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NEW POSITIONS IN AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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UNDER  CONSTRU CTIO N:

1


1

Lucas Blalock

67 Joshua Citarella

13 Jessica Eaton

73 Articles: Cannon & Durantini 99 Matt Lipps

Under Construction

21 Preface 22 Introduction 47 Matthew Porter

56 Intervention

2

110 Intervention 127 Sara VanDerBeek

137 Essays: Cotton & Chuang


175 Daniel Gordon

255 Lucas Blalock

201 Articles: Krajevski 269 Biographies & Blalock 288 Colophon 213 Kate Steciw

Content

226 Intervention 237 Owen Kydd

3


UNDER CONSTRUCTION: NEW POSITIONS IN AMERICAN ­PHOTOGRAPHY Foam would like to present a selection of nine young visual artists for whom the creative process can be as much subject of an image as its final result. The photographic image as such and how we perceive it, is one of the most important focuses in their work. It seems like there are no specific rules, nor boundaries. At a certain point one might even ask if it’s still photography we are looking at.


Lucas Blalock

1


FOAM: UNDER CONSTRUCTION It is with great pride that we present to you a thoroughly redesigned publication, with a new format and a new approach to the content, that remains the ultimate printed platform for photography. Foam Magazine has been in existence for almost twelve years and in that time the familiar and highly successful format has barely changed. It remains an extremely workable formula for bringing together diverse portfolios by often greatly contrasting photographers under a single overarching theme. At the same time we felt a growing need to hold our tried and tested formula up to the light. Ought we to make changes to Foam Magazine in order to do better justice than ever to current artistic practice and to focus attention more effectively than ever on new work and new developments? Should it remain a magazine or instead become a publication that can appear in various different guises? Our efforts to remain qualitatively one of the best regularly produced publications and to work from a great sense of urgency led us to answer those questions affirmatively. We believe it is important for Foam always to know what is going on in photography and always to find the best possible vehicle for it. Publications by Foam must continue to surprise, both in form and in content. Our values are far removed from the predictable and the non-committal. We therefore favour a flexible, well-considered but always surprising use of the possibilities offered by the printed media. This is done in very close collaboration with our partner, creative agency Vandejong. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and craftsmanship is essential for our printed matters, all of which are made with them. From now on, Foam will appear three rather than four times a year. This does not mean in any sense that you can expect less from us. On the contrary, in order to concentrate attention on important new developments even more than before, the number of pages has been increased. Each issue will have no fewer than 288 pages, more than the average photobook. This adds up to more pages per year, and of course every page and every photo will be treated with the utmost care. Nothing will change in that respect: the carefully considered use of different kinds of paper, the high-grade graphic design, the highly readable texts by experts in the field of photography and the always surprising and, we hope, idiosyncratic editorial choices — all of that will remain. In its publications as elsewhere, Foam demonstrates that it is unrivalled in keeping a finger on the pulse of new photographic developments and can react to them quickly, with a tailored response. Of course we do that already with our annual Talent Issue, which will continue to appear each autumn as ever, with a parade of new and relevant photographic talent.

Preface

A great deal of extraordinary photographic talent is on show in Under Construction, which is wholly devoted to an extremely important group of American photographers who engage with today’s digital image culture in a fascinating way. Not only has photographic equipment changed radically over recent decades, the use and significance of the photographic image is undergoing fundamental change as well. Questions about the current value and relevance of the photographic image unite the nine photographers brought together in this issue. They are all making new images in intriguing ways, in fact sometimes the process seems more important than the visible result. They move back and forth time and again between the immateriality of the digital image and the photo as a physical object, and the use of existing visual material often underlies their photographic constructions. We are convinced that this new generation of artists is highly important and should be seen in the context of a reassessment of the medium that is as fundamental as it is necessary. The opportunities offered by the new Foam have been optimally deployed to draw attention to the work of these photographers. We hope you will agree and be pleasantly surprised by the new format and especially by the intriguing photography in Under Construction. Marloes Krijnen, Editor-in-Chief

21


Under Construction

The firm foundations of the photographic world have been shaken many times before this point. Whether it be from revolutionary talent, technical progression or simply a changing viewpoint, no one can deny that digitalization has struck the infrastructure of photography in a way like never before. Rather than leaving ruins behind it, we see the blueprints of the practice we know being re-evaluated, reassessed and re-imagined by those with a camera in one hand and their digital tools in the other. by Marcel Feil 24


What is a photo? This seems a rather routine question that will have little urgency for the majority of people who make use of photography in an everyday and fairly unconscious manner. Yet however simple the question, the answer is a good deal more complex and pressing than many might at first realize. How do we arrive at a proper definition of the word ‘photograph’ now that the nature of photography has changed so fundamentally with the ever-advancing digitalization of the medium over recent decades? In daily conversation we speak of ‘photography’ for the sake of convenience, even though the techniques and methods generally used bear little if any resemblance to those of classical photography. For convenience we also still talk about ‘cameras’, although in fact the word is an anachronism if we mean devices for taking pictures. There is no physical film, and no use is made of a darkroom, of photochemical processes, or of paper or card as a vehicle on which the image unambiguously presents itself. No tangible object is involved, with a specific format, weight and material composition. The fact that the traditional photographic vocabulary is no longer adequate is clear from the increasing use of the term ‘image’ in place of ‘photo’. The ‘image’ has broken free from a physical existence. It has been liberated from the frame to rediscover itself in a previously unknown and unforeseen digital context that is determined by the apparatus used by the viewer. An image is no longer fixed. It has acquired an ephemeral, immaterial character; it can continually change its nature and status and manifest itself in different ways; it can reproduce itself endlessly in no time at all and be in several places at once, perhaps in a broken down form. Whereas a photo is a single material object, the technical image is a multiplicity of possible and often simultaneous appearances. So, again: what is a photo?

Introduction

This fundamental change in the photographic toolbox has produced a generation of artists who treat the medium in a critical and investigative way. Some concentrate on formal aspects, while for others an often implicit criticism of the social implications of the current use of images is more important. Because along with the medium the position and meaning of the photographic image has changed radically. Especially in a society in which so much culturally relevant information is communicated through images, and more than ever a complex dynamic exists among visual material, it is important that a fundamental reassessment of the medium takes place and that the foundations are laid for a new 25


Matthew Porter

47


Joshua Citarella

67


THE

AMBI GUITY

Contemporary photographers have the luxury of being able to treat appropriated images as renewable and anonymous. Rather than placing their photographs in opposition to the source, their work mines the significance of representing something photographically by building on the source photograph.

OF VALUE 73

Article

by Kelly Cannon


are cut up and arranged into a new composition. Photomontage and collage remove the context of the source photographs, creating disjointed composites that encourage unintended readings of the original material.

Under Construction

However, the enormous quantity of photographs available today makes these three photographers’ appropriation seem less fraught than early collage, which implied the images’ violent rupture from their context. Contemporary photographers have the luxury of being able to treat appropriated images as renewable and anonymous. Rather than placing their photographs in opposition to the source, their work mines the significance of representing something photographically by building on the source photograph. Kate Steciw’s Commodity Derivatives (2012) may provide an apt metaphor for the risks and opportunities inherent in this moment of appropriation. The Commodity Derivatives begin as digital images of items that were designed for computer games. Steciw prints and sells them as material goods in the form of ­gelatin silver prints, chromogenic prints, ink jet prints, giant wall stickers, duvet covers, couch throws, personalized Kellogg’s® Rice Krispie® Treats, chenille photo pillows, photo tote bags and custom T-shirts. She describes the momentum that immaterial items take on as prints: ‘Depending on qualities like rarity, material, size, and longevity, these objects would then command a certain monetary value – acting as derivatives of the initial purchase. Regardless of the fact that the ‘original’ is immaterial and belongs to me, the material derivatives generate value based on their own circulation in the market.’4

76

As the quantity of immaterial, publicly available photographs increases, it becomes easier to treat each photograph found online like an anonymous snapshot. Untethered from personal context, snapshots are fit into a historical and cultural frame of reference. Collectors’ and museums’ assumed ownership of these orphaned mementos benefits the medium by ensuring their preservation for posterity. However, the contemporary ease with which we appropriate free photographs carries the risk of being misapplied as an unchallenged claim to intellectual property. Language similar to that of Instagram’s controversial proposed Terms of Service is now commonplace on the web. As of 13 November 2013, Facebook users agree to grant the company ‘non-exclusive, transferable, sublicensable, royalty-free, worldwide

license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.’ Similarly, as of 10 May 2011, TwitPic’s Terms of S­ervice claim license to prepare derivative works of users’ photos. Both companies’ Terms offer assurance that users nonetheless ­retain their ownership rights – but to what end? In response to this ambiguity, artists such as Gordon, VanDerBeek, Abeles, and Steciw have turned to the medium’s foundation in reproduction. Their use of photographs as recyclable material maintains and expands upon the photographs’ integrity as images and as objects. By posing photographs as objects of study, they recirculate the medium using its own tools. This reflexive treatment gives us the opportunity to confront, and explore constructive approaches to, a changing image economy.

ENDNOTES 1 Matthew Leifheit, MATTE: Daniel Gordon, Art F City, 6 March, 2014 2 Form S-1 Registration Statement for Facebook, Inc. filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on 1 February, 2012 3 Quoted by Jenna Wortham and Nick Bilton in What Instagram’s New Terms of Service Mean for You, The New York Times Bits Blog, 17 ­December, 2012 4 Lucas Blalock and Kate Steciw, A Conversation with Kate Steciw


S yn t a x and Dis p er s   a  l

Article

So often, digital manipulation creates a veil from the truth and reality of an image. New formalists are taking the three main tools at their disposal: colour, software and the internet and are leaving traces of this procedure. In doing this, highlighting the process is a vital part of the final piece. by Lorenzo Durantini

77


Matt Lipps

99


Sara VanDerBeek

127


As vinyl has been to MP3, we watch the shift from physical aspects of photography to near complete product disposability. Instead of flailing and falling through the cracks, this can lead the way to expansion, broadening and remix; paving the way to boundless artistic relevance within a form. by Charlotte Cotton

Photo graphic Moment 137

Essay

A


Under Construction

The remixability of the surfaces and motifs of visual culture is also at play within the work of these selected artists. Matthew Porter layers mid-century references points including an Arne Jacobsen chair, Sol Lewitt’s wall drawings, commercial graphics and interior design motifs into the materials of analogue photography. A parallel construction of a visual fantasy of references into cogent contemporary art is found in Joshua Citarella’s most recent work. He remixes a millennial lexicon of industrial design, contemporary art, and the optical space of commercial photography with the spirit of a Simulationist creating a flattened hierarchy of visual signs wrapped around empty forms. There is something of this characterisation in the visual experience and effect of Owen Kydd’s new still-life video works, meditating on constructed still lifes and artful assemblages. Kydd’s durational photographs declare just how ostensible rather than conventionally symbolic or literal a subject can be in the way that Kydd’s looping videos frame the photographic moment and act of identification in a quite unexpected and timely way. In 2012 I had my first opportunity to curatorially think through the ideas that I’ve expressed in this text in the exhibition Photography is Magic! at the Daegu Photo Biennale in South Korea. On my final day in the city, I watched visitors to the exhibition experience the work. I walked into Sara VanDerBeek’s installation of elegant black-and-white photographs and 144

painted cinder block sculptures as a man entreated the gallery attendant (who translated for me afterwards) to explain how this could possibly be photography. I went into one of the upper galleries and watched three teenagers standing in front of an Owen Kydd video where a beam from a car headlight reflects along the upper edge of a knife in a store window. They waved their hands delightedly in front of the screen, believing for a few minutes that their presence controlled this infinitely looping photographic ­moment.


THE KIDS

Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As has happened so many times in the past, when there is any sort of radical change; whether it be economic, political or in this case, digital; there is going to be something new born from revolution and reform.

ARE ALRIGHT

Essay

by Joshua Chuang

145


Daniel Gordon

175


Since the beginning of the last century there have been experimental photographers taking true to life images and changing meaning through juxtaposition, layering and context. In an age where quickness and disposability are valued by so many, these methods are paramount in causing a pause for reflection during our fickle consumption.

Playing Against the Camera 201

Article

by Sara Krajewski


vides us with insights into how these experiences are structured and what they communicate about us. This line of inquiry pushes us to contemplate where an increasingly technologically driven image world may lead us. Flusser concluded that the debate ultimately focuses on issues of human freedom.4 To break away from technology’s control, we must understand its operations and use its tools and products imaginatively, even humanistically. Artists experimenting with photographic practices and the dominant image culture attempt just that. Red Stripe Kitchen, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the war home 1967-1972 © Martha Rosler, courtesy the artist

Under Construction

consumption and dissemination. The unpredictable information they insert prompts moments of reflection. In keeping with Flusser’s hopes for experimental photography, these renewed forms of expression question the systems and paradigms that direct our experience of visual culture. If we can read mobile signs more carefully, we have critical alternatives to the typical visual information we absorb. Technical images, it may be said, have neutralized some of the powerful effects of juxtaposition and appropriation because we have become accustomed to nonlinear online experiences as we click, tab, and like our way across the internet. This phenomenon is a symptom of a way of life in the digital age: a fractured state of being in many places, virtually, at one time. To counteract photography’s role in aiding this illusion, an experimental photographer must contend with the multiple meanings that any technical image

204

from the past carries forward. Reusing images now has a different impact because of the image sign’s mobility and its shifting meaning. The effect of the dominant postmodern theoretical position of the last 30 years designated appropriated objects or images as dead signs, condemned to a single reading often set in a political context of institutional critique.3 In sharp contrast, the mobility of image signs today obliges us to see them operating in a wideopen field of interpretation and use. To consider an image moving so fluidly across time necessitates questions. How did its trajectory come to assign a particular meaning at a given moment? How will another repositioning further activate and complicate the image’s associations and the contexts in which it appears? Artists recycling images today contend with the multiplicity of ways we experience and process visual information. Their sensitivity to this state of overload pro-

ENDNOTES 1 Vilém Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography, (London: Reaktion Books, 2000), 20. Originally published in 1983 2 Flusser, 81 3 Jan Verwoert, Apropos Appropriation: Why stealing images today feels different, Art & Research, vol. 1, no. 2 (Summer 2007), http://www.artandresearch. org.uk/v1n2/verwoert.html 4 Flusser, 82


At what point is a photograph rehashed, re-imagined and mutilated enough to be  stripped of its title ´photograph´ and become adorned with the new moniker: ´image´? Like a drawing encapsulates the eraser and its lead stains while maintaining its name through its medium, this artist statement explores whether photography should be given the same room for growth.

DRA WIN G MA CHINE 205

Article

by Lucas Blalock


Owen Kydd

237


Lucas Blalock

255


Biographies

BI O  S 269


FOAM MAGAZINE’S CHOICE OF PAPER The paper used in this magazine was supplied by paper merchant Igepa. For more information please call +31 344 578 100 or email skirschner@igepa.nl Bi

o s

under constru ctio n:

Biographies

What is a photo? This seems a rather routine question that will have little urgency for the majority of people who make use of photography in an everyday and fairly unconscious manner. Yet however simple the question, the answer is a good deal more complex and pressing than many might at first realize. How do we arrive at a proper definition of the word ‘photograph’ now that the nature of photography has changed so fundamentally with the ever-advancing digitalization of the medium over recent decades? In daily conversation we speak of ‘photography’ for the sake of convenience, even though the techniques and methods generally used bear little if any resemblance to those of classical photography. For convenience we also still talk about ‘cameras’, although in fact the word is an anachronism if we mean devices for taking pictures. There is no physical film, and no use is made of a darkroom, of photochemical processes, or of paper or card as a vehicle on which the image unambiguously presents itself. No tangible object is involved, with a specific format, weight and material composition. The fact that the traditional photographic vocabulary is no longer adequate is clear from the increasing use of the term ‘image’ in place of ‘photo’. The ‘image’ has broken free from a physical existence. It has been liberated from the frame to rediscover itself in a previously unknown and unforeseen digital context that is determined by the apparatus used by the viewer. An image is no longer fixed. It has acquired an ephemeral, immaterial character; it can continually change its nature and status and manifest itself in different ways; it can reproduce itself endlessly in no time at all and be in several places at once, perhaps in a broken down form. Whereas a photo is a single material object, the technical image is a multiplicity of possible and often simultaneous appearances. So, again: what is a photo?

269

Introduction

This fundamental change in the photographic toolbox has produced a generation of artists who treat the medium in a critical and investigative way. Some concentrate on formal aspects, while for others an often implicit criticism of the social implications of the current use of images is more important. Because along with the medium the position and meaning of the photographic image has changed radically. Especially in a society in which so much culturally relevant information is communicated through images, and more than ever a complex dynamic exists among visual material, it is important that a fundamental reassessment of the medium takes place and that the foundations are laid for a new

new Positions in AmericAn PhotogrAPhy

Under Construction

25

Cover is printed on Starline Creamback, 300g/m²

LUCAS BLALOCK and JESSICA EATON are partly printed on Magno Satin 135g/m², wood-free tiplecoated d ­ emigloss paper, a Sappi product

JESSICA EATON, a bit of MATTHEW PORTER, JOSHUA CITARELLA, OWEN KYDD and one image of LUCAS BLALOCK are printed on Profibulk 1.1, 100g/m2, wood-free white bulky design p ­ aper FSC

Almost all the text pages and some images of LUCAS BLALOCK are printed on Maxi Offset 80g/m², wood-free offset paper EU Flower awarded

JESSICA EATON and one image of MATTHEW PORTER are printed on Fluweel vol 1.5, 120g/m2, woodfree bright white wove ­bookpaper FSC

MATTHEW PORTER is printed on Circle Silk, 130g/m2, 100% recycled paper FSC

JOSHUA CITARELLA is printed on Magno Gloss 135g/m2, wood-free tiplecoated gloss p ­ aper, a Sappi product

JOSHUA CITARELLA, MATT LIPPS, DANIEL GORDON, KATE STECIW and LUCAS BLALOCK are partly printed on EOS vol 2.0, 90g/m², wood-free bluewhite wove bookpaper FSC

MATT LIPPS is partly printed on Soporset Premium Offset 120g/m²

MATT LIPPS, SARA VANDERBEEK are partly printed on heaven42 135g/m2, a ­ bsolute white coated paper s­ oftmatt FSC

SARA VANDERBEEK is partly printed on Circle Silk, 115g/m2, 100% recycled paper FSC

SARA VANDERBEEK and DANIEL GORDON are partly printed on Circle Gloss, 115g/m2, 100% recycled paper FSC

DANIEL GORDON is printed on Z Offset Rough 120g/m2 wood-free offset paper FSC

KATE STECIW and three images of OWEN KYDD are printed on heaven42 115g/m2, a ­ bsolute white coated paper s­ oftmatt FSC

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printer publisher

for creative industries

Building The Rotterdam

NL

Photo book about ‘De Rotterdam’, a building designed by Rem Koolhaas, that changed the Rotterdam skyline. An homage to the city and the architect, the craftsmen and the power of architecture.

In the voluminous book NL photographer Bert Verhoeff is looking for ‘the Dutchman’. What makes him just a bit different than, say, a Frenchman?

ISBN 978-94-6226-025-2

ISBN 978-94-6226-037-5

Familia

Pongezi

Bert Verhoeff

Anja Ligtenberg The same families that Nico Jesse had photographed during The Second World War are now portraited again. Historic black / white photos of Jesse are brought together with new color photos of Eussen and Philippen.

Pongezi is a photo book about the alternative rites of passage for Maasai girls in Kenya. The story is told according to Nice Nailantei, a young Maasai girl who grew up to become a leader and worldwide advocate of the alternative ritual.

ISBN 978-94-6226-034-4

ISBN 978-94-6226-061-0

Peking Dog

Fotofolio. Nederlandse Tijdschrift Fotografie 1967-2007

Morad Bouchakour Peking Dog shows with raw and conceptual photography the status symbols of new Beijing: a car and a private dog.

ISBN 978-94-6226-044-3

Hans van Blommestein & Bart Nieuwenhuijs A box with five books from five top photographers. Special edition: www.foto-folio.nl ISBN 978-94-6226-011-5

www.lecturis.com


Issue #38, Under Construction Editor-in-chief Marloes Krijnen Creative Director Pjotr de Jong (Vandejong) Editors Marcel Feil, Pjotr de Jong, Elisa Medde, Marloes Krijnen Managing Editor Elisa Medde Magazine Management Anne Colenbrander, Lout Coolen Editorial Intern Alexandra Murphy Communication Intern Sophie Earls Art Director Hamid Sallali (Vandejong) Design & Layout Vandejong: Hamid Sallali, Roos Haasjes Typefaces Plantin MT Pro & Microsoft Sans Serif Contributing Photographers and Artists Lucas Blalock, Joshua Citarella, Jessica Eaton, Daniel Gordon, Owen Kydd, Matt Lipps, M ­ atthew Porter, Kate Steciw, Sara ­VanDerBeek Cover Photographs From the series Windows Mirrors Tabletops, 2011-2012 © Lucas Blalock, courtesy of the artist Contributing Writers Karin Bareman, Lucas Blalock, Kelly Cannon, Joshua Chuang, Charlotte Cotton, Lorenzo Durantini, Sara Krajevski, Claudia Küssel, Marcel Feil Copy Editor Pittwater Literary Services: ­ Rowan Hewison

Under Construction

Translation Liz Waters The editors of Foam would like to thank for their o ­ utstanding support: Laurel Ptak, Chris Wiley, Peter C. Bunnell, Mary Statzer, Michael Famighetti, Paula Kupfer, Shane Lavalette, Art21 New York, Rava Films, Phoebe Streblow and Hito Steyerl

288

Lithography & Printing Lecturis Kalverstraat 72 5642 CJ Eindhoven -NL Binding Binderij Hexspoor Ladonkseweg 7 5281 RN Boxtel – NL Paper Igepa Nederland B.V. De Geer 10 4004 LT Tiel - NL Editorial Address Foam Magazine Keizersgracht 609 1017 DS Amsterdam – NL T +31 20 551 65 00 F +31 20 551 65 01 editors@foam.org Operations Manager / Advertising Anne Colenbrander PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL T +31 20 55165 00 F +31 20 55165 01 advertising@foam.org Subscriptions Hexspoor Support Center Ladonkseweg 9 5281 RN Boxtel – NL T +31 41 163 34 71 subscription@foam.org Subscriptions include 3 issues per year €60,Excluding postage Students receive 20% discount Single issue €22,50 Back issues (#2-36) €12,50 excluding postage Foam Magazine #1 and #9 are out of print www.foam.org/webshop

Publisher Foam Magazine PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL magazine@foam.org ISSN 1570-4874 ISBN 9789070516338 © photographers, authors, Foam Magazine BV, Amsterdam, 2014. All photographs and illustration material is the copyright property of the photographers and  /or their estates, and the publications in which they have been published. Every effort has been made to con­tact copyright holders. Any copy­ right holders we have been unable to reach or to whom inaccurate acknowledgement has been made are invited to contact the publishers at magazine@foam.org All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photo-copy, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the publishers. Although the highest care is taken to make the information contained in Foam Magazine as accurate as possible, neither the publishers nor the authors can accept any responsibility for damage, of any nature, resulting from the use of this information. Distribution The Netherlands Betapress BV T + 31 16 145 78 00 Europe Central Books magazine@centralbooks.com USA/ Canada/ Asia S.A.S.S Srl distribuzione@sass-roma.it T +39 0665000236 The production of Foam has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, paper supplier Igepa Netherlands B.V., Printing company Lecturis and Bindery Hexspoor.



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