13 October 2010

A very powerful image...

Cheshire, Ohio, 2009

While looking for photographs about contemporary issues, I came across this image by American photographer Daniel Shea.

Personally, I think he is a very good photographer, in terms of content, context and technique.  He has established a unique medium-format-ish, de-saturated colour technique for his images, and it usually works really well with the subject matter that he chooses to photograph.

I also found another image by Shea that I immediately liked.  It's composition, colour and unusual subject matter just really interested me.  To me, it also looks fake, like its a very tiny chair sitting on hand-made rocks or something... similar to the work of Slinkachu...

Larry Gibson’s Chair, 2007

Artist's website: http://dsheaphoto.net/

12 October 2010

Contemporary Photographer: JR

"JR is a young French photographer who has become a hero to many people who encounter his work. He doesn’t use his real name, because most of the work he does is illegal.  
JR makes provocative black-and-white photos, and enlarges them into very large billboard size prints. Then, with a friend or two, under cover of the night, he illegally pastes these photos onto large walls in very public urban spaces.
His illegal work has been celebrated by several outlets of mainstream media, and he has been granted official, authorized exhibitions of his photographs in prominent places in Paris and Amsterdam in recent years."

(Extract from Lens Culture website)

'28 millimetres' Project
"Armed with a 28 mm lens, JR shot full frame portraits of young people from this neighbourhood (in France) and the nearby district of The Forestière. This no frills, straightforward technique allowed them (JR and friend, Ladj Ly) to get very close to this generation. 
Interviewing them, without restrictions, on the recent events of November 2005.  The first portraits were illegally pasted on the east walls of Paris, a district that was once run-down, but has now become a residency for the bourgeois bohemian, who are shielded from the flames.  
With a certain 'in your face' rudeness, they provoke passers-by and question the social and media representation of a generation that people only want to see outside the doors of Paris or on the news."  
(Extract from '28 millimetres' website)


'Face2Face' Project

"When we (JR and friend) met in 2005, we decided to go together in the Middle-East to figure out why Palestinians and Israelis couldn't find a way to get along together.  We then traveled across the Israeli and Palestinian cities without speaking much. Just looking to this world with amazement.  This holy place for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  This tiny area where you can see mountains, sea, deserts and lakes, love and hate, hope and despair embedded together.  After a week, we had a conclusion with the same words: these people look the same; they speak almost the same language, like twin brothers raised in different families.  ... It's obvious, but they don't see that.  We must put them face to face. ...
The Face2Face project is to make portraits of Palestinians and Israelis doing the same job and to post them face to face, in huge formats, in unavoidable places, on the Israeli and the Palestinian sides.  ... We hope that this project will contribute to a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians.  
Today, "Face to face" is necessary.  
Within a few years, we will come back for "Hand in hand"."
(Extract from 'Face2Face' website)

 Original images...
...and after being put on public exhibition.

I find JR's work inspiring and original.  He has found a way to get his message across to the public without having to go through the restricting channels of the media and press.  I do find it quite amazing that he is able to put up these billboard sized images without raising any serious amount of suspicion.

Personally, I think it takes a lot of guts to put your work out there where it will make a major statement and is also open to all sorts of criticism from a large broad audience.  In one way, as a photographer, you are making a statement which, usually, means a lot to you so you will go to extraordinary lengths to get your message out there.  Yet, in doing so, you are also opening yourself up to a wide range of criticism.  Your work becomes open to the public which is full of all sorts of different generations, cultural and social backgrounds and could generate a variety of responses.  But, I guess, it is just the sort of risk that you would weigh when wanting to make these sort of decisions...

Artist's website: http://jr-art.net/
First image and 'Face2Face' project images from:
'28 millimetres' project images and website: http://www.28millimetres.com/index_en.html
'Face2Face' project website: http://www.face2faceproject.com/
JR on Lens Culture website: http://www.lensculture.com/jr.html

Australia's Contemporary Issues

While I have been researching for my major project, I came across a very valid list about Australia's contemporary issues.  The list includes:
    • Selling Australia - how does the world see Australia?
    • National Identity - how do Australians see Australia? What does it mean to be Australian?
    • Indigenous Australia - do they hold any rights in society?
    • Environmental Issues - climate change, pollution, sustainable future...
    • Sydney or the Bush - we are an urbanized nation but still have a want for the 'bush'... 
    • Pop Culture in Australia - our struggle to develop and maintain a national identity throughout the world...
These are just a few contemporary issues that I could focus on for my assignment.  Here are a few more that I thought of...
    • Pollution (e.g. light, emissions)
    • The development of the urban environment
    • Body Image
    • The relationship between humans and technology
    • Homelessness
    • Teenager Issues (e.g. pregnancy, drugs, alcohol)

So.. this leaves me with something to think about... 

11 October 2010

Appropriation: Julia Curtin

"RESETTLEMENT focuses on the vernacular architecture, the transient, makeshift structures inhabited by the migratory victims of the 1930's Great Depression. By sampling images from the Farm Security Administration catalogue, a vast collection of works by photographers (e.g. Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange) that became central to defining aspects of the documentary and images that are embedded in the history of photography, I have deconstructed and subsequently reconstructed these buildings to form a three dimensional model of the settlement depicted in the original image. Through this process I attempt to open up a contemporary space for the interpretation of this work."
(Extract from Artist's website)

The homes in 'Resettlement' are fragile and temporary, existing to be photographed, a medium that enables them a legacy of their own. Curtin, through her own labored means of building a structure that exists longer due to documentation than because of its physical and structural integrity, pays homage to these homes that once were as well as the WPA photographers who first captured them.

 Tulare County, California. Cheap auto camp housing for citrus workers, 1930s by Dorothea Lange

House without windows, home of sharecropper cut-over farmers of Mississippi bottoms, Missouri. No 1. by Julia Curtin

I think that Julia Curtin work is very conceptual and well executed. However, without the use of the old photographs as inspiration, this concept of recreating old houses, and the final product that has come of these ideas, would be completely lost.  Without the background knowledge given to the viewer, I would not call these images photographs.  This is probably because it pushes the boundaries of what we would usually refer to as photography as, although it is a photo, the subject of the image is not a very interesting subject.

However, in saying all this, as I mentioned before, I do like these images for their simplicity, idea and the overall concept of the appropriation used here.  

10 October 2010

Food for thought...

While researching my posts on appropriation, I came across this quote by filmmaker, Jim Jarmusch.  Personally, I think that there is a degree of truth to his thoughts...  

I think that this quote raises a few questions for further thought.  One such question, and probably a very important question considering how many artists today feel like any new ideas they have have already been 'done' before, is the question of; where does our inspiration come from?

Food for thought...