My friend Kyle is a huge fan of Pocahontas, I know because he showed me these pictures. At first, I thought they looked like pictures taken by someone after dropping their digital camera, but this is not glitch art. It’s the work of Karl-Martin Holzhäuser, an artist and photography professor in Germany. “The reproduction of the external physical world with the aid of a camera” seems so obvious… it’s just what photographers do: they take pictures of things you can see. False. Karl-Martin clearly doesn’t rely on images of tee-pees, dream catchers, Native American subjugation, et cetera in his work;even my assumption that he used a camera was just wrong.
The “photo-graphs” are just that… trails of light recorded on sensitive paper which is otherwise in total darkness. As cheesy as it sounds to call anything a painting made with light, this might be what they are, because each line and stripe in the above pictures was made by a very controlled brush of light across the paper. (Religious Paintings of Light made with the Colors of the Wind are my favorite kind of Paintings of Light.) So what do we call them: Photographs? Paintings of Light? Pictures? Photo-graphs about photography?
Deciding what to call the images he produces depends on how you see his work. In the artist’s own words: “My pictures don’t show anything apart from themselves.” It sounds straightforward, but gets murky.
Whenever I am considering making a purchase on Etsy I always have a browse through the seller’s feedback – after all, this is the internet and it’s best to get a sense of whom you’re dealing with. If you read the comments left for New York designers LAYERxlayer, the word “impeccable” is mentioned more than a few times and, looking at the canvas totes and backpacks in their shop, it is easy to see why.
Founded by Patrick, an architect, and Leah, an industrial designer, their individual backgrounds shine through in their streamlined approach to craftsmanship, creating bags which are structured and functional without being solely utilitarian. You only need to look at the gorgeous photography that showcases their goods to see how committed they are to producing accessories that are aesthetically pleasing. Predominantly utilising durable, unbleached cotton canvas, each design is made to order and follows a concept of sustainability. Given the choice between the latest It bag and a gracefully crafted and bespoke tote, I know which one I would pick.
The vast majority of Wendy Tai’s artworks are concerned with questioning and subverting the viewer’s perceptions of the space of the art gallery. Included in the brief for her most recent installation, Untitled, Tai commented that gallery visitors “are socially conditioned to treat artwork[s] as precious and sacred – we speak softly in museums, we maintain respectable distance, we are never to touch the work.” However, this is not the case with Tai’s interactive art.
In a move to disrupt the boundaries between the gallery and the self, as well as the distinctions between viewer and artist, the viewers of Untitled were invited to walk over the charcoal portraits on the floor of the gallery. The images included in this post display the progression from the originally defined and detailed drawings, which ironically picture gallery goers contemplating non-existent artworks, to the smears and footprints that have re-imaged the surface of the gallery floor.
The blurred palimpsest shows traces of what was initially there, but what I find particularly exciting about Tai’s piece is that the viewer is made an active participant in the art-making process. By literally walking on and effacing the illustrated gallery visitors, the viewer asserts his or her presence in the gallery and within the artwork itself.
As much as I love an old movie poster, I’m usually a little suspicious of things Photoshopped to look similarly old. Not so much because I don’t have a capacity for nostalgia, but because I think it’s kind of cheap, no matter how lovely or well-executed. For instance: if someone you worked with complemented the way you dress, you’d probably be flattered. But, if the same person started spray painting their clothing to match you every day… you’d probably be a little nauseated. And now you have to agree with me: it’s okay to like something without trying to clone it.
The images above would be really hard to clone. For starters, they’re much older than Dolly, anywhere from 110-120 years. The character they have is a direct result of the technology gap that produced them: a process invented in the 1880′s by a Swiss Chemist named Hans Jakob Schmid. They aren’t color photographs, but rather are photochroms, which involve transferring glass negatives onto lithographic plates and then printing these with colored inks. Although color photography was around at the time, it was only around the labs of researchers; it wasn’t until 1907, almost 20 years after some of these photochroms were probably taken, that color photographic plates became commercially available. In the meantime, demand for approximations of color photographs was high.
Maybe that’s why the colors in these images are so stunning. I ran across them while perusing the Library of Congress’ flickr site. All three of the moody landscapes above are from around Scandinavia… although folks who have spent time there will wonder why it isn’t raining in any of them (hint: they photoshopped it out). Imagine the skill and concentration it took just to color these images… and then imagine Carol Channing clumsily tinkering with hue and saturation in Photoshop while belting songs from Hello, Dolly!
This is what happens when nostalgia gets the best of you.
Last night on the bus this magnificent woman climbed into the seat across the way from me. I had to take a photo of her, she was just too amazing. I love how her outfit is like urban camouflage and she can blend into the fabric of the seat as well as the grey pattern below it. Taking her photo makes me want to start documenting the weirdos of Los Angeles public transit.