#29 Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Next? Winter 2011/2012 â&#x201A;Ź17,50
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foam magazine #â&#x20AC;&#x2030;29 what's next?
What’s next? What’s next after I have finished what I am doing right now? What’s next for me tomorrow, at the beginning of a brand new day? What’s next for you, for us? Promises, expectations, hopes and ideas about what is in the pipeline are often very influential on the way we think, feel or behave. What’s next? It’s a simple question that can be asked at any given moment. A simple question, but so hard to answer. Because who knows what will be next? Who dares to look into the crystal ball and tell us what the future might bring. It’s a difficult question, but a truly fascinating one. It’s a question that Foam has asked for the past year in an effort to define the next step for photography, photographers and a photography museum. It’s a question asked with good reason.
Ten years ago In December 2001, a new photography museum opened its doors in Amsterdam – Foam was born. At the same time, a new photography magazine was launched: Foam Magazine started out as a catalogue accompanying the first exhibition, but immediately became an independent platform for photography. This year marks the tenth anniversary of both Foam and Foam Magazine – a memorable event that deserves to be celebrated. However, just looking back and congratulating ourselves on what has been achieved over the past decade doesn’t fit the mindset that is characteristic of our staff. Our curiosity about new developments is simply stronger than our desire to look back. And so the What’s Next? theme arose naturally for our jubilee year.
Regular readers of Foam Magazine will already be acquainted with the investi gation that we started at the beginning of this year in a series of special supplements. In these supplements, a number of experts from the photographic community presented their vision concerning What’s Next?. Leading photographers, researchers and curators were given space to express their ideas on the future of photography. The results were often surprising; they varied from reflective articles and provocative position statements to intriguing visual contributions. The method used to create
The fact that we found this a fitting theme to reaffirm our ten-year anniversary indicates a validation of the current position of photography. In recent years, the digitalization of the medium brought about fundamental changes that have redetermined our entire visual culture, utterly transforming what we consider to be a photo, the way a photographer organizes his or her professional practice, how photo editors work and how countless amateurs make, distribute and share photos. For Foam, another significant issue was the way a photographic institution such as ours functions: how should a photography museum operate within a rapidly changing visual culture that has called into question classic museum duties such as collecting, conserving and presenting? How does an organization remain relevant and significant? An investigation into the future of photography is inescapably also an investigation into our own future. What’s Next for Foam?
foam magazine # 29 what's next?
these What’s Next? supplements gave shape to our year of investigation. Foam on its own has neither the ambition nor the pretention to answer questions concerning the future of photography. To try to obtain answers we seek the opinions of experts from all parts of the cultural sector, offering them pages in the supplements, engaging them in discussions at special meetings and inviting them to make a contribution to the What’s Next? website.
What’s Next? in Arles This issue carries also accounts of conversations that took place every day in our What’s Next? project space in the first week of the prestigious photography festival Les Recontres d’Arles in the south of France. Foam created a specially designed project room which functioned as an exhibition space, meeting room and discussion centre, as well as artists’ studio space. A major component of our presence in Arles was the cooperation between two famed art academies: the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles. We believe it is essential in an investigation into the future of photography to give a voice to those who will soon be a decisive part of that future – those currently studying photography. Students from both academies made concerted efforts to create work together ‘in situ’, often surrounded by visitors, and produced a daily zine in which they responded to both influential photographic themes and the festival which they had suddenly become part of. These students again emerge in this magazine, in the section: ‘Next Generation’.
Foam strives to offer something for everyone interested in photography, from professionals to amateurs. Conversely, we are interested in everyone’s opinion on the question of how the medium can best develop itself and which aspects are most relevant. To offer our visitors and readers opportunities to contribute to the discussion we launched the project website at the start of the celebration of our tenth year. Anyone interested, can react to the themes and comment on specific questions and positions. The site has seen a lot of traffic since its launch. For Foam the value of our tenth anniversary project is primarily the opportunity to engage in discussions with all those who can be conceived as representing the photographic community, to raise key points and to pose critical questions. Where do we stand, what developments have we witnessed, where is it all leading? It is the discussion that determines the significance and the strength of the project, more than any answers that arise. The journey is more important than the destination.
It would however be inaccurate to consider this What’s Next? issue of Foam Magazine as a conclusion or a full account of all the activities undertaken throughout this anniversary year. A portion of its contents can of course be traced to interviews, discussions and conversations which took place in the last twelve months. But, the great majority of the content has been specifically created for this issue by a large array of contributors, making this issue a unique and independent contribution to the ongoing investigation, just as you would expect from our editors. The content has been organised into chapters that touch on themes the editors feel add up to a fascinating, well-balanced magazine that is just what our readers look for.
Expert meeting One important moment this year was the meeting of experts we organized in March in our museum in Amsterdam. Fifteen curators, photographers, researchers, trend-watchers, editors and bloggers from all over the world presented their vision of the future of photography to a room full of professionals from the Dutch cultural sector. In between the individual presentations, the company gathered in small groups to discuss subjects such as the value of copyright, authorship, education, the future of magazines and tablet computers, internet art, museum architecture and the latest technological developments. The meeting set the tone and direction for the discussion that has been going on for a year now. Some of these discussions are covered in this What’s Next? issue of Foam Magazine.
Curating the Future During the process of compiling this special issue, the editors repeatedly realised that filters are extremely important and are becoming more significant all the time to distinguish value and meaning within the profusion of information that we receive daily in a great variety of ways. This also explains the overall title Curating the Future: each of us is called upon to be our own filter or curator. But because artists, writers, editors and curators have
latest visual technology present insights into the subject matter and themes they work with daily.
Six portfolios This issue also showcases six different portfolios with exceptional work by Lieko Shiga, Jordan Tate, Andrew Best, Paulien Oltheten, Hasan & Husein Essop and Cia de Foto. To make our selection, we asked curators and editors to propose each five emerging photographers or artists involved in photography on their continent. The panel included: Anne Marsh who has recently published her book on contemporary Australian photography, Eder Chiodetto, based in Brazil as curator and lecturer, Japanese photography critic and curator Mariko Takeuchi, Cape Town-based journalist and writer Sean O’Toole and Lesley Martin, publisher of Aperture Foundation’s book programme in New York. From their lists we chose one representative from each continent and selected an artist from Europe.
In the section ‘Curating the Space’ is ample attention for an exhibition taking place in our own museum in Amsterdam during the month of November. As part of the search for our own future, Foam invited four guest curators to realise four radical exhibition proposals, each of them based on a clear viewpoint that differs sharply from the rest. Alison Nordström (George Eastman House, Rochester) is responsible for a presentation which focuses on ‘photography as object’, and Jefferson Hack (Dazed&Confused, London) compiled a presentation based on the concept of ‘photography as pure image’. Erik Kessels (independent collector/curator, creative director of KesselsKramer, Amsterdam) translated his viewpoint ‘photography in abundance’ into a presentation that is both spectacular and intriguing, and Lauren Cornell (New Museum, New York) focused on multi-media work and the circulation of images. Foam is extremely proud that these four guest curators have been bold enough to work with Foam on this investigation into new exhibition forms. They have been able to transform their skills and knowledge into propositions that will undoubtedly lead to further discussions.
Future Magazines The contribution by Fred Ritchin on the stand-alone exhibition project What Matters Now? Proposals for a New Front Page is particular relevant for us. What Matters Now? took place at the Aperture Gallery in New York in September and resulted from Ritchin’s close collaboration with Melissa Harris, the Editor-in-Chief of Aperture magazine. This project and exhibition was without a doubt unique. Stemming from the idea that the authority of filters that select and interpret significant news for us has been undermined and that collective discussions of socially conscious news exist only online, a news desk was established in the form of a virtual cafe in the Aperture Gallery. Fred Ritchin’s afterthoughts on What Matters Now? conclude the special section with contributions from the editors of four allied and respected magazines – literally making each on eight pages a magazinewithin-a-magazine. Many thanks are due to the editors of OUTLOOK, SeeSaw magazine, Waterfall magazine and Fantom for their enthusiasm and willingness to contribute in this rather unusual way to Foam Magazine.
Such an extraordinary issue could only have been produced with the skills, talent and enthusiasm of many exceptional authors, photographers, editors, designers, translators, printers and sponsors. The interplay between them all and the shared belief in creating something that is challenging, intriguing, necessary, singular, fine and unusual have made this an impressive endeavour where the entire creative process is as much a part of the total project as the end product. It is about the process, about starting a conversation with each other and keeping the contact going, about information and inspiration. I would therefore like to sincerely thank all who have contributed to this exceptional issue. Especially our friends, colleagues, photographers and the many other valued contacts across the world that contributed to making Foam the institution it is today. Thank you all, and see you next time! •
In addition to the sections ‘Next Generation’ and 'Magazines', this issue also contains the chapters ‘From Here On(line)’ on photography within an online environment, ‘Independent’ on the desire not to conform to larger structures as artists, and ‘Technology Matters’ in which experts in the
Marloes Krijnen Director Foam
already established a filtering view of their environment, they can offer us a reference point in our own selection processes.
4 Curating the Future
foam magazine # 29 what's next?
by Marloes Krijnen
10 iNdependeNt 12 Outside the Box Interview with JR
27 Portfolio Lieko Shiga Kitakama
35 Audience Participation Via PanAm & The Sochi Project
selected by Mariko Takeuchi
by Max Houghton
by Stefano Stoll
17 Re-Re-Re-Mediating the Ex-Ex-Extended
40 FroM Here ON(LiNe)
by Anne de Vries
23 I Publish by Bruno Ceschel
72 CurAtiNg the SpAce 93 Future Museum Visions The Photographers’ Gallery (London)
selected by Anne Marsh
by Brett Rogers
by Marcel Feil & Kim Knoppers
92 Foam Mug
59 Postinternet Art After the Internet
43 Inside Out Photography 2.0
64 Towards a History, Politics and Philosophy of the Online Image
by Nicholas Mirzoeff
75 Portfolio Andy Best Fall Series 83 4 Curators 4 Visions 4 Presentations 1 Museum interviews with Erik Kessels, Alison Nordström, Jefferson Hack & Lauren Cornell
42 Manifesto of the exhibition From Here On
Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne)
47 Marcel Feil in conversation with Clément Cheroux Fred Ritchin Penelope Umbrico 51 Portfolio Jordan Tate New Work
by Sam Stourdzé
Three Shadows (Beijing) by RongRong & inri
96 Dialogues during What’s Next? Expert Meeting The Ideal Institution & Archiving into the Future
by Foam Lab
selected by Lesley Martin
by Marisa Olson
by Laurel Ptak & David Horvitz
70 Dialogue during What’s Next? Expert Meeting The Wide Web of the Photographic World
98 MAgAziNes 99 Curated by Waterfall 107 Curated by SeeSaw
131 Of White Walls and Six Tables What Matters Now? Proposals for a new frontpage by Fred Ritchin
136 Next GeNerAtioN
115 Curated by Outlook 123 Curated by Fantom
138 Holding Up a Mirror
155 Manifesto on Future Education
A Project by the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam (NL), ENSP École Nationale Supérieure de la Photograhie Arles (F) and Foam
by Timm Rautert
156 Dialogue during What’s Next? Expert Meeting Next Generation Photographers 158 Manifesto on Future Education
selected by Sean O’Toole
by Eder Chiodetto
174 TechNology MAtters 176 Total Vision Camera Culture at the MIT Media Lab by Arthur Ou
181 The Rebirth and Future of Analog Instant Photography by The Impossible Project
189 How to See 1,000,000 Images?
by Colette Olof
163 Portfolio Paulien Oltheten Photos from Japan and my Archive selected by Caroline von Courten
171 Manifesto on Future Education by Charlotte Cotton
172 Manifesto on Future Education by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
by Lev Manovich
195 Portfolio Cia de Foto Caixa de Sapato selected by Eder Chiodetto
185 A Googled Future Interview with Michael T. Jones
203 Joan Fontcuberta Statement on What’s Next? 206 Contributors List 209 Foam Amsterdam Exhibition programme
by Jörg Colberg
147 Portfolio Hasan & Husain Essop Halaal Art
159 Someone’s Watching Afterthoughts on the exhibition Showroom Girls by Willem Popelier
foam magazine #â&#x20AC;&#x2030;29 what's next?
us to three artists who have taken (printed) matters into their own hands. Crowdfunding is a con cept that has been much talked about over the past two years, and has been criticised as well as prized. Two exceptional projects by the Dutch documentary photo graphers Rob Hornstra and Kadir van Lohuizen bear witness to their commitment to both the subject and their audi ence, whom they rely upon for support.
Upon our invitation, the Dutch artist Anne de Vries introduces a group of artists to us who ex plore and investigate the medium of photography without necessarily using photography itself. The phenomenon of selfpublishing is a widely used practice and an ode to the love of printed matter in digital times. Bruno Ceschel introduces 11
The passion, the idealism and the engagement that radiate from some artists who create their own platforms to realise their work is both infec tious and remarkable. This concerns both the financing and the pres entation of projects in an independent and un constrained way. This calls for vision and cour age, and that is what we’d like to dedicate this first chapter to, which starts with an extensive interview with the young French artist JR.
JR was born in the street and raised with the need for freedom. By play. By love. JR moves about disguised. He runs over the rooftops. He jumps the turnstiles. He shakes off the police. JR is energetic. Whether in the banlieues of Paris, Jerusalem, Rio, Nairobi or New Delhi. He runs around the world, floating like a super-hero. JR is a gang. Selftaught, he surrounds himself with passion, curiosity and generosity. With his close companions, he plots his route, worldwide. Searching for the right cause. JR avoids the sun. The shadows are a resource. Light slows him down. And yet, he exposes himself to danger, to the media. In the street. And then in the museums. His exhibition is global. From virtual networks online to the brick walls of Shanghai, the largest gallery on earth is at his disposal. The street is his media. He knows no limits but his own. He is at once the artist, the curator, the museum, the gallery. Independence is his fuel.
↗ Portrait JR, 2008 © Christopher Shay → 28 Millimetres, Face 2 Face, Pasting on the Separation wall, Security Fence, Palestinian side, Bethlehem, march 2007 © JR / Agence VU
interview with JR
JR by Stefano Stoll
↖ Part of the project Unframed at Images, Festival des Arts Visuels de Vevey, 2010 © Sébastien Devrient ©JR © Estate of Helen Levitt/Courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery, New York
In 2010 you were invited by Festival IMAGES in Vevey, Switzerland to present a new project entitled Unframed. This was the first time that you worked with a public collection of historic photographs rather than with your own images. Was this your first step away from the street and towards the museum? The objective with Unframed wasn’t to get away from the street and go towards the museum. I had already worked with Foam photography museum in Amsterdam and the Tate Modern in London. The real change with Unframed was to get away from the photo credit. I wasn’t looking to distance myself from the street, on the contrary, but to reinforce the message of collage in the street. The important thing for me is not to know who took the photo but how it’s been recontextualized in the public space. Unframed was the occasion to say that I’m not a photographer, but that I use the photo as a medium. The message, the artwork, is the collage on public walls.
ence the work for what it is. The piece has its full meaning when it’s in its location. Publishing, films, conferences and museums allow me to recreate the context in which I installed my images. The museum has a neutrality which is the best environment for retranscribing my actions, for explaining these images and generating thoughts free of any political message. The museum guarantees my legitimacy as an artist. To everyone’s surprise, you signed a contract with one of Europe’s most important contemporary art galleries (Emmanuel Perrotin/Paris) in 2011. Is this the end of your freedom of action? (Laughs). Au contraire. Financing my projects from the sales of my work is the basis of my artistic freedom. I refuse any and all sponsoring, and this is the only way I’ve ever financed my projects. I never sign exclusive contracts, I don’t get any salary from my galleries and I alone decide which works I put on the market. Perrotin arrived ten years after I got started, when I was already working with the Lazarides gallery in London and my self-finance system was already in place. The bottom line is that being represented by a gallery frees up time for me to produce. I don’t want to spend my time selling, even though the money it generates finances my work. Also, the galleries help me get greater recognition from the art world. Because strangely enough, although what I do is widely reported in the media and familiar to a wider public, my work is still unrecognized in the contemporary art world. For an artist like JR whose work is so singular and socially engaged, isn’t there a risk that institutionalizing goes along with instrumentalizing? This is a real fear for me, as it is for any artist. I have to look out for speculation around my works as much as I can. Of course that will get away from me one day. For the moment, even if it’s not my objective, I know that recognition from the museums legitimizes my artistic process. But the institution also allows me to do outrageous things, like having put up the faces of the favela women on a national monument in the centre of Rio. This installation generated a lot of controversy, bordering on political instrumentalization. But the commissioning museum assured neutrality, even though the director had to leave afterwards.
You started out in the street, because you knew how to do without a gallery or a museum. Now you’re showing your work in museums. Why did you change your mind? I haven’t changed my mind. The street will always provide me with the biggest gallery in the world. No museum can ever compete with that kind of visibility. First, I install the pictures on the street, where they have maximum impact. Then I give people the keys to contextualize them. Museum exhibitions are part of this decryption. They’re installations accompanying the books and films that I provide for free on the Internet. So the museums are only one part of the mechanism allowing me to bypass performance ‘in situ’, to provide elements for understanding my actions.
What is your relationship to money? If my aim was to earn a lot, I think I’ve failed completely. I’ve already refused a lot of contracts that would have made me very comfortable financially. But since I started, I’ve chosen to not have money be what drives my work. And ultimately my choice turned out to be the right one. Our structure is adapted to our projects, and doesn’t put any unnecessary pressure on us. Our fixed costs are low, and never put us in danger. I’ve never lacked money, because I’ve always worked within my means and not from some potential financing. I’ve never submitted portfolios to get government grants or prizes, and I’ve never accepted donations. In this sense, my rules are very clear: I’m radical, and I don’t make any compromises with money. The meaning of my work is primary.
So you make a distinction between artistic work on site, in the cities where you’re pasting it up, from the distribution of your work through the media, books, films and museum exhibitions? Of course! Properly speaking, my artistic process is the action of collage on location, whether it’s in Kibera, Rio or Vevey. But my actions only touch the community of people right there. They’re the only ones who truly experi-
You started out alone in the street, with a microproject pasting small-scale photographs up around Paris. Today you direct what’s almost a small business that employs or commissions technical, financial and legal staff. Is JR an individual or a collective? Obviously many people are involved in my projects; however, they’re under my artistic direction. The most extreme case is Inside Out, which involves the participation of thousands of people all over the world. JR is like an orchestral conductor, who is nothing without the musicians, but who gives everyone a large margin for interpretation. A collective implies an associative operation which isn’t conducive to rapid decision-making and the freedom of action that I need. It’s the quality of the ties between my team members that has generated our way of working; that’s what I protect above all. My feeling of freedom depends on my trust in my entourage, and this trust is my source of inspiration.
Today, do you consider yourself an artist, entrepreneur or activist? 100% Artist. Without hesitation. Ever since you started, you’ve sought interaction with current events. Your first project – 28mm, Portraits of a Generation – took you to the heart of the troubled Paris suburbs. For the Face2Face
What relationship do you have with the media? On the one hand you avoid them, on the other you use them. To what ends? I don’t think I use the media; I dialogue with them. Certain projects are definitely an experience of the media reacting to these themes. I often refuse interviews but try to direct the journalists to the people who participated in my projects, like in the shantytowns. They allow me to explain the other side of the picture, and they’re part of the means at my disposal for publicizing the meaning of my projects. With the Inside Out project it’s the people on the ground who give the interviews and explain what they’re doing; I can be their publisher, but I’m not their spokesman. Generally, in the media or on the Internet I make sure that the only photos of me you can find are in a hat and sunglasses; it’s only my work that should be visible and revealed. How has your anonymity served you in the past, and how does it serve you today? I’ve been anonymous since I was 13 (laughs). I’ve grown up in this spirit. Doing graffiti, I couldn’t reveal my name. I had to stay masked for the project Expo2Rue. Then I started to paste up portraits of people, whether people
interview with JR
What does the word ‘artist’ mean to you? For me, an artist is someone who thinks ‘outside the box’, outside established boundaries, transcending any framework, in all freedom. I think for myself, against the current or not, but not in a given direction. It’s this freedom that people are fascinated by. With that, the artist can allow himself to go beyond certain limits. Seriousness can rub shoulders with mockery. The artist has the right to make mistakes. An enterprise gives rise to expectations. The artist owes nothing to anyone. This is why I decided to be an artist.
↖ Women are heroes, Action in the Kibera slum, Kenya, Nairobi, 2 February 2009 © JR / Agence VU
With the money you received from the TED Prize ($100,000), you’ve begun a spectacular global project. For Inside Out you’re no longer the artist but rather the coordinator of an exhibition that is infiltrating the streets of the entire world. How do you explain this sharp turn from artist to curator? After my last projects were finished, there was a point where I told myself I couldn’t go everywhere I’d been invited. I was receiving hundreds of e-mails from people asking me to intervene near their homes to change their situation. I couldn’t honour all this positive energy. So in accepting the TED Prize, I transmitted it to all the people of the world. With Inside Out, everyone can make use of this prize with their own photos, to do something that makes sense to them. To have impact on a community, on the world, I understood that I have to withdraw from the equation; I have to be the facilitator and not the author. I’ve become a medium. But this remains an art project, not a humanitarian one. Inside Out is a mirror of society.
project, you went to the Middle East and you put Israelis next to Palestinians. How do you respond to those who say you’re like Zorro, a masked man intervening where there is injustice? (Laughs). Wait: in the beginning my interventions had nothing to do with the media or current events. Even in 2004, when I took the photo of Ladj holding the camera like a gun, I wasn’t working in that neighbourhood because of the injustices. It wasn’t until a year later that my pasted photos found themselves turned up in the background of items broadcast by the media during the riots of 2005. This happenstance propelled me towards a confrontation with the media and the clichés they promulgate. It’s true that I’m concerned with the notion of injustice. I often consider the prime injustice to be how we regard someone else. I think that we can change the world by the way we show it and regard it. Too often, through the media’s simplifications, we form an opinion of a place without ever having been there – the wall separating Israel and Palestine is an excellent example. I believe we can change the world by fighting clichés.
close to me or strangers. Basically, these portraits have become my graffiti. I’m like a tagger who tags with other people’s faces. I don’t want to add my features to the faces I paste up. I want to stay in the shadow of the anonymous people that I put on display. Add to that the fact that most of my interventions are done without authorization. Anonymity protects me from trouble with the police. What I think is funny is that when I feel really anonymous is when I’m travelling and I show the officer my passport. Paradoxically, I’m anonymous under my own name, when I’m famous in my anonymity.
What does the notion of Do It Yourself inspire in you? On the one hand, for me Do It Yourself could be a statement about the self-financing of my projects, and thus to my guarantee of freedom and independence. On the other hand it evokes an aspect of the DIY tinkering that goes along with all my installations: the glue, the paper, the benches, the ladders, the scissors … And lastly it’s a good motto for the mentality that animates my team: to show resourcefulness, and work with what we have and not with what we could have.
Above all, your actions ask questions. Does JR want to change the world? Into what? It’s not the job of art to change the world. But to change how you regard the world is to change the world. That fascinates me, to know that mixing toner on a piece of paper and placing a collage in a particular place can have impact on our view of the world. My projects are done with a few strips of paper and sometimes have a lot of impact. Two years after my intervention, the favela in Rio was becoming peaceful. Ink, glue and paper are certainly not the usual instruments of change.
What relationship do you have with street art? Like graffiti, a photograph is a trace, a way of saying ‘ I was there’. That said, I’d say that most graffiti doesn’t make sense except on the walls of the neighbourhood where they are, while I have differentiated between my work on-site and the works meant for the market. But of course, I watch out for the name ‘street art’, because it has become a commercial label. What’s striking to me is that the explosion of street art symbolizes the reversal of the traditional relationships between artists and galleries. The power relations have changed. Street art marks the rediscovered independence of artists. The street has become both the gallery and the workshop. But in the future, it’s probably the virtual world that will be the new space for expression to replace the street.
Your installations are generally monumental. Is the size of the images important in your process? The monumental size of my interventions is a common denominator among my most conspicuous interventions. But I have to be careful about this. The context is more important to me than sheer size. When I saw one of the pictures I shot in the favela in Rio published in the celebrity magazine Gala, with a vague kind of caption under it, I understood that this wasn’t helping the project, on the contrary it was hindering it. I have to avoid falling into the trap of the image as a vector of spectacle, detached from any message and from its context. The monumental size of my projects helps to raise awareness and get people to wonder about the subject, but if the spectacular aspect dominates, one misses the point of the work.
How do you see photography evolving in the next few years? I’ve never been a photographic purist. That’s why in the Unframed project I was able to easily unframe and reframe the photos that marked history, in order to recontextualize them. Photography is becoming hugely democratic and today everybody is a photographer. The real question for me is what we do with all these images produced every day. Photography in my eyes is above all a vector, a medium. It is incumbent on the artist to take it farther, since it will always be a strong testimony with a memory function. The artist has a real responsibility to know what his or her photos are becoming, where they are going and what they illustrate.
You devote yourself to society’s great themes, to major social issues. Is your art engaged? The director of the festival Les Rencontres d’Arles once said about this, and rightly, that my generation doesn’t know political engagement any more. Even the definition of the word political escapes us. We don’t get passionate about the left-right divisions any more. In this sense, I’m not a militant activist. My actions have no goal or political message. I don’t pass judgement on the Israeli-Palestine wall or on shantytowns. I reveal things, but I’m not an activist. My objective is artistic and not political. Above all, I’m looking for a good fit between the photographs and the place; I want it to become meaningful.
How do you see the artist JR 30 years from now? Oh! I can’t see it at all, not even five years from now. I may have gone bourgeois. I may have changed my prejudices about brands. Maybe I’ll have a pair of ‘Nike JRs’ on my feet. Really, I haven’t got any idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be like in ten years. I live from day to day. •
Is JR worried about being ‘politically correct’? Not at all. No more 10 years ago than now. On the other hand I’ve never sought out provocation. I want to raise questions. The installation of the minaret in Vevey, for the Festival Images, is a good example.
curated by anne de vries
Re-Re-Reâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;mediating the Ex-Ex-Extended Instead of simplifying the topics, these works seem to be precise in their stimulation of a more complex reading of the intentions and linguistics behind the information cycles as we find in the media spheres. 17
Re-Re-Reâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;mediating the Ex-Ex-Extended
The artworks I want to present seem to share a curiosity for the enhanced, tilted and tweaked forms of media presentations, being re-inserted in specific ways into reality, using new media technology presented in material and sculptural ways in the actual world.
Once celebrated for its mechanical objectivity, photography has become increasingly removed from its objective origins due to technological developments. In modern professional photography, the shopped and cropped image has virtually become the standard.
Camera software such as the High Dynamic Range function in iPhones, immediately enhances images, improving snapshots directly to get more ‘realistic-looking’ photos. Similarly, the latest, ‘Extended’ version of Photoshop, features multiple extra functions, not just to adjust the photograph, but also to add new information ‘as if’ it was part of the original image, using algorithms, content-aware filters and 3D. In this way, photography finds itself at a crucial crossroad between the actual and a manipulated reality. Of course, it is not only photography that gets ‘adjusted’; all media, including news reports, edit content to maximize the impact on audiences and continually keep them engaged. In fact, the truth seems more susceptible to manipulation than ever now that we are actively occupied with its interpretation and dissemination through new and social media. Once a certain critical mass of supporters is involved, this can affect the resulting reality of the actual (offline) world. •
Cayetano Ferrer ← Cayetano Ferrer was born in 1981, Honolulu, Hawaii. He is an artist who investigates the urban environment and our perception of it. In the series called Western Imports he covers existing objects in various environments with inkjet prints showing the background of the object itself, usually not visible behind it. Then he photographs them, obtaining unnaturally natural images that at first sight seem digitally altered. In fact they result in effective reflections on the in-visibility of the different layers of the contemporary environment and on our memory of it.
Re-Re-Re mediating the Ex-Ex-Extended
→ Aleksandra Domanović was born in 1981 in Novi Sad, Slovenia. Her works explore how media technology changes and transforms itself following social changes, and vice-versa. One of her recent projects is named 13.30, referring to the time when the TV news used to be broadcast in former Yugoslavia. This is an open-end project for which Domanović took musical themes (named ‘indents’ in news lingo) from the first televised Yugoslav news broadcast in 1958 up to the present, and passed them onto techno DJs who sampled them and turned them into tracks. It is a complex project that reflects on the developments of technology and trends but also on the events, and moreover on the way these events were presented, along the history of former Yugoslavia’s component countries. It is presented in form of parties, where the tracks are played by Domanović as a VJ, as a two-channel video installation and as a freely downloadable archive. Aleksandra Domanović lives and works in Berlin.
Samara Golden ← Samara Golden was born in Michigan in 1973. She uses a wide range of media including found images from the Internet, handmade objects, mirrors, and re- photographing, to create sculptures. The sculptures are incorporated into live video installations where the viewer is involved through the use of surveillance cameras that reverse the gaze, and oblige the watcher to be watched. Often the live video feeds are combined with dvd's via a video mixer. These complex, maximal installations often address issues of identity and internal conflict, juxtaposing the self to the public, spectacle society and mass media. Samara Golden is currently based in Los Angeles.
oliver laric → Oliver Laric was born in 1981 in Innsbruck, Austria. He is a multidisciplinary artist and curator working with new media and found materials. He investigates the re-appropriation and manipulation of images in our culture, often juxtaposing them with the past. The project Kopienkritik reflects on the process of analyzing gypsum copies of classic sculptures to gain a greater understanding and comprehension of the originals. Laric reinstalled and rearranged the elements of the Skulpturhalle Basel collection, interspersing his own sculptures and videos within the display throughout the museum. He grouped the sculptures according to criteria of appearance and posture, making visible the spread and evolution of aesthetic and functional ideas in art practice. The project was completed by the projection of the video essay Versions, in which Laric addresses and stimulates the debate about the notions of authorship, authenticity and multiplication of images in and out of the Web context. Oliver Laric lives and works in Berlin.
Katja Novitskova → Katja Novitskova was born in 1984 in Tallinn, Estonia. She is an artist, curator and media expert. Her work investigates and pushes the limits of the internet and new media art, relating them to issues of identity, social reality and image ecology. The project Expo 2020 Gbadolite is a speculative research developed together with Femke Herregraven, Matthias Schreiber, Chris Lee, Henrik van Leeuwen and Mikko Oustamanolakis. Looking into the relationship between global capitalist investment strategies and contemporary power structures they created their own global event, World Expo 2020, taking place in Gbadolite, a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo. To analyse the processes behind a world expo they created collages of heavily Photoshopped found images related to Africa and new technologies and mixed them up with documentary footage. Katja Notiskova currently lives and works in Amsterdam.
Re-Re-Re mediating the Ex-Ex-Extended
← Simon Denny was born in 1982 in Auckland, New Zealand. He is a multi-disciplinary artist working with installation, exhibition design and sculpture. He explores the juxtaposition of reality and filtered reality by media, and how we exist in relation to this. In the installation Deep Sea Vaudeo he built a reef of screens decreasing in physical and pictorial ‘depth’, rom CRT to LCD, showing appropriated footage from an underwater ambient video. The presentation resembled sales displays which often use underwater images of marine life. The viewer was able to wonder around the faux reef, where nature and media, depiction and representation are all swirled together, hinting at the passing of a video format (CRT) and with it the ‘fishbowl’ screen, once a standard building block of video sculpture. Simon Denny lives and works between Auckland and Berlin.
â&#x2020;? Nicolas Ceccaldi was born in 1983 in Montreal, Canada. The works presented here consist of custommade prototypes of security cameras, essentially made of optical equipment and children's toys intricately melted together. These mutant devices keep a watchful eye on their environment, feeding a continuous live signal into closed-circuit video displays. Nicolas Ceccaldi lives and works in Berlin.
Timur Si-qin â&#x2020;&#x2019; Timur Si-Qin was born in 1984 in Berlin. In his work Si-Qin uses commercial imagery to explore the attractors of social and economic systems. For his contribution to Based-in-Berlin, a 1:1 scale football field LED banner system was proposed in Berlin's Monbijou Park, financed by real advertisement rented out by a London based ad-agency. The project was unfortunately shelved at the last minute due to city bureaucracy. Another project, Axe-Effect, consists of sculptures that pay a tongue-incheek tribute to the two primary drives of evolution: competition and sexual selection.
İ Publish by Bruno Ceschel
İ am an artİst, İ publİsh The German artist Joachim Schmid has been working with vernacular photography and bookmaking for years. He started collecting photographs he found in public places and, profiting from the widespread custom of sharing digital images, more recently pursued his search online.
In 2009 he published a book entitled Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirty-Four Parking Lots, Nine Swimming Pools, A Few Palm Trees, No Small Fires. The publication is essentially a remake of some of the books Ed Ruscha self-published between 1963 and 1972, including Twenty-Six Gasoline Stations,
Jamie Hawkesworth, have published numerous others, always sticking to their original format. Murray once said his original reason for making the zines was to do something interesting in a place where there was little going on. The series of publications was conceived as pieces of a puzzle, telling everyday, mundane stories about the town they lived in and its community. Each zine was conceived as a mini-project, be it a fake fashion shoot with local teenagers, or a selection of quirky family photos found in the local charity shops. The zines were given away for free to friends and family or sold cheaply at £3. Distributing the publication in this way might be seen per se as a statement, a response to a decade in photography governed by the principle: big prints in big white walled galleries for (supposedly) big money. Or, if applied to books: big expensive books in limited editions offered for a small elite of collectors.
widely considered to be the first modern artist’s book, an iconic precursor and major influence on contemporary artists’ book culture. Unlike Ruscha, however, Schmid did not take the pictures of the places and objects listed in the title, but instead used images he found online. Schmid’s book is not merely an homage, but art reflecting on itself, a significant conceptual update on some of the issues Ruscha raised in the 1960s. By using found images, Schmid questions the function of the art photographer in the days of the digital democratization of the medium. In choosing to print the book on-demand, he works in another reference to Ruscha, whose books were an open edition, with copies neither signed nor numbered and printed at various times to keep them cheap and available. Along similar lines, Schmid’s publication is theoretically an ‘infinite’ edition, available online directly from the printer, potentially forever, in a interesting conceptual rhyme to the idea of imagery found online.
In 2010 PPP moved on to making photozines, full-bleed black-and-white photostories printed digitally in a professional print-shop. And, more recently, a newsprint publication called Preston Bus Station. The bus station in Preston is a beautiful modernist building that seems to encapsulate the doomed optimism of post-war England. When it was scheduled for demolition to provide space for a more profitable housing development, Murray, Parkinson and Hawkesworth decided to spend several weeks in the station, photographing its architecture as well the community that ≈
İ am a storyteller, İ publİsh In June 2009 two British photographers, a young lecturer Adam Murray and one of his former students Robert Parkinson, published Preston Is My Paris, a 12-page zine of Xeroxed photographs printed at home. Preston, a poor post-industrial town in the North of England, was treated, in a slightly tongue-in-cheek gesture, as a substitute for the Paris of Atget and Boiffard. This first publication gave both the collective and the imprint its name: PPP - Preston is my Paris Publishing. Since that first zine Adam and Robert, occasionally joined by another former Preston student
gravitated to the place, mostly young disadvantaged teenagers. The project succeeded in engaging the local community and Preston Bus Station became a tool in the campaign against demolition. The publication, produced on a shoestring, was in fact given away for free. The campaign to save the building eventually succeeded. At the same time, mixing fashionista portraits with architecture and documentary photographs in a beautifully offbeat manner, Preston Bus Station also charmed the art photography crowd, who started collecting the publication.
İ am İn love, İ publİsh In 2006 Powerhouse published a book entitled Pees On Earth by American photographer Ellen Jong. The hardback cover photobook presented a series of self-portraits Jong took while peeing, often in public spaces during the drunken and debauched nights of her youth in NYC’s Lower East Side.
İ am, İ publİsh 25
Be it an artistic gesture, a political act or an intimate diary, Schmid, PPP and Jong all felt the need to leave a trace of their ideas, life, world. Each of these artists has succumbed to the drive
In 2010 Jong produced another photobook, selfpublished this time, entitled Getting To Know My Husband’s Cock. It is a shameless documentation of her boyfriend’s cock, photographed at different moments of their intimate life. The effect is strangely un-arousing. Its sexually graphic content becomes a tender ode to love – and a twist on the ‘male gaze’ paradigm. The compulsion with which Ellen documents what it means to fall in love, its burning life-consuming nature, its irrational mechanics, is touching. The gesture of turning the camera away from one’s own genitalia to those of the loved one makes incarnate that all-important moment when we move from juvenile self-obsession and gratification to the outward look necessary to share our life with somebody else. Oddly, Getting To Know My Husband’s Cock has a lot in common with family albums: that act of collecting intimate visual traces of one’s life and patiently gluing them together into a story. It’s a story that we share with our loved ones, and upon which the narrative of our life is constructed.
to manifest him- or herself in something as tangible, palpable and long-lasting as only a book can be. They ultimately believe photography can be a tool, that they can use to interact/interfere with the world and possibly with themselves.
These three recent publications epitomise and update three artistic urges that have always existed: challenging art, looking outwards at society and looking inwards at oneself. Artists making books is not by any means a novelty, rather what has changed is the context in which their books are published.
Schmid, PPP and Jong have decided to publish their books themselves. They made that decision for different reasons. To openly challenge the modus operandi in publishing — Schmid has made printing on demand a central element of his own artistic practice and actively nurtured that approach via a collective he founded, ABC The Artists’ Books Cooperative. So they can interact with a social and political landscape cheaply and instantly. PPP has made more then 20 publications so far, none of them costing more than £10. They have created a book so intimate that, as Ellen Jong said, she would have never felt comfortable about having it published traditionally and seeing it appear in random bookstores around the world.
New technologies have recently furnished new tools to pursue missions of this sort. Printingon-demand and digital printing improvements in general, the wider and cheaper availability of off-set printing and the amazing platform to showcase and sell books offered by internet, are only some of the astonishing recent technological advancements available to artists. A well-informed international audience interested in books clearly exists – a further justification for this (r)evolution. •
The three DIY publishers have been doing it themselves not because there is money to be made from publishing – on the contrary, most photo graphy publications are condemned to lose money – but because there is something empowering, fascinating and exciting about creating a book, especially if it is a home for your own pictures.
∆ Joachim Schmid, Twentysix Gasoline Stations, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Thirtyfour Parking Lots, Nine Swimming Pools, A Few Palm Trees, No Small Fires, Blurb: 2009.
reston Bus Station, Photography by Jamie Hawkesworth / P Adam Murray / Robert Parkinson, Essay by Aidan Turner-Bishop, Tabloid Size Newspaper, Preston is my Paris Publishing: 2010.
◊ Ellen Jong, Getting To Know My Husband’s Cock, self published monograph with photographs and text; 150 colour pages, New York: 2010.
Lieko Shiga Kitakama
All images © Lieko Shiga, 2011
Photography is usually linked to death rather than life, as if Medusa’s eye pene trates a vibrant body to turn it to stone. A reversal of values occurs in Lieko Shiga’s photography. To her photography is life, the only thing we can grasp at in despair of being unable to evade the death that must come to us all. She made a dead plum tree bloom with paper flowers, returned seawater to the sea that weighed the same as a stranded whale and collected many flowers from graves before burying them in the ground. These actions have only one meaning: giving life to real ity, in other words to bodies that are supposed to be dead.
Her work is therefore neither an inter pretation of her own world nor a docu mentary about the real world. This seems to be her vocation: to save numerous, anonymous lives and loves that are fated to be forgotten and universally ignored. Coal miners used to take canaries down into the mines with them. The canary is sensitive to methane fumes and in its death saved the lives of many miners’ lives. Lieko Shiga, like a canary, dedicates her continual song from the darkness in our world, to photography as life. •
e c n e i d Au
Like the old joke about alcohol and life, it seems the internet is both the cause of and the answer to the demise of traditional media. Over the last few years, the crisis of print has reached its apogee. Photographers who made a living from photojournalism or documentary photography have had to renegotiate their industry, and sometimes their art, in order to survive. The trickledown effect of the nosedive in sales of most newspapers, magazines and books has been that editorial budgets have shrivelled; photographers have been asked to submit their pictures for no fee, work without insurance, and pay to publish their own books. As the vultures circled, chewing on the abundant flesh of free content before spitting it out half-eaten, a new business model appeared that looked like salvation. Crowdfunding was born, a term that when I first heard it, connected in my mind to the relatively recent concept of ‘flashmobs’, the sudden gathering of likeminded people to watch or take part in an activity, facilitated by electronic media. Both concepts have the idea of community at their heart, and it is on this premise that crowdfunding will thrive or falter.
by Max Houghton
Part icipa tion
became the buzzword. Everyone from Magnum photo graphers to undergraduate photography students saw it as a lifeline to making new work. Larry Towell was on the receiving end of much opprobrium for asking his supporters to fund his latest trip to Afghanistan. Although his bid on one of the two most successful crowdfunding websites, Kickstarter, surpassed its goal of $12,000 (143 backers pledged $14,007), his description of the project Crisis in Afghanistan was perceived as woolly and ill-conceived. Such are the risks of going public when an idea is still at the formative stage. Towell’s status as a Magnum photographer must have played a huge part in convincing people to back him, yet it also left him and others like him open to the criticism that this was lifestyle funding – allowing the already privileged to tour the world at someone else’s expense. A cover of the US satirical magazine The Onion in 2009 depicted a mournful young boy, with the strapline ‘For only $5 per month you can help continue photographing this child.’ Because, as already suggested, crowdfunded work depends on the idea of ‘community’, photographers pursuing this route have to maintain an open and sometimes intimate dialogue with their audiences. As the work progresses, this exchange often takes the form of a blog. The thoughtful blog can provide an answer
Crowdfunding – an ugly and somewhat inaccurate term, as ‘crowd’ carries with it a connotation of anonymity –
On the concept and practice of crowdfunding: Via PanAm (Kadir van Lohuizen) and The Sochi Project (Rob Hornstra & Arnold van Bruggen)
‘Crowdfunding could be a way to regain our independence, which we were losing big time.’
Yet for Kadir van Lohuizen, co-founder of the agency Noor, the sense of community necessitated by his own foray into crowdfunding has been a revelation. Currently half way through a year-long journey across South America, taking the subject of migration as his theme, Van Lohuizen now has Facebook friends across the eight countries in which he has travelled so far. He admits he found the transition from lone traveller to constant communicator a difficult one. It required a certain drawing out of himself. ‘It is not my instinct to make myself the story; I find it awkward. But I have had to learn to like it.’ Van Lohuizen used the other dominant crowdfunding website Emphas.is, which differs from Kickstarter in that it controls which projects can access funding on its site via an independent editorial board. It focuses specifically on photographic ventures. Van Lohuizen’s Via PanAm, is an excellent example of a successfully funded project, yet in fact only 10% of the total cost was funded through the website. Ironically, one reason the project has been such a successful recipient of other, more traditional funding opportunities, such as from the Foundation of the Arts in Holland, is its engagement with non-traditional crowdfunding and inherent audience participation, always a favourite category of
funders. That Van Lohuizen and his producers Paradox are investing in new technology by making an app of this complexity has also brought its rewards. Says Van Lohuizen: ‘If you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be pioneering an iPad app or diving into multimedia, I would have said you were crazy. But one of the reasons we started Noor was that we realized the industry was changing very quickly and we had to unite, and find different ways to approach projects. The thinking started a long time ago. Now crowdfunding could be a way to regain our independence, which we were losing big time. The app could be a new source of income. I am not under the illusion that I could sell enough apps to do without funding, because there are simply not enough people who have an iPad, but this is changing quite rapidly. If you built a website some years ago, it cost a crazy amount of money if you wanted to do it right. Now there are all these templates and it can be done easily. I hope this [the Via PanAm app] will be something we can all profit from.’ ↖ Via PanAm App for iPad
to the postmodern question of where to locate the self in the work, in a mode of photography that can no longer uphold objectivity as one of its principles. As the nature of witnessing has changed, the need for the photographer to examine the validity of his or her efforts has become paramount. The blog, read directly by the people who are paying for the work, among others, can offer a crucial site for this endeavour. Larry Towell’s very private and eccentric nature (he is delightful in person) did not find its natural habitat in the blogosphere, where his responses to criticism came across as remote and out of sync.
Another big success story of the crowdfunding era is Rob Hornstra’s The Sochi Project. He worked closely with writer and filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen and his fiveyear project focuses on the site of the Winter Olympic Games in 2014. As vast sums of money are pumped into making the region appear perfect to visitors, Hornstra wanted to look at real life in a region tense with religious, ethnic, geographical and political rivalries. Their model of crowdfunding was entirely self-generated, building on the success of Hornstra’s earlier projects, such as 101 Billionaires, and, perhaps most remarkably, his university graduation project, Cowgirls and Communism. After a bartender friend offered to buy a copy for €30 Hornstra wondered if he could sell a further hundred in the same way. While this makes him sound like a entrepreneurial prodigy, he simply says he thought self-published books were common, and went on to publish Roots in 2006 and then Billionaires in 2008, presales of which sold out in a couple of hours. He retains his youthful verve and optimism, saying he is not interested in making money from his work. ‘I don’t like holidays! I am addicted to my work; it’s my only goal. I love that people are interested in my stories.’
Via PanAm – a 40-week journey exploring migration in the Americas In Via PanAm, Kadir van Lohuizen investigates the roots of migration in the Americas, a phenomenon which is as old as humanity but is increasingly portrayed as a new threat to the Western world. Via PanAm follows Van Lohuizen’s footsteps from the southern tip of Chile to the northernmost parts of Alaska. Travelling 28,000 km along the Pan-American Highway and crossing 15 countries, Van Lohuizen visualizes the stories of the communities, regions and societies he encounters. His photo stories reflect the complexity of migration – the diverse motivations for coming and going, the struggles and successes, the economic, political, social and environmental contexts, as well as intimate moments and personal stories.
Via PanAm engages the audience through a variety of platforms, using both traditional and new media. While on the road, from March 2011 to February 2012, Van Lohuizen can be followed through weekly radio reports (VPRO radio, NL), bi-weekly newspaper articles (NRC Handelsblad, NL) and magazine publications (IS Magazine, Sunday Times Magazine, LIFE China, and soon National Geographic, GEO, Newsweek and L’Espresso). Through Facebook and Twitter he keeps in direct touch with his audience. The Via PanAm website and iApp provide contextual background information and directly update readers and viewers on the journey’s progress. Simultaneously, Paradox and Van Lohuizen are working on a fourth platform: a travelling exhibition capable of bringing the project back to the people and regions that relate to it.
↘ © Kadir van Lohuizen/ NOOR Images. In the center of Neiva is the reception center for the displaced (refugees). On average around 400 people register every month. In 2009 there were 11.000 refugees registered, in 2011 this number has gone up to 38.000.
independent ↗ © Rob Hornstra/INSTITUTE. Courtesy Flatland Gallery
The Sochi Project In The Sochi Project, Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen have since 2009 been documenting the changes in and around Olympic Sochi, Russia. Over a period of five years, The Sochi Project will become an atlas of this volatile region, from the multi-billion-dollar investments in the Olympic venues to the conflict-ridden territories of the Northern Caucasus and Georgia. The Sochi Project is a dynamic mix of documentary photography, film and reportage about a world in flux; a world full of different realities within a small but extraordinary geographic area. The Sochi
Project is a unique, in-depth and costly project. Dutch newspapers and magazines are unable to undertake or afford a project on this scale. Hornstra and Van Bruggen think it is important that independent, documentary journalism continues to exist, which is why they are doing it themselves, financed by their donor system and by selling special edition prints and publications, like Empty Land, Promised Land (2010), Sanatorium (2009), the Annual C-Print Collectors Box, posters or Christmas cards (with prices ranging from € 6 to € 1,000).
not a grainy, gritty, dramatic style of photography. That the page may now have morphed into a computer screen, iPad, or even a gallery wall brings considerations of its own. Historically, in terms of photographs, the bar is set pretty high for post-Soviet aesthetics, and indeed for migration. Whether the Via PanAm app, with its rich tapestry of stills, audio, video and storytelling, will have the same resonance or longevity as The Grapes of Wrath, or the photographs of Lewis Hine remains to be seen. Now we have found a way to make the work, we must keep searching for ways of making the work.
Crowdfunding is undoubtedly a breakthrough, but many of the criticisms – of exoticism, of grand narratives – that have attached themselves to traditionally funded work of an engaged nature will stand, unless photographers address these questions too. Photography has never been a simple transaction. The business of looking at a photograph has always been triangulated – a three-way relation between photographer, subject and viewer. By inviting the viewer – and in theory it is also possible that the invitation extends to the subject (though that would bring its own problems) – to participate financially in the project, power relations shift. This generation of photographers does not want to be seen as heroic or aloof (or at the very least, does not want to admit it) and is actively pursuing a method of working that is more inclusive and less hierarchical; a tacit understanding that the work would not even be possible without the viewer. Such consideration must also be applied to the subject. In the best-case scenario, new funding strategies could have the added effect that photographers are no longer implicated in such a negative way in the stories they pursue. •
Aesthetically, the luxury of time spent with their subject has not, it seems, altered the photography of either artist (though Van Lohuizen is now photographing in colour as well as his habitual black-and-white). Though Hornstra spoke of a great sense of creative freedom, and Van Lohuizen of working ‘experimentally’, their photo graphy is not in itself pushing boundaries; it is in fact quite ‘traditional’. What has changed, however, is each photographer’s relationship with words. Van Bruggen’s writing carries the same weight as Hornstra’s pictures;Van Lohuizen writes himself and works with a text editor, providing crucial context to his pictures. This deepening relationship with words in longer term projects is a step in the right direction for photojournalism, which in its proper definition, is simply pictures on a page with text,
← webshop on www.thesochiproject.org
Hornstra, like Van Lohuizen, controls access to a certain proportion of his work. Only donors can view all the stories on the Sochi website. With Via PanAm, the indepth reports can be viewed only by purchasers of the iPad app (1600 to date). This reveals the paradox of the crowdfunding enterprise: the very openness of the interaction is immediately undermined by its exclusivity. There is no tangible difference between an oldfashioned subscription, a new-media paywall, and this kind of limited access. One of Hornstra’s books from the Sochi venture costs a prohibitive €99, though there are cheaper ways to get a piece of it (Christmas cards at €6, for example). While Van Lohuizen’s photographic subjects in Nicaragua or Honduras may not own iPads (of course some do; he does not photograph only the disenfranchised), many will be able to visit the exhibition he is hosting in each of the fifteen countries, or take part in the workshops he holds locally.
foam magazine #29 what's next?
Point of departure for this chapter is From Here On: one of the leading exhibitions, in the sense of being the most discussed, during Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. With the exhibition's manifesto at the beginning of this chapter it continues with different contributions on the use and abuse of the online image in an artistic context.
Laurel Ptak spoke with artist David Horvitz on the history and politics of the online image in the context of his work. Inspired by the essay ‘Lost Not Found’, which is part of one of our favourite publications Words Without Pictures, the author Marisa Olson has now, two years later, ventured to continue with the theme in the essay titled Postinternet. All of which could indicate the directions to take from here on(line).
Nicholas Mirzoeff contrasts the engaging work of the artist JR with the topics addressed by the exhibition From Here On 41
introduction from here on(line)
in his in-depth essay ‘Photography 2.0’. Marcel Feil (Foam Deputy Director, artistic affairs) invited Clément Chéroux (one of the five curators), Fred Ritchin and Penelope Umbrico (whose work was seen in From Here On) for a conversation open to the public in Foam's What's Next? project space in Arles. Transcriptions are included here.
In the process of making this special issue, we, the editorial team, discussed things that stood out for us over the past year. Key moments, developments and exhibitions that stimulated talks on the state of affairs and called for a critical position for and within one’s own practice (as artist, curator, editor, etc.).
The manifesto is written by the five curators of the exhibition From Here On: Clément Chéroux (F), curator in the Cabinet de la Photographie, Centre Pompidou; Joan Fontcuberta (ES), artist; Erik Kessels (NL), founding member and
artistic director of KesselsKramer; Martin Parr (UK), photographer of the Magnum agency and Joachim Schmid (D), artist. The exhibition was part of Les Rencontres d'Arles, 4 July – 18 September 2011, Arles, France.
by Nicholas Mirzoeff
inside out photography 2.0
Photography is not what it was. It is inside out. Despite the fears so widely expressed in the 1990s, photography did not die. It has interfaced with the Internet and morphed into Photography 2.0. For a decade after the 9/11 attacks, we have endured the image wars from Shock and Awe assaults on Iraq, and the scandals of Abu Ghraib and the Danish cartoons. With the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 coming after the dramatic transformations of the Arab Spring, it feels as if that period is now over. No photograph of bin Laden’s corpse appeared, unlike the execution of Saddam Hussein: the image has proved to be a dubious weapon. No wonder Foam is asking What’s Next? while Les Rencontres d’Arles in 2011 offered a manifesto entitled From Here On and the International Center of Photography’s Fourth Triennial in 2012 has been named simply ‘Chaos’. However, the era in which such gatekeepers determined cultural direction is over.
from here on(line)
The interface between social networking and the social is the selfimage, which I call ‘photografitti,’ a mark made for and by the self as a claim to personhood.
Photography has become a ‘killer app’ for the Web 2.0 era. With an estimated 500 billion photographs taken each year, it has moved decisively into the era that Internet theorist Clay Shirky has called ‘publish then filter’. Photographs are taken, posted and circulated via Flickr, Twitpic, Photobucket, Facebook and other social networks and then certain images go viral. The biological metaphor suggests that photography is not now – if it ever was – a disembodied, unmarked (white, male) machinemediated observation. It is an extension of the body, whose signature gesture is the young woman photographing herself using her phone at arm’s length. Photography is becoming democratic, beyond its first democratization of the means of mechanical visual reproduction, to a democracy of the self (image). The interface between social networking and the social is the self-image, which I call ‘photografitti,’ a mark made for and by the self as a claim to personhood. The personal is, once again, political.
key content removed, so that the ruins of the Reichstag were seen without the Soviet soldier hoisting the Red Flag. There were multiple overlays of tourist photographs of monuments such as the Eiffel Tower. Photographs of chickens seemed to evoke the LOL cat genre online, while a deliberately obvious Photoshop manipulation produced jokey ‘photog raphs’ of the artist as if in a Hawai’ian volcano. Amongst all this somewhat outdated, one might say belated, discovery of online visual rhetoric, there was an almost complete absence of political or documentary subject matter. It was as if content must be removed from photography in the name of a certain digitality but after Tahrir and the Arab Spring, it felt more like the abandoning of a project. Noticeably, web-based projects like LulzSec and Anonymous, who had previously pursued the ‘lulz’ [laughs], turned serious in 2011, aiding Tunisians and Egyptians to get online and avoid security services. For all the rhetoric of openness, the From Here On exhibition was expensive, surrounded by a three-metre-high wire-mesh fence and festooned with widely ignored ‘photos are not allowed’ signs. By contrast, the street artist JR had an open photo booth for his Inside Out project in which sitters could have a largescale poster-size photograph taken and printed within minutes. Arles was festooned with the flyposted results, while all the images were archived online, together with other Inside Out projects, such as one accompanying the Paris Delhi exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, which rendered the sitter with a bindi mark in the centre of her/his forehead. Whereas From Here On had a literal gate visitors were required to climb over (so much for disabled access), JR understands his role to be that of facilitator, allowing the subject to pose themselves and do what they want with the resulting posters and digital images.
These remarks are themselves a snapshot, a trajectory of observations made in pursuit of a photography that might be adequate to the Arab Spring. From Here On seemed a promising place to start. The curators issued a manifesto, displayed at the entrance to the exhibition and reproduced on posters, online and in various magazines. It begins: ‘Now we’re a species of editors, we all recycle, clip and cut, remix and upload.’ Their exhibition displayed the work of some thirty-five artists, none of whom are photographers in the sense that they use cameras. Rather all are ‘photographers’ who use the seemingly endless expanse of the Internet as source of their imagery by editing and remixing. These claims are significant and are certainly part of what’s next. Yet for those of us who have been involved with digital culture for some time, there was nothing particularly remarkable about these assertions, which are part of the common sense of digital practice. Further, the choices made by the curators seemed to veer in the direction of whimsy and a certain punning sense of humour. There were classic Magnum photos with the
To take this comparison a little further, compare a recent project by Martin Parr, one of the curators of From Here On, in the Goutte d’Or district of Paris with
By contrast, JR imagined his project in Tunisia as being without conditions and open to the future. Working in conjunction with Tunisian bloggers and using all local interlocutors, the goal was to create a series of one hundred portraits of people who had participated in the revolution. The photographs were the large-scale head-and-shoulder close-ups in black-and-white that have become JR’s signature style. Printed as 90x120cm posters, they were flyposted across four cities in Tunisia, including startling examples in the former secret police commissariat, on the façade of one of Ben Ali’s former houses, and in place of the former dictator’s face on posters. As the documentary posted on JR’s own website indicates, even this open access project was subject to intense criticism in Tunisia. Why only a hundred? was the common refrain. For the revolution is widely held to have been the work of the people, not a sub-set of heroes. No-one wants to replace autocracy with artocracy, even as a joke. In Cairo, the contingency artist Ganzeer, who had produced a widely-used pamphlet on how to conduct a protest during the revolution, is now attempting the marathon project of street portraits of all 847 people who died in the revolution, the martyrs. However, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who are running Egypt, persist in painting over these memorials so Ganzeer and his fellow street artists like Keizer are using the Internet as an archive of their work (http://cairostreetart.com). A Google maps mash-up indicates where and when the work was posted. Users are invited to ‘like’ the link on Twitpic and Flickr but not Facebook, which is now too carefully under surveillance. But Ganzeer had only accomplished three of these portraits as of last summer, making it unlikely that his martyrology will ever be accomplished.
If the Internet and photography are turning inside out, then, that involution does not solve the contradictions and problematics of photography but it has extended the photographic field and transformed the scene of photography. If the archetype of modern photography was the unmarked (white, male) photographer taking pictures in the street (Robert Frank) or in scenes of crisis (anyone at Magnum), today’s insideout photographic archetype is the self-portrait. Whether taken by web-cams, timers or simply by holding the camera/phone at arm’s length and checking the results until a ‘good’ one is obtained, the self-portrait is the counter to the ubiquitous surveillance of the age of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV). It asserts a presence and autonomy, from which can be derived the right to be seen and the right to look. The enslaved, the racially segregated and their modern descendants, the imprisoned, have no such right. Even after the abolition of slavery in the United States in 1863, ‘reckless eyeballing,’ a simple looking at a white person, especially a white woman or person in authority, was forbidden those classified as colored under Jim Crow. Such looking was held to be both violent and sexualized in and of itself, a further intensification of the policing of visuality. As late as 1951, a farmer named Matt Ingram was convicted of the assault of a white woman in North
Today’s inside-out photographic archetype is the self-portrait.
inside out photography 2.0
JR’s Artocraty in Tunisia, a street-art engagement that immediately followed the January 2011 revolution. With his self-proclaimed British irony, Parr photographed the subsection of the 10th arrondissement most known for its Islamic population. Perhaps his most remarked photograph depicted men praying in the street on Friday in front of a shop window labelled ‘Produits Exotiques’ [Exotic Products]. There’s a winking play with Orientalism here that uses its very awareness of the trope to replicate it beneath a protective layer of wit. Street prayer has been highly controversial in Paris with the Sarkozy administration ordering worshippers into a disused warehouse in September 2011 as part of its attempt to appropriate the racialized resentment that motivates National Front voters. Parr indulged in his own nationalism by observing in the Independent newspaper in the U.K. that French Muslims are ‘much more similar to other French people than French people are to Britons.’ As a British citizen I can assure you that the affect of superiority here is entirely intentional.
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each individual is a person with rights. It indexes and updates the claim made by the Civil Rights movement in the U. S., namely ‘I am a man,’ into such forms as ‘We are all Khaled Said,’ the name of a Facebook page liked over 400,000 times. Above and beyond the particular instances of identification of this kind, the placing of bodies in the street as an index of the desire for change was a photography of the people. In key public spaces, such as Tahrir Square in Cairo, individuals staged themselves as the people. Their arrangements for cleaning, medical care, food and other normally private concerns rendered the public square – a key term of political discourse – into a domestic or vernacular space. The everyday of the vernacular public refuses to accept that we are in a permanent state of emergency, requiring constant CCTV surveillance. In creating this domestic public, the square or other space becomes in effect a technique of projection: it projects the coming together of individuals as the people into a different future. This projection takes food and environmental security to be equal or superior in priority to security from random acts of politicized violence because so many more people are affected by them over the long term. Photography 2.0 moves, then, from the individual experience of the expanded present to project the future. Watch this space: more follows. •
Carolina because she had not liked the way he looked at her from a distance of 65 feet. This monitoring of the look has been retained in the notoriously racialized US prison system, so that, for example, detainees in the Abu Ghraib phase of the war in Iraq (2003-4) were forcefully told ‘don’t eyeball me!’
If the Internet and photography are turning inside out, then, that involution does not The photographic selfsolve the contradictions image eyeballs the self and asserts its right to be and problematics of seen and its right to look. I would call the genre photography but it has ‘photograffiti.’ By this I extended the mean that unlike the ‘photograph’ with its claim to photographic be a ‘pencil of nature,’ photograffiti is humanfield and made. It creates a mark that is not necessarily transformed knowable to the human and machine intelligences trying to contain the global populace. Ironically, the new the scene of mark of identification is becoming the iris, replacing the nineteenth century fingerprint and bypassing the photography. failed biometrics of the face. For face-recognition software is still poor at best, while many such photographs cannot be crawled by whatever bots Google and others might devise, because they are never posted anywhere, remaining literally in camera. This vernacular secrecy creates a certain space to be seen. Photograffiti on the individual scale exists in an expanded present, one that intrudes briefly into the past but is experienced as a continuum. Techniques such as slow-motion replay and the ability to pause and rewind live digital television broadcasts have accustomed us to this new present. The photograffiti artist knows that the first task is to refuse to ‘move on, there’s nothing to see here,’ as the police will say, but instead to claim the existence of the present as the site of the right to look. In its collective form, this photograffiti is the demand of a people to be recognized as ‘the people’ with attendant sovereignty, implying at the same time that
.. l Feil.
iN C � include in the exhibition. That is not a conventional way of curating an exhibition.
Foam What's Next? in Arles, 5 July 2011
Can you please tell us something about the origin of the From Here On exhibition. Why this exhibition at this moment?
C.C. The origin of this
project was an idea of Joan Fontcuberta. He was aware that something was happening, we are all aware that something is happening in the photographic world, but he was interested in bringing together five people from different fields to try to put their fingers on what is happening today. The people in the exhibition are no longer really photographers, they see themselves more as artists, or as editors, which is a very important word in the manifesto. Artists working with images today are increasingly likely to be editors, making choices and not always creating the images themselves, which is important. Another point is that the project was an experimental curating of experimental photography; for three or four months we sent each other links to artists’ websites, and then we met three times in Paris where we discussed those artists and chose those we wanted to
C.C. First I have to say
that the fact we found it on the internet doesn’t mean the internet is necessarily the final point of an artist’s project. Most of the artists now in the exhibition hold exhibitions in museums and gallery spaces. They commonly make prints, frames, or posters and the like. So the internet is not the final destination, le point d’achèvement, nor the place where the work is presented as an achievement. It is more of a way to diffuse, to disseminate the work. And the fact it’s on the internet doesn’t mean the best way of presenting it is as it’s presented on the internet. This is not an exhibition about what happens on the screen. It’s an exhibition about images, and the internet is just a way to disseminate the images.
So the internet is more or less an archive, a reservoir where artists find imagery and select to edit or work with it.
C.C. Yes. I would say to
find images, but also to find ideas, to find concepts. It’s an
concept, or an idea, a possibility, is only really valuable if it’s used in a proper way to tell a story or a narrative, or to show something. I felt it could have been brought to another level by telling something about the possibilities the internet offers. For me, a large part of it was a display of possibilities digital imagery offers, but the important thing for me is what the artist has to say with this new equipment, with these new tools and a new vocabulary.
C.C. I cannot answer that
question in general terms. Each artist has his own answer to your question. Each artist does his own work. One of them is working on the question of intimacy, another on the position of the author, the death of the author, so there isn’t just one question or one answer in the exhibition. There are different questions and different answers. <…>
What about the title, From Here On. Can you talk a little about it? Is there a schism in history before the exhibition and from here on?
C.C. No. Usually when you pose the question in terms of novelty you lose a lot in terms of complexity, so obviously the title turns out to be a bit too easy, like an advertising slogan. But it means that from here on some major questions, like the question of the author, of quality and of appropriation. These aren’t just peripheral questions, they’re much more important than they used to be.
mArcel feil in conversAtion with...
I see that the natural habitat of the works is the internet, though now it has been transformed by the five of you into an exhibition. That is a variant presentation form: another way of presenting the work and a different way for the audience to look at the works. Some works, I notice, are now beautifully framed, as if they are traditional artworks. How did you deal with the tension between the internet and the traditional threedimensional exhibition space?
NVe rsAt �N inspiration, but notionly in with terms of images. .. M.F. But of course a
Fred RitchiN Foam What's Next? in Arles, 7 July 2011
from here on(line)
M.F. I have to give you the
credit for coming up with a very specific characterization of the From Here On show: ‘It’s the McDonald’s of typology’. What did you mean by that and how did you reach that conclusion?
F.R. Well, there are many
things going on. The root of the word photography means writing with the light, drawing with the light. And to me there is really no light in this show – we have, in a sense, the sun without any sunlight. It is essentially writing with rather simple algorithms, what one might call a fast-food equivalent of slow food – all those rectangles and circles (Euclidean geometry) with so little texture. It is a closed system. A major promise of the digital is interactivity, collaboration with the viewer, and there is nothing interactive in the exhibition at all. The reader has no power, the viewer is powerless. Is this a comment on our diminished place in the world, or on our status at the photography festival? Someone said to me that ‘It’s as if the bourgeoisie is taking advantages of images
made by the proletarians.’ I think there are various power imbalances. One of the curators said yesterday that the photographers in the exhibition have no justifiable copyright because they have no vision, no authorship, and it’s really trash. We can do whatever we want with trash. There’s inequality in this power relationship – someone can take other people’s imagery and be called an artist, while the initial imagery is called trash. Then we started talking about the rights of the authors, but what of the rights of the subject? Because in Google Street View, and other such archives, there is an issue of privacy: you are putting prostitutes from Madrid on walls at the exhibition. Is it right for them? Would you want to be seen that way? Is surveillance the way that we want to go? Do we want to celebrate watching other people, or question it? What if they were looking at us?
So there is perhaps more of a moral right, talking about power, than a legal right?
F.R. We tend to focus on
the legal and the financial but that is only a small part of it. Twenty or thirty years ago photographers used to complain that no one would publish their work. They were waiting for some gatekeeper to recognise them and publish their work, and everything would be much better. Now we have more tools of production than at any time in history. Now we have massive software packages, we can distribute everywhere, we can build our own websites and so on. But what do you do with all these additional images? Is there a vision? Where should
humanity be going? Can this be helpful to people in any way? Or are we just spreading more trash? To me these are the questions that we really have to ask, and that we have to start to answer.
Are there examples of attempts, perhaps successful attempts, to use the technological instrument in a successful way, in your opinion?
F.R. Sometimes at least
some photographers think of their roles as that of witnesses, as explorers, even as a kind of medical doctor for humanity in distress. And if you are a medical doctor and you are given new tools, you try to use them to be helpful to people. The social kind of photography that people practice is the only field that I know that has reached its highpoint in the 1930s – if we could only photograph like Robert Capa, or Dorothea Lange, or the Farm Security Administration, we’d be successful. Filmmakers don’t think like that, novelists don’t think that, nobody else thinks that. But you only have to look at the Barnack Awards to see that what we consider strong social documentary work has not changed much. Robert Capa could still win the award. If you look at film – Hitchcock, Tarantino and so on – there is a progression towards new ways of using film. If you look at novelists, Hemingway would probably not win the award today. But in social photography – particularly about matters of international importance – the reference points are still too often work that was done three-quarters of a century ago. We’ve had, unfortunately,
Nw � i t A s Ver N � C iN
very few ideas since – most of the new ideas are coming from social media and the cellphone culture. What are the new ideas coming from the photographic community? Why don’t we concentrate on finding them, on encouraging them, instead of recycling so much of what has been done before?
We are coming to a point where the image culture reflects itself but increasingly loses the world. I sense that what we are doing, somewhat unconsciously, is building an image planet that we want to inhabit while we are leaving the world that we used to be part of. We live for images, and we are imprisoned by images – we allow them to imprison us – rather than using the images to free ourselves from misconceptions, to help us to live. And I think that too much of what we see, in the photo industry, is symptomatic of our imprisonment. We have to escape the prison, and
PeNel�pe UmbricO Foam What's Next? in Arles, 7 July 2011
M.F. In the From Here
On exhibition there’s hardly one artist presenting a single work: series, grids… they’re all typologies, whatever the subject matter. You work with typologies as well, can you tell us a little bit about your fascination for selecting works and putting them in some sort of typological grid, or clouds, or whatever shape you choose?
↑ From Here On, installation shots © Anne Fourès / Rencontres d’Arles 2011
like Basetrack, and the work of people like Reza Zalmai, Lynsey Addario, Tim Hetherington and Simon Norfolk, should be more widely disseminated as a collection of voices amplifying each other rather than as fragments. Ten years after the post-9/11 invasion of
make the images work for us. Otherwise we become, as image producers, both jailers and prisoners.
The grid for me is really an expedient way to talk about a non-narrative, non-hierarchical arrangement of images. There are representations of some subjects that can fit quite naturally into a grid and often these are typologies. But a typology in itself, or a grid, is not my interest - my fascination is with the subjects I explore and the grid or the typology is just the most expedient way to say something with, or about, those subjects.
How do you find, select and edit the subject matter? There are a lot of dissimilar works, but also a common denominator in the images you use.
P.U. Yes - there is a 49
mArcel feil in conversAtion with...
So now, if you look at the Iraq war the only arresting images that affect many people (although I am exaggerating somewhat) are the pictures of Abu Ghraib, which were taken by soldiers, or Nina Berman’s pictures of seriously wounded soldiers who have come home to the United States. In Afghanistan there are also very few images that relate to, that help explain the dynamics of the last ten years of a devastating conflict – although projects
Afghanistan too few people understand what the conflict is about, why so many have died, where it is going, or have much sense of the Afghan people.
way, like the Suns from Flickr project. Take the tile that might be very straightforward, down to earth, low culture, but you turn it into sometimes very traditional aesthetics. It’s a conscious choice, I presume.
That’s a very good example, together with the Mirrors (from Home Décor Websites), also in the exhibition. Both are derived from contexts where the original images propose the ultimate promise of beauty, to begin with. The mirrors are sourced from commercial websites where they have been staged to be seductive. And everybody loves a sunset. It’s
↑ From Here On, installation shots © Anne Fourès / Rencontres d’Arles 2011
common denominator conceptually. Somebody asked me how I choose what I use of all the possible images on the internet. If you take a camera outside onto the street, you are confronted with countless possibilities. You could make any kind of image. If you are a documentary photographer you might have a subject that you are interested in, so that starts to help you move towards a place in the physical world that is interesting to you. And the more inside the subject you get, the further you move into a context – into the physical, material space. I do the same thing on the internet. And I could say that
I am a documentary photo grapher looking for specific types of subject matter, which has to do with dematerialization, immateriality, material, technology, dysfunction within technology, the disappearance of the subject.
One interesting thing to me about the exhibition is that some of the works presented there finally overcome the aesthetics inherited from a painterly tradition. The way you present your grids is aesthetic, in a
one of the most universally photographed subjects - on Flickr there are more than 9 million images tagged ‘sunset’. I have started to find pictures online of people taking photographs of themselves in front of an installation, as though they are in front of the sunset themselves.
case for example the sun is the ultimate material, physical object in our world. It’s bigger than life, it makes us happy, gives us energy, it’s always there for us. It’s an incredible singular physical presence, but in these more than 9 million pictures it is subsumed into the electronic space of the internet, where it becomes infinitely multiple and ultimately just a code. It’s interesting to take something that goes from being a big physical presence to being an ephemeral, nonmaterial, presence, back to being a physical presence.
How does it feel to see your work in a very new environment. It’s something that perhaps needed to be done, something we haven’t seen before. What is your reaction to seeing your work surrounded by all those other works?
I am actually used to seeing my work in this context, but it’s only in the last couple years that I have been invited to photo festivals. I think it’s important that the photo graphy world is embracing the kind of work that is in this show. I’ve begun to call myself a photographer because an insistence on a separation between photography and the kind of work I make is as superficial to me as privileging ‘medium’ and ‘technique’ in the definition of photography. I think there’s an underlying and important connection between all the work in this show and the inherent conventions we associate with traditional photography.
Why didn’t you present that project digitally as in the website?
The materiality of it is really important to me. In this
All photos © Karin Bareman / Foam, unless mentioned differently
Jordan Tate New Work
All images © Jordan Tate, 2010 – 2011
Jordan Tate’s latest work wrestles with one of the key contemporary preoccupations of our field: photography qua photography. In other words: How do we see? What are suitable subjects for photography? And what are viable means of imagemaking? Tate’s work belongs to a growing group of photographers indebted to predecessors Christopher Williams and James Welling. But Tate pushes the conversation beyond nostalgia and squarely into the present by indulging in screen-based images and nontraditional output methods like lenticular screens, animated gifs, and 3-D anaglyphs. For example, the marching ants – familiar to anyone with working knowledge of Photoshop – become embedded in his final image. These animated selection lines are usually a momentary visual reference or the trace of an artist’s working process. Here they are transformed into the image’s raison d’être.
His images frequently focus on indicators of an image in the making – a photograph of a Polaroid that could easily be an exposure/lighting test for a studio shoot; the depiction of an iPhone screen filled with what appears to be a colour bar; a web browser in the midst of download. All of these have become part of the familiar lingua franca of contemporary image making and image sharing, but usually they are kept behind the scenes. Boldly, Tate places these elements front and centre. In another über-contemporary nod, Tate adopts a mode of working in which the traditional idea of a coherent style or artist series is dismissed, making room for seemingly disparate image-making modes to coexist within a single body of work. In an appropriately deadpan manner this series is entitled New Work. But it’s not that the work is interesting just because it’s new; it’s interesting because it offers a compelling and quirky exploration of the work involved in new photography. •
Lesley A. Martin
P os tint son l O a s i
r by Ma
of artists whose work employed the internet self-reflexively – to both celebrate and critique the internet, primarily in their posts to a number of group ‘surf blogs,’ including Nasty Nets, the original ‘pro surfer’ blog, of which I am a co-founder, along with artists John Michael Boling, Joel Holmberg, and Guthrie Lonergan. Nonetheless, there were many important artists I did not have the space to highlight, and one important term I still have yet to elucidate: Postinternet.
POSTERINTERNET: art after the internet
The forehistory of the article you are now reading is that Foam asked me to write an update to an essay I wrote in 2008 for LACMA’s Words Without Pictures book (Aperture/Thames & Hudson); the lengthy title of which was, ‘Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture.’ One of my aims with that piece was to bring to the attention of a wider art audience the existence of a thriving group
In his recent essay, ‘Within Post-Internet’ (pooool. info, 2011), Louis Doulas sets the scene: ‘While Post-Internet is a term still awkwardly vague to many, it was ﬁrst conceived by artist Marisa Olson, most widely encountered in a 2008 interview conducted through the website We Make Money Not Art. Her deﬁnition acknowledges that internet art can no longer be distinguished as strictly computer/internet based, but rather, can be identiﬁed as any type of art that is in some way inﬂuenced by the internet and digital media.’
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While there has now been a fair amount of writing about the term, and a fair number of artists, curators, and scholars have clung to it, I have yet to publish a statement of my own outlining what I meant in coining the term ‘Postinternet Art,’ and how I’ve seen it develop in the five years since I did so. This will be that essay.
The p a con ostintern e quali dition, a t is a mo m fact, p t I want is to give you a historiography that t,what trans y that en roperty, eInisnaware of the conditions of its own production, as I a a cend c present you with an image philosophy of s new ompasse ndsimultaneously art influenced by the internet. s an medi d a. My original statement to We Make Money Not Art’s
Régine Debatty was that ‘I think it’s important to address the impacts of the internet on culture at large, and this can be done well on networks but can and should also exist ofﬂine.’ This is a point that I’d been trying to hammer-home to anyone who cared to listen for the previous 3-4 years. When appointed Editor & Curator at Rhizome, in 2005, my first agenda was to change the organization’s mission statement to assert its support of not only internet-based art, but all art that engages with the internet.
I tried, in the essay ‘Lost Not Found’, to pry existing conversation about this work away from the oversimplified, often dismissive diagnosis of pro-surfer work as a mutant digital strain of that genre silhouetted by the phrase ‘found photography,’ and hold this work up against other notions about the ways in which quotidian content circulates within the space of flows we know as the net. As I said there, these Pro Surfers are ‘engaged in an enterprise distinct from the mere appropriation of found photography. They present us with constellations of uncannily decisive moments, images made perfect by their imperfections, images that add up to portraits of the web, diaristic photo essays on the part of the surfer, and images that certainly add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. Taken out of circulation and repurposed, they are ascribed with new value, like the shiny bars locked up in Fort Knox.’ The theoretical ‘money shot’ of the essay resided in my statement that ‘the work of pro-surfers transcends the art of found photography insofar as the act of finding is elevated to a performance in its own right, and the ways in which the images are appropriated distinguishes this practice from one of quotation by taking them out of circulation and reinscribing them with new meaning and authority.’ Nonetheless, there were many important artists I did not have the space to highlight, and one important term I still have yet to elucidate: Postinternet.
Shortly afterwards, Rhizome Executive Director Lauren Cornell invited me to join her on a net art panel at Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) that also included artists Cory Arcangel, Michael Bell-Smith, and Wolfgang Staehle, and curators Michael Connor and Caitlin Jones as respondents. The panel was preceded by Time Out-NY’s  publication of a roundtable discussion among us artists about the state of net art practice. In both the article and live discussion, I made the point that I felt what I was making was ‘art after the internet.’ Pressed for an explanation, at the panel, I said that both my online and offline work was after the internet in the sense that ‘after’ can mean both ‘in the style of’ and ‘following.’ For illustration, I referred to the concept of postmodernity coming not at the end of modernity, but after (and with a critical awareness of) modernity.
I’m not the only person to have discussed concepts similar to the postinternet. Indeed, Guthrie Lonergan spoke in a 2008 Rhizome interview with curator Thomas Beard of ‘internet aware art,’ which he described as a way ‘to take the emphasis off the internet and technology, but keep my ideas [about them] intact.’ Interestingly, this compelled him to make what
he called ‘Objects that aren’t objects,’ i.e. a t-shirt or a book whose primary purpose is to be the vehicle of internet content. In 2009, curator Gene McHugh was awarded a Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant to keep an ambitious blog (recently published in paperback format by LINK Editions) called Post Internet, which took my term and Lonergan’s as points of departure in critiquing and historically-contextualizing contemporary work that might be considered postinternet. McHugh sees the postinternet situation as one in which ‘the internet is less a novelty and more a banality,’ a presence that is now a given; a generally less phenomenal phenomenon.
artists, and others began writing about their own take on the term, as in Artie Vierkant’s ‘The Image Object Post-Internet,’ whose own salient definition of the term calls it ‘a result of the contemporary moment: inherently informed by ubiquitous authorship, the development of attention as currency, the collapse of physical space in networked culture, and the inﬁnite reproducibility and mutability of digital materials.’ These are all tell-tale network conditions that have both pre-internet precursors and contemporary offline manifestations; furthermore, this historically-aware, continuum-synthesizing definition of the postinternet is itself exemplary of postinternet thought, insofar as it reflects this awareness. Certainly, art history is not without its Posts. We’ve managed to solder this recursive prefix onto a number of names for movements and practices within the field at large. Whether we speak of the postmodern or the postphotographic, when we pop a ‘post’ on the front end of a thing, we place a priority on priorness. But the time-delay between the conjoined terms should be measured in the context of the near-future, not a vast remove. Afterall, looking at a histogram of the forms and ideas that have influenced art practice and its discourses, postmodernity may now sit much closer to modernity than it does to us today. Just ask Bourriaud: postmodernity is dead, long live altermodernity!
I lay out the history of this discussion in this way for several reasons. I feel that it is important to be selfaware and transparent while one plows forward with the work of articulating a set of practices and communities greater than herself. This essay is an open work and I can only aspire to be what Rancière might call an Ignorant Historiographer. I also feel that postinternet artistic practices (as opposed to everyday postinternet material culture) have not only a special kind of relevance or currency, but that they are also part and parcel of an as-yet unspoken, totalizing, near-universal set of conditions that applies to all art as much as it implicates all art in transporting the network conditions under which we live. This is a brisk responsibility ripe with opportunity, though many artists will undoubtedly fail or elect not to recognize and exercise it. But the final, if not the most obvious reason to be metaenunciative in sketching this historiography is that no observer of a post-epoch can tell you precisely when they arrived there, only where they arrived. No one can tell you what they ate for lunch on the day that ‘postinternetism’ struck, or what shoes they were wearing when the big news dropped. With the exception of 9/11, there is no degree-zero for this or any other post-epoch, only a categorical here-and-now that will persist until it doesn’t; until it becomes stale and the air smells of another mode. If it weren’t so stale to speak of paradigm change, one would here invoke Thomas Kuhn…
Far more interesting than the life and death of this nomenclature are the changes to which they bear witness. To call a thing a post-thing is to say that the thing is itself precisely because of the thing. We could quite exhaustively consider the ways in which my postmodern sweatshirt is postmodern (beginning at the very least with the conditions of its production and not ending before irony), but the ‘post-’ says it all. Because of the modern conditions of which my sweatshirt transports a critical awareness, my sweatshirt is postmodern. Propter hoc ergo post hoc.
The notion of the postinternet encapsulates and transports network conditions and their critical awareness as such, even so far as to transcend the internet. The expectation of ‘afterness’ preempts the root of the post-
POSTERINTERNET: art after the internet
et n r e t tin s o p r ts o e p h s t f an ical o r t n o d i ot an rit n s c e e r t i h e a T to th sul s d p a n a r c a fa s en n o . o s t i e t n i n e d r v con such, e the inte k r o netw eness as anscend r tr Meanwhile, artists like Harm van denaDorpel wabegan identifying themselves in their bios as postinternet
thing, as a sort of simultaneously taxonomic/ taxidermic lacquer is poured over ‘the modern,’ or ‘the photo,’ stopping it dead in its tracks... In fact, pour some on the tracks, too, so we can also obsess about how we arrived at this frozen position!
gel and curator Hanne Mugaas, entitled ‘Art History According to the Internet.’ The couple presented their audience with an answer to the question, What would you know about art history if all you knew about its major artists was what YouTube videos came up as a result of querying their names. In this sense, they were channelling the concepts McHugh recalls: ‘What Seth Price called “Dispersion.” What Oliver Laric called “Versions”.’ The results were mostly short sound bites like Andy Warhol answering that, yes, he likes Jasper Johns because he makes good lunches. As funny as the lecture was, one very unfunny thing about it was that only one woman was included in their list: Tracey Emin. Her YouTube incarnation was a poorly-shot camcorder video of a superfan waiting in line at the Tate Modern for Emin to sign a copy of her newest book. When I asked Arcangel and Mugaas about the absence of women, they replied simply that it was not an intentional choice, but rather that they let a widely-accepted primer determine the list of names for which they searched, and then they showed only those for which they found results; both steps filtered-out women, as history is wont to do. In this sense, Arcangel and Mugaas performed art history, par excellence, by reenacting its cycles of filtration and info-trickling. They also demonstrated the internet’s systemic tendency to model the logic of its creators, however hegemonic it may be. (Cf. Christiane Paul, ‘The Database as System and Cultural Form: Anatomies of Cultural Narratives.’)
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Afterall, the pervasiveness of network conditions is such that the postinternet (as a conceptual vehicle) drives and spills across planes of practice and territories of discourse in just as rapidly seering a way as Richard Dawkins meant to imply when he argued that the concept of evolution was such a totalizing theory as to sizzle through all fields like a ‘universal acid,’ from philosophy to astronomy, from theology to zoology. Such is the universality of the postinternet, in this postinternet moment. As I initially conceived it, the descriptor postinternet encapsulates an image philosophy. If we want to split hairs about it, we could call it a post-ekphrastic image philosophy – one that comes after the understanding that images are capable of not only illustrating and describing, but also theorizing themselves, even on their own terms; even as they bring themselves into resolution for the first time.
e p x e se ht n e s The we mig The postinternet may be ahistorical insofar aast it has noernet e h t degree-zero, but if it could come to arrive at performt n i t s sc ing posthistorically – that is, to be critically aware of the o u p o u ic problems historically reenacted with each new strata p s n o of historiographic sediment, then we c might really get
Art history is less the peculiar beast it looks like, and more simply beastly. In its all-too-often restrictive, self-congratulatory, near-sighted life cycle, all a piece of writing in this genre must do is simply regurgitate the historiographic origin myths that preceded it, and perhaps embellish itself with a new exemplary kernel or two. Just as easily as it writes itself, art history so often leaves out the women or ethnic minorities or lesscool-kids that were left out in previous iterations, and its readers all too often accept these new narratives as dogma, as Alpha and Omega – outside of which there must be nothing worth noting; and they celebrate its writers not as scribes delicately lifting and reproducing from extant discourses, but as demigods they don’t realize are barely alit and carefully kindled by their own greasy self-anointment.
In the postinternet era this phenomenon often manifests in the difference between critics who blog and bloggers who style themselves [self-appointed] critics. Despicable as the latter may be, they are also among the savviest internet users. Understanding that media, themselves (perhaps because they are all extensions of other media – and of ourselves – as McLuhan taught us) perform a sort of evolutionary ring cycle, they often flip-flop their flippant love-it/hate-it take on an artist’s work as frequently as they refresh their homepage.Yet these character flaws in the artworld’s online manifestations are not reasons to dismiss the internet or deny the postinternet. They are simply online reflections of a broader culture; one that just so happens to be internet-obsessed. Take as a more specific example the performative lecture given a few years ago by artist Cory Arcan-
For now, academies are slow to discover, sociallycontract to accept, and begin churning-out so-called seminal texts on by-then-dated artwork. Scholars forbid or aggressively dissuade their pupils from writing about hitherto unknown (i.e. pre-canonized) artists, which halts progress, stunts egos, and flagellates the notion of original research, even as it traditionally purports to call for it. The terribly good news (or wonderfully awful news) is that the academy as we know it is plunging into a state of unsustainability – not leastly because of its inability to respond to the socio-economic conditions concomitant with network culture. Meanwhile, as a defense mechanism to this prohibition on contemporary thinking, we scurry to invent epistemological trajectories – drawing lines between charted points in a constellation and soundingout echoes in the space of contemporary practice. I believe it is as much this defense mechanism as it is an overlapping set of aesthetic concerns or formal traits that has landed us the photo → film → new media storyline most widely recited today. Afterall, there are other realist media to which new media could easily be compared rather than contrasted.
But the postinternet is a moment, a condition, a property, and a quality that encompasses and transcends new media. Under this rubric, we should say of the internet what Allan Sekula said of photography, in Reading an Archive; that is, ‘We need to understand how photography works within everyday life in advanced industrial societies : the problem is one of materialist cultural history rather than art history.’ This is one place in which the arc from photography to the internet holds. Artistic practice within the two media are not the only practices possible under these scopic regimes. While art is not exclusive of such things, the media ecologies under scrutiny here are also the site of a vast array of commercial, political, libidinal, economic, and rhetorical functions. It seems almost trite to point this out, given that Walter Benjamin schooled us on the collapse of auratic distance, in mechanical reproduction, so long ago, but I’ll say that, by the same token, art made within these spheres sadly continues to be dismissed as merely vernacular, as seemingly-excess, or as weak because of its (however mythical) origin in the everyday. As Boris Groys laments (‘On the New,’ 2002), ‘only the extra ordinary is presented to us as a possible object of our admiration;’ while I might argue that this relatability is, in fact, a reason to celebrate such work.
ing the medium itself (the self-imposed burden of all nascent media struggling to move beyond ‘mere representations;’ in this case, representations about working at a distance). We’ve entered the more mature ‘something more’ phase in which it may be a given that two artists are working simultaneously in different spaces; we’re ready to move on and say something more with the internet, not just talk about it.
rt a f o ceLouis Doulas’s aforementioned essay, ‘Within erien isInPost-Internet,’ f thehe highlights o a 2011 tweet from artf oDorpel, in which t r a van den the self-described t say istaHarm n s artist asks, ‘Doesn’t the impact of the n era, i postinternet t internet onio arts reach far beyond art that deals with the p um Indeed, the impact of the internet reaches far cons internet?’ beyond such art, and far beyond art itself, to all of the
As so often happens in such articles, this author has surpassed her wordcount just as she is prepared to serve-up examples of recent, provocative, or interesting postinternet work. But given the ubiquitous nature of network culture and the increasing level of critical internet-awareness on the part of users of all demographics, it is very tempting to wipe one’s hands of this wordcount issue not only by calling for the conversation to continue in other places, amongst other voices, but generally to make a much larger argument.
exigencies and banalities of life in network culture. We are now in a postinternet era. Everything is alwaysalready postinternet. Just as there was once an epoch in which cultural producers and consumers were informed that they were in the postmodern, whether or not they were hip to it, we can now say that all works are postinternet (albeit to a lesser or greater degree of reflexivity) because all works produced now are produced in the postinternet era.
Doulas is the founder of Pool (pooool.info), ‘a platform dedicated to expanding and improving the discourse between online and offline realities and their cultural, societal, and political impact on one another.’ It is one of many DIY spaces cropping up, from the surf blog to the online journal to the offline reading groups now devoted to looking not only at these interrelations, but also at the increasing fusion of these seemingly disparate realities. In a sense, this recalls Lonergan’s jest, in the Beard Rhizome interview, that ‘I think it’s hilarious to hear that phrase – ‘DIY’ – all the time now, because it makes me think of Punk, and the web is so mild and boring...’ Nonetheless, there has been a vigorous movement (perhaps even more so since the 2008 interview) to self-publish, mass-distribute, and memetically-infiltrate the world at large with one’s commentary in contemporary digital visual culture. In a word, the project of these enterprises may be described as quite postinternet. One is always prone to making such claims, but we might say that the World Wide Web is, now more than ever, mirroring globalization as reflected in the tone of online collaboration. No longer is the content of this activity strapped with the heavy burden of represent-
On that note, let the images and portfolios on the adjacent pages, the books positioned near this volume, and even the next websites you visit or billboards you next see serve as illustrations of the universality of this condition. If ‘Lost Not Found’ was about an artistic scene, stumble with me now upon this scenario in which we are already prefigured: the postinternet. •
POSTERINTERNET: art after the internet
So what does postinternet art taste like, the aesthetician might ask? The sense-experience of art that is postinternet, that is made and distributed within the postinternet, or that we might say is of the postinternet era, is an art of conspicuous consumption (Cf. Marisa Olson, ‘Lost Not Found’). By sheer virtue of making things, the critically self-aware internet user makes postinternet art. These may or may not have the look and feel of Lonergan’s ‘objects that aren’t objects.’ Afterall, Vierkant quite astutely pointed-out that ‘Post-Internet objects and images are developed with concern to their particular materiality as well as their vast variety of methods of presentation and dissemination.’
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Towards a History, Politics and Philosophy of the Online Image by Laurel Ptak & David Horvitz
Over the span of this project it has often occurred to me that the online image in and of itself has some unique characteristics, and consequences, that have not yet been well articulated or understood. Like digital photography had earlier negotiated a new theorization of the medium, it seemed to me that the conditions of online culture would soon need to confront a new reality and ontology of the online image. But so far I only had questions, not answers: How were artists, journalists, theorists negotiating the new meanings and implications of the photograph inside network culture? How do we make sense of the image’s new forms of hybridity, modes of authorship, economies of attention, and conditions of sociality? Beyond undoing photography’s prior relationship to the real, indexicality, or materiality does the online image define itself on new terms – through its flexibility, disregard for traditional ideas of authorship, ownership and authenticity and its privileging of pathways of circulation and distribution over the act of creation or production. Does the online image really have the potential to disturb established notions of visual culture, journalism or artistic practice in profound ways? To attend to such questions, in December 2011, I’m launching a new research initiative that works towards articulating a yet unwritten history, politics and philosophy of the online image. Envisioned as a five-year inquiry I hope to engage many artists, theorists, historians, curators, institutions and publics along the way. For now I’ve decided to start right here in the pages of Foam. What follows is a conversation between myself and artist David Horvitz, addressing his unique artistic practice as one possible vantage point to contextualize and consider the specificity of the online image. Laurel Ptak
Laurel Ptak: What do you think is distinct about the online image? A lot of your work seems to approach this question. David Horvitz: The online image is something that can’t exist outside of its condition of circulation. Obviously, an analogue photograph circulates, it had to get to where it is. But the online image is...online. It is in the middle of net-
works and movements and acceleration. The online image is always re-contextualized. There is something about its timeless character. That it can be constantly in flux. The question is: how do you work with this?
of itself. For a Brief Time Only at a Location Near You is a perfect example. This project addressed context and the circulation of images as reconfigured by network culture rather interestingly.
Your projects find compelling ways of negotiating this. I’ve often thought the real medium of your work might be distribution in and
I did this with Mylinh Nguyen. It was a photo project that distributed images as digital files to drugstores around the world, which then materialized in
towards a history, politics and philosophy of the online image
My work as a curator has, for many years now, critically attended to new possibilities and cultural implications of online space for art. Interestingly the project for which I am best known is not an exhibition in any traditional sense, but rather a blog. For almost five years now I have presented my view of contemporary photography inside this context, putting countless images into public circulation and sharing them with a daily community of several thousand viewers, stretching across hundreds of countries over six continents, sparking a vibrant discourse about the medium of photography.
Terminal Island with the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilmington to the north. Adjacent to the Heim Bridge is the Henry Ford Bridge that carries rail traffic.
Discussion amongst various Wikipedia editors from Talk Pages Thread title: Something fishy on Pelican beach
immediately to the north of El Segundo.
Amtrak's El Segundo Bus Stop (ESG) is located at the Los Angeles County Metro Green Line Douglas Station and is serviced by Thruway Motorcoach. The stop is on Amtrak's 1c bus route that runs four times a day between Amtrak's Torrance Bus Stop (Alpine Village) and the Bakersfield Amtrak Station where passengers transfer to and from trains on Amtrak's San Joaquin route; passengers can also connect with Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner route at the Van Nuys Amtrak Station.
In popular culture El Segundo is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings practice facility. The hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest wrote the song "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo", which was included on their 1990 album People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. The elderly landlady (Irma P. Hall as Marva Munson) in The Ladykillers repeatedly complained about the inanity of this lyric. The singer Robbie Williams sings a reference to "I left my wallet in El Segundo" in his song Me & my monkey. The city is referenced in post-hardcore band Glassjaw's song Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence from their debut album of the same name. Besides mentioning Watts, Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx) often referred to El Segundo on the 1970s hit TV show Sanford and Son. In one episode, he refers to his Ripple wine as coming from "the vineyards of El Segundo." He also references El Segundo after he tells a soldier about remembering "crashing into the Pacific during WWII." The soldier asks, "You were shot down by a Japanese Zero?" Fred says: "Nope, a bigot threw me off the pier in El Segundo!" In another episode - titled "The Reverend Sanford," he says he was "having a religious picture painted on his ceiling next week, like Michelangelo. It's going to be Moses partin' an oil spill in El Segundo." Finally, in another episode, when Lamont says the cologne Discussion amongst various Wikipedia editors from Pages is called "Days In Paris," Fred says: he isTalk wearing Thread title: Something fishy on Pelican beach "Smells more like "Nights In El Segundo." The alternative ending of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery states that subsequent to the crash-landing of Dr. Evil's Bob's Big Boy rocket, Dr. Evil found work as the night manager of a Big Boy restaurant in El Segundo, though one does not nor ever did once exist in the city. The movie Dude, Where's My Car? was filmed in El Segundo, in front of the ice cream parlor formerly known as Scoops.
(cur | prev) 04:32, 16 January 2011 Gavia immer (talk | contribs) (8,002 bytes) (Not really a useful image of the article subject) (undo)
In popular culture In the original Gone in 60 Seconds, the police chase goes across both the Gerald Desmond Bridge and the Vincent Thomas Bridge. The remake, Gone in 60 Seconds, has the climatic Eleanor jump on the Vincent Thomas Bridge. In the film Death Race, the island is the home of the prison in which most of the film takes place. Author John Fante makes extensive mention of the island in the novels Ask the Dust and Dreams from Bunker Hill. In the Neal Stephenson science fiction novel Snow Crash, Terminal Island is part of a "sacrifice zone", a "parcel of land whose clean-up cost exceeds their total future economic value".
The beginning of the Blink 182 video of their song "First Date" lists El Segundo, 1974 as its location - Although it was actually shot in Burnaby, British Columbia at Lost in the 50's Drive In. El Segundo High School has been featured in many films and television shows, including Superbad, WarGames, Joe Dirt, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Boston Public, The Hot Chick, Yours, Mine and Ours, Even Stevens, 24, Joan of Arcadia, The O.C., Room 222, Epic Movie, Shredderman Rules, "90210", Blackboard Jungle,"Medium" and many others. Some promotional T-shirts sold in El Segundo claim that El Segundo High School has appeared in more films and TV shows than any other high school. David Spade mentioned El Segundo on The Showbiz Show with David Spade. An episode of Bones was filmed at the Hyperion sewage treatment plant, which lies on El Segundo's western border. Many years ago a Ripley's Believe It Or Not newspaper item suggested that El Segundo was one of the few U.S. cities where every street had a hill. However, that is only true of the western residential area of the city. CSI: Miami is filmed in parts of El Segundo. A couple of episodes of Medium were filmed at El Segundo Middle School. In the movie Crash, Ryan Phillippe plays a Los Angeles police officer who lives in El Segundo. In the movie Point of No Return, Bridget Fonda's character says the line "And I gotta go all the way to EI Segundo"
I thought it was the quality of the photo that was at issue, and which could be discussed at commons. While it's true there's a guy in the photo, I downloaded it and blew it up and he's not identifiable. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 02:45, 20 January 2011 (UTC) Part 4/12
To me, the biggest issue is the saturationbombing of one person's appearance in a large number of articles. The middling quality of the images is also an issue, but it is a much smaller one. I uploaded cropped versions of the previous uploader's images, but I'm not going to have free time to do that for these for a while; eventually, I will end up doing that, though. — Gavia immer (talk) 02:53, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
37 Discussion amongst various Wikipedia editors from Talk Pages Thread title: Something fishy on Pelican beach
Wikipedia:Village pump (policy) #Photographs of places which contain a person as a prominent subject is a related discussion. The uploader in that case is different, but the issue is the same: deliberately adding images posed to feature this one individual without clearly identifying him in many articles on California beaches. Bugs, I disagree that Commons is the place to discuss this - as far as Commons would be concerned, they are properly licensed images that could be useful. The issue is that they have been uploaded precisely to satu(781.4/km²). The racial makeup of articles the city was rate many here with the what is rec73.40% White, 0.59% African American, 0.99% Native ognizably American, 2.38% Asian, 0.18% Pacific the same person. — Gavia immer Islander, 18.09% from other races, and 4.37% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any (talk) 02:42, race were 43.50% of the population. 20 January 2011 (UTC) There were 4,989 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 10.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.2% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.38. In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.8 males. The median income for a household in the city was $47,729, and the median income for a family was $54,849. Males had a median income of $35,679 versus $30,736 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,563. About 7.1% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.5% of those under age 18 and 7.7% of those age 65 or over. Carpinteria hosts an annual Avocado Festival, with a history extending back to 1986. Over 80,000 persons attend the three-day festival which takes place during the first weekend of October on Linden Avenue. The festival offers avocado products and locally made goods. Notable residents Maxwell Caulfield Kevin Costner Chris Gocong, now Cleveland Browns linebacker
Without intending to be insulting to the uploader, File:26 pelican.JPG is one of a series of not very good images of a man on a beach and I would not use it to illustrate any subject. The file was uploaded to Commons today. Geographically unrelated IPs have been adding the image to various articles, which seems, well, odd. The IPs that I've noted so far are 188.8.131.52 (talk • contribs • info • WHOIS), 184.108.40.206 (talk • contribs • info • WHOIS), 220.127.116.11 (talk • contribs • info • WHOIS) and 18.104.22.168 (talk • contribs • info • WHOIS). If anyone wants to do some digging, the image is also used on the French-, German-, and Spanish-language Wikipedia. Delicious carbuncle (talk) 01:51, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
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people’s specific localities. Twenty-four artists were asked to produce an image file that was 4 inches by 6 inches – the standard size of an American consumer/ amateur photograph. It was 24 because of the number of shots on a standard roll of 35mm film. The information for this ‘exhibition’ was announced online. If someone wanted to ‘view’ it they would email me their address. I would then look up their address in Google Maps and find the nearest drugstore to them. There are drugstores EVERYWHERE, so many had ones only a few minutes from their house. The image files were uploaded to the photo developer at the drugstore (many places now use internet uploading to send your photos to a printer) and the prints were printed within the hour. The person who sent the email could then walk down the street, go in the store, and see the exhibition. Obviously, it was more than just seeing. It was the whole experience. It was happening in their own town, whether they lived in the middle of New York City, or they lived in Alaska. This exhibition was right there. It was both global and local. And, in each instance of its materialization, it had its own peculiarities. Different paper...maybe the printer would crop something or edit something out...and yes, sometimes they didn’t print all the images!
Your projects are often circulating images in all kinds of ways, and further, bringing them through contexts that span the online and the offline. What happens to the image when it travels between these states? I’m not sure what the space between it is. Is it a space of the image, or is it a mental space of the viewer? Any relationship this space might have to those moments in the darkroom, waiting for the photograph to surface while sitting in the tray of fixer? WOW. You just gave me a flashback. There are these moments, maybe we can call them poetic moments now, in analogue photography. I loved sitting in the dark room and watching images appear. And it feels that these moments of waiting are lost maybe. The space of waiting is replaced by the space of always being updated, of always not being up to date. Yes. The online image does seem to have a distinct temporality, can you say more about that? It is speed. Instantaneity. Simultaneity even. Even though there is always a delay (even the delay in our own phenom-
enological experience of seeing). With a newspaper things were ‘updated’ daily, or weekly. With the internet, it is constant. Continuous. Maybe too fast, and too much information. I read in a book how humans are orientated spatially, but recently our culture has been shifting to the temporal. But also, the brevity of messages has a history. The telegraph... Explain. I am curious about the moment when photographs were able to be sent using telegraph wires. We can trace a history from the telegraph to the internet. We take a lot of things for granted today. I think it must have been a pretty radical moment when you were able to see things almost simultaneously from around the world. When it was possible to publish a photo a few hours from when it was taken, regardless of where it was taken. When space is overcome as an obstacle. When the idea of a ‘now’ can be published. It’s the same sense that a photograph is a likeness of a thing in the real world – that our image culture is a likeness of a right now. And possibly, this is just constructed. That it is impossible to represent a moment. I’d like to discuss your recent Public Access project. In this instance you
It is speed. Instantaneity. Simultaneity even.
Public Access was first exhibited (and commissioned) by SF Camerawork in California. Basically, my proposal was to drive up the entire California Coast, along the highway closest to the Pacific Ocean. I drove from the Mexican-American border to Oregon. At each beach I made photographs of the beach with my body standing somewhere in the image: usually looking out at sea somewhere, or obscured in a shadow. Mostly I was hidden, but sometimes I was large in the photograph. I wanted to be an anonymous person who just happened to be there. You chose a popular, collaborative, web-based encyclopedia that anyone is allowed to edit to also anonymously circulate these images. This gesture is essential to the project. Can you say more about it? I uploaded these images of specific geographic places to Wikipedia articles about the beaches. So, one of my photographs would be used to illustrate an article on, lets say, Bodega Head, or Palos Verdes. There is a double play on ‘public’ here: the internet as a public space, and also, how all of California’s beaches are public property (except for the military bases). The images went online, and were intended to circulate as a kind of meta-data for the actual locations. Let’s say you were to look up Palos Verde in an online search, this image might come up in the image results. Or, when you go on the Wikipedia page, you’ll see the image there. So it wasn’t just a ‘Wikipedia’ project, but it used Wikipedia as a place for ‘releasing’ an image into a space of circulation. But quickly Wikipedia’s editors, whose task is to monitor changes made to the website, became suspicious of your uploaded photographs. They noticed that the same anonymous figure appeared in each of the beach images. Reading through the way the editors talk about and treat
your pictures, it’s really fascinating. It reveals some cracks and contradictions in Wikipedia’s utopian idea for what an online encyclopedia ‘editable by anyone’ is. Many of my images were taken down because editors noticed similar activity coming from the same IP address, and noticed how all my images had someone in it, the same person. No one questioned it at the beginning. But after a few images went up, people were like, ‘What’s going on? Do these images break any rules? Is there some game going on, and if there is, is that wrong?’ And so conversations emerged as to what is the ethical thing to do for Wikipedia. Some images were deleted. My favorite was when I was edited out of my own photograph, and then the photo re-uploaded. But what rules did you possibly break? That’s the thing, no one was sure. Wikipedia remains invested in an aesthetic of objectivity that an encyclopedia presupposes and you threatened that with your images? I made them question it. One funny thing was that someone said I was not identifiable because they had downloaded the photo, blew it up in Photoshop, saw that they couldn’t see my face, and thought, ‘this is OK!’ I had no idea any of these conversations would emerge. Eventually you included their debates in the book you made about this project. Can you describe what their discussion about your images was like? This is going to be done from memory, so it’s not all direct quotes – ‘It’s good to have the same person in all of these photos, it gives a kind of standard, a reference. There’s obviously someone trying to trick us, this is bad. But why is this bad? Well, the images aren’t that good, that’s my concern. I actually like the images.’ I loved this part, when they judged my photos themselves! I never entered any of the conversations. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I did… •
towards a history,politics politics and and philosophy online image towards a history, philosophyofofthe the online image
The online image does seem to have a distinct temporality.
used Wikipedia as a site to circulate your photographs and by chance ended up testing the limits of how an image can be understood as objective information online. Can you explain?
DiAlogue: The Wide Web of the Photo graphic World Experts:
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Fred RitchiN & CoNstANt DullAArt Moderated by J�rg Colberg Foam Amsterdam 19 March 2011
Discussing the photographic world on the wide web with Fred Ritchin and Constant Dullaart is like a peanut butter, jelly and chocolate-sprinkles sandwich: unexpected, unusual and fascinating all in one. Both Fred Ritchin and Constant Dullaart are downto-earth and inspiring in many ways. A dialogue with these two men provides insight into the many ways we deal with huge volume of pictures shown in the media, online and through social media. How can we judge and give value to these images? These questions touch the subjects that we deal with on a daily basis and add value to the imagery that surrounds us. The search for possible answers must begin with a general notion of what we expect from images. As Ritchin says, we want images to be reliable. Right from the start, living in a digitalized world
makes it impossible to trust images. They can only be conceived of as relating to objects that we cannot touch nor feel, and can only be seen via the interface of a screen. The ease of copying plus the fact that we don’t connect them to the real world makes us wary of every image that meets the eye. Viewing an online image is significantly different from holding a print in your hand, a piece of paper that gives a clear connection to what we consider to be real. Ritchin compares this to a footprint that you read and register. Online images are more like a cloud: abstract, elusive and disconnected from the real. Taking this as a starting point, it’s important to realize that what we still want from images is that they are credible and reliable. But what makes an online image credible, what makes it ‘real’? Before the computer, the Internet and Photoshop, we considered a photographic print to be real. Nowadays an image has lost its credibility before we even see it, before we even experienced it. Though many people reject such scepticism, the question remains of how we could change it. Is there a better system for allocating value to the images enveloping us? Both Ritchin and Dullaart draw the conclusion that we need to find new systems that are on a par with modern ways of experiencing pictures and let us confidently navigate through images. The current systems we use are either obsolete or created to generate income. Moderator Jörg Colberg mentions Facebook as an example, an archive of over 16 billion pictures. Being a commercial company, Facebook uses its
archive to link users’ pictures to corporate sponsors. Not many people realize that when storing their holiday pictures on Facebook. So much for credibility.
When trying to answer the question What’s Next?, Ritchin stresses that the future is now. We complain about being surrounded by technology and about the glut of images that come to us, but we in fact value their availability and abundance. They are just one click away, cheap and easy to distribute to a lot of people at the same time. So why feel guilty about doing so? You can use the current systems around you but be conscious of their interests and refuse to rely on them completely. Call all the images on Facebook meaningless and the company is left with nothing. Both Ritchin and Dullaart claim that’s the way they deal with the current systems. The questions that arise revolve around this sense of a dysfunctional future. We forget we are actually having fun! We concentrate on trying to do the right thing, while there is vast potential we overlook. Let’s not worry too much. This is why Ritchin would like to propose a 2012 event: What’s Next? – The fun part. • Summary by Eva Bremer Foam Education Department
N i t e e M
In a funny way I do not consider a photograph on the web to be an image. It is not a photograph, for lots of reasons. We cannot consider it a footprint from the digital world. It is something much more ephemeral. It is not connected to what we can call real in terms of physical reality. When I read a book on paper, I think of trees, and we call it nature. When I’m in the digital world and I look at something, I have no connection to what we call the natural world. For me one of the arguments is that becoming code-based is the end of Nature with a capital N. There is a completely different set of messages, if you consider the medium as a message.
In practice I’m not particularly interested in the authenticity of the image. What I find interesting is to add layers of meanings to photographs to show the complexity of the experience of the depiction. We have a different approach. I have the luxury of being an artist, which means I can be crude or light-hearted at the same time about heavy subjects.
C.D. It is important that people know
who is behind the system. We all use Google but we don’t know who initiated what we see there. That would be a level of scepticism that would satisfy me if people were aware that corporations stand in the background. <…> On Facebook we store so many images but the company can change the rules any time it wants to. So, we have a huge archive of images in the hands of other people whose purpose is to make a profit. What does that mean?
The number of images, many of which are or could be interesting means this is something that’s happening anyway. The only question is how to find new systems to deal with it.
F.R. But there is such an extraordinary potential,
and the question is how to push it, to realize how amazing and fun and useful it can be. Because it could and should be all those things. I would like to suggest that I could do this conference again, calling it What’s Next? – the Fun Part!
F.R. We are doing
something now that is both necessary and very dangerous. We have to work out how to resist Google. Google frames the world more than photography ever did. Google is not the world, so we’re looking at a Google view on the world, and that is what we should try to resist.
It’s also a matter of power. If you see a person suffering you want the image to be credible. How do you provide a level of credibility and authenticity such that people will think about what could be done, if anything. People have started to see disasters as movies or video games. In the past we made the big mistake of assuming that anything on a photographic print was somehow real. Now we know that’s not true. We have to be skeptical about almost anything on the internet. In both cases we are wrong. Is there a system which is useful to tell us what has a greater or lesser proportion of reality to it?
foam magazine # 29 # 29 what's next? foam magazine what's next?
There were some who argued that alongside this relatively traditional function, which can be fulfilled in a modern, up-to-date manner, the
Throughout the year that Foam spent researching the future of photography, we spoke to very 73 73
introduction curating the space
many people about these issues, from artists and curators to museum directors and architects. A subject that came up time and again was the increasing need for an effective filter. Now that the quantity of photo graphy is so overwhelming, the underlying digital structure on the internet so abstract and the circulation and availability of images of such importance, there’s a danger that the value and significance of images will too often fail to count. A museum ought more than ever to act as a mechanism for sorting the wheat from the chaff, using purposeful presentations to attribute significance to images and to developments.
A photography museum that researches the future of photography will inevitably be researching its own future. How does a photography museum need to function if it is to remain relevant within a field that is constantly and rapidly changing? Some changes within photography happen so quickly that it is initially difficult to judge what the long-term effects will be. Is it the task of a museum to be as up-todate as possible and to anticipate developments that are in many cases still taking shape? Or is it better for a museum to maintain a certain critical distance and deliberately avoid being carried along by the concerns of the day, instead taking time to interpret interesting changes and place them in context?
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museum should as far as possible be a reflection of its own time. There was no attempt to deny the importance of slowing down, of interpreting and referring to historical contexts, but the museum should never be afraid to respond to current events and reserve a specific place for them. Swim with the tide or against it: those were the two extremes around which the debate took place.
Andy Best Fall Series
All images © Andy Best, 2006 courtesy Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide First page: Fall Series (Knox) VI (detail)
Andy Best’s Fall Series has captured the attention of the art world and secured his position as an exciting young artist; subsequently his work has been exhibited internationally, and appears in collections in the UK, Norway, Sweden and the US. Fall is an important series because of the ways in which it transmits a social message and at the same time engages with the medium of photography. Although the images appear as straight, realistic, photographs they have a surreal and uncanny edge as young adults appear to free-fall out of buildings. As we focus on the faces of the fallers we realise that they seem to be in a dream-like space, as if they’ve slipped from one reality into another, blissfully unaware of the grimy urban sites that they inhabit and some viewers may wonder if drugs have induced this trance-like state or whether we are watching a fantasy. The series opens up these narratives without closing down on a particular theme.
Best often draws on art history, video games, film and television. Yves Klein’s Leap into the Void (1960), in which the artist jumped out of a window into the street, comes to mind when we look at Best’s series. Klein fell into a safety net but the photograph was altered and cropped so the artist appeared to be in imminent danger. Best plays with a similar idea and addresses the medium because for an instant we believe these people actually jumped or were pushed. The life/death paradox of photography – where life is frozen and time is stopped – also recurs. Fall is a compelling and amusing series which captures the imagination. Best presents young people caught in deathly moments and we are not sure whether to laugh at the trick or to be troubled by the various narratives that the series engenders. •
Taken together, the four presentations pose questions about the value of photography, about the significance of the photography exhibition and about how an institution such as Foam can offer a platform for the presentation of work, for
4 Curators 4 Visions 4 Presentations 1 Museum a core activity of a museum. But what kind of exhibitions will be possible and desirable? The guest curators were therefore allowed to be quite radical and provocative, to bring to a head the debate about what a photography exhibition can be.
study or for experiences. The following interviews with the guest curators Erik Kessels, Alison Nordström, Jefferson Hack and Lauren Cornell and the accompanying QR codes give an insight in What’s Next? – the exhibition part. 83
4 curators, 4 visions, 4 presentations, 1 museum
Foam invited four guest curators to come up with each a proposal as to what a photography exhibition might look like in the near future. Each specific presentation has a fairly circumscribed point of departure. Mounting exhibitions will remain
curating the space
“Because Flickr or other similar sites are amateur forums, most institutions would be hard pressed to exhibit the work. Which is precisely why I chose it.”
Erik Kessels www.foam.org/foam-amsterdam/ exhibitions/whatsnext/kessels
“I can honestly tell you that this is the first time I have flooded a room with images, literally.” 84
Why does your exhibition look the way it does? I wanted to illustrate the sheer vastness of the digital era we live in now. We take, collect, receive, and store millions of pictures every year. I wanted to show one day. One day of photos uploaded on the internet, but instead of living on Facebook or Flickr, I wanted to give them a physical space as opposed to a cyber one. I call it 24 Hrs In Photos.
chose it. I am not showing anything you have not seen before, I am just showing how you have never seen it before.
Is it a statement about a development or is it a critical approach because you think there are too many images? That’s something I’ll leave up to the viewer to decide. It has to do with the tension between online photos and offline photos. The photos you see now have been printed, but in most cases the photos appearing every day on the internet never have a physical existence. They ultimately become a kind of virtual litter that you don’t really look at. There are a thousand times more photos taken now than there were in the past. However, I think in a few decades there will be more to show from the 1970s and 1980s than from the current period due to the nature of the digital wasteland of the internet. As far as that’s concerned, photography has become an everyday part of life, almost like eating and drinking. Photography is no longer something precious as it once was and because of this, images of this period will disappear.
Erik Kessels is founder and creative director of KesselsKramer. Interview by Kim Knoppers, Foam Curator.
Would you consider your exhibition a monument to digital photography on an average day in the autumn of 2011? Yes, it physically shows how much gets added in a 24hour period and it’s in fact too much to deal with. When you walk through the space, you could almost feel like you’re drowning in a sea of images. I think that’s an exciting experience. I’ve practically filled up the entire space and used it like a container.
Because of your exceptional way of seeing, your books and exhibitions have provided a platform for photos which would otherwise have been overlooked. In those instances you’ve acted as a filter between viewer and photo. How should I view this exhibition in relation to your other exhibitions? I can honestly tell you that this is the first time I have flooded a room with images, literally. However, I feel my work – be it the books I publish, the exhibitions I curate or my daily life as commercial art director – is not so different. My work has many common threads and maybe the most recurring theme is the amateur. I have a great deal of respect for the professional photographer, but the amateur is not burdened by the why and how, they just do it. I am attracted to the spontaneity, the sincerity, the stories they tell or really the stories I interpret. Because Flickr or other similar sites are amateur forums, most institutions would be hard pressed to exhibit the work. Which is precisely why I
What is your role as curator? I choose a time span, I choose the size of the files and a format. And I look through everything, but of course I can’t really see it all. That’s also the fun part, that you, as museum visitor, walk through it: you make your own selection. You pick up a photo and you isolate it for a moment, apart from a million others, and then you look at it for a while. After that, you pick up another one, and so you make up your own story. That’s actually the same as opening a digital photo on a computer, but this experience is physical. It is also specifically intended to separate those digital photos from their context. I could have hung up a monitor or 10 monitors and shown those millions of images in a loop, but then you would look at them in a completely different way. Of course you still wouldn’t be conscious of the enormous number of them. Now you are made to. The main thing you see from your exhibition is the great flood of digital images. Is a museum even necessary? Especially now that there are so many successful blogs which react so quickly to the latest developments. Absolutely, the museum is a platform. A chance to isolate these images and take them out of their intended context. Anyone can hang beautiful pictures on the wall. I want to give the viewer something to think about. The images are the main elements that the installation pulls together for the desired effect. I hope the viewer goes back to their computer with a new or different impression the next time they look at a blog or upload a photo to Flickr. Where is it going? •
4 curators, 4 visions, 4 presentations, 1 museum
Do aesthetics also have a place in the exhibition you’re showing at Foam? I find it aesthetic, but aesthetics is objective. In the classic sense of photography, this is not your traditional photography exhibition. It is composed of hundreds and thousands of anonymous photographers, cheap drugstore prints and no frames. The intention is to dislocate the everyday, so that hopefully you see something new and inspiring. I also love that everyone will see it differently. From one visitor to the next, the photographs they pick up will determine how they choose to navigate through the room. Aesthetics is in the entirety of what you see, the experience is no longer in the separate images.
curating the space
“The image content is usually what we pay attention to in a photograph but photographs are objects too. It is as objects that they move through space and time.”
Alison Nordström www.foam.org/foam-amsterdam/ exhibitions/whatsnext/nordstrom
The first question is of course: What will we see when we enter the first room of the exhibition The Future of The Photography Museum? What you will see is: things. Most of them will be presented conventionally, with mats and frames, the way we usually present photographs. But there will also be one large photographic collage hanging in the middle of the room and a contemporary daguerreotype in a case. You will see things that are for the most part not simply flat pieces of photographic paper. They will have been altered in some way or presented in some way that emphasizes their materiality. You are looking at things in such a way that you won’t confuse the image and the object. This is my hope for this little show.
Photographs are usually made of paper and one of the things we do with paper is to write on it. We simply cannot do that in the same way with digital images. Obviously there is the metadata, but the act of physically connecting to a paper object by writing something on it is special in its very mundanity. There are examples in the show of artists who choose to write or have others write on their photographs but it is certainly something which is done every day in an ordinary world. You write: ‘Here is my baby on her second birthday’ or ‘I love you forever.’ Sometimes the physical changes a photograph accumulates change meaning with time and take on a curious aesthetic. The Steichen photographs that are in this show have instructions for the retoucher on them. These are obvious marks of their use and an interesting example of a technology we don’t use anymore, but, as it happens, the marks are beautiful. The marks themselves really have an aesthetic quality that no one would have recognized when they were made but that we appreciate. You would not do that with a digital object; you simply make the changes and send the corrected file. I chose the Julia Margaret Cameron photograph for this exhibition because it is printed from a broken plate and of course it reminds you she was working with glass negatives. But the marks of the broken plate, the shatter marks in the glass are evident in the print. And that is really beautiful. We appreciate the pleasures of ruins.
Alison Nordström is Senior Curator of Photographs and Director of Exhibitions at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester. Interview by Kim Knoppers, Foam Curator.
What kind of information do you mean? It can be almost anything. Very often the material nature of the photograph will change over time as it is used. If you know where it’s been you can often tell what it has meant to people. For example, in a flea market you will often find a photograph that on the back has black fuzzy circles on the corners. That tells you that at one point it was kept in an album and we know how people used albums. This informs the meaning of the photograph. A photograph that has been folded in half to fit into an envelope tells you that someone cared about it enough to send it to someone.
Magnum photographer George Rodgers took remarkable photographs of Africa but the pictures we have sent to Amsterdam are not those. We have chosen to show only the backs of the prints. It may be hitting people over the head with this idea but the important thing is that an image doesn’t have a front and a back; an object does. In the case of photojournalism these pictures had a very specific use. Nowadays, since the digital turn we send out scans, we send out pdfs or tiffs. Before the digital turn a picture agency like Magnum would send out 8x10 glossies for publication purposes and every time they went out they would be stamped to show where they have been. Sometimes the entire publication history of a particular image is carried on the object. One of the reasons why we have asked you as one of our guest curators is because you are a senior curator of photography at George Eastman House, the oldest museum of photography. You are very used to working with objects. Will the object become more important in the digital age? I hope so. George Eastman House collects, acquires and cares for born digital objects that have no materiality as well but the core of our collection is the pieces of paper glass and metal that carried photographic images when that was the only way photographs could be. Maybe this is more important now, since now we live in a world of disembodied images. If we want to understand what photographs meant in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries we can’t confuse the image and the object. Even though we are surrounded by images without materiality, the way we think about photographs comes from the way photographs used to be. Looking at a real thing is different from looking at a representation of that thing on a computer monitor. And I actually think now that we are completely surrounded by virtual reality it may be that contemplation of the real thing will become more special. I also think there is something about the physical relationship between the object and the viewer that is a radically different experience from looking at something on a monitor or even being bombarded by projections. Marshall McLuhan makes the observation that even when technology changes something’s nature, the vocabulary that we use to talk about it is anachronistic. For example, on our computers there is no reason to talk about pages and files and folders but we do because this is the only intellectual construct that we have for understanding what we do with a computer, in this way even an image that is made digitally, consumed digitally and preserved digitally is affected by paper photographs and so understanding these things is the way we understand not just photography’s past but its present and the future. •
4 curators, 4 visions, 4 presentations, 1 museum
Why do you think it is so important to emphasize the objectness of the photographs? I think that one of the reasons photographs are so seductive is that the images look like truth and it is really easy to forget that they are not. What you actually see is a rhythm of black and white or colored shapes and lines on a piece of paper – something 3D rendered into 2D. Of course the image content is usually what we pay attention to in a photograph but photographs are objects too. It is as objects that they move through space and time; they literally move from hand to hand. They get used and kept in different ways and this is important in how they are understood. The thingness of these photographs is something we can all delight in, enjoy and appreciate. But there can also be a lot of information in the material qualities of the photograph.
curating the space
Jefferson Hack www.foam.org/foam-amsterdam/ exhibitions/whatsnext/hack
Jefferson, please tell us something about the origin of your proposal. I am very interested in the relationship between the viewer and photography through the screen. In this new digital era screens are omnipresent and this has changed our relationship with photography dramatically, especially compared to the times when photo graphy was primarily seen as a print-based medium. I wanted to explore this new paradigm. In your proposal there is clear distinction between what you call the Mother Sculpture and the Rise Sculpture. Can you explain the first piece the audience encounters, the Mother Sculpture? Yes, I wanted to do something that was respectful to some of the traditional notions of photography that was about looking at the work of established photo graphers. The idea for the Mother Sculpture was to work with what I like to call the Dazed & Confused family of photographers. These photographers are all part of the current group of photographers who represent the visual language of the magazine across different genres. These genres may vary from fashion, portraiture and reportage to art photography.
“It’s about the relationship between the viewer and the photograph via the screen.” 88
All those different genres will be mixed in the presentation? I think we have to use the word mixed quite carefully. What I am not interested in doing with the established photographers is remixing, reediting or even reinterpreting their work. It is about presenting it onto a screen and having the viewer presenting themselves to photography that is in a digital format. So in that sense the main question was how am I going to do that and still be respectful to the photography.
Jefferson W. Hack is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Dazed & Confused. Interview by Marcel Feil, Foam Deputy Director, artistic affairs
Obviously the audience has a comparable visual framework. They are also living in this digital, screen-based era in which photography is presented primarily on screens. How do you see the relationship between the viewer and the screen? That’s the thing I really wanted to explore. The presentation shouldn’t be a step-back experience, in that people are looking at the entire as a single form of entertainment, as multiple screens simply bombarding you with images. That is the exact opposite of what I am trying to do with the Mother Sculpture. The idea for that is much more about drawing people into the image, to establish a lean-forward experience. The image that catches the eye should have a certain focal point, so the audience can choose their position and look at the picture as an image of itself in respect to everything else that is going on in the space. What happens then is a more meditative experience. It is not so much about the relationship with the screen. It´s about the relationship between the viewer and the photograph via the screen.
That requires a really focused, concentrated way of looking. Therefore the overall impression I wanted to convey is a kind of minimal feeling, more meditative and personal. I mean, in a digital culture there is already the over-bombardment of images we are all subject to, the over-accessibility which results in a kind of visual junkyard. That’s not what I wanted the audience to experience. It should feel edited and curated. The Rise Sculpture requires a less meditative relationship. Totally. The Rise Sculpture has many more and larger screens and is about a different question. It is about using technology and about our relationship with photography via technology. For the Rise Sculpturewe are using the internet, social media and other new media to allow young and semi-professional photographers who maybe aren’t shooting for D&C yet, but are developing their own work in their own way, to submit work to the show. It is a submissions project about the future, but it is not real-time and it is not a free-for-all. The idea is that the photographer will send us the work and we choose and edit based on the Dazed & Confused spirit. The best work will be put into the Rise Sculpture. One of the interesting aspects of this method was to have an exhibition that builds over time. New submissions will continually be added to the screens that will build from an initial 150 images to perhaps more than 300 or 400 images towards the end of the show. It is a living, growing exhibition that’s never the same thing from day to day. The other thing we are looking at is to create generative groupings of images by employing specific software. In a way it is about looking for technology that allows different curatorial schemes to be employed by me on a whim, wherever I am in the world. It is much more of an experimental room. There is a third part as well, a room with a work by Hellicar & Lewis. This is really interesting because this is about interactive digital art. Hellicar & Lewis are long-time collaborators and friends of Dazed & Confused. They have made incredible work with different musicians and different exhibition spaces involving the public in real-time manipulations of recorded images. The idea is that portraits of the public will be taken by video cameras and then, based on the movement of the public picked up by sensors, the images will be manipulated in real time. If the first room is about the relationship of the viewer with photography via screens, the second room is of the viewer with photography via technology, and this third room is about the relationship with photography via the self-portrait. It’s like a postphotographic meltdown of the idea of the portrait, with a real sense of engagement, interaction and fun. •
It’s quite interesting, I spoke with Ingrid Sischy about this just recently and she told me a story about the first show of William Eggleston’s colour images at the MoMA. It was a sensational show for many reasons but also because the images were very, very small. She said she remembered wiping the glass of all the images everyday and telling the curator that the Eggleston images had more spit on them than all other images. She ended by saying that sometimes the small bombs are the most powerful bombs. It made me rethink how big I wanted the screens to be. I thought it to be really nice if the screens were something like 19 or 20 inches, comparable with an average laptop. So it would become
4 curators, 4 visions, 4 presentations, 1 museum
Also because most of the images in the Mother Sculpture were perhaps originally analogue and meant to be published as prints? No, I have purposely tried not to show too much archive. I have briefed all the photographers to supply images that are either unpublished but have been taken recently or new work made in the last four months. So it is also about the current visual language of the magazine as it is on the shelves now. All images are shot within our current time and therefore the photographer is influenced by the contemporary time we are living in. They are not photographs taken ten or twenty years ago.
about a personal relationship with the image. I want people to get close and see their spit on the screen.
curating the space
“I wanted to consider how a culture, that has recently been broadened and diversified by the internet, was playing into the nature of photography as a discipline.”
Lauren Cornell www.foam.org/foam-amsterdam/ exhibitions/whatsnext/cornell
Lauren, let’s start with beginning: the title. Your presentation is entitled Circulate. Can you explain the reasons behind it? I was invited to curate this exhibition for the 10th anniversary of Foam, an institution I admire for the way it has consistently presented photography in a contemporary and expansive way throughout its history. The specific assignment was to consider the future of photography. Because I am an art curator and non-profit director involved with technology, I thought an expected response from me might be to project into the future of photographic tools or apparatus. Instead I wanted to consider how a culture, that has recently been broadened and diversified by the internet, was playing into the nature of photography as a discipline.
The exhibition includes three works by Josh Tonsfeldt in which images have been printed on the back-side of photographic paper, so that the original becomes abstracted, streaked with marks that result from a technically incorrect process. The origin of the works was a mistaken Facebook friend request made by teenager named Andrew to Tonsfeldt – a simple mistake that opened up a connection between strangers that the artist chose to explore. Having just returned from a ‘Semester at Sea,’ a study abroad program for American teenagers that involves travelling by boat to tourist destinations, Andrew’s personal photographs featured images of him posing – in some cases exultantly, in others casually – in front of landmarks from the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall of China. To Andrew’s friends, these pictures evince his own personality and humour; to a stranger, there is a more universal dimension to them: an American abroad, the idea of being at-sea, the way a teenager mugs for the camera in 2011, among them. These low-resolution images were what Tonsfeldt blew up and printed on the back of the photographic paper, somehow memorializing what otherwise might be throwaway images, taking them out of the slipstream of Facebook, pausing and abstracting their life as images. Oliver Laric and Takeshi Murata both involve 3D modelling in their work to different ends. This process is key because it differentiates their projects, which feature ‘found images,’ from the practice of appropriation
In previous works, Oliver Laric has explored the idea of versioning, or the breakdown between an original and its copies – a highly relevant notion for the circulation of images because when images travels digitally they are consistently being copied. His sculptures in Circulate recall the Protestant Reformation (15171648) in which statues and images were consistently under physical attack for being idolatrous. Laric worked with 3D modellers to create a silicon mould from which a number of identical casts were made, a process that carries the Reformation-era iconoclasm forward into history, or rather compares it with the way that today, in a highly visual era, objects are deprived or aura and image hierarchies are flattened by constant copying and re-purposing. They seem to say that today the original is lost, and all we are left with is modifications or new versions. Several featured works approach the topic from a more sidelong poetic stance. Liz Deschenes, who often works with what critic Chris Wiley describes as ‘lensless photography’ in which ‘photographic processes are pared down to their barest essence, in both literal and metaphoric terms,’ here presents a single mirrored work that reflects visitors’ movements throughout the gallery. Erika Vogt is interested in examining photography outside the frame, conjuring psychological or cultural memory of images in video works that have an affect of spatial or temporal dislocation. Geometric Abstraction, is a series of scripted actions involving objects such as an arrow, chimes, and painted sticks in a work that pulls images out of legibility and abstracts them into new forms and stories. The sculptures produced by Matt Keegan and Jim Richards, artists both deeply involved with conceptualism and media appropriation, are emblazoned with the phrase: Don’t Worry, What Happens, Happens Mostly WithoutYou, which nods to the movement and circulation of culture, and to the melancholic, sometimes hopeless feeling, here imbued with levity, that there is no way to take in, apprehend and analyze everything or all the information and possibilities available. With only text engraved or spraypainted onto a cylindrical form, the work distils the theme down into essential human feelings. •
4 curators, 4 visions, 4 presentations, 1 museum
Your statement is about our visual economy in which the meaning of images is not only related to their subject matter but it is also dictated by global circulation. How is that expressed in your chosen works? What kind of different strategies do the artists use? All of the featured works relate to this theme of circulation in a slightly different way. Hito Steyerl’s work and writings were an inspiration for the exhibition, particularly her essay ‘In Defence of the Poor Image’ which reflects on the relative cultural value of images and makes a case for the radical potential of the low-res, degraded, sometimes stolen ‘poor image.’ In Circulate, Steyerl exhibits a short single-screen video entitled Strike (2010) in which the artist literally strikes a video monitor, causing its screen to shatter, as if forcibly exposing its materiality, an important aspect of digital image circulation that is sometimes forgotten.
as it’s traditionally understood. The objects and figures that appear in their works are recreations, virtual casts that meld the original with its wider perceptions and associations into an uncanny new form. Murata’s works are digital still-lifes: carefully arranged collections of diverse 3D-rendered objects, such as Cyborg (2011), which presents a handful of lemons, an empty bottle and can, and a VHS cassette tape for the movie Cyborg, all casually centred around a craggy conch shell placed atop a plinth whose walls appear to be bricked. The origin of these objects is intentionally unclear: some seem as if they’ve been ripped out of our world, others out of a video game or film; their suspension evokes the ways objects are frozen and intermingled in our memories, both personal and collective.
Lauren Cornell is Executive Director at Rhizome and Adjunct Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. Interview by Marcel Feil, Foam Deputy Director, artistic affairs
What I decided to focus on was not tools or subject matter, but rather the afterlife of a photograph or, as suggested by the title, its path of circulation. How is its meaning altered or newly understood by different contexts, by its continual discovery and re-discovery, by its technical deterioration as it changes platforms, and so forth. Furthermore, I wanted to look at this notion of circulation as it relates to major discourses associated with this medium, like process-based inquiry, appropriation, or the realistic portrayal of objects and situations.
curating the space
Nowadays museums increasingly function as cultural entrepreneurs. The question arises: how far can you take a brand like Foam? To stretch this idea of the museum as brand, Foam Lab is launching a new product as the ultimate souvenir: ‘The Foam Mug’. Following the lead of museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Guggenheim and the Louvre, Foam Lab is offering its own, limited-edition mug, for a period of four weeks. This ties in with the opening of the exhibition ‘The Future of the Photography Museum’ and is part of the ongoing ‘What’s Next?’ project.
Foam Lab In February 2011, a group of ambitious youngsters kicked off the third edition of Foam Lab. Heading towards a career in the creative industry they will develop different photography-based projects and events for Foam.
E R U T FU The Ph�to grAphers’
M US EU M The four decades since the Gallery was founded in 1971 have seen photography evolve from the margins of institutional recognition to one of the most influential art forms of the 21st century. Alongside other institutions, The Photographers’ Gallery has undoubtedly played a significant role in this transformation, particularly in the UK, by exhibiting relevant and timely work by some of the world’s most celebrated photographers, and building critically-engaged audiences for a wide range of photographic practices.
Due to reopen in early 2012, the new Photographers’ Gallery will build upon its unique position as London’s principal organisation dedicated to championing photography’s role at the heart of visual culture. Whether on the gallery walls, through the printed page or new technology, via events, workshops and educational projects, our programmes will strive to provide a platform for current debates, new ideas and creative collaborations as well as excellent art. Our building will create a vibrant social and intellectual hub in the heart of London’s Soho for people with all levels of specialism and engagement. Designed by the Irish
While the realities of undertaking a Capital Building project during a time of economic turmoil inevitably focuses our minds on reality over speculation, our aspiration is to ensure that the qualities and ethos which have been so long embedded in The Photographers’ Gallery – its welcoming, accessible and challenging character – can sit alongside a new set of principles and programmes which reflect the radically different way in which photography is understood, shared and experienced by most people today.
future MuseuM visi�n
At the same time, with the emergence of the internet, digital cameras and the phenomenon of social networking over the past decade, photography’s ubiquitous position in what some define as a postphotographic age, poses new challenges for what a ‘photographers’ gallery’ might now mean. In this way, our new vision has been, and continues to be, informed as much by evolving debates around the future of photography as the changing needs of artists, audiences and the context of our new location in central London.
architects O’Donnell & Tuomey, whose Glucksman Gallery Cork and Lyric Theatre Belfast have won many plaudits, the new building will provide the facilities and spaces to ensure we can continue to inspire our 500,000+ annual visitors to enjoy, understand and engage with photography in ways that are both relevant and surprising to them. This will include a digital installation in the entrance lobby reflecting our wider commitment to digital programmes and a dedicated education floor – incorporating a permanent camera obscura, study room and resource space. Three new exhibition galleries will enable us to continue exhibiting work by emerging and established photographers based in the UK and internationally.
By Brett Rogers Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London
FU TU RE
curAtiNg the spAce
Three Shadows Photo graphy Art
We founded the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in 2007 in Caochangdi, a northeastern corner of Beijing, because we wanted to give photography a space where it could receive the recognition it deserves as a powerful medium of art and expression. As China’s first art space solely dedicated to photography, Three Shadows has established itself as the country’s most professional platform for discovering old and new Chinese photography, as well as promoting crosscultural exchange between photographic communities all over the world.
Since 2009 we’ve received hundreds of submissions each year for the annual Three Shadows Photography Award, which culminates in an exhibition for the 20 finalists reviewed by an international panel of judges. The exhibition provides unknown and emerging Chinese photographers with exposure to a large and diverse audience and grants the winner 80,000 RMB. The future of photography in China lies with these young practitioners, who are strong in number and have a thirst for new ideas and methods. What we hope Three Shadows can provide them with in the future is formal instruction on the concepts behind photography and its uses beyond the purely commercial.
We think it’s important for photographers, even in the digital age, to be in a darkroom and learn the basics of light and chemistry through a hands-on approach. We see a very urgent need for this kind of art education in China and would like to explore the possibility of expanding Three Shadows’ capacity as a learning center. An important component to the process of promoting photography in China is continuing Three Shadows’ exchange with the outside world. We’ve had the pleasure of working together with some of the best organizations in photography to bring excellent exhibitions to China, as well as help the world discover talented Chinese photographers.
The future of photography in China looks very promising and we hope that Three Shadows will continue to play an important role in expanding knowledge and awareness among both artists and viewers, in China and abroad. By RongRong & inri Founders of Three Shadows, Beijing
Musée de l’Elysée
In less than thirty years, times have changed. The age of pioneers has come and gone. Photography is now trading at the whim of supply – which is getting rarer all the time – and demand, which is increasing sharply. It has its market, gallery owners and collectors. Seeing how the prices have skyrocketed makes you dizzy. It may be that there’s nothing to complain about. In becoming a collectable object, the photograph has managed to attain the status of an object of desire. Its popularity isn’t limited to the plushy auction houses. It benefits from museums, exhibitions, publications. But if you think about it, we do have something to complain about, since we have to acknowledge that our acquisition budgets have never had the same exponential growth as the price of photographs. Because of inflation, institutions have lost their purchasing power! A few years ago, the museums were the saving grace of photography. By taking in donations of thousands of photographs, they guaranteed the continuity of a heritage that was being neglected at the time. Now, the individual photo graph is what sells, and at a good
In this age of budget cuts, we consider ourselves lucky to even have an acquisition budget. However, given what it allows us to buy – or rather, what it no longer allows us to buy! – the alternatives we’re faced with have largely reduced our sphere of action: we can regret the good times, or decide to be inventive. So we’ll be inventive. For the last year, the Musée de l’Elysée has been reviewing its acquisition strategies and re-evaluating its priorities. From now on, we’ll concentrate our resources around three axes: 1 Purchases, taking into account the opportunities that allow us to complete or reinforce certain aspects of the collection. 2 Particular interest in sometimes forgotten figures in Swiss photography, as part of our aim to fill out our mission as an institution embedded in this territory. 3 A presence in new contemporary national and international photo graphy, in the form of targeted support allowing us to play our role of promoting young talent. On this last point, rather than spreading ourselves too thin, we’ve chosen to concentrate on a few photo graphers and give them solid and concerted support. This effort is vital because it allows us to identify the form that the museum’s contribution will take, working with the artist. For some, the acquisition will be accompanied by a major exhibition and a publication. For others, it will take the form of assistance in production, guaranteed over several years, enabling the artist to work on his or her new project with some security. These acquisitions go along with a commitment from the museum, one that takes into account where the artist is in their career and offers the means to give it a boost. Along with these acquisition procedures, the Musée de l’Elysée has decided to capitalise on its added value. Although we may have trouble competing on the photography market, we do know how to exploit our expertise in conservation, study, development and promotion with the holders of the photographic heritage. We took a gamble that modernising our re-
serves and reinforcing our collections team will be sound arguments that draw photographers, estates and collectors to choose the Musée de l’Elysée as the place for their collections. Today this gamble has paid off. In 2011 the Chaplin family gave us its Charles Chaplin photography collection, in trust, comprising some 10,000 items, among them some masterpieces which can be seen at Paris Photo in November 2011. Our stated ambition is to make our collections department a real benchmark of excellence. It’s the choice for competence; a choice that even questions the notion of ownership, in a pragmatic way. Do we have to own a work or collection for it to be in our collections, or can we be a temporary guardian? Would it be better to guarantee good conservation conditions, promotion and dissemination over a negotiated period of time, or to own it without being able to care for it? To what point should we conserve something if know we’re not in a position to promote it? The jury’s still out. These questions may seem trivial, but looking at how the collections of numerous institutions have been managed in the past, their answers turn out to be complex and perfectly relevant. For example, the Musée de l’Elysée would never have been able to acquire the Chaplin collection at its market value; we negotiated a long-term guardianship. The announcement of this exceptional collection’s arrival allowed us to find the financing for a new conservator position, as well as the means to insure its conservation and promotion. In creating new landmarks, the Musée de l’Elysée is outlining its new acquisition policy, as well as what’s at stake strategically and what challenges will emerge, like a road map for the decades to come.
future MuseuM visi�n
The Musée de l’Elysée has collected photography ever since it was founded in 1985. In just a few years, we have brought together collections scattered over archives, libraries, government offices, institutions or in individual homes. In this way the Musée de l’Elysée has a collection of about 100,000 photographs. At the time more photographs came to us as donations or trusts than what we purchased. And nobody today would dare to imagine where those photographs would have ended up if the museum hadn’t been there to accommodate them.
price, and it’s in danger of becoming unattainable. However, it’s essential that the collections in our institutions continue to be enriched, ‘live’ and grow. It’s part of our mission of public service, our duty to conserve, study and disseminate this larger photographic heritage.
By Sam Stourdzé Director of Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne
N � sI i v
DiAlogue: Archiving into the future Experts:
curAtiNg the spAce
ChArl�tte C�tt�N & JoAchim Schmid Moderated by Frits Gierstberg Foam Amsterdam 19 March 2011
One of photography’s many possible functions and guises is as an archival medium. It is easy to think about both photography and the archive in relationship to the past, but what about the future? This was the topic of the Dialogue between curator Charlotte Cotton (UK) and artist Joachim Schmid (DE), moderated by Frits Gierstberg (Head of Exhibitions, Nederlands Fotomuseum). Starting, at Gierstberg’s request, without a definition of the archive, the conversation ultimately gravitated towards the art world and issues raised by artists working with archives and the archiving of artists’ works. It has lately become quite common for artists to be asked to work with archives, to negotiate and draw meaning from vast expanses of material, which may otherwise remain mute, as Cotton
put it. Schmid creates artworks through collection, selection and re-presentation of archival and found photography. From photographic accumulations he retrieves and reconstitutes the accidental aesthetics of vernacular photography. His practice, along with the practices of many other artists, not to mention scholars, points to the secondary function of an archive, one that is perhaps even more relevant than its storage function: its use. When asked for his thoughts about the internet and archives, Schmid praised Flickr for making it possible to ‘borrow other people’s eyes to look at anything you want,' but he also made clear that he sees the internet itself not as an archive, but as a source quarry.
As for the photographic images themselves, Cotton reminded us of photography’s fabulously confusing nature. It is simultaneously vehicle and tool, medium and subject, information and object. Within the territory of an archive such ambiguities affect conservation, access and interpretation. As Cotton summed up, ‘There is a confusion between the physicality of the objects and the meaning of the subjects.’ It may well be that the future of archives is not a matter of resolving that confusion, but of working with it through curatorial and collection approaches that take collaborative, rather than authoritative stances towards the material, using practices and ideas from both artists and the public.
In my view, Schmid’s analogy of a quarry could describe the essence of an archive. It is not a place from which one can easily extract intact meanings. Rather, it is a site in which, using the materials of the past, it is possible to discover and/or construct something entirely new. Reflecting on this dialogue, it strikes me that the productive future of archiving photography and of photographic archives is not so much a matter of hi-tech (in the sense of bigger, better, faster, more), but rather a matter of creative, resourceful and critical play with the ambiguities of both photography and the archive. In this sense, curators and managers of archives may have much to learn from the practices of artists. There is a hope that this will have exciting implications for the structures, accessibility, relevance and interactivity of archives in the future. • Summary by Asmara Pelupessy
N i t e e M
Faced with an audience member’s expressed desire for museums to ‘keep everything, because we can’, both speakers expressed their aversion to
such a possibility. Practically speaking, not only is it difficult to maintain durable digital files in a time of relentless technological development, there would simply never be enough time or manpower to work with everything. On a deeper level, Schmid and Cotton suggested that the European urge to preserve might be distracting us from the present. At once humorously and in deadly earnest, Schmid asked, ‘How much space are we leaving open for the future?’
DiAlogue: The IdeAl Institution Experts:
ChArl�tte C�tt�N & Lisa Oppenheim
Foam Amsterdam 19 March 2011
Institutions are usually far from ideal, according to the panel members of The Ideal Institution, during the What’s Next? expert meeting in Foam. Throughout the conversation, a recurring note of critique was the apparent desire of various art institutions to solidify the boundaries between artistic media. Museums act as heritage keepers of specific media (photography, design) in separate departments, thereby needlessly sustaining an artificial separation between entwined histories. Similarly, art academies still hang onto the unnecessary division into separate departments of film, photography and art.
Avoid becoming big ocean liners The desire to dissolve disciplinary and institutional boundaries is not surprising in light of the panel members’
Appropriate curatorial workforce For both Oppenheim and Cotton, curators are crucial to the ideal of the critical institution that stays in flux. Cotton points to the need for curators to go beyond the institution’s inherent mechanism of picking highs and lows and validating the few from amongst the mass. We should be particularly aware of such mechanisms at a time when the emphasis is on the mass. Institutions have always to wonder what the most
appropriate curatorial workforce is at any given moment. The conventional museum curator is probably the least likely to know what’s really happening in the media. ‘I wouldn’t want any curator to do a show on Flickr; I’d rather ask a 14-year-old about it.’ Photography: a useful anachronism Finally, if Flickr indeed enters the stage, this does not imply an exit for the photography institution. When such institutions shift from presenting classic art photography to include new media and contemporary reflections on a mediated society, members of the panel felt that institutions do not need to convert entirely into media institutions or museums. Photography, when used under the heading of a Photography museum or institution, is a historical and distinct term, similar to the word ‘contemporary’ in the title of any Contemporary art museum. Although the use of the word might seem anachronistic, there is a certain historiography and understanding attached to the word ‘photography’, which we can use to depart from and to examine new developments in the world of images and image making. • Summary by Flora Lysen
Moderated by Michiel van Iersel
backgrounds. Charlotte Cotton, Creative Director of the National Media Museum, Bradford, describes herself as a revolution-fetishist. Well versed in the world of contemporary art and media, she emphasizes the degree to which institutions need to stay active in programming, in questioning their motives and connecting with contemporary initiatives to avoid becoming the equivalent of big ocean liners. ‘It’s not worth my time to go to exhibitions to see things turned into an institutional context by intellectualist professionals.’ Institutions such as Foam are there both to look critically at the foundations of a medium and to question what that medium needs. Analogously, New York-based artist Lisa Oppenheim aligns the role of institutions with that of the contemporary art photographer. While critically reflecting on the role of photography, the institution should always critically reflect on its own position too. Oppenheim would claim the role of the photography institution is to create, and even control, a meaningful context for the exhibition of artifacts and images.
foam magazine # 29 what's next?
What’s next from a magazine’s point of view? The editors of Waterfall, SeeSaw, Outlook and Fantom liter-ally made a short magazine within Foam Magazine compiling their future visions on eight pages each. The special project What Matters Now? Proposals for a New Front Page (at Aperture, New York) sheds light on how collective discussions can lead to an appropriate way of filtering and showcasing accurate news. 98
A Slice of Time
It has been al wa y s
A Slice of Time w hen w e t a lk a b o u t i t
I can never say that I know what is about photography. Though I could recognize it as a way to help us memorising things, to print things in the times, since long time ago. When I saw the original print of the portrait of Baudelaire at first sight, taken by Etienne Carjat, at Victor and Albert Museum in London. I was frozen by its appearance and the long history behind it. It is a face Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve seen thousand times somewhere else before but nothing like this time. It is true, the photograph, the writer was there. It seems that you can breath the air of 19th century out of it or you can feel the light in that
room where photograph was taken. That particular moment was saved, was stuck, in this piece of work. And that is it, the magic of photography. Here I present the works from two artists and also the interviews, both of their works are finding their own ways to trap a particular moment - or instead we can say - a specific period of time, during the stream of time. Whether theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re presenting in the form of still image or in moving image, I consider them as a way we pass through the magic of photography in the new times.
Shauba Chang Born in 1985 in Taipei. Graduated MFA Fine Ar t Media at The Slade School of Fine Ar t in London. Founder and Editor in Chief of Waterfall Magazine. The magazine has been par ticipated in ar t/photo book fairs internationally, including Magazine Librar y(Tokyo 2010), Off Print (Paris, 2010) and London ar t book fair (London, 2011). The Magazine expands its activity to exhibitions and events such as WATERFALL # 3 POCKET LONDON LAUNCH (The Other Space, 2010, London) and Seitai Denki - an photography exhibition (URS21 Chung Shan Creative Hub / N2, 2011, Taipei). Currently lives and works between Taipei and London.
Emma Critchley ".... a collapse of time."
- When did you start your practice as a photographer? I would say that my practice as a photographer started whilst I was doing my photography degree at the University of Brighton in 2001. - Whatʼs the reason you get interested in underwater photography? I actually learnt to dive before I starting taking pictures. Because of this passion, I raised money to go on a marine conservation project to Indonesia between my first and second year at university. I bought a cheap, second-hand underwater camera to take with me and as I went diving 3 times a day, spent hours underwater playing with it. What fascinated me was the experience of taking pictures in this space – watching the way that everything moved and behaved in a very different way and particularly my own experience of being a part of this world. - And instead of the view from underwater, why you started to photograph people(portraits) underwater? I think this came from the initial interest of my own experience of being in water and wanting to explore this with others. I’m interested in this place, where as humans we don’t belong. - Through these practices, what did you dig out from them? Why these underwater portraits that keeps your interests?
What I find fascinating is different people’s responses to being in the water. It is a space that evokes an extreme range of emotions in people. The water can stir feelings of absolute terror or be used in a meditative way, as a place to escape from the everyday. I am interested in the physical and mental realignment that occurs when our senses shift in the water and the breath becomes suspended. - From printed photograph to loop video, what makes you change the way youʼre doing it? Whatʼs the motive for you to make videos? Will you consider your video works as photography? If so, why? The shift to working with moving image was quite a natural one, as my work became more temporal. Over the last few years I have focussed on the breath and duration, looking at the underwater environment as a space where the breath is denied. I’m not sure whether I see my video work as photography, but there is a definite symbiosis between the still and moving image work due to the locked-off framing and single, repeated action. Although there is an obvious connection between the two, I think that photography and video still operate differently as they create different ways for the viewer to engage with the work. I sometimes start work thinking about it photographically, but then end up shooting it as a video, as this feels more appropriate or relevant to the idea. - Do you take photography now from a
different point of view since you've been making the video? The making of my video work is quite a slow process and it often takes a number of shoots, working with a few different people, to capture what I am looking for, even though the final works are often only a minute or so long. When shooting, although I have the idea of what I want to shoot in my mind beforehand, it is through the process of making and seeing the idea as an image that the work really starts to develop and I begin to understand it more fully. Si n c e w o r k i n g w i t h v i d e o s , I t h i n k m y photographs have become more focused on capturing and making permanent that which is otherwise transitory; a figure suspended in space, the distortion of movement, the threshold state when immersed underwater. I think I have become more aware, or perhaps attuned to the way in which the photograph allows you to spend time with one particular singular moment and how through looking and re-visiting an image, you can encounter it in different ways. - What are the accounts/elements for you to recognize it is photography? For me, I love the stillness of photography and the way this allows a certain engagement with the work. There is often a real sense of presence, a collapse of time, which silently resonates, particularly with the physicality of the photographic print.
Emma Critchley She has worked as an underwater image-maker for over 8 years and recently graduated from The Royal College of Ar t. Through her practice Emma explores the human relationship with the underwater environment. Her award winning work has been exhibited internationally, in galleries and festivals including The Australian Centre of Photography, Fotofreo; Freemantle, Le Mois de la Photo; Canada, The National Por trait Galler y and the Photographers Galler y. Over the last few years Emma has worked on projects and commissions that have been funded by organisations such as The Ar ts Council, The National Media Museum and The Photographers Galler y.
Single Shared Breath Emma Chritchley Loop Video 2011
Stephan Tillmans "the key elements...are light and time."
- In the very beginning, whatʼs the initial reason for you to do this project? It all started with my girlfriend’s TV, which is very old. One night we turned it off as usual. Somehow the breakdown of the picture seemed to be very bright and I started switching it on and off again and again. I then had to get out my camera right away and tried to capture these structures of light. When I realized later on that every old TV has its own variety of this effect, I got really excited. So in the very beginning there was the visual Idea. While collecting more and more old TVs, I started to deal with the science of the image and the theories of e.g. Gottfried Jäger and Lambert Wiesing. More precisely with the relationship of the abstract and concrete in photopraphy. That’s what I later wrote my Bachelor thesis about. - Rather than taking photographs of other objects, why youʼre fascinated by these television images? What makes you interest in it? Since I discovered that every TV has it’s own character, and almost every time I take a photo the result is very different, I can’t walk by any old television without switching it on and off anymore. So since I began shooting Luminant Point Arrays, it’s almost like being addicted. I never know if the next shot is THE perfect one or just another black photo. And sometimes it takes hundreds of attempts to get a good picture. That’s because the moment is pretty short and I am taking the pictures by hand; one finger on the release of the camera and one finger on the on/ off switch of the TV. And I am capturing moving light with a pretty “long” exposure time. (In most
cases it’s longer than 1/50s because of the 50Hz refresh rate of the TV). So only very few of the photos are as crisp and sharp as the ones I chose for the final series. So one of the main reasons I am photographing this series is out of curiosity. - What is the process? Since I don’t have a studio, I took all the photos in my apartment. In order to have complete darkness and to avoid reflections I set everything up in a kind of tent. This is also necessary to avoid dust and hair on the screen. When everything is clean and dark I am between the TV and the camera with one finger on the on/ off switch and one finger on the release. It takes a lot of time and patience to find the right setup for sharp and crisp results. In the beginning it took about 800 pictures to get THE picture. That’s why I am working with digital cameras here. Now think I have a pretty good setup and a good feeling to find the right moment to release the camera. But it still takes hours and sometimes days. The TVs I photograph are of different models and all sizes. This is how I achieve the wide range of motifs, though some televisions give better results than others. But not only the different TVs affect the result. Also shutter speed, timing and the time the TV has been running before I take the photo have an influence on the image we see later on. That’s why you can get lots of different images out of just one TV. - What are the discoveries you have through out this project? I don’t know where to start. I mean when doing a project like this, you discover things almost every
day. The whole process of production has been very challenging for instance. Not only when taking the photos, I also really had a hard time printing Luminant Point Arrays. The fine structure of the motifs causes heavy moiré effects and it took a lot of proofs and experiments to achieve the quality I am having now. But also all the reactions I am getting online through blogs, twitter and facebook have been a discovery. My work has been spread all over the world within days. - What did you choose this form to present the condition of the television? I chose photography intuitionally. Later I started to experiment with video also. But I never got as clear, formal and beautiful results. - What are the accounts/elements for you to recognize it is photography? And how would you consider your work “Luminant Point Arrays” as photography? Not only that it technically is photography, but two of the key elements of this work are light and time. So it is photography referring to the major elements of photography. The question is whether the medium itself is the only existing reference. By pushing the switch of the TV, I am abstracting the TV picture. The external reference vanishes as the TV picture breaks down. So for the viewers the Luminant Point Arrays are not necessarily photography until they discover what the photo shows by reading the description. I like to ask people in the exhibitions what they think the Luminant Point Arrays are. Most people think of computer graphics. And I love the reactions when I reveal the origin of the motives.
Stephan Tillmans Born in 1982 in Westerstede 2006-2010 Communication design study at Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule (BTK-FH) 2010/2011 "gute aussichten – new german photography" award Living and working in Berlin/Germany
Luminant Point Arrays Stephan Tillmans 100x100cm | 40x40cm lambda prints 2010
Be There By Peng & Chen www.peng-chen.net
Osama bin Ladenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hideout compound in northern Pakistan where he was killed.
The New York World Trade Center site after 9/11 attacks.
The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tuscon, Ariz., called aircraft graveyard, is where more than 4000 old military planes go to die.
The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest refugee camp in Dadaab, northern Kenya, home to more than 350,000.
US Nevada nuclear test site used for both above and below ground nuclear explosions, home of 928 atomic detonations which made the world's biggest man-made craters.
Two million people amassed on the National Mall to witness Barack Obama's inauguration as the 44th U.S. president.
cover: Truck crash in Bismarck, North Dakota. back cover: 400 meters long â&#x20AC;&#x153;Long live chairman Maoâ&#x20AC;? ideograms on a mountain, near the city of Hami, Xinjiang, China, used as a point of reference for flights.
PHOTOGRAPHIC QUARTERLY WHAT’S NEXT - FOR FOAM - AUTUMN 2011
FANTOM FOR FOAM
Previous page Rafel G. Bianchi, Aureoline, 2008. Here Cobalt violet, 2009. From the series The Flag on the Top, oil on canvas, cm 117 x 82 ÂŠ the artist, courtesy Nogueras Blanchard gallery, Barcelona. Opposite Shuichi Nakano, Chill at 5:25, 2008. From the series Searching for Paradise Vol.1, oil on canvas, cm 162 x 130,3 ÂŠ and courtesy the artist.
Photography is a virus inoculated in society, culture and the arts. Since its birth it integrated the functions of various pre-existing tools, such as people’s memory, the soldier’s telescope, the scientist’s rule and the painter’s brush. It developed around an endless research for its own autonomy, but its growing diffusion and the increasing number of its applications make this objective more and more unreasonable. The evolutionary model of photography is based on the principle of contamination, which involves both its own system, so that the typical features of traditional genres (reportage, portrait, landscape, architecture, still-life...) are mixed together in order to form a magmatic new vocabulary,
as well as the other representation techniques, inevitably influencing the preparation of drawings, paintings, installations and so on. This is a process which affects not only the language of photography, but also the physical device itself. Today pictures are not taken with a simple camera only, but also by using phones, computers and Playstations... Photography attacks different instruments and sneaks inside them. Photography will be everywhere.
The images in these pages are taken from past and future editions of Picture Perfect, one of Fantom’s most distinctive sections; where we explore the interconnections between photography and other media and artistic practices.
FANTOM FOR FOAM
Duncan Wylie, Cabin Fever, 2009, oil on canvas, cm 207 x 300 ÂŠ the artist, courtesy Grenoble Museum of Fine Arts Collection.
FANTOM FOR FOAM
Robert Pruitt, Fantastic Garveyite, 2011, conte and charcoal on hand dyed paper, cm 127 x 96,5. Courtesy the artist and Koplin Del Rio Gallery, Culver City (CA)
Opposite Marina Berio top left Burn Breathe Penelope 2, 2009, cm 91 x 91. Top right Burn Breathe Penelope 3, 2009, cm 51 x 51. Courtesy Michael Steinberg Fine Art, New York. Center left Burn Breathe Nan 3, 2007, cm 51 x 51. Center right Burn Breathe Marina 5, 2008, cm 51 x 51. Bottom left Burn Breathe Alisha 2, 2008, cm 51 x 51. Bottom right Burn Breathe Marco 1, 2008, cm 51 x 51. Courtesy Otto Zoo Gallery, Milan.
FANTOM FOR FOAM
Ross Chisholm, Lantern State, 2011, oil on canvas, cm 28 x 18. ÂŠ the artist, courtesy of the artist and Marc Jancou Contemporary, New York
Fantom - Photographic Quarterly. Editors Selva Barni and Cay Sophie Rabinowitz Associate Editor Francesco Zanot Art Director Fabrizio Radaelli Editorial Office Didier Falzone and Arianne Di Nardo (assistant) Publisher Massimo Torrigiani for Boiler Corporation Milan. www.fantomeditions.com
White Walls and
Fred Ritchin 131
of white walls and six tables
What Matters Now? Proposals for a New Front Page was an inside-out exhibition that began at New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Aperture Gallery with white walls and six tables. The walls would gradually be filled with pictures and texts that emanated from discussions taking place at the tables over a ten-day period in September. What should be on the front page? Do we need a new front page? And most importantly for many: How can we create media that is believable?
At the heart of the exhibition were the conversations among a combination of invited specialists and people visiting the gallery that were led by various hosts â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Wafaa Bilal, Iraqi-born digital and performance artist; Melissa Harris, long-time editor-in-chief of Aperture magazine; Stephen Mayes, head of the VII photographic agency; Deborah Willis, historian, curator, artist; and myself. Participants at each table were asked to think about what would go on the wall adjacent to them as if it were a kind of a front page.
What new strategies for telling stories should be utilized? Can we depend on the algorithms used by search engines? A sixth table and wall were reserved for visitors both physical and virtual â&#x20AC;&#x201C; many submitted work online which was then printed and hung by Aperture staff, most posing subjects that we should know more about.
At a time when anyone can construct their own front page using a variety of sources why do we need one in common? 132
But there were also concerns as to how a democracy can function if citizens do not have sufficient shared knowledge of what is actually going on. How can people push for change if they do not know what is wrong? For example, as of 2009 only 400 people had the equivalent wealth of 50% of Americans – an extraordinary shift that no one seemed to know much about.
Does the movement from a community-based front page (with all its many faults) to a personal front page filled with Google and Facebook results have anything to do with our lack of focus?
What should be the role of the media in focusing our attention upon issues such as this one as they evolve?
Or, have the media, desperate for advertising, abandoned their readers? Have we, in the age of ultimate connectedness, actually disconnected without even knowing it? As one participating student pointed out, the question is not what matters now? but does anything at all matter? The frequent refrain at my table was that what we are shown about the world is so often one-sided and manipulated that it merits only a cynical response, if one responds at all. These were some of the themes of our discussions, which ended on September 17, coincidentally the same day that the emerging nation-wide protest movement, Occupy Wall Street, began. The engaging discussions on the street, like the ones at our tables, reflect the uncertain status of both knowledge and citizenship – what do we (or do we not) know, and what (if anything) can we do about it?
of white walls and six tables
Belatedly we seem to be finding out how bad the inequality has become: ‘According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the United States now ranks 39th in the world when it comes to income inequality. What that means is that only 38 out of 136 countries have a less equitable distribution of income than the United States; the list of countries with a more equitable income distribution includes Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan and Yemen.’ Brian Montopoli reported this for CBS News on September 7, the very day that What Matters Now? opened to the public.
democracy survive all of this? Has it already expired?
Aperture will continue its What Matters Now? program with a series of talks and discussions beginning in late January, themed around issues of photography, technology, and community. And for a larger sense of what happened, including a more comprehensive list of participants, see www.aperture.org/whatmattersnow and #whatmattersnow. Ω
Some in attendance commented that it was the building of community that was the most important outcome of What Matters Now? Some found that what was important was that they could finally share their own personal front pages – stories from their own countries, their own backgrounds – or their knowledge of their own specialties, whether philosophy or history or whatever else they might know of life, including what it is to be young in today’s society. Those at Stephen Mayes’s table responded with a conclusion that, in effect, the current media environment makes explicit what was always problematic about media: ‘Our current cultural anxiety stems from the loss of these fixed reference points and we’re reaching out to replace them with new certainties, to find a new cultural consensus. But rather than looking for new conventions to replace the old, we should embrace the plurality and each take responsibility for our own management of the information that flows around us.’ Where to we go from here? Participants from my table – including photographer, filmmaker and former
of white walls and six tables
CNN reporter Brian Palmer, conflict resolution specialist Marieke von Woerkom, photographer and media innovator Jonathan Worth, recent graduates Ariel Ritchin and Alison Wynn, and many others – decided that we will try to construct something useful. We are now just beginning to discuss concrete strategies for a new front page, including reporting that provides more context, enables diverse points of view (including those of the subjects), and is more sensitive to differing cultural perspectives. We also want to write new guides for teachers, for reporters (should the subject be asked to comment on the photograph?) and for readers (how does one read a hypertext?), while also coming up with a transparent code of ethics. Our hope is that we can make our findings widely available and continue to engage in discussion about the best ways to provide the kinds of information that societies, and individuals, need to move forward.
At Aperture we were both informed and shocked by several fascinating talks given by guests – topics that had either not appeared on our personal front pages or had not been sufficiently documented. For example, Simon Norfolk, author most recently of Burke + Norfolk, Photographs from the War in Afghanistan, discussed the limitations of photojournalism in depicting more than simple actions. He was adamant about the need to understand the history of Afghanistan’s long struggle with colonialism (including the 19th-century massacre of thousands of withdrawing British troops), and talked about specifics such as the emerging field of narcotecture – deluxe residences called ‘poppy palaces’ built with enormous amounts of drug money. Garth Lenz, winner of the Social Documentary.net prize for his work on Canada’s Tar Sands, similarly revealed in harrowing detail the environmental and social consequences of this aggressive pillaging of the land for an energy-starved world – and the current discussions to build a pipeline to carry the corrosive crude oil across the United States.
foam magazine #â&#x20AC;&#x2030;29 what's next?
Therefore, Foam asked photography students from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and from the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles for their answers as well as to position their questions in specially produced work, activities and a daily zine during the opening week of Les Rencontres d’Arles – the international photography festival in Southern France. A selection of these visual statements which were
exhibited in the What’s Next? exhibition space in Arles have been here translated onto paper with an accompanying text by Nickel van Duijvenboden, artist as well as one of the three coaches in this cooperative project. Followed by one-page manifestos on Future Education by Timm Rautert, Eder Chiodetto, Charlotte Cotton and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Another contribution in this context is Colette Olof’s reflections on the special exhibition project at Foam, Showroom Girls by Willem Popelier. Popelier’s project touches on the topical issue of young people living with and for their public image when sharing these online.
introduction next generation
The most straightforward answer when posing the question ‘What’s Next?’ is to be expected from those who are directly concerned: the next generation of young artists and photographers. They are able to gauge for themselves within which framework photography still fits and where traditional notions get in the way and thus need to be broadened.
Holding a project by gerrit rietveld academie & e.n.s.p. arles & foam
The students from the two art academies – Arles and Amsterdam – first met during the What’s Next? Expert Meeting at Foam in March 2011. Although on the surface the two schools take a very different approach, the students went home with much the same feeling about the day. It was as if the experts were overlooking something… For the students the question of ‘What’s Next?’ is quite concrete. They relate it less to photography than to themselves. They feel it is their turn, yet at the same time they struggle with the question: ‘What can we still do with photography?’
Most of them, though, are huddled together in the corner, just about the most awkward place, poring over a computer screen on which the latest edition of What’s Next? Daily Zine is being put together – the photozine distributed every day to visitors to the international photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. It is the beginning of July, the opening week of the festival, and the editing of the Daily Zine – hundreds of sheets of which will shortly be spewing from the photocopier – is entirely in the hands of the students. It is an initiative of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (ensp) and Foam.
A certain despair can be detected here. Nowadays it seems that every photography student goes through a phase of questioning the medium to the point of being skeptical and, at times, even overtly cynical. In my role as college lecturer I have noticed that students in recent years increasingly insist that photography is merely a ‘tool’ in their image making practice – they are wary of the label photographer. Photography has lost its status as a self-evident medium and has become subordinate to the primacy of the image.
The students sense – perhaps for the first time in their budding careers – that a large group of people is looking forward to what they are making. To get an idea of their public they only need to look out of the window. In the square in front of the building Foam is celebrating its tenth anniversary with music and wine. The celebration has drawn quite a crowd – festival visitors, participants, museum contacts. In some of them, the students recognize an admired artist or a leading curator.
holding up a mirror
A cluttered room above the exhibition space in La Bourse du Travail in Arles teems with feverish activity. The tables – pushed together for the occasion – are strewn with objects: stacked up slide projectors, slumbering laptops, leftovers of French cheese, USB sticks, cables and baguette crumbs, beer cans and cameras. Here and there a tired photography student stares blankly into space, surfeited by the day’s impressions.
text By Nickel van duijvenboden
The question is whether this is just a phase or if it is more deeply rooted. In the main exhibition of Les Rencontres d’Arles, From Here On, in any case this trend was carried to the extreme. Authenticity, authorship, technical skill, social awareness – everything the medium ever stood for was declared an illusion. What remained was the unpretentious image, anonymous, low resolution, stripped of meaning. The context was all that
The zine is ready; the first prints roll out of the machine. The sheets are hastily folded and furnished with a wrapper. Then the first go down to hand them out to the public. ‘Latest edition,’ they mumble with half-concealed pride. People are surprised at the feel of the paper. It is still warm.
← Category #1: Still Life We constructed a still life in a studio according to strict instructions based on formal similarities of photographic artworks that surround us. All seven students operated the same medium format camera, reducing the work to a simple click of the button. By Gerrit Rietveld Academie students
How can one answer the question What’s Next? by only looking into the future?
We, a group of seven students from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam have investigated the situation of contemporary photography and located six trends, or categories, which seem characteristic and successful today. We consider them to be the new conventions.
Statement by Elmer Driessen Sara Glahn Lena Hesse Ola Lanko Wolf Mulder Berend Otto Kamila Stehlik Students of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam supervision: Nickel van duijvenboden
Our category project is a reflection on the photographic trends that surround us. But perhaps more importantly, it is a way of liberating o u r s e lv e s f rom conventions once and for all.
mattered. ‘Now we are a species of editors,’ was the opening sentence of the curators’ manifesto, written among others by Martin Parr and Joachim Schmid. A more cynical climate in which to ask students ‘What’s Next?’ is hardly conceivable.
holding up a mirror
To discover whether there is a formula we devised a set of instructions for each category and followed them. Could this method lead to an authentic result? And what happens when a formula has no clearly defined author?
Foam’s exhibition space in Arles presented a cacophony of images in its very own way. In the microcosm of the petite Bourse du Travail, works of established artists entered into dialogue with the images the ensp and Rietveld students had developed in the months leading up to the festival. Every day the students reviewed whether the setup of the previous day had been successful, and then made adjustments to the presentation. The final days of the experiment projected the strongest image: instead of confining themselves to a dark corner, the students took the liberty of disrupting the regular exhibition, and even went so far as to parasitize other artists’ work. Take the Rietveld students’ Collage Generator: every few seconds a ready-made collage was projected on the wall, randomly compiled from over a hundred visual elements and generated live as the viewer watched. There was no author
← Category #2: Portraits Each of us found her or his own model and adopted the same set of conventions of a blank expression and subdued colors and adhered to uniform technical specifications. By Gerrit Rietveld Academie students
â&#x2020;? Category #4: Collage Each collage was randomly generated by a computer at the moment of display (originally presented as a projection). We set the parameters by choosing a large number of found images to draw from. What remains is a machine of suggested meaning, questioning the position of the author. By Gerrit Rietveld Academie students
â&#x2020;&#x2013; Category #6: Text On photography? corresponds with On photography by Susan Sontag, a book of great importance to many photographers. We are reacting at a theoretical level in photography that has become more familiar today. We replaced all the fullstops in that book with question marks as a commentary on that tendency, to investigate how that would influence our perception and to challenge us to doubt more. By Gerrit Rietveld Academie students
↗ F9 The Chat Booth Installation by Adrien Pezennec and Benjamin Mouly questions the consumption of self-representation when confronted by others. Chatroulette.com is a social website that defines itself as a way of meeting new people that involves your image and draws a line between real and virtual persona. We made an installation that allows the spectator to stand back from the role he plays while interacting in environments such as Chatroulette. Without being too didactic, we incite the viewer to question the way his image and persona are shown, shared and perceived through this kind of social network. By École Nationale Supérieure de la Photo graphie students
→ Source Five self-portraits and five markers. The public is asked to vote for a face and to sign the print. Arbitrary and without stake, each vote is a symbolic act. The visitors seize the image and become the author. Turning the portraits into unique pieces, the visitors are about to delete them. By École Nationale Supérieure de la Photo graphie students
involved. The collage was brazenly projected between a group of works by Anne de Vries, who carefully composes his collages. On another wall a series of self-portraits Source by ensp students lured a response from the viewer. Visitors were invited to write their signature on the glossy prints – a ‘desecration’ that countered our tendency to view art at a respectful distance, while at the same time calling into question the position of the author. After a few days the portraits were covered in scribbles and effectively rendered invisible.
Both groups of students were clearly preoccupied with the positioning of their work. The students of the ensp concentrated on the influence of the internet – themes such as voyeurism and the ‘make-ability’ of history in our mediatized society. The Rietveld students had opted for a collective study of mannerism in contemporary fine art photography. They copied trends they had identified (‘categories’), working as a single author as opposed to seven individuals.
Today you can’t think about Image without considering its circulation and uses on the Internet. That’s why we have chosen that medium as material for our research. Given the constant flow of images present on the web, we decided to question the images’ purposes.
Who makes the image? For whom? What does an image show? The t r a n s m i s s i on of images implies a constant renewal that generates accumulation. The image looses its value till it becomes just another image. It is going to be found, taken, sometimes archived or collected but always consumed. In this perspective, every image is removed from its original context to be transposed into another that can be completely different, making it increasingly difficult to read an image. Public and private spaces collide and sometimes reach obscurity to become the source of the photographic works made for this occasion.
From this chaotic and experimental image one thing clearly emerges: the youngest generation of photographers experiences at first-hand how the authorship of the individual, autonomous photographer increasingly yields to the importance of context and positioning. But through their collaboration their initially despairing response to the question ‘What’s Next?’ evolved into something far more hopeful. That hope lay in the students’ capacity to see the irony of their situation. They seemed to want to bring about a change: instead of allowing the positioning of their work to be dictated by their environment, they looked for a way of taking control. The process was like an abjuration: by using their work to hold up a mirror to the present status quo in photography, they shed their dead weight and were able to say: well, we have done this, time now to re-invent ourselves. Next. •
Statement by Anne-Camille Allueva Lise Dua Benjamin Mouly Adrien Pezennec Olivier Sarrazin Students from the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie, Arles Supervision: Florence Maille
Hasan & Husain Essop Halaal Art
All images © Goodman Gallery and the artists, 2009
In his final year of art school, Hasan Essop, a printmaking major, started working with collage. His strategy was simple: juxtapose magazine pictures of superstars in off-key landscapes. ‘I found it so difficult,’ he later told me, which is why Hasan asked a university friend to make some staged portraits of himself that he could use in his collages. Watching from a near distance, Husain, the younger of the twin Essop brothers, was impressed. Photo graphically trained, he suggested that Hasan would move out of the studio and pose himself in the everyday world of Cape Town – Husain wanted his brother’s collages to appear more real, as he would later put it to me. Exhibited at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Husain’s crude photographic collages prompted Goodman Gallery cura tor Storm Janse van Rensburg to call. He was interested. Husain floated a thought: ‘We told him about our idea to collaborate.’ Go for it, came the response. The brothers worked on five photographs, each brimful with collaged portraits of the twins doing various Muslim and nonMuslim things – washing, praying, attending a dogfight. Shot in a variety of non-descript locations in their native Cape Town, these early photos established the
template for their subsequent practice. The Essop brothers’ ongoing photographic project of self-representation refuses a lot of things: the monochrome sobriety of documentary; a stable view on the working class lives of many South African Muslims; sombreness. Respectful rather than critical of Islamic theology, you could argue that their work is marked by a subtle activist agenda. Let me clarify. When last I met the brothers for a chat, they told me about visiting Hamburg, the city where Mohamed Atta and other key protagonists in the 9/11 attacks lived for a while. ‘Germans had this impression that Islam was strictly a terrorist religion,’ offered Husain. ‘Everybody we confronted only knew Osama bin Laden – they didn’t know the prophet Mohamed.’ Following an exhibition in the German port city, viewers asked lots of questions. ‘We spent more time speaking about our religion than art, because they didn’t know anything about the beauty of Islam, that there is another side,’ offered Husain. The Essop brothers’ photographic work, which has matured, losing the jerky cut ‘n paste feel and overfull compositional frame of their early work, offers a sincere and engaged response to this damaging image. •
� t s e f i N A M �N MANifesto �N future educAtioN by TIMm RAUTERT
A few clever people who have more affinity to good artistic work than a plate of raw vegetables will turn their attention to work by young artists such as Tobias Zielony (1973, Wuppertal, Germany), Sven Johne (1976, Bergen/Rügen, Germany), Aymeric Fouquez (1974, Chateau-Thierry, France), Ricarda Roggan (1972, Dresden, Germany). They give something back to photography that is very personal and unique, something that reflects documentary terminology and is also a reference to
the fictional character of the medium. It will become increasingly more difficult to preserve such terms as part of the ‘photographic’. With the decline of analogue photography, the traditional content of the teaching at art academies is dwindling. It cannot, however, be irrelevant whether I am speaking about algorithmically generated pictures or analogue photographs. Education must take a completely different approach here, in artistic, philosophical and technical terms. A different name must be found for this technically new aspect, instead of photography. In my opinion digital photography is an anachronism that does not do justice to the new image. The next generation of artists could show new potential directions, or even themselves express these new required teaching contents. For example: Adrian Sauer (1976, Berlin, Germany), with his work Bilder aus Berechnung (Calculated Images), Björn Siebert (1978, Hamburg, Germany), with his Remakes, or Viktoria Binschtok (1972, Moscow, Russia) with World of Details. Here we can observe claims being made of the new medium that could form a new school of thought.
MANifest� �n future educAtioN
16.777.216 Farben (Colours), 2011 © Adrian Sauer original: 476 cm x 125 cm, digital C-Print
What’s next? I sometimes ask myself that and come to very different conclusions: The urban parents will continue to eat their wholemeal bread and butter, will prepare plates of raw vegetables and drink white wine. In times of the global financial crisis, the few megarich will buy a Picasso or a Richter for the umpteenth time, young photography will have no market value and contemporary art is out for those that can afford it.
E R U T N O FU UCATI 155
t r e p x e next generation
by malaise, Oliver Chanarin said that, strangely enough, the student photographer expects to earn a living from taking pictures. and Laurel Ptak gets emails every day from students and teachers from all over the world telling her how her blog influences their practices.
DiAlogue: Next GenerAtioN Photo grAphers Experts:
OLIVER CHANARIN, thomAs ruff & LAurel PTAK Moderated by Anne-Celine Jaeger Foam Amsterdam 19 March 2011
Jaeger opened the afternoon dialogue entitled Next Generation Photographers with the provocative question ‘Do we still need to teach photography?’ alluding to the enormous number of photographs and their drastically changed character. Members of the panel shared their experiences of photography education with the audience, which led to an animated discussion. Thomas Ruff quit teaching when he was struck
The overall experience of recent decades has been that the teaching of photography has become more abstract. Teachers now mainly teach their students how to filter information, do research and tell a story. For an increasing number of photographers the darkroom has become obsolete, as witnessed at the educational level by the gradual disappearance of the German Fachhochschule, where the ‘kraft’ was taught. Within this general change in educational approach national experiences differ. At the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam the teaching is highly individual. In Switzerland, photography is taught through theory. Ptak wonders what kind of work results from such a decidedly theoretical method. And while the images, that question their own existence, status and meaning, or lack thereof, that the Swiss students produce confirm photography’s abstraction or its conceptual ground, the question of how its very intangibility can be taught remains unsatisfactorily solved for many members of the discussion group.
Let’s forget about photo graphy. Photography is not a means to an end, he reasons. Photography isn’t about the world, it is positioned within the world. The promise that photography can be fully learnt, that it is a discipline which can be mastered is a fiction. Or, in Chanarin’s words: ‘Education doesn’t stop’. ‘Within photography we are confronted with many practices and methods,’ says a member of the audience. ‘The discipline of photography doesn’t exist anymore, if it ever did.’ Still, one is left wondering, how to initiate the student, who nonetheless has to position himself, into this heterogeneous universe. You have to dig your way out to where you want to go to, Ruff advises. But adds that compared with how teaching was 30 years ago, the art world has professionalized. The contemporary art industry rewards discipline, according to Chanarin. Galleries and musea give bad signals he insists, in the face of protest from the students present. Commercialization and professionalization do not mean one has to create a brand to be successful, as Ptak’s highly personal blog testifies. ‘We teach students to say ‘no’ say speakers from the audience, an opinion fervently backed by Ptak, who fears institutionalization. ‘I need a school to discuss and develop my work, a safe place to make mistakes and a teacher to kick my ass,’ says a student. The only way to find your own voice in this complex contemporary state of photographic affairs, concludes Jaeger, quoting Alec Soth, is to just do the work. •
An audience member suggests that dialogue is important. ‘Students have to verbalize what they are doing’, Ruff agrees, as articulation creates consciousness. But the student’s awareness should concern the world rather than photography, adds Chanarin:
Summary by Ilse van Rijn
L.P. I don’t teach that
much at the moment, but one interesting thing I find about the blog is that I get so many emails, often from teachers, from faraway places, telling me how much it influences their practice and in general how they see photography. I like the idea of creating a platform where knowledge can be shared on a global level.
T.R. The big problem
v�ice from the AudieNce Five years ago it was all about the search for information. How can I find the information I need to be a good student or to develop my own language? And now there is so much information that it becomes more about filtering. Research is becoming more and more important.
O.C. Even if we try to give students
a much broader framework than just photography, people tend to narrow down their interests very quickly, because the art world rewards that. Maybe this sounds pessimistic but artists are gradually pushed towards developing themselves as a brand. It’s something that is picked up in the education system. It’s so conservative! And reflected by the art world. Are they good signals? Are they healthy? Are they productive? I’m sceptical. Being an artist has become so professionalized… it’s shameful.
O.C. I’m probably the
T.R. Students have to talk,
worst kind of teacher. We try to be encouraging, to give some insight and stimulating appropriate research. But its hard not to interfere… to impose ones own ideas. It took me a long time to realize that.
their ideas have to come to their lips. But not all students can talk, some are very intuitive, others are insecure. Fresh strategies have to come up.
has to do with the words ‘photography’ and ‘photographer’. There is such a wide range of practices in photography, such diversity among professionals, that things were probably much clearer thirty years ago. It’s difficult for young people to filter, to decide which way to go. And they have that big word ‘photography’ in front of them. They have no idea. All they have in mind is: ‘I want to become a photographer, I want to study photography.’ They need advice, and I cannot advise them because I don’t know what they want.
MAN ifest� �N E R U T U F The most important issues generated by the techno logical revolution of the recent decades, is the fact that it makes us all equal when it comes to imaging. Technology has democratized production.
The formation of a future professional photographer, in this context, which aims to produce in documental, experimental or artistic area, should be focused on under standing man, study of human sciences and in the use of photography. As a Brazilian photographer Miguel Rio Branco would say, to learn about photography you have to forget photography.
Technology makes us all equal. The difference is the man.
© Cássio Vasconcellos
MANifesto �N future educAtioN
EDUCAT ION 158
Someone’s Watching Afterthoughts on the exhibition Showroom Girls by Willem Popelier in Foam 3h by Colette Olof Foam Curator
How differently young girls nowadays experiment with images of themselves compared to my generation: they no longer react defensively to images but they act to produce images to brand themselves. It even seems like some of them solely live with and for their public image, branding themselves daily on their Facebook / Twitter pages.
When I was a thirteen-year- old, my only relation with a representation of myself was during the annual portrait made by the school photographer (Horror! What to wear? How to hide my braces? Make up or not?) or during other annual get-togethers like my birthday party, or Christmas. Looking back at these pictures, I see a very insecure little girl looking for an attitude.
How differently young girls nowadays experiment with images of themselves compared to my generation: they no longer react defensively to images but they act to produce images to brand themselves. It even seems like some of them solely live with and for their public image, branding themselves daily on their Facebook / Twitter pages. Dismissing a democratic and traditional distinction between private and public, their images are sent out all over the digital horizon, available for everyone to look at. Free of charge. Without interpretations. But do they understand what this could mean in the
long run? Is their innocent ethic towards their public image the next step in dissolving the borders between public and private spheres or will they be confronted one day by the dangers of this exposure? When photographer Willem Popelier approached me with his idea of investigating the value of images in the context of constructing a self-image through public publication, I was immediately intrigued. Popelier was doing research into the phenomenon of pictures taken by visitors on webcams in showrooms. He found out that many people take their portraits on these public computers and often forget to take them off. 足Thousands of these orphan portraits are living anonymous lives in the digital universe. But then Popelier found a series of almost 100 photos of two young girls, having fun together in front of the webcam. Instead of deleting all of them, they had only deleted some and kept others.
This fact intrigued Popelier and when he discovered that one of the girls was wearing a necklace with her name, he googled her name together with an image and before he knew it he had found a great many details of her life. We had several long discussions to investigate the possibilities of showing the work in the context of a museum. Popelier was clear about the fact that he wanted to show the work without telling the girls beforehand that they were protagonists in a form of modern storytelling. We decided to concentrate the exhibition on the images and the Tweets of one of the girls. She is not aware of anything, which in a way is the point. She is sharing her private world in and through the public domain without realising this. She is just one example of many. It is not about her specifically, and at the same time it is about nothing but her.
someone’s watching Popelier explained to me all the different aspects he had discussed with a lawyer on the rights of the girls. Since this is such a new topic for lawyers, the rights on the internet, not many things about it have been clarified yet. Not many laws are yet written on it, no legal precedents have been set. We could show the work, as a museum, without being afraid of too many difficult aspects. But then I started discussing this exhibition proposal with other people. With staff members of Foam, with friends, colleagues. The reactions were, to put it mildly, intense. We, the adults, had to protect the teenagers. They don’t know what they are doing, how these images can follow them for the rest of their lives. What could be the consequences for the girl if she and her surroundings found out? The general feeling was that it was an important topic to discuss, but without using one underage girl
as a showcase. It wasn’t about her as a person, but it was all about the stories and interpretations surrounding it. The exhibition showed all images the girls took, including the deleted ones. The girls’ identities were covered by playful pink dots which became a visual play in itself. In the middle of the room a printer connected directly to the Twitterfeed of one of the girls was spitting out every tweet she was sending, but also with pink lines through her messages so only the date and hour of the tweet would be visible.
It is interesting to see that the museum can still host a topical discussion that continues on several levels: it started naively online, was translated into print for the exhibition and continues to live on in newspapers and digitally outside the walls of the museum.
When the show was installed, it generated a lot of discussion about the ethics. No single conclusion can be drawn. When journalist Rosan Hollack from the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad retraced one of the two girls by Twitter she invited the girls for a discussion in the museum. The girls were surprised, a bit overwhelmed, but amused as well. It didn’t scare them off, but they did realise a bit more what their behaviour could actually mean. In return for the images used by Popelier, they asked for a lunch in Foam café.
Credits of photographs in order of appearance: Visit of the girls in the exhibition © Rosan Hollack, NRC Handelsblad photo-143.jpg 11-08-09 14:49, 2011 © Willem Popelier Tweets of 1 year (01-05-2010 to 01-05-2011), 2011 © Willem Popelier photo-108.jpg 11-08-09 14:44, 2011 © Willem Popelier Article published in NRC Handelsblad, 15 July 2011, page 30-31
The loosely held pages tremble and move up and down. Through the motion of the subway but also through the natural trembling of the manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hand and arm. Show the resemblance between pages and thoughts: fi rst fi lm the loose pages and then move the camera up to his head. Then keep the camera still and focus on his forehead.
sketchbook 1, page 63
Reading people, each in their own world. A reading woman suddenly looks up, right into the camera. She keeps on looking that way for a long time. Then she goes on reading.
sketchbook 6, page 132
Curled up like a thought Curling thought Uncurling thought Curl thought Thought curl Curled up tightly Curled up loosely Nice to show on the outside whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going on inside the head.
Make portraits on the street of employees during their lunchtime. See if the expressions on the faces resemble the pattern of the strings around their neck.
sketchbook 6, page 73
Kites with paper-thin transparent strings move slowly up and down. People follow the movements of the kites, which makes their heads move up and down in an even slower tempo (nice dynamics).
sketchbook 6, page 74
He was resting with his head against the wooden post, deep in thought. I wanted to photograph him quickly and rummaged in my bag. The noise startled the man. Too late! I tried to get him in the same position. It worked, but unfortunately his thoughts were gone.
Paulien Oltheten Photos from Japan and my Archive
All images © Paulien Oltheten, 2005 – 2010 from the book Photos from Japan and my Archive (NAi Publishers), 2011
When we look at Paulien Oltheten’s work capturing and examining the gestures of people in the street, we’re prompted to keep an eye on our own behaviour. Her storytelling departs from the photographic registrations of small observations which capture her and which she captures on film while wandering through the streets of a city (e.g. in Japan). She extends her snapshots of city life with commenting sketches or words, restages certain patters of behaviour herself or asks passers-by to do so. In the final stage, if there is ever one, these different layers arrange themselves at random, thus preventing the observer from taking a quick-andeasy conclusion. The minor motions and behavioural pat terns that Paulien Oltheten distinguishes, each act as a part for the whole to represent one and the same image, a Gesamtbild of humanity/humaneness. Her ‘theory of the street’, as her first publication also was called, transforms itself into an all-round metaphor for human existence. Her visual theory doesn’t seem to require a particular argumentative arrangement to be valid; it is revealing anyway. The automatism of
how we read in public, followed by the minor detail of strings around the neck of business man during their lunchtime or the moving heads of men looking at their kites up in the air – every single observation is autonomous, without disturbing the overall picture. Paulien Oltheten builds on a continually growing archive, mapping and wondering about human life. Neither her work nor her way of presenting it seems to know any limits without ever falling into repetition. Stimulating our reflections on the status quo of the photographical universe in which we live is one of the aims of photography as an art form. Its objective is to break through the multiplicity of images and, if possible, generate new visual information. We are provoked to stop taking for granted the photographic omnipresence. Paulien Oltheten makes us more aware of the way we relate to the material world and to each other on a daily basis, of our patterns of perception, experience and behaviour – and to call it all into question. Sometimes recognizable, sometimes surprising, but never condemning. •
Caroline von Courten
MANifesto �N future educAtioN by ChArl�tte C�tt�N
Of course we didn't just suddenly arrive at this moment of change. Gradually over the past fifteen years, the notion of photography as contemporary art and what it therefore means to be a photographer has cast its seductive web over photographic education. At the same time, the increasing polarisation of both the techniques and ambitions of artist-photographers on one side and all of us quotidian image-makers and image-users on the other, effects the definition of photography education. Equally, every region has its own 30-year history of photographic practice and education, mitigated by its markets, politics, press and educational philosophies. No country’s cultural history or its particular battle to legitimise photographic practice as art seems now to guarantee a more or less resonant position in these global industries of art and image-making.
training to be a ceramicist in the early 20th century might have been! I am only half joking here – and the serious side of my fantasy scenario is questioning what photographic education could be if you centred on photography as a subject and a discipline rather than a rarefied area within the increasing, ever-changing expanse of creative technologies to which photographic education does not necessarily or even meaningfully have a relationship.
At the same time, I write as a curator who has spent most of her working life in cultural institutions founded by those ambitious, intellectually greedy, socially enterprising Victorians who mapped creativity and societal improvement onto the fluid expanse of scientific and artistic innovation. I’m excited for the coexistence rather than the differentiation of categories of creativity and what photographic education can be if we think of it as combined with that of, for example, curating, design, and computer science within higher education. Photography will remain as an accelerated and relevant human creative endeavour if it stays as a relevant way of seeing and communicating. •
MANifest� �n future educAtioN
� t s fe i N A M �N Across the world in the past five years, photographic higher education has been shaped by the tough decisions that photographic educators have made about abandoning schools’ increasingly empty and ignored wet dark rooms for the air-conditioned banks of calibrated computer screens and the large, coloursaturated-pigment printers. In retrospect, given what photographic education faces in the next five years, college and universities have only just reached the starting blocks on a course of unexpected roundabout turns.
FUTU RE N O I T A C U One option for photography education is to become an even more rarefied and specific form of education – rather like what I imagine
� t s fe i N A M �N MANifesto �N future educAtioN
by Adam Broomberg & OLIVER CHANARIN
FUTURE N O I T A C U D E 172
foam magazine# 29 # 29 what's next? foam magazine what's next?
Michael T. Jones, Google’s Chief Technology Advocate, examines in his interview the implications of Google literally representing the world and shares what steps can be expected next. How to deal with the enormous and evergrowing archive of images that circulate online is also central to Lev Manovich’s visualization methods.
As epilogue, Joan Fontcuberta’s personal statement in reply to What’s Next? could be seen as a possible visionary framework to be applied to our (photographic) practice.
An article on the research activities of the Media Lab, led by Ramesh Raskar, who is also the director of the Center for Future Storytelling and coinventor of a camera that can photograph around corners, shows that camera technology is already light-years ahead of the cameras we currently work with. This contrasts with the vision behind The Impossible Project, which has given instant analogue photo-graphy a new creative life.
introduction technology matters
In the period that follows technological innovations, we realise the impact they have had and by extension can have on the artistic practice of photography. New technologies introduce other ways of creating images, as well as set into motion an entire series of spinoffs that result in a new image aesthetic. Some of the technical innovations in store for us and the visionary behind these innovations are addressed in this section.
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by The compulsion to replicate our perceptual experiences is likely much older than the first prehistoric cave paintings – these first pictures gave the viewer an alternate version of the experience of seeing animals that were not actually there, and they also became a means to share the experience of seeing with others. That was some 30,000 years ago. From then on, after many millennia, the proto-photographic discoveries
of the camera obscura gave hints of the many possibilities of photo graphic seeing, finally leading to the first arrested photographic images. For those earliest of photo graphs, the photographers – or more accurately, inventors, scientists, and physicists – such as Henry Fox Talbot and Nicéphore Niépce had no way of knowing on certain terms what the subjects and the selections of the world placed in
front of their prototypical cameras were going to look like. Prior to their breakthroughs, the transformed universe in the photographic realm could only have existed in their imaginations. They had a great impulse to transform vision into a permanent record. And what was revealed through their experiments baffled and astonished them, and of course to the countless number of photographers thereafter.
In the present realm, with the advances of digital imaging technologies, cameras capable of superbly rendering our perceptual reality are now commonplace in contemporary life. Yet, our photographic compulsion still burns incessantly, desiring to go beyond direct optical recordings, as evidenced by the rapidly expanding definition of the photographic image and the camera, from the pervasive networked archive of online images, many made by built-in cameras on mobile phones, to the geographic tracking data ascribed to image files, a photograph is no longer a mere transcription of the light registered or recorded, but perhaps gets closer to the original compulsion – to replicate our perceptual experience in the fullest extent possible in all of the nuanced facets, and exceeding the limitations of human sight. Photography, as it is being considered and explored by the Camera Culture research group lead by Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, has been instrumental in advancing these paradigm shifts, charting unprecedented territories of photographic seeing in the entirety of its past history. ›
Interview with Associate Professor Ramesh Raskar by Arthur Ou
Arthur Ou: Could you please talk about the philosophy of your research group, Camera Culture? I know that one of the main goals of your research is to reinvent the camera. For almost the entirety of its history photography has taken the human eye as a model, but you and your research team are trying to break from those conventions to find new ways of seeing and rendering the world. Ramesh Raskar: From the beginning, the motivation has been to make cameras that can see as well as the human eye can see. But in reality photography is very much about finding ways to see differently, to go beyond the human eye. Photographers always choose amazing zooms, or very wide perspectives, or extreme angles, for example. The most striking photographs show what the human eye does not see. I think photographers are always trying to surpass their own experiences, making the scene hyper-realistic, emphasizing things, etc. It has always been about creating a meaningful abstraction of the world, as the photographer wants to tell, or convey to the viewer. Once camera makers can realize the users’ ambitions, they will start providing completely new functionalities to their cameras. Right now they are just stuck on the idea that a camera should have something similar to the human eye – that they should have a lens, film or a sensor, aperture, exposure time, etc. This has been photography as we have known it for the most part. The very first digital camera, the DCS-100 developed in 1991/92, which was a joint venture by Kodak and Nikon, was basically a 35mm film camera outfitted with a digital sensor and a processing unit – it even had the film cartridge compartment if you open it up. I think that we are still locked into a world of film-like photography, even though cameras are mostly digital
now. It’s very similar to the beginning of television, when the first televised broadcasts were replays of theatre shows, allowing the viewer to experience the shows whenever and wherever he or she wanted. But clearly the medium of TV has evolved into a completely different storytelling medium. I think that limited use of the possibilities is the same with digital photography – it is still doing what film photography was capable of doing, except for the fact that it’s much faster and cheaper. But beyond that they are not fundamentally different. The art of photography has not changed at all with digital photography. It’s just become easier and more efficient. So far, the way we have solved the problem of capturing and sharing visual information is to make the photograph compatible with what the human eye sees. We try to mimic a lens that behaves like the cornea, and then we have a detector that mimics the retina – and that’s the end of the story, that’s our image. We have solved this problem by reproducing what the eye sees. This is great for a direct view. But if we want to manipulate that, and if we want to understand the world and do something additional with the photos, this model simply doesn’t work. We need to go beyond just mimicking what the human eye can see. We’re going to see if we can push the envelope of what we can dream. Can you talk about the ways that the Camera Culture group has tried to break from these existing conventions of photography? In the future of photography and digital imaging I think that there are three distinct stages: epsilon photo graphy, coded photography and essence photography. Camera Culture is working within these three realms. How simply do you want to photographically capture the essence of an experience? When cameras were in-
vented, they immediately made photorealistic painting obsolete. Because there was no longer a need to draw or paint something that can be photographed. I think that very soon we are going to reach a saturation point in terms of photography that will lead to the invention of a new form of visual art that will make today’s cameras obsolete. Because the only things that cameras capture is photons, they don’t really capture the essence of the scene. Even with our eyes, we don’t really see with our eyes – we sense with our eyes but we see with our brains. Right now the camera seems to be doing both: it’s recording and seeing at the same time. I think that this becomes one of our main challenges. For example if I want to record experience of having an amazing meal or being at the beach or taking a rollercoaster ride, there is simply no camera that can record that. So our aim is to create completely new forms of devices, software, and techniques that respond to this array of experiences.
One of the many research projects in the Camera Culture group is developing technologies to ‘see around corners,’ can you talk about that project? We have been taught a photo is taken within the line of sight; but it seems we’re able to see beyond line of sight, based on echo. The way my voice echoes in this room is different with the door open than if it’s closed. By doing an analysis of that echo, we can tell what’s just around the door. We have developed femto photography, where we are using lasers that have a duration of a few femtoseconds – that’s 10-15 seconds (nano, pico, femto). If there is an extremely accurate synchronization between the flash and a very fast sensor, which is also working in the picoseconds range, we can analyze and compute what’s around the corner. We have done some initial experiments, and it’s very promising. When we can see beyond the line of sight, we are not breaking any laws of physics – so far. ›
Let’s say I create a picture of you with a regular camera and also a thermo-light camera. With the thermal camera I can see the blood veins, and how much blood there is in different parts of your face. With that data I can then figure out whether you are smiling or smirking. The camera would record all information and
s ynthesize a new picture based on the ten minutes I spent with you rather than the singular moment from a conventional photograph. The question becomes: can we create cameras and software so that, instead of a photo, we get an emotive artistic rendering?
The photograph of tomorrow will not just be recorded, it will be computed.
Lastly, what do you envision the camera of the future to be like? Maybe all a consumer wants is a big black box with a big button, with no lenses, no sensors, and no flashes. If I am in Times Square or at the Eiffel Tower, it’s really debatable whether I should take that picture, because lots of people before me have taken that picture. So all I want is when I release the shutter, I go online and trawl Flickr and retrieve an image taken in the right direction at about the right time of day and season. I can guarantee, with a few minutes of operation, it is going to be much better than any image I can take. There are so many good pictures out there of so many great places, a person has to make the decision whether it’s worth investing money and time to take that photo, because it’s never going to look like that photo on Flickr. We might be approaching the time when we have completely saturated the space of all the photos we can take. The only important data is the people we care about – how they look that day, and so on. If I’m standing in front of the Eiffel Tower and I take a picture, I don’t really care about how the Eiffel Tower looks. I don’t need a camera that captures the tower well. All I really care about is if my kid or my wife looks right in that picture. So all I want is the data that ignores most of the pixels and only focuses on pixels I care about. Even then, I probably have a much better picture of my daughter and my wife somewhere in my photo collection. So they don’t have to be dressed the best and be in the best mood, and my daughter doesn’t have to smile at the right moment. All that information is already available. We don’t know how many of these wishes will come true. Lots of smart people around the world are thinking about it. We’ll see many of these technologies in the next five to ten years; but we can be sure computational photography will be there. The photograph of tomorrow will not just be recorded, it will be computed. •
The bold visions of Edwin H. Land, the inventor and founder of Polaroid, took the photographic world by storm from the first public presentation of analogue instant photography in 1947. Sixty-one years after his first public presentation the ideas and visions of this mastermind were still
The Rebirth and Future of Analogue Instant Photography “Don’t undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible.” — Edwin H. Land
strong enough to inspire the founders of The Impossible Project. Despite the fateful decision of the huge Polaroid corporation Land founded to discontinue production of its analogue instant film materials in 2008, despite the unavailability 181
of many components of the original Polaroid film formula and despite many people shaking their head in bewilderment when learning about The Impossible Projectâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambition to make new instant materials, tireless work started in October 2008. The concrete aim was to save analogue instant photography from extinction, to keep one of the most legendary photographic inventions alive by reinventing instant film and propelling it into the 21st century. Dr. Florian Kaps, the founder of Impossible, refused to accept that analogue instant photography had become obsolete: too complicated, too expensive, too messy, too cumbersome compared to digital photography. But these maverick characteristics are precisely the unique 182
knowhow, a select team of former Polaroid employees started to develop an instant film formula for the 21st century. The 29-yearold Polaroid recipe required
components that were mostly no longer available or whose sale had been banned. Impossible had to bake a cake without flour and eggs. Various chemicals in the film paste had to be substituted, new manufacturers for the negative and positive of the film had to be contacted and commissioned (Impossible found excellent partners in Ilford Photo and InovisCoat), a new battery to power each film cassette had to be developed and manufactured (the first few thousand Impossible films were powered by original Polaroid batteries; Impossible film cartridges now contain an improved and highly sophisticated battery developed and produced by HCB SuperPower, which can be returned to Impossible and will be re-used). Finally,
the rebirth and future of analogue instant photography
features that make analogue instant photography irreplaceable. Despite the digital revolution, or indeed because of it, there will always be space for analogue instant photography. The one makes you mourn the absence of the other, so the basis for inspirational c足 oexistence is guaranteed. Bursting with enthusiasm and with a huge wealth of
Long, Chloe Aftel, Dustin Yager, John Reuter, Leah Reich, Max Wanger, Parker Fitzgerald, Ritchard Ton, Rommel Pecson, Sol Allen, Sol Exposure, Toby Hancock.
In a digitalized world, in which things are becoming more and more virtual and unreal, real things regain a special value. The tangible, unique and irreplaceable,
In the art world, an instant image represents an irreplaceable piece of work, radiant in its unique glory, appreciated by artists and photographers worldwide. International artists including Nobuyoshi Araki, Stefanie Schneider, Mary Ellen Mark, EJ Camp, David Levinthal and Ryan McGinley have already used the new Impossible Silver Shade and Color Shade film materials, contributing the results to several global exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Manchester, Berlin and Arles. Together with them, Impossible changes the world of photography and keeps variety, tangibility as well as analogue creativity alive in the 21st century. â&#x2C6;&#x17E;
create images on PX 680 Color Shade FF film expressing their personal interpretation of the phrase 'Outside The Lines'. The photographers involved are Adam Goldberg, Andrea Jenkins, Benjamin Shuster, Brandon
These Impossible instant films produce originals of outstanding, unique and never-beforeseen characteristics, pushing analogue instant photography beyond all traditional limits. Unlike the highly standardized traditional Polaroid film, Impossible films offer a new, broad range of possibilities, fresh features and unprecedented results.
the smelly and quirky tools that allow us to touch and comprehend the world, acquire more value than ever.
All images are part of the project & exhibition Outside the Lines (on show at Impossible Project Space NYC, 29 September 2011 - 31 January 2012). The Impossible Project challenged 14 outstanding photographers to
this small team of experts came up with new solutions for replacing and upgrading problematic or unavailable components, and started production of new instant films for vintage Polaroid cameras in early 2010.
Google’s Chief Technology Advocate
T. Jones by Jörg Colberg
a googled future
First, the sources of people’s images are becoming location aware. If you take an image with the camera in your mobile phone, the phone knows where you are and can tag the image with a location. Not all mobiles do that, but the ability to do so automatically is quickly becoming common. That’s really different than trying to go back and find where Ansel Adams took a particular picture. He didn’t write down longitude and latitude. Probably it wasn’t important to him what valley he was in. Now we think of ‘picture at a place.’ We’ve done a lot of work to put pictures at places, but we’re starting to get pictures that are already at places. That’s a trend. Pictures are going to be inherently geo-coded.
People probably don’t think of Google as a company heavily involved in photography, but actually it is. There is Google Earth and there are various ways you can search for images, including matching existing images. How did you get so deep into this? What was the reason for that? Images are powerful. They are a powerful part of the world’s information and a natural focus for Google and our customers. We have had Google Image Search from early days. Google Earth has been about images from the start because it is a photograph of the Earth, a mosaic of airplane and satellite imagery. We also introduced vertical, oblique, and street-level lateral images into Google Maps. We soon realized that when a person takes a picture of the Eiffel Tower, the right place to find that picture is in Paris on a map. We bought Panoramio – a website of geo-located pictures. We’ve placed those pictures in Google Maps and Earth. Now, when you click on a place, you see the pictures taken there. We started Google Street View, which are images taken robotically from moving cars, bicycles and even push carts for use inside museums. The pictures at Panoramio are also in Street View. We find their orientation by matching the images to Street View photography. In these ways we’ve come to embrace photography to communicate genus loci, the sense of place, so that everyone can know new places with confidence before they travel.
The other development is that many online photographs are already located. For example Google Street View pictures are geo-located very carefully. If we see a Trevi Fountain image we know where it is because we know the orientation of it compared to the path of the Street View vehicle. And we know this from several different pictures of the Street View vehicle. So we know where the Trevi Fountain is very accurately, within millimeters. What that means is that any new picture that has the Trevi Fountain in it can be matched with our pictures of the Trevi Fountain, and we can compute where the photographer must have been, lens focal length, distortions, and so on. That’s interesting because the more of our planet you have encoded, the more likely the next picture somebody takes can be matched. So not only can we show it on a map, have you search for it, or things like that, it also means that the camera can be used as a location device. Thus, a camera could tell you where you were if you were lost and you didn’t have a GPS device. It could take a picture, send it to Google, and we would find the location as, let’s say, 123 Main Street just from the world of images. If you think of the kind of photography someone might do on a vacation, where they walk down a Venetian alley and take a picture, could they find it again? Those few
I find the idea of taking these images and mapping them very interesting because there are literally billions of photographs on the web now, and finding images and matching them to something is really, really hard. I’m intrigued by all these different ideas that Google had to make working with images and having images relate to other images and to our locations useful. Where is this going? I don’t know how much you can disclose but what do you see as the future of Google and images/photography?
The curator is the artist when they add their judgment to our images.
Every pixel in every image people share adds permanently to human knowledge in a way that will span generations.
We have an image-understanding product called GoogleGoggles. It runs on mobile phones. It lets you take a picture, and then it tries to recognize what’s going on in the picture. If you take a picture of words it runs optical character recognition to understand those words and then it can offer to translate; if it is a Sudoku puzzle, it can solve it for you. As a traveler who doesn’t speak every language, that is really helpful. Geo-coded pictures make Google Goggles smarter.You take a picture and we can tell you where it is: that’s this particular church, and we know from, say, looking up in Wikipedia when it was built, or we know when it was damaged, how it was rebuilt, the names of the different people involved. You can search the world by taking a picture of it. That is important. Another possibility will be to reconstruct in the computer the physical 3D geometry of the world. There may be millions of photographs of the Eiffel Tower. Photographs of every part – if not by tourists in front then by a maintenance worker inside or from a news helicopter up above. From those pictures it is possible to infer the exact shape of the Eiffel Tower. The result is an accurate computer model of Earth where everything is built by the activity of people going about their business and taking pictures. People on vacation, taking a picture, might not know they’re completing the Eiffel Tower or guess that every pixel in every image they share adds permanently to human knowledge in a way that will span generations. Of course, the building changes with time so that tells us when the picture was taken. If the picture matches 1934 Warsaw, Poland, then it was a pre-war photograph. You know this just because of the picture, not from any other information. This is happening more and more. Soon it will be ordinary.
What this means is that we’re living in an increasingly recorded world. But there are growing concerns about privacy and about the amount of recording we’re doing or that is being done. Maybe we don’t even really know that our phone has a GPS device and that we record where we are. Maybe we don’t want that information to be distributed. I’m sure Google is thinking about privacy issues, too. What’s your take on this? Privacy is important. Historically, it’s an issue tied to photography. Think about taking a picture of people kissing. It’s a private moment but your photograph makes it a permanent public moment. As a photographer, a street photographer or a photojournalist, there’s a lot of psychological drama around things like that. It is an old issue changed by the internet, where things make it online easily but cannot easily be forgotten. This issue is bigger than Google and bigger than photography. If you post something as an eight-year-old or a twelveyear-old on Facebook and then later on, you want to be Chancellor of Germany or a US Supreme Court judge it might happen that you said something when you were eight that you’ll regret when you’re fifty-eight. Our embarrassing childhoods have been forgotten. But for children of today, when they’re our age, their mistakes will still be on YouTube and Facebook. This is like living somewhere small. There are a few hundred people and everybody knows everybody’s business. You can’t escape it. Everybody knows everybody. It’s not that they’re spying on you, its just that everything you do in a small town is remembered. That little-village feeling is coming to the whole world because our lives are being recorded, remembered, and indexed. I like to think of privacy this way: What kind of society does the world want? What rules or behaviors create and protect that society or defend transgressions against it? Certainly, Google and presumably every other company will obey whatever those rules are, but now there are few rules and societies have yet to really know what they aspire to. ›
a googled future
flowers in a courtyard in a shadowy alley... But we’re getting close to the point where we have enough pictures that we can instantly geo-locate that picture and say ‘You were exactly at this location, looking that way.’
I just arrived from London, and I know that while I was there I was photographed the whole time by London police. I didn’t mind that exactly, but I know that’s true. That’s a change. Millions of people are being photo graphed constantly by the police or by security cameras wherever they go. The reason might be very good and might make for a better society, but it certainly creates one with a different level of privacy – none outside your house.
A camera could tell you where you were if you were lost and you didn’t have a GPS device.
Let me ask you a question that’s completely unrelated. I want to go back to Google Street View a little bit. I’m sure you’ve seen artists using Google Street View to create bodies of art. One of those even got a World Press Photography nod. What are your – or Google’s – thoughts about this kind of art?
Speed relates to the privacy issue. If you think about the rapid pace of people adopting the internet, of people coming online and refusing to be isolated again, and the quality of little cameras growing, another obvious and natural step is that people won’t carry cameras any more but video cameras instead. You’ll have a video camera in your glasses or in your hat or somewhere else that takes pictures all the time all around you. If something interesting ever happens you can scroll back and see what that was. I am certain that most people will do that; it’s not even a question to me. It already happens in stores with security cameras or with CCTV cameras. It will become the norm to wear a video camera and record our lives. Maybe they will be super-password protected or biologically keyed. I’m not saying that people will share with the police or Google, but people will record their lives. As soon as it costs little to do that all cars will have high-speed recording of all events in case of an accident. Once you’re doing that for cars then everybody in the street also gets recorded all the time by all the cars. So basically, you could track all the people.
It’s a pleasure. It’s wonderful when people respond to our work. We build products and pursue technologies with the hope that people will enjoy and benefit from them. Whenever we see our projects used beyond what we expected, we know we have succeeded. A question we talked about at the New School of Photography in New York was: Is it art? Which is more a philosophical question than a practical one. But to me, a robotic camera taking pictures isn’t art. Those few images that capture fantastic moments in human lives become art when they are curated. The curator is the artist when they add their judgment to our images and produce a result that is inspiring, evocative, emotional, and memorable. •
These privacy issues are already happening or technically emerging in such a way that it’s not the hypothetical question of ‘What about privacy?’ I think it’s more about ‘Are there any areas of life where we need to recreate the privacy we’ve already lost?’ That is the real question.
How can we efficiently explore massive digital image collections like the 167,000 images on Flickrâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Art Now group to ask interesting questions?
The basic method used by media researchers when the amounts of media being relatively small â&#x20AC;&#x201C; see all images or video, notice patterns, and interpret them â&#x20AC;&#x201C; no longer works. by Lev Manovich 189
how to see 1,000,000 images?
How to See
How can we efficiently explore massive digital image collections to ask interesting questions? The examples of such collections are 167,000 images on Art Now Flickr gallery, or 176,000 Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information photographs taken between 1935 and 1944 and digitized by Library of Congress. How can we work with such image sets? The basic method used by media researchers when the amounts of media being relatively small – see all images or video, notice patterns, and interpret them – no longer works. Given the size of typical contemporary digital media collections, simply seeing what’s inside them is impossible even before we begin formulating questions and hypotheses and selecting samples for closer analysis. Although it may appear that the reasons for this are the limitations of human vision and human information processing, I think that it is actually the fault of current interface designs. Popular interfaces for accessing digital media collections such as list, image gallery, and image strip do not allow us to see the contents of a whole collection. These interfaces usually only display a few items at a time, regardless of whether you are in a browsing mode, or in a search mode. Because we are not able to see a collection as a whole, we can’t compare sets of images or videos to each other, notice patterns of change over time, or understand parts of the collection in relation to the whole.
Against Search: How to Look without Knowing What You Want to Find?
access single media items at a time at a limited range of speeds. This went hand in hand with the organization of media distribution: record and video stores, libraries, television and radio broadcasters all only make available a few items at a time. At the same time, hierarchical classification systems used in library catalogues and rooms encouraged the users to access a collection in ways defined by classification schemes, as opposed to browsing at random. When you looked through a card catalogue, or physically walked from shelf to shelf, you were following a classification based on subjects, with books organized by author names inside each subject category. Thus, although a single book itself supported random access, the larger structures in which books and other media objects were organized did not. Together, these distribution and classification systems encouraged 20th century media researchers to decide beforehand what media items to study. A researcher usually started with a particular person (a filmmaker, a photographer, etc.) or a particular subject category (for example, ‘1960s experimental American films’.) In doing that, a researcher could be said to move down the hierarchy of information in a catalogue and then select a particular level as the subject of her project: cinema > American cinema > American experimental film > American experimental film of the 1960s. The more adventurous would add new branches to the categorical tree; most were satisfied with contributing individual leaves (articles and books). Unfortunately, the current standard in media access – computer search – does not take us out of this paradigm. Search interface is an empty box waiting for you to type something. Before you click on the search button you have to decide what keywords and phrases to search for. So while the search brings a dramatic increase in speed of access, its deep assumption (which we may be able to trace back to its origins in 1950s ‘information retrieval’) is that you know beforehand something about the collection worth exploring further. To put this another way: search assumes that you want to find a needle in a haystack of information. It does not allow you to see the shape of the haystack. If you could, it would give your ideas of what else there is worth seeking, beside the needle you originally had in mind. Search also does not reveal where all different needles in the haystack are situated, i.e. it does not show how particular data objects or subsets are related to the complete data. Using search is like looking at a pointillist painting at a close range and only seeing colour dots, without being able to zoom out to see the shapes. The hypertext paradigm which defines the World Wide Web is also limited: it allows navigation around the web of pages according to the links defined by others, as opposed to moving in any direction. This is consistent with the original vision of hypertext as articulated by Vannevar Bush in 1945: a way for a researcher to create
The popular media access technologies of the 19th and 20th century – slide lanterns, film projectors, Moviola and Steenbeck, record players, audio and video tape recorders, VCR, DVD players, etc. – were designed to
how to see 1,000,000 images?
Early 21st century humanities scholars, critics and curators have access to unprecedented amounts of visual media – more than they can possibly study, let alone simply watch, or even search. A number of interconnected developments which took place between 1990 and 2010 – digitization of many analogue media collections, the rise of user-generated content and social media, the adoption of the web as media distribution platform, and globalization which increased the number of agents and institutions producing media around the world – led to an exponential increase in the quantity of media while simultaneously making it much easier to find, share, teach with, and research. Millions of hours of television programs already digitized by various national libraries and media museums, four million pages of digitized U.S. newspaper pages from 1836 to 1922 (chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), 150 billion snapshots of web pages captured from 1996 (www. archive.org), and trillions of videos on YouTube and photographs on Facebook and numerous other media sources are waiting to be ‘digged’ into.
↗ Frames taken from the Japanese videogame Kingdom Hearts II every 6 seconds from the sequence of gameplay sessions, which constitute a full traversal of the game from beginning to end. This visualization represents 62.5 hours of gameplay (22,4999 frames). Game recording and visualization: William Huber (with Lev Manovich)
How to Work with Massive Image Collections?
Using the usual search tool is like looking at a pointillist painting at a close range, without being able to zoom out to see the shapes.
Based on my informal review of some of the largest online institutional media collections available today such as europeana.org, archive.org, U.S. Library of Congress digital collections, and artstor.org, a typical interface offered to the users allows browsing through a collection linearly or by hierarchical categories and subject tags, and searching using metadata recorded for media objects. In all cases, the categories, tags, and metadata were input by the archivists (none of the sites I reviewed offered user-generated tags.) As a result, when a user accesses institutional media collections via their websites, she can only move along a fixed number of trajectories defined by the taxonomy of the collection and types of metadata used in describing the data. In contrast, when you observe a physical scene directly with your eyes, you can look anywhere in any order. This allows you to quickly notice a variety of patterns, structures and relations. Imagine, for example, turning the corner on a city street and taking in the view of the open square, with passersby, cafes, cars, trees, advertising, store displays, and all other elements. You can quickly detect and follow a multitude of dynamically changing patterns based on visual and semantic information: cars moving in parallel lines, house painted in similar colours, people who move along their own trajectories and people talking to each other, unusual faces, shop windows which stand out from the rest, etc. We need similar techniques which would allow us to observe vast ‘media universes’ and quickly detect all interesting patterns. These techniques have to operate with speeds many times faster than the normal playback speed (in the case of time-based media.) Or, to use an example of still images, I should be able to see important information in one million photographs in the same time it takes me to see a single image. These techniques have to compress massive media universes into smaller observable media ‘landscapes’ compatible with the human information processing capacity, while at the same time keeping enough of the details from the original images, video, audio or interactive experiences to enable the study of the subtle patterns in the data.
↘ Media visualization of 1,074,790 manga pages © Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass, 2010. Original visualization size: 44,000 x 44,000 pixels. Rendered on iMac using ImagePlot software developed by Software Studies Initiative.
‘trails through massive scientific information and for others be able to follow his traces later.’
The limitations of the typical interfaces for online media collections also hold for interfaces for desktop and mobile applications for media viewing, cataloguing, and editing, and media hosting sites. Like dedicated online collection sites, media managers and hosting sites allow users to browse and search images and video, displaying the results in various formats. Their usefulness as research tools, however, is quite limited. Desktop applications such as iPhoto, Picasa, and Adobe Bridge, and image sharing sites such as Flickr and Photobucket can only show images in a few fixed formats – typically a two-dimensional grid, a linear strip, a slide show, and, in some cases, a map view (photos superimposed on the world map). Images are usually sorted by upload dates; to display photos in a new order, a user has to invest time in adding new metadata to all of them. She can’t automatically organize images by their visual properties or by semantic relationships, compare collections which may have hundreds of thousands of images to each other, or use information visualization techniques to explore patterns across image sets. Graphing and visualization tools that are available in Google Docs, Excel, Tableau, Many Eyes and other graphing and spreadsheet software do offer a range of visualization techniques designed to reveal patterns in data. But these tools too have their own limitations. A key principle, which underlies the creation of graphs and information visualizations, is the representation of data using points, bars, lines, and similar graphical primitives. This principle has remained unchanged from the earliest statistical graphics of the early 19th century to contemporary interactive visualization software which can work with large data sets. Although such representations make clear the relationships in a data set, they also hide the objects behind the data from the user. While this is perfectly acceptable for many types of data, in the case of images and video it becomes a serious problem. For instance, a 2D scatter plot which shows a distribution of grades in a class with each student represented as a point serves its purpose, but the same type of plot representing the stylistic patterns over the course of an artist’s career via points has more limited use if we can’t see the images of the artworks.
how to see 1,000,000 images?
Two visualizations of the same data set presented on this and the previous page illustrate the differences between infovis (information visualization) and mediavis (media visualization). Both visualizations use familiar scatter plot technique; however the first visualizaion (p.193) adds images on top of the points. The below visualization shows the distribution of the data; the other allows us to understand what is behind the points. The data for these visualizations are 1,074,790 manga (Japanese comics) pages. The visualization below represents each page as a point. The visualizations on the previous page (p. 193) use the scaled copies of the pages instead of the points. To produce these visualizations, we have measured a number of visual characteristics of each page: contrast, number of lines, texture properties, etc. We then use one of the measurements to position the data on X-axis, while another measurement is used to position data on Y-axis. This method allows us to organize images according to their visual characteristics along two dimensions. In this visualization, the pages in the bottom part of the visualization are the most graphic and have the least amount of detail and texture. The pages in the upper right have lots of detail and texture. The pages with
the highest contrast are on the right, while pages with the least contrast are on the left. In between these four extremes, we find every possible stylistic variation.
↖ Information visualization of 1,074,790 manga (Japanese comic) pages. Each page is represented as a point. X-axis = standard deviation. Y-axis = entropy.
Since 2008, my Software Studies Initiative has been developing visual techniques that combine the strengths of media viewing applications, graphing and visualization applications. Like the latter, they create graphs to show relationships and patterns in a data set. However, while plot making software can only display data as points, lines or other graphic primitives, our software can show all the images in a collection superimposed on a graph. We call this method media visualization. Typical information visualization involves first translating the world into numbers and then visualizing relations between these numbers. In contrast, media visualization translates a set of images into a new visual representation which can reveal patterns in the images. In short, pictures are translated into pictures.
Media visualization can be formally defined as creating new visual representations from the visual objects in a collection. In the case of a collection containing single images (for instance, the 1930s WPA photographs collection from Library of Congress), media visualization involves displaying all images, or their parts, organized in a variety of configurations according to their metadata (dates, places, authors), content properties (for example, presence of faces), and/or visual properties. Our media visualization techniques can be used independently, or in combination with digital image processing. Digital image processing is conceptually similar to automatic analysis of texts already widely used in digital humanities. Text analysis involves automatic extracting various statistics about the content of each text in a collection such as word usage frequencies, their lengths, and their positions, sentence lengths, noun and verb usage frequencies, etc. These statistics (referred in computer science as ‘features’) are then used to study the patterns in a single text, relationships between texts, literary genres, etc. Similarly, we can use digital image processing to calculate statistics of various visual properties of images: average brightness and saturation, the number and the properties of shapes, the number of edges and their orientations, key colours, and so on. These features can be then used for similar investigations – for example, the analysis of visual differences between news photographs in different magazines or between news photographs in different countries, the changes in visual style over the career of a photographer, or the evolution of news photography in general over the 20th century. We can also use them in a more basic way – for the initial exploration of any large image collection. •
Cia de Foto Caixa de Sapato
All images © Cia de Foto, 2006 – ongoing
The appearance of Cia de Foto in Brazilian photography in the last decade brought with it discussions that helped us to reflect upon taboos so far considered untouchable. The three photographers of the collective created proper ethics and aesthetics, causing endless polemics and then, a great number of followers in Brazil and abroad. Some of the group beliefs are not to sign their works individually and aggregate references of publicity and movies to the photodocumentaryism, breaking the compromise to realism and expanding the reportage beyond the limits of fiction. Even keeping the field of reportage, the themes should have priority over the author. Cia de Foto incorporate the idea that subjectivity and the perception of who relates the fact has forcefully to transpire on the surface of the image. This way they created an aesthetic that dialogues with many authors of photography history as well as with painting tradition in a profound and delicate study of light. These visual metaphors urge the viewer to try to find a more efficient way of mechanical devolution of the appearance of the real, as well as unique moments of photographic ecstasy.
In the series Caixa de Sapato (Shoe Box) the collective transits from the family private world to the public sphere with sensibility. Photographing without dogma and censorship, the body of work laid a vigorous poetic on the familiar routine and results in a universal code. In Caixa de Sapato, in which video format reaches its best narrative, the cycles of life and the effective liaisons that grow among people who live or visit the authors’ houses blossom into a vital force of unique beauty. Caixa de Sapato enables us to realize that the most compulsive beauty is enclosed in what we insist in daily ignoring. Hopefully photography in the future may teach us, surrounded by technological evolution, to look more humanistically and intensely at our surroundings. •
JoAN What is commonly understood as art has become a mere genre of culture, a genre aimed at the production of artis tic merchandise and ruled by the laws of the marketplace and the entertainment industry. It is a genre in the way that any other cultural form such as design, fashion, film, advertising, or the circus might be.
We live in a world saturated with images: we live in the image and the image lives in us and makes us live. Since McLuhan in the 1960s, the preponderant role of the mass media has been confirmed and the iconosphere can be considered the model of the global village. What change has brought now is not the immersion in new communica tion frameworks (digital formats, internet, social networks) but the degree to which this extraordinary flow of images is found accessible to everyone. We are therefore passing through an age of access. It is an era that crowns a process of secularization of the visual experience: the image ceases to be the domain of magi cians, artists, specialists or professionals. We all produce images as a natural way of interacting with others. On the other hand, the consolidation of new work and be havioural habits (such as cloud computing) will catalyze many more dynamic cultural stages on a large scale (cloud imaging, cloud living). This situation implies substantial changes for photo graphy and the image in general that in the near and medium term will only increase. ›
There is another art which doesn’t draw the spotlight or walk the red carpet but which, from the most clandestine dissidence, proposes to fight the laws of the marketplace and the entertainment industry at precisely the same time as it reinvents itself as art. It’s an art which rejects the splendour of the museums and biennials and any other efforts at subjugation. I want in fact only to talk of the future of this type of confrontational guerrilla art because the social chronicles and cultural anthropologists already take care of the other.
On the role of the artist: no longer a case of producing works but of prescribing meanings.
On the dialectic of the social: further advances in overcoming the tension between the private and the public.
On the dialectic of the subject: we will find greater camouflage of the author and reformula tion of the models of authorship (co-authorship, collaborative creation, interactivity, strategic anonymities and orphan works).
foam magazine #29 what's next?
4 On the function of images: the circulation and management of the image will prevail over the content of the image.
On the artist’s responsibility: an ecology of the visual which will penalize saturation and encourage recycling.
On the experience of art: creative practices which accustom us to dispossession will be privileged: it is better to share than to own.
9 This will be its decalogue:
On art’s horizon: more play will be given to the ludic aspects and less to the solemn and the boring.
On the artist’s behaviour: the artist merges with the curator, with the collector, with the teacher, with the art historian, with the theorist... (all facets of art have become chameleon like and authorial).
On the politics of art: not to surrender to glamour and consumption but rather to embark on the act of agitating consciences.
On the philosophy of art: discourses of originality will be delegitimized and appropriationist practices will be normalized.
it is a matter of greeting a new visual culture able to prepare us for resistance, which trains us not just to live in the image but to survive the images.
Andy Best (1975, Australia) is a multidisciplinary artist, working primarily in painting, sculpture, photography and works on paper. Exhibitions include Primavera at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2009), and 2004: Australian Culture Now at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. He was awarded an Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship in 2006. Andy Best is represented by Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide, Australia.
Adam Broomberg (1970, South Africa) and Oliver Chanarin (1971, England) are artists living and working in London. Their latest book War Primer 2 is published by MACK (2011) and interrogates the nature of the images of conflict that have proliferated since 9/11. They have exhibited widely and produced seven monographs. Broomberg and Chanarin are Visiting Fellows at the University of the Arts London. Arnold van Bruggen (1979, the Netherlands) is a writer and filmmaker based in Amsterdam. Together with Eefje Blankevoort he founded and runs Prospektor, a company focused on the production of documentary practices. He is currently working on the Sochi Project with photographer Rob Hornstra. Bruno Ceschel (1976, Italy) is a writer and curator; he lectures in photography at the Camberwell College of Arts, London. In 2010 he founded Self Publish, Be Happy an organization promoting and studying self-published photobooks. He has organized events at The Photographers’ Gallery, ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts and Whitechapel Gallery in London, OffPrint in Paris and at Flash Forward Festival in Toronto and Boston. Cia de Foto is a photography collective based in São Paulo, Brazil, founded in 2003. It recently exhibited Histories of Maps, Pirates and Treasures in the Itaú Cultural institute (São Paolo), an individual exhibition Entretanto at the Galeria Vermelho and the series Carnaval at the New York Photo Festival. The collective participated at the 3éme biennale des images du monde – Photoquai 2011 in Paris. Cia de Foto is represented by Galeria Vermelho, São Paolo, Brazil. Clément Chéroux (1970, France) is a curator at the Centre Pompidou / Musée National d’Art Moderne. A historian of photography with a doctorate in art history, he is also the editor of the journal Études
Photographiques. He was one of the five curators of the exhibition From Here On as part of Les Rencontres d’ Arles (July 2011). Eder Chiodetto (1965, Brazil) is an independent curator of photo graphy and video, a journalist, photographer and photography critic based in Brazil. He is Professor of Photojournalism and Photography Essay at Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo. Jörg Colberg (1968, Germany) is the founder and editor of Conscientious, a widely read weblog dedicated to contemporary fine art photography. He is a faculty member of the MFA Photography programme at Hartford Art School (Northampton). His writings have appeared in international magazines and he has contributed introductory essays to monographs by various photographers. Lauren Cornell (1978, United States) is Executive Director at Rhizome and Adjunct Curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, where she oversees and develops Rhizome’s programmes, all of which support the creation, presentation and preservation of art engaged with technology. In addition to her curatorial work at the New Museum, Cornell organizes the monthly New Silent Series, featuring screenings, events and performances by emerging artists. Charlotte Cotton (1971, United Kingdom) is the Creative Director of the National Media Museum in Bradford, England. She is the author of Imperfect Beauty (2000), Guy Bourdin (2003), Then Things Went Quiet (2003) and The Photograph as Contemporary Art (2005 and 2009). She is also the founding editor of wordswithoutpictures.org. Nickel van Duijvenboden (1981, the Netherlands) investigates forms of writings that border on visual art. In 2003 he published a collection of essays, The Grand Absence, and graduated as a ‘photographer without photographs’ at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (NL). He teaches at the Photo Department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and supervised the second year’s photography students taking part in the What’s Next? project initiated by Foam. Constant Dullaart (1979, The Netherlands) is a Berlin-based artist and curator who works primarily on and with the world
wide web. His work is shown internationally at places such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris; Art in General and MWNM galleries in New York; the ICA in London; NIMk, de Appel, W139 and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie/ The National School of Photography (ENSP), founded in 1982 in Arles (South France), is a higher education establishment under the general supervision of the French Ministry of Culture. The School’s principal mission is to train artistic photographers, who acquire both solid theoretical knowledge and in-depth technical skills. It is also actively involved in organising exhibition while contributing to various publications, and publishing its own journal Infra-Mince. Hasan and Husain Essop (1985, South Africa) are two brothers and photographers based in Cape Town. Their exhibitions include Powerplay (2008), Halaal Art (2010) at the Goodman Gallery, the Havana Biennial (2009) and Dak’Art Biennial, Dakar (2010), the V&A Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2011) and the Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde in Dubai (2011). Hasan & Husain Essop are represented by Goodman Gallery, South Africa. Fantom Photographic Quarterly is an international publication about the uses and abuses of photo graphy published by Boiler Corporation s.r.l., Milano, Italy. A voyage into photography, first and foremost Fantom features the voice of photographers, in interviews, portfolios, and statements. Fantom is edited by Cay Sophie Rabinowitz (New York, USA) and Selva Barni (Milano, Italy). Joan Fontcuberta (1955, Spain) has had his work exhibited globally, including at MoMA in New York and the Art Institute in Chicago. He is the founder and editor of the magazine PhotoVision and has written several books about the history, aesthetics and the teaching of photography. Gerrit Rietveld Academie is a university of applied sciences for Fine Arts and Design in Amsterdam. After a general first year, called the Foundation Year, the student continues with a three year long in-depth study within one of the twelve specialisations. By specialising in Photography at the Rietveld Academie, students are trained as autonomous photographers, creating conceptual work in which photography serves as a catalyst.
The university offers also four master degree programmes in partnership with the Sandberg Institute. Foam Lab is a special activity created by Foam in 2007. A group of ambitious youngsters heading towards a career in the creative industry develop different projects and events based around photo graphy during the run of one year. For its third edition that started in February 2011, the FoamLab participants are Jerry Celie, Liset van der Laan, Fenna Lampe, Eelke Mol, Hugo van de Poel and Rosa Ronsdorf. Frits Gierstberg (1959, the Netherlands) is an art historian and critic. He has worked as Head of Exhibitions and curator at the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam since 2003. He is co-editor of a number of books on photography and visual culture, among them The Image Society. Essays on Visual Culture (2002), Documentary Now! Contemporary Strategies in Photography, Film and Visual Arts (2005) and The Dutch Photobook 1945 - 2010 (upcoming). Jefferson W. Hack (1971, Uruguay) is a journalist and magazine editor. He co-founded Dazed & Confused with photographer Rankin in 1991. Hack has been a contributor to The Daily Telegraph on men’s style and has guest-edited The Independent. He sits as a judge on the panel for the Paris ANDAM fashion award. Rob Hornstra (1975, the Netherlands) is a documentary photo grapher. In 2009, together with the writer and filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen, he started the Sochi Project. He is co-founder of FOTODOK – Space for Documentary Photography in Utrecht (NL). Rob Hornstra is represented by Flatland Gallery, Utrecht (the Netherlands). David Horvitz (1982, USA) is a photographer, writer and performance artist from Los Angeles. He is currently based in Brooklyn. He has published several books. His works have been exhibited in various galleries and museums, including Galerie West (The Hague, NL), Art Metropole (Toronto) and the New Museum (NYC). Last summer he was nominated for the Discovery Prize at the photography festival Les Rencontres d’ Arles. Max Houghton (1970, United Kingdom) is editor of 8 magazine and foto8.com. She is Course Leader of the MA in Photojournalism at Westminster University. Based in Brighton, she writes about photography and the media on a
freelance basis for a variety of international publications. Michiel van Iersel (1978, the Netherlands) co-founded Nonfiction, an Amsterdam based office for cultural innovation, in 2008. He speaks and writes about art and culture on a regular basis and has hosted or co-hosted conferences on museum innovation, including McMuseum (2002), Open Museum (2008) and Curating the City (2009).
Anne-Celine Jaeger (1975, Germany) is a British-based journalist and critic. Among her books is Image Makers, Image Takers: The Essential Guide to Photography by Those in the Know. She has written for many publications, including The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Foam Magazine and Wallpaper* as well as Süddeutsche Zeitung and Du magazine. Michael T. Jones (1960, United States) is Google’s Chief Technology Advocate. He was previously Chief Technologist of Google Maps, Earth, and Local Search. He has developed scientific and interactive computer graphics software and has used a home-built 4-gigapixel camera made with parts from the U2/SR71. JR (1983, France) is an artist describing himself as a photograffeur. His artistic research involves photography, street art and participatory art. His first exhibition, Expos 2 Rue, was held in the streets of Paris in 2001. With the project Face2Face (2007) he made portraits of Palestinians and Israelis and pasted them up in huge formats on both sides of the wall. After winning the TED Prize in 2011 he started the project Inside Out, a large scale participatory project about identity. His current project Unframed reinterprets in huge formats photos from important photographers taken from the archives of museums. JR is represented by Galerie Perrotin in Paris.
Kadir van Lohuizen (1963, the Netherlands) is an independent photojournalist. He has covered conflicts throughout the world, but he is probably best known for his projects on the seven rivers of the world and the diamond industry (published as photobooks Diamond Matters, the diamond industry and Aderen). In Via PanAm Van Lohuizen brings the focus back to Latin America, which is hardly visible in today’s news coverage. He has received numerous prizes for his work, and established with ten others the photo agency NOOR images (Amsterdam). Flora Lysen (1984, the Netherlands) is an independent writer, curator and researcher, currently teaching at the Master program in Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. In 2010 she was the curator of The Smooth and the Striated, an exhibition in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, showing the work of eight contemporary artists. Lev Manovich (1960, Russia) is professor in the Visual Arts Department of the University of California, San Diego, director of the Software Studies Initiative, and a professor at the European Graduate School (EGS). He focuses on developing analytical tools that can model new patterns and trends within web-based cultural production and social media. Anne Marsh (Australia) is Director of the Art Theory Program and Associate Dean Research at Monash University in Australia. Her research areas include photography, performance art, feminism, postmodernism and psychoanalysis. Her books include Look: Contemporary Australian Photography since 1980 (Macmillan Publishers, 2010). Lesley A. Martin (1970, United States) is publisher of Aperture Foundation’s book program. She was one of the inaugural curators of the New York Photo Festival in 2008. In 2006 American Photo named Martin one of the Innovators of the Year, for ‘breaking the mold for iconic photography books’ with her
cadre of ‘conceptually oriented books that have added a fresh vision to the photography world’. Nicholas Mirzoeff (United Kingdom) is Professor of Media Culture and Communication at New York University. His publications and projects contributed fundamentally to the general development of Visual Culture as a field of study and a methodology. He wrote and edited An Introduction to Visual Culture (2nd ed. 2009) and The Visual Culture Reader (3rd ed. forthcoming 2012). His very last book just came out: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011). Alison Nordström (1950, United States) is Senior Curator of Photographs and Director of Exhibitions at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester. In 2011 she curated a major retrospective of more than 150 photographs by Lewis Wickes Hine at the Fondation Henri CartierBresson in Paris. Sean O’Toole (1968, South Africa) is a Cape Town-based journalist and writer. His writings on South African photography have appeared in the magazines Art in America, Camera Austria, DAMn Magazine, eye Magazine, Frieze and Kyoto Journal; and in the books Alias (2011) and Ghetto (2004), both by photographers Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, Joburg Circa Now (2004) by Terry Kurgan and Jo Ractliffe, and Positions (2010), which included an essay on Guy Tillim. Marisa Olson (1977, Germany) is a visual artist based in New York. Her work combines video, performances, drawing and installations. Her research focuses on the cultural history of technology, the politics of participation in pop culture and the aesthetics of failure. She is Assistant Professor of New Media at the Purchase College State University of NY and was previously Editor & Curator at Rhizome. Paulien Oltheten (1982, the Netherlands) is an artist/photo grapher that focuses her research on prolonged observation of the public sphere, documenting the fleeting human situations. She was resident artist at the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten (the Netherlands) and ARCUS project in Japan. Her work has been exhibited widely and it’s part of several collections, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Paulien Oltheten is represented by Galerie Fons Welters, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Lisa Oppenheim (1975, United States) lives and works in New York City. Her films and photographs have been recently been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Bilbao, the New Museum, and at the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, as well as in many gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include Blood to Ghosts at Galerie Juliette Jongma (Amsterdam) and at Klosterfelde; and Invention without a Future at Harris Lieberman. Arthur Ou (1974, Taiwan) is an artist and writer based in New York. His writings have been published in Aperture, Artforum. com, Afterall.org, Bidoun, Fantom, X-Tra, and Words Without Pictures (Aperture: 2010). He is currently the Director of the BFA Photography Program at Parsons the New School for Design. Ou co-organized the conference The Photographic Universe together with the Aperture Foundation, The Shpilman Institute, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. Outlook Magazine is China’s leading original creative lifestyle magazine. It covers content ranging from fashion to architecture, from travel to art, and from culture to design. Outlook has been published in Shanghai continuously since October 2002. The editor-in-chief is Jiaojiao Chen and the art director is Peng Yangjun, both them used to be authors of COLORS magazine during 2006 to 2008. Asmara Pelupessy (1981, United States/ the Netherlands) is an independent curator, researcher, writer, editor and project organizer in photography and visual culture. Together with Sara Blokland she is the co-founder of UNFIXED Projects, a non-profit organization aimed at creating platforms for dialogue between photography, contemporary art and theory. Willem Popelier (1982, the Netherlands) is a Dutch visual artist who uses photography. In 2011 he was granted a special mention at Dutch Doc Awards. He exhibited his works at Foam Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and at Les Rencontres d’Arles. His work is centred on photographic representations of identity. Laurel Ptak (United States) is a curator who has been based in New York City for the last ten years. She is the founder of the blog about contemporary photography iheartphotograph.com. Recently
The Impossible Project was initiated by Dr.Florian Kaps (CMO), André Bosman (COO) and Marwan Saba (CFO) in 2008. Its mission was not to re-build Polaroid film but to develop a new product with new characteristics. In 2010 Impossible introduced its first, brand new analog Instant Film materials. Impossible initiated also several projects dedicated to support and promote Instant Photography amongst artists and photographers. Impossible Project Spaces have opened in New York City (USA), Tokyo (Japan) and Vienna (Austria).
Erik Kessels (1966, the Netherlands) is a founding partner and creative director of KesselsKramer, an international communications agency based in Amsterdam. He has curated numerous photography exhibitions such as USE ME, ABUSE ME at the New York Photo Festival 2010 and most recently From Here On at Les Rencontres d’Arles, France.
she relocated to Stockholm where she serves as curator at Tensta Konsthall and will teach the workshop ‘Towards a History & Philosophy of the Online Image’ at the photo department of Konstfack – University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in spring 2012.
contributors & support
Ramesh Raskar (India) is head of the Camera Culture research group at MIT Media Lab in Boston, where he is associate professor. Some of his recent innovations include a way to perform an eye test in three minutes using a cell phone, a camera based on transient imaging to see around the corner and imperceptible markers for motion capture. Raskar also holds the position of Co-Director at the Center for Future Storytelling. Timm Rautert (1941, Germany), studied photography under Otto Steinert at the Folkwang School of Design in Essen from 1966 to 1971. Rautert has been one of the most important teachers of young photographers in Germany when working as professor of photography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst / Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, between 1993 and 2007. Ilse van Rijn (1975, the Netherlands) is a Dutch writer and art critic. She contributes to magazines such as Metropolis M, Open, Mister Motley and Foam Magazine, as well as to individual artist’s publications and curatorial projects. She is currently working on her PhD, in which she researches contemporary autonomously produced artist’s writings. Fred Ritchin (United States) is Professor of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he also co-directs with Susan Meiselas the NYU/Magnum Foundation Photo graphy & Human Rights educational program. He is also director of PixelPress – an organization that works at the intersection of new media, documentary and human
rights. Ritchin is the author of After Photography (2008, with translations in Chinese, French, Korean, Spanish and Turkish), and of In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography (1990, 1999).
director and editor of SeeSaw since its inception in 2004. Schuman, who is an American photographer and writer based in the United Kingdom, regularly contributes to Foam Magazine as writer.
Brett Rogers (1954, Australia) has been the Director of The Photo graphers’ Gallery since November 2005. She previously worked at the Visual Arts Department of the British Council where she held the joint positions of Deputy Director and Head of Exhibitions. She is the Chair of the Jury for the annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
Lieko Shiga (1980, Japan) graduated at Chelsea College of Art and Design in BA Fine Arts New Media in 2004. She is a recipient of the Kimura Ihei Award and the Young Photographer ICP Infinity Award. She has released two books, Lilly and CANARY in 2008. In 2009 she started the project called KITAKAMA, which will be exhibited at the end of 2012. Lieko Shiga is represented by Galerie Priska Pasquer, Cologne, Germany.
RongRong (1968, China) and inri (1973, Japan) have been working together since 2000 in Beijing. In 2007 RongRong and inri established the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, the first contemporary art space solely dedicated to photo graphy and video art in China. Thomas Ruff (1958, Germany) is an internationally renowned photo grapher who lives and works in Dusseldorf. Having studied photography from 1977 to 1985 with Bernd Becher at the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf, he developed his method of conceptual serial photography. Between 2000 and 2005 he taught at the academy in Dusseldorf. Joachim Schmid (1955, Germany) is a Berlin-based artist. He has been working with found photographs since the early 1980s; his works have been shown and published internationally and are included in numerous collections. In 1990 he founded the Institut zur Wiederaufbereitung von Altfotos (The Institute for the Reprocessing of Used Photographs). SeeSaw Magazine is an online photography magazine dedicated to work that successfully captures, represents and encourages acute observation via the photographic medium. Aaron Schuman is the
Stefano Stoll (1975, Switzerland) is the Director of the Festival IMAGES in Vevey (Switzerland), focussing on monumental photography and outdoor exhibitions (next edition September 2012). During his studies of art history and economics, he co-founded and co-directed the first photography festival in Switzerland: les Journées Photographiques de Bienne. He is also head of the cultural department of the City of Vevey. Sam Stourdzé (1973, France) became Director of Musée de L’Elysée in Lausanne (Switzerland) in 2010. In 2011, he launched ELSE, the Swiss magazine of photography. His research activity focuses on the circulation of images, both still and moving, and the production and interpretation of photographs. As a curator he organized several exhibitions including retrospectives of Dorothea Lange, Tina Modotti, Chaplin and Fellini. Mariko Takeuchi (1972, Japan) is a photography critic, an independent curator, and associate professor of Kyoto University of Art and Design. She is a guest researcher at the National Museum of Art, Osaka. She was a guest curator for the Spotlight on Japan exhibition at
Paris Photo 2008. Jordan Tate (1981, United States) is an Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Cincinnati. Tate’s work is currently held in collections nationwide, including Rhizome at the New Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Tate is the founding editor of the contemporary art blog ilikethisart. net. Penelope Umbrico (1957, United States) is an artist/photographer who often re-uses published images from magazines, ads or internet, attempting to redefine questions of subjectivity and authorship. She has shown internationally, and her work is included in major collections such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in California, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She currently lives and works in New York. Anne de Vries (the Netherlands) is a Dutch artist based both in Amsterdam and Berlin. His work has been shown in a wide range of museums, artist spaces, galleries, online and printed matter: including Rhizome (New York), Foam (Amsterdam), Villa Noailles Hyères (France) and The Armory (New York). He has been organizing various events in collaboration with other artists of which BYOB Bring Your Own Beamer nights. De Vries graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and is currently an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. Waterfall Magazine is a bi-annual independent art and photography magazine, which makes connections between art, daily life, and common experiences. Based in Taipei (Taiwan) its designers and editors are Ho-Teng Chang and Shauba Chang. Waterfall Magazine is self-published in Chinese and English.
What's Next? has been made possible with the support of: AgentschapNL, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Beamsystems, Dienst Maatschappelijke Ontwikkeling, Eizo high-end-monitors, Igepa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mondriaan Foundation, Oschatz Visuelle Medien, Prins Bernard Cultuurfonds, Gerrit Rietveld Academie, robstolk, SNS Reaalfonds, Sony Ericsson and VSBFonds.
The heart of Foam is located in the centre of Amsterdam, in the museum on the K eizersgracht. Here we schedule a varied programme of exhibitions including world-famous photographers as well as young or undiscovered talent. Large-scale exhibitions alternate with small, quickly changing shows. We also organise a dynamic programme of lectures, discussions, guided tours, workshops and special events.
Foam enables people all over the world to experience and enjoy photography, whether it’s at our museum in Amsterdam, on the website, via our internationally distributed magazine or in our E ditions department.
foam magazine # 29 what's next?
Summer Interns Having Lunch, Wall Street, New York, 1987 © Joel Sternfeld and Luhring Augustine, New York
Joel Sternfeld : Colour photographs since 1970 16 December 2011 – 14 March 2012 Foam presents the first major retrospective exhibition in the Netherlands of the work of Joel Sternfeld (1944, New York), one of the pioneers of colour photography, showing more than one hundred photos from ten different series in an exhibition spanning two floors. A highlight is Sternfeld’s early work from the 1970s that has never previously been exhibited. A large selection from such famed series as American Prospects, the result of his legendary journey through the United States, and Stranger Passing will be on show. A constant factor in his work is his native land America, its inhabitants and the traces left by people on the landscape. With a subtle feeling for irony and an exceptional feeling for colour, Sternfeld offers us an image of daily life in America over the last three decades. Along with William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, Sternfeld saw to it that colour photo graphy became a respected artistic medium in the 1970s. Until that time, colour was used widely in advertising and amateur photography, but had rarely been seen in museums and galleries. Sternfeld was influenced by the colour theory of the Bauhaus and by the work of William Eggleston, whose exhibition in MoMA in 1976 signalled the official start of colour photography being accepted in the art world. •
14 October – 15 December 2011
until 07 Dec 2011
What's Next? The Future of the Photography Museum
Guest curators: Jefferson Hack, Lauren Cornell, Erik Kessels, Alison Nordström
5 November – 7 December 2011
Four different concepts, four different guest curators, four visionary presentations and one museum that offers them a stage. Foam, celebrating its tenth an niversary, has invited four different experts from the cultural field to realize a challenging proposal on how photography can be presented in a museum. By doing so Foam specifically addresses the issue of its own fu ture and how a museum can do justice to a medium as versatile and varied as contemporary photography.
Blue Paper, 2010 from the series In A World Without Words… © Ina Jang
The four invited guest curators are Jefferson Hack (UK, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Dazed & Confused), Alison Nordström (US, Director of Photographs, George Eastman House), Erik Kessels (NL, co-founder of KesselsKramer, curator, collector and specialist in ver nacular photography) and Lauren Cornell (US, Deputy Curator of the New Museum, NY). •
In the fifth annual Talent issue Foam Magazine high lights work from fifteen young talents in a diverse range of photographic work. The shortlist was selected from over 800 portfolio submissions to this year’s Talent Call by Foam Magazine. For the first time in five years there is an extensive exhibition in Amsterdam presenting this exceptional and yet undiscovered work. With work by photographers: Renato Abreu (Brazil), Lucas Blalock (USA),Raphaël Dallaporta (France), Fleur van Dodewaard (the Netherlands), Jessica Eaton (Canada), Mayumi Hosokura (Japan), Alessandro Imbriaco (Italy), Ina Jang (South Korea), Mirko Martin (Germany), Ivor Prickett (Ireland), Florian van Roekel (the Netherlands), Gosha Rubchinskiy (Russia), Alberto Salván Zulueta (Spain), Katrien Vermeire (Belgium) and Ester Vonplon (Switzerland). •
Foam 3h : Sara-Lena Maierhofer Dear Clark, 15 December 2011 –
foam magazine # 29 what's next?
1 February 2012
In Dear Clark, Sara-Lena Maierhofer seeks rapproche ment to a fraudster, a crook whose life consists of adopting and abandoning different identities. When she fails to arrange a meeting with the person in ques tion, she decides to study him from a distance. Step by step, the artist comes closer to getting to know her subject; his appearance, his peculiarities, his intentions. How can one construct a profile of someone who con stantly readjusts himself? What characterizes a man who systematically defies character? How do you grab someone who constantly aims to breakaway? •
© Stanley Greene / Noor
Stanley Greene : Black Passport
16 December 2011 – 5 February 2012
‘I think you can only keep positive for eight years. If you stay at it longer than that, you turn. And not into a beautiful butterfly.’ Black Passport is the biography of war photographer Stanley Greene (1949, New York). It presents Stanley’s war images alternated with private images. Like Stanley himself, the viewer experiences be ing tossed to and from between the safe Western life and the horrors of wars elsewhere. •
Foam 3h : Pavel Prokopchik Russian Alternative
2 February – 14 March 2012
Pavel Prokopchik has been following a group of peo ple in Russia that choose an alternative lifestyle. Away from all the politics and materialistically driven society. A new generation that is still in search for the escape from the grips of our society. •
Junger Mann, 2011 © Sara-Lena Maierhofer
Lama and at that moment his girlfriend Nastya. Sleeping after arriving to Utrish. Krasnodarsky kray, Russia © Pavel Prokopchik
Les vacances de Monsieur Grunberg
10 February – 18 March 2012
Summer holidays and photos are interconnected: the first thing you pack after passports, tickets and money is the camera. In Foam the project Les vacances de Monsieur Grunberg by Dutch novelist Arnon Grunberg and artist Wendela Hubrecht is on show. Les vacances is a continuation of Grunberg’s embedding with several families in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Embedded meant staying over and taking part in the family life. Grunberg wanted to research ‘the family’ by going on holiday with them. ‘A family on holiday is a family in a warzone, or rather, in a war situation. That’s how I see it.’
Vlada in the Kitchen Kazan, 1992 © Bertien van Manen
Bertien van Manen : Let’s Sit Down Before We Go
23 March – 24 June 2012
Before leaving for a long journey, Russian people sit down for a moment and think about where they will be going and why. The atmosphere in the pictures of Bertien van Manen is like this. Together with photo grapher Stephen Gill she made a selection of pictures she took in Russia between 1991-2009 and which have never been on show before. •
New York Times Magazine
23 March – 30 May 2012
For over thirty years, the weekly New York Times Magazine has shaped the possibilities of magazine photo graphy, through its commissioning and publishing of photographers’ work across the spectrum of the medi um, from photojournalism to fashion photography and portraiture. In this exhibition, focusing primarily on the past fifteen years, long-time New York Times Magazine Photo Editor Kathy Ryan provides a behind-the-scenes look at the collaborative, creative processes that have made this magazine the leading venue for photographic storytelling within contemporary news media. •
2010 © Wendela Hubrecht
It began in 2010 with an ad in the papers in Holland. Af ter a two-day audition with thirty families in the Holiday Inn Hotel in Amsterdam Grunberg chose the family of Maud and Nick van der Poel, who took him to the Greek island of Lefkas. His report was published in the NRC Handelsblad. Wendela Hubrecht took photos of the au dition and of the families on holiday with, and without Grunberg. The families also received throw-away cam eras to take photos themselves. A selection of these photos, texts and film are on show in the exhibition. Material that raises many questions: Why do families want to be watched? Grunberg studies them but is also studied himself. What is a family? What is private? Where is the limit? •
working closely together with artists and designers www.lecturis.nl
The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds supports Foam (C) Maarten Brinkgreve - Tuinzaal 4 - Foam
The mission of the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds is to support cultural and nature preservation projects in the Netherlands. The foundation emphasizes artistic excellence and educational initiatives. Each year, over 3.500 projects and people receive foundation support. Musicians, artists, photographers, museums, monuments, theatre and dance ensembles all beneďŹ t. Support us for â&#x201A;Ź 4,00 per month. www.cultuurfonds.nl/information
Alexia 2010 © Dirk Braeckman, Courtesy Zeno X Gallery Antwerpen
06.10.11 >< 08.01.12
M - MUSEUM LEUVEN L.VANDERKELENSTRAAT 28, B-3000 LEUVEN T. 0032 16 27 29 29 | E. BEZOEKM@LEUVEN.BE
Optimistic Branding Visit vandejong.com
Foam Magazine’s choice of paper JR was born in the street and raised with the need for freedom. By play. By love. JR moves about disguised. He runs over the rooftops. He jumps the turnstiles. He shakes off the police. JR is energetic. Whether in the banlieues of Paris, Jerusalem, Rio, Nairobi or New Delhi. He runs around the world, floating like a super-hero. JR is a gang. Selftaught, he surrounds himself with passion, curiosity and generosity. With his close companions, he plots his route, worldwide. Searching for the right cause. JR avoids the sun. The shadows are a resource. Light slows him down. And yet, he exposes himself to danger, to the media. In the street. And then in the museums. His exhibition is global. From virtual networks online to the brick walls of Shanghai, the largest gallery on earth is at his disposal. The street is his media. He knows no limits but his own. He is at once the artist, the curator, the museum, the gallery. Independence is his fuel.
JR by Stefano Stoll
→ 28 Millimetres, Face 2 Face, Pasting on the Separation wall, Security Fence, Palestinian side, Bethlehem, march 2007 © JR / Agence VU
interview with JR
The paper used in this magazine was supplied by paper merchant Igepa. For more information please call +31 344 578 100 or email email@example.com
The cover is printed on Lessebo Design smooth bright 300 g/m2, CO2 neutral FSC
The text pages are printed on Maxi Offset 120g/m2, wood-free offset paper EU Flower awarded
Lieko Shiga is printed on heaven42 115g/ m2, absolute white coated paper softmatt FSC
Jordan Tate is printed on heaven42 115g/m2, absolute white coated paper softmatt FSC
Andrew Best is printed on heaven42 135g/ m2, absolute white coated paper softgloss FSC
Cia de Foto is printed on heaven42 135g/ m2, absolute white coated paper softgloss FSC
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Magazine contributions are printed on Magno Gloss 90g/m2, wood-free triple coated gloss paper, a Sappi product
Issue #29, winter 2011/2012 Editor-in-chief Marloes Krijnen Creative Director Pjotr de Jong Editors Caroline von Courten, Marcel Feil, Pjotr de Jong, Marloes Krijnen Managing Editor Caroline von Courten Editorial Intern Elisa Medde Magazine Manager Niek van Lonkhuijzen Communication Intern Lotte van den Hout Project Management Femke Papma, Betty Man
Art Director Vandejong: Hamid Sallali Design & Layout Vandejong: Hamid Sallali, Kalle Mattsson, Ayumi Higuchi Typography Vandejong: Kalle Mattsson Contributing Photographers and Artists Andrew Best, Hasan and Husain Essop, Cia de Foto, David Horvitz, Paulien Oltheten, Lieko Shiga, Jordan Tate Cover Photograph New Work #43, 2010 © Jordan Tate Contributing Writers Eva Bremer, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Bruno Ceschel, Eder Chiodetto, Jörg Colberg, Charlotte Cotton, Caroline von Courten, Nickel van Duijvenboden, Marcel Feil, Joan Fontcuberta, Max Houghton, Kim Knoppers, Flora Lysen, Lev Manovich, Anne Marsh, Lesley A. Martin, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Sean O’Toole, Colette Olof, Marisa Olson, Arthur Ou, Asmara Pelupessy, Laurel Ptak, Timm Rautert, Ilse van Rijn, Fred Ritchin, Brett Rogers, RongRong & inri, Stefano Stoll, Sam Stourdzé, Mariko Takeuchi, Anne de Vries
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Publisher Foam Magazine PO Box 92292 1090 AG Amsterdam – NL email@example.com ISSN 1570-4874 ISBN 978-90-70516-24-6 © photographers, authors, Foam Magazine BV, Amsterdam, 2011. 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 con tact 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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#29 What’s Next? Winter 2011/2012 €17,50