Tag Archives: Ubiquity

Louis Porter

Louis Porter is a little like a novelist who looks at the urban landscape for clues to weave together into stories. He has been photographing those clues and categorizing them into an collection titled The Small Conflict Archive.  They are humorous in their simplicity and telling in the small narratives that they create. Louis a British born photographer who currently lives and works in Melbourne.  His work has been exhibited widely throughout Australia and internationally. He has published books with independent publishers in Australia, France and England and been included in the photographic compendiums Hijacked II (Big City Press) and The Collector’s Guide to Emerging Fine Art Photography (Humble Arts). He recently established his own publishing imprint, Twenty Shelves.

The
Small
Conflict
Archive 
The Small Conflict Archive is a collection of fragments, markers and traces of a minor
conflict, which can be easily found on the surface of any modern town or city. These
are not the conflicts that make the evening news: the protracted wars, acts of
terrorism, murders and kidnappings. Instead, The Small Conflict Archive contains
evidence of perforations, in what might be considered a typical day. What constitutes
a perforation is diverse and subjective: it might be a broken key, some discriminatory
graffiti or even a spilt carton of milk. What unifies the objects and photographs in the
archive is their ubiquity; the archive is first and foremost a collection of familiar
things. 
What the Small Conflict Archive proposes, is that the material aspects of urban space,
should not be considered as merely functional, aesthetic or unwanted, but also as
symbolic and potentially empathetic devices. The objects and photographs collected
for the archive, have been sifted from the soil of the everyday and although some of
them standout more than others, they have all sat undisturbed, waiting to be
collected or photographed. It is from the prosaic remnants of daily life that
archeologists build our understanding of the past. But for the Small Conflict Archive, it
is these very remnants that we can also construct our understanding of the present.



Bad Driving

On any given day, countless pieces of street furniture have their utilitarian roles
abruptly brought into question by careless driving, and it is the results of these
minor mishaps that are the subject of Bad Driving. As a foot passenger in life I have
always been acutely aware of the impact of cars on the urban environment.
Sometimes I wonder for whose benefit many cities have been built, its citizens or its
cars. These points of impact, the twisted poles and buckled signs, become selfreferencing
historical markers, that sink into the surface of the city, becoming almost
invisible.

Crap Paint Jobs

The series of photographs depicting Crap Paint Jobs, like the majority of the sections
in the archive, portrays the remnants of an event, the protagonist of which is no
longer present. In its practical manifestation, painting an object, particularly one in a
public space, is by its very nature an act engaged in aesthetic harmony. The object is
painted to either fit in with its environment, or (especially in commercial settings)
stand out.  

Two extremes of environment come to mind, the historic centre of a European city, where the way a thing is painted might be legislated in order to maintain a sense of cultural authenticity and an outer suburban shopping complex, where almost identical prefabricated concrete boxes, are painted wildly different colours, in order to differentiate themselves from one another. In either example, if the paintjob is done rather badly, the overall tone of the surrounding area is called into question. 

Crap things tend to multiply and travel in packs. If the previous painter has done a terrible job, the standard required by the next painter to do a reasonable job lowers. Although the suggestion is not that a poorly painted lamp post can set in motion a chain of events, that lead to the collapse of a civilization, its contribution to a sense of urban decline is a subject of great interest to The Small Conflict Archive.

Signs of a Struggle

Like many of the sets in the Small Conflict Archive, Signs of a Struggle began with a
single visual encounter that set in motion a series of thoughts. Seeing a spilt paint can
at the base of a small hill in suburbia, I wondered what events had led up to the
incident and what had resulted from it. This paint can was, I decided, evidence of a
moment of a minor conflict in life. Perhaps it was the “straw that broke the camels
back”, perhaps later that day the owner decided not to paint the fence after all,
perhaps that was for the best. 

I decided to search out more of these tell tale signs. Signs of a Struggle, therefore searches out and collects the traces of accidents, mishaps, disagreements and other deviations in the smooth running of life. There is naturally a large amount of conjecture in any such exercise, as it is impossible to know the exact circumstances of how a spade was broken or a pot of paint spilt. This series and the archive as a whole, should therefore be considered more a musing on the symbolic nature of objects, than a series of confirmed and catalogued facts.

– Voluptuous Women Wanted: Kristin Herout’s Graduate School Project

Starting in February 2008, posters across the Northern Illinois University campus called for voluptuous women to participate in an unusual photography session. Kristin Herout, a 23 year old graduate student and professional photographer, needed some models to complete the photography portion of her graduate project which included a scholarly paper examining ads in Cosmopolitan magazine over time.

According to the poster, Herout needed women with “real booty, boobs, and hips.” A voluptuous woman herself, Herout was looking for models to recreate designer ads found in popular fashion magazines with a particular focus of portraying plus-size models in the same way thinner models were shown.

I was really pleased to hear about Herout’s project. In college, my entire class was shown a video on the media’s portrayal of women and women’s bodies. The video was filled with very thin women who were considered the standard for beauty, an oft-discussed topic. I think most people have heard or participated in a conversation on standards of beauty, whether they are realistic or not, and the way in which these standards affect society, specifically women. This is the conversation our film viewing facilitated.

I agree that the ubiquity of wafer thin models and actresses creates an unrealistic standard of beauty. I think it is obvious that women do not come in one shape or in a range of three sizes. It is ludicrous that the media only presents such a minority of women’s bodies as beautiful. A breath of fresh air, not only was Herout using shapely models in her photographs, her goal was to recreate ads in the exact same way.

Herout argued that when plus-size models are photographed for advertisements, they encounter different treatment than thinner models. She specifically discussed models used in bridal ads, stating that the plus-size bride “is given a simpler dress, simpler background and loses the sexy mysteriousness that is common in haute-couture models.”

She also described that “the plus-size girl wears a huge toothy smile, therefore there are different expectations for a woman of larger stature compared to a thinner model.” She gave examples of thinner models being given more exotic make-up and location shots than their plus-size counterparts, reinforcing the idea that thinner models received preferential treatment.

Herout’s goal was to mimic couture ads and feature curvy models and by following the link above you can see examples of recreations compared to the originals. Assuming that Herout had neither the budget nor the team of make-up artists, dressers and assistants that cover girls have, I think she did a fair job recreating the selected ads.

Unfortunately, she seems to have included some characteristics in her recreations that she was originally arguing against. In some of the images shown the models sport what she called the “toothy grin”, though the original models did not. Also, she did not use any ads with the more exaggerated make-up that she listed as one of the preferences given to thinner models.

I appreciate and agree with her project and arguments, but I wish she had done a little more with her execution. I would have loved to see recreations of some edgier ads with over-the-top make up, hair and bold backdrops. At first reading, I was very pleased with her project, until I started to really study her recreations. I still support and agree with her arguments, but it was even more disappointing that she did not live up to her own standards.

It is a challenge to find sexy and mysterious full-figured models in the media. Clothing designed for larger women tends to be shapeless and unflattering. Designers for the average woman (meaning what the average woman can afford) are beginning to design flattering clothing that show off curves while being stylish and contemporary. Unfortunately, the models used for these clothes tend to be sizes 12 or 14 but taller than average, which again is only showing up to a certain size body type. Though sexy plus-sized clothes are easier to find, it’s still difficult to find the truly plus-sized models.

Herout is one of many people fighting to change the tides for plus-sized women, but even her approach had its faults.


– Voluptuous Women Wanted: Kristin Herout’s Graduate School Project

Starting in February 2008, posters across the Northern Illinois University campus called for voluptuous women to participate in an unusual photography session. Kristin Herout, a 23 year old graduate student and professional photographer, needed some models to complete the photography portion of her graduate project which included a scholarly paper examining ads in Cosmopolitan magazine over time.

According to the poster, Herout needed women with “real booty, boobs, and hips.” A voluptuous woman herself, Herout was looking for models to recreate designer ads found in popular fashion magazines with a particular focus of portraying plus-size models in the same way thinner models were shown.

I was really pleased to hear about Herout’s project. In college, my entire class was shown a video on the media’s portrayal of women and women’s bodies. The video was filled with very thin women who were considered the standard for beauty, an oft-discussed topic. I think most people have heard or participated in a conversation on standards of beauty, whether they are realistic or not, and the way in which these standards affect society, specifically women. This is the conversation our film viewing facilitated.

I agree that the ubiquity of wafer thin models and actresses creates an unrealistic standard of beauty. I think it is obvious that women do not come in one shape or in a range of three sizes. It is ludicrous that the media only presents such a minority of women’s bodies as beautiful. A breath of fresh air, not only was Herout using shapely models in her photographs, her goal was to recreate ads in the exact same way.

Herout argued that when plus-size models are photographed for advertisements, they encounter different treatment than thinner models. She specifically discussed models used in bridal ads, stating that the plus-size bride “is given a simpler dress, simpler background and loses the sexy mysteriousness that is common in haute-couture models.”

She also described that “the plus-size girl wears a huge toothy smile, therefore there are different expectations for a woman of larger stature compared to a thinner model.” She gave examples of thinner models being given more exotic make-up and location shots than their plus-size counterparts, reinforcing the idea that thinner models received preferential treatment.

Herout’s goal was to mimic couture ads and feature curvy models and by following the link above you can see examples of recreations compared to the originals. Assuming that Herout had neither the budget nor the team of make-up artists, dressers and assistants that cover girls have, I think she did a fair job recreating the selected ads.

Unfortunately, she seems to have included some characteristics in her recreations that she was originally arguing against. In some of the images shown the models sport what she called the “toothy grin”, though the original models did not. Also, she did not use any ads with the more exaggerated make-up that she listed as one of the preferences given to thinner models.

I appreciate and agree with her project and arguments, but I wish she had done a little more with her execution. I would have loved to see recreations of some edgier ads with over-the-top make up, hair and bold backdrops. At first reading, I was very pleased with her project, until I started to really study her recreations. I still support and agree with her arguments, but it was even more disappointing that she did not live up to her own standards.

It is a challenge to find sexy and mysterious full-figured models in the media. Clothing designed for larger women tends to be shapeless and unflattering. Designers for the average woman (meaning what the average woman can afford) are beginning to design flattering clothing that show off curves while being stylish and contemporary. Unfortunately, the models used for these clothes tend to be sizes 12 or 14 but taller than average, which again is only showing up to a certain size body type. Though sexy plus-sized clothes are easier to find, it’s still difficult to find the truly plus-sized models.

Herout is one of many people fighting to change the tides for plus-sized women, but even her approach had its faults.