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Thoughts on photography and what inspires it - books, poetry, film, art. And various other ramblings.

Updated: 2017-10-26T03:24:42.816-06:00


Found Books - Andre Kertesz "The Early Years"


Unpacking boxes of books after moving I am finding - or at least rediscovering - quite a few books I hadn't looked at for a long time (some had been pushed into to top shelves of the bookcase in the basement. Others hadn't actually been unpacked since the last time I moved...).One of these is an enchanting little jewel of a book - Andre Kertesz, "The Early Years".It is actually a fairly small book about 5" x 5" - roughly the size of the original Phaidon 55 series, although it is hardcover. Published by W.W. Norton in association with a 2005 exhibit at the Bruce Silverstein GalleryThe pictures in the book are all small contact sized prints for a box full of negatives that Kertesz had from his early days in Hungary when he was experimenting as a photographer. In fact most of the photographs in the book are smaller than they appear on screen here, yet with the crispness and depth of a contact print. A number of these early photographs are some of his most well know pictures. Others are less well known.The Early Years is a wonderful book to have on hand for just sitting and browsing through for a few minutes every now and then. The photographic equivalent of a zen moment, mediating with your morning coffee/tea."When Hungarian photographer André Kertész did not have access to an enlarger early in his career, he made contact prints instead. And he became quite adept with this size, creating miniature images with incredible depth and sophistication. A real feeling of youth and artistic exploration dominates these pictures, which span from 1912 to 1925. From the very joyous experiments with his brother, Jeno, in the countryside, to his idyllic romance with Elizabeth, from his portraits of WWI soldiers, to his later hospital stay as he convalesced from a wound, we witness Kertész explore different photographicinterests and subjects. In order to compose for such a small format, Kertész needed to ground his images in strong lines and geometry, forging the hallmarks of his later modernist vision. Thus, the Hungarian Contacts, as they are called, chronicle not only Kertész’s coming of age as a man, but also his development as an artist. Before emigrating to the U.S. in 1936,Kertész left the contact prints with an agent in Paris, who was later forced to flee the city under Nazi occupation. She buried the cache of tiny works in a makeshift bomb shelter on a farm in southern France. Kertész lost contact with her, and decades passed before the agent re-discovered Kertész because of his Bibliothéque Nationale exhibition in Paris in 1963. Thankfully, she led him to the site where he recovered the still-buried treasure. Though some of the Hungarian Contacts were part of the National Gallery of Art’s 2004 retrospective and though Kertész enlarged some of the images in his later years, a broad selection of them are presented together here as art objects in their own right and in the size that Kertész originallyintended for them. The book commemorates an important show of the work at Silverstein Photography in New York City and includes an engaging personal essay by Robert Gurbo, the curator of the estate. This new volume presents the Hungarian Contact Prints—many unpublished before now—in a wonderfully small format that enchants and refreshes.". Denise WolffI've always felt that Kertesz is one of the more important photographers of the Twentieth Century, especially (though not only) in the whole area of what might be called "Street" or "Candid" photography. Kertesz's photographs are in many ways a much needed antidote to the so called (and incorrectly named) decisive moment. More broadly, his place in the development of modern photography is frequently underrated. In most cases I'll take Kertesz over, say, Cartier-Bresson any day.[...]

The Lytro camera will let you focus your pictures after they've been taken (and see around the edges...)


It will also let you see around the edges of foreground objects... I'd read a bit about the Plenoptic/Light-field camera before but hadn't quite got my head around the physics. Lytro is a spin off from StanfordInteresting news via Charlie Sorel at Wired:"...Ng’s company Lytro is planning on launching the camera this year.Regular Gadget Lab readers will recognize the technology as a alight-field, or plenoptic camera. These camera put an array ofmicro-lenses over the sensor. This lenticular array sits on the focalplane of the camera (where the light is focused by the lens — also knownas the film plane), and the sensor sits slightly behind.Thus the camera not only records the color and intensity of thelight, but also the direction. Using some heavy processing, thisinformation can then be used to do the magic you see above. It alsoreplaces much of a camera’s precision mechanics with software.While this after-the-fact focus choice is the clear wow factor, thereare other neat tricks the camera can do with this information. First isthat the camera can shoot in much lower light. Second is that, as thesensor is recording direction information, you can peek “behind” theedges of the foreground objects...." (more).From Lytro:The Science Inside Light Field DefinedWhat is the light field?The light field is a core concept in imaging science,representing fundamentally more powerful data than in regularphotographs. The light field fully defines how a scene appears. It isthe amount of light traveling in every direction through every point inspace – it’s all the light rays in a scene. Conventional cameras cannotrecord the light field. Light Field CaptureHow does a light field camera capture the light rays?Recording light fields requires an innovative, entirely newkind of sensor called a light field sensor. The light field sensorcaptures the color, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light.This directional information is completely lost with traditional camerasensors, which simply add up all the light rays and record them as asingle amount of light. Light Field ProcessingHow do light field cameras make use of the additional information?By substituting powerful software for many of the internalparts of regular cameras, light field processing introduces newcapabilities that were never before possible. Sophisticated algorithmsuse the full light field to unleash new ways to make and view pictures. Relying on software rather than components can improveperformance, from increased speed of picture taking to the potential forcapturing better pictures in low light. It also creates newopportunities to innovate on camera lenses, controls and design. If this is technology that really does prove practical and scale-able then it has the potential to quite radically change photography. It's also a nice reminder that photograph isn't a picture of a thing, but a recording of light. "Now how much reality is there in that" as David Hockney once said of photography...[...]

Picture of the Day



Photograph - Rich Lam (via Bleacher Report)

From the post Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver last night. Although there are more than enough humorous retorts I'm tempted by (maybe in the comments...), I just like it as one of those classic daily news shots.

It captures the confused ambiguity of such a situation rather than just one more picture of a thug smashing a shop window.

Excellent catch by Vancouver photographer Rich Lam.

"The Waste Land" app


(App icon)There are hundreds and hundreds of not very good apps for the iPad. And thousands of really crappy ones. And then there are the few imaginative ones which are starting to appear which take advantage of what the iPad can (and, as importantly, cannot) do. All that's needed is a bit if creativity and a modicum of lateral thinking to start exploring the potential of the iPad.I have a couple of apps - mainly for my boys - from Stephen Wolfram and Theodore Grey and their colleagues at Touch Press - The Solar System and The Elements. They are just to very nice apps that are trying to make better use of what the iPad can do.Some magazines have also started coming up with apps that are actually quite nicely done and take advantage of what the iPad can do (one of the better ones I've come across happens to have been free for the first few issues - Intelligent Life from the Economist. Another, which also happens to be free is Dazed & Confused magazine).Which brings me to the Waste Land App. I had originally read that it was published by Faber & Faber, - Eliot's publisher. Until I was writing this I hadn't caught that it is actually produced in partnership with Touch Press who I mentioned above. I haven't got my hands on this yet but I really like the look of it and what they have done around one of the more important and influential poems of the Twentieth Century.From a couple of reviews:The LiteraryPlatform"The gallery is my favourite bit, giving us a clutch of relevant postcards – of Bob Dylan, Dante Alligheri, the first Mrs Eliot, a crowd of people crossing the river Thames,‘so many,I had not thought death had undone so many.’These images create real breathing space around the poem. They evoke, inform and leave the poem be.There’s a picture of the first edition of Prufrock in a plain brown cover, then all the pages of the typescript manuscript with the inky slashes of Pound’s fierce corrections and comments. The notes, presented in a Comment-press style, can be brought up when wanted, then brushed away if you want the text plain. Likewise it’s a doddle to switch between the different audio readings or switch them off entirely."and Salon"You can watch (Fiona) Shaw read for a while, then switch back to the text to check a reference or translation, then go on reading the lines to the accompaniment of Ted Hughes' very different vocal interpretation; the app keeps track of your place as you go. Eliot's friend Ezra Pound played a crucial role in shaping "The Waste Land"; and the inclusion of the original manuscript with Pound's handwritten edits offers a glimpse of that process. These various ways of approaching the text are enticements to the multiple readings that make a full appreciation of the poem possible.
Spending a day poring over "The Waste Land" app made me look at my old Norton critical editions with a new gleam in my eye. Instead of leafing through tissue-paper-thin pages of "Paradise Lost," squinting at the tiny footnotes, it would be so pleasant to scroll through Milton's epic (maybe with Gustave Dore's engravings?), tapping on the lines that cry out for elucidation while listening to a professional narrator vault the poet's enjambments far better than I ever could myself. How about "The Canterbury Tales," with an audio track in Middle English to juxtapose against a modern English translation? I would indeed pay for these, and the enthusiastic reception for "The Waste Land" app suggests that I am not alone."I already have two or three different recordings on my iTunes/iPad of Eliot, Hughes et al reading the Wasteland and various other Eliot poems. But I like the way this app appears to take those, along with the text itself and a multitude of other things about the poem and draw them all together."If The Wasteland app is as nice as it appears to be in the review I've seen then I have no problem paying a decent price for it. Some people automatically start to moan when and app costs more than $3.00 or $4.00, w[...]

Sohei Nishino's Diorama Maps


IstanbulI really like this work by Sohei Nishino - his Diorama Maps. I came across it some time ago but didn't get around to writing about.These are pictures I'd definitely like to see in person, but even on the internet they draw me in. Their depth and texture and detail are quite mesmerizing.Istanbul - detailI've long been a fan of Hockney's "joiners". I think that they said a lot about the limits of photography and also opened up interesting new potential. The problem with them was that they were such a brilliant Hockneyesque step that it seemed pretty hard to move much further beyond them in in a new direction. For a few years we were subject to a good few joiner type projects with most being somewhat poor imitation of the original idea (rather like that Gheary-lite museums popping around the globe after the Guggenheim Bilbao). When we were finally subject to a slew of joiner-like advertising it was pretty much over for the time being.One of the more important things I liked about Hockney's original joiners was how they broke out of the perspectivism that binds most photography and how they showed some new potential ways of stepping outside Renaissance perspective with the camera.LondonI think Sohei Nishino's pictures have taken this at least one good imaginative step further in that direction. In part because of their scale. Not necessarily the scale of the prints - though I think they certainly need to be a certain size to be able to interact with them (originals are around 50" or 60" wide), but the scale of what they depict - a whole city. And while Hockney tackled some large subjects such as the Grand Canyon he still did so from a somewhat limited, if multiple, range of viewpoints.London - detailSohei Nishino's pictures move to an almost infinite and ever changing multiplicity of viewpoints and perspectives in depicting the city. For me they combine the multiple viewpoints and perspectives of a classical Chinese scroll depiction such as one of the Kangxi Emperor's magnificent 17th Century Southern Inspection Tour scrolls - an inspiration for Hockney's joiner work as well as his panting - along with the imaginary vision of the city such as Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities.Detail Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Scroll Seven: Wuxi to Suzhou (University of Alberta: Mactaggart Collection)But then they also speak to our ways of seeing, remembering and imagining places today; from touristic views to modern technological innovation and the social networking of photographs with things like Flickr, Photosynth and Seadragon (as well as to the early career of Louis Daguerre, one of the fathers of photography, who invented the popular Diorama shows in Paris before going on to invent the photographic Daguerreotype process)KyotoAnd all this is aside from the technical brilliance and what I think must just be dogged, painstaking determination in actually photographing, producing and constructing these.From Sohei Nihino's website:"The narrative behind the Diorama Map series is the fluid nature of memory and the setting is always a city.
The creation of a Diorama Map takes the following method; Walking around the chosen city on foot; shooting from various location with film; pasting and arranging of the re-imagined city from my memory as layered icons of the city.The Diorama Map, which is almost a bird's eye view of the city, is not a precise google map, but presents the key elements of the city in a form closer to my own memory and observation. Therefore, every single element amongst the enormous mound of pieces reflects my own act of photographic creation itself."Kyoto - detailOf course the question now is where to take these next. A never ending series of city pictures would eventually become merely monotonous so I hope Sohei Nishino is letting his imagination run wild in considering new directions.But in the meantime I'll continue to enjoy and take inspiration from these pictures for what they are.ParisAll[...]

peripheral vision - the yellowknife project


the suburbs as a state of mind (a mild retrospective continued....)There no longer appears to be a clear division between the suburbs and either the urban or rural environment. There now seems to be a generic suburban condition that may be a potential quality for all inhabited spaces. This extended suburban condition does not easily show up on maps, it is in many ways more of a suburban state of mind than a topographic location.Yellowknife - a city perched on the Canadian Shield and surrounded by Boreal forest is like an isolated specimen of this condition - the idea of the suburbs. Wherever you are in Canada (or indeed, North America) there is a mundane, yet reassuring familiarity to the suburbs and the strip malls and the big box stores that results from the pressure of market forces and from blunt expediency. And while each place often displays subtle individual differences, the movement is away from difference towards similarity and the success of homogenization. What dominates is the generic.In photographing Yellowknife I find myself looking at things that are somewhat off centre, off to the side - a peripheral vision. Things that are often unnoticed and just below our level of perception. Things seen that are in plain sight yet so familiar or obvious they are usually ignored, unseen, and their existence barely registered - attention no longer paid to them.The landscape is forced to conform to the construction of standardised suburban sub-divisions and the exposed Canadian Shield, some of the oldest rock in the world, is blasted and flattened to accommodate familiar suburban housing rather than the housing being designed to conform to the landscape.This project conveys everyday North America and the infiltration of the city by suburban culture - the place seen on the way to the office or the supermarket - viewing these familiar environments from an off-centre perspective, revealing the ambiguities and artifice of everyday life. All images © 2005 Timothy Atherton[...]

Spring Time - A Mild Retrospective


Spring time is here and things seem to be slowly coming back to life (including me).

I've going through boxes of stuff in a form of forced spring cleaning recently. Plenty of things to throw out but also coming across many things that I'd forgotten about but were a joy to rediscover.

In that spirit I'm going to post some pictures on here over the next while that I hadn't really looked at for some time. I find I often put pictures together for an exhibition or for a web page or whatever - pictures from a project that I might have spent some good time working on - and get so caught up with that often frantic end presentation process that it finishes with a sort of "fire and forget" conclusion. A quick glance, a sigh of relief and then on to whatever is next.

So I've been taking some time to go back over some of my pictures and projects and will be posting some selections on here - A Mild Retrospective.

Today a few pictures from Immersive Landscapes - boreal forest/precambrian shield








All images © 2005 Timothy Atherton

"Mining the Photo Archive"


"...the archive is never closed, it opens out of the future." Jacques Derrida - Archive FeverI must say I find it mildly annoying when someone discovers something which is in fact old hat but then proceeds to trumpet it far and wide as the next best thing. Such seems to be the idea of "mining the photo archive". I've seen versions of this come up in a couple of places in the last year or so, but most recently in two posts on Conscientious. One entitled "The case for mining photography archives" and the other a review of the book "Photographic Memory - The Album in the Age of Photography" by Verna Posever Curtis of the Library of CongressNow the idea that Colberg suggests in the first post is that there are large collections of photo archives in various forms - some such as Flickr as a sort of informal contemporaneous photo-archive and others which are more formalized photo-archives from the massive - such as the Library of Congress (or indeed just about any other national archive) to small local archives and historical societies. His suggestion being that; "Having new eyes look at older archives of photographs of course could also lead to fantastic insights into a photographer’s work. This is not to say that the old edits are bad. But who knows what kinds of new edits someone smart, with a great eye, might come up with? Of course, the old edit is always informed by its times and circumstances - but maybe an old, classic edit could get radically transformed into something that suddenly looks fresh again?"(He goes on to add that another possibility would be to develop fluid ways of changing the original edit in photo-books which would likewise be a way of re-envisioning the original set of photographs).Colberg concludes by saying; "But still, I think there are interesting, largely unexplored opportunities here… and some agency, foundation, publisher and/or photographer might just pick them up."In reviewing Photographic Memory (an excellent book, beautifully put together btw) the idea of mining the archive is picked up again; "This new book could also be seen as a prime example of the mining of an archive that I discussed earlier on this site. The Library of Congress’ website offer access to their collection via digitized documents and images (which, btw, essentially provides a free additional way to look at the albums in the book), and one can only hope that there will be more projects such as Curtis’ "Which sounds like a very interesting and quite wonderful set of ideas. What an intriguing new direction to take photography. The problem being that of course nothing at all in this is in any way new.Archivists have been working for at least the last 15 to 20 years to find ways to make use of the new advantages provided by digitization and digital media in being able to ("data") mine the archive - both visual and non-visual. There are numerous projects online (including, but not only, on Flickr) where repositories have made large chunks of their collections available and have encouraged their broader access and use in a wide variety of ways, social tagging, commenting, various forms of crowdsourcing, new arrangements (or "edits" as Colberg calls them) and more, far beyond what the originators of the projects potentially imagined. In fact that latter idea is very much at the core of many of these projects - to put these photographic archives out there, make them available, encourage people to access and use them and then see what people do with them.Indeed this has been one of the more exciting aspects of how such projects have developed. Photographers, artists and others - down to schoolchildren doing school projects - have been able to mine these archives for their own many and varied projects - creatively remaking the archive in ways that were previously neither imagined nor really possible. And as these projects grow and devel[...]

Venus of the Hydrants - Brilliant!



Love it - from Miscellanea/Onsite Review:

"Never let it be said that city utilities workers don't have a finely honed sense of humour
Mme Vionnet

the erotic."

Cairo Geeks Survive Tahrir Square Assault



From Wired:

CAIRO — For three days, the geeks and online activists and DIY filmmakers protested peacefully here in Tahrir Square. For three nights, they slept in tents with their laptops by their sides and kept their mobile phones charged by hacking into one of Tahrir’s street lights. On the fourth day, Wednesday, the lynch mob came and encircled them.

Thousands of people supporting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak laid siege to the central plaza, pressing themselves into the four streets that lead into Tahrir. They attacked the unarmed crowds with clubs, knives, stones and Molotov cocktails. As I write this, reports put the death toll at three with around 1,500 injured.

“This was a real battle, a real Egyptian street fight, but we kept them back with stones and barricades and fire,” computer security specialist Ahmad Gharbeia, 34, tells me over the phone. “They never reached our camp.”

“I need to preserve my phone battery,” he adds, “so let’s talk later.”

For the past six years, Gharbeia has been training Arab world activists, journalists and human rights lawyers to hide their internet communications from prying eyes. “We use encryption techniques and PGP for e-mail,” he says. “We use proxies such as Tor that circumvent blocking. I was the Arabic editor of a tools set called Security in a Box. It’s a tool kit of open and free software that helps advocates and human rights activists achieve security, privacy and anonymity.” ...

“This is private property - we're here to sell art"


Incident In Art LandFrom the New Yorker:"Quietly moving through the Anselm Kiefer show at the Gagosian gallery on its final afternoon were eight people wearing black T-shirts that bore the show's portentous title—“Next Year in Jerusalem”—in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. They didn't speak unless spoken to; they took pictures of themselves standing before some equally portentous works of Holocaust-evoking art. (Everyone was taking pictures; the catalogue cost a hundred dollars.)Only if approached did one of the group explain that they were part of an organization called U.S. Boat to Gaza, which plans to sponsor a ship in the next flotilla to sail against the Israeli blockade. Half of the group had left, and they were reduced to four by the time that gallery representatives asked them to leave, unimpressed by their claims to be extending the discussion that Kiefer had begun. Morality. Guilt. Jewish tragedy, past and present. (“This is private property,” a gallerista in towering heels shot back. “We're here to sell art.”)A call to the police was threatened. In response, the activists put on their jackets—covering the offending Passover phrase, even while complaining that it had not, to their knowledge, been copyrighted—and asked if they might stay. Without reply, the representatives walked away...Ingrid Homberg had gone to Gagosian that day to lift her spirits. A delicate blonde woman in her late fifties, she grew up in Germany—she is roughly of Kiefer's generation—but never felt that she belonged there; she moved to New York with her young daughter in 1980, and the city has proved a much happier fit. In recent years, however, she has been ill (fibromyalgia, arthritis) and suffers frequent pain. Still, she was immediately buoyed by Kiefer's magisterial landscapes, in which massive wings overhead suggest the judgment of God. The gallery was filled with such disturbing images. She had earlier noticed the people in the T-shirts, and now she approached them, hoping to discuss the feelings that the artist's work provoked.But there was no discussion. Two police officers arrived just a moment after Homberg did, and ordered the group out. Including Homberg. She said that she had no reason to leave. She asked one of the officers—“Young man,” she addressed him, and he did look very young—why they did not allow the group to speak. And that was it. His partner grabbed her by the arm and began to pull her out..."More hereConsidering the nature of Anselm Kiefer's work and the themes of history, destruction, rembering and forgetting, societal guilt, judgement, atonement and more that run through it like strata, I find this story not only particularly ironic but also damningly telling.I think that one phrase says it all; “This is private property... we're here to sell art"Anselm Kiefer, Flying Fortress (2010), foreground, with Cetus (2010), in "Next Year in Jerusalem" at Gagosian Gallery[...]

TRACES - alleyways & spandrels: An Exhibition


I have an exhibition of some work from my project TRACES - alleyways & spandrels up at the McMullen Art Gallery in Edmonton until January 28th.TRACES alleyways & spandrelsEdmonton's 1100 km of urban and suburban alleyways are like the backbone of the city's identity. Unnoticed and unregarded routes and pathways through the city, much of the time un-peopled yet full of the evidence of people. Back yards often seem less regarded than front gardens, more off-guard and by the time the alley is reached, it is dustbins and recycling boxes, left over bricks and spare siding - every now and then punctuated by a garden of beauty and pride, unrestrained nature or some peculiar product of whimsy. The alleyways are the pathways through the city's identity. Still public, yet intimate. Domain of dog walkers, jogging soccer moms, garbage collectors, handymen repairing fences, fierce old ladies on solitary walks, afternoon gardeners and schoolboys dreaming and imagining adventures. Yet all encountered only infrequently - more often it is the traces, the evidence of these lives that is encountered. "The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand,written in the corners of the street, the gratings of the windows,the bannisters of the steps, the antennae of the lightning-rods, the poles of the flags.Every segment marked in turn with scratches, indentations, scrolls" Italo Calvino, Cities & MemoryThe McMullen Art Gallery is located at the University of Alberta Hospital (TRACES is in the After-Hours Gallery which is the exhibition space which runs along the wall of the main corridor)After-Hours Gallery (McMullen Art Gallery),University of Alberta Hospital (next to the east entrance), 8440 – 112 Street, Edmonton, AB[...]

Winter 2010 - Anselm Kiefer


The last (?) of Anselm Kiefer's four seasons from the New York Times:


Anselm Kiefer, "Gescheiterte Hoffnung (C.D. Friedrich)" 2010 (Text on the work is translated as follows: "Wreck of Hope."), Charcoal on photographic paper. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York.

Happy Xmas (Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas etc etc...)



Bethlehem 1884

Gerry Badger, John Gossage and The Pond (update)


A quick update to the recent post on the re-publication of "The Pond" by John Gossage.The book now appears to have reached the bookstore shelves and be widely available.The other thing is that I found that Aperture has a three-part podcast (Part1, Part 2, Part 3) of a discussion between John Gossage and Gerry Badger (he of The Photobook: A History among other things).It's part interview with Gossage, part interview with Badger about his new book The Pleasures of Good Photographs, and part general shooting the breeze session about photography in general.(I'm currently reading The Pleasures of Good Photographs and plan to post about it in a little while).[...]

Three Ghetto Photographers


An interesting post by Colin Pantall that references three different photographers in the Lodz Ghetto - Walter Genewein, Mendel Grossman and Henryk Ross.(Walter Genewein)Genewein was a German accountant working for the Nazis and uniquely, in what remains, photographed in colour. Grossman and Ross were Jewish inhabitants of the GhettoThere is a Polish documentary about Genewein which is quite revealing and well worth watching (part1 below).Ross's photography documented the life and reality of the ghetto and was part official in his work as a photographer for the Jewish department of statistics and part unofficial - he hid a whole day in a shed at the railway sidings to record Jews from the ghetto being loaded onto trains for deportation to the camps. Ross recovered his photographs after the war from where he had buried them in the Ghetto and later testified with his photographs at the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem.(Henryk Ross)Grossman secretly photographed in the Ghetto, continuing even when he was deported to the Konigs Wusterhausen camp but he did not survive the final forced death march as the Russians approached the camp.(Mendel Grossman)Photographs from all three men show life and death in the Lodz Ghetto from three different perspectives including that of the Nazis. (Ross's book Lodz Ghetto Album is widely available in libraries is especially compelling along with My Secret Camera: Life in the Lodz Ghetto about Grossman) (Henryk Ross)I am particularly intrigued by what and how Genewein's photographs show and how we may or may not regard them because of who he was - an accountant and one of the bland but essential cogs in the successful running of the ghetto as a business or industry. The pictures, while informative about the inhabitants of the ghetto, speak much more to the nature of Genewien and the Germans running the whole "project" of the Volkish expansion eastwards:"Genewein was a skilled amateur, and his Movex 12 was confiscated from its Jewish owner. The scarce colour stock came from Agfa. Thus equipped, the accountant went into factories where hats or Wehrmacht uniforms were being made, and he stood beside the lines of Jewish children as they waited to be fed.In much the same way as August Sander, the accountant was fascinated by the principles of visual taxonomy and social hierarchy. His subjects stand awkwardly at their workbenches, in groups or singly, glaring out of hollow eye-sockets. These anonymous Jewish workers are exhausted and helpless, and it is intolerable even to think of them being made to pose for the camera.Genewein's self-portraits, taken in an office beside an adding machine, have the same stilted, literal quality. He is playing the role to which he believed his own status as artist entitles him. Like Hitler - who displayed a consuming interest in the precise way in which he was depicted photographically, not just at every rally, but in private, too - Genewein thinks that he represents the forces of civilisation.And like Leni Riefenstahl's work, with the same absence of hypocrisy or misgivings, these photographs express the true nature of power. The Germans are engaged in the grand project of reclaiming Jews from their criminal, dissolute ways. The photographs are testimony to the Nazi belief in the ennobling value of labour.Where Germans are present, as the numerous trainloads of Jews arrive, they stand slightly apart. They are the masters now, and it isn't relevant that what lies in store for their charges is not benign.There are Jewish middlemen to make the contact with the inferior race less onerous. When Himmler visits the ghetto, Genewein is at hand to record the tribute paid to[...]

Consumed by Fire



"The river's tent is broken: the last fingers of leaf
Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind
Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed."

From The Fire Sermon - The Waste Land
by T.S. Eliot

(© 2006 timothy atherton)

Anselm Kiefer's Opinions - The Seasons


Anselm Kiefer is one of my favourite contemporary artists. Jim Johnson (who runs one of my favourite blogs) posted these works by Kiefer that were published in the Opinion pages of the NY Times (what a great idea btw - kudos to the Times).

It's been a while since I felt the thrill of excitement upon seeing some pictures, but I did when I saw these.


Before Spring

"Snow melt in the Odenwald. Goodbye, winter, parting hurts but your departure makes my heart cheer. Gladly I forget thee, may you always be far away. Goodbye, winter, parting hurts."
(March 2010)



“Summer in Barjac — the renowned orders of the night.”

(June 2010)



“Ygdrasil, Autumn in Auvergne.”
(September 2010)

(All works © Anselm Kiefer, courtesy of the Gagosian Gallery)

ELEPHANT - The Art and Visual Clutter Magazine



Or at least that's what I thought it said when my eyes scanned over it's cover in the magazines at Chapters.

But then again maybe we need a visual clutter magazine?

Panasonic Lumix GF1 - any good or a waste of money?



Is this camera any good? (I don't have the energy to keep up with which new digital camera is out this week)

Are there any better alternatives - of a similar size and flexibility?

Uses will be: aside from family snapshots, a certain amount of urban/suburban photography. It may replace - but not supplant - a certain amount of Rolleiflex photography. An available aperture of at least 2.0 would be helpful. Among other things...

All comments welcome.

UPDATE: Oh bugger. I hadn't seen the Sigma DP2/DP2s (I remember when the Foveon sensor was vaporware...). Anyone out there using this little beastie?

(jeesh - how many typos can I get in one short post)

John Gossage - The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler / Map of Babylon


(reposted due to html getting corrupted)John Gossage's new book(s) The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler / Map of Babylon is notable for at least a couple of firsts. It's his first book produced and published in cooperation with Gerhard Steidl and it's also his first full body of work in colour.First things first - publishing with Steidl. Over the last few years John Gossage has published a number of books through his own imprint Loostrife Editions. John is a real believer in the importance of the photo book, as well as a first rate book designer and Loostrife has produced some fantastic books. But I would also imagine that it's a heck of a job (as well as a money black hole?) running a small press - even if it gives a certain level of freedom and control as far as your own books go. So I would imagine that if a good working, creative relationship can be developed with someone like Gerhard Steidl then that is probably a good place to be.But on to the book(s).I keep saying book(s) because The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler/Map of Babylon is actually two books in one. If you start with The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler it finishes two thirds of the way through the book. At that point the pictures are upside down. So just flip the book over and start at the back (now the front) and you are in Map of Babylon. A nice added touch being that you can reverse the dust-cover and you get the cover for Map of Babylon if you prefer to view the book that way round. It all runs together nicely and the whole book works beautifully. There is plenty of the feel of John's precise and careful design, along with (and I've always tended tp liked the the design of most Steidl books) a bit of the Steidl/Göttingen touch as well. Design-wise this is a very nice, beautifully printed, book.Photography-wise this is a bit more enigmatic than many of Gossage's books, although not quite as enigmatic as a select few (e.g Dance Card or Hey Fuckface!). So it takes a bit of context and some careful, extended, reading of the pictures as a whole to get a real sense of it. It takes time for the pictures to sink in - while at the same time still being able to get lost in any particular single photograph.The context the publisher provides us with is this:"John Gossage, the renowned American photographer and photography book-maker, presents two companion volumes and his first ever books in color. Engaged in a dance, neither book comes first, there is no hierarchy or sequence to the pair of volumes.Gossage is one of the most literary of photographic book authors and in The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler, the narrative, whilst not autobiographical, is about a neighborhood in which he lives; one that is singular in the United States. At the same time provincial and international, it is a neighborhood populated by ambassadorial residences, embassies, and the lavish private homes of those who are in positions of power and influence in Washington. A project he began with the arrival of a new neighbor, the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and made over a full year’s cycle of seasons, these are images from the drift of privilege. The streets, cars, homes and yards of this neighborhood are photographed on perfect spring or autumn days, with sparklingly clear blue skies, and flowers or foliage accenting the order. These are photographs about how one might wish the world to be, how beauty might be seen as desire. In the same year Gossage made the Map of Babylon, photographing digitally from Washington, to Germany, to China and places in-between. This look away, t[...]

Summer (Autumn...) Book Sale



Regarding my Summer Book Sale, it turned out to be bit time consuming/convoluted trying to sell the books through the blog so I've started loading them up on Ebay.

All have comparatively low starting bids - so you might get a bargain... Anyway you can find them by linking through here.

Up now:
Luigi Ghirri - Paesaggio italiano/Italian landscape

Lee Friedlander - Factory Valleys

Sally Eauclaire - The New Color Photography and New Color/New Work

Stephen Shore - Fotografien 1973 bis 1993

Andrea Modica - Treadwell

Josef Sudek - Smutná krajina/Sad Landscape

A few more to come over the next few days.

I Like - Flash Camera


Flash Camera t-shirt. Unfortunately they only go on sale for 24 hours... damn


"The Pond" by John Gossage


I'm pleased to see that Aperture is re-publishing John Gossage's seminal 1985 book The Pond. (I've written about John Gossage several times before: The Romance Industry; Putting Back The Wall; Snake Eyes)."Considered a groundbreaking book when first published in 1985, John Gossage's The Pond remains one of the most important photobooks of the medium. As Gerry Badger, coauthor of The Photobook: A History, Volumes I and II, asserts, "Adams, Shore, Baltz--all the New Topographics photographers made great books, but none are better than The Pond." Consisting of photographs taken around and away from a pond situated in an unkempt wooded area at the edge of a city, the volume presents a considered foil to Henry Thoreau's stay at Walden. The photographs in The Pond do not aspire to the "beauty" of classical landscapes in the tradition of Ansel Adams. Instead, they reveal a subtle vision of reality on the border between man and nature. Gossage depicts nature in full splendor, yet at odds with both itself and man, but his tone is ambiguous and evocative rather than didactic. Robert Adams described the work as "believable because it includes evidence of man's darkness of spirit, memorable because of the intense fondness [Gossage] shows for the remains of the natural world." Aperture now reissues this exquisitely produced and highly collectible classic monograph. With the addition of three images and two essays, this second edition offers new audiences the opportunity to celebrate this notable work by a master photographer and bookmaker."To my mind The Pond is one of the more important photography books of the last fifty years and stands (preceded by Walker Evans' American Photographs) with William Eggleston's Guide, Stephen Shore's Uncommon Places and Paul Graham's A1: The Great North Road among a few others.I have a rare copy of the original which is one of my more valued photography books, but I'll look forward to seeing the new edition.Now all we need is for someone to republish Michael Schmidt's Waffenruhe... any takers?More to come on John Gossage's new book(s) The Thirty-Two Inch Ruler / Map of Babylon soon.(Update) P.S. The first exhibition of the photographs from The Pond has just opened at the Smithsonion American Art Museum and is on until January. Interesting little comment here: "EXPRESS: What does the pond represent? GOSSAGE:The pond is a literary monologue, a narrative landscape book, character development — all of it. ... It's set in Queenstown, but a few of the shots were actually taken in Berlin. I won't tell which ones. I wanted to speak metaphorically about nature and civilization, which I realized halfway through my project. It's a work of documentary fiction. The sites are universally trivial. There are many ponds, and that one may not even be there anymore." (my emphasis)(All photographs: John Gossage - The Pond)[...]

Marshall Mcluhan by Douglas Coupland - two thumbs down


Marshall Mcluhan from the Penguin "Extraordinary Canadians" series, by Douglas Coupland


What a perfectly annoying, horrible little book.

It reeks of middle-aged hipsterism like a failed, corduroy clad, English Professor reeks of Old Spice.

Among other things the 'internet tricks' scattered throughout the book already look as dated as one of Mcluhan's glen plaid jackets.

Two thumbs down for this one.