Tag Archives: Urban Landscape

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.

Clarissa Bonet

I was recently in Chicago for the Filter Photo Festival and was happy to attend the opening of the Light Exhibition at the David Weinberg Gallery, jurored by Matthew Avignone and David Weinberg.  The walls were filled with compellingl images and in the center of all that goodness, were the images of Clarissa Bonet.  Her stark and cinematic look at uban spaces were beautifully executed and I wanted to see more.

Clarissa received her M.F.A. in photography from Columbia College Chicago and her B.S. in Photography from the University of Central Florida. She is currently an adjunct photography teacher at Harrington College of Design. Her work has been exhibited national and internationally. She was the recipient of the Albert P. Weisman grant for two consecutive years. Her work is in the collection of the South East Museum of Photography and Calumet Photographic. She has most recently won PDN’s the Curator; search for undiscovered fine art photography.

 City Space 

The urban space is striking. Its tall and mysterious buildings, crowds of anonymous people, an endless sea of concrete constantly intrigue me. City Space is a ongoing photographic exploration of the urban environment and my perception of it. I am interested in the physical space of the city and its emotional and psychological impact on the body. 

These photographs reconstruct mundane events in the city that I have personally experienced or witnessed in public. Stark light, deep shadow and muted color are visual strategies I explore to describe the city. I use the city as a stage and transform the physical space into a psychological one. The images I create do not represent a commonality of experience but instead provide a personal interpretation of the urban landscape.

Christine Carr, 221.04.1.60

Christine Carr, 221.04.1.60

Christine Carr

221.04.1.60,
Roanoke, Virginia, 2004
Website – ChristineCarr.com

Hailing from Portsmouth, Virginia, Christine Carr received her MFA from the Tyler School of Art, her BFA from the Corcoran College of Art and Design and her AAS from the Tidewater Community College Visual Arts Center. She is a two-time recipient of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship. Her work is included in the 5th edition of Exploring Color Photography, the 3rd edition of Photographic Possibilities and the 2nd edition of Light and Lens, all by Robert Hirsch. She has exhibited in solo and group shows in the eastern United States and in Germany. Much of her work explores the mood derived from spatial, light, and color relationships in the industrial and urban landscape. Carr has participated in residencies at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts and at the Prairie Center of the Arts. She is currently teaching photography at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

Greer Muldowney

I was delighted to meet Boston photographer, Greer Muldowney, at the recent Flash Forward Festival in Boston.  Greer has been navigating the photographic waters for some time, studying with Stephen DiRado and Frank Armstrong while pursuing a degree in Political Science and Studio Art at Clark University, assisting Henry Horenstein, working at the Panopticon Gallery, and ultimately settling down into the MFA program at the Savannah College of Art and Design. While at SCAD, Greer was selected by the faculty to work on a documentary project in the Sham Shui Po district of Hong Kong. The result was her thesis exhibition, 6,426 per km2, that I am featuring below. Having now graduated, Greer begins her second year teaching at the New Hampshire Institute of Art and the New England Institute of Art, has exhibited worldwide and curated exhibits in China and in the U.S. She recently curated Alter-Ego II at the Nave Gallery, and will be exhibiting her own work in a solo exhibition through the Griffin Museum this fall.

Having recently visited China this past fall,  I am struck by Greer’s ability to bring elegance and a sense calm to a landscape of densely packed vertical living, an environment seemingly stripped of the sounds and smells of millions of human beings pressing against each other in their quest for a better life.

Images from 6,426 per km2

While there I realized that my previous understanding of urban policy, or at least my education in the American system, clearly did not apply to the Hong Kong system of public housing, infrastructure, or any ramifications of sustainability (not that the states have truly awakened to sustainability, either). I decided that while I was not working on the documentary, I would build my thesis around making imagery that was an allegory for western perception on this urban landscape; making imagery as beautiful as possible, mostly in response to the media fatigue I felt in regards to Chinese-American international policy.

Statement for 6,426 per km2At 6,426 people per km2, Hong Kong boasts the most densely populated urban center in the world. The reality of sustainable practices, depletion of resources and a shifting global power paradigm pervade media involving China, and its Western syndicate territory, Hong Kong.

By making imagery in this unique region(both socially and politically), I ask viewers to contemplate these issues, but to also see these places as homes; not statistics. As the living cities and infrastructure that address cultural standards and progressive technologies.

These photographs do not propose a reality so different from the spin of contemporary media, but asks an audience on the other side of the world, the Western world, to reflect on whether these images provide a surrogate for wonderment or trepidation for a changing global climate and future.

Eirik Johnson: Camps & Cabins Artist Talk

Elwha River Dam, Washington; from Sawdust Mountain, 2009 © Eirik Johnson

Seattle native and 2012 Neddy Award winner Eirik Johnson presents an artist talk at G. Gibson Gallery this Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm where his third solo exhibition Camps & Cabins, large scale photographs of Pacific Northwest mushroom hunters and their makeshift structures, is currently on view (through May 26, 2012).

Johnson, the photographer behind the 2009 monograph Sawdust Mountain, has had a long history documenting the Pacific Northwest, earning himself a role as forerunner of the second generation of topographic photographers. Sawdust Mountain was a four-year exploration of the “tenuous relationship between industries reliant upon natural resources and the communities they support,” throughout Oregon, Washington, and Northern California, he explains in a video interview conducted at Aperture Gallery.

Work from that series has since been made into a limited-edition print, Freshly Felled Trees, as well as a limited-edition portfolio of three archival pigment prints, Adult Books, Firewood, and Truck for Sale, (Port Angeles, Washington), Weyerhaeuser Sorting Yard Along the Chehalis River, (Cosmopolis, Washington), and The Road to Forks, (Washington), all available at Aperture.

Johnson’s portfolio, West Oakland Walk, exploring the beauty of an urban landscape shaped by poverty, was also featured in Aperture issue 185.

Read a brief review of Camps & Cabins in Seattle Weekly or Visual Art Source, and hear what Johnson has to say about the project himself in a Q&A with CityArts magazine.

Artist Talk:
Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm
FREE

Exhibition on view:
April 19 – May 26, 2012

G. Gibson Gallery
300 South Washington Street
Seattle, Washington 98104
(206) 587-5751

Little Europe on the Outskirts of Shanghai

Spanish photographer Pablo Conejo traveled to China to document the rapid—and, he thought, almost unsustainable—development of a country full of contradictions, the result of Chinese culture confronting global trends. Before his trip, he made a list of opposite concepts to accompany him as an inspiration: east and west, poverty and wealth, communism and capitalism and tradition and modernity were all ideas that served as guides in the photographer’s anthropological excursion. In Shanghai, he saw yet another contradiction.

Conejo found himself immersed in a futuristic urban landscape, a skyline overloaded with concrete and glass above the smell and feel of the stereotypical China he expected to find, one that he describes as a “tangle of motorcycles, cars, people and noise; a mix of intense food smell from stalls and kitchens, car fumes and a murmur from all this bustle; all this jumble peppered with red lanterns and fortune cats.” Then, as he reached the borders of the city he found a peculiar urban project: a set of nine suburban neighborhoods under construction, mimicking the architectural styles of several iconic European countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Holland and Germany. Built to house the wealthier Chinese population escaping the big-city lifestyle, “One City, Nine Towns” is a thematic urban project launched in 2004 with the goal of relieving overpopulation in Shanghai. These artificial towns, which are replicas of buildings found in the various European locales, are projected to house one million people by 2020.

“At the moment all the towns look like ghost cities,” Conejo says. “The empty streets make them look like Disney World or a cinema set. As a matter of fact, Thames Town, the English imitation, is becoming a very popular location to have one’s wedding photography made.” Despite their popularity among locals, Conejo realized that some people weren’t familiar with the original inspirations of these model homes. In the Paris neighborhood, the photographer asked three teenagers if they knew anything about the French capital. “Paris?” one asked. “I don’t know.”

Pablo Conejo, who was born in Madrid in 1981, ran two urban photography workshops in Instituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona in 2008 and 2009. You can see more of his work here.

New York’s Photo League at The Jewish Museum


Coney Island, 1947. © Sid Grossman

The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951

Exhibition on view:
November 4, 2011–March 25, 2012

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave
New York, NY
(212) 423-3200

The Jewish Museum of New York will be exhibiting The Radical Camera, a collection of photographs from the influential Photo League. Based in New York City, The Photo League consisted of young, politically progressive artists (many of whom were first generation Jewish Americans) that were shooting from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s. Interested in capturing their direct surroundings, League members documented the urban landscape of New York City during the turbulent times of the late Depression, World War II, and early Cold War eras. The League also created a collaborative center which offered affordable classes, darkroom facilities, and free lectures and social events for photographers.

Although they dismantled during the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, the legacy of The Photo League continues to influence documentary photographers. Aperture has published the work of several Photo League artists and those works include Lisette Model’s self-titled monograph and Paul Strand’s Paul Strand in Mexico. Aperture’s current Fall issue (204) includes an article by Mary Panzer about The Photo League’s legacy.

New Video: Kalle Kataila from reGeneration2

real estate .

In this clip, Finnish photographer Kalle Kataila explains the importance of contemplating the world today, facing the changes that man has made on the landscape. evans automotive . Kataila portrays his subjects alone in a wild or urban landscape, emphasizing the power of the environment, and the littleness of the human.

ReGeneration2: tomorrows photographers today exhibition and accompanying publication, was presented by Aperture Foundation from January 20 through March 17, 2011, in collaboration with the Muse de lElyse in Lausanne, Switzerland, and with the support of Pro Helvetia and the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York.

Click here to purchase the accompanying publication regeneration2: Tomorrow’s Photographers Today