Tag Archives: doug rickard

Street View and Beyond: Google’s Influence on Photography

When Google Street View started as an experiment in 2007, the company sent SUVs equipped with cameras, GPS and lasers to collect its first pictures. The idea of capturing images of the entire world from the perspective of the street was revolutionary, if not a little insane. Now, five years later, Google has recorded 360-degree photographs of streets in more than 3,000 cities in 43 countries around the world. Google Street View cars—along with snowmobiles, giant tricycles and Trekkers–have covered more than five million unique miles of road since the project began, making tens of millions of still images in even the most far off places on the map, such as Antarctica.

The massive and growing archive has spawned a virtual world of images like we’ve never seen before in the history of photography—and its accessibility has inspired a new generation of photographers who are using the tool to document the world while simultaneously redefining the boundaries, quite literally, of contemporary art photography.

While critics bemoan the trend of artists using Google imagery in their works, the artistic appropriation of photos is as old as photography itself, employed by everyone from the Surrealists to the post-modern Pictures Generation of the late 1970s.  Google’s Street View images aren’t a commentary on the world, but are surveillance photos taken for the practical purposes of just showing us places we may not be able to visit. The machines and cameras used to collect them have no discretion, much less artistic influence. Through meticulous research, framing, grabbing and reformatting, photographers themselves are assigning photos artistic value, in much the same way they do when  shooting, toning or retouching a raw file or an analogue negative. “In its raw form, satellite imagery can be quite dull,” says Mishka Henner, an artist who often works with Google’s images. “Cropping, adjusting, and forming a body of work out of them completely transforms these images into something that can be beautiful, terrifying and also insightful. If the internet remains free and open, I’m confident that in ten years photographic work like this will be as prevalent as imagery produced by hand-held cameras.”

Paul J. Richards—AFP/Getty Images

The Google street view mapping and camera car is seen as it charts the streets of Washington, DC, on June 7, 2011.

At this point, all the Street View images are created by a human-operated Google cars with a spherical camera affixed to the top. The device looks like an all-seeing eye that has nine directional cameras for 360° views at a height of about 2.5 meters. The new high-resolution replica of the world that Google provides is every voyeur’s dream—one can virtually visit an endless variety of places from the comforts of one’s own home.

In the catalogue to the show Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870, editor and curator Sandra Phillips compared the biblical story about elders spying on Susannah to present day, saying: “Today, however they would use cell phones to grab a picture of a young woman in a compromised position and send it to friends, having located her garden through Google Earth. Human hunger for seeing the forbidden has not changed. The technologies to facilitate it have.”

And she’s right—this technology has been adapted quickly by artists and devoured by the art world. Doug Rickard used Google Street View to see the back roads of the nation in a series called A New American Picture, which was featured at New York City’s MoMA last year and is currently on view at Yossi Milo Gallery. Geoff Dyer wrote extensively in the Guardian about Rickard, saying: “Any doubts as to the artistic – rather than ethical or conceptual – merits of this new way of working were definitively settled by Rickard’s pictures. It was William Eggleston who coined the phrase “photographing democratically” but Rickard has used Google’s indiscriminate omniscience to radically extend this enterprise – technologically, politically and aesthetically.”

Rickard says he probably made 10,000 images of this work before narrowing the selection down to just under 80 images. “The only difference [between this work and traditional street photography] is that the world’s frozen, so you’re limited to that surrounding,” he says. “You’ve got a fixed lens and your distance is determined by the width of the street, not where you walk. But there’s a lot in kinship with traditional photography that was really partly responsible for me being able to embed 1,000 hours into this in four years.”

Jon Rafman’s project 9-Eyes captures uncanny images of reality and provides a case study on the unrelentingly objective aesthetic that comes from Google Street View. ”The potential sentimentality of these photographs is counteracted by the manner in which they were captured,” he says. “There is a tension between the indifferent robotic camera, and the human gaze that sees meaning and interprets narratives in these images. That tension is the essence of the project. People often say that technology is changing our perception of the world, changing our perception of reality, but I think that the inverse is also occurring—a technology becomes successful because it taps into something fundamental about contemporary consciousness, it expresses how we are already experiencing the world.”

Some artists, however, are looking at another aspect unique to the use of Google imagery. Clement Valla, through his project, Postcards from Google Earth, is finding the glitches and bugs unintentionally captured by Google Earth’s lens and documenting them to comment on the mistakes resulting from technology’s limitations. “Because Google Earth is continuously updating, there’s kind of no archive of these particular moments or situations,” he says. “So I thought it would be interesting to take them and print them as postcards.”

The prevalence of Google’s imagery and technology is already permeating the aesthetic of more traditional photography and even artists working in myriad disciplines from sculpture to street art. Manuel Vazquez still begins his process with taking his own pictures but later intergrates the aesthetic of surveillance imagery and Google Street View, as seen is his project Lonely Crowd, which incorporated the pixelated nature of digital works to convey the physical and emotional distances between strangers in a crowd. “The web has changed the way we access and read the city, through technologies that have shortened and broken the boundaries of space and time,” he says. “It is like a walk with no specific destination, affecting time, space and perspective with every click. There is not a linearity of past-present-future. It feels like a continuous flow of information that is updated.”

Fake Google Streetview car urban invention by artist group F.A.T. Lab, February 2010 at Transmediale 2010, Berlin. Image courtesy of Aram Bartholl.

Fake Google Street View car urban invention by artist group F.A.T. Lab, February 2010 at Transmediale 2010, Berlin

Interdisciplinary artist Aram Bartholl, meanwhile, has used Google imagery as the inspiration for some of his work but hardly produces only photography. Bartholl creates sculptural objects that represent virtual objects such as the red map marker icon found on Google Maps. “Services like Google Maps change the way we perceive the city,” he says. “I remember once I had a parcel service on the phone claiming my address didn’t exist because it couldn’t be found on Google Maps.” His works, which have been shown at Rencontres d’Arles, among other festivals, aim to explore how technology imitates reality and vice versa. “The map marker icon is just a 20 pixel interface on the screen, but when you switch to satellite mode and then zoom in more, it looks like it becomes part of the actual picture, casting a shadow on the city,” he says.

Despite the growing number of photographers who use Google in their works, it remains unclear how this technology will influence our perspective in photography—and perceptions of spatial reality—outside the virtual world.

In the meantime, we’d love to continue the conversation and hear your thoughts about how other artists are using Google Street View and Google Earth in the comments section below.

Paul Moakley is the Deputy Photo Editor at TIME. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulmoakley.

Reporting and interviews by Zara Katz, TIME photo intern and graduate student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. You can follow her on on Twitter @zarakatz.

apertureWEEK: Photography Reading Shortlist

© International Center of Photography, 2012. Photograph by John Berens.

›› Throw out your SLR? App-maker Hipstamatic announced its plans to launch the Hipstamatic Foundation for Photojournalism to educate and support ”the next generation of photographic storytellers using smartphones with Hipstamatic.” Photojournalist Brad Mangin posted “How I Made Instagram Images That Were Good Enough for Sports Illustrated,” an essay about how he got a portfolio of iPhone Instagrams published, and how you can too. Traditional photojournalists everywhere are groaning, but check out Benjamin Lowy’s blog featuring his reports from Libya via Instagram (supported in part by a Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund grant) and judge for yourself.

›› The Associated Press has announced that it will be using robotic cameras (in addition to its team of photographers) to photograph the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. These cameras, which have been mounted on ceilings and the bottom of pools, will provide an otherwise impossible perspective on the games. On the heels of the highly controversial Olympics Portraits that made the rounds on the web earlier this month, LightBox tells the story of The Best Magazine Assignment Ever, photographer’s Neil Leifer’s 1984 “Olympic Odyssey Around the World” during which he traveled to 13 different countries to create a collection of images that would appear in TIME’s preview of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

›› The New York Times Lens Blog published a collection of color slides taken by groundbreaking American photographer, musician, writer and film director Gordon Parks in 1956, images from his “Segregation Series” that had been thought lost until they were found at the bottom of a box this spring. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture opened Gordon Parks: 100 Moments, a retrospective focusing on the photographer’s work in Harlem and Washington D.C. in the 1940s. The International Center of Photography opened an exhibition of Parks’ photographs in May, and they’ll be on view until January 2013. Parks, who died in 2006, would have been 100 this year.

›› What does the future hold for photography publishing? The British Journal of Photography reported on the growing body of work being printed on newsprint, profiling publications by Jason Larkin, Guy Martin, Alec Soth, and Rob Hornstra, who are enthusiastic about the medium’s affordability and impermanence. Joerg Colberg discussed how serious photography might best use the internet as a means of dissemination.

›› The Guardian’s Geoff Dyer profiles StreetViewer photographer Michael Wolf, as well as Doug Rickard whose forthcoming monograph A New American Picture sparked lively debate on our Facebook page last week, some condemning his practice as lazy appropriation, and others praising its conceptual ingenuity. In discussing Rickard, Dyer links “this new way of working” to the candid photography traditions of Paul Strand, Robert Frank, and Walker Evans: “The shifting spirit of Robert Frank seems also to be lurking, as if the Google vehicle were an updated incarnation of the car in which he made his famous mid-50s road trip to produce his photographic series, The Americans.” In other virtual reality news, StreetView now includes images from the Antarctic huts of explorers Shackleton and Scott, providing yet more digital space for such artists to explore.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • Forty years after AP photographer Nick Ut took the iconic ‘napalm girl‘ photograph in Vietnam, photographer David Burnett writing for the Washington Post reflects on an exposure that could have been his. He was standing mere feet away from the scene, surrounded by journalists, re-loading film into his Leica when he missed what became a most emblematic moment. The entry seems like it might have been a good fit for Will Steacy’s collection Photographs Not Taken, which features similar essays from photographers on moments that never became their pictures.
  • “Radical change in the photography industry during the past five years has ignited an explosion of photo collectives,” writes James Estrin for the New York Times’ LENS Blog. He explores this recent trend after witnessing an impressive presentation by the newly formed Grain collective at the Look3 Festival in  Charlottesville, VA last month. The post offers a good bit of context for this May, 2012 Wired piece: “7 Budding Photo Collectives You Need To Know.”
  • New Yorker’s PhotoBooth profiles Underage, an exhibition of work from six emerging photographers in their late teens and early twenties on view at Photoville, an exciting, week-and-a-half-long photography happening which kicks off in Brooklyn this Friday, June 22,  and features 60,000 square feet of exhibitions, hands-on workshops, nighttime projections, a “photo dog run,” and a “camera garden.” Find daily programming here.
  • Time‘s LightBox goes “Behind the Cover: Capturing the American Dream,” exploring the process of the photo shoot for the birds-eye-view cover image by Jeff Minton that illustrates Jon Meacham’s article, “The History of the American Dream,” for this week’s magazine. They also profile Mike Sinclair, whose photographs accompany the same article inside the magazine. His current exhibition, Public Assembly, is on view at Jen Bekman Projects in New York City until June 23, 2012.
  • A few things on street photography this week. Blogger and photographer Blake Andrews, who is interviewed by LPV Magazine here, reviews Cedar Pasori’s recently published “50 Greatest Street Photographers Right Now,” with an extensive selection of images. PetaPixel posts the highly informative video by Portland-based photographer Jimmy Hickey, “How to Photograph Complete Strangers” and the free 31-day “program” and e-book by street photographer Eric Kim, “Overcoming Your Fear of Street Photography in 31 Days.” This fall, we’re very excited to be publishing a monograph by Doug Rickard, “A New American Picture,” which offers a radical rethinking of street photography–photographs re-taken in Google’s Street View.
  • Fototazo does another Book Discussion Group Recap on Gerry Badger’s collection of essays, The Pleasure of Good Photographs, this time focusing on “Without Author or Art: The Quiet Photograph,” exploring the restrained work of Stephen Shore, among others.
  • The Fotojatka festival that traveled to cinemas around the Czech Republic last week screening audiovisual photography slideshows is now offering them free on their website featuring work by Kristoffer Axén, Nikos Economopoulos, Erwin Olaf, and Reiner Riedler.

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • “MediaStorm broke new ground in digital publishing on Tuesday,” writes Jonathan D. Woods for Time‘s Lightbox, “with the launch of a pay-per-story video player, one of the industry’s most exciting attempts to capitalize on the strength of multimedia productions.” The company’s founder Brian Storm explains the decision to start charging viewers $1.99 for their latest premium multimedia content.  Maggie Steber, whose piece “Rite of Passage,” is one of the first offered under this arrangement, responds to early critics of the new publishing model.
  • Kathy Ryan, for The New York Times‘ 6th Floor blog, covers the Alex Webb interview with Geoff Dyer at last weekend’s Look3 Festival, offers some choice quotes and a selection of images that appeared in the photographer’s retrospective monograph The Suffering of Light (Aperture 2011). PhotoShelter Blog offers a more extensive “Look3 Festival Round-Up,” in journal format with images of some of the exhibition spaces.
  • Joerg Colberg publishes a piece on Conscientious called “Photography After Photography (A Provocation)” which addresses the question, “Now that we’ve done all that stuff that you can see in history-of-photography books, now that we’ve become obsessed with re-creating that past over and over again – how can we turn around, to look at and move into the future?” It garnered a bit of attention and a response from Fototazo titled “What Is Progress in Photography Today?
  • PetaPixel posts this video of a talk that Lytro founder Ren Ng gave at TEDxSanJoseCA last month on the future of photography, exploring how his company’s revolutionary camera which allows users to “shoot now, focus later,” will change the art form.  They also shared a nice info-graphic this week, “A Shapshot of the Photography Industry” which illustrates just how rapidly technology has revolutionized the field. In 2000, 99% of photography was analog. Today, that number is more like 1%.
  • LIFE publishes “Father’s Day Special: Life with Famous Dads,” featuring a slideshow of images from their archive, NYTimes’ LENS Blog takes a look at work by Zun Lee, “Exploring African American Fatherhood,” and NPR’s The Picture Show profiles the highly compelling photographs by Timothy Archibald–”Frustrated By Autism, A Father Turns To Photos“–which explore not his son’s diagnosis, but their ensuing relationship.

Aperture Announces its Fall 2012 Releases

For Fall 2012 Aperture presents a list of new and re-issued publications, from the startling and fresh, to new editions and long-awaited anthologies. Read more about our upcoming releases, and view a slideshow of Fall 2012 cover art below.

Upcoming titles include:

A New American Picture by Doug Rickard
101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides
Petrochemical America by Richard Misrach and Kate Orff
The Ballad of Sexual Dependency by Nan Goldin
Life’s a Beach by Martin Parr
Labyrinth: Daido Moriyama
Aperture Magazine Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976
The Garden at Orgeval by Paul Strand
• Unbuilt: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island, Photographs by Barney Kulok, Essay by Steven Holl

Rickard_Cover

Metinides_Cover

Petrochemical_America_Cover

Ballad_Cover

LON92759

Moriyama_Cover

Anthology_Cover

Strand_Cover

WOOD+BLOCKS+%28A6534271%29

September 2012

A New American Picture by Doug Rickard


Doug Rickard’s A New American Picture offers a startling and fresh perspective on American street photography. While on first glance the work looks reassuringly familiar and well within the traditional bounds of the genre, his methodology is anything but conventional. All of the images are appropriated from Google Street View; over a period of two years, Rickard took advantage of the technology platform’s comprehensive image archive to virtually drive the unseen and overlooked roads of America, bleak places that are forgotten, economically devastated, and abandoned. With an informed and deliberate eye, Rickard finds and decodes these previously photographed scenes of urban and rural decay. He rephotographs the machine-made images as they appear on his computer screen, framing and freeing them from their technological origins.

12 1/2 x 9 3/4 in. (31.8 x 24.8 cm); 
144 pages, 90 four-color images; 
Hardcover with jacket; 
ISBN 978-1-59711-219-2
; $60.00; 
September 2012; 
Rights: North America


101 Tragedies of Enrique
 Metinides


101 Tragedies of Enrique Metinides is Enrique Metinides’ choice of the 101 key images from his life photographing crime scenes and accidents in Mexico for local newspapers and the nota roja (or “red pages,” for their bloody content) crime press. Accompanying each image, extended captions give his account of the situation depicted, describing the characters and life of the streets, the sadness of families, the criminals, and the heroism of emergency workers—revealing much about himself in the process. Having received his first camera at the age of ten, Metinides became a capable street photographer by the time he was twelve, already working with police and firefighters to get his best shots. Now also found in museum collections around the world, his images are compelling, immediate, sometimes shocking, and always authentic. Selected photographs are also paired with their original newsprint tearsheets, collected by Metinides, the typography of which have inspired the design of this book. The photographs have been compiled by Trisha Ziff, a filmmaker and curator who knows Metinides well, and who also contributes an essay about his life, work, and personality.

8 1/2 x 10 3/8 in. (21.6 x 26.4 cm); 
192 pages, 
150 four-color images; 
Hardcover with jacket; 
ISBN 978-1-59711-211-6
; $50.00/£35.00
; September 2012; 
Rights: World


Petrochemical America
by Richard Misrach and Kate Orff


Petrochemical America features Richard Misrach’s haunting photographic record of Louisiana’s Chemical Corridor, accompanied by landscape architect Kate Orff’s Ecological Atlas—a series of “speculative drawings” developed through research and mapping of data from the region. Their joint effort depicts and unpacks the complex cultural, physical, and economic ecologies along 150 miles of the Mississippi River, from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, an area of intense chemical production that first garnered public attention as “Cancer Alley” when unusual occurrences of cancer were discovered in the region.

This collaboration has resulted in an unprecedented, multilayered document presenting a unique narrative of visual information. Petrochemical America offers in-depth analysis of the causes of decades of environmental abuse along the largest river system in North America. Even more critically, the project offers an extensively researched guidebook to the way in which the petrochemical industry has permeated every facet of contemporary life.

 An exhibition coinciding with the release of the book will take place at Aperture Gallery in fall 2012.

13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (34.3 x 26.7 cm); 216 pages (plus 24-page insert), 
150 four-color images; Hardcover; ISBN 978-1-59711-191-1; $80.00/£50.00; September 2012; 
Rights: World


The Ballad of Sexual 
Dependency
by Nan Goldin


The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggle for intimacy and understanding between friends, family, and lovers—collectively described by Nan Goldin as her “tribe.” Her work describes a world that is visceral, charged, and seething with life. First published in 1986, this reissue recognizes the persistent relevance and freshness of Nan Goldin’s cutting-edge photography.

Over the past twenty-five years, the influence of Ballad on photography and other aesthetic realms has continually grown, making the work a contemporary classic. Nan Goldin’s story of urban life on the fringe was the swan song of an era that reached its peak in the early eighties. Yet it has captured an important element of humanity that is transcendent: a need to connect.

This new edition of The Ballad of Sexual Dependency has been printed using new scans and separations created by master-separator Robert Hennessey from Goldin’s original slides and transparencies, rendering them with unparalleled sumptuousness and impact.

10 x 9 in. (25.4 x 22.9 cm); 
148 pages, 
126 four-color images; 
Clothbound with jacket
; ISBN 978-1-59711-208-6; 
$50.00/£35.00; 
September 2012; 
Rights: World (excluding France)


Life’s a Beach
by Martin Parr


In the United Kingdom, one is never more than seventy-five miles away from the coast. With this much shoreline, it’s not surprising that there is a strong British tradition of photography by the seaside. American photographers may have given birth to street photography, but according to photographer Martin Parr, “in the UK, we have the beach!” Here, he asserts, people can relax, be themselves, and show off all those traces of mildly eccentric British behavior.

First released in a signed and numbered limited-edition run, Life’s a Beach shows Parr at its best, startling us with the moments of captured absurdity and immersing us in the rituals and traditions associated with beach life all over the world. A trade edition will follow in spring 2013.

11 x 9 in. (27.9 x 22.9 cm); 
98 four-color images;
 Slipcased hardcover; 
Signed and numbered limited-edition;
 ISBN 978-1-59711-224-6; 
$150.00/£95.00;
 September 2012;
 Rights: World (excluding France)


October 2012

Labyrinth: Daido Moriyama


Throughout Daido Moriyama’s extensive career, he has continually sought new ways of presenting and recontextualizing his work, frequently recasting his images through the use of different printing techniques, installation, or re-editing and re-formatting. In each iteration, images both old and new take on changed and newly charged significance. This volume, created during preparations for several international survey exhibitions, offers both the photographer and the viewer the opportunity to consider the photographer’s life work in a fresh light.

Moriyama has always sought meaning in the raw accumulation and gestalt of sequences of images. Labyrinth makes public an exercise in reconsideration that the photographer has assigned to himself. In opening up this private process of re-examination to a wider public, Moriyama continues to challenge the viewer and his own practice, as well as the larger mechanisms by which photography functions and creates meaning.

11 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (30 x 35 cm); 
304 pages, 
300 duotone images; 
Paperback with flaps; 
ISBN 978-1-59711-217-8
; $80.00/£50.00; 
October 2012
 Rights: World (excluding Japan)


Aperture Magazine
 Anthology: The Minor White Years, 1952–1976


Published on the occasion of Aperture magazine’s sixtieth anniversary, this is the first anthology of Aperture magazine ever published. This long-awaited volume will provide a selection of the best critical writing from the first twenty-five years of the magazine—the period spanning the tenure of cofounder and editor Minor White.

The texts and visuals in this anthology were selected by Peter C. Bunnell, White’s protégé and an early member of the Aperture staff, who went on to become a major force in photography as an influential writer, curator, and professor. Several documents from Aperture’s founders and individual articles are reproduced in facsimile, and the book is enlivened by other distinctive elements, including a portfolio of each cover, and a selection of epigrams and editorials that appeared at the front of each issue. An extensive index of every contributor to the first twenty-five years of the magazine makes this an indispensible resource.

6 1/2 x 9 3/8 in. (16.5 x 23.8 cm); 
448 pages
, 150 four-color images;
 Hardcover with jacket; 
ISBN 978-1-59711-196-6;
$39.95/£25.00;
 October 2012
 Rights: World


The Garden at Orgeval
by Paul Strand


After a lifetime of working on a series of “collective portraits” in far-flung places such as Mexico; Ghana; Italy; Tir a’Mhurain, Scotland; and his adoptive country, France, an aging Paul Strand decided to concentrate on still lifes and the stony beauty of his own garden at Orgeval, France, as a site in which to distill his discoveries as a photographer. The work that constitutes The Garden at Orgeval is marked by close and careful study of the forms and patterns within nature—of tiny button-shaped flowers, cascading winter branches, and fierce snarls of twigs. While the images bear the same directness and precise vision that is quintessentially Strand, the work also reflects a growing metaphorical turn.

Renowned photographer Joel Meyerowitz—whose own affinity toward Strand’s Orgeval series stems from a lifetime of photographing in different genres and ultimately returning to nature as an enduring subject—has selected the photographs in the book, and he responds to them in an accompanying personal essay, reflecting on issues, including the contemplation of one’s garden, and growing old. Beautifully produced in a modest size, in the manner of a volume of poems, this book’s task is to do credit to Strand’s final work, both as an individual and as a key figure in Modernist photography.

8 x 10 3/8 in. (20.3 x 26.4 cm); 
96 pages, 
42 duotone images 
Clothbound; 
ISBN 978-1-59711-124-9; 
$45.00/£30.00; 
October 2012, Rights: World


Unbuilt: Louis I. Kahn at Roosevelt Island
(Photographs by Barney Kulok, Essay by Steven Holl)


In October 2012, Four Freedoms Park—the last design Louis I. Kahn completed before his untimely death in 1974—will open on Roosevelt Island in New York City, over forty years after its commission as a memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Barney Kulok’s black-and-white photographs of the building site function as a meditation on the materiality and formal underpinnings of Kahn’s architectural thinking. Unbuilt is at once a historical record and a multilayered visual investigation of form and the subtleties of texture—elements of fundamental importance to Kahn’s philosophies. As architect Steven Holl writes, “Kulok’s photographs free the subject matter from a literal interpretation of the site. They stand as ‘Equivalents’ to the words about material, light, and shadow that Louis Kahn often spoke.”

11 x 14 in. (27.9 x 35.5 cm); 80 pages, 40 duotone images; Hardcover with jacket; Signed and numbered limited edition of 1,000 copies; 987-1-59711-TKT-K; $TK.TK/£TK.TK; October 2012, Rights: World

For all press inquiries please contact:

Barbara Escobar
Publicity and Events Manager
212.946.7123
bescobar(at)aperture.org
publicity(at)aperture.org

 

apertureWEEK: Online Photography Reading Shortlist

Aperture aggregates the best posts from this past week in the photography blogosphere.

  • “It is almost impossible for me to shoot a photo where someone is NOT taking a picture or posing for one,” writes Martin Parr on his blog in a post titled, “Too Much Photography.” Prime examples of this can be found in his series Tourism Inc. which is being published by Reporters Without Borders for the 20th anniversary of their “100 Photos for Press Freedom” collection, accompanied by an exhibition at Galerie Photo Fnac Forum des Halles in Paris, La Lettre de la Photographie reports. His photographs of Atlanta for the High Museum’s “Picturing the South” series are also featured in the upcoming summer issue of Aperture 207.
  • In further commentary on CNN’s controversial edit of Stacy Kranitz’ series on Appalachia, Joerg Colberg writes, “If we wanted to know what a place looked like we would need an infinity of photographs, taken from all possible angles excluding nothing, seeing everything at the same time,” a notion he thinks antithetical to the practice of photography, but increasingly possible, not only as Parr points out through the proliferations of cameras, but with the help of the Google Street View car, profiled by the Times here. Check out art made with photos pulled from the Street View service by Aaron Hobson, Jon Rafman, and Michael Wolf of the monograph Transparent City (Aperture 2008). And stay tuned for the upcoming re-issue and expanded edition of A New American Picture by Doug Rickard coming from Aperture in fall 2012.
  • Perpetual shooting brings us to the post on APhotoEditor asking, “Is It Time To Eliminate Stills From Your Shoot?” due to the ease and success with which quality still images may be pulled from video footage as a result of the recent proliferation of HDSLR cameras on the market. Now with no need to pick the decisive moment, soon no need to pick where to focus, who’ll need photographers? Have a look through SFMOMA’s page “Is Photography Over?” and read about the dialectical relationship of aesthetics and distribution/media on Fotomuseum Winterthur’s blog Still Searching.
  • On a different note, watch this great video from Feature Shoot, “Inside the World’s Only Tintype Photography Studio,” a photo gallery and walk-in commercial tintype portrait studio. Owner/photographer Michael Shindler says, ”I think what people seem to be looking for now is a kind of photography where the process itself is going to impart its own flavor to the finished image, a little bit of uncertainty.”
  • American Suburb X  shares Kelly Dennis’ 2005 essay, “Landscape and the West – Irony and Critique in New Topographic Photography,” which explores the work of Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Joe Deal, Art Sinsabaugh and more. After reading, check out new-New Topographic photography in Camps & Cabins at G. Gibson Gallery in Seattle, the third solo show by Eirik Johnson, author of the monograph Sawdust Mountain (Aperture 2009), on view through May 26, 2012.
  • LENS blog profiles the opening of “Gordon Parks: 100 Years” at the International Center of Photography, celebrating the centennial of the legendary photographer’s birth with an exhibition of his work presented not inside the center, but in their windows, on view to the street. Parks was featured in an essay by David Campany on “Precedented Photography” in Aperture issue 206. His writing also appears in the requisite volume, Photography Speaks: 150 Photographers on Their Art.
  • Fototazo posts Part II of their three-part interview with Oregon-based photographer Blake Andrews of the popular blog B. During this exchange, they invite him to create a competition for photographers to rank and sequence famous photographs, and predict the most popular sequence. The results of the contest will be published on Fototazo and Andrews’ blog. Part III of the interview will be published on Fototazo May 24, 2012.

Interview: Jon Rafman, The lack of history in the post-Internet age

 

Jon Rafman is a Canadian artist and filmmaker based in Montreal. He recently gave a talk about his work entitled “In Search of the Virtual Sublime” at the Gaité Lyrique, a new space devoted to digital culture in Paris. I met up with Jon in a café near the Jardin du Luxembourg to discuss Google Street View, street photography, the cyberflâneur and what the future looks like.

How did you start working in the digital space?

After I graduated I discovered a community of artists on the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It really felt that an incredible artistic dialogue was taking place informally: a new vernacular was being formed online. There was so much energy to it. The dialogue was so exciting, mixing humour and irony, critique and celebration. Del.icio.us was the platform on which I really started working with the Internet. At this point Facebook and Tumblr have pretty much replaced it.

I had known about early net art but I was never attracted to its glitchy aesthetic. So when I discovered this community I felt like I had found what I had been searching for all through art school. Del.icio.us led me to various different collectives like Paintfx. That is the period when I started my Google Street View project.

The project started out as PDF books. And then I started to print out the images just like photographs. I experimented with the printing for a while and eventually decided to print the images as large format C-prints. In 2009 the art blog Art Fag City asked me to write an essay, and that was when the project really took off, but I already had a huge archive of material by that stage. The 9-eyes tumblr blog came directly out of that. I had already been working with Google Street View (GSV) for one or two years when I created 9-eyes.

What was your process to find the locations and images that you used?

At first it was just long, arduous surf sessions. I went to places I wanted to visit, mainly in America (GSV had not been launched in many countries at the time), but not in a systematic way. As the project grew, I learned certain tricks. For example the best place to go for images is to check where the Google cars are and to follow those. Otherwise, Google may have removed any ‘anomalies’, which often make the most interesting images.

Once the project went viral I started getting tons of submissions from people. Some of these I used directly and some would act as a departure point to search for images.

What were you looking for specifically?

I was working a bit like a street photographer: keeping an open mind and responding to my intuition. The process was really about editing down. The entire project is a process of subtraction: since everything has already been captured on GSV, it is about editing down until you find the core, essential moments. I think it could be considered as a major editing project.

Are there any online GSV communities or forums that you use to find images?

There is a forum for pretty much anything you can think of. There is a forum where people only collect images of prostitutes, some of which I used in 9-eyes. I don’t like fetishizing labour. I don’t want to play up the amount of time I spend finding these images. This can become a kind of artistic crutch. The greatest works of art for me can be a single gesture that took very little time at all.

Even though this project is inherently time consuming, I don’t want that to be its central focus. It could easily have become an endurance piece, a kind of artistic marathon. If I had an algorithm to find all these amazing images, I think I would be equally as happy.

Take Duchamp’s ready-mades: they changed art. If everything can be art, then what is art? I see that as the healthiest state for art to be in: questioning its very nature.

How conscious were you of specific street photographers’ styles when taking these images?

I was very aware of photographic history when working on this project. I really believe that photography was the medium of the twentieth century, because of the ambiguity surrounding the question of whether it was or was not art, due to photography’s mechanical nature. I saw GSV in some way as the ultimate conclusion of the medium of photography: the world being constantly photographed from every perspective all the time. As if photography had become an indifferent, neutral god observing the world.

The perception of reality associated with photography is very modern. In the past, representations in the form of images were always imbued with a certain magical quality. The photograph shows a world that is empty of that. It is just a reflection of the surface of things. In that way the photograph is the perfect embodiment of our perception of the modern world. More than specific photographic history, I was thinking of photography from a philosophical point of view.

Most of your work deals with digital media of some kind. Do you consider yourself to be a digital artist?

For a while the term “Internet-aware” was used in relation to artists working with the Internet. Nobody was happy with the term, or with “net artists” which felt too ghettoising. In the same way, many people do not feel comfortable with the term “new media artist”, because it implies a kind of fetishisation of new technology.

I would prefer to be recognised simply as an artist. Unless you are very specific to a medium, which I’m not, I don’t think it is necessary to add these labels. I’m fine with championing net art, but I don’t want to be wedded to it forever.

Take Elad Lassry for example. He is one of the most successful young photographers that I know, and in some way I think that is because he doesn’t position his work as photography but as art. I have a lot of respect for those ‘purists’ that are attached to the formal qualities of their medium, but I don’t want to be associated too closely with a particular medium as I’m interested in exploring many different approaches.

There are other artists, including Michael Wolf and Doug Rickard, who have worked with Google Street View. Do you see GSV as a territory where there is only room for one or do you see it as a vast territory that more and more artists are likely to explore?

GSV is in the zeitgeist and it is a vast territory to explore. In a way I’m surprised that there haven’t been more artists working with it. We all have different methods of working. For example, Michael Wolf photographs the screen to make his images, whereas I think that Doug Rickard removes all traces of Google from the images: the symbols, the Google copyright. My process is more akin to the ready-made.

You have also referred to the flâneur in relation to your work. How does this term that is generally associated with nineteenth century art in Paris relate to your practice?

I’m very interested in the notion of the flâneur. The lack of history in this new post-internet age is making it harder to have a sense of self. The Internet has already become so ubiquitous, that it is now a banal part of our reality.

In Internet years things are forgotten so quickly. The importance of history in building a sense of self is one of the main themes running through my work. Many of my projects focus on very marginal sub-cultures such as gaming (ed. Codes of Honor, for example). They feel the lack of a sense of self acutely because their culture can die out any day. The game is everything to them but from one the day to the next the culture of that game becomes obsolete.

The reason I tie in the flâneur is because I want to find the connection between the cyberflâneur and the flâneur of the Parisian arcades of the late nineteenth century. On one level the comparison is absurd, but on another level it is very apt. In the same way that Internet cultures die off, so did the arcades of Paris.

People talk about how the Internet age is so new, and the idea that technology has changed everything. I think it is very important to see that many of these things existed in different forms in the past. For instance, the information overload that is thought of as defining the Internet era dates back to early modern times and the emergence of the modern city.

The NYTimes recently published an article by Evgeny Morosov about the death of the cyberflâneur. Morosov makes the point that in the age of social media, web surfing is essentially over, that the information we get from the Internet is essentially pre-digested. Do you agree with that view?

People often ask me what the future is going to look like… I’m not really sure why… maybe simply because I work with new technologies.

In the past we relied on dystopian and utopian views of the future. The future was thought of as fundamentally different from the present. Today, there is a sense that the future is going to be a lot more banal, that we are already living in the future (like with the phone that you are recording this conversation with), that the future is going to be more of the same… more apps and technologies that are designed to mediate and ‘improve’ our experience of reality. It is essentially a more Facebook-like future. This is very different from the early Internet, which was more like an exploration of a vast unknown territory.

 

Note: Jon Rafman’s latest exhibition, MMXII BNPJ, opens at American Medium in New York on May 5.

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Interview: Jon Rafman, The lack of history in the post-Internet age

 

Jon Rafman is a Canadian artist and filmmaker based in Montreal. He recently gave a talk about his work entitled “In Search of the Virtual Sublime” at the Gaité Lyrique, a new space devoted to digital culture in Paris. I met up with Jon in a café near the Jardin du Luxembourg to discuss Google Street View, street photography, the cyberflâneur and what the future looks like.

How did you start working in the digital space?

After I graduated I discovered a community of artists on the social bookmarking site del.icio.us. It really felt that an incredible artistic dialogue was taking place informally: a new vernacular was being formed online. There was so much energy to it. The dialogue was so exciting, mixing humour and irony, critique and celebration. Del.icio.us was the platform on which I really started working with the Internet. At this point Facebook and Tumblr have pretty much replaced it.

I had known about early net art but I was never attracted to its glitchy aesthetic. So when I discovered this community I felt like I had found what I had been searching for all through art school. Del.icio.us led me to various different collectives like Paintfx. That is the period when I started my Google Street View project.

The project started out as PDF books. And then I started to print out the images just like photographs. I experimented with the printing for a while and eventually decided to print the images as large format C-prints. In 2009 the art blog Art Fag City asked me to write an essay, and that was when the project really took off, but I already had a huge archive of material by that stage. The 9-eyes tumblr blog came directly out of that. I had already been working with Google Street View (GSV) for one or two years when I created 9-eyes.

What was your process to find the locations and images that you used?

At first it was just long, arduous surf sessions. I went to places I wanted to visit, mainly in America (GSV had not been launched in many countries at the time), but not in a systematic way. As the project grew, I learned certain tricks. For example the best place to go for images is to check where the Google cars are and to follow those. Otherwise, Google may have removed any ‘anomalies’, which often make the most interesting images.

Once the project went viral I started getting tons of submissions from people. Some of these I used directly and some would act as a departure point to search for images.

What were you looking for specifically?

I was working a bit like a street photographer: keeping an open mind and responding to my intuition. The process was really about editing down. The entire project is a process of subtraction: since everything has already been captured on GSV, it is about editing down until you find the core, essential moments. I think it could be considered as a major editing project.

Are there any online GSV communities or forums that you use to find images?

There is a forum for pretty much anything you can think of. There is a forum where people only collect images of prostitutes, some of which I used in 9-eyes. I don’t like fetishizing labour. I don’t want to play up the amount of time I spend finding these images. This can become a kind of artistic crutch. The greatest works of art for me can be a single gesture that took very little time at all.

Even though this project is inherently time consuming, I don’t want that to be its central focus. It could easily have become an endurance piece, a kind of artistic marathon. If I had an algorithm to find all these amazing images, I think I would be equally as happy.

Take Duchamp’s ready-mades: they changed art. If everything can be art, then what is art? I see that as the healthiest state for art to be in: questioning its very nature.

How conscious were you of specific street photographers’ styles when taking these images?

I was very aware of photographic history when working on this project. I really believe that photography was the medium of the twentieth century, because of the ambiguity surrounding the question of whether it was or was not art, due to photography’s mechanical nature. I saw GSV in some way as the ultimate conclusion of the medium of photography: the world being constantly photographed from every perspective all the time. As if photography had become an indifferent, neutral god observing the world.

The perception of reality associated with photography is very modern. In the past, representations in the form of images were always imbued with a certain magical quality. The photograph shows a world that is empty of that. It is just a reflection of the surface of things. In that way the photograph is the perfect embodiment of our perception of the modern world. More than specific photographic history, I was thinking of photography from a philosophical point of view.

Most of your work deals with digital media of some kind. Do you consider yourself to be a digital artist?

For a while the term “Internet-aware” was used in relation to artists working with the Internet. Nobody was happy with the term, or with “net artists” which felt too ghettoising. In the same way, many people do not feel comfortable with the term “new media artist”, because it implies a kind of fetishisation of new technology.

I would prefer to be recognised simply as an artist. Unless you are very specific to a medium, which I’m not, I don’t think it is necessary to add these labels. I’m fine with championing net art, but I don’t want to be wedded to it forever.

Take Elad Lassry for example. He is one of the most successful young photographers that I know, and in some way I think that is because he doesn’t position his work as photography but as art. I have a lot of respect for those ‘purists’ that are attached to the formal qualities of their medium, but I don’t want to be associated too closely with a particular medium as I’m interested in exploring many different approaches.

There are other artists, including Michael Wolf and Doug Rickard, who have worked with Google Street View. Do you see GSV as a territory where there is only room for one or do you see it as a vast territory that more and more artists are likely to explore?

GSV is in the zeitgeist and it is a vast territory to explore. In a way I’m surprised that there haven’t been more artists working with it. We all have different methods of working. For example, Michael Wolf photographs the screen to make his images, whereas I think that Doug Rickard removes all traces of Google from the images: the symbols, the Google copyright. My process is more akin to the ready-made.

You have also referred to the flâneur in relation to your work. How does this term that is generally associated with nineteenth century art in Paris relate to your practice?

I’m very interested in the notion of the flâneur. The lack of history in this new post-internet age is making it harder to have a sense of self. The Internet has already become so ubiquitous, that it is now a banal part of our reality.

In Internet years things are forgotten so quickly. The importance of history in building a sense of self is one of the main themes running through my work. Many of my projects focus on very marginal sub-cultures such as gaming (ed. Codes of Honor, for example). They feel the lack of a sense of self acutely because their culture can die out any day. The game is everything to them but from one the day to the next the culture of that game becomes obsolete.

The reason I tie in the flâneur is because I want to find the connection between the cyberflâneur and the flâneur of the Parisian arcades of the late nineteenth century. On one level the comparison is absurd, but on another level it is very apt. In the same way that Internet cultures die off, so did the arcades of Paris.

People talk about how the Internet age is so new, and the idea that technology has changed everything. I think it is very important to see that many of these things existed in different forms in the past. For instance, the information overload that is thought of as defining the Internet era dates back to early modern times and the emergence of the modern city.

The NYTimes recently published an article by Evgeny Morosov about the death of the cyberflâneur. Morosov makes the point that in the age of social media, web surfing is essentially over, that the information we get from the Internet is essentially pre-digested. Do you agree with that view?

People often ask me what the future is going to look like… I’m not really sure why… maybe simply because I work with new technologies.

In the past we relied on dystopian and utopian views of the future. The future was thought of as fundamentally different from the present. Today, there is a sense that the future is going to be a lot more banal, that we are already living in the future (like with the phone that you are recording this conversation with), that the future is going to be more of the same… more apps and technologies that are designed to mediate and ‘improve’ our experience of reality. It is essentially a more Facebook-like future. This is very different from the early Internet, which was more like an exploration of a vast unknown territory.

 

Note: Jon Rafman’s latest exhibition, MMXII BNPJ, opens at American Medium in New York on May 5.

Share