Friday, June 04, 2010

Jessica Labatte

An excerpt from her interview with Humble Arts on her Solo show:

"JF: Without reducing you to a specific “school” of photography, you seem to be in company with a generation of young photographers interested in the physical process of photography, yet your work also deals with larger issues/metaphors related to illusion, performance and perception. Do you see your work being in dialog with that of say Jessica Eaton, Sam Falls, or Lucas Blalock? How do you see it standing apart? Do you see a dialog between early photographers like Man Ray as well? What do you think spawned this rebirth of process driven work?

JL: Photography is evolving as a medium, and things that were once uniquely photographic are now being questioned. I believe that the prevalence of process-oriented photography is a response to the saturation and ease of digital technologies. I don’t think that photographers are necessarily reacting against the digital technologies; more that we are inspired by the creative potentials new technology is opening up. There is a feeling of freedom to appropriate techniques from other mediums, as well as looking to the past for more tactile approaches to photography. The popularity of photograms and collage are good examples of this. I also think elaborate and complicated photographic processes are a way for artists to slow things down. Everything moves with such speed in our lives, creating works that require the investment of hours of labor seem to be a way to counteract this.

Even though, I am newly acquainted with the photographers you mentioned, there are others artists engaged in this kind of work, who were more on my radar. I am thinking of people like Sara VanDerBeek, Shane Huffman, and Waled Beshty. The fact that there are so many people out there making work in this way shows that there is something in this cultural moment that makes this approach relevant and important."

Some images:

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Writing on Bernard Plossu

©Bernard Plossu

This image of Plossu’s photo held in his hand may as well be anyone’s photo in anyone’s hand because the image doesn’t address the subject of the photo or the identity of the hand holding the photo, but rather the materiality of the photo itself and the way in which it represents an object out in the world.

This photo is a representation of the object and also the signifier (the original photo). For the purposes of this writing, ”reality” will mean a thing or event that is out in the world, something we perceive that is outside of our bodies. In order to understand exactly how much photography has an impact on our perceived notions of reality, we need to first understand the process in which reality is re-presented.

By process, I do not mean a study of the technical specifications of the camera. The understanding of how a camera or a lighting setup functions is assumed to be already known. What I mean by process is the relationship these functions have to the reality that they are in contact with; how a shallow depth of field may blur many aspects of an event being photographed, how a specific type of black-and-white film may place a landscape into a different time period, etc. All of these processes create perceived notions of reality that came to fruition in the mind’s eye of the photographer. The photographer “sees” how the image will be from their knowledge of the processes they employ. It is a seemingly standard way of photographic creation that, all to often, is taken for granted or ignored completely when one looks at a photograph. It is a two-step approach; one through seeing the object (reality) in with the eye and the other through envisioning the process applied. Much of the technical aspect of the process is usually invisible to the viewer; only a trained eye can decipher some of the techniques employed. This invisibility of process makes us want to believe that what we see in the photograph is a true representation of reality. But, the very transformation of the thing out in the world to a two-dimensional piece of paper already takes the “real” and contorts it into a thing that is represented by the very limitations that the photographic process entails. The existence of the thing photographed is not what is depicted, what is depicted is a play of processes around that thing; light, exposure, white balance, film type, etc. This creates the image and thus creates that particular representation of an object.

Barthes says that photography is unique from painting because it is proof or evidence of an object that existed at the time the photograph was made. An object in a painting can be something that has never existed, that the artist has created in their mind. This makes it difficult for the viewer to believe that any painting represents reality. However, while photography is a mechanical process that can be interpreted as objective, as Barthes clearly emphasizes, it is still a process of representation that is employed by an operator, it does not necessarily represent what is real.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Spencer Finch and Jan Dibbets

There are two artists I am looking at right now that both excite me and are influencing the direction of my work: Jan Dibbets and Spencer Finch. Jan Dibbets currently has a show up at Gladstone Gallery titled "New Horizons". After going through a two year stint of focusing on photographing horizon lines, I immediately related to this exhibit on a personal level. The show is comprised of two photos matched up in various ways by the horizon and cropped into various geometric shapes that create a formalistic harmony throughout the series.

Taken from the press release:

"For this new body of work entitled “New Horizons,” Dibbets returns to the optical structure that has become his hallmark. As Erik Verhagen says in his recent study of Dibbets’ oeuvre, “The horizon is not a subject like other subjects, for it exists only through and in relation to our sense of sight.” It is objective and subjective, circular and rectilinear, static and mobile. In these photographs, which conjoin different photographs of a landscape and seascape along the line of the horizon, Dibbets channels it as structuring principle, not only determining space and point of view, but also—in a very painterly way—the composition itself. By subordinating the mobility of the camera to the standardization of a straight line, these panoramas create a subtle tension between the seamlessness of the horizon line and the disjunction of land and sea, only further accentuated by the resulting asymmetrical compositions."

Sea-Land C/B1, 2007 Two unique color photographs mounted on mat board with graphite; 26 1/4 x 61 1/8 inches (66.7 x 155.3 cm) framed

Land-Sea AB3, 2007 Two unique color photographs mounted on mat board with graphite; 40 7/8 x 56 inches (103.8 x 142.2 cm) framed

Here are some images of projects by Spencer Finch and some info about his practice from his website:

Dusk (Hudson River Valley 10/30/2005)

"Finch carefully records the invisible world, while simultaneously striving to understand what might lie beyond it. Whether he is relying on his own powers of observation or using a colorimeter, a device that reads the average color and temperature of light, the artist employs a scientific method to achieve poetic ends. . . . Contrary to what one might expect, Finch's efforts toward accuracy- the precise measurements he takes under different conditions and at different times of day- resist, in the end, a definitive result or single empirical truth about his subject. Instead, his dogged method reinforces the fleeting, temporal nature of the observed world, illustrating his own version of a theory of relativity."

The Shield of Achilles (Night Sky over Troy) 2009

"This installation is an illuminated star map of the night sky as it appeared during the siege of Troy. This star map, comprised of 384 cans hanging from the ceiling, each illuminated by a single light bulb and punctured with a small hole representing a single star, is based on the Almagest, Ptolemy\'s original catalog of the 48 constellations named by the ancient Greeks. The magnitude and wavelength of each star is accurately depicted by the size of the hole and the color of the light. The hanging height of each star is determined by its distance (in light years) from Earth."

Thank You, Fog 2009

"60 Photographs, 4 3/4” x 4 3/4” (each), Digital Inkjet Prints. This photographic series was shot from a static camera at one minute intervals as a fog moved over the densely wooded landscape in Sonoma County."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


©Corinne Schulze

The most difficult part of making this photo was climbing the stairs at the Bedford L stop.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


This semester has flown by and I haven't had much time to do anything except work, work, work. Sadly, my blog fell by the wayside. So, tonight, as I looked toward my computer from the middle of a pile of books, pencil firmly gripped between teeth, I decided to take a small break in order to report on the mass hysteria that has transposed in my life.

This semester, above all, has taught me that there is indeed more to life than photography. How is that? I am in a photography program and steeped up to my knees in every kind of image imaginable, but I feel further away from the medium than I did coming into the program. I think this has to do with two very strong factors from my life; 1. I was an actual working photographer before I came into this program and 2. I was only working in images I made "through the lens". Both of these factors have changed in my life. I am no longer a working photographer and I am not making images traditionally "through the lens". I feel like the artist I was when I left my undergrad program. This may seem like a step backwards, however, I have never felt more in touch with my original goals as an artist. This excites me and scares me. I am excited to be finally fulfilling a desire I have had for many years to further my education in the arts and I am scared because I think this might make me less employable than ever. Employ-ability aside, I am glad to have stepped out of the proverbial box I was in while living in San Francisco.

Things to do:

Write paper on photography's relationship to painting

Create a stereographic image for digital design class

Put together a presentation on the database

Attempt to wrap up my critique work for this semester (I will be posting some images during break)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Text and Images

I don't know what it is about images placed next to text that creates polarization among people, but that's the experience I had in my second critique last night. Is it a good thing? I don't know. My experience with images next to text has been in a completely editorial way, where the text is supposed to guide the viewer through the images. Tell the viewer how to think about them. The pieces I showed in critique were meant to do the opposite of that. The text was meant to reveal and hide information about the island. I wanted to create a tension that makes whoever views them think about a possible meaning in it all. Perhaps I will begin to reorganize and re-edit the body of work in order to convey this more effectively. But for now, here are a couple images to meditate on.