S T E R E O S C O P E the st andrews issue
S T E R E
O S C O P E
c o n t e n t s. about us 6
letter from the editor 10
photography at large: unlikey sources of inspiration 12 photgraphy at home: delving into photo narrative 16
inspiration: jasmine picot-chapman 18
portfolio: juste jonutyte 20 portfolio: john adamson 26 portfolio: spencer bentley 32 portfolio: igor slepov 38 polaroids: andrew binet 44
exhibition review: artist rooms - diane arbus 46
interview: peter adamson on st andrews: portrait of a city 48 more: blogs, competitions and sites 52
upcoming issue and exhibition: escape
Roman Koblov Cover: Olivia Simms
o u r m i s s i o n. S T E R E O S C O P E magazine celebrates student photography in St Andrews while raising awareness about the photographs of the University’s special collections. Working with the support of the University’s Art History Department and Library Special Collections, the magazine is produced annually with an accompanying exhibition. Each issue explores a particular theme. The longstanding tradition of photography in St Andrews started with the historic resident Sir David Brewster, inventor of the stereoscope. Brewster’s correspondence with William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventor of the calotype, established the town as an epicenter of early photography. St Andrews stills plays a role in developing the history of photography; our university holds one of the largest and most important collections of historic Scottish photography and - following in Brewster’s footsteps - our student body continues to make photographic headway. We have chosen to name our magazine S T E R E O S C O P E in honour of Brewster’s dynamic contributions. Like the instrument, which provides its viewer with a dual-perspective, our S T E R E O S C O P E aims to provide you with views to both the past and present. From our small town, such greatness has emerged. It is this wealth of incredible material that we celebrate within these pages.
t h i s i s s u e.
In recognition of its pivotal role in the history of photography, we have chosen
st andrews as the theme for our inaugural issue.
S T E R E O S C O P E
EDITOR hope brimelow
SUB-EDITOR & LAYOUT jackie bach
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR laine kay-lambert
LITERARY EDITOR helen dwork
EXHIBITION COORDINATOR eliza doherty
SPONSORSHIP nicholas guy
PUBLICITY carson woś
SPECIAL THANKS to Susanna Horsey, Alyssa Kilzer Aiden Bowman, Neha Shastry, and Lauren Dall
l e t t e r. 1st December, 2010 It all started with a letter. On 1st July, 1831, Sir David Brewster began the correspondence which would ultimately lead to the creation of a photographic culture in St Andrews. This letter marks a start as well: the start of a magazine which will become a platform for the photographic spirit that has continued since. The structure of the magazine is inspired by GUP magazine, an international photographic magazine whose name is an acronym for ‘a guide to unique photography’. What you will find in the pages that follow is our guide to unique photography within the setting of St Andrews. From an interview with a local photographer, to a spread of a students’ work, to a list of blogs and upcoming competitions, we wish to provide a tool with which to further your interest in photography. We hope this magazine will create a new channel for the creative energy that Brewster first recognized and cultivated here.
Hope Brimelow Editor in Chief
Various unknown photographers
p h o t o g r a p h y a t l a r g e. unlikely sources of inspiration
hile in Paris I happened upon a miniscule shop called À Chachun Son Image, whose business is found photography. The owner, Fabien Breuvart, is an eccentric man to say the least. He is aloof— not uncommon for a Parisian—and shaky as if jonesing for his next photographic fix. His drug of choice is found photographs—that is, pictures taken long ago that have been discarded; buried away and
forgotten in now unwanted photo albums. To ‘find’ photographs, Breuvart explained, he follows little old ladies to their homes and, knifewielding, robs them of their prized photo albums. He was kidding, but, apart from the criminal aspect, this seems to be an accurate description of his acquisition methods. I watched him gut a weathered photo album completely, peeling snapshots from their places in a book old enough to have yellowed pages. Once collected, the old snapshots are sorted. Outside of the shop, Breuvart has three bins containing, respectively, photos of people with their pets, at the beach or on bicycles. Sifting through messy piles of medium format black and white prints felt like combing through varieties of pick ‘n’ mix deciding what to get. The options were endless and I wanted a taste of everything. Inside, Breuvart keeps photographs of a ‘higher’ quality and of varying subjects. These prints are kept neater than those outside; and they are also pricier. I bought several images from outside because, let’s face it, I’m on a student budget. But, economy aside, I still preferred the less than pristine images outside to the polished ones inside. The photographs I bought are yellow with age, folded at the corners, grainy or smudged. They are worn and I like that about them. The
images I love now were well loved by someone before me; their weathering is proof of that. Looking at these once precious keepsakes, I feel like I’m peering through a keyhole into someone else’s life. I have no idea who’s in the images, who owned them or indeed who took them, but as distant as we are, I still feel a kind of intimacy with these people. I have the luxury of looking in on their most private moments. And they are simple moments too. There is nothing glamorous about an outing to the beach or a child’s first bike ride but these were special moments for the photographer, subject and owner. It is their very mundaneness which makes them beautiful. The prints in the bins outside are mostly snapshots taken by friends and family; ordinary moments caught on film, nothing more than simple beauty frozen in time. Their imperfections—creases or scratches—only add to their value for me. Faults give them character, make them one of a kind. A certain childish whim of mine is satisfied in having the only copy of something, so they are special in that way too. I bought six prints from the grandma-stalking Frenchman: three from the beach pile and three from the bicycle pile. One of the images from the beach looks to be of five siblings, a sister and four younger brothers stand posing for the picture. The eldest brother and sister are fully dressed—they are too old for the
p h o t o g r a p h y a t l a r g e. unlikely sources of inspiration
childishness of sandcastles and backstrokes or they at least want to appear to be so. Three younger brothers stand at their sides in matching swim trunks— apparently unfazed by the concern of growing up. It’s not a particularly ‘artistic’ picture but it offers a wonderful glimpse into the life of this quintet. The laughing older sister plays mother but never fails to be one of the boys; the serious eldest brother is careful to distance himself from the tomfoolery of the youngsters; a self-conscious middle brother is uncertain weather he belongs with the boys or the men; a gangly boy playfully tickles his sister behind his brother’s back; and the youngest boy, oblivious to this all, smiles unquestioningly at the camera. I have never met this family but I feel like I know them here at the beach. For this one moment I am part of the family. It takes a sister’s eyes to recognize certain subtleties of sibling dynamics. Having been in her place before, I can spot that the sister’s laugh is the result of a puckish brother’s tickle. The intimacy I feel with the siblings makes this snapshot special. This photo, like the others, is special because it’s ordinary. It is remarkable in that it captures such magnificance in such a simple thing. A polished portrait may be beautiful for its form and technique but it is also constructed. A snapshot like this captures genuine, non-manipulated beauty; splendour that simply exists (instead of being made) is the most extraordinary. It can be found in forgotten scrapbooks and old albums. It can be found anywhere in anyone (around our town, in our students). Who knows, maybe one day you will be followed home by a shaky Parisian looking for his daily fix. -Jackie Bach
p h o t o g r a p h y a t h o m e.
delving into photo narrative
or her Ph.D. work in History of Photography from St Andrews, Liz Shannon departs from the general idea of Paul Strand as a modernist, abstract, or street artist, and explores the use of text in conjunction with images, most notably present in his photo-books. Shannon became interested in the narrative of images, while studying twentieth century photography as an undergraduate . It was at this point, with the guidance of Professor Natalie Adamson, that she encountered the widely celebrated The Americans (1958) by Robert Frank. Further exploration into Frank’s work led Shannon to discover Strand. How a photographer presents images in book form connects directly to our perception and experience of the narrative. Strand was loyal to the idea of the print as fine art, an allegiance which led to the creation of photo-books that contain images that are bordered, presented separately, and ordered. For the sake of comparison, Shannon made a brief investigation of different extremes of narrative such as William Klein’s Life is Good and Good For You in New York: Trance Witness Revels (1956), where the boundaries of the prints are blurred, in a style opposite to Strand’s (‘it assaults you with images’, says Shannon). This narrative style influenced Japanese photo books of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Japanese books abandon the idea of the fine art print in favour of an appreciation of raw material and the production process. The books not only assail the viewer with blurred images, but also come with slipcovers and casing, allowing for a more multisensory experience of the image. In terms of photo-books, these two styles almost present two different mediums. Narrative in book form is a divisive issue because of the responsibility it places in the viewer. Ideally, the medium offers a range of exciting ways to present photographs as a coherent collection that the viewer can experience intimately, but there is always a strong risk that a lot of content may be lost on viewers who choose not to read the text. Images such as John Baldessari’s The Spectator is Compelled (1967-8) or Ian Burn’s No Object Implies the Existence of Any Other (1967) incorporate text directly into the image. The text in these images confronts the viewer, the viewer’s position, and role. We see this text as crucial to the work because it is incorporated into the pictorial plane. Even though Strand considered text to be as important as the image, the text in his photo-books is often ignored because it
is separate from the print. The photos in his book Un Paese (1955), of particular interest to Shannon, document life in a small Italian village. Strand travelled to the town with Italian screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, who wrote the text for the book. The text is filled with political ideology and reflections on agrarian communities which could severely influence one’s perception of the images. Shannon discovered the potential importance of the text at the suggestion of Gerry Badger, who mentioned that the same phenomenon occurred with the work of Richard Avedon. Avedon’s book Nothing Personal, with text by James Baldwin, was widely accepted as mere portraits of celebrities by those who only paid attention to pictures. Actually, Baldwin’s text gave dark, critical opinions of the United States which created a new and different impression of Avedon’s work and ideas. When there is an the overt visual connection between text and image we are forced to connect the two, such as in Victor Burgin’s ‘Possession’ posters of the 1970’s and Barbara Kruger’s You Construct Intricate Rituals which Allow you to Touch the Skin of Other Men(1983). Photo-books, on the other hand, have had their content unfairly marginalized through some inherent permission readers feel to ignore their text. In Art History, it is easy to categorize and treat the work of artists as something static, but we should not forget about the intimacy of art to the artist. Shannon emphasizes that in her studies - she has increasingly found that it is important to recognize the personal investment and sacrifice an artist makes. It is so easy to pick and choose work from windows of an artist’s career as is relevant to particular movements, but in doing this we lose the relevant sequence and connections. Strand, for instance, is associated with his early modernist photography, but many choose to ignore his later work in photo-books (or the twenty years he dedicated to film). The text Strand chose to include in Un Paese gives us insight into what interested him about the town of Luzzara, which is something we should not ignore. It is as if the artist speaks to us briefly in this text, albeit through Zavattini, giving us history and context. If an artist makes a point to share with us their thoughts and the inspiration for their art, then this information should be crucial to our study of it. It is time that we followed Shannon’s example and expanded our study of photography to accept other mediums. -Alyssa Kilzer
i n s p i r a t i o n.
p o r t f o l i o.
j u s t e j o n u t y t e 21
p o r t f o l i o.
J O H N A DA M S O N
Dr [HFC] Cleghorn, St Andrews, 1865. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB8-80
Miss Margaret Lyon, daughter of Col. Lyon, ca. 1865. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB5-37
Dr [ John] Adamsonâ€™s Dog. Blanche, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB8-24
John Adamson (1809-1870) was a crucial pioneer of the calotype process in St Andrews. He is believed to have made the first calotype portrait in Scotland, of Miss Melville Adamson (1842, Royal Museum of Scotland). An achieved chemist, Adamson practiced medicine locally, and lectured part-time at St Andrews. He was secretary of the Literary and Philosophical Society, and learned of the calotype process from Sir David Brewster. Adamson refined the process in 1842. His brother Robert pursued calotype photography professionally, and is well known for the works he produced in partnership with David Octavius Hill. His photographs and those of his brother, Robert, are regarded as some of the first experimental works in the history of photography, many of which document St Andrews. John Adamsonâ€™s surviving work can be found in the University of St Andrews Special Collections. -Alyssa Kilzer
Portrait Group. An unconventional study of Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair (left) and Professor William Macdonald, ca. 1860 . Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB1-30
Above: Donald and Lyon Playfair, Eddie Weston, H Weston, George Playfair and Harry Playfair, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB8-14 Left: Medical Examiners, St Andrews. Including Dr John Adamson, Professor Gairdner and Principal Tulloch, 1862. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library ALB8-47
p o r t f o l i o.
p o r t f o l i o.
p o l a r o i d s.
e x h i b i t i o n r e v i e w. diane arbus. artist rooms. dean gallery. edinburgh
DIANE ARBUS’ POSITION AS ONE OF NEW YORK’S QUINTESSENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS HAS BEEN CONTINUOUSLY REASSERTED OVER THE PAST FEW DECADES. PROFFERING IMAGES OF COUNTLESS UNLIKELY COVER GIRLS, FROM CHILDREN TO GIANTS; MOTHERS TO DRAG QUEENS, SHE HUMANIZED THE CITY’S DIASPORA BY INTERACTING INTIMATELY WITH HER SUBJECTS WE ARE NOW IN A COLLECTIVE MENTAL STATE WHICH IS MORE OPEN TO A PHOTOGRAPH OF A MIDGET AND HIS WIVES OR A WAITRESS AT A NUDIST COLONY. THE SUCCESS OF EDINBURGH’S DEAN GALLERY’S SPRING EXHIBITION DEMONSTRATED THAT ARBUS’ WORK CAN STRIKE A CHORD WITH AUDIENCES OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK. ELIZA DOHERTY, CARSON WOŚ, AND LAINE KAYLAMBERT ALL VISITED THE EXHIBIT, AND THEIR INTERSECTING AND DIVERGING REFLECTIONS SERVE AS A PARADIGM FOR THE RANGE OF RESPONSES TO ARBUS’ WORK.
Diane Arbus, it seems, was fascinated with notions of concealment and disguise; take the group of psychiatric patients who stand before us in nightgowns and Halloween masks, or the men who hide their gender behind hair curlers, costume and makeup. But often the ‘masks’ that appear in Arbus’ work are less literal, while the subjects included are comparatively ordinary: a teenage couple who stand together on a street in New York, for example, or the King and Queen of a Senior Citizens dance. It was these individuals, for myself at least, that stood out against a backdrop of eccentrics, marginalised, transvestites, and nudists. In one of Arbus’ images, an adolescent couple hide their youth behind adult clothes and postures; although the camera captures their childlike features, their expressions are remarkably mature. In the second, an elderly man and woman, both crowned and robed, sit frontally
upon thrones. So while children dress up to look like adults, adults will continue to play ‘dress up’, just like children. There is an element of unease in the first image, and of the ridiculous in the second. However, in each photograph Arbus maintains a degree of both vulnerability and nobility, a common factor, it seems, in all of her photographs. -Eliza Doherty Diane Arbus was interested in understating the absurd, and making the banal absurd. This is evident in her works of outlandish “freak show” performers from New Jersey and of children she passed by in the street. Arbus brought humanity back to these otherwise ostracized fringe dwellers by photographing them in familiar, rather than exotic, settings. In A Jewish Giant At Home With His Parents In The Bronx, NY 1970, the ‘giant’ towers over his parents, who
appear sad, terrified, and – above all – disapproving. The man’s scale creates a tension in the confined living room space which, coupled with the darkened edges from the flash, seems to make space close in around the family. Arbus’ portrayal of children also raises questions of whether childhood and conventional domesticity of life are as ‘normal’ as one typically assumes. She emphasizes absurdities which are often overlooked or taken for granted. The title of Child Teasing Another, NYC 1960, provides information imperceptible from the scene alone, which might cause the viewer to double-take. These young children appear to be lovingly playful towards one another, but upon examination a bit of tension is palpable between this young girl and boy. Their body language is emphatic to the point of grotesque, and the viewer may question whether this is acceptable behavior for two so young to be engaged in; drawing scrutiny upon the norms of childhood. Arbus’ work makes the viewer question his or her perceptions and emotions in reference to situational environments designated as “normal”or for “outsiders”. -Carson Woś Diane Arbus once said, “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know”. When prompted to relate this quote to my review of Arbus’ work in Edinburgh’s Dean Gallery, I could not make sense of it. Arbus’work had always been clear to me; she took pictures of
outsiders: the circus performers, the giants, the midgets, the bearded women and transvestites. I always thought that she was empathizing with them, throwing light on those who would normally be invisible to us and showing that they were not unlike anyone else. She pictured them in their homes or places that they could relax and always got to know her subjects first, to make sure that they felt comfortable when they were photographed. Once I began to study her images more closely, questions began to emerge: Why was she showing these people still as ‘freaks’? If she really wanted her viewers to identify with these figures why did she refrain from naming her subjects, referring to them instead as types? I couldn’t help but think of Susan Sontag who found fault in both the lack of beauty in Arbus’ work and its failure to make the viewer feel compassionate about her subjects. Arbus struggled with her own identity, having been brought up by wealthy Jewish immigrants in a time when such a background still incited some hostility in American society. Maybe her photographs are sharing her own secret views of the experience of being an outsider. Maybe she is discovering these views herself, from her own images. Whatever the case may be, however, the mystery of her work still leaves us with beautifully haunting images of the fringes of American society. -LaineKay-Lambert 47
i n t e r v i e w. peter adamson on st a n d r e w s: p o r t r a i t o f a c i t y
n his 35 years as the official photographer of the University of St Andrews, Peter Adamson created a vast photographic archive incorporating everything from noteworthy events to important documents. St Andrews is a generous setting for photography, and there is no contemporary photographer better acquainted with its offerings than Adamson. Having worked both for the University and privately; as a photographer and technician, Adamson has a unique perspective on the vibrant relationship between the medium and the town. He has worked tirelessly to document the town’s history, and in doing so has become a part of that history himself (in 2004, Adamson became the first recipient of the University Medal). His most popular book, St Andrews: Portrait of a City with text by Lorn Macintyre, presents a vivid representation of the town; at once succinct and lavish. Adamson has worked in St Andrews for over forty years, producing a body of work which demonstrates his range, both technical and thematic, as a photographer. I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to meet with him and speak with him about his work, opinions, and artistic habits. Interview by Helen Dwork
What led you into this kind of work? Into photography? I think just the excitement of being able to produce an image – really as simple as that. And having an artistic temperament, and the enjoyment of looking at pictures. I never cease to enjoy looking at images; at pictures.
Do you go out looking for a picture or do you go out and see pictures that you should take? I would say that all my life
I’ve never worked as an amateur photographer; everything I’ve done has been done for a specific, basically commercial, reason. The nearest thing I would come to doing photography for which I might have a real passion would be connected with my books because whereas with a wedding that’s a commercial job and you work with a very sort of strict guidelines and the work is very particular for those people who are buying it, in the case of a book its almost like speculation, that you go out looking for pictures.
Do you have any favourite photographers? Yes. I’m terrible at
remembering names. Cecil Beaton I think is a brilliant photographer. Princess Margaret’s husband [Antony Armstrong-Jones] I think he’s
a wonderful photographer. There are just so many actually. There are so many really good photographers. I’ve got quite a lot of books of highly respected photographers and I like looking through these photographs and being aware of the fact that there’s no digital involvement, that it’s pure photography. I remind myself that you can take pure photographs without recourse to digital manipulation.
photography as an art? Yes.
Absolutely. No question. And I think in many ways for the better, actually. I use it a great deal just to improve images. The first St Andrews book was nearly all film and this one is, by the fourth edition, mainly digital...it’s sort of tidying up things that you can do. So digital-wise just able to improve that, make it better. In some places to be able to make use of a picture which otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to make use of. Cross the barrier of being strong enough...One thing that I find very exciting is the ability to take candid photographs with digital photography. I find this is something which has changed tremendously since the days of film. Of course you could do candids with film, people like [Henri] Cartier-Bresson, capturing the unexpected, but digital does mean that you can take photographs so much more easily of things just suddenly happening, which you can capture. I think that’s a tremendous difference in photography.
Do you think there’s any particular reason that St Andrews has such a rich photographic history? Why do you think it all happened here? By chance! It’s because, actually
very simply as I understand it, the principal of St Andrews University, Sir David Brewster, was friendly with the English inventor of photography, both scientists in a very small world of scientific discovery. They knew each other and [William] Fox Talbot passed the secrets of photography – the negative/positive system – to Brewster, and Brewster handed them over to John Adamson who taught chemistry to the University, and that’s how the secrets came here, as simple as that.
In a lot of ways the town still looks very similar to how it looked in those very first photographs of St Andrews. How do you think that affects the way that we look at pictures of St Andrews; the way that we look at a picture that was taken 150 years ago versus the way that we look 49
i n t e r v i e w. peter adamson on st a n d r e w s: p o r t r a i t o f a c i t y
at a picture that was taken last week?
There’s a huge difference between the two. You look at a picture taken in the 1840s and it’s a feeling the picture gives you, a feeling of almost tranquility at looking at a street scene, a picture of a street scene without traffic thumping up and down, so that’s the feeling that picture would give me actually, just a different way of life, a much more pedestrian way of life than nowadays. You wouldn’t take photographs in the centre of town now in the same way that you could 150 years ago because all the cars and street scenes would ruin such an image: it wouldn’t be worth doing. So the photography remains more in areas that remain unspoiled such as the Cathedral, the Castle, St Leonards College, the University Quadrangle, and so on.
you have a favourite place in the town to photo-
enjoy the cathedral very much, just because the effects you can get there are very very varied, sometimes if it’s a misty day with a har coming in you can get quite atmospheric shots in the cathedral, which I’ve taken. I like the effect of lighting on the pillars and the ancient architecture. Again, it’s a question of the light and shade, I find the background very atmospheric.
Do you have an idea of what the course for St Andrews photography in the future might be? No, not really. I’m the
first and only university photographer, so I think I recorded the events in St Andrews over a forty year period that will never be recorded in the same way again. Everything I recorded was on film and was held by the university and I don’t think that system happens now, so I think an awful lot will get lost, which is a great pity. THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN CONDENSED AND EDITED.
m o r e.
this issueâ€™s roundup of the best sites and competitions
theclick.us www.bjp-online.com/blog www.happygoingnowhere. blogspot.com
View the complete correspondence between Sir David Brewster and Henry Fox Talbot at www.foxtalbot.dmuac.uk
in URBAN photography www.cbrephotographer.com deadline: 31.1.11
in STREET photography www.photographymonthly.com deadline: fall 2011 in Mutliple categories www.worldphoto.org/competitions/open deadline: 5.1.11
Scottish Society for the History of Photography (SSHOP) www.sshop.org.uk
ONLINE MAGAZINES 1000 Words www.1000wordsmag.com
Ahorn Magazine www.ahornmagazine.com Purpose Magazine www.purpose.fr I Love That Photo www.ilovethatphoto.net
b e n e f a c t o r s.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS
Robert & Marian Bach Carolyn Dall Meg Streeter Lauck Tara Nicholson Olson Jeff Schwartz Nancy Streeter Mr. & Mrs. Paul Walsh
600 years of history, one place to see it allâ€Ś 1st April - 31st October Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm Sunday 12 - 4pm
1st November to 31st March Thursday to Sunday 12 - 4pm
7a The Scores St Andrews Fife KY16 9AR Email: email@example.com Telephone: 01334 461660
e s c spring a p2011e upcoming.
issue & exhibition
please send submissions to
firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to have your work shown in our spring exhibition and published in our escape issue we are open to all photographers and all kinds of photography to stay up to date with issues, exibitions and events find us on facebook