DIGITALLY CULTURED NAVIGATING THE DIGITAL REALM WITH CIVILIZATION’S
GABRIEL STROMBERG B/W ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY
MIXT Nº3 CHRONOTOPE B/W ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW Opening Reception Saturday, February 11 February 3–March 3 studio e Gallery 609 S Brandon St, Seattle, WA 98108 studioegallery.org More photographer and show information at facebook.com/mixtmag
COVER PHOTO Sasha Veledzimovich / Jenya (Portrait with Flowers)
Nº3 CHRONOTOPE INTERVIEW The Merging of Analog and Digital Cultures Gabriel Stromberg Interview by Brian Balmert
A few years ago, I found a handmade zine left on a park bench titled: Chronotope: Time. Space. Separation. Rebellion. It had photocopied pages of stories with titles like “Deportation”, “Redeployment”, “Suspended Time”, “Face to Face”. The pages were bound with string… perhaps a student project. I looked up the definition of chronotope (literally time-space) and it’s a word coined to describe the interaction of temporal and spatial relationships in literature. I loved the concept and set out to incorporate it into my own photography. Then I began collecting images online (on Flickr) from photographers whose work I deemed “chronotope”. These photos were generally analogue, or captured with film. Black
and white art house films likely influenced me—Jean Luc Godard, Wim Wenders -
has an ethereal stillness and an emotional purity that is hard to replicate with digital.
Though much of this emotion is projected into the moment by the photographer
Nicholas Dominic Talvola
themselves, the use of black and white film, with its rich tones and contrasts, minimizes
Przemek Strzelecki Sasha Veledzimovich Shannon Richardson
Wings of Desire, Ingmar Bergman. As in these films, black and white film photography
superfluous details and puts emphasis on the element(s) that the eye-behind-the-lens is intent on capturing. The resulting photo is a minimalist cinematic space where the viewer is more apt to not only see but to feel the scene—or to experience the photo.
In this issue, the Mixt editorial is a reflection on digital culture. What does digital culture
mean? Can analogue culture be integrated within the digital realm? If so, how do we embrace and personalize it? Gabriel Stromberg is the (genius) creative director
Interviews by Anne-Sophie Landou
at Seattle’s most happening design firm, Civilization. Brian Balmert engages him in a question-and-answer dialogue that is relevant to us all. Netra Nei
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Anne-Sophie Landou Anne-Sophie Landou is a French photographer with Corsican roots, based in Marseille. She has a deep attachment to New York City and visits as much as possible. She has considered photography her lifestyle since she was a teen. “The camera is always with me and I just shoot what I see with my own artistic sensitivity. I am also a nature lover, I live for new discoveries and beauty.” Brian Balmert Brian Balmert is a Pacific Northwest native and current owner of Bow Edison Studio, a design marterials sales agency. Brian’s passion for the decorative arts has informed several retail ventures. The most recent of which, Ornamo, was a home furnishings and design boutique that the New York Times referred to as “Seattle’s smartest new design shop”.
The Merging of Analog and Digital Cultures GABRIEL STROMBERG, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT CIVILIATION, STEERS US THROUGH THE POSSIBILITIES INTERVIEW BY BRIAN BALMERT
BRIAN Gabriel, your list of possible topics for discussion made me aware of just how deeply the digital age has challenged many of our received ideas about the importance and meaning of traditional modes of culture, especially in terms of the production and dissemination of art. As a graphic designer, brand genius, and creative professional, I am curious about your working definition of “digital culture” and how that informs your practice? GABRIEL The important part of digital culture is the “culture” part not the “digital” part. That being said, I do believe that our experiences in the digital realm are informing our culture. And I think the effects are in some ways really positive. There is an expectation of freedom and access inherent in our digital lives that I see beginning to cross over into the analog world. In the digital space we aren’t so defined by our physical selves—our identities are more based on what we like, what we watch and listen to, what information we access. Traits like gender, age, and location become less absolute.
What’s really exciting about working in the digital space—particularly designing for web—is that it’s so democratic. The web offers so many people opportunities to create businesses, organizations, movements who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources to do so. And within this space, small independent entities have just as much potential for creating visibility and impact around what they are doing as larger companies or even established corporations—and often they have better websites. It’s because the deciding factor in the digital realm, the thing that really determines the effectiveness of your presence, that determines the value of the experience you’re creating—it isn’t money, or influence, or class— it’s design. We have entered a time where marketing and branding have become part of our social rituals. There has been much critique around this fact—many people think this is a negative thing; that perhaps there is a lack of true meaning around these practices. Branding and marketing have, historically, been associated with commerce and corporate culture—which at the very least has a stigma of being impersonal and inauthentic. But so much of branding is about constructing an identity and this is something that humans have always done—through relationships, connections, personal interests. We have long used art, design, and music—the things that inspire us—to curate and define the life that we want. This is one of the things that digital platforms do best—providing access and connection to things, people, media, and information. I understand the perception that the digital space lacks meaning, and true human experience—it’s where we go to shop, to watch television; it’s a place filled with pop ups, and
porn, and fake news. But what if this just the starting place? I see it evolving quickly and much of this evolution will be design-centered. In the past three to four years there has been this amazing advancement in digital design. Web design in general used to be really bad. All of the best designers were choosing to stick with print design either out of a lack of interest in web design or a lack of access to web design training. Also, within the web development community there was a serious lack of diversity. All of this is changing in a big way. Web design is emerging as an important and dynamic form
of design—one where in addition to color, form, and typography, you are using time, transition, movement, and sequencing to communicate, tell stories, and create experience. BRIAN On the level of lived human experience, so much of who we are is an extension of the complex, conflicting issues of class, race, gender, sex, and privilege that inform our identities. Yet digital culture seems uniquely suited to the creation and dissemination of virtual identities, particularly corporate and online dating ones, that are seamlessly designed and absent of any internal conflicts. (Has there ever 5
been a clearer, more instructive example of the medium being the message?) In your own design work, are there ways in which you seek to encode conflict and complexity in the interest of a more authentic digital culture? GABRIEL Traditionally design’s role has been to answers questions, to solve problems; and the types of concerns that are most commonly associated with design are ones of utility — communication, marketing, representation, information, and environment (in the case of architecture, industrial design, and interior design). Yet at the core of this solving, this answer seeking, has always been an aim to elevate human experience — design always seek to reach and improve and make progress.
Often this aim for progress involves tackling concepts that are more open ended and more complex; utilizing subjects like history, ritual, relationships, and mortality which evoke questions and conflicts. I have found that it’s these more complex themes that offer the richest design vernacular for a project and my favorite designs past and present positions these conflicts as central in the design solution. The questions are inherent in the answer. A project that comes to mind is Act Up’s Silence Equals Death campaign in the eighties that was created to bring awareness to the Aids epidemic and the extent of its impact on the gay community. This happened at at time when the world at large was refusing to recognize the magnitude of Aids
and HIV and countless people were suffering and dying within a climate of misinformation, fear, and persecution. The campaign brilliantly communicated the complexity and urgency of the situation with two words and two symbols. Most importantly, by utilizing the pink triangle, first used as a symbol for homosexuals in the Nazi concentration camps, the design connected to a history of persecution and discrimination which, at the time, was at the heart of the government’s refusal to take action. So when tackling digital design — a space that is so focused on more utilitarian concerns like marketing and promotion — I tend to search for the more complex themes and ideas to create story and ultimately meaning. I recently collaborated on
a site for Shout Your Abortion — an organization dedicated to erasing the stigma of abortion and creating advocacy around women’s reproductive rights. For the landing page of the site, I created an animated collage utilizing historic imagery of pro abortion activism. The piece juxtaposes stark typography that references the the letterforms you would find on signs at marches and rallies with photos of female protesters. The imagery is grainy — like it was from a newspaper. The visual texture was meant to evoke the amazing history of activism around this issue. I wanted to connect with that history through the design. BRIAN Your grasp of digital design and culture seems to be underpinned with an authentic passion for the field. As a wrap-up to our
conversation, I am curious to know if you have any sense of what new directions or innovations may be on the horizon for digital design? What does the future look like? As far as technology is concerned — who knows what is on the horizon but whatever it is, design will be the tool that visually interprets and ultimately defines the experience. But technology is just a tool and these companies have enough marketing behind them. What I would rather talk about is the design. And speaking to the future of design — design’s power as a catalyst for facilitating problem solving, communication and activism has never been more important. We have so many problems to solve right now and so much to protest. Historically
there are so many examples of amazing design happening in response to dire circumstances. In hindsight it is easy just to admire the intelligence and genius of the solution — as in the case with the Silence Equals Death campaign and so many others. However, at the core of each instant are people using their brains and hearts to change the world. This is just as inspiring as the work they produce. My firm, Civilization, just launched a new studio project — a gallery called Non-Breaking Space devoted to showcasing graphic design. The inaugural show, which is on view til April of this year, is The Design of Dissent — a collection of graphic design focused on protest and dissent with examples from the sixties to the present. The show 7
includes many greats throughout history like Paula Scher, Jessica Walsh, Tibor Kalman, Ken Garland, and Experimental Jetset just to name a few. The show was originally curated by Milton Glazer and Mirko Ilic in 2005 in conjunction with George W Bush’s second inauguration and shown at SVA in New York. We thought that —
due to the current political climate — the theme was extremely relevant so we reformatted the show and included some new pieces past and present — in doing so Civilization became a co-curator. Walking through the show and looking at so many amazing examples throughout history you realize one really important thing —
that design is powerful, it makes things happen. And I think that in a time where so many are feeling powerless, unheard, and undervalued, more and more people are going recognize the power of design and use it to transform the world around them in a positive way. —
Gabriel Stromberg is the co-founder and creative director of Civilization. He founded the firm in 2012 with Michael Ellsworth and Corey Gutch. Civilization Design Lectures Series Beyond This Point Podcast builtbycivilization.com designlectur.es beyondthispoint.design
B/W ANALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW
Anne-Sophie Landou, keeping it light, asked our Chronotope photographers to share a little morsel about themselves. Her questions: 1\ How old are you? Where do you live and what do you like about that place? What are your job and hobbies? 2\ How did you get into photography? Why did you choose this artistic medium? How important is photography in your life? 3\ If you were: a song / a city / a color / an animal / something to eat? 4\ Why choosing black and white over color? Do you think it has its own artistic language?
ALEKSEY MYAKISHEV MOSCOW, RUSSIA
1\ I am 45 years old and I live in Moscow. I like the energy this big city gives me for my work. I have been working in press photography for 20 years now. Sports, music, and books are my hobbies. 2\ After enrolling the army, I was determined to be a press photographer. I began to take pictures during the USSR era, at the children’s photography studio. I enjoy portraying people, along with their atmosphere. Photography is in almost every part of my life. Even when I’m resting, the camera is always with me. I can’t imagine my life if I hadn’t chosen this job. It is my lifestyle, my way of freely expressing my feelings and thoughts, while learning new places and people. Photography showed me a whole new world that had been hidden from me. 3\ Boris Grebenshikov “Adelaida” / Vyatka / green / a dog / a fish pie 4\ I’m always asked this kind of question. In my opinion, black and white expresses the essence of what you want to say: the story, the form; but it also leaves the viewer material to think. Besides, I am attracted by the process and by being able to print my pictures.
JUNKU NISHIMURA YAMAGUCHI, JAPAN
1\ I am 49 years old. After working in big cities for 18 years, I moved back to my home village 5 years ago, a coal mine at the west of Hiroshima. I am currently working as a season manual labor in forests and farms which allows me to photograph local folks. I make my own rice. 2\ Back in high school, I found a biography of a Japanese war photographer, Kyoichi Sawada (Vietnam War) at the library. From this moment I wanted to be a war photographer. Well, it’s kind of a young man’s longing without deep thinking. Later I got get involved in Djing so my that longing got fade out; then I got a permanent job of cement maker but I still got this frustration that got bigger. Meanwhile, I read Sawada’s biography again and I got a Leica camera that he loved. I started to show my pictures in my favorite bars and noticed that I was already less frustrated. People said I became a good attitude drunker. This feeling still remains… it’s so important for my soul you know.
3\ Song I wish by Stevie wonder City The Barbès hood in Paris, the Barcelona’s Raval, East Harlem–NYC, or Koza in Okinawa Color Deep blue Animal Black sheep Something to eat Crab Hey, last one is just my fav , hahaha :)
4\ I just love darkroom. And there is no color tone that rings my bell at the moment. I would like to make print like Kodacrome 64 tone,no matter itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s analog or digital. Artistic language... I never ever thought my photography as artistic but just kind of documentary.
NICHOLAS DOMINIC TALVOLA ARCATA, CALIFORNIA
1\ At the moment I’m in Rome, I don’t really have a permanent home base and haven’t for the past 4 years I travel a lot with my band. It’s nice because I don’t get stuck in a routine and this feeds my creativity. Always fresh. I live off of my music which allows me to travel, see the world, and meet cultures. My hobbies go together with my work especially my photography. 2\ My mother. I have always liked to take pictures, I never really chose it. Just kinda chose me I think. 3\ — 4\ They are just mediums than one feels identified with or feels comfterble using. I feel that I am creating a style by limiting my self to one medium. I use a very basic camera, one focal length and 1 type of film. Having such limitations makes me more creative and builds my “look” I guess. Also b&w for me has millions of colors and tones, i discover more the deeper I go.
PRZEMEK STRZELECKI TYCHY, POLAND
1\ I am turning 40 in a few days so jokes are over. I was born and lived for 37 years in Poland, two years ago I moved to England, to the south coast. I moved to a city called Brighton, multi-cultured, a hustle and bustle place and is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. Situated on the coast it has all I need. Crazy night life and endless opportunities for a photographer, big waves during autumn, shimmering sea in the summer, starlings murmuration in the winter and great sunsets in spring. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need anything else to be happy. 2\ It started in my childhood. I can still remember my first old smiena plastic Russian camera which I still keep in a cupboard along with bird nests photos, then I received my first Zenith camera, then the next, and the next, but at the beginning of the new century my life was changed when I obtained my first dreamed semiautomatic Canon camera and I started travelling, slowly but surely I realized what photography is and it goes on and on and at the moment it is difficult to imagine my life without photography. It has something magical I cannot explain, the moment of pressing the shutter is like Â music to my ears ;)Â
3\ Song “Men at work – land down under”, it has always been with me when I am ready to go, first words “traveling in a fried-out combie” and I am done ;) City Istanbul: smell, coffee, kebab, two continents in one, magical place...love it Color Ocean and Mongolian taiga so something in between which I could call bluish-green or greenish-blue Something to eat Chocolate – full chocolate in 10 minutes makes me happy, if you don’t believe watch movie called “Chocolate” If I was an animal...I would like to be a wolf, that animal was with me since i was small boy, i dreamed to see them, i roamed years and years to find one and finally last year I was lucky enough to see 4 of them in Mongolia, only remembering that moment makes me howl like a wolf ;) 4\ I don’t really know why black and white, it has happened naturally—maybe it just smells better, who knows.
SASHA VELEDZIMOVICH VITEBSK, BELARUS
1\ I was born in the small city, in the small country. Usually people don’t know where Belarus situated. But almost all know the painter Mark Shagall who was born in Vitebsk and became famous in Paris in the beginning XX century. I am 33 years old. Photography is my job, life and hobby. Also this year I start to study in school for writers and fall in love with Python (computer script language) 2\ Twelve years ago my good friend give me camera Zenit with 135 mm lens and I just see inside of this camera and fall in love, but I also saw the movie “American Beauty” and understand that I like to collect seconds. After that when I was in USA I bought my first digital camera.
But I understand what I want in photography only when start to shoot on film in 2009-2010. Now I use Rolleiflex FX+. It is camera with chrome parts and brown leather with some beautiful scratches. It looks great with my grey shoes, green pans, cyan t-shirt with small brown pikes. Also I have old Rolleiflex 2.8c which came from the legendary time of Richard Avedon, Diana Arbus, Francheska Woodman, “Blow Up” movie and great rock bands. And I very like how I look with this cameras. Film makes me slow. I must to wait and try to do not similar portrait. Also film already exist. If I press the button I create something in material world. 3\ Song Neil Young Ramada Inn City Vitebsk Color 15-3919 Serenity :-) or Like Denim Blue :-) Animal Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar Eat Khinkali (national dish from Georgia) 4\ It is happen. First time I just wanna control all process. Because I can develop film by myself, after I invent that BW has it own power and you need to put more symbols inside picture, because you have less information for a viewer (no color). It taught me to think more about images and their structure. But I like color too. I have two cameras one for color and other for BW.
SHANNON RICHARDSON AMARILLO, TEXAS
1\ 50 years old; Amarillo, TX Geographically the area is flat, dry and windy without any natural beauty. The landscape is a stark contrast of open sky and dusty earth that appears to go on forever. Cultural diversity is slim to none. Certainly not the kind of place one would look to be inspired. Years ago I felt I needed to live in NYC to have access to a wide range of photographic opportunities. But that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a possibility or option I could afford. So what happened was that I had to look at my own surroundings for those opportunities. Over the course of time, I have grown to appreciate and feel a sense of nostalgia for the landscape and culture here.Â I am a commercial / advertising photographer. As far as hobbies go I suppose tinkering with my 57 Chevy would be it.Â
2\ Â In the mid 70s when I was 8 or 9 I was given a Kodak Brownie camera to play around with. My parents usually loaded it with B&W film since I assume (they thought) it was cheaper than color film. I also started shooting with the family movie camera as well. That continued into my teens as I began to purchase higher end super 8 equipment to make short films. In the early 80s I received a Pentax K1000 camera as a gift. I took a journalism class in high school to learn how to shoot and develop B&W film as well as print in the darkroom. As the cost of making short films was making them harder to do, I spent more time shooting photographs and acquired some basic darkroom equipment to allow me to print at home. During the summer of 1988, I came across the biography of Diane Arbus. After reading the book and getting my hands on her monograph, I saw that there was more to
photography than what I had encountered up to that point. Her life and work made an impression on me and I began to shift my focus to photography as what I wanted to do. It’s what I do and I will always be engaged in making photographs. I don’t even think about it. It’s like breathing to me. 3\ I’d be New Orleans. 4\ I love its look and simple process. There is drama and starkness to black and white photography that I believe gives it the power to convey its subject matter in its own idiosyncratic way. Without the distraction of color it distills the image to its fundamental core.
YULIA KAZBAN MOSCOW, RUSSIA
1\ I’m 33 years old and I live in Moscow. I like the feeling of freedom here, like I can be alone. Sometimes I spend time in Saratov where my parents live and where I spent my childhood. It’s home. 2\ My mother worked at a photo store and with my father they made a darkroom. I was a child and this process was magic for me... sweet times. I drew and paint for a long time, then friends of mine had cameras and it became a common interest. 3\ A dark blue dog :) 4\ It is probably one of many languages. I like black and white better because it is very expressive, it just touches my heart, also I really like old photos, seems close to me. I’m a fan of the darkroom process but I can’t use the color process now, I would like to, maybe in the future.
ZEB ANDREWS PORTLAND, OREGON
1\ 38, give or take. Portland, Oregon, going on 25 years now. Portland is a gem of a city and so well situated for a landscape photographer. I head west for an hour and I am at the coast, east for an hour and I am in the Gorge or up Mt. Hood. To the north is Mt. Rainier. It is a beautiful city surrounded by beautiful places. I manage an all-film camera store called Blue Moon Camera and Machine. Other than that my free time is unequally split between hanging out with my ten-year-old son and pursuing my own photography. 2\ It was happenstance really. My girlfriend at the time (and later my wife) used to carry around a Pentax K1000. I could barely make heads or tails of how to use it but one day we were out waterfalling and I asked to borrow it.Something clicked that day (pun intended) and pretty soon I had to get my own camera. I cannot say that I did choose it, I stumbled into it really, but it was intuitive for me and photography and I hit it off wonderfully. I treat photography as a philosophy for life, so I would say pretty damn important. What
I mean is that for me I am more invested in the process of being a photographer than I am in any of the images. I like how photography teaches me patience, encourages me to open my eyes and mind, to think creatively and to work harder to notice and appreciate the details of the world. Life without photography at this point would be like life without all of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s senses. 3\ Hmmm. Not a song, I prefer quiet too much to be a song. A city, perhaps. I love cities, they are like living organisms themselves, always growing, acquiring wrinkles and scars and stories. If I were to be a city I suppose I would love to be an old city like Paris or Edinburgh. I would much rather be a color though and that color would either be the gray-blue of a winterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ocean, timelessly relentless or it would be the deep, rich green of a forest in late spring as the leaves are starting to come in and the moss is at its thickest. 4\ I work in both b&w and color, probably more often color. But there are days I think and feel and see in b&w. I would not say it is its own language but perhaps its own vocabulary. There are certain things that b&w speaks of more eloquently than color, and vice versa.
Aleksey Myakishev / Moscow, Russia alekseymyakishev.photoshelter.com Junku Nishimura / Yamaguchi, Japan junkunishimura.com Nicholas Dominic Talvola / Arcata, California facebook.com/nicholasdominictalvola Przemek Strzeleckii / Tychy, Poland bawgaj.eu Sasha Veledzimovich / Vitebsk, Belarus cargocollective.com/veledzimovich/ALEXANDER-VELEDZIMOVICH Shannon Richardson / Amarillo, TX shannonrichardson.com Yulia Kazban / Moscow, Russia flickr.com/photos/kazban Zeb Andrews / Portland, Oregon zebandrews.photos Gabriel Stromberg / Seattle, WA builtbycivilization.com / designlectur.es / beyondthispoint.design Brian Balmert / Seattle, WA bowedisonstudio.com Anne-Sophie Landou / Marseille, France annesophielandou.tumblr.com / instagram.com/annesophielandou Netra Nei / Curator + Producer / Seattle, WA netranei.com studio e Gallery / 609 S Brandon St. Seattle, WA 98108 studioegallery.org
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