Tag Archives: Homage

Homage to Paul Graham: A Present, Paris

paul-graham-1.jpgpaul-graham-2.jpg

Homage to Paul Graham, A Present, Paris Jim Casper

8th Avenue and 42nd Street_16th July 2010_12-55-09pm-sm.jpg

Paul Graham, from The Present: 8th Avenue and 42nd Street, 16th July 2010, 12:55:09 pm. Fotografia . Courtesy Mack Books.

Street photography is perhaps the defining genre of photographic art. Seminal works by Walker Evans, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand display photographys astonishing dance with life, and its unique role in forming our perceptions of the modern world.

The Present is Paul Grahams contribution to this legacy. The images in [his latest] book come unbidden from the streets of New York, but are not quite what we might expect, for each moment is brought to us with its double two images taken from the same location, separated only by the briefest fraction of time. We find ourselves in sibling worlds, where a businessman with an eye patch becomes, an instant later, a man with an exaggerated wink; a man eating a banana walks towards us, and a small focus shift reveals the blind man right behind him.

Although there are flashes of surprise a woman walks confidently down the street one moment, only to tumble to the ground a second later for the most part there is little of the drama street photography is addicted to. People arrive and depart this quiet stage, with the smallest shift of time and attention revealing where life is frozen rigid. A suited young businessman crosses the road, only to be replaced by his homeless alternate; a woman in a pink t-shirt is engulfed with tears, but seconds later there is a content shopper in her place.

The Present gives us an impression quite different to most street photography where life is frozen. Here we glimpse the continuum: before/after, coming/going, either/or. Press releases SEO . A present that is a fleeting and provisional alignment, with no singularity or definitiveness; a world of shifting awareness and alternate realities, where life twists and spirals in a fraction of a second to another moment, another world, another consciousness.

The Present is the third in Paul Grahams trilogy of projects on America which began with American Night in 2003 and was followed in 2007 by a shimmer of possibility (winner of the Paris Photo Book Prize 2011 for the most significant photo book of the past 15 years). Directory Submission . The Present takes Grahams reputation as a master of the book form to new heights, employing multiple gatefolds to convey passages of time and the unfolding of urban life.

Text from the press release for The Present, the latest photo book by Paul Graham.

Matthew Gamber

One of the best rewards of being in Boston last week was meeting photographers.  I’ve been a fan of Matthew Gamber and his compelling imagery that challenges us to rethink how we see, think about and perceive color, so it was great to finally put a name to a face at the Flash Forward Festival.

Matthew holds a BFA from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University.  His star is on the rise as his work seems to be everywhere: included in the 2012 deCordova Biennial, the the Abstract Photography Then and Now exhibition at the deCordova, at the Flash Forward 2011 Exhibition, and last year at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in New York.  He has also been granted numerous awards and fellowships, and just got off the plane from Santa Fe, where he attended Review Santa Fe.

Matthew’s new project, Any Color You Like, is a bit like losing the sense of  taste right as you are about to bite into something you have been looking forward to eating, and the expectation of that enjoyment usually comes from the memory of having eaten it before.  By removing the memory and one of the senses, the experience changes. Matthew’s images look at objects that we have traditionally seen in color and that speak to the idea of color, and force us to see and think about them anew.  It’s a terrific project that challenges our perceptions, pays homage to an era where all objects were captured in black and white, but also creates tension (the bird image particularly) where the mind leads one to wonder about the image in color.  

The photographs in Any Color You Like are an experiment in how photography can confuse our perception of information. These photographs represent objects whose primary function is to simulate our observation of color. When these items are rendered in a traditional black–and–white format, the information that remains is merely an abstraction of its previous form.

The Suffering of Light, the Obsession with Color

Bombardopolis, Haiti, 1986; from The Suffering of Light (c) Alex Webb and Magnum/Aperture Foundation

“Sisyphus with Leica,” Alex Webb termed himself in three words for a Q&A with the UK Telegraph last year. The renowned Magnum photographer known for his evocative color street photos—work that he’s repeatedly called 99%, “if not more, about failure,”—will be at Aperture on Friday signing books and presenting a co-lecture with his wife and creative partner, Rebbecca Norris Webb, or “maker of books,” as she described herself for that same Q&A. The free event will take place on the first night of their SOLD OUT weekend photography workshop.

His latest monograph The Suffering of Light, published by Aperture in spring of 2011, is a retrospective of his 30-year “photographic dialogue with the streets,” he tells the Times.  Making the book, he realized, “could be a way to explore the dominant obsession of my photographic life,” he writes, “a particular way of seeing in color… inexplicable, intuitive.”  This obsession, along with his acute sense for the rhythm of the streets has manifested itself through a tremendous body of work.

Havana, 2000; from The Suffering of Light (c) Alex Webb and Magnum/Aperture Foundation

Webb recalls being originally inspired to engage with the life in public spaces as a teenager seeing for the first time the Chicago series by Ray Metzker titled “My Camera and I in the Loop” in an issue of Aperture magazine–something he paid homage to in color late last year. As he matured, however, he increasingly became drawn to places that have more evident “sociopolitical tensions,” borders and boundaries of societies, and began wandering extensively through the streets of Haiti, Mexico, Istanbul and the like. Still, he wouldn’t approach these places as a “traditional photojournalist.” Instead, his ramblings have resulted in a stunning blend of art photography and documentation.

“I’m looking for photos that have a greater level of ambiguity,” he tells the Times. “It’s more a matter of questioning or enigma than we usually associate with photojournalism, whatever that is. I’m looking for photos that ask questions. I’m not sure I’m able to provide an answer, but you ask a lot of good questions.”

Alto, Paraguay, 1990; from The Suffering of Light (c) Alex Webb and Magnum/Aperture Foundation

Lately, he’s expressed interest in returning to the United States to photograph and produce a body of work that’s closer to home. “Though it is at this point very much in a state of infancy,” he told Leica Camera blog, he and his wife “are exploring the notion of creating another joint project.”

Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb Artist Talk and Book Signing
Friday, March 23, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Aperture Gallery & Bookstore
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, New York
(212) 505-5555

Ash

We don’t all come to photography in the same way. Many of us find our photographic passions after we have lived a little. Ash is one of those photographers. Coming from from a very industrial blue collar background where 9-5 was valued more than education, he worked his way through college doing freelance graphic work. He then turned to sculpture, creating functional pieces from old machines (ars ex machina). He’s a wanderer, zigzaging across the US and New Zealand, and currently wandering about Michigan with an old Nikon FE in his hands.

Much of his work revolves around things left behind, objects and places abandoned and transformed by the passage of time. His series, Toy Box, looks at objects once loved and coveted by their adolescent owners that have taken on new incarnations. Rather than put the objects in context within the setting, he choses to take a close look at the faces and hands that once generated comfort and pleasure.

I focus a great deal on abandonment and loss in my work. About 2 years ago I found a doll on a child’s grave and realized I’d been stepping over similar memento mori for a long time. I started to focus on those items left on graves. The Toy Box series is exclusively toys on the graves of children. I find the duplicity of these things to be fascinating. I think beauty and grotesque, joy and pain, love and hate are so inextricably tied to one another that it’s impossible to find one without being haunted by the other. The overwhelming loss to these people has given rise to memorials that are exactly what they try to hide: something cute and adorable left to rot and turned grotesque. They rarely seem to return to pay homage, instead we’re left to find these haunting moments in their lives.

Films by Paul Graham



The debate years ago on whether film was “better” than digital ruffled a lot of feathers. The old guard held tight to their precious rolls fearing for their eventual disappearance. The argument was framed in technical details but the simple fact is, it is photography either way and making a lasting image is no easier with digital as it was with film – you just don’t have to get your hands wet. Ironically, the negative health effects of photo chemistry is probably about the same as digital if you edit and process files with your radiating “laptop” laying across your groin.

As a printmaker for most of my adult life, I maintain a love for film and the process of developing and printing. It is not “magical” for me nor has it ever been watching images form in chemistry under amber safelights. I simply love the way light reflects off of the paper and sensing the chaos of grain that has built the image. Paul Graham’s newest book from Mack books Films is an homage to that basic component of grain which is not so easily mimicked by pixels.

Graham has scanned small portions of his negatives and enlarged them to reveal only the grainy color dyes. These large color fields are as minimalist as he could get away from his usual approach to picture making. Some might be confounded by this book after his celebrated A Shimmer of Possibility but for me, this work fits into a continuum as I see most of his books not only exploring the social landscape but the basic make-up of photography. His books A1 and Troubled Land could been seen as examples of the optics, the precision and depth of field we might expect from large format work. His book Beyond Caring is more reliant on the speed of the shutter to still the goings on in DHSS offices. His book End of an Age embraces the variety of color balance from many light sources as he circles his pirouetting figures. His book American Night amplifies the role of the aperture in his description of what we want to see and what we might be willing to overlook. And now Films brings the microcosm of the physical material to light. As Graham has said of this work, it is a “negative retrospective” of his practice.

Films is beautifully printed in a high-gloss paper stock to mimic the sheen of celluloid. In a few plates I sense he is also employing a bit of Gaussian blur to create cloud-like alternates that one might see if they have not critically focused the enlarger – a potential human “mistake” in the process which digital certainly has put to death. Those small flaws for me translate into a feeling of something crafted by hands from an imperfect medium. Dust and scratches, unevenly aligned enlargers, a tong mark at the edge of paper – maybe those will become new photoshop filters that can be applied at the stroke of a keypad.

Films by Paul Graham



The debate years ago on whether film was “better” than digital ruffled a lot of feathers. The old guard held tight to their precious rolls fearing for their eventual disappearance. The argument was framed in technical details but the simple fact is, it is photography either way and making a lasting image is no easier with digital as it was with film – you just don’t have to get your hands wet. Ironically, the negative health effects of photo chemistry is probably about the same as digital if you edit and process files with your radiating “laptop” laying across your groin.

As a printmaker for most of my adult life, I maintain a love for film and the process of developing and printing. It is not “magical” for me nor has it ever been watching images form in chemistry under amber safelights. I simply love the way light reflects off of the paper and sensing the chaos of grain that has built the image. Paul Graham’s newest book from Mack books Films is an homage to that basic component of grain which is not so easily mimicked by pixels.

Graham has scanned small portions of his negatives and enlarged them to reveal only the grainy color dyes. These large color fields are as minimalist as he could get away from his usual approach to picture making. Some might be confounded by this book after his celebrated A Shimmer of Possibility but for me, this work fits into a continuum as I see most of his books not only exploring the social landscape but the basic make-up of photography. His books A1 and Troubled Land could been seen as examples of the optics, the precision and depth of field we might expect from large format work. His book Beyond Caring is more reliant on the speed of the shutter to still the goings on in DHSS offices. His book End of an Age embraces the variety of color balance from many light sources as he circles his pirouetting figures. His book American Night amplifies the role of the aperture in his description of what we want to see and what we might be willing to overlook. And now Films brings the microcosm of the physical material to light. As Graham has said of this work, it is a “negative retrospective” of his practice.

Films is beautifully printed in a high-gloss paper stock to mimic the sheen of celluloid. In a few plates I sense he is also employing a bit of Gaussian blur to create cloud-like alternates that one might see if they have not critically focused the enlarger – a potential human “mistake” in the process which digital certainly has put to death. Those small flaws for me translate into a feeling of something crafted by hands from an imperfect medium. Dust and scratches, unevenly aligned enlargers, a tong mark at the edge of paper – maybe those will become new photoshop filters that can be applied at the stroke of a keypad.