Dasein, Red Elephant.


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Photography category.

Aspen Magazine

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Aspen is exactly the magazine or journal that I've always wanted to create but never did have the chance or time. It's got one element that I really like in a journal; media-rich content that sees critical text juxtaposed next to artwork. Each comments and reflects on the other without either dominating the rhetoric. While looking or listening to the audio or visual art in the each issue of Aspen, difficult theoretical postulations become somehow easier to understand, as relative connections become more fluid and apparent. The content itself is fascinating, from analysis of pre-modern Asian paintings, spoken word/avant-pop/classical phonograph recordings to scrapbook art, all of which are rhizomed and networked into a sexy mass of plausible cultural hypothesises.

Aspen has been around for a while and they used to have a print version, but now only exists on-line, which is actually a better platform for its hyper-textual content.

Check it out… it's a must-read. Oui, c'est incroyable.

Anyone interested in starting an online art-literature journal thingy together?


A Model Tokyo: City as Avatar

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Pingmag has recently published an interesting series of Tiny Tokyo pictures inspired by Olivo Barbieri’s aerial photographs, which coolly transformed famous landmarks and cities into miniature models. While Barbieri had the good fortune to use a helicopter and an expensive tilt shift lens, these Tokyo images were easily achieved through the use of high rise buildings and basic photoshop effects.

In the Metropolis article, Barbieri explains the rationale behind his unique aerial pictures:

“I was a little bit tired of the idea of photography allowing you to see everything,” Barbieri says. “After 9/11 the world had become a little bit blurred because things that seemed impossible happened. My desire was to look at the city again.”


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Too much of a good thing: Jeff Wall’s Photography

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Milk, 1984 (Transparency in lightbox 1870 x 2290 mm)

redelephant: I like Jeff Wall's pictures. While some photography seeks to capture the ethereal moment, document, suspend and expose it in its entirety, Jeff Wall seems to approach photography as a form of pictorial art, giving it thematic relevance beyond the image's context. Using large-scale photographic tableaux mounted in lightboxes, staged scenes, designed sets and amateur actors, each photograph is carefully shot with a unified composition schematic.

Notice how the left side of Milk seems to emanate a soothing air, from the use of cooling colors such as green and white in the bush and vertical indoor wall.This constrasts starkly with most of the image, which is bathed in rough, heaty brown hues, dripping from the brick grid walls to the man's shoe and wet, dark hair. Tension is remarkly concentrated in two parts of the picture: The man's posture, his clenched forearm with veins showing and the spurting geyser of white from the bottle of milk. There's something going on. The action is apparent but somehow, the careful representation of form makes the picture seem devoid of any context, removing the possibility of developing a definitive interpretation.

See more of Jeff Wall's work in his recently concluded retrospective at the Tate Modern.


Truth and Death: Capa’s Falling Soldier

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Robert Capa’sLoyalist Militiaman at the Moment of Death, Cerro Muriano, September 5, 1936.” The definitive image of the Spanish Civil War, this picture was first published in the July 1937 issue of Life magazine, with the caption stating, “Robert Capa’s camera catches a Spanish soldier the instant he is dropped by a bullet through the head in front of Córdoba.

Capa’s picture might as well be staged (as it was alleged to be by several critics). There is nothing violent or shocking about it. No blood. No look of fear or torture. No mishappened limbs. Just black and white sunlight, a shadowy sky and a look of sublime peace on the face of the falling soldier. He could be falling down, drunk in his casual shirtsleeves from emotional fatigue. The wind in his ears.

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Dreams, Surburbs and Kerouac

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“Tristessa” by Katia Fuentes, featured in the Spring 2005 issue of Convergence, a poetry and art journal.


Portraits of War: Photography and Protest

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First published in Germany in 1924, Ernst Friedrich's great anti-war classic War against War! features an extremely gruesome montage of war photographs, collected as a protest against World War I. Juxtaposed with propagandistic pictures of military regimes and labeled with ironic, sarcastic captions, these photographs revealed the brutal reality of war and its horrifying consequences. Beginning with pictures of toy soldiers, toy cannons and concluding with haunting pictures of military cemeteries, pages are filled with images such as the dead on battlefields, destroyed buildings, ravaged forests, skeletal Armenian children, starving civilians, army executions, and a grisly section titled 'The Face of War', showing 24 close-ups of soldiers with shocking facial wounds..

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Portraits and Biography

The photographic image is the object itself, the object freed from the conditions of time and space that govern it. No matter how fuzzy, distorted, or discolored, no matter how lacking in documentary value the image may be, it shares, by virtue of the very process of its becoming, the being of the model of which it is the representation; it is the model.

Hence the charm of family albums. Those grey or sepia shadows, phantomlike and almost undecipherable, are no longer traditional family portraits but rather the disturbing presence of lives halted at a set moment in their duration, freed from their destiny; not, however, by the prestige of art but by the power of an impassive mechanical process: for photography does not create eternity, as art does, it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.

André Bazin, "The Ontology of the Photographic Image", What Is Cinema? Vol. 1

I'm fascinated with the portraits of writers, which I feel, is often an extension of the authorial persona. In many ways, the photograph contradicts the frozen stylistic manuevers of the written word: Here is a woman or man standing, sitting, before a bookshelf, smoking or in avid concentration over coffee cup tables. There's a guarded psychological openness to the image. An intentional oxymoron if there ever was one.

Which brings me to the art of looking intellectual.. among all the arts, writers have an uncanny ability to make themselves look as if they were quietly engorged with Sphynx like wisdom. Artists, musicians, dancers, actors don't quite have that kind of air.

I'll start this post off with good ole Beckett who I always felt was a humanized Giacometti sculpture.

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Beckett in his youth.

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Beckett with conspicously half opened manuscript.

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Cigar boy with anarchic Dionysian hair.
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Love that pensive gaze.

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Quiet in the corner.
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The glasses really accentuate the look. Intense.

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Dean-ish turnaround glance.

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Age and shadows. He looks carved out of wood.

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My favorite picture of Beckett. You can see the daylight coming in through the windows on the left. One gets the feeling that there is a whole day ahead of him. This is a picture that perfectly exemplifies Bazin's ontological vision of photography: ripped out from the destiny of the everyday while lovingly coccooned in a ever-accessible present.