Blog Assignment – Semester 2

Posted: October 26, 2010 in Certificate of Design & Visual Arts, Exhibitions

Requirements:

1. Begin by identifying 3 favorite works from your own practice. Post them on your blog and briefly explain why you selected these works.
2. Post at least one example of written research that is relevant to your work from the following contexts; a dictionary site, an electronic resource from the Unitec library catalogue, and an artist site. each to be referenced correctly.
3. Write a comment to explain the relevance of these research contexts.
4. Now post at least 3 works for other artist/designers that are relevant to your own posted works.
5. Write a comment to explain the relevance of these art contexts.

Part 1:

 City Mission, 2010
 Photographic Print
 Dimensions Variable 
 Photography – Option  4

For this brief I went out into the streets and began looking for people to photograph as they go about their day, to capture a snapshot of everyday life in Auckland.  There is a subculture to our streets and this image illustrates something that we all know about, but prefer to ignore. The photo forces the viewer to wonder why he is there, what he is thinking, & even compose a story for him. I personally find it particularly compelling.  Is he homeless and all alone in the world?  He is smoking a cigarette, seeming to be as uncaring of the world that is possibly as uncaring about him. The bright colour of the wall behind him is at opposites with his demeanour, however he does stand with his back to the bars on the window, looking out and away.  This image poses as many questions as answers. Perspective, balance, and symmetry, these are all words that describe the composition of this work.

Blondie at Work, 2010
Photographic Print
Dimensions Variable
Photography – Option 4

These photographs of a Karangahape Road street worker are fascinating.  Her stroppy attitude comes across in her pose and stance.  She is strong and confident, but she carries her high heel shoes, possibly after a long night out on the street. But the most fascinating thing is that, with close examination of the photo, you realise this is actually a boy, posing as a female working in the womens domain of prostitution. My intent for this work was to take candid shots of an individual’s life, a life that most viewers cannot understand or wish to visit, but still find fascinating and intriguing.  The use of the diptych format enables the viewer to gain a deeper understanding of her personality and gives motion to her movements. With the high angle view so that you are looking down, and the overall colour with grey tones, the images reference surveilance camera photography and give the feeling of peeking from behind a glass window.

Alone?
Photographic Print
Dimensions Variable
Photography – Option 6

This image is from my “Windows” series, where the camera goes looking into the private space of strangers in their own homes.  My method was to place the camera on a tripod with a zoom lens, and observe the inhabitants from a distance, so they are unaware of being watched.  The resulting photographs are an enigma, the viewer must decide what is happening, however will never know for sure. This work can be considered voyeuristic, giving a thrill of looking maybe where we shouldn’t. So then we must also ask ourselves, ‘is it ethical to watch a stranger through the eye of a camera?’ In this photograph we are looking into the woman’s own personal space, getting a glimpse of possible tensions within her mind, family and environment. She stands with her hands glasped. How strange to stand so still when alone in your room, is she waiting for something or someone?

 

Part 2 & 3:

  •  Dictionary reference:  Dictionary.com
 
Definition of: “subculture”

–verb (used with object)
1. Bacteriology . to cultivate (a bacterial strain) again on a new medium.
–noun
2. Bacteriology . a culture derived in this manner.
3. Sociology .
a. the cultural values and behavioral patterns distinctive of a particular group in a society.
b. a group having social, economic, ethnic, or other traits distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.
 
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/subculture  Date Unknown. Web. 22 Oct 2010
 
I have chosen this word as it references those elements we have in our society that often manage to slip under the radar. This is what concerns and interests me, life is not all a bed of roses and sometimes we, as a society, need to face the harder aspects of what goes on around us. There are people in our neighbourhoods who do not adhere to what is considered a normal lifestyle, some desire it and for others, it is sometimes not of their own making.
  • Electronic Resource from the Unitec Library Catalogue: 
Songs Left Out of Nan Goldin’s Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Greil Marcus 
 “What’s most uncanny – uncanny and sometimes disturbing, displacing, confusing -about Goldin’s pictures, about the whole work, is its intimacy. Not necessarily sexual intimacy, though in all versions of  Ballad there is repeated nudity and in some there are sequences of sex pictures that are convincing in a way that sex rarely is in photographs. What’s uncanny is the way Goldin and the people in her pictures seem to have no borders of privacy, the way their rooms seem to have no walls. Like anyone in front of a camera, they pose happily for moments of ease or friendship or let’s-remember-this, but in moments of sex, misery, estrangement, or despair they don’t seem to be posing at all. There’s no sense of voyeurism. You’re pulled in. Everyone is a witness to everyone else.”

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
TITLE: Songs Left Out of Nan Goldin’s “Ballad of Sexual Dependency”
SOURCE: Aperture no197 Wint 2009
The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher: http://www.aperture.org/

http://vnweb.hwwilsonweb.com/hww/results/external_link_maincontentframe.jhtml?_DARGS=/hww/results/results_common.jhtml.43 .Date unknown. 26 Oct 2010
 
This article links to my own pursuit of looking into other peoples lives, of trying to go to places that maybe many would be too shy or too scared to go.
Nan Goldin has successfully crossed over society’s self-imposed boundaries and has produced photos that are incredibly close, intimate, and totally natural.  She has documented her own experiences and that of her friends, showing a world of sex and drugs, and of life and death, showing scenes that are usually behind closed doors.  Her photos are not staged or photoshopped in any way and this makes them very powerful, as they are candid, sometimes up close & often unflattering for the subjects. We, as the viewer, are made to face the reality that this was really her life. My ‘Windows’ series has this approach, trying to peer into windows to see what is happening, though my subjects are all unknown to me.

  • Gallery site:  White Cube, 48 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB, UK

                  Sophie Calle – Suite Venitienne (1980-1996) 
                              

 

” For months I followed strangers on the street. For the pleasure of following them, not because they particularly interested me. I photographed them without their knowledge, took note of their movements, then finally lost sight of them and forgot them.
At the end of January 1980, on the streets of Paris, I followed a man whom I lost sight of a few minutes later in a crowd. That very evening, quite by chance, he was introduced to me at an opening. During the course of our conversation, he told me he was planning an imminent trip to Venice.”
 
 
 
The work by French born conceptual artist Sophie Calle was my first introduction to ‘sleuth’ photography. She began by following people in the streets of Paris and taking photos to record their movements. She was my inspiration to go and really look around my own environment. The idea of capturing a moment of  somone else’s life on film is fascinating. We are all taught that it is rude to stare, but underneath, I think we all want to look!  Blondie at Work is a direct result of Calle’s influence, and I am now following this particular subjects’ antics whenever she appears on Karangahape Rd.
 
 
 

 

 
  • Artist site: Rebecca Swann

 

 

‘Assume Nothing’ is a journey into the intimacies,
nuances and complexities of gender identity. Since
1995 I have photographed and interviewed 27 people
from around the world. All have moved me deeply by
their courage in sharing their stories and images so that others will understand who they are.”

“Touchingly intimate yet powerful, no holds barred approach, tremendous tenderness”.  Art News New Zealand 

  http://www.rebeccaswan.com/  2010. Web. 26 Oct 2010

Rebecca Swann is a young New Zealand photographer that helped feed my new found curiosity into people that are not quite mainstream.  On viewing her book ‘Assume Nothing” I was drawn to the beautiful portraiture of her subjects.  The images are exceptionally gentle, as if she is treading very softly, slowly revealing their individuality and significance.  This is an emotive quality that I admire and one with which I have tried to approach my own subjects, and I believe was particularly successful with in the ‘City Mission’  photo.

Part 4 & 5:

Revelant artists.

Chance Meeting, 1970
Duane Michals
Sequence of six gelatin silver prints
8.6 x 12.7 cm
Source: http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/2509621 .18 Oct 2006. Web. 28 Oct 2010

Street photography is a recognisable everyday event, and is so normal by itself, but can be fascinating when viewed objectively. These  images by Michals show two men passing in the street. They seem to recognise each other after passing, but do not speak. Each image can stand alone on it’s own merit, however when shown in a sequence helps builds a narrative so common in all our lives.  The multiple black and white photographs are a good example of how to show movement with still images, it assists in telling the story but still leaves the viewer needing more.
The use of multiple images is a format that I have used to display my own work, however I also use a variety of sizes to highlight specific images and give more focus to the subject matter.

 

Trixie on the Cot, NYC, 1979
Nan Goldin
Silver Dye Bleach Print
65.4 x 97.5 cm
Source:
http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/show-full/piece/?search=Trixie%20on%20the%20cot%2C%20NYC&page=&f=Title&object=2002.61  Date Unknown. Web. 26 Oct 2010

Open and honest, with energy and mystery, Goldin’s photos are often raw & passionate. The woman sits on a camp stretcher, she is obviously tired, the way she holds her foot and is drawing deeply on her cigarette. The beauty of her dress does not belong in this very basic, and poorly furnished room. Has she spent all her money on a dress to wear out and party in? Goldin’s work is ususally classified as documentary, however she also touches onto fashion photography. Her photo’s can also be viewed as a record of the fashions during the 1970’s, particularly within the world of the transgenders within which she lived. I believe photography works so much better when the viewer has to work a little to understand what the meaning is or what is happening in an image.

 

Dr Rieger and J Greno, 1933
Josef Breitenbach
Photogravure 9.5 x 12 in
Embossed artist stamp (annotated 5/100 in pencil) on print recto
Source:http://www.stephendaitergallery.com/dynamic/artwork_detail.asp?ArtworkID=1981 . Web. 28 Oct 2010

 Breitenbach began by photographing the bohemian underworld of Munich, in pre-Nazi Germany. His first photos are curious and unusual, and in later years he would be deeply affected by the surrealist movement.  In this early work we must ask “why does a fully clothed gentleman sit with his top hat in his lap, at a table with a naked woman?”  It has obvious erotic overtones, and is mysterious as we unsure if he is buying her time, or even where they are, and so we compose the ongoing story for them in our minds. The viewer  feels they have stumbled upon something that is not normally on view. This intrigues me and is a feature that I strive to instill into my work.

 

 Rear Window, 1 Aug 1954 
Produced & Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Theatrical Poster

 “Rear Window is a 1954 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by John Michael Hayes and based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”.
Originally released by Paramount Pictures, the film stars James Stewart as a photographer who spies on his neighbors while recuperating from a broken leg; Grace Kelly as his girlfriend; Thelma Ritter as his nurse; Wendell Corey as a police detective; and Raymond Burr as one of the neighbours.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rear_Window . 19 Oct 2010. Web. 28 Oct 2010
On viewing some of my work, this movie was bought to my attention. It had been a few years since my last viewing, but once revisited realised the similarities to my own ‘Windows’ Series.  My desire to look into the secret private world behind strangers curtains has echos of Alfred Hitchcocks film. Looking into windows can provide a myriad of stories, and the viewer can make the story as bizarre and mysterious as their own imagination will let them, as it is in our own personal spaces we will often show our true selves and carry out actions that we would not do in public.

 

 

Head No.13, 2000
Phillip Lorca-diCorcia
Fujicolour Crystl Archive Print
Size Unknown
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/14/arts/art-in-review-philip-lorca-dicorcia-heads.html .Web. 7 Nov 2010

Phillip Lorca-diCorcia is an American photographer who has helped to redefine street photography. In his ‘Head’ Series he photographs strangers using a strobe light, turning “pedestrians into unsuspecting performers. The strobes picking out passers-by in a crowd the way a spotlight isolates actors on stage.”  The photos were taken with a camera equipped with a 500mm lens on a tripod from over 20 feet away. He took 1000’s of photos, however only ended up with 17 photographs he wanted to display.
Interestingly, DiCorcia did not get the subjects permission to display their photographs and when in 2006 the man in the above work (Emo Nussenzweig), saw himself displayed in a gallery, he sued both the photographer and the gallery. This raises questions about the transgression of an individuals privacy, and whether the photos are art or their use when displayed or copies sold, constitutes commercialism. The case continues, however the American courts have ruled DiCorcia’s collection as art, not advertising or used for a commercial purpose. For me, this is a case worth following as my own work references his style and methodology.

  http://clancco.com/wp/2007/07/10/update-on-nussenzweig-v-dicorcia-case-july-07/  Web. 7 Nov 2010

 

 

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