Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It seems silly for me to include such a long quotation on my own blog -- but I found this inspiring and very interesting. Copied from Joerg Colberg's blog :: conscientiousness

"I keep coming back to the question what it actually is that I'm looking for in photography (and art), in part because people ask me - and usually, as the other day in a conversation with Anne-Celine Jaeger, I don't have a good (which here means snappy and simple) answer. Well, until I figured it out: What I really love is transformative photography (in part I owe this insight to Chris Anderson, with whom I had an email discussion). Transformative photography is photography that changes you as a person, that asks questions (instead of answering them). You're not the same person any longer after you've looked at it - and given the nature of this experience, it usually cannot be depleted (even though it might become weaker with time).

So this is the simple, short answer to the question what I'm looking for in photography. Of course, this doesn't mean that I only look for such photography - I like the occasional visual tickle just like everybody else.

There is an interesting consequence, which in part explains some of the things I said on this blog. For example, when I'm talking about how I prefer the message over the medium (and not the other way around), that's why. There is no transformative power in the medium itself (even though the visual impression created by some photographic processes - think daguerreotypes - can be stunning). Or when I complained about a lot of photojournalism I was complaining about photography that was confirming what everybody expects to see anyway (compare this similar criticism).

What might be most important about all of this is, I think, that looking for transformative work leaves me with an openness: I'm not looking to have what I like confirmed, but rather to discover something new (and that "discovering something new" must not be confused with the search for something new out of boredom or out of a desire to consume).

The experience of coming across a new body of transformative photography is exhilarating and indescribable."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cannot remember the photographer. Please let me know if this is yours.

Marco Vernaschi

Photojournalist Marco Vernaschi documents how Western consumer-driven drug trafficking has affected and ruined the once thriving Guinea-Bissau, a small country in Western African. Below is an excerpt from Vernaschi's interview with Lens Culture about the photos from his piece "West Africa's new Achiles' Heel" ... please check out his website for a better view of the photographs and more of his brave work.

Our concept of the world of drug trafficking is often based on cultural influences like movies... it's not something that most of us normally experience in day to day life. When I set out to research and document this story, I wanted my pictures to be both unexpected and real, straight and metaphoric. This photo essay is built up on fragments of nightmares where blood, murder, sex and drug addiction violently reveal real human misery. I think that the explicit and cinematic approach used for most of these images helps to open the back door of our mind — our imagination — where our fears meet the truth...."

"I also believe that if you want to tell about the madness and tragedy that surround the drug world you must in some way get your hands dirty: there is no way to dig into the mud and stay clean. So it was clear since the beginning that I needed to establish a strong connection with my characters. Developing this story meant that I had to live inside a real nightmare. The fear and tension stay with me, but I believe this is an important story to share with the world."

"Howl" Allen Ginsberg

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eileen Myles

I am a serial reader. I'm always reading like five books at a time -- and, unfortunately, I eventually only finish two or three of them. Anyway, right now I'm working on this book by Eileen Myles called "The Importance of Being Iceland: Travel Essays in Art". The title is a little misleading -- most of it is not really about Iceland at all but more about living and working as a lyric poet. A lot of it is also art criticism. I am nerdy in the way I love the challenge of reading an essay on something very visual before I can look at it -- I love to see how well I am able to make sense of what is being described in my imagination alone. A lot of the book is also about gender politics/feminism and ideology -- so be forewarned if you have no interest in these subjects.

It's hard to give a general overview of the book, because it's really a mix of essays, speeches, poems, and just generally interesting ideas Eileen has to share -- there is an excerpt from an interview with Daniel Day Lewis (which is awesome) and words from a commencement speech she made in 1998 titled "Universal Cycle" .... which is just beautiful ...

"I hope you all find yourself sleeping with someone you love, maybe not all of the time, but a lot of the time. The touch of a foot in the night is sincere. I hope you like your work, I hope there’s mystery and poetry in your life—not even poems, but patterns. I hope you can see them. Often these patterns will wake you up, and you will know that you are alive, again and again."

I am a hopeless heterosexual -- I love men -- but reading the above and this book makes me appreciate the universality/simplicity of love and the shared poetry of our human experiences.

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