William Rugen is a fine art and commercial photographer in Seattle, Washington. After working as a biologist for 20 years he quit his job to pursue photography. His projects are widely varied in style and subject matter. Current projects include the American west, botanical prints, and state and county fair exhibitions. William's work has been included in exhibitions throughout the United States.
Social scientist, artist, writer and provocateur Trevor Paglen uses photography to explore the secret activities of the U.S. military and intelligence agencies. For me, Geographies of Seeing was one of Brighton Photo Biennial’s to-see shows, not least for Paglen’s multi-dimensional approach to his subject matter. Who could resist taking time to look at the work of someone who is described as a ‘provocateur’, especially as I first saw some of this work at Frieze art fair a few years ago and was intrigued back then.
On the press tour of the show I got a chance to discuss the work with Lighthouse director Honor Harger who provides an informed and articulate insight into Paglen’s work in the audio podcast below. Click on the link below and then again on the link, it goes green as you rool over it, in the next page. It is 17mins 26secs long.
“The Other Night Sky uses data from an international network of amateur satellite watchers to track and photograph classified spacecraft. Echoing the efforts of historic astronomers, Paglen documents astral movements that don’t officially exist.
“In the series Limit Telephotography Paglen adapted the super-strength telescopes, normally used to shoot distant planets, to reveal top-secret U.S. governmental sites, sometimes 65 miles away from his camera; covert bases, so remote they cannot be seen by an unaided civilian eye from any point on Earth.
“Paglen coined the term “Experimental Geography” to describe practices coupling experimental cultural production and art-making with ideas from critical human geography about the production of space, materialism, and praxis. His work, such The Other Night Sky has received widespread attention for both his technical innovations and for his conceptual rigour. He is also author of three books including Torture Taxi (2006), the first book to comprehensively describe the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me (2007), which is a look at top-secret military programmes, and Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World, which is a broader look at secrecy in the United States.
“Paglen (born in 1974) is an American artist, geographer, and author, currently based in New York. His work deliberately blurs lines between science, contemporary art, journalism, and technology to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world around us. He has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; The Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Institute for Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams; the 2008 Taipei Biennial; the Istanbul Biennial 2009, and numerous other solo and group exhibitions.” From press release. Presented and curated in partnership with Lighthouse.
Filed under: Artist Talks, Photographers, Photography Festivals, Visual Artists Tagged: brighton, Brighton Photo Biennial 2012, experimental geography, Geographies of Seeing, Honor Harger, Lighthouse, photo show, space photography, Trevor Paglen
American Kestral, 2011, Katherine Wolkoff
Exhibition on view:
March 8April 28, 2012
Sasha Wolf Gallery
548 West 28 St
New York, NY
Cause of death: flew into a lighthouse, death by cat, death by telephone wire. The origin of death to the birds of Block Island is recorded by infatuated gatherer Elizabeth Dickens. She finds, stuffs, and lives with these perished animals. article writing submission . Photographer Katherine Wolkoff befriended Dickens and began photographing her taxidermies. The images are inherently proper and documentary though they reveal a particular affection for the subject matter. The proposed silhouette displays how a birdwatcher identifies the species in the wild. Stark white backgrounds, jet black surfaces, and a hint of back-lighting suggest an intimate relationship between the viewer and the bird offering another existence underneath the lifeless figure.
The exhibition titled, Found will be presented by the Sasha Wolf Gallery.
Wolkoffs series After the Storm, documenting the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, was featured in Aperture issue 184.
In 2008, accountant and amateur photographer Lee Jeffries was in London to run a marathon. On the day before the race, Jeffries thought he would wander the city to take pictures. Near Leicester Square, he trained his 5D camera with a long, 70-200 lens on a young, homeless woman who was huddled in a sleeping bag among Chinese food containers. “She spotted me and started shouting, drawing the attention of passersby,” Jeffries says. “I could have just walked away in an embarrassed state, or I could have gone over and apologized to her.” He chose the latter, crossed the street and sat with the woman. The eighteen-year-old, whose complexion indicated she was addicted to drugs, told Jeffries her story: her parents had died, leaving her without a home, and she now lived on the streets of London.
This experience had a profound effect on Jeffries, sharpening the focus on the subject matter of his street photography—the homeless—and defining his approach to taking pictures. He didn’t want to exploit these people or steal photographs of them like so many other photographers who had seen the homeless as an easy target. In an effort to make intimate portraits, Jeffries would try to connect with each person on an individual basis first. “I need to see some kind of emotion in my subjects,” Jeffries says. “I specifically look at people’s eyes—when I see it, I recognize it and feel it—and I repeat the process over and over again.” Jeffries tries to keep the contact as informal as possible. He rarely takes notes, feeling it immediately raises suspicion, and prefers to take pictures while he is talking with his subjects to capture the “real emotion” in them. “I’m stepping into their world,” he says. “Everyone else walks by like the homeless are invisible. I’m stepping through the fear, in the hope that people will realize these people are just like me and you.”
Self-taught and self-funded, Jeffries has used vacation time to travel to Skid Row in Los Angeles three times, as well as Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris and Rome, to continue his project. The way that Jeffries processes his images and the heavy use of shadow and light within his pictures is a direct reference to the religious overtones he felt while photographing the beggars and homeless in Rome. The underexposure in camera and process to dodge back light where he wants it—although done in a digital environment—relate more to the traditions of analog printing. The effect of the subjects on the photographer is equally heavy: “When I’m talking to these people, I can’t then leave that emotion, so when I get back to my computer so emotionally involved, sometimes I will start to cry when processing the image,” Jeffries says.
The photographer’s passion has become his life mission. He uses his photography to draw attention to and raise funds for the homeless, posting the images to Flickr and entering the work into competitions. Over the past three years Jeffries has placed third, second and second in an annual Amateur Photographer magazine award contest, and has won separate monthly contests which come with a camera as a reward. Each of the half dozen cameras he’s won has been donated to raise funds for charities, including homeless and disability organizations. The proceeds from Jeffries’s Blurb book, which features homeless portraits, go to the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles and the photographer allows any charity to use his images free of charge. Jeffries also runs the London and New York marathons to raise money for Shelter, a U.K. housing charity. He’s committed himself at a more personal level too, buying lunch for a man who had lost his fingers and toes to frostbite or taking a woman with a staph infection to the hospital when she was sick. Jeffries estimates he has given thousands of dollars to these individuals, but what he has given them in terms of a sense of dignity and outpouring of concern is immeasurable.
Jeffries’s powerful portraits are getting noticed. He recently won Digital Camera magazine’s Photographer of the Year award. There has been an explosion of interest in the last two to three months as the images have been shared across the web, spreading virally via Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, and more recently, appearing on blogs and in mainstream media including the Independent and Guardian. A book is slated to be published next month by Yellow Korner. The increased exposure is welcome news for a man whose self-funded journey can be difficult. “I can’t change these people’s lives,” he says. “I can’t wave a magic wand but it doesn’t mean I can’t take a photograph of them and try to raise awareness and bring attention to their plight.”
Lee Jeffries is a photographer based in Manchester, England. See more of his work here.
Spontaneous snapshots. Intimate moments. Unexpected exposures. There was no one formula for this year’s most viral photographs. Most were based on news events, such as the death of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi—but these photos ended up becoming the news themselves. They shocked us. They awed us. They inspired us to feel. But the most powerful feeling was the impulse to share.
The best viral images of 2011 are those we found flooding our email inboxes and Twitter feeds this year. One thing weaves the images together: each photographer netted a once-in-a-lifetime picture. From Royal Wedding mania and a bloodied despot to an utterly unexpected leopard on the loose, photographers both professional and amateur brought us the scenes of unpredictability and chaos that gripped our world over the past 12 months. As shocking as the subject matter is the simplicity of some images. A few came from mobile phones. Most were snapped without a thought of—or time to handle—composition or lighting. One was even taken by a man who would be dead minutes later.
Given that the Internet is a notoriously fickle beast, it’s impossible to predict which photos will score a hit. Here, LightBox looks back on the photos we couldn’t help but share. —Nick Carbone
I first discovered Martin Weber’s project, Echoes from the Interior when it was shown in 2002 at a long-defunct gallery in Harlem called The Project. At the time I had just moved to New York and was discovering the pleasures of super-huge color C-prints common in contemporary photography [then and now]. Weber’s project really stuck with me because I had just recently spent a year and a half living in Argentina in 1999 and 2000 and to see large format, color works of subject matter I was familiar with and nostalgic for was a big deal for me at the time. Unfortunately I never bothered to write down Weber’s name and, although the photos stuck with me, for a number of years I had no idea who they were by. Eventually I came across one of the prints at an art show here in Buenos Aires and was able to track down Weber. At the time he didn’t have a website but he does now.
The series show scenes from various provinces of Argentina’s interior which have, in some way, to do with the history of the country and popular beliefs of the people. Many elements of the country’s recent political and economic history are touched upon in an eliptical way. Helpfully, the photos in the series come with an explanatory text, making each photo into sort of fable. The text that goes with the images here on my blog is too small to read, so I’d recommend going to Weber’s website and going through the whole series.
Gian Paolo Minelli’s series “Playas,” depicts empty parking lots in downtown Buenos Aires. More specifically, it depicts the canvas netting that provides shade and protects cars from the occasional hail storm.
When I first saw the series a couple of years ago, I thought the subject matter was cheesy and obvious. Actually, I still feel that way. What’s changed is that now, really looking at the series again, I realize the photos are subtle and finely composed shots of light, pattern and shadow. I think in the end all subjects are cliche at some level. Execution matters most. Here are more jpegs from Minelli’s site. You’ll have to trust me when I say that the 1 meter-sized prints look marvelous.