photographic language, because the audience wasnt intended to be a photographic one. Weariness of painters-turned-photographers ensues.

overall i enjoyed the show, actually. the kitschy artwork and propaganda is amusing (though i dont believe it was documented to be so, which is more amusing, if not frustrating). However, if the photos are to serve as purely documentary, and the objects in the photos are the artwork, i think Hyman should have approached them in a much more deadpan manner. I'm all for the archive fever, but attempting to arbitrarily artfully compose the photos took away from the message of the objects within and became distracting.