Tag Archives: New Perspective

SW Regional SPE: Carol S. Dass

Sharing photographers that I met at the SW Regional SPE Conference hosted by the Center of Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado….

Carol S. Dass has created a project, Mother, where she looks at the significant female figure in her life with a new perspective–not as the woman who raised her, but as a human being with her own history and dreams. As children (and even as adults) it is difficult to see our parents outside of our familial arena, but then again, it works both ways–as parents, our children will always be our children–people to be watched over and concerned about.

Carol was born in Oakland, California, raised in rural Missouri and she received her BA in Art from Northwest Missouri State University. She has lived in Colorado Springs for 30 years and has been an instructor of photography at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs for the past 12 years. Carol’s work has been shown nationally and is in the collections of the Denver Art Museum, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and numerous private collections.

MOTHER 

Typed out in bold that word seems foreign to me. Partly because I have never been or will ever be a mother. As I move through this life, thinking about aging and one’s place in the world a lot of time has recently been spent with my mother. She has been alone for several years, and I have been seeing her with new eyes while listening to her history. It’s funny how growing up we tend to view our mother’s as just that “Mother”, unable to see beyond that role of the woman who carried me in her womb, raised me the best that she could, and will in many ways continue to view me as a child regardless of my age. 

My mother was forced to work to support us, went back to night school while working and taking care of nearby relatives. She was not at home to greet me with a plate of warm cookies when I came home from school asking after my day. I remember when I was an adult coming into my own finally seeing my mother as a “person”, a unique individual who had many adventures and stories to tell. 

The reasons behind perceived and real dysfunction became easier to understand. These images are a small documentation of “mother”, a reflection of what has occurred and what is ahead. 

Photographers-Turned-Directors: Susan Bright’s Favorites on MOCAtv

In July 2012, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (MOCA) asked me to compile a playlist of videos directed by photographers for their new online series, MOCAtv. Launched last week, MOCAtv bills itself as the “Global Contemporary Art Channel,” providing a wide range of content related to the arts. Looking to see if photographers’ skills translated into music videos was one of the most enjoyable commissions I have ever had.

My personal interest in music videos is mainly autobiographical. I was a teenager in the 1980s—the heyday of the music video. Videos were crucial to bands’ identity; it was really the only way, apart from photography, that an image was disseminated to the world. MTV was the dominant force, but if you grew up in Britain, it was the quaintly titled BBC show Top of the Pops that was one of the only ways to see them.

Looking back at these videos has evoked amazing memories, but at times, I view some videos with a new perspective and appreciate them now because of who made them and how they look. For example, the mesmerizing Addicted to Love by Robert Palmer was always incredible – but now that I know it was directed by the great British fashion and portrait photographer Terence Donovan, all I can see are the similarities to his later photographs of the 1980s with their strong, almost aggressive, female glamour.  It’s interesting to note where the photographer’s hand is so apparent and successful, and elsewhere, when they lose something of their signature flair by having a moving camera instead of a still shot.

Like many, my introduction to music came via my older brother. Always one step ahead of me, he had very sophisticated taste. My first concert was Souxsie and the Banshees when I was 14. Somehow I managed to persuade him (and more miraculously my parents) that I should go along with him and a gang of heavily hair-sprayed goths. It was not the music that I particularly remember, but the amazing beauty of this particular strand of post punk music. From that moment I was addicted to live concerts and the performance of dressing up.

I knew about New Order due to my brothers liking of Joy Division. I saw them perform that summer and their shortened remix of Blue Monday (1988) is like a backing track to those heady months, which were incredibly hot and renamed by many of my contemporaries as ‘the summer of ale.’ I was 18.

When I was asked to put this playlist together I couldn’t believe that I had never seen the video. I was so delighted that it was done by William Wegman. It is full of lovely references for me. Wegman is an artist who manages to have conceptual credibility and respect in the art world and also make calendars with puppies. I can’t think of any one else who manages such success in both commercial and art worlds with such ease and lack of compromise on either side. His ABC video Alphabet Soup featuring Fay, Batty, Chundo and Crooky is my favorite gift to all new parents; my daughter’s go-to bedtime book is Wegmonolgy and my brother has Weineramas. It’s like all good things in my life are condensed into this one video.

A year after Blue Monday, New Order released Run and asked Robert Frank to direct it. This video combines many different kinds of video techniques into one film. It has both live footage and a narrative. It also uses still photographs many times. Nothing is really explained but it has that coldness, disconnect and mystery which is so crucial to a Frank photograph. The song is not the strongest, but you are held utterly by the video. The ending is pure Frank: it stops on a still photograph where everyone is looking in different directions and the scene is chaotic but happy. In two takes he goes closer in to the black-and-white photograph with a woman clutching a book titled listen to god. About two seconds of existential anxiety almost lost as the song fades out.

Staying in the 1980s is Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game, directed by Herb Ritts. This song, which came out in 1989, was reinserted into popular culture when it was used in a scene of Wild at Heart by David Lynch. The video is trademark Ritts. The female body (Helena Christensen) is Amazonian—sexy, strong and very much associated with the 1980s before the AIDS crisis (although of course the AIDS crisis had very much gripped huge swaths of society by this time). It’s crisp, clean and erotic. He shoots from many angles so the body, although always sensuous, can also become abstracted. This photographic technique, which Ritts has become so famous for, was most eloquently played out in a photograph of five of the most famous supermodels gathered together naked (Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood, 1989) their limbs lending graphic strength and dynamism to the composition of the picture.

Die Antwoord, I Fink U Freeky directed by Roger Ballen (2012) practically went viral among photography circles recently. The video starts with “Die Antwoord in Association with Roger Ballen.” This is the first time I have seen musicians and the director on equal footing, especially when the band has a much bigger global presence than the photographer.

Ballen has lived and worked in South Africa for most of his life. His work is a swirling mix of reality, fantasy, documentary and personal investigation. He photographs in the poorest white areas of South Africa, and his work is immediately recognizable for its disturbing almost nihilistic qualities, which are confusing in terms of ethics and morals of representation. This video is like a zooped up, hammy musical journey through his work and is so well suited to the band, who have a trickster element to them. They are the perfect artistic combination.

Another South African photographer, Pieter Hugo, has directed Spoek Mathambo, Control which was originally recorded by Joy Division and has again been introduced to a younger generation through the biopic of Ian Curtis in the film Control by Anton Corbijn (who has also done a large number of music videos). Again this has similar elements to the Ballen video in that reality has been pushed to appear fantastical. Of all the videos selected it is the most ‘photographic,’ and you can really see Hugo’s skill in using backdrops to create scenes. If you were to go through freeze framing it each scene could work beautifully as a photograph. It reminds me of his Nollywood series about the horror film industry in Nigeria. For this he took costumed actors and put them into the street causing a tension between reality, fantasy, horror, staging and theater. This video has all of those elements and similar references to the genre, but was filmed in a township in Cape Town. It’s the best cover of Control I have ever heard, making it absolutely belong here in South Africa and not the North of England.

Music videos act as lightening rods to memories. Headier than photographs they possess the most potent Proustain links to the past. When they are at their very best, like the ones I have mentioned here, they are like stills come to life. Photographers can offer a particular way of looking at the world. When that coincides with a similar musical vision the results can be spectacular.

Susan Bright is a New York-based writer and curator. You can see more of her work here

View more of MOCAtv’s programming on their YouTube channel.

Summer reruns: Slimeface

Summer reruns: This post previously ran on August 8th, 2009

Paul Tarin, aka Slimeface, recently added me as a contact on JPG Magazine. With a name like that, you think, who the hell is this? So I checked him out. Turns out that Slimeface has been a long-haul trucker for over 30 years, who also happens to be a photographer, and is taking full advantage of his unique perspective of our country’s endless highways to capture real “on the road” imagery. I admire his hard work and envy seeing the vistas and beauty that he captures on a regular basis. His enthusiasm for his craft, his desire to learn and connect with other photographers, even writing his own photography blog, all while spending hours behind the wheel, makes him quite remarkable. Finding his work has given me a new perspective on tuckers and travel and certainly makes me want to gas up the car and get going.

I’m a 53 year old long haul trucker and have been trucking for over 30 years. Currently I travel coast to coast pulling a tanker full of food “grade A” products such as milk, cream, liquid eggs, yeast and assorted juices. Driving on an average of 700 miles a day doesn’t leave much time for sightseeing but I take advantage of every opportunity and stop I make to take pictures of the places and people I come across.

Jeff Mclane

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately and one of the treats of air travel is to fly into Los Angeles at night. Looking down on a metropolis of lights, spreading and sprawling into unlimited vistas is slightly mind blowing and makes one realize that the future is now. Los Angeles photographer, Jeff Mclane has captured a sense of that night time landscape focusing on communities surrounding the Port of Los Angeles, offering a glimpse of a terrain tightly bonded with the energy of the nearby industrial structures. Jeff will be sharing six of these large scale photographs in an exhibition, Effulgence, at the Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, CA opening on May 15 and running through August 14th, with an opening reception on May 15th from 1:20-4pm.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1984, Mclane received a BFA from California Institute of the Arts. His work has appeared in such publications as The Collector’s Guide to New Art Photography Vol. 2 and Monocle magazine. In 2010, he was commissioned by the Humble Arts Foundation to produce work for Manual Transmission, which was exhibited in Brooklyn, New York and Miami, Florida. The series, Thirty six Medical Marijuana Storefronts is featured below. His project, Property Lines, was featured on LENSCRATCH in 2009.

The images from Effulgence offer a new perspective of the harbor communities, depicting how towns like San Pedro, Wilmington and Palos Verdes are tied to the visual landscape of the Port of Los Angeles. The generated light from the port, is a constant reminder of the solid presence of the industrial network, and becomes even more apparent during the night hours.

Images from Effulgence

Jeff offers familiar foreground objects such of street lights, residential homes & highway roads; all while being contained in an immense brilliance of commercial trade and industry. These indications of the power and resources surrounding the communities, give insight to how these communities maintain function, and therefore exist in their own active surroundings.

Thirtysix Medical Marijuana Storefronts, Los Angeles, CA was created with the support of Humble Art’s Manual Transmission exhibition.

The choice to photograph medical marijuana dispensaries presented itself as a very current condition of the city. It is a topic in the midst of both revolution and introduction. Legal marijuana now has physical spaces in the city, which give proof to the litigation, and eventual legalization of itself. Now part of the public community, this developing topic has justification, and perhaps (eventual) normalcy.

By choosing to photograph these spaces, I have access to a new landscape, which is photographically untouched. Framing this subject, and visually ordering the storefronts, is in a way an attempt to find order and control to this somewhat socially unrefined topic.

Exposure. Michael Light’s photographs give human endeavour a new perspective

 

Given that Michael Light’s most famous photographic works deal with atomic bombs and rockets to the moon, it seems appropriate to ask why he is drawn to themes so epic in scale and dramatic in their implications, writes David Thompson in Eye 51. ‘Certainly I love high drama,’ he replies, ‘but I think it’s more accurate to say that I’m drawn to the aesthetic of largeness, of all that is beyond ourselves, precisely because we’d be better off if we didn’t go around feeling like we were the biggest and most important things. Artistically, I’m concerned with power and landscape, and how we as humans relate to vastness – to that point at which our ego and sense of efficaciousness crumbles …’

 

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‘In my opinion, serious contemporary artistic production dealing with landscape must deal with politics and violence in some way, whether explicit or implied. Otherwise it’s just fluff, decoration for those wanting false comfort and a delusionally ahistorical and apolitical world.’

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This is an extract from Exposure by David Thompson in Eye 51 (Spring 2004). For more posts from our archive, click here.

See also ‘Above the clouds’ on the Eye blog about the current exhibition at Daniel Blau.

Eye is the world’s most beautiful and collectable graphic design journal, published quarterly for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical, informed writing about graphic design and visual culture. It’s available from all good design bookshops and online at the Eye shop, where you can buy subscriptions, back issues and single copies of the latest issue. For a visual sample, see Eye before you buy on Issuu.

Thesis Orals Update (On Success and Failure)

This past Saturday, I spent 20-30 minutes in front of a panel of three SVA faculty members discussing my thesis project. The work I presented was part photography book, part audio-video piece. car repair san antonio . I intended for the photography book to convey ideas that the audio-video piece (on a dvd inserted into the book) would then contradict. The oral defense was much tougher than I had imagined and I was much more nervous going into the defense than I had thought I would be. The 48 hours waiting to receive the decision were nerve-racking. I had defended the work to the best of my ability. I’ve talked about my work many times before in various settings but never in such an intense fashion.

Monday afternoon I received a letter from the department which included the following:

You have now engaged the first step of your thesis defense the orals. The department believes that this is an event that is designed to prepare you for future defenses of your work as a creative image-maker. Please know that while this may have been an arduous and trying process, it is one that has been conducted with your greatest interest at heart and with a remarkable objectivity and knowledge of a dedicated and caring faculty.

The faculty wholeheartedly believes in you and your ambitions. Indeed, we are moved by your decision to engage a whole new perspective on your traditional photographic talents. This was a bold move. The panel did, however, note a few issues, which they feel could be better addressed to a second panel on April 22nd. They feel that in addressing the following concerns, you will bring this project to maturity. They are sure that by doing this you will be on a positive track to complete for this semester. You should understand that this will be a new panel of faculty, who are kindly disposed to helping you in every way. You should not see this negatively in the least. We feel that the ideas presented in your work are complex and can be better represented with a little more work. Use this opportunity to better connect the various aspects of your project.

Please consider the following:

  • The images were well done, with a clear idea and sense of subject, but did not represent the ideas presented in the paper. The paper needs to better present your intention, but also serve as a provocative counterpart to these beautiful and seductive images.
  • There was concern about the audio aspect of your project. It seemed disconnected from the piece, and was too radio. Those ideas may be better expressed as text.
  • The disconnect between the pictorial qualities of the photographs and the ultimate political considerations needs to become a more cogent experience for the audience. How do you get them to put those things together in an experience of the work that leaves them questioning the conditions of our environment?

The time before the second presentation should be used to address issues raised by the committee, to discuss your project with your advisor, thesis faculty and myself, and to work out the inconsistencies that are in question. Your fullest engagement in your thesis in these remaining weeks should allow you to successfully complete your final presentation and proceed accordingly.


My initial reactions were of frustration, anger and disappointment. I put a lot of time, energy and thought into my project and I felt I held my ground in the oral defense. As I heard from other classmates about who had to represent and who didn’t, I was only more frustrated. 16 students in our class of about 40 were asked to represent. Some students who I thought had wonderful work had to represent. And if I’m being honest, I was surprised too by a few students who were not asked to represent. I felt the process was totally subjective. What if I had presented to one of the five other panels? What if I had presented after a different student? What if I had presented first? Or last? What if…

Well…the thing is, the panel was right. After talking to classmates and faculty and some heavy introspection, I realized that the panel had been objective and considered my work within the context that I had presented it. Given that context and my claimed intention, the project was flawed.

Maybe a different panel would have passed the project, but that would have been my loss.The realizations that I’ve had as a result of the oral defense and being asked to represent have been some of the most profound that I have had in the two amazing years I’ve spent in the MFA program.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Thesis Orals Update (On Success and Failure)

This past Saturday, I spent 20-30 minutes in front of a panel of three SVA faculty members discussing my thesis project. The work I presented was part photography book, part audio-video piece. I intended for the photography book to convey ideas that the audio-video piece (on a dvd inserted into the book) would then contradict. The oral defense was much tougher than I had imagined and I was much more nervous going into the defense than I had thought I would be. The 48 hours waiting to receive the decision were nerve-racking. I had defended the work to the best of my ability. I’ve talked about my work many times before in various settings but never in such an intense fashion.

Monday afternoon I received a letter from the department which included the following:

You have now engaged the first step of your thesis defense the orals. The department believes that this is an event that is designed to prepare you for future defenses of your work as a creative image-maker. Please know that while this may have been an arduous and trying process, it is one that has been conducted with your greatest interest at heart and with a remarkable objectivity and knowledge of a dedicated and caring faculty.

The faculty wholeheartedly believes in you and your ambitions. Indeed, we are moved by your decision to engage a whole new perspective on your traditional photographic talents. This was a bold move. The panel did, however, note a few issues, which they feel could be better addressed to a second panel on April 22nd. They feel that in addressing the following concerns, you will bring this project to maturity. classic . They are sure that by doing this you will be on a positive track to complete for this semester. You should understand that this will be a new panel of faculty, who are kindly disposed to helping you in every way. You should not see this negatively in the least. We feel that the ideas presented in your work are complex and can be better represented with a little more work. Use this opportunity to better connect the various aspects of your project.

Please consider the following:

  • The images were well done, with a clear idea and sense of subject, but did not represent the ideas presented in the paper. The paper needs to better present your intention, but also serve as a provocative counterpart to these beautiful and seductive images.
  • There was concern about the audio aspect of your project. It seemed disconnected from the piece, and was too radio. Those ideas may be better expressed as text.
  • The disconnect between the pictorial qualities of the photographs and the ultimate political considerations needs to become a more cogent experience for the audience. How do you get them to put those things together in an experience of the work that leaves them questioning the conditions of our environment?

The time before the second presentation should be used to address issues raised by the committee, to discuss your project with your advisor, thesis faculty and myself, and to work out the inconsistencies that are in question. Your fullest engagement in your thesis in these remaining weeks should allow you to successfully complete your final presentation and proceed accordingly.


My initial reactions were of frustration, anger and disappointment. I put a lot of time, energy and thought into my project and I felt I held my ground in the oral defense. As I heard from other classmates about who had to represent and who didn’t, I was only more frustrated. 16 students in our class of about 40 were asked to represent. Some students who I thought had wonderful work had to represent. And if I’m being honest, I was surprised too by a few students who were not asked to represent. I felt the process was totally subjective. What if I had presented to one of the five other panels? What if I had presented after a different student? What if I had presented first? Or last? What if…

Well…the thing is, the panel was right. After talking to classmates and faculty and some heavy introspection, I realized that the panel had been objective and considered my work within the context that I had presented it. Given that context and my claimed intention, the project was flawed.

Maybe a different panel would have passed the project, but that would have been my loss.The realizations that I’ve had as a result of the oral defense and being asked to represent have been some of the most profound that I have had in the two amazing years I’ve spent in the MFA program.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Share/Save