Sunday, 11 December 2011
I like Edvard Munch’s work but I never did much research about him. The exhibition ‘The Modern Eye’ refreshed me mapping out his life long career. I like his exaggerated perspective, his light minimal composition, his repetitions works on the same subjects such as ‘The Weeping Woman’ ‘Scream’ ‘Doubtless’ ‘Melancholy’, his motifs of night, his self portraits…
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Paris is Paris. The minute I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport, the stylistic architect phased in... I went to Pompidou. First time, though had some dinner some years ago at George on top of it. Needless to say, it is phenomenal... Walking in permanent collections, I felt like walking in an modern art history maze, as the presentation is based chronically in the pre 1960 collection. There are so many canon works! Seeing in books and seeing in the physical forms totally differs. There are many of favourite works. Quite a few photographic work as well. One of the impressive is Rineka Dijkstra’s video work ‘I see a woman crying’. It is a three way video work, very theatrical, camera movement, concept and the natural interaction between the kids and the painting... There are a few playful works by Yayoi Kusama. Also her concept of ‘self-obliteration’. Accumulation and repetition more and more have an impact on me. Kusama used this method created many strong works. I would like to create some playful work, life is too serious… More and more, I come to like more historical artists, even though many decades ago, the concept never ceased to impress.
Friday, 9 December 2011
Thursday, 8 December 2011
V&A is celebrating postmodernism. The exhibition encompasses enormous collections across a wide range of forms including architecture, installation, sculpture, music, fashion, movie etc etc…
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Monday, 28 November 2011
This year’s WESTPHOTO Annual Photography Prize – which has ‘Family & The Familiar’ as its theme - promises to be the biggest so far.
The concept of family is constantly changing, with every person forming their own definition. Being familiar gives us confidence and security and is a guarantor for a multi-cultural society. As we learn to negotiate changes and new experiences in our lives the unfamiliar becomes familiar. Through photography we can visualize these changes.
As well as all Westminster photography students, the competition – now in its fifth year - will also be open to those studying photography at the prestigious F+F Schule für Kunst und Mediedesign in Zurich, Switzerland.
It will result in an exhibition in Zurich, Switzerland as well as a London exhibition at the Ambika P3 Gallery in December, providing great exposure for the shortlisted images - once again judged by prominent judges from the world of photography.
KEY INFORMATION - Digital submission of all images via WESTPHOTO website - Minimum resolution of images is 4000 x 2800 pixel at 300dpi
Cheryl Newman – Photography Director Telegraph Magazine
Simona Dell'Agli – Artquest
Tom Hunter – Artist & Lecturer at LCC
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Each interior is meticulously lit and staged with scenarios and actors. The jewel-like colors and sophisticated finish of the scenes captured behind the glass enhance the sense both of a supremely stylized modern aesthetic and the caged loneliness of the protagonists on show, themes in all of Kim's works which she describes as "seeing by feeling." In a city where individuality and privacy are fiercely guarded, looking can become a transgressive act. Kim's interiors are similarly charged with both isolation and display, obverse aspects of the same modernity. Her lens explores enticing interiors that resist penetration. What one sees through the window is a culture secretly obsessed with looking.
Kim's oeuvre redefines and reshapes our sense of architecture by making the interior contiguous with the very look and feel of the cool modernity of the structure itself. When there are people inside, the building becomes a showcase of their activities within -- a museum, hotel, office building, residence or dance studio. With no activity or inhabitants to light up the interior, these all-glass buildings lose all interest, with nothing to display. This play on display is highlighted in Kim's four-work series on the Langen Foundation, an all-glass museum near Neuss, Germany. The museum is a minimalist, weightless and delicate structure of glass and steel, seemingly afloat on a pond of water. As the space fills up in consecutive sequence, first with a single person, then several and eventually a crowd of people, the architecture is transformed.
As an artist, Kim employs the building to paint a precise human story in a specific moment in time. As a photographer and master student of Thomas Ruff, however, it is the directness of film that she harnesses to her advantage to capture the transparency of the moment. This gives her work an immediacy unavailable in a different medium, no matter how deft the artistic hand. By stripping down the image to the nakedly visible, Kim reveals herself a purist who delights in the geometry of form.
Saturday, 26 November 2011
from ‘Transparent City’ by Michael Wolf
Not easy. You have an idea, any idea, then when you research, you will end up with finding similar concept already done by many artists. Michael Wolf’s Transparent City is epic.
-Quote from his book introduction
Chicago, like many urban centers throughout the world, has recently undergone a surge in new construction, grafting a new layer of architectural experimentation onto those of past eras. In early 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago, in collaboration with the U.S. Equities Realty artist-in-residence program, invited Michael Wolf to photograph the Chicago cityscape. Bringing his unique perspective on changing urban environments to a city renowned for its architectural legacy, Wolf chose to photograph the central downtown area, focusing specifically on issues of voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux.
This is Wolf’s first body of work to address an American city. Whereas prior series have juxtaposed humanizing details within the surrounding geometry of the urban landscape, in The Transparent City, his details are fragments of life—digitally distorted and hyper-enlarged—snatched surreptitiously via telephoto lenses: Edward Hopper meets Blade Runner. The material resonates with all the formalism of the constructed, architectonic work for which Wolf is well-known, but also emphasizes the conceptual underpinnings of his ongoing engagement with the idea of how modern life unfolds within the framework of the ever-growing contemporary city.
Sunday, 13 November 2011
from ‘There And Gone’ by John Gossage
John Gossage is one of my favorite artists. He turns mundanity into poem, always. There and Gone is a book in three chapters …
-Quote from his interview:
the first chapter being the bathing beach in the city of Tijuana. My wife, Terri Weifenbach, took me to this beach. It's one of those funny places in the world where everything comes together. It's like a stage set almost. The landscape, what's going on there and what it means is all concentrated in a relatively small area; it's exceedingly intense. There's a lot of illegal border crossing and at the same time it's the beach of the people of Tijuana.
Robert Adams made a comment in his book Beauty in Photography that always stuck with me. [He wrote] that no photographer of major ambition had ever sustained important work taken with long telephoto lenses. It seemed on obvious loophole. There's got to be something out there worth taking, something like the periphery of your vision at a great distance. What are things at a great distance?
What seemed interesting to me was the photographing of strangers. Here was a culture whose language I did not speak, which I didn't really know anything about … I could go on the beach and do the standard photojournalist pantomime where you spend a couple of days blending in, getting to know the people, but it's a lie, an illusion. Given this I decided to stay at a distance and photograph people who didn't know that they were being photographed. All of the pictures taken of Mexico are done from America, about a quarter mile down the beach. I could just stand there and shoot all day, anything that went on, taking another culture on its own terms.
Mostly what we encounter in our lives are strangers and how you relate to strangers is actually more telling about you than how you relate to friends. I decided to photograph and asked what was worth keeping, what seemed valuable about strangers. What could I bring back that was valuable given those terms? I didn't know I had a book. But then as I looked at the pictures, it sort of dawned on me; there's something here...
How I did books at that point, I've moved to computers now, is I'd get a page size and take RC printing paper and just print the images the size they looked like they wanted to be on that paper … it's like sentence structure, about scale, about which pictures inform other pictures. It's more instinct that it is planning. Emotional instinct. The section felt complete, felt self-contained. The other chapter, the path chapter was much more methodical because it was linear. [The photographs] start right next to the border and end at the road, the first place you hit civilization, Monument Road, and then San Diego County starts in earnest over here.
It's clearly an activated landscape and [with chapters one and two of the book] I had two pieces of it, two things that seemed incomplete. I had where people were and I had how they left. I needed where they were going. At that point the book had a form. I knew... that I had something that was narrative. And I started very consciously then, with the idea of the book, doing the third section of the book, the third chapter. We called it 'situations of particular interest' if I remember right. I said all right, take people out of their culture and look at what is interesting. What things seem of interest? I started making the kind of pictures I normally make. Position me nowhere and I'll do these kinds of pictures. What I got interested in was titling them.
The texts are Mexican lotteria cards. The idea then was to randomly set up the cards in relation to the pictures, play with the idea of captions and misunderstanding. Let's make the system, the set system, complicated enough that nobody can figure out exactly that it's random. Let's make some things obvious, and some things not, and then let's translate it from Spanish to English to German to Japanese. I've talked to the people who did the Japanese translation and they're very very different things in Japanese. This should give you the idea that when you go somewhere else, you bring who you are, and what you've become, with you, and you misinterpret things. It's that disjuncture of being a foreigner. I wanted to get that, to reinforce that disjunction between what something means, what something looks like and what something might be.
One of the things that helps me with doing a book is getting a title at some point that lets me understand its content. I mean basically, that [points to the title of the book] is what's in here. This [the first chapter] is 'There,' this [the second chapter] is the transition, 'And,' and this [the last chapter] is 'Gone.'
Saturday, 12 November 2011
from ‘The Hotel’ by Sophie Calle
In 1981, Sophie Calle spent three weeks working as chambermaid in a hotel in Venice. This allowed her to spy on the guests. Like a detective or crime photographer, she photographs the momentarily unoccupied hotel rooms: she photographs the unmade or never slept in beds, the stray items left in bathrooms, the contents of suitcases and closets; she reads letters left lying in the open, takes photographs of the guests, and does even more. Sophie Calle published the photographs within the diary-like report of her ‹observations,› in the book entitled «Ecrit sur l’image. L’Hotel». Calle turns the viewer or reader into an accomplice of her voyeurism – filling them, too, with the urge to move unobserved through another’s private sphere.
Friday, 11 November 2011
from ‘Linz Diary’ by Emily Jacir
Emily went to the same square in the city of Linz, Austria at [almost] the same time of 18:00 every evening in order to be captured on a web cam (with which Linz is obsessed). She added captions to these self-portraits, drawing the viewer’s attention to her moods, subtle changes in the square, and cultural events.
October 4, 2003 18:00 among many other strange curiosities is this town’s obsession with web cams. that’s me in front of the fountain standing alone October 11, 2003 18:00 me curled up into a ball hiding October 12, 2003 18:00 me lying on the fountain, staring up at the blue patch of sky above linz, watching a small white airplane go by.
Her other series (Video) ‘Nothing will Happen’ is quite interesting as well.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
from ‘Stranger’ by Shizuka Yokomizo
And, of course, ‘Stranger’ by Shizuka Yokomizo! She uses photography and video to examine the relationship between the self and the other. Her series Stranger (1998–2000) centers on a momentary confrontation between observer and observed. The series reveals a shadowy, indistinct boundary between public and private. Qualities that usually seem at odds become thoroughly entangled: distance and intimacy, anonymity and exposure, collaboration and control, surveillance and exhibitionism..
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
from ‘Dirty Windows’ by Merry Alpern
Shot covertly in 1994 across an air shaft, through a bathroom window on Wall Street, Alpern's photographs of female prostitutes and high-powered businessmen are strange and indistinct. Captured yet elusive, these images are more startling in their voyeuristic magnetism than they are shocking. The viewer must try to make sense of them, to cull stories from blurred lines and sheds of fabric.
Alpern herself said:
Reoccurring characters gave these pantomimes a soap opera quality and I'd try to decipher plot lines and guess the next scene. These minidramas and their unvarying props-- condoms, tatoos, silicone, crack-- filled my head and I began to think about the windows all the time. They found their way into my dreams.
She also did a series called ‘Shopping’ in 1999.
Monday, 7 November 2011
from ‘Many are Called’ by Walker Evans
More and more, I found there are so many interesting photographers in history. Contemporary photographers have a umbrella called ‘postmodernism’ but even in modern times, there were so many pioneer photographers who shot as conceptual, as ‘postmodernism’ as the contemporary. Walker Evens is one of them. Many Are Called, a three-year photographic study of people on the New York subway. Using a hidden camera, Evans snapped unsuspecting passengers traveling around the city.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
from ‘The City’ by Mitch Epstein
Issues of surveillance, and the blurred line between private and public space were central to the formation of the city. In the early 70's—when I first photographed New York—the street and public spaces were fair game for a photographer, and people not only tolerated but enjoyed having their picture taken. But in the 90s, I found myself questioning how a photographer functions in public space: what is acceptable and what is not, because people were, by then, sensitive to the intrusiveness of cameras (of all kinds) in our culture.
New York is a chaotic and layered universe. Everyone sustains his own solar system of family, friends, and associates within this complex universe—sanctuaries amid the chaos. The city reconstructs the intimate core and the anonymous skin of New York. At the heart of this work is the meeting of two disparate worlds: what it means to separate them and what it means to put them together.
At its heart, as well, is my enduring interest in banality, and finding ways to draw from it whatever wit and irony I can. I'm especially intrigued by the meaning of myth and how everyday life can adopt a quality of myth when photographed. In this manner, myth can become a language of its own, and the mythic can illuminate that which is poignantly and simply human in a picture.
The myth of New York cannot be separated from the reality of it. These photographs are of a New York as imagined as it is real.
Saturday, 5 November 2011
Everyone was asked to present a book related to his/her project.
I presented Michael Wolf’s HongKong, as there are quite a few flat block façade similar to my Rear Window project. I recently viewed quite a few books by Michael Wolf and come to like his works especially the newly published Tokyo Compression Revisited.
Liz presented Ed Rusha’s Every Building on the Sunset Strip. She did the research and found Rusha might have seen a Japanese book with identical layout and design in the 60s. This is something new to me...
Friday, 4 November 2011
I received the book. It looks brilliant on the first sight. Size does matter! It is 33cm X 28cm, between A4 and A3, bigger than normal photo print size of 10" × 12" (254 × 305 mm) smaller than 11" × 14" (279 × 356 mm aka. 28 × 36 cm). There are much detail in each page, which makes the look experiencing interesting. I worried my viewing experience cannot be conveyed by the prints, but not too bad, of course print looking experience can not compare with being there physically. There are a few things I found needs to be developed.
1. There is no text at all. I am not sure of this, I think probably I need to add some context such as the 20 minutes interval during 24 hours shooting.
2. The perspective is still not perfect. There are perspective distortions as the image is blown out this big.
Other than these, there are image quality not satisfied, mainly due to the unclear window glass. However, this is something difficult to overcome. I would love to break the windows, and shoot with a 5 X 4 large format...
I need to ask some others to get more feedback before finalise the revision plan.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
I would like to print a book sample to see how it goes especially the image quality and how my concept is conveyed via the images, before using Indesign to properly make the book. I am not quite sure this project is conceptual enough to work. I will ask Andre’s idea next time.
The sample is printed in the biggest possible layout offered by Blurb. The formal production will be printed in A3, I plan. As the image contains many rooms and only the big enough print can depict the detail of these rooms and create the minute difference of the time lapsed shots. The layout would be double page full bleed to create a seamless time continuous feel.
I would like to chose a cool modern font for any of the text in the book. Blurb only offers limited numbers of font. I found the ‘Bank Gothic ‘ is the right one. It likes a electronic computer style font, and I think it gives some surveillance, machine, power, modern, detached feel.
However after I submitted, I spotted that the font of my name was not updated with the right ‘Bank Gothic’. Luckily this is not the final. I really need to be very detail minded...
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
I wanted the deadpan straight view with no distortions. This would strengthen my project to reflect a cold machine surveillance feel. When I shot these photos I only swiftly checked on my 3 inch camera back monitor. How I regret!
Due to the numbers of images, I decided to use ‘Action’ in Photoshop. It worked well for my first ‘transform’ but the ‘transform’ was not perfect, so I recorded a second action, perfectly executed, all perspectives corrected well, however, when I play the action, a box comes out saying ‘programme wrong...’. I spent hours to recreate a perfectly transformed action in vain. So I had to make do with the first ‘action’, it is not perfect, but I think as my work will be full bleed printed and bound, there will be some slightly cut along the border, so it should be not too bad.
Monday, 31 October 2011
I have been thinking of the most efficient way to retouch the 72 images taken. It should be very labour intensive. By checking them again on the bigger monitor, I found the perspective is not what I wanted. , so I decided to use Lightroom to retouch the tone, and Photoshop to correct the perspectives.
I tried to use batch process in Lightroom but soon I found I can not do so, as the white balance is very difficult to control in case of batch process. The white balance has been changing during the day, and it could result in from subtle to drastic colour tones. I had to make a choice to keep the original or similar camera adjusted tone cast, or correct it. There are pros and cons either way. The original white balance gives the image the colour cast signifies the time sense of the image. The adjusted white balance gives the image a coherent and ‘right’ detached surveillance feel. I am still strugging between the two, but probably I will have to choose to adjust the white balance.
Also the amount of exposure needs to be adjusted as well. Especially during the night the block actually was lit by some external light, so some frame exposure was not controlled well, and I had to adjust in Lightroom manually. I worry this create a not coherent look.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
I finally checked into the right room (block A, 1801).
I have tried different composition. I would like to use the 50mm standard lens to get the normal eyes perspective, but the block distance is too short and I hardly can pull not many rooms into the frame. I had to use wide angle to contain enough rooms. Too fewer rooms can not create the dynamics of change as time goes by, I need enough numbers of rooms.
Another issue is the exposure. The daylight will be exposed with no problem. However at night due to the contrast, most of the cases are the room lit will be over exposed if I use the full frame light meter model. I had to dial down the expose and resume to normal when daylight comes.
That night, the shooting started...
The housekeeper told me that I was the only guest in the whole 18th floor that night...
Saturday, 29 October 2011
I changed to a room in the right block (Block A, 1705), but it is not the right position. It is not in the middle therefore the perspective is not straight. I called the reception, but was told that due to a conference they do not have the room in the middle position. I have to wait another day. Well, at least it is the right block, so I set up the time lapse shutter to test for a day. When I came back to the room, I found the house keeper visited my room and closed one of my curtains. So the shooting was totally wasted...
Friday, 28 October 2011
I checked in to start the project. Unfortunately I was given a room (Block D, 726) not what I expected. The window view is street not the block I anticipated. There are a total of 4 different blocks in this hotel development. I tried to change the room but was told there was no space until the next day, so I have to wait one night.
Thursday, 27 October 2011
I happened to spot a site by chance months ago. I found it very conceptual. It is a block of tens of rooms within a hotel development. I can see everything clear from the block in the front. Behind the curtains, Who are these strangers living in these rooms? What they do? What are they doing at this moment?... Do they see me at this moment? What are they looking at? Maybe we are staring one to another. Maybe they are looking at something else in other rooms in my block. I normally keep my curtain open as I like to see through windows anytime even sometimes when I wake up. Maybe I am expecting something unusual to happen. Maybe I just want to be part of the nature or metropolitan..
I plan to set up a camera right in front of my rear window to catch the scenes. I will shoot for 7 days. The everyday every moment differences in the images are my narratives. I would not like or seek any decisive moment or spectacle. The mundanity and non narratives are my narratives. I will programme a time lapse shooting to let the machine peek and surveillance in the distance with no emotion. Maybe a video is a better medium, but the still image can let viewer see better, engage more and at the same time allow viewer to connect all the images to play like a video or cinema.
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
We had a workshop of book making at BookWorks (www.bookworks.org.uk). It was interesting to learn the grain direction of paper and we have to make it parallel to the folding direction. The process requires planning, precision, and patience. In 6 hours, we made one hard cover multi section book and one “Japanese Binding” booked (no idea why this is called Japanese binding though).