Tag Archives: S Books

The Cosmos In Living Color: Michael Benson’s Interstellar Imagery

The startling majesty – and deceptive complexity – of Michael Benson’s space art can be traced back through a process he dubs “true color.” A multimedia artist, Benson is a man utterly fascinated with outer space (he points to 2001: A Space Odyssey as an inspiration for his interstellar works — works that so impressed 2001 author Arthur C. Clarke that the sci-fi titan agreed to write the foreword to one of Benson’s books), and he has fixed his talents on creating visions that break free of the confines of Earth, enabling viewers to behold the unseen wonders of the universe.

To encounter a Benson landscape is to be in awe of not only how he sees the universe, but also the ways in which he composes the never-ending celestial ballet. From the spidery volcanic fractures that scar the surface of Venus to the time-lapse flight path of a stray asteroid, the dizzying close-ups of the swirling “red spot” of Jupiter, the x-ray-filtered view of the sun’s surface and the rippling red dunes of Mars, Benson is a visual stylist with a gift for framing and focus. Apart from cutting-edge high-definition renderings of our solar system’s most familiar objects, he also routinely converts extra-terrestrial terrain into thrilling, abstract landscapes that seem positioned somewhere between the scientific and the avant-garde.

The cover of Planetfall: New Solar System Visions

The cover of Planetfall: New Solar System Visions

Some of his greatest achievements skew towards the hyper realistic; I have been following Benson’s work for years and still the image I remember most is a massive, intricately-detailed view of the surface of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons (slide 13 in the gallery above). Looming large in a print that renders the Io surface in a yellow-brownish hue, delineating the moon’s different terrains, Benson’s color scheme accentuates the dark volcanic calderas that dot the satellite’s surface. The final result is sharp, meticulous and magnificent. At first glimpse it’s a simple planetary object, but the closer your eye scans the terrain, the more you realize that Benson has somehow taken this imagery captured 400 million miles away and given us a front-row seat to consider the turbulent topography of this alien orb. Benson’s visions demand more than a single look; the longer one spends with his vast landscapes, considering the scale and scope, the more they facilitate a state of meditation.

Behind every one of these images, however, lies an intricate and involved photo editing process (watch the video of Benson’s method above). Benson typically begins each work by filtering through hundreds or thousands of raw images from space, made available to the public by NASA and the European Space Agency – photographs that have been taken by unmanned space probes flying throughout the solar system, rovers on Mars or humans aboard the International Space Station. Many of these photos come back to Earth as black and white composites, or as images created with only a few active color filters. Benson then sorts through the images in a hunt for something surprising, revealing or noteworthy. Once he’s found a subject of interest, he starts stitching together individual snapshots to create larger landscapes, and filtering these landscapes through his own color corrections to create a spectrum that approximates how these interstellar vistas would appear to the human eye.

In his latest published photo collection Planetfall: New Solar System Visions, now available from Abrams, Benson details the fine points of his processing techniques:

“The process of creating full-color images from black-and-white raw frames—and mosaic composites in which many such images are stitched together—can be quite complicated,” Benson writes. “In order for a full-color image to be created, the spacecraft needs to have taken at minimum two, but preferably three, individual photographs of a given subject, with each exposed through a different filter… ideally, those filters are red, green, and blue, in which case a composite color image can usually be created without too much trouble. But in practice, such spacecraft as the Cassini Orbiter or the Mars Exploration Rovers … have many different filters, which they use to record wavelengths of light well outside of the relatively narrow red, green and blue (RGB) zone of the electromagnetic spectrum that human eyes can see.”

Benson goes on to explain that he will often start working with images that are missing an essential filter — that ultraviolet and infrared filters have been used instead of color filters, meaning the composite image is lacking necessary information.

It is here where Benson has carved out an area of expertise, filling in that missing image information to add shape, scale and color to the planetary bodies he hopes to explore. The resulting visuals, as you can see above, are pristine and powerful glimpses of the furthest reaches of our solar system (and, in some of Benson’s other works, the very edges of the universe). With the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in August, and its subsequent photographs of what appears to be Martian riverbeds, the world was once again reminded of the power of a single image transmitted back to Earth across millions of miles of open space. It’s a dizzying thing, to behold an alien world, and scanning through the portfolio of Michael Benson — a true “space odyssey” — is to experience this rush of discovery again and again.

Michael Benson’s new book Planetfall: New Solar System Visions, is now available from Abrams. Also featured above are images from Beyond: Visions of the Interplanetary Probes (Abrams, 2008). Images from Planetfall will be on display at New York’s Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in December 2012. To see more of Benson’s work, visit his web site.

Steven James Snyder is an Assistant Managing Editor at TIME.com.

Ewa Zebrowski

Venice, Italy is a place of magic and mystery and Canadian photographer Ewa Zebrowski has captured those qualities beautifully with her series, of time, lost. Painterly and evocative, the photographs feel like the narrative of a dream, set another life and era.  Ewa has traveled to Venice six times in the winter to make work that is embedded with memory and history, sometimes inspired by literature, sometimes collaborating with writers and poets.

Currently living in Montreal, Ewa was born in London, to Polish parents, and worked in the film industry for 17 years before obtaining a BFA in Fine Arts and an MFA in Visual Arts, from Concordia and UQAM, in Montreal, Quebec. Ewa has exhibited widely, produced eleven artist’s books, and her work and books can be found in many public
and private collections in Canada, the United States, and abroad, including the
collections of the Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal, the Art Gallery of
Ontario, the Center for Book Arts New York, the Cirque du Soleil,  the National Library of Canada,  the Bibliothèque Nationale de France,
the Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, 
the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Yale University.  Ewa’s work is on exhibition as part of the permanent exhibition, Montreal—Points of View, at the McCord Museum in Montréal, Québec through January 13, 2013.


of time, lost

let me tell you something about desire…
I long for dark rooms.
Crumbling architecture, peeling wallpaper,
floors
Polished by years of use.
Dim light.
Mirrors darkened with time,
suspended in silence.

I long for empty rooms.
The residue of emotion contained
within.
Remnants.
Traces of passage,
Forgotten, like wilted bouquets.

I long for silence.
When absence and presence collide,
Emotions unexpressed.
Like forgotten photographs,
And silver teapots,
Tarnished and abandoned in haste.

All the memories,
Wrapped in tissue paper,
Fragile
and left behind.
All the books gone,
The shelves empty.

EMZ
Over the last nine years I have made six trips to Venice, always to photograph, seduced by the unwritten poetry of this ephemeral place. Each time I return I think that it will be my last trip, and yet something pulls me back to continue exploring this city caught in history and in memory.

Ewa Zebrowski

Venice, Italy is a place of magic and mystery and Canadian photographer Ewa Monika Zebrowski has captured those qualities beautifully with her series, of time, lost. Painterly and evocative, the photographs feel like the narrative of a dream, set another life and era.  Ewa has traveled to Venice six times in the winter to make work that is embedded with memory and history, sometimes inspired by literature, sometimes collaborating with writers and poets.

Currently living in Montreal, Ewa was born in London, to Polish parents, and worked in the film industry for 17 years before obtaining a BFA in Fine Arts and an MFA in Visual Arts, from Concordia and UQAM, in Montreal, Quebec. Ewa has exhibited widely, produced eleven artist’s books, and her work and books can be found in many public
and private collections in Canada, the United States, and abroad, including the
collections of the Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal, the Art Gallery of
Ontario, the Center for Book Arts New York, the Cirque du Soleil,  the National Library of Canada,  the Bibliothèque Nationale de France,
the Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec, 
the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Yale University.  Ewa’s work is on exhibition as part of the permanent exhibition, Montreal—Points of View, at the McCord Museum in Montréal, Québec through January 13, 2013.


of time, lost

let me tell you something about desire…
I long for dark rooms.
Crumbling architecture, peeling wallpaper,
floors
Polished by years of use.
Dim light.
Mirrors darkened with time,
suspended in silence.

I long for empty rooms.
The residue of emotion contained
within.
Remnants.
Traces of passage,
Forgotten, like wilted bouquets.

I long for silence.
When absence and presence collide,
Emotions unexpressed.
Like forgotten photographs,
And silver teapots,
Tarnished and abandoned in haste.

All the memories,
Wrapped in tissue paper,
Fragile
and left behind.
All the books gone,
The shelves empty.

EMZ
Over the last nine years I have made six trips to Venice, always to photograph, seduced by the unwritten poetry of this ephemeral place. Each time I return I think that it will be my last trip, and yet something pulls me back to continue exploring this city caught in history and in memory.

Kelli Connell: Double Life

Floating, 2005; from the series Double Life (c) Kelli Connell

These two women seen above floating in a pool–this never actually happened. Kelli Connell, whose work as Leo Costello claims, “falls within a tradition of Surrealist photography… [giving] form to the multifaceted, dynamic unconscious,” digitally manipulates her images to combine multiple exposures. She uses what is commonly thought of as an objective tool to create what she has instead termed “constructed realities.”

Her series Double Life (on view at Photo-eye Gallery through June 30, 2012) in which she employs this technique, “documents” the evolving relationship between two women (one model). In addition to exploring the visual rhetoric of digital imagery, the work is an investigation of and a kind of metaphor for the fluidity and instability of identity, sexuality, and gender roles.

“By digitally creating a photograph that is a composite of multiple negatives of the same model in one setting,” Connell writes in an artist’s statement, “the self is exposed as not a solidified being in reality, but as a representation of social and interior investigations that happen within the mind.”

This solo exhibition has previously been on view at Yossi Milo Gallery in 2007, and Catherine Edelman Gallery in 2011. That same year, Decode Books also published the Double Life monograph, which is reviewed here by Time Out Chicago and was featured as one of American Photo magazine’s Books of the Year.

A limited-edition print from that series, Floating, 2005, is available for purchase from Aperture. The image also appears in Connell’s volume of the sold out tripartite series MP3: Midwest Photographers Publication Project (Aperture 2006).

Additionally,  Connell’s work has appeared in Photo Art: Photography in the 21st Century (Aperture 2008) and The New York Times Magazine Photographs (Aperture 2011).

Prior to the show, check out a transcribed conversation between Connell and American portrait photographer Dawoud Bey on the subject of Double Life at Flak Photo.

Kelli Connell: Double Life
Exhibition on view:
June 1 – June 30, 2012

photo-eye Gallery
376 Garcia Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico
(800) 227-6941

Cig Harvey, Fallen Apples

Cig Harvey, Fallen Apples

Cig Harvey

Fallen Apples,
Rockport, Maine, 2011
Website – CigHarvey.com

Cig Harvey’s photographs and artist’s books have been exhibited widely and are in the permanent collections of major museums,including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Farnsworth Museum, Maine and the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. She was a recent finalist for the prestigious BMW Prize at Paris Photo and had her first solo museum show at The Stenersen Museum, Oslo, Norway in the spring of 2012, in conjunction with the release of her monograph You Look At Me Like An Emergency, Schilt Publishing, 2012. 

Andi Schreiber

Andi Schreiber is what one might coin as a domestic Martin Parr. She turns her camera on her life, her children, family and friends with a glaring lens that is full of color, reality, and the details of our humanness. There is humor and pathos in her seeing, and her skills as a photojournalist bring domestic life into sharp focus.

Andi graduated from the University of Michigan with a BFA and was a photojournalist in Boston Before moving New York City to work as a magazine and newspaper picture editor. In 2002, she traded in city life for suburbia and lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and sons.  Recently Andi’s work was featured in the Kiernan Gallery’s exhibition, Family Dynamics, and she was an award recipient in PHOTO/arts Magazine’s book and online exhibition, My Own Wilderness.

In 2010 and 2011, Andi’s books Lush Light and WonderLust were each awarded Honorable Mention in Blurb’s Photography Book Now competition.

WonderLust is a visceral response to my immediate surroundings – a world where I’m at home yet hovering on the periphery, an insider and outsider at once. Through these images I find my place within my family’s framework and that of a larger existence.

A sense of wonder and thrill of attraction is at the core of this project. These photographs are made at home, at poolside, at parties and in parking lots, of family and friends, and people unknown to me. They are pieces of my world and a manifestation of inner life. I fight the urge to pre-visualize; my process is random. I’m struck by the accidental image: a flash of color, a passing gesture. Details make me tingle. I need to experience deeply what is here, right now. The camera enables me to vanish into moments before they are gone.
This ongoing body of work, WonderLust, embraces sensation and a passion for what’s unseen. It’s as if I have no choice but to turn that irresistible desire into something tangible, into a photograph. I want to seduce the viewer to feel as I do – to know pleasure, to be alive.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2300393

Paolo Ventura

Sometimes husbands get it right. Some months ago, I was poking around my favorite store/gallery in Santa Monica, Obsolete, and discovered the photographs and constructions of Paolo Ventura. I was completely transfixed. Last week, my husband presented me with two of Paolo’s books for my birthday, not aware of my reverence for his work. And to add to that stew of deliciousness, Paolo is opening an exhibition at Obsolete on February 25th, with work from The Funeral of the Anarchist series, which runs through March 24th. Be sure to explore the Obsolete website to see this sets and drawings that accompany the photographs.

Paolo is an Italian-born, Brooklyn-based photographer. His narratives are created by constructing and photographing miniature sets from found objects, bringing his small realities to life. There is a terrific article and interview with Paolo on The F Stop, written by Lloyd Wise. I’m also share a Vimeo about his work from Winter Stories below:

Paolo Ventura show-and-tell on Winter Stories from Aperture Foundation on Vimeo.

The work featured below is from his The Automaton of Venice series, and it very much reminds me very much of Scorsese’s recent movie, Hugo. The series is adapted from a children’s tale that takes place during the Nazi occupation of Italy. The photographs tell the story of an elderly watchmaker who builds an automaton to keep him company during the evacuation of the Venice ghetto. “I wanted to create a city that was at once familiar and unknown,” Ventura told me, “almost as if you walked through Venice, opened a gate, and discovered something you’d never seen before. This is a Venice I would have liked to have seen, but that no longer exists. Maybe it never really existed at all—except in my fantasy.” Dewi Lewis has published a book of this work under the title, The Automaton.

Images from The Automaton

TIME’s Best of 2011: The Photobooks We Loved

This year we continued to see the rise of tablet computers and digital publishing, and we even wrote about a few digital books on Lightbox like Stephen Shames’ Bronx Boys.  But elsewhere in photography, artists were working on photobooks for those viewers who may have wanted something a bit more lasting, a bit more tangible.

Here LightBox spotlights some of the best photobooks of the year as chosen by a group of photographers and photography experts from around around the world…. and of course a few from the photo editors of TIME.  From the selection one can see the art of the photobook continues to flourish in all genres from reportage to fine art photography, fashion and everything in between. This year’s books range from luxurious tomes like Catherine Opie and Alec Soth’s collaboration for Rodarte to smaller precious books like Fred Hunning’s Drei. Overall the selection shows that even as masses of information come at us from all our digital devices, people still enjoy a singular vision and the process of sitting down with a good book—especially one that pushes the boundaries of the format. Herewith, the photobooks we loved the most in 2011.