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Author:Mariko Takeuchi
  Essay by Maryko Takeuchi guest curator of "Spotlight on Japan" for Paris Photo 2008   Part 1 Part 2     Introduction   In Japanese, the word for “photograph” is “shashin”. It is made up of two ideograms, “sha” meaning “to reproduce” or “reflect” and “shin” which means “truth.” The Greek etymology of the word “photograph” is to write (graphein) with light (photos). Therefore, in the Japanese mind, the process itself consists in capturing the truth, or the essence of the matter and “making a copy” of it on a surface. Consequently, the result will always contain a certain element of truth. Since the advent of photography, this way of seeing things has become commonplace throughout the world, but in very few languages is the concept expressed with such clarity. If we take as a premise the idea that Japanese photography is the fruit of a multitude of reactions, ranging from empathy to mistrust, to this process of “reproducing the truth,” it becomes easier to gain a better understanding of its astonishing diversity.   Consider Japanese photography as a whole and it becomes evident that a large number of artists tend to express feelings of incomprehension and ambiguity towards reality and the world rather than attempt to decrypt it and objectively analyze it. In his “Empire of Signs,” Roland Barthes remarked that Japanese culture gained its liberty by freeing itself from the meaning of the signs it contains. Up to a point, this can be said about photography. Photography is not a conclusion but a perpetual questioning. In that sense, Barthes got it right when he later compared photography to the art of Haiku in “La Chambre Claire.”     With such diversity in their approach, Japanese photographers demonstrate that there is no such thing as the Truth, with a capital T. And all the while they continue to pose the fundamental question which is to know what photography is capable of reproducing and what eludes attempts at reproduction. For example, since the 1970s, Nobuyoshi Araki, one of Japan’s most eminent photographers, far from focussing on the antagonism between truth and fiction, has continuously tried to demonstrate, in every way possible, that photography is both truth and fiction. Similarly, Daido Moriyama, while subscribing to Warhol’s idea that a photograph is nothing more than a copy, also captures with delicate sensitivity the element of remembrance that inhabits photography. In the 1980s a number of photographers appeared, such as Naoya Hatakeyama, who saw their work as an attempt to analyze and understand the world. At the same time, the trend for “intimist” photography, such as that of Rinko Kawauchi who manages to capture beauty in daily life at its most ordinary, continues to endure in endless formal variations.     One of the characteristics of Japanese photography is the role, increasingly important as time goes by, of printed matter. Whether generalist (magazines) or specialized (photography books), publications have been a vital vehicle for photographers and their work. In fact, no other country in the world boasts such a wealth of publications. This phenomenon is partly explained by the absence, to this day, of a network of galleries or a well-established market for photography. But it can also be attributed to the very particular history of reproduction processes in our country and the culture surrounding it. Specifically, the source can be traced back to the Edo era (1603 - 1867) with the development of unrivalled wood-block techniques, the beauty of the ukiyo-e prints and their immense popularity among the Japanese public.   In recent years, the work of a growing number of individual Japanese photographers has become known in the United States and Europe. But opportunities of presenting a panoramic vision of the history of Japanese photography in Europe are extremely rare. In this respect, the exhibition “New Japanese Photography,” held in New York in 1974 was a real precursor. It was the turn of the 21st Century that brought a more holistic approach to photography, and in this context the major retrospective entitled “The History of Japanese Photography” in 2003 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, was a significant milestone. Ever since, there have been an increasing number of exhibitions and publications in the West. The 2008 edition of Paris Photo with Japan as country of honour therefore comes as the fruit of a long process of maturing.     “Japanism” which subjugated Europe during the second half of the 19th Century was not a matter of passing fashion. Its influence is not only evident in Western art, in particular the impressionist school, but also in terms of lifestyle. The trend was set with the presence of a Japanese pavilion at the 1867 universal exhibition. Here we are in Paris, 141 years later, to present a comprehensive overview of Japanese photography on a scale unprecedented in France. It is my dearest wish that today more than ever, at a time of transition owing to the advent of digital technology, this event will not simply be perceived as “exotic.” It is my hope that it will be a stimulant to help us rediscover all the possibilities offered by the photographic medium and that it will serve as a boost to its creative energy.   General Presentation   Photography arrived in Japan in 1848, exactly nine years after its birth in France and the invention of the daguerreotype. Like many other non-Western countries, Japan became the “object” of images infused with exoticism. But there was a very rapid turn-around as the Japanese transformed themselves from “objects” into “subjects” capable of taking photographs. By 1862, Japanese photographers had established portrait studios in the port cities of Nagasaki and Yokohama, and the second half of the 19th Century saw the gradual development of the Japanese camera-making industry. The turn of the 20th Century brought increasing numbers of amateur photographers throughout the country. Though inspired by traditional Japanese aesthetics, “art photography” (including pictoralism) was still feeling its way.   The 1930s marked the beginning of a clear evolution towards modern photography. The change was brought about by a symbolic event: the creation, in 1932, of “Kôga” a publication whose title is made up of two ideograms meaning “light” (Ko) and “drawing” (ga). Abandoning the term “shashin” (and the implied search for truth in the photographic act) the main figures behind the publication, notably Yasuzô Nojima, Iwata Nakayama and in particular Ihei Kimura, proclaimed their will to embrace modernity through their work on light. Kimura, a master of the Leica, and often referred to as Japan’s Cartier-Bresson, played an unstinting role during the post-war period as the leader in the country’s photography circles. But even before the war, amateur photographers such as Nakaji Yasui or Osamu Shiihara had appeared, not only in Tokyo but also around Osaka, and were tremendously active in exploring the avant-garde.     With the desolation and chaos that followed Japan’s defeat in the Second World War, photoreportage, witness to the population’s desperate situation, dominated the scene for a number of years. But nevertheless, there were concurrent and completely independent efforts to seek out new forms of photographic expression. In this regard, the creation in 1959 in Tokyo by Shomei Tomatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Ikko Narahara and Kikuji Kawada of the agency “VIVO” marked the birth of a new generation of photographers whose intent was to go beyond mere experimentation to establish a real practice. With a sharp, critical eye on reality, clear concepts, a real sense of composition and framing, coupled with heavy emphasis on the symbolic, this group exerted a tremendous influence on the generation that followed.   In the run-up to the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan was undergoing a period of tremendous economic growth, which provided fertile ground for the flourishing of Japanese photographers in the fields of photo-journalism and advertising. However, in the second half of the 1960s our country, along with many others, was gripped by the turmoil of opposition to the prevailing politics, economics and culture which took the form of student activism and violent protest against the Japanese-American Security Treaty. In 1968, the emblematic year of struggle, the first issue of “PROVOKE”, the publication whose evocative sub-title was “Incendiary Documentation for New Thinking,” sent shock waves through Japanese photographic circles. Members including Takuma Nakahira and Koji Taki, along with Daido Moriyama, who joined the publication for its second issue, embarked on a process of radical deconstruction of the rules and aesthetics of classical photography, whose styles were often called “Are, Bure, Boke,” (Rough, Blurred, Out of Focus).   In that same year, 1968, a group of young photographers began to be called “Konpora,” a Japanese-style contraction of the word “contemporary.” It was grounded in a trend defined by the 1966 exhibition at George Eastman House entitled “Contemporary Photographers:Towards a Social Landscape.” At first glance, the images produced by the “Konpora” group, marked by their neutrality, composition and focus on the insignificance of daily life, appear as the antithesis of those of the “PROVOKE” group. However, and despite the disparity in terms of inspiration, these works were all a reaction against the photographic methodologies that still dominated, as well as being a reflection of the prevailing ambiguity of the period. One of those known as “Konpora”, Yutaka Takanashi, was in fact simultaneously an active contributor to “ PROVOKE.”   In order to present their work to the public, photographers at the time had few options other than to go to specialized publications such as “Asahi Camera”, or “Camera Mainichi,” or else to galleries attached to Canon, Nikon or other leading manufacturers of photographic equipment. In a bid to overcome this, a number of young photographers decided in the 1970s to open galleries of their own. Starting in Tokyo, this initiative soon took root throughout the country. One venue, the “Image Shop Camp,” has remained legendary ever since owing to the activity of photographers such as Daido Moriyama and Keizo Kitajima.     The first gallery specializing in the sale of photographic prints, “Zeit Foto Salon,” opened in 1978. But this was far from being a sufficient impetus to mobilize the domestic market, and to this day, the number of photographers under contract with galleries that are in a position to commercialize their work is singularly limited: most still exhibit with independent galleries or in spaces rented at their own expense. This remains one of the peculiar features of the Japanese photography scene.   Nevertheless, the “economic bubble” of the 1980s provided a favourable environment for Japanese photography, which underwent a period of deep transformation. In particular, a number of technological innovations (notably the AF lens and compact cameras) meant that photography became popular with the Japanese public as never before. Then in the 1990s, the young generation developed a real passion for photography, and in particular photography of a very personal nature. Around the year 1990 saw the opening of several photography museums throughout the country as well as the establishment of a system aimed at measuring the artistic and historic value of the medium. This is how, in spite of a frail market, Japanese photography has developed a physiognomy of its own, and has become institutionalized, while at the same time imposing itself as a mass phenomenon.   During this period, a number of photographers came to the fore with series that stand at the crossroads between art and photography, resting on very precise concepts. They can be roughly divided into two groups: one uses photography as a preferred means of approaching the world from an intellectual stand-point; the other works with this medium to access the imaginary and transcend time and space.   In the first group is Naoya Hatakeyama, who works using a wide variety of angles to comment on the evolution of the urban landscape; Toshio Shibata reveals the sculptural beauty of dams and other anonymous public works; Ryuji Miyamoto captures the remnants of civilization in decomposing objects and structures and Taiji Matsue uses aerial photography to highlight the topography of specific locations.   In the second group, Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work can be seen as a critical comment on history and temporality while Yuki Onodera, who has published very diverse series of images, can be said to have freed the imagination and rendered it weightless. Identity, the body and sexuality – all fundamental human questions – are among the themes that dominate Japanese photography. This is certainly true of Miyako Ishiuchi, a pioneer among Japan’s female photographers. For the past thirty years, she has consistently worked on the effects of the passage of time on both clothing and human skin. Ryudai Takano delves into ordinary daily existence to bring to light hidden manifestations of sexual ambiguity or eroticism. By superimposing multiple portraits of members of a given group of people, Ken Kitano attempts to identify the parameters of what constitutes individuality, what makes me “me.” Meanwhile, Tomoko Sawada dresses up and transforms herself into a multitude of different personae in order to question the plurality of our identity. Finally, Asako Narahashi immerses herself in the waters of oceans and lakes to blur the image of stability we bestow upon the world, and in so doing, reveals its ephemeral and fragile qualities.     It is difficult to assign a single stylistic label to the work of all these photographers. However,above and beyond their visual and intellectual contributions, most have the capacity to shake and put into question our convictions and prejudices on a wide variety of issues. At a time when the notions of “limits” and “values” are the subject of never-ending debate in our world, it is not surprising that these works command a great deal of interest. This is no doubt what gives particular substance to Japan’s invitation as country of honour at Paris Photo this year.   The “Statement” section for Paris Photo 2008   In 1989, the world celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of photography. It was a time of unequalled prosperity in Japan and it was around this year that a number of cultural institutions opened in the country, dedicated for a certain part to photography: first came the Kawasaki City Museum, then the Yokohama Museum of Art which opened a photography “department”, and finally the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. At the same time, the immense popularity of the compact camera with the general public led to a real “boom” among the country’s youth. Several events aimed at young people were created, in particular two large competitions: “New Cosmos of Photography” and “Hitotsuboten.” Until then, the driving force behind photography had been specialized magazines and corporate galleries,and these new events gave young people the opportunity to show their work. Another factor was the increasing number of galleries dedicated to photography which allowed experimental talent to blossom and free itself from classic constraints and conventions.       It is in this context, and over the past decade that young photographers emerged whose work is presented by not only the galleries in the Statement section, but also by others throughout the fair. Far from being confined to the criteria of what constitutes “great art,” these works explore all the possibilities offered by the photographic medium, which is seen as one among many other vehicles of creative expression.   For example, Mika Ninagawa, whose work is extremely popular among Japanese youth, does not rest on an established sense of aesthetic. The values she draws upon belong to a “sub-culture”, and it is from there that she creates her own very personal world, characterized by a palette of very bright colours. The theatrical quality of her work has been further reinforced in her most recent creations – films that are inspired by the Manga. Midori Komatsubara also finds inspiration in Manga comics, and specifically the sub-genre that deals with love between young boys: she captures the ambiguity inhabiting the bodies of young women as they hover between fascination and fantasy. Addressing the abjection of her own desires, Yumiko Utsu uses carefully arranged objects in kitsch images in which she manages to reveal elements specific to Japanese youth culture - cruelty and infantilism. Meanwhile, Masayuki Shioda moves effortlessly from one activity to another, collaborating with the music industry as well as with youth culture magazines.   By the second half of the 1990s, this young generation had gradually established itself with work that stood at the crossroads between pure photography and other forms of artistic expression. A lot of work appeared in colour at this time and was chiefly concerned with expressing the feeling of instability that came with the bursting of the economic bubble and a prevailing sense that normal daily existence was somehow under threat.   This vision of the world, which looks as though it is seen through spectacles for the short-sighted, is particularly acute in the images of Rinko Kawauchi. Infused with soft subtle light, they seem heartwarming at first glance. But they also exude an underlying sense of threat. She and Mika Ninagawa both strive to capture what is universal in people and things with a very close observation of the finest details of the immediate environment. Meanwhile, Nobuo Asada goes into the ocean to take his photographs with the intention of positioning himself as the live example of the inevitable interaction between the “photographer subject” and the “photographed object.”   Top         While these artists took a very close up view of the world, other works started to appear starting in the year 2000 in which perspectives are “flattened,” and even the notions of “close” and “distant” are put into question because they are given equal importance. This is a reflection of one of the characteristics of our time, dominated as it is by digital technology which processes information with no regard for the hierarchy of the data. For example, Gentaro Ishizuka chose the Alaska pipeline as a theme. It is the second longest pipeline in the world. He does not dwell on the difficulties of such an undertaking or the gigantic size of the project. His images are so neutral, it is almost discouraging. This very contemporary approach is not unlike the work of Wolfgang Tillmans in his “Concorde series,” in which the photographer views all things without a trace of value judgment.   That said, without obviously subscribing to a specific contemporary “trend,” numerous photographers continue to pose a question that remains fundamental to their chosen mode of expression: What is “photographable?” and What isn’t? Keisuke Shirota pastes small photographs onto canvas and using acrylic paint, prolongs the image beyond its original frame, highlighting the interval between the visible and the invisible, the imaginary and the real. Akiko Ikeda uses pictures of people, extracting cut-out fragments. With a humorous twist not unlike back-lighting, she transforms the two dimensional photograph into a three-dimensional object. While these two artists probe the limits of the frame from the outside, others like Takashi Suzuki, Naruki Oshima, Nobuhiro Oshima and Mamoru Tsukada work from within to seek out the tiny chinks in the boundary between the visible and the invisible.   Others address this issue specifically in relation to memory, which the eye cannot see. Working with memories and historical events linked to Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, Nao Tsuda spins a delicate narrative made up of landscapes and stories. Tomoko Yoneda is the artist with the longest career among all those presented in the Statement section. She takes highly detailed photographs of landscapes at the scene of historic events or accidents. In this way she explores the limits of visual representation from both an ethical and aesthetic point of view. In our digital age, the image has become a product of “high speed consumption,” and these photographers are in immediate touch with world events as never before. The seriousness and consistency with which they continue their search and their aesthetic choices are such that the viewer feels the need to mark a pause and the desire to reflect.   Japanese Publishers   It is impossible to over-estimate the role of publishing or the printed page in the evolution of Japanese photography. Even before the start of World War II, there were a large number of publications dedicated to photography in Japan. But it was the post-war period and the huge popularity of locally-made cameras that brought a profusion of specialized magazines, notably “Camera,” “Photo Art” and “Asahi Camera,” amongst others, giving even greater impetus to photographic activity. Most of these magazines not only published feature articles and technical advice to amateurs,they also provided information on Western photography and the work of foreign artists. Very soon, they became springboards for Japanese professionals. In the early days, photographic books were published in collaboration with these specialized magazines.   By the second half of the 1950s, though small in number, books became an independent means of expression. The 1960s and 1970s saw the birth of a series of masterpieces: Eikoh Hosoe’s “Barakei” (Ordeal by Roses) in 1963, Kikuji Kawada’s “Chizu” (The Map) in 1965 or Nobuyoshi Araki’s “Senchimentaru na tabi” (Sentimental Journey) in 1971.   In the 1980s, some of the publications that had played a predominant role in photography circles gradually ran out of steam. The magazine “Camera Mainichi” closed in 1985. Photographers increasingly turned to books as a way of disseminating their work. They were supported by very few editors such as Michitaka Ota of Sokyusha. He oversaw the publication of works by many photographers, some well-established, others yet unknown, including the legendary “Karasu” (Ravens) by Masahisa Fukase in 1986. Towards the end of the 1980s, the photographer Osamu Wataya was hired as artistic director of the fashion label “Hysteric Glamour.” In the first half of the 1990s, he oversaw the publication of the “Hysteric” series which brought Daido Moriyama back to the forefront of the photography scene. To this day, Wataya continues to bring out photography books that stand out for their inventive design.       The five publishers presented in the Central Exhibition at Paris Photo began in the afore-mentioned context. They are today the most active partners for photographers in terms of helping them conceive and publish personal material. Far from being considered as mere copies of this or that piece of work or simply information channels, in their eyes, these books are a crucial vehicle for photography, bearing in mind of course that photography is, originally, a technique of reproduction. There are a large number of remarkable photographers in Japan today but still too few galleries willing to commercialize their work. This is why the activity of these publishers is crucial, not only in terms of supporting their work, but also for Japanese photography as a whole.   Established in 1984, Toseisha is the oldest of the five publishing houses. From the beginning, it has consistently published the work of Japanese photographers, both professional and amateur. Its President, Kunihiro Takahashi,who is also chief editor is so dedicated to his work that he personally follows, as far as humanly possible, every single step of the process, from the survey of the contact sheets to mixing the inks himself for the printing. For example, it took him ten years to perfect the refined and expanded edition of the almost mythical work by Hiromi Tsuchida, “Zokushin, Gods of the Earth”, originally published in 1976.   The catalogues of Little More, a publishing house established in 1989, offer a wide variety of books on all aspects of culture. Following the publication in the mid 1990s of work by Takashi Homma and Yurie Nagashima, this publisher started to bring out more books of work by photographers of the young generation. One of these artists,Kayo Ume was able to publish her book “Umeme” which won the Ihei Kimura Prize in 2006 and became an incredible success with over 100,000 copies sold. In her own style and design, Ume captures moments of what is apparently normal daily life, creating images rather like sidelong glances that are at times witty or slightly perfidious. Given its success, her work in many ways embodies the most “popular” aspect of Japan’s photographic culture. Ume’s case is far from unique. Many photographers have earned respect from amateurs and won public acclaim not through exhibiting original prints but through the publication of books.         The first volume of Masafumi Sanai’s work “Ikite iru” (Alive) had a decisive impact on the course of Japanese photographic expression in the past ten years. It was published in 1997, by Seigensha, which was barely two years old at the time and was concerned with the visual arts as a whole. Hideki Yasuda, the director, experienced a real shock when he saw Sanai’s work and the incredible rigour that belies its apparent roughness. After discovering this artist, he went on to publish other photographers, including Jin Ohashi, in particular “Me no mae no Tsuzuki” a particularly strong piece of work in which the artist shows, in an almost carnal manner, the discontinuity between the traumatic event of his father’s failed suicide attempt and the banality of every day life.   The most powerful publisher in the field of photographic books in Japan today is Akaaka Art Publishing. It was founded in 2006 by Kimi Himeno who came from Seigensha where she worked as editor of photography from the beginning. As a consequence of her meeting both Sanai and Ohashi, Himeno realised the immense power of their work as it explores the depths of life and death. She oversaw the publication of a large number of books on the work of mostly young generation photographers. In 2007, the Ihei Kimura Prize was awarded jointly to Leiko Shiga for “Canary,” and Atsushi Okada for “I am,” both published by Akaaka. This publishing house now commands enormous respect for its influence which is at least equal to, if not greater, than that of the photography galleries.   Along with a small group of specialized critics, until the 1980s, the most important players on the Japanese photography scene were the editors of the photography magazines. In the 1990s, they were overtaken by the museum curators. With the 21st Century came the turn of art directors who are passionate about photography, such as Hideki Nakajima or Jun’ichi Tsunoda.With their capacity to spot new talent and unencumbered by institutional burdens, they have been able to rally round them the young generation of photographers.   One figure stands out among this group of discoverers of new talent: Satoshi Machiguchi who was behind the “Ikite iru” project and has since conceived and designed a whole series of art and photography books. In order to be able to work freely and make some of his dreams come true, he set up a light-weight structure in 2005 called “M Label.” The works he has published under this new label can be seen in all their diversity in “Book shop M.” Every one of these books has been very carefully thought out, down to the minutest detail, and is evidence of the close relationship between individual photographers and his or her artistic director. Machiguchi’s flexibility allows him to conduct his activities without becoming caught up in existing publishing circuits. The dynamism of the five publishers presented here and the books themselves that are the product of their efforts offer an understanding of the substance of contemporary Japanese photography and its ongoing evolution.       The Project Room at Paris Photo 2008   Since the early 1990s a growing number of Japanese photographers have started to make films, a trend that can be partly explained by the fact that traditional distinctions between different modes of artistic expression have become increasingly meaningless. This phenomenon clearly rests to a large extent on the development of digital technology, which has greatly facilitated the manipulation of images. That being said, if we go back to the etymology of the word, a photographer is someone who “writes with light.” It naturally follows that he or she can also create “moving images.”   We have put together the programme of the Project Room in such a way as to offer the spectator an insight into the vision and approach emanating from the photographic work of each of the artists, developed here in greater depth or in a more experimental manner. The oldest piece being shown is “Shinjuku, 1973, 25 pm”, the only film ever made by Daido Moriyama. It was shot a year after the publication of his legendary book “Sashin yo sayonara” (Bye bye Photography, 1972). What is there to say about this work, shot in 8mm and commissioned by the municipality of Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, apart from the total lack of focus and the fact that from beginning to end, it reads like an aimless roaming through the streets at night, like the wandering of a stray dog? There are no points of reference, neither in space nor time, no boundaries between the figurative and the abstract. The film was turned down by the authorities and languished on the shelf for 30 years. Nevertheless, it stands as a reflection of Daido Moriyama’s radical approach: flying in the face of all the rules, he deconstructs existing images, in the same way as he did in his photographic work. Moriyama never shot another film after “Shinjuku, 1973, 25 pm.”   Among the Japanese photographers who have truly embraced film-making,Yasumasa Morimura stands out as a pioneer. His first work in this field was “Cometman” (1991), in which he himself features with a shaven head wandering around haphazardly in the streets of Kyoto and admiring a painting by Marcel Duchamp, to whom he dedicated this video. He pays tribute to another artist, the founder of the Factory, in “Me holding a Gun: for Andy Warhol.” Morimura is known for presenting himself in the guise of chosen figures in great masterpieces of the history of art. He pursues this methodology here, albeit in a more theatrical manner.   Tomoko Sawada takes a similar approach: although she deals with more intimate issues than Morimura, she too transforms herself and is known for her highly colourful renderings of hundreds if not thousands of different characters. In “Mask” she plays on the confusion between the mask and her own face, taking the viewer clearly into the very essence of her body of work.     Another star of the young generation of Japanese photographers that came to the fore at the turn of the 21st Century, Rinko Kawauchi, started out by studying film at university. “Semear” is her first film since she rose to prominence as a photographer. The video was commissioned by the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art and is shot in locations throughout Brazil, but in particular in areas inhabited by communities of Japanese origin. The subtle combination of colour, sound and light confers to this work the fragile quality of a soap bubble containing the whole world.   Meanwhile, in “They’re still stuck on your wall – Gifu version” Akiko Ikeda uses an apparently very simple device – diminutive earthenware aeroplanes stuck on the windows of a train – to create a humorous sensation of a “little journey” and explore the imagination as it occurs in everyday life.   By its very nature, photography as a medium is not limited to being a way of producing prints from negative film on photographic paper. Far from it. It can take a wide variety of forms: it can be printed on a page or projected onto a screen. A number of photographers have capitalized on some of the characteristics of their chosen medium and have produced films that are not “moving images”, but are made up of a combination of still images. Lieko Shiga is one of Japan’s most acclaimed young artists of today. Using notably images she did not include in her book “Canary,” (Winner of the Ihei Kimura Prize in 2007) she has created an extremely powerful slide-show which plays on an intense alternation between dark and light. Meanwhile, Taisuke Koyama uses a digital camera to produce city scenes of tremendous graphic precision. He has put them together in “Boundary X”, a slide-show made up of thousands of images projected at the head-spinning rate of one image per tenth of a second. Above and beyond the visual pleasure they procure, both works have the capacity to provide the spectator with a very intense overall sensory experience.   Other photographers reject the very principle of editing and take the risk of tackling another issue: continuity versus discontinuity of the images. Osamu Kanemura uses a video camera to take snapshots in the chaos of the city or along suburban streets. Rather like a contact sheet, in “Earth Bop Bound,” he strings fragments of them together randomly in an infinite loop. This video is indicative of this artist’s particular approach which looks for the “cracks” by which he can reveal the discrepancies between the world, the image and man.   Finally, in “Tokyo Bay Ban-Ban”, Ryudai Takano who is known to seek out of the erotic that is at work in daily life at its most humdrum, working from fixed angles that appear to have been chosen indiscriminately, shoots a seemingly endless journey through Tokyo’s streets and buildings at night. The spectator eventually realises that the din emanating from the dark recesses is in fact the sound of fireworks going off in the distance. Whether we like it or not, these explosions are reminders of the canons of war that are being fired in some part of the world. In that sense, the work of Kanemura and Takano are silent warnings to us all in our tendency to consider the images simply as a novel, easy spectacle.     Mariko Takeuchi Text and photos courtesy of Paris Photo 2008. Translated from the French by Philippa Neave.   Mariko Takeuchi, photography critic and independent curator: Born in 1972, Tokyo, Mariko Takeuchi has curated exhibitions including “Charles FrZ¹ger: Rikishi” (Art Gallery of Yokohama Museum; A.R.T. Tokyo, 2005). She has written numerous texts for catalogues and photography books including “Ryudai Takano: 1936-1996” (Sokyu-sha, 2006) and “Ryuichiro Suzuki: Odyssey” (Heibonsha, 2007). She is a regular contributor and photography critic for various magazines such as Asahi Camera and Studio Voice. She is also in charge of the Japanese photography section and writing for “The Oxford Companion to the Photograph” (Oxford Univ. Press, 2005). She is a part-time lecturer of Waseda University, and a guest researcher of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. © 2008 Lens Culture and individual contributors. All rights reserved.     Top    
Tuesday, 04 November 2008
Author:David Pogue
  Come on, admit it: is there anything more awesome than miniaturization?   The Walkman put a stereo system in your pocket and changed the game forever. A modern digital watch has the computing power of a roomful of 1950s computer gear. And people are watching TV shows these days on iPods about the size of a business card.   Enormous feats of shrinkage like that don’t come along very often, though. So when they do, you sit up and take notice -- as you will the first time you see the Optoma Pico Projector ($430 USD list price). It’s a long-awaited, much-rumored projector about the size of a cellphone: 2 by 4.1 by 0.7 inches, weighing 4.2 ounces.   A pocket projector? Are you kidding? This isn’t just a new product -- it’s a whole new product category.   Regular projectors, of course, are big, heavy, expensive, sometimes noisy machines. They’re standard equipment in corporate boardrooms where PowerPoint jockeys hold sway, in classrooms or auditoriums, or mounted to the ceiling in home theaters, where they provide extra-large movie-watching goodness.   But there are lots of times when a 100-inch screen is overkill -- and yet a 2-inch iPod screen doesn’t quite cut it. Those are the times when you need something in between. In those situations, a completely silent, ridiculously simple micro-projector like the Pico really shines.         You’d have to be a jaded gizmophile indeed not to be impressed the first time you turn on this tiny, shiny black box. In the center of the short end, there’s a very bright light-emitting-diode lamp. Inside, there’s a miniaturized Texas Instruments digital-light-processing (D.L.P.) chip, similar in principle to the ones that drive some full-size HDTV sets. Together, they produce an astonishingly bright, clear, vivid video or still image. That’s right -- from a projector you’ve pulled from your jeans pocket.   There are no footnotes for that jeans-pocket statement, either (like, “not including enormous power brick”), because the Pico can run on battery power. Each charge lasts for about 90 minutes -- longer if you use the lower brightness setting or when you’re playing video without sound. You can recharge the projector either from its power cord or from a computer’s USB jack. A spare battery comes with the projector, and so does a little drawstring carrying bag.   A pocket-size, self-contained projector changes all the rules. An iPod and a Pico -- that’s the entire setup. Now, for the first time, a tent wall can become a movie screen when you’re out camping. (So much for roughing it.)   Now, let’s be clear: no pocket projector is going to produce as much brightness as tabletop projectors 10 times its size. The Pico manages 9 lumens (that’s how they measure the brightness of things like projectors), compared with, for example, 2,000 lumens for a $900 USD tabletop projector. That may not sound like much, but it’s plenty bright at the Pico’s shorter distances and smaller “screen” sizes.   The minimum distance for this projector is eight inches from your “screen”; the maximum is 8.5 feet away, at which point you get a 65-inch image. And it really, really helps if you dim the lights or use a properly reflective movie screen.   You can sit this little gizmo on your airplane tray table and project onto the seat back in front of you. (Yes, I tried it.) You get a dazzlingly bright, sharp, vivid video image about a foot across, so that you and your immediate seatmates can all watch.   (Or shine the projector onto the plane’s ceiling. The three-foot movie image completely baffles everyone within several rows; nobody can figure out where it’s coming from. I tried that, too. It was fun.)   Or you can park the projector on a little tripod -- it comes with a tiny, screw-in tripod adapter -- and project tonight’s dorm-room Wii marathon onto a bed sheet or someone’s T-shirt.   Or you can lie in bed and point the thing straight up. In a dark room, you’ll have yourself a huge, bright movie playing on the ceiling.   There’s no keystone adjustment to compensate for when the projector is facing the screen at an angle. The 20,000-hour bulb is not replaceable. And the picture resolution is only 480 by 320 pixels -- on paper, much coarser than the 1024-by-768-pixel (or higher).   But you know what? Pixels are overrated. Nobody will complain about the sharpness of the Pico’s image, especially after you find just the right spot on its little Focus dial. Over all, the Pico does surprisingly well.   So what can you watch on this thing?   It comes with a special composite cable. On one end, there’s a special, tiny audio-video pin that goes into the projector. On the other end, you’ll find the familiar three-headed, red-white-yellow RCA cables. These are female jacks, made to mate with the male composite cables that come with just about every DVD player, VCR, game console, digital camera and camcorder ever sold.   So in a pinch, the Pico projector could replace a TV set when you’re using full-size gear like DVD players or game consoles.   But the true mission of the Pico’s miraculous miniaturization is connecting to fellow micro-gadgets: digital cameras, cellphones, iPods or iPhones, for example.   The necessary adapter for the iPod or iPhone comes with the projector. Old video iPods require only the short black cable, which goes into the iPod’s headphone jack but carries both audio and video. You also get a plastic nub that snaps onto the bottom of the iPhone or more recent iPods; the short black cable connects the nub to the projector. (The projector produces an image only when videos are playing. It doesn’t show, for example, the iPhone’s Web browser, e-mail program or other applications -- a shame for instructors or anyone else who might like a way to demonstrate the iPhone’s workings to more than one audience member at a time.)   To connect a digital camera, so you can show off your stills or your videos, or to connect your camcorder, you use the composite TV cable that came with it. Optoma plans to make adapter cables available for other smartphones in the coming months, starting with a Nokia cable for $10 USD.   The Pico projector does so much so well with so little, it might sound ungrateful to bring up its one really embarrassing shortfall. But somebody has to say it: What about the sound?   The Pico has a built-in speaker, yes, but it’s about the size of a hydrogen atom. With the iPod volume cranked to full, the Pico puts out about as much volume as you ordinarily hear leaking from earbuds on somebody sitting next to you.   In other words, the projector is as bad with audio as it is good with video.   If you’re using an iPod, iPhone or cellphone, your last, best hope is the headphone jack. You can listen through earbuds, of course, although that’s not much of a communal experience. (A headphone splitter would at least let you invite a friend.) Or you can connect that headphone jack to a portable speaker -- but now, of course, you’ve got a much more complex rack of gear, and you’re way beyond the realm of jeans pockets.   Even so, the Pico projector is the first of its kind -- other micro-projectors are on the way -- and over all, it’s awesome. When it goes on sale in two weeks, it will give parents a completely portable backseat-of-the-minivan movie theater for the kids. It will let photographers display their portfolios with much greater size and impact than they’d get with a scrapbook -- right from the digital camera, if need be. It will permit spur-of-the-moment demos or pitches for corporate presenters or independent filmmakers, wherever they happen to be, without having to set anything up or reserve a room.   Miniaturization: it’s a blast, man. Gotta love those engineers. Just wait till they get their hands on air-conditioners, TiVos and jet engines.       David Pogue November 2008     
Monday, 03 November 2008
Author:Vice Magazine
            VICE Magazine has collaborated with user generated youth initiative Ctrl.Alt.Shift, to launch a unique photographic project that explores the global issues of Gender, Power and Poverty. The creative collaboration takes the form of an international competition, educating young people around the world on this major global development issue and inviting them to create photography inspired by this theme.   Competition winners will have their work featured in VICE and Ctrl.Alt.Shift magazines, displayed on and exhibited in a London gallery– alongside work from campaign ambassador, legendary New York photo artist Nan Goldin – famous for her photographic collection The Ballad of Sexual Dependency – and a group of all-star project mentors.     
Sunday, 02 November 2008
Author:Pablo Meyer
  PDF download   By Pablo Meyer The whole idea of doing this project started in 1998 when I received a warm letter from cousins Roger and Conny Meyer, inviting all the Meyer clan to get together and celebrate Ilse’s birthday in Israel, and to do a Meyer family tree. This certainly triggered my curiosity, and the more I started to learn about the family, the more involved I became in doing this project; bare in mind that my definition of a Meyer reunion was a casual get  -together with my father   –at one point,  the only Meyer members in  Mexico–. All of a sudden I have  met, –either in person or by mail– most of the family which encompasses dozens of living members.  
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
280. Heresies
Author:Meyer, Pedro
Monday, 13 October 2008 | Read more
281. Heresies
Author:Pedro Meyer
PDF download By Pedro Meyer More than a retrospective, Heresies offers a prospective vision. Its horizons are not in the past, but rather the future. Nor is this a simple exhibition; it is a device: a heterogeneous set of discourses, installations, features, and symbolic procedures that go far beyond the exhibition of a corpus.   Heresies pits us face to face with all that its craftsman has seen throughout his life, reshuffling it, and summoning us to observe it ever again, anew. For this part Pedro Meyer is not just anothes photographer and artist among others; he is an entrepreneur, a polemicist, and an originator whose diverse facets invigorate, even more than they contradict, one another. How might we approach this creator and his oeuvre without overlooking his breadth and complexity?  
Monday, 06 October 2008
Author:Benjamin Mayer-Foulkes
      Now I remember my first photo: a little black lamb that had been born from a white sheep. In 1947, I was walking in the valley in La Marquesa with my first camera, a Brownie. I set about watching a sheep that was in labor; and I could not believe my eyes as I saw how it delivered a little black creature. I got my camera ready and I shot that little black lamb that was stumbling before me.   With Heresies, Pedro Meyer ceases to be a photographer known for merely 400 images. Even though these few hundred photos have provided the solid foundation of his prestige, there has been a significant disparity between his production and his published work. He has even become accustomed not to ask his admirers how many of his images they remember. The entire corpus of his work today comprises over 300,000 photos. The discrepancy between 400 and 300,000 is not only immense, it is enigmatic. Pedro himself is pressed by the question: “So why did I take so many photographs, if I didn't even exhibit them?”   “I am a camera-man,” Pedro concludes. From an early age, photography has been a permanent presence in his life. As he says: “At certain moments of intense personal grief, capturing images was for me the only way to try to comprehend later what was happening.” Photography has been the most important organ in Pedro Meyer’s imaginary body, his very skin: it has given structure to his persona, it has sheltered him, it has made his perceptions possible, it has encouraged his contact with others, and it has sustained his powers of articulation. In turn, this intimate epidermis has been shielded, regenerated, strengthened, extended and enhanced by a most potent prosthesis: digital imaging.   Meyer was the buyer of the first Apple computer sold in Mexico. When he switched it on, his life changed forever; he found the implications of information technology immediately obvious and desirable. We know of the many years Pedro has spent advocating digital photography and pitting himself against others who were against it; yet the virulence of the struggle only becomes clear when we take into account its religious undertow. For the digital mode is much more than a new technology: the transition from analog to digital is correlative to the radical rupture of a certain theistic order. The displacement of hierarchy by network, the substitution of unidirectional transmission with interactivity, and the shift from unity to multiplicity all presuppose leaving behind a certain theo-logic according to which a central force, in itself absolute, gives rise to a series of derivate terms (“copies”, for instance), ever more unfaithful to their source.   In the developmente of his Heresies retrospective, the digital interface allowed Pedro to go beyond the traditional opposition between the private and the public, the feasible and the unfeasible, allowing for the display of that formidable skin fostered by his person for so many decades and mobilized by an inner impulse (whose ultimate capacity is deicide) even more than by a simple desire to “communicate”. Through Heresies the photographic apparatus, continuously present in his earlier family and personal life, mutated into a complex device capable of addressing an indeterminate number of persons with no common spatial or temporal coordinates.   That is why Heresies is no definitive ordering of a rich creative career. Its temporality does not correspond to a history (that would reveal a past truth), but rather to the promise of a realization always yet to come. To observe Meyer’s images is to invoke the retroactivity of a future understanding of which we lack in the present. Thus, Heresies operates with the genre of the retrospective what has already happened in our critical age to the self-portrait and the autobiography, forms which can be seen to destroy precisely what they claim to represent. And just as the subject of the unconscious is really the residue left behind by the the representation and writing of self, so too the substance of Heresies is the remainder of the traditional rhetoric of the retrospective—the prospective of a work and a life always to come...   Of all the tales I’ve heard from Pedro, none seems to condense so plainly and precisely the drive common to his life and work than the recollection of his first photo (the epigraph to the present text), a print that has gone missing and therefore has not been filed in the Heresies data base. This first portrait by Pedro, in whose later work so many portraits and self-portraits can be found, can also be considered as his first self-portrait.   For Pedro says that he has always felt like an outsider. When he attended a Marist Catholic school, he was only one of five Jewish children among seven hundred pupils; required to attend catechism, he took along his own readings: the first book he chose, The Three Musketeers, was prohibited. Later, he was sent to a military academy in the United States, where he refused to march carrying a rifle, for it seemed “utterly stupid” to him; when all of his fellow cadets graduated as officials, he graduated as a private. And when he was thirteen or fourteen years old, Gerhard Herzog, a dear friend of his father’s, gave Pedro a camera with which he produced his first contact strips; later, when at thirty-eight he announced that he had decided to dedicate himself professionally to photography, his father objected and suffered a severe attack of vertigo; he wished for his son to make his living doing something more “serious” that would guarantee a proper standard of living for his family—yet it was precisely Gerhard who persuaded his old friend that prospects were not so gloomy after all…   Yet Pedro does not simply remain at odds: at once he identifies with the black sheep and realizes the photogram... As in each of those hundreds of thousands of later occasions, on this first opportunity his glance behind the lens (situated on the exterior perimeter of the scene of that bucolic maternity) is set at the very location at which his father was always to be found —now an exile, now a traveller. Rhizome of that luminous dermal film that from then on would outfit the persona of Pedro (in the presence and absence of his father, as well as beyond), whose personal and professional breadth would become ever greater, to the point of reaching the remarkable scale of endeavors such as ZoneZero and Heresies, and capable of corroding the very foundations of the photographic status quo of his time.   Diaphanous skin that Pedro will have always insisted on sharing with others through his support of photography, photographers, and photographing, not merely as a technical, artistic, social, economic or political activity, but rather as an existential gamble. Thanks to lens and screen, that old black sheep has transmuted into the wizard of Coyoacán that today presides that open horizon which is     NOTE: The present text condenses some of the ideas contained in my text “Black. Sheep. Wizard.”, the introductory essay of the Heresies volume (Lunwerg, Barcelona, 2008), which forms part of the wider Heresies project.   Benjamin Mayer-Foulkes September, 2008   **     Benjamín Mayer-Foulkes is a psychoanalyst, researcher and cultural promoter. He is the founder of 17, Institute of Critical Studies ( His writings on Psychoanalyisis, Philosophy, History and Art that have been translated from Spanish into English, Italian, French and Portuguese. In the field of photography he is internationally known for his contributions to the debate on blind photographers.     As always please joins us with your comments in our forums.      
Tuesday, 02 September 2008
Author:Alison Watt Jackson
  Date: August 26, 2008 10:09:04 PM   I am sending this email to compliment on your amazing photographic publication and web site. Not only are ZoneZero's gallery photos original, intruiging and first rate, but the bylines and the presentation of your entire web site is next to none. It is a thorough pleasure to visit your site!   I would be honored to have you register me with ZoneZero. Thanks much.   ~Alison Watt Jackson  
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Author:Rogelio Villarreal
    Fifty years ago, when I was born, the world of the late 20th and early 21st centuries was unconceivable, even in the most far-fetched sci-fi movies. It is not the comfy fun world of The Jetsons nor the catastrophe depicted in Planet of the Apes, but a more complex and engaging one, closer to the one foreseen in Blade Runner in 2019 Los Angeles or, unfortunately the one portrayed in a desperate New York City in Soylent Green.           Nowadays, the overwhelming technological and scientific advancements taking place in every aspect of our lives are a commonplace for the younger generations, who for evident reasons have a better access to these advancements. Millions of children and teenagers can’t conceive a world without iPods, cell phones with cameras and GPS, chat rooms, social networks and on line games that grow in sophistication by the day. Certainly, they would not enjoy as much a film that does not feature all those spectacular digital special effects. Needless to say, the transformations of education, art, journalism and research that have been brought on by the worldwide endless virtual hyper-library, would amaze Borges himself, even though he somehow foretold it in his Aleph. Man’s arrival to the moon in 1969 and the recent discovery of the human genome –just to mention a couple of major scientific breakthroughs- would have been impossible to achieve without digital technology.   There was no TV -not even a black and white model- in my parent’s house until the mid-60’s and a telephone (oh wonder of wonders!) until a few years later. The yellowish family pictures were kept in thick black cardboard albums; my first school assignments were typed in a modern Olivetti machine. Time and time again, I had to consult historical dates and names in my dad’s library.   Now that I’ve mentioned my father, he worked as a linotype machine operator, copywriter and editor. So what in the world is a linotype? The linotype is kind of a huge typing machine with a bucket filled with melted lead that was used in the printing process of books, magazines and newspapers. Nowadays it belongs in a museum, such as the one exhibited in Mexico City’s publishing house Fondo de Cultura Economica. In this day and age, printing is made with silent offset machines that are the size of an 18-wheeler, using a computer. A laptop with editing software is all you need to design a publication.   Long gone are the huge worktables, all the cutting and pasting made by hand, and so are the cumbersome photo-editing machines resembling the contraptions created by the mad scientists of the campy Santo movies of yesteryear. Nowadays, we don’t have to take mechanical originals to the printers, we can send the text via e-mail, no matter if the publishing house is in Hong Kong or Shanghai.     Over 20 years ago, Pedro Meyer made a digital portrait of myself. The quality was not the best, since it was a huge image made out of big black dots that only bore any resemblance to my face by being seen from afar.   There is a huge gap between that picture and the ones now made by Pedro with a digital technique that has reached utter perfection. Anyone that has seen a digital image made by Pedro is aware of the conceptual revolution implied in the ability to make seamless digital compositions made of two or more takes that were shot in different places and moments.   Anything that happened before the digital era is ancient history for the children and teens that have grown up and been educated in the digital technology environment. The use of digital technology such as computers and the Internet is a natural thing for them. Links and hypertext reflect the way in which the human brain and non-linear thinking work, simultaneously processing images, concepts and jumping from one subject to the other, going back or forward in time and space, either intentionally or by free association, very much like surfing the web.   Digital technology is also used for espionage, war and destruction. In this sense the world is no better than before. In some countries, the loathing towards democracy has led some governments to ban the use of the Internet to the population, and even watch and harass them using this medium, as the Chinese government did to the blogs of dissident writers Tsering Woeser and Wang Lixiong for speaking in favor of Tibet’s independence. “The couple has been under house arrest since the beginning of the riots last March” -reported mexican writer Eve Gil- and continues:   The censorship in the Internet has spread to SMS messaging with the collaboration (or complicity?) of companies such as Yahoo and Google. China has the best filtering and censorship system in the world, and has used it to incarcerate at least 50 people. (from the article “China Reinvented”, published in Replicante magazine, issue 16.   Another example of a blatant disregard to freedom of speech takes place in Cuba, where a very small part of the population owns a computer and has Internet access. A report of the organization Journalists without Borders states that:   Although it is true that there are problems to go on line in Cuba, it is hard to believe that has had to deal with technical difficulties for ten years. These kinds of restrictions go against the recent government measures to facilitate the access of Cubans to mass media, including the Internet. One cannot exist without the other. The signs of openness given by Raul Castro’s government should include more respect for freedom of speech. Since March 20th 2008, the website cannot be accessed from public places such as cyber-cafes or hotels. The very few private connections used for professional reasons or clandestinely, take at least 20 minutes to load the home page. Making comments is practically impossible.1   The internet is fiercely controlled by the state, there is a single network that can be accessed to send e-mails abroad, but it does not allow to surf the web, according to the report of Journalists without Borders: “Access to the internet is three times more expensive and it allows to visit foreign news websites, such as the BBC, Le Monde or the Nuevo Herald (a Miami-based newspaper written in Spanish), but if an address such as “” is typed, one is redirected to the web page of Cuba’s official newspaper Granma or the Prensa Latina news agency.”   Not surprisingly, Cuba is on the list of “Enemies of the Internet” published by Journalists without Borders, on March 12, 2008. One of Cuba’s –and now of the world- most popular websites, which has received the 2008 Ortega y Gasset Award of Digital journalism is Generacion Y. Written by young author Yoani Sanchez, it comments on the everyday life of Castro’s island, featuring sad pictures of run down buildings, policemen arresting homosexuals, broken down electricity meters and the temporary joys of the carnival. Ironically, Yoani does not have a computer in her own home.     Digital technology and its advantages are not for everyone, in spite of its rapid growth. In this sense, it is deplorable that millions of Chinese and Cubans do not have unrestricted access to the most important information, education and entertainment network in human history, but also that millions of people in Africa and Latin America that live in democratic countries –or on their way to democracy-, do not have access either, due to poverty, unemployment and the lack of policies of education and scientific and technological development. Digital technology can make a positive change in the world, but it can only flourish in an environment of freedom, respect and prosperity. We have been through enough wars. If the media are extensions of man -as McLuhan put it-, the new technologies should be at the service of the growth and peaceful development of every man and woman in the planet. __ 1. (back)   Rogelio Villarreal August, 2008 **       Rogelio Villarreal is the author of El dilema de Bukowski (Bukowski's Dilemma, Ediciones Sin Nombre, 2004) and El periodismo cultural en los tiempos de la globalifobia (Cultural journalism in the times of Global phobia, Conaculta-Ediciones Sin Nombre, 2006). He is editor-in-chief of Replicante magazine.       As always please joins us with your comments in our forums.       
Saturday, 02 August 2008
Author:Fernando Castro
                                      Recently I read an extremely negative critique of the exhibit "John Alexander: A Retrospective" at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The vitriolic tone of the review reminded me why I do not write negative critiques. The reviewer takes aim not only at the work but also at the artist himself: “Alexander's strategy of massing expressive strokes works well to obscure artistic shortcomings” and "Wow, this guy really is a crappy painter."1 Only once in my life I fell into the trap of writing negative criticism. Not only did I find it to be an extremely difficult task to show why a well-executed photograph was shallow, but ultimately I also felt it had been a fruitless endeavor.   I suppose that theater, cinema or culinary critics who point out the failings of actors who cannot perform their roles, storylines that convince nobody, or overcooked seafood render a valuable public service by ranking plays, movies and restaurants with zero to five stars. After all, people do not wish to waste their hard-earned money watching a poor production or eating unappetizing paella. But in photography, painting and other such visual arts viewers seldom pay anything and they can walk out of a gallery whenever they want. While it is true that in many museums people do have to pay, once a piece of art gets there it has gone through enough filters to make the choice a matter of taste. In short, I do not see art criticism as a ranking service that would induce this art critic to write negative critiques. For me art criticism is not about praise or condemnation, but rather about interpretation.   The “it’s not a ranking service” argument is only one reason why I do not write negative criticism. Here are a few others. First, I am wrong more often than I care to be. Thus I could cause serious damage were I to trash work like that of Vincent Van Gogh, for example. Many important artists had and have detractors: Murillo, Gauguin, Vasarely, Dali, Frida Kahlo, Chagall, Paul Jenkins, Andrew Wyeth, etc. Those of us who have the power to publish must exercise it with prudence, modesty and discretion. If an art work seems to me “undeserving,” I would rather allow somebody more intelligent than I to convince me that it is not; or, if I never become persuaded of its merits, simply let it pass in polite silence. In fact, silence is often the most devastating negative comment –it is not even googleable!   Secondly, although a certain amount of iconoclasm is required of a philosopher, it seems a waste of energy and time to direct it at art works and artists –unless there are issues at stake that go beyond art. In general corrosive enthusiasm is better aimed at more pressing political, economic, social, environmental and moral issues. Artists ought to take risks without being afraid to make mistakes and a critic ought not only to leave room for that freedom, but help generate it as well. Admittedly, it is very tempting to break our respectful silence when mediocre works and artists are widely celebrated. However, such a situation is more a test for a critic than for art institutions. After all, who is going to be fooled? Live and let live, I say. If someone manages to make a good living selling questionable art, kudos to him or her. In the long run, it is a good outcome for a variety of reasons: its multiplying effect on the economy, money is better spent on bad art than polluting cars, the wealthy who are happier in spite of their expensive bad taste may be inspired to contribute generously to art projects, etc.     Thirdly, from studying the indigenista art movement, I came to the conclusion that some “mediocre” paintings are really important and worth reflecting about. It is a mistake to think that the values of art are completely separate from those of society at large. Indeed, although they are not exactly the same, there are noteworthy overlaps. Indigenista painters addressed subjects that for a variety of racist and ideological reasons were thought by many not even worthy of depiction: namely, indigenous peoples and cultures. In fact, in the heyday of indigenista painting, an unsympathetic critic dismissed their work as “pintura de lo feo” (painting of the ugly) –a charge that aimed more at the subject matter than the art or artist, and which now, embarrassingly enough, is more revealing of his own biases.   The negative critique of John Alexander also reminded me of one of the first lessons I learned in logic and philosophy: steer clear of ad hominem comments and always address the theses (art works), never the person who claims them (the artist). Moreover, even when sticking to the works, I like to curb my enthusiasm and stay away from adjectives of praise. The job description of a visual arts critic should not be to eulogize, but to inform, connect, contextualize, explain, clarify and provide plausible interpretations of the works. Lastly, there is an important distinction to be made between difficult subject matter and obscure language. Writers and readers alike ought to accept the challenge of complex issues but they need not be alienated by unnecessary theory and obscure language. Art, like jazz, is for everyone even though only a few decide to develop a taste for it.   Once a French professor asked me what method of criticism I practiced in my critical writing. For a microsecond I felt that maybe I had been playing tennis without a racket, but a nanosecond later I remembered I was a philosopher. In order to interpret artworks I employ every rational means Sherlock Holmes uses in solving a crime, from careful inductive thinking and calculated conjecture to deductive logic and probability. One has to ask: who is the victim, what is the evidence, where was the crime perpetrated, what are the possible motivations of the perpetrators, who are the possible culprits, what does the crime amount to, who benefits from it, is society partly to blame, etc. Although I am a bit uncomfortable about following methods, I called this way of thinking about art “ideological psychoanalysis” because it aims to understand the ideas behind a work and the mind that produced it. So it is ideological without being Marxist and psychoanalytical without being Freudian. The more mysterious and heinous a crime is, the greater the demand on our thinking. However, if the crime is petty thievery, one does not need Sherlock Holmes to get involved.   __ 1. For the aforementioned negative critique go to: (back)   Fernando Castro R. June, 2008 **     Fernando Castro R. studied philosophy at Rice University as a Fulbright scholar (1979-1985). His book Five Rolls of Plus-X (1982) alternated poetry and photography. His career as a critic began in 1988 writing for El Comercio (Lima). Since then he has contributed to Lima Times, Photometro (San Francisco), Art-Nexus (Colombia), Cámara Extra (Caracas), (México), Artlies, Visible, Literal, Spot (Houston), Arte Al Dia (Miami), Aperture (New York), etc. His curatorial work includes “Modernity in the Southern Andes: Peruvian Photography 1900-1930”; “The Art of Risk / The Risk of Art” (1999), “Stone” (2004), “The Art of War” (2006), and “With Other Eyes” (2007). His photographic work took a political turn in 1997 under the title “Reasons of State”. His most recent solo exhibit “The Ideology of Color” (2004) at the Centro Cultural Borges in Buenos Aires is now an on-line exhibition at the Lehigh University website. His works are in the permanent collections of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, The Dancing Bear Collection (New York), Lehigh University (Pennsylvania), Museo de Arte de Lima, Harry Ransom Research Center (Austin), etc. He currently lives and works in Houston.     As always please joins us with your comments in our forums.      
Monday, 02 June 2008
Author:Irene Méndez and Mariana Espinoza
  We are glad to review this book, which, in a practical and simple way, presents how to use images and their power of visual communication in both your company and everyday life. Going Visual is a timely publication in which you can find information about technology, photography and communication regarding the needs of either a small, medium or large company to increase productivity and benefits, and the speeding up of decision making.   The main idea -quoting Philippe Kahn and revisited by the authors- is that an image has the value of ten thousand words, and if you add sound to it, it is worth a million words. Digital Photography has accelerated the process of creation of an image, the time of the creative process is a lot shorter and the amount of knowledge necessary to create an image has been reduced. Digital Cameras, cam-phones and the Internet can deliver an image anywhere in the world to a very broad audience.   Going Visual extensively explains which are the requirements for the introduction of any person or company to the world of digital photography and its practical application; it also provides us with a five-step strategy to plan and implement the new digital technology.   This is a very good book indeed. Several excercises are suggested, such as going shopping and taking pictures of the desired items, like clothing or furniture, and showing them to your famliy, partner or friends so you can speed up a decision to buy or not.   It also lays down several examples. Sally Carrcino, an independent salesperson of home appliances and gardening items, shares her experiences. She has put together on-line catalogs of her products, such as lamps, plants etc, so people can see them through the internet and order them if the want to do so. Another example is a real estate company that has reduced the space taken up by the hard copy inventories and achieving a better description of the houses through photos. They can be seen though the Web before actually visiting them, saving time for both the company and the clients. Photography has also reduced the time spent to solve maintenance problems of machines or factories, because several experts can be consulted without the need of their physical presence, the pictures enable them to analyse defects that could cause problems in the future.   It is quite important to create files to classify images. Going Visual proposes several ways to do so, such as catalogs, inventories, by themes, etc. eanbling us to share the information with the people that are required.   The last part of the book deals with new technologic approaches, such as long distance meetings. In a circumstance in which people are located in faraway places, such as a university, a corporation or a special family situation, people can meet up in a virtual space by using a computer screen reducing that feeling of distance. People from different parts of the world can make decisions regardless of time zone or location since they no longer need to be at the same physical space.   Alexis Gerard, founderof Future Image, a research company of convergence of images, technology information and business and Bob Goldstein, founder of ZZYZX Visual Syatems,which handles great volumes of visual technology for corporations, and President of the Altamira Group, which produces digital imaging software and is also a visual communications advisor for corporations, present us with all of their experinces regarding all the latest in visual communication.   Since visual communication has rapidly become an essential part of business, we can assure that Going Visual is a great help to solve organization and communication problems of companies, or anyone wanting to be updated in the uses and operation of the new visual technology.      
Monday, 02 June 2008
Author:Hans Durrer
  There is no reason to assume that a Thai, when looking at a photograph of the Eiffel Tower, should see a different Eiffel Tower than, say, a Swiss does. What Thai eyes and Swiss eyes register is the same, how they interpret it might however be another story.   Our interpretations of pictures depend not least on our cultural upbringing. The famous picture of the lonely man facing the tanks on Tiananmen Square in 1989, for instance, has been read, by the Western media, as a symbol of exceptional bravery in the face of a massive threat, whereas the official Chinese reading saw it as an expression of extraordinary restraint by the tank commander.       “East and West part ways in test of facial expressions” the International Herald Tribune (IHT) recently titled and asked: “How do you know how someone is feeling? For people in Western societies, it is usually easy: look at the person's face. But for people from Japan and other Eastern societies, a new study finds, it may be more complex - having to do not only with evaluating the other person's face but also with gauging the mood of others who might be around.”   The study had shown two groups – one Western, one Japanese – of about three dozen students a series of drawings of five children. The expressions of the children in an image often varied but sometimes were the same. The students were asked to rate the face of the child at the center of the picture on a 10-point scale for happiness, sadness, and anger.   The assessments of the Japanese students were heavily influenced by the mood displayed by the other faces on the picture: when all faces looked happy, they gave the figure in the center a higher score than when the faces in the background looked sad. The Western students however remained largely unaffected by what was going on in the background.   The IHT concluded: “The differences may speak to deeply ingrained cultural traits, the authors write, suggesting that Westerners may "see emotions as individual feelings, while Japanese see them as inseparable from the feelings of the group."   ***   It goes without saying that when arguing about values, one easily falls into the trap of stereotyping – Westerners and Asians, us and them, that is. This seems to be almost unavoidable although, in theory, we might know better – the rich in London have, arguably, more in common with the rich in Singapore (preserving their wealth, to start with) than with the poor in their own country, a fact that such ideological debates often ignore. Nevertheless, we do not seem able to do without clichés which – it should be stressed – often serve (if not taken deadly serious, of course) as helpful signposts for mutual understanding.   While suspecting that public disagreements on values are more likely caused by politics – in other words, the power interests of the arguing parties – than by fundamental differences in values (after all: the universal declaration of human rights was signed by the UN-member states from East and West; family life is collapsing in East and West, drug abuse is a worldwide phenomenon etc.), one nevertheless needs to ask whether there isn’t some truth to Kipling’s famous “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. The quotation seems “gently dated”, as Janwillem van de Wetering, in “Afterzen: Experiences of a Zen Student Out on His Ear”, puts it, for East keeps meeting West and the dalliance, however hostile at times, gave rise to the birth of the Toyota, Japanese jazz, a movie harmonizing the talents of Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune, much better TV sets. My neighbor in Maine thanks Honda’s competition for the fact that his five-year-old Ford product does not rattle. (“They used to, you know, them Fords, but no more, no more. Thanks to them Japs. I fought them in the Pacific. Clever fellers, don’t you think?”).   Moreover, after the Swiss philosopher Elmar Holenstein addressed an international audience of fellow philosophers by reading from an unnamed classical text that was said to point out the characteristics of Asian thinking and acting, he asked who the audience thought the author was? Confucius argued some, Taoism said others, Shintoism postulated yet another group. Well, it was a text from the Swiss author Peter Bichsel who had put to paper what he considered peculiarities of the Swiss national character. Nevertheless, cultural differences do of course exist and they appear to have a tendency to pop up when we least expect them, as Mont Redmond in “Wondering into Thai culture, or, Thai whys, and otherwise” explains:   On the surface of things, Thai life is like life everywhere in the world these days … If your stay lasts years, however, and if you are more than ordinarily perceptive you will discern an even deeper level in the lives of Thais. Those niggling discrepancies of behavior and attitude, cultural relics which hitherto hardly caused a ripple in your picture of universal human nature, are beginning to form a pattern … One thing that is continually underestimated and so is forever springing out at us when we least expect it, is the high-low factor. Intellectually, we know that Thais read the world around them in these terms, but emotionally, pre-intellectually, we forget, and hence are never really ready or aware. We force ourselves to play their game, politely humble to those “above” us, politely patronizing to those “below”, and then suddenly discover that Thais are in mortal earnest about the whole charade. It is a shock to which we will never be entirely immune.   The question however is – and this is what we should ponder when again another study claims that people in the West and in the East (or in the North and the South, for that matter) see the world differently – whether we are condemned to see the world in a culturally conditioned way. In other words, will I, because of the fact that I was culturally conditioned in Switzerland, always see the world through my Swiss value system? In part, sure, but a value system is not fixed, it is in a constant state of flux.   Moreover, we also have the ability to choose and can thus become willing to see the same picture that somebody from another culture sees. When we understand, and are aware of, our cultural conditioning – that Westerners focus on the individual, Easterners on the group, for instance – we can decide what we will focus on. So why not, from time to time, look at the world through the eyes of a culture of our choosing? "Looking at Pictures in East and West" appeared in the Straits Times, Singapore (24 June 2008)   Hans Durrer    
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
Author:Fernando Castro
    The first time I saw Geraldo de Barros’s Menina do Sapato was in the catalog of the exhibition of the first Latin American Colloquium of Photography: Hecho en Latinoamérica (Mexico, 1978). Had I been Brazilian perhaps I would have recognized the author’s name as that of a renowned artist. But alas, I was a naïve young man and I innocently assumed that the author was another enthusiastic youngster experimenting with the medium. In said catalog there is no date for the work, so I got the impression that it was a recent work. At the time I did not really think about art, I just liked it or disliked it, and occasionally was able to voice a few opinions about it. What I liked about Menina do Sapato was the cleverness with which the opening of the shoe had been made to double as a gaping mouth on the cartoon-like face of a little girl vaguely resembling Mafalda, Periquita, or La Pequeña Lulú.   Although de Barros could have staged the old shoe for building the image, more than likely it was an object he found half-buried in the sand. The shoe part of the image agreed with the way I had learned to engage the medium of photography; namely by looking, finding and capturing. So it was easy to imagine myself finding the old shoe and photographing it. However, de Barros’s work was teaching me then that I could also draw on my found images by scratching the negative and painting over it. However, ten years went by before I dared to permanently alter my negatives the way he had because in my mind that alteration was tantamount to damaging something almost as precious as reality itself. Instead, I modestly began experimenting by cutting my prints to make photo-collages. I never exhibited these collages but a few friends who liked them ended up owning them.   I also saw a social commentary and political dimension in Menina do Sapato that–not knowing the artist– I understood could have been just my own interpretation. There is something very destitute about a single old discarded shoe acting as the girl’s open mouth. It is as if the abandonment and poverty of the shoe nuanced the drawing of the girl so that she was no longer the middle-class Mafalda, Periquita, or Lulú. Her disheveled hair, roughly drawn on the negative with a sharp tool, made her look like one of those indigenous homeless girls that roam the streets of Lima, Mexico City or São Paulo, clinging to their mother’s skirts and extending their small hands to the passersby pleading, “Señor, una ayuda por favor.” That open mouth that in Edvard Munch’s Scream (1893) expressed a sort of existential howl of despair, in Geraldo de Barros’s Menina was something as basic and passive as hunger, or as critical and active as asking, “why?” The hollow of that shoe is so very dark, deep and loud.   In 1992 I started writing the essay Crossover Dreams for the book Image and Memory: Photography from Latin American 1866-1994 (University of Texas Press: Austin, 1998). It was then that I perused the Hecho en Latinoamérica catalog once again and took a second look at Menina do Sapato. I wanted the image to accompany my text, but how would I find it? Fortunately, somebody had the great idea to include in the back of said catalog a list of the participants and their address. Still thinking that Geraldo de Barros was a young man I wrote to him speculating that perhaps by then he had become a lawyer, a taxi driver, or both, and might not even be doing photography anymore. To my surprise, a month later I got a letter from his daughter Fabiana de Barros in which she thanked me for the interest in her father’s work and cordially agreed to send me the picture for use in my essay. It was only when I received the print that I found out that Menina do Sapato was made in 1949! Who was Geraldo de Barros? At the time, it was not possible to quickly google and find out who’s who, so answering the question became a very slow process.   Although I did not know it then, the reason Geraldo had not answered my letter himself is that by that time, he had suffered a couple of traumatic strokes that impaired his speech and motor skills. My letter had arrived at a turning point in the dissemination of his work. Fabiana, who is also an artist in her own right, had taken it upon herself to have her father’s oeuvre receive the recognition it deserved. She was instrumental in arranging Geraldo de Barros, Peintre et Photographe, a major retrospective at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1993. In 1994, she helped organize another exhibit at the Museum da Imagem e do Som de São Paulo: Geraldo de Barros, Fotógrafo. It was thanks to this last exhibit that I came upon the only book about him: Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros (Raízes: São Paulo, 1994). Both shows were based on the seminal 1950 Fotoformas exhibit at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo her father himself had put together when he was only twenty-seven years old.       The book that bore the same name as the exhibit, Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros, contained some installation photographs of the 1950 exhibit and among the works that appeared in them was Menina do Sapato. He showed it almost as a sculptural object: the print cut along the edge of the image and mounted on a solid support to stand by itself. The presentation vaguely resembled the foto-esculturas that I understand can still be made to order somewhere in Mexico City. In addition, the book revealed a plethora of other kinds of photographic techniques with which de Barros had experimented: multiple-exposures, cut-negatives, pinhole photography, etc. Some works were labeled “superposição da imagens no fotograma” –a phrase in which the term fotograma turned out to be a false cognate for “photogram.” Geraldo himself never used this terminology to describe these works. Although in the French translation the aforementioned book used a better phrase --“superposition a la prise de vue”-- my confusion had begun.   The confusion originated in the fact that a Portuguese dictionary defines “fotograma” as “Cada uma das imagens registradas en filme fotográfico ou cinematográfico.” Needless to say, the English meaning of the word is much narrower: namely, “a photographic image produced without a camera, usually by placing an object on or near a piece of film or light-sensitive paper and exposing it to light.” (From built-in dictionary in my Microsoft Office software). To add to the confusion was the fact that many fotogramas were very abstract and geometric and really looked like photograms. I believe I was not the only writer who took some of Geraldo’s works to be photograms, but I did not pay too much attention to the issue because the ones that most captivated me were the ones described as “desenho sobre negativo com ponta-seca e nanquim.” These last works resembled Menina do Sapato in that Geraldo made them by scratching and painting the negatives: Homenagem a Picasso (1949), Homenagem a Stravinsky (1949), O anjo (1948), and Cemitério do Tatuapé (1949).               Five years went by from the time I finished writing Crossover Dreams to the time Image and Memory was finally published in the fall of 1998. In the interim I had begun curating photographic exhibitions for Sicardi-Sanders, a small Houston gallery that specialized in Latin American art. In 1997, when the gallery started making plans for FotoFest 1998, I suggested to Maria Ines Sicardi to show the work of Geraldo de Barros. Once again, I got in touch with Fabiana de Barros who was delighted at the attention her father’s work was finally getting. In fact, she told me her father had started doing photography again in spite of his precarious health. It was only then that I found out Geraldo had suffered several strokes that had diminished his motor skills and speech. In spite of his physical impairments, with the help of an assistant he worked on a new series of photographic works titled Sobras --because they were made from the negatives that were leftover in his family and travel albums. However, the 1998 exhibit at Sicardi-Sanders titled Geraldo de Barros: Traces on the Glass, mostly included the work from his 1950 Fotoformas exhibit at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo.   One of the many illustrious guests that Fotofest brought to Sicardi-Sanders Gallery that year was A.D. Coleman, a critic who is not easily enthused. After seeing the de Barros exhibit he told me that it was the best show he had seen at Fotofest that year. Unable to travel on account of his poor health, de Barros did not see his first solo exhibit in the United States. Shortly after the exhibit at Sicardi-Sanders in 1998, Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998) passed away.   Although I never met Geraldo de Barros, his death caused me great sadness and left me with unanswered questions. Why had he stopped practicing photography for forty-four years? If we go back a few decades we may find an answer. After the 1950 Fotoformas exhibit and as a result of it, de Barros spent a year in Europe that changed his artistic vision. He met Concrete artists Max Bill and Otl Aicher and the meeting reaffirmed convictions he had already been entertaining in São Paulo. On his return to Brazil in 1952 he joined other artists as a signatory of the Ruptura Manifesto of Concrete Art. A section of this document states the program of what Concrete artists were to avoid and what they were to practice:   THE OLD IS all varieties and hybrids of naturalism; the mere denial of naturalism, that is, the "wrong" naturalism of children, the insane, the "primitive," the expressionists, the surrealists etc. . . ; the hedonistic non-figurativism spawned by gratuitous taste, that seeks the mere excitement of pleasure or displeasure THE NEW IS all expressions based on the new art principles; all experiences that tend to renovation of the quintessential values of visual art (space-time, movement and material); the art intuition endowed with clear and intelligent principles as well as with great possibilities of practical development; to bestow on art a definite place within the scope of contemporary spiritual work, while considering art as a means of knowledge deducible from concepts, situating it above opinion and demanding, for its review, a previous knowledge.   Photography is implicit in the manifesto as the kind of visual realistic representation that was developed since the Renaissance and described as “naturalism” (Elsewhere, Joel Snyder has described the evolution of the “photographic look” along the paradigm of visual perspective developed in the Renaissance). Another section of the Ruptura Manifesto reads, “because the scientific naturalism of the renaissance– the old process of rendering the (three-dimensional) external world on a (two-dimensional) plane-has exhausted its historical task.” To put it mildly, Concrete artists were to avoid all kinds of mimetic art. Instead, they were to produce art that referred only to itself. As a result of its chemistry and optics photography not only points beyond itself (it is indexical), it is mimetic as well.   Of the works de Barros produced for his 1950 exhibit only his most abstract works seemed to be congruent with the premises of Concretismo. Some of these works were precisely the ones described in the Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros 1994 book as “superposição da imagens no fotograma.” Judging by the abundant comparisons of Geraldo’s work to that of Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in the literature, the mismatch of meanings had led not only myself, but also a few others, to believe that Geraldo de Barros had produced photograms. But the error also makes one draw the wrong conclusions about the connection of these works to Concretismo.   Although a photogram is still indexical, the optical portion of the photographic process that gives the medium its mimetic power is absent in it. Indeed, a photogram is a mere silhouette –closer to a shadow than to a mimetic depiction. Two very different objects (say, a coin and a tennis ball) can project the same shadow –a fact well-know by those who amuse us by making figures with the shadows of their hands. For that reason, if the silhouette is a rectangular geometric form, the photogram tends to refer to the shape that gave rise to it rather than to the rectangular object that produced it (since many objects could have produced the same form). So photograms are ideally suited to have that disconnection with visual reality that Concrete artists found so appealing because they wished their art to express only the “quintessential values of visual art (space-time, movement and material).” The problem is that Geraldo did not produce photograms. Whatever he did in photography during the 1946-1950 may have been influenced by Concrete art, but did not follow its dictates.   De Barros did profess the Concrete ideology in the decade of the fifties and practiced its social convictions of making art accessible to most. In fact, he established Unilabor, a cooperative factory that produced inexpensive furniture with Bauhaus type designs. However, like many other Brazilian artists who bought into Concretismo de Barros evolved out of it. His own evolution went through Pop Art. After his strokes, however, he was once again sketching abstract works that his assistant would execute to his specifications.   A month ago in what is now simply Sicardi Gallery I had the opportunity to curate a second exhibit of Geraldo de Barros’s work ten years after the first one. Since 1998, at least three books, several catalogs, and one biographical documentary have contributed information and reflections about his life and work. I reviewed the numerous essays and documents now available, and looked at the images once again paying more attention to the technical details. In my curatorial essay I decided to follow the logic imposed by a taxonomical account of the different techniques de Barros used to produce his photographic work. When I came upon those described as “superposição da imagens no fotograma,” I was bewildered by the fact that in the gallery documents there were editions of those works. How could that be if photograms are unique? There are indeed artists who produce editions of photograms with works that are sufficiently similar albeit not identical. In Geraldo’s case, the prints in each edition are identical (as much as prints from the same negative can be). I sought clarification from Fabiana de Barros and after a few emails this much was clear: there are negatives of many images that were formerly labeled “superposição da imagens no fotograma.” Upon closer inspection, it became clear that many of those are really multiple-exposures and not photograms. One can recognize the objects from which de Barros so cleverly abstracted geometric shapes. Yet there are a few that really look like photograms although Fabiana says there are negatives of them. I asked her if perhaps her father made photograms that he later photographed to get a negative, but she firmly states her father never did this sort of thing. This much has become clear: it was misleading to label these works “fotogramas” (in spite of the fact that it was correct in Portuguese to do so) as was done in that very first book that came upon my hands: Fotoformas, Geraldo de Barros (Raízes: São Paulo, 1994).   The face of Menina do Sapato now comes to have a different expression: one of mischief. Her open mouth can also be one of surprise. After wearing our shoes down by walking along many paths we come to a surprising point of our lives. If what I believed to be photograms are actually double exposures, in spite of their abstract geometric look, they have a semantic component based on mimesis of something other that itself that lies on the other side of the camera lens. In that sense they only differ from the shoe of Menina do Sapato in that the shapes in one may be more or less geometric than in the other. Even in photograms the indexical nature of the medium are an inconvenience to the Concrete program –after all, shadows are of something. Was this inconvenience the reason de Barros gave up photography as a venue to produce art for forty-four years? The routes art and photography have traveled since the 1952 Ruptura Manifesto are proof enough that “naturalistic” art forms have not “exhausted their historical task.” As to how Geraldo de Barros made by means of double exposures some of the works that most resemble photograms, I mischievously pose that as a question to the readers of this essay.   Fernando Castro R.    
Sunday, 25 May 2008
Author:Charlie Sorrel
  There’s some confusion as to what the RAW photo format actually is, and, like any good photographic fact, it can incite forum flame wars as quickly as the mention of the words Leica and Bokeh [Bokeh (from the Japanese boke , "blur") is a photographic term referring to the appearance of out-of-focus areas in an image produced by a camera lens. Different lens bokeh produces different aesthetic qualities in out-of-focus backgrounds, which are often used to reduce distractions and emphasize the primary subject], in the same sentence. Although it comes in various flavors -- seemingly one for every different camera model -- RAW is essentially the raw data from the camera’s sensor, hence the name.   If your camera has a RAW setting, you should be using it, no excuses. Here’s why.     Dynamic Range   Dynamic range is the difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a scene. Unless the lighting is very flat (lacking in contrast), your camera’s sensor will only capture a subset of that range. A RAW file, which contains all the data from the sensor, will give a dynamic range of around eight stops. A JPEG will give you a couple of stops less, which usually translates to blown out, or over-exposed highlights and loss of details in the shadows. So, while you still need to be careful with exposure, RAW will record the maximum information available to you.   Also, the histograms displayed on most cameras are based on a JPEG preview (even when you are shooting RAW). So a histogram that shows your picture as overexposed (the graph is pushed up against the right-hand side) might still have some detail left. No In-Camera Processing   One drawback of RAW is that you can get flat-looking previews on both the camera’s LCD screen and when you load up your images into editing software. This is because, unlike JPEGs, the camera is doing no processing to the file; no sharpening, no fancy tricks to boost the colors, no nothing. All of the important decisions are left to you to apply later, on a big screen with a much more powerful computer than the one in the camera.   To get the maximum data from a scene, common advice says that you should expose for the highlights, just like with slide film back in the day. Once the highlights have blown, there’s no getting them back. With the shadows, however, you can often pull details out of the murk. The flat looking preview will show you just what you captured. It might not be pretty now, but you are shooting to record the maximum information.   Adjust later   Next to capturing the maximum info from the sensor, the best thing about RAW is the post processing that can be done. Because the camera doesn’t bake any of its settings into the image, you have a clean slate on which to work. Using non-destructive editing software like Apple’s Aperture or Adobe’s Lightroom, you can make endless adjustments to the exposure, white balance, contrast and just about anything else you could do in a real darkroom and change your mind later.   These programs never touch the original RAW file; they keep a small text file (just a few kilobytes in size) which contains the adjustments you have made. Each time you look at the photo, these settings are re-applied in real time (although usually there is a preview to keep things quick). Even cropping, dust spotting and sharpening can be undone, years later, with the original file unaffected.   The (Few) Disadvantages   As you’d expect, there are some disadvantages. RAW capture is slower. Hold down the shutter release of a DSLR and it will happily shoot jpegs until the memory card is full, barely slowing down. Try that with RAW and even pricey cameras will slow to a crawl. Also, RAW files are bigger. That, though, is a poor excuse. Hard drives are cheap, and getting bigger all the time. Of course, some cameras don’t let you shoot RAW files. The manufacturers want you to buy a more expensive camera. If you own a Canon, though, you might be in luck. The CHDK (Canon Hacker's Development Kit) will let you install hacked firmware onto some models, adding RAW capture amongst other goodies.   So if your camera has a RAW setting, go switch it on now. The advantages far outweigh the small drawbacks, and it is the only way to be sure you are getting all you can from your camera. A RAW file isn’t called a digital negative for nothing.     by Charlie Sorrel ©Wired May, 2008  
Saturday, 24 May 2008
Author:Matt Schudel
  Photographer who founded a group to preserve brother's legacy, dies at 90   Cornell Capa, a globetrotting photojournalist who founded the International Center of Photography in New York and dedicated himself to preserving the legacy of his older brother, war photographer Robert Capa, died of Parkinson's disease May 23, at his home in New York. He was 90.     Early in his career, Capa stepped away from the battlefield focus of his brother, whose photographs of the Spanish Civil War and World War II are some of the most stark and memorable images of warfare. Saying that "two war photographers in the family was too much," the younger brother concentrated on "opening the door to worlds that people would not have seen otherwise," with a portfolio that ranged from scenes of political oppression to candid shots of Marilyn Monroe.   He coined the term "concerned photography" to describe an emotional engagement with his subjects that often blurred the border of journalistic objectivity. Working as a staff and contract photographer for Life magazine for more than 20 years, Capa infused his pictures with a quiet, revealing drama that made him almost as renowned as his dashing brother. One of Capa's stylistic traits was to show telling details by narrowing his camera's view. In photographing the 1949 funeral of tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Capa focused not on the faces of the mourners who were lined up along a street, but on their shoes. While covering John F. Kennedy's race for the White House in 1960, he showed Kennedy's hands reaching into a crowd. In the 1950s, he photographed life in the Soviet Union and the world of mentally ill children, sensitively revealing a subject that had been all but ignored. He created one of his most memorable photos while following Adlai Stevenson on the presidential campaign trail in 1952. As Stevenson spoke from the back of a train, Capa photographed the candidate from behind, with the crowd spreading out before him. In 1960, he took time out from the presidential campaign to visit the Nevada movie set of "The Misfits," the final completed movie of Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. Sensing that Kennedy represented a change in political style, Capa and seven other photographers chronicled the president's first 100 days in office. The resulting book, "Let Us Begin," appeared 10 days after the final photograph was taken and became known as "instant history." As time passed, Capa developed a sense of mission about preserving the history and conscience of his craft. Some of his most lasting contributions to photography came after he put his camera down in 1974 and organized the International Center of Photography.     In 20 years as executive director, he built the center into one the world's foremost museums of photography. He made it the world's largest repository of his brother's work and regularly presented exhibitions of his photography. Robert Capa, who once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough," was killed at age 40 when he stepped on a land mine in Vietnam in 1954 while on assignment for Life. "From that day," Cornell Capa told Newsweek magazine in 1994, "I was haunted by the question of what happens to the work a photographer leaves behind, by how to make the work stay alive." Kornel Friedmann was born in April 1918, in Budapest. His brother, who was five years older, fled Hungary for political reasons in 1931 and settled in Paris, where he changed his name from Andrei Friedmann to Robert Capa. When the younger brother joined him there in 1936, he was called "the little Capa." Cornell Capa came to New York in 1937 and worked in a photo agency darkroom before joining Life as a printer in 1938. He served in an Army Air Forces photo-intelligence unit during World War II and became a U.S. citizen in 1944. He officially changed his name the same year. Capa was a Life staff photographer from 1946 to 1954 and contributed to the magazine through 1967, when he went to the Middle East to cover his only major conflict, the Six-Day War. From 1956 to 1960, he was president of the Magnum Photos agency, which had been co-founded by his brother. In 1967, he presented an exhibition of renowned 20th-century photographers, "The Concerned Photographer," and collected their works in a book. To ensure that their example would not be forgotten, Capa conceived the idea for the international center, which opened its doors in 1974. One of its early benefactors was former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, whom Capa befriended while photographing the early days of the Kennedy White House. His wife of 61 years, Edith Schwartz Capa, died in 2001. He has no immediate survivors. "I have always thought of myself not as a reporter, but as a commentator," Capa wrote in the introduction to his 1992 book "Cornell Capa Photographs." "I have aimed to be a credible witness, one who cares about the world he inhabits." By Matt Schudel, Washington Post May 24, 2008    
Friday, 23 May 2008
Author:Hans Durrer
In April 2008, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) reported that a photo exhibition in Paris — "The Parisians under the Occupation" — put on view for the first time 270 colour photographs of daily life in the French capital during World War II.     The article — and quite some other internet sources that I looked up — said the exhibition was highly controversial. Not for the fact that the photographs were shot by André Zucca while working for Signal, a Nazi propaganda magazine, but because the pictures seemed to give the impression, in the words of the IHT, "as though all Parisians enjoyed days in the park and promenades down broad leafy avenues, when in fact thousands, mainly Jews, were being deported to Nazi extermination camps ... Three smiling young women in white-rimmed sunglasses pose in the Luxembourg Gardens in May 1942; well-dressed couples relax at outdoor café tables at Fouquets, on the Champs-Elysées, as two uniformed German officers stroll by; an elegant woman in fur and jewels shares luscious-looking cherries with a well-heeled man on a park bench, their baby beside them in a pram."     Initially, the photos were displayed without any information to put them in their historical context — probably because the title "The Parisians under the Occupation" seemed to contextualise the photos sufficiently — but after complaints from historians, visitors and groups like the French Human Rights League — I briefly wondered how many (four, five, ten?) voiced their protest but wasn't told — leaflets were being handed to visitors that informed them that: "What André Zucca portrays for us is a casual, even carefree Paris. He has opted for a vision that does not show — or hardly shows — the reality of occupation and its tragic aspects: waiting lines in front of food shops, rounding up of Jews, posters announcing executions." Last but not least, the historian Jean-Pierre Azéma, who has written about Zucca, told the newspaper Le Monde that it "should have been 'Some' Parisians under the Occupation ... and not 'The' Parisians." This was not the only thing that he had said but that kind of political correctness is really beyond me. How stupid and ignorant does this man think we are?   In addition, I could hardly believe what I read: photographs of life in Paris, taken between 1940 and 1944, can't be put on view without telling the visitors that they will be looking at "a casual, even carefree Paris"? Would that not have been pretty obvious? I mean: Does a visitor who looks at a photograph of, say, three smiling young women in white-rimmed glasses posing for the camera really need to be told what he is looking at? Moreover, do people who go to a photo-exhibition entitled "The Parisians under the Occupation" really need to be told, when they are looking at pictures of, say, well-dressed couples relaxing at outdoor café-tables, that the photographer did not focus on the tragic aspects of the occupation? Well, some people seem to think so. And, that is a problem. Not that they think like that — people are entitled to any kind of stupid thoughts — but that they are able to impose their views on others.   The issue here is political correctness which is simply another word for censorship — a censorship that masks itself as critical thinking. When, in 2007, the Brazilian photographer's Sebastião Salgado's impressive coffee table tome "Africa" was published (by Taschen, in Cologne, Germany), the Berliner Zeitung gave three Africans — two photographers and a professor of art history — the opportunity to voice their criticism. They scolded Salgado for rendering an Africa of cliché — flora and fauna, that is. Akinbode Akinbiyi, a photographer, who lives in Berlin, objected for instance to the title: "The title implies that it is a book about Africa. But, as far as I'm concerned, his view is very limited. And old-fashioned. Salgado only shows rural areas, hunger, misery, war, refugees. It is a very narrow-minded view of Africa. One can do that of course but one cannot simply call it 'Africa'. More suitable would perhaps have been 'Miserable Africa' or 'My Poor Africa'." Well, perhaps not.   ***   We all know that military and government censors, editors and photo-editors decide what we are getting to see — and what not. To some, apparently, that kind of censorship is not enough, they seem to expect photos, the accompanying captions, the titles of photo-books, and of photo-exhibitions, to show the world as they've decided to see it — they do not trust people's common sense. Needless to say, they might have a point there for common sense is indeed not as common as the expression suggests. However, to assume that common sense does not exist at all seems quite a stretch.   People visit photo-exhibitions for a variety of reasons — to have their views confirmed, to recognise sites, to learn something new, etcetera — but they do not enter museums, or look at photo-books, with a blank slate. In other words, to imagine somebody walking into the Paris exhibition of Zucca's pictures and then coming out thinking the German occupation from 1940 to 1944 was enjoyable — this is absurd. Visitors might however leave with the impression that the occupation not only meant "waiting lines in front of food shops, rounding up of Jews, the posters announcing executions." That would be a good thing, not least because the occupation did indeed also mean what most of Zucca's photos showed. Besides — and despite the fact that we rarely hear about such things — people, in times of war, who aren't in the thick of fighting do eat ice-cream and go on holidays, soldiers make love and aid workers party, concerts and sports events take place.     We do know of course that context, every context, is constructed, is made, is fabricated. Which is why, when we hear people argue that photos have to be understood in context (I do not deny that), we need to ask: Whose context? And, does it really deserve to be respected?   We need to do with the pictures what they invite us to do: Ask questions. What do they show? When and where were they taken, and by whom and for whom? And so on.   We do not need others — especially not experts or pressure groups — to tell us how we should look at the world. We are perfectly capable to see and think for ourselves, and to make up our own minds.     2008 © Hans Durrer / Soundscapes    
Sunday, 18 May 2008
Author:Miguel Angel Ceballos
    Art critic and historian Olivier Debroise passed away on May 6th, in his home in Mexico City's San Rafael Quarter. The announcement was made by friend and colleague Cuauhtémoc Medina. The cause of death was a sudden massive heart attack. The researcher did not suffer any illness. "He was a very intense, very active fellow and there were no signs that this could have happened. It has really taken us all by surprise ", Medina said.   Olivier Debroise was born in Jerusalem in 1952. He was a French citizen, but he worked and lived in Mexico since he was 17. He was a novelist, historian, art critic and curator of numerous exhibitions. Worthy of mention are Modernidad y modernización en el arte mexicano (Modernity and Modernization in Mexican Art) in Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico, 1991; El Corazón Sangrante (The Bleeding Heart), in the ICA, Boston, 1991; David Alfaro Siqueiros: Retrato de una década. (David Alfaro Siqueiros: Portrait of a Decade) in Museo Nacional de Arte, México City Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California and the Whitechapel Gallery in London, 1997.       Some of his books are Diego de Montparnasse (1979); Figuras en el trópico, plástica mexicana: 1920-1940 (1983); Fuga Mexicana, un recorrido por la fotografía México (1991); Alfonso Michel, el desconocido (1991), Sobre la superficie bruñida de un espejo, in collaboration with Rosa Casanova (1989); and Diego Rivera, pintura de caballete (1985). Debroise was the founder and first director of CURARE the Mexican Critic's Association. He had recently curated, along with Cuauhtemoc Medina and Alvaro Vazquez , the exhibition The Age of Discrepancy, Visual art and Culture in Mexico from 1968 to 1994, exhibited last year in UNAM's Museum of Sciences and Arts. In 2004 he was in charge of Contemporary Art collections of the Visual Arts Department of UNAM and Mexican adviser for of the program "Recovering the Critical Sources of Latin America and Latin Art" of the International Center the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), a project of the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston. During the last four years of his life he had devoted himself to the collection of UNAM's Contemporary Art Museum, which will be inaugurated shortly.   Miguel Angel Ceballos El Universal, Mexico City May 7th 2008   
Tuesday, 06 May 2008
Author:Juan Villoro
                                      A few months ago, I saw a Chinese film that started off with a journey by boat. To keep themselves entertained, some of the passengers were text messaging with their cell-phones, and others read to each other the palms of their hands. Two systems of communication coincided in this journey, telephony via satellite and chiromancy. The artifices of technology mixed with far-off behaviors.   To what extent does the atavistic coexist with the new? Certain misunderstandings shed light on reality, and one of them allowed me to approach the Internet in a surprising manner. I was introduced to a black writer that spoke French and had wandered through several countries in search of refuge. Since my French is deficient, the conversation took place without fully understanding each other. I think he told me he was a “chat author”. I thought that it was very interesting that the new technologies determined the way he wrote. He spoke about oralism and the tribal sense of narrative, of the polyphony of voices blending in the web page. Indeed, I thought that the web users represent a community that demands multiple testimonies. The web is a virtual campfire where the pilgrims tell their stories.   The writer spoke of polyphony and the traditions of his country, which privilege the collective narrative. Since the Internet is a place with no location that gathers disperse people, I asked him if he registered non- African French-speaking testimonies. He looked at me as if I were a Martian and explained everything all over: He wasn’t a “chat author”, but an author from Chad! The Oralism he was referring to was not the result of a new technology, but of an ancient tradition.   Despite my gross misinterpretation, I wasn’t that mistaken about the profound meaning of the web. The virtual community allows a return to ancestral forms of collective communication.   For those of us that grew up in the era of electric house appliances, we take the features of the new for granted, with no further desire of understanding them. It is possible that the babies of the digital era grow up with no knowledge of how an iPod works. But this small artifact won’t strike them as strange. In contrast, someone that thinks of him or her self as modern for using a six-velocity blender sees things that go beyond electricity controlled with knobs with astonishment.   The Century of Enlightenment prospered without lightbulbs. What would be Diderot ‘s feelings towards the possibility of turning reality “on” with the flip of a switch? Could he tolerate the existence of all these devices not contemplated in his encyclopedia?   Those of us that belong to the first generation that used personal computers feel sometimes as time travelers. Our environment coincides with science-fiction contraptions, or at least with devices that defy understanding. People trained in slow-motion traditions (there was a time when you had to wait a whole year to get a phone line) now have the bewildering possibility of making instantaneous contacts.     A way of appropriating unfamiliar inventions is to attribute them a life of their own. I thought of this during a writer convention, in which there was a novelist that was never away from his laptop. I supposed that he was afraid of losing some valuable information, but it was something else. When his turn to speak came, he read directly from the screen. He apologized for this, because it could come across as cold for some, but for him it was the opposite. “I got separated from my wife a year ago” -he said, in stammering voice- “now the computer is my partner”. This confession was received with the kind of respect caused by those intimate details that we don’t want to hear. I was moved by the loneliness of my colleague, and the way in which this IT prosthesis had become his companion. What could we do for him? I wouldhave loved to be able to introduce him to a friend. Since I couldn’t, I was tempted to offer my computer to him, so at least he could have an affair with it.   When this happened, I felt I was a witness of an alien story. This colleague was over humanizing his computer. I continued to travel with my G4, until a week ago, when I had an accident. I dropped it to the floor, and when I tried to turn it back on, I just saw a design of transparent ultramodern buildings. I thought it was some kind of commercial. This idea (or should we say nonsense) reveals an irrational relationship with technology. Those were not buildings at all. They were simple color bars that appeared caused by the impact. In addition, there was no way they could have appeared without being online. I was in denial of what was evident: My computer was kaput. A black diagonal line went across the monitor: plasma screen blood. I know this is probably an incorrect expression, but it is the only one I can think of to describe what happened.   I had used the keyboard for so long, that the letters were gone. If someone asked where the “e” was, I could not tell (this one was the first to go), nonetheless, my fingers found it on their own when I wrote.   I understood my colleague’s loneliness, which a few years ago seemed to be excessive and fetishist. I looked at the screen as a broken mirror: Would this mean seven years of bad luck?   For ten years, my most used object had become increasingly indefinite. I didn’t know where the letters were anymore, but I could find them in an intuitive way, just like a fortuneteller reads a hand palm.   The only thing I really understand about a computer is its absence. Now that it is gone, I dedicate these words to it, written on a borrowed computer, in which I make one mistake after the other.   Radical novelties take us back to the origin. Every new computer is an African mirror.   Juan Villoro May, 2008 **     Juan Villoro was born in Mexico City on September 24, 1956. He has a sociology degree by Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana. he was the host of the Radio Educación program "El Lado Oscuro de la Luna". He was the Cultural Attache of the Mexican Embassy in the People's Republic of Germany. He was the director of the supplement "La Jornada Semanal", He imparted several workshops and courses in creativity in Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He has collaborated in several magazines and news papers supplements. He was a grant holder of INBA in he Narrative Area and of the Mexican System of Artistic Creators and was awarded the Cuauhtémoc Prize for translation and the Xavier Villaurrutia Award in 1999.     As always please joins us with your comments in our forums.     
Friday, 02 May 2008
Author:Charlie Sorrel
    So few film cameras were sold in Japan in the last two months that the trade body CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) has stopped compiling sales figures. According to Amateur Photographer, only 529 35mm film cameras were made in Japan in February. We're not sure how that figure was reached, but if we compare it to CIPA's own figures, it looks like there really were only 529 actual cameras sold, an incredibly low number.   CIFA's figures are only compiled for member companies, and the last update for film was in January (subsequent reports list figures for lenses only). But here's how they break down for January. New digital still cameras sold: 5,417,563, up 128% from the previous year. New film cameras sold: 1580, a tiny 2.8% of those sold in January 2007.   So, in Japan at least, film is now a niche product. We still don't think it will die, though, anymore than CDs killed vinyl. Film will just be one more boutique process for the curious. We predict that there will be a resurgence in 2018, and all the cool kids will be carrying Instamatics.     by Charlie Sorrel © Wired May, 2008  
Friday, 02 May 2008
Author:John Perivolaris
                  On the streets of cities in the United States and Europe we are witnessing a dramatic proliferation of surveillance cameras trained on citizens' every move through increasingly privatised public spaces. For example, the average Londoner is daily caught on camera 300 times. But, while the citizen is constantly watched, they are increasingly restricted from photographing those same spaces. In London, the capital city with possibly the world’s highest concentration of CCTV cameras, it is unlikely that one will not be approached by security guards, police, or plain clothes officers if one attempts, as I often do, to photograph almost any building, but particularly corporate offices in the City or Canary Wharf. This is also true if one attempts to do the same in the vicinity of residential areas housing the transnational rich, whose most high-profile representatives are the Russian oligarchs of Kensington, Holland Park, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Belgravia, and Chelsea. Often justified as an anti-terrorist measure, intrusive surveillance and its attendant restrictions often merely serve corporate security or that of the rich, in a displacement of the public realm by capital.         London’s photographers are not alone. The photographer and journalist Bill Adler reports that a ban on photography in the downtown area of Silver Spring, Maryland, is being strictly enforced. However, he observes that the restrictions being imposed in a public space by the police and security guards there are not supported by law.   Photography proves an easy target in a current climate of hysteria fuelled not only by the fear of terrorism but also what the journalist Mike Hume has termed `the mood of irrational paedophile-phobia that grips our culture’.   In response, there has been widespread anger among photographers and campaigners. In a pre-emptive move, the British photographer Simon Taylor started a petition on the Downing Street website which, between 14 February and 13 July 2007 attracted 68,300 signatures. These supported Taylor’s call on the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to resist the temptation to grant legal status to de-facto `restrictions regarding photography in public places’. The petition added that: `It is a fundamental right of a UK citizen to use a camera in a public place’.   At the same time, the New York Times has reported on the public outcry that has lead city officials to redraft a proposal that would have obliged photographers, film- or video-makers there to obtain permits and liability insurance of $1 million.   These actions draw attention to the fact that citizens are swiftly being transformed into suspects. This should be of universal concern beyond the photographic community. For example, the British government is currently determined to enact legislation that would enable it to issue its citizens with ID cards. These would carry all the holder’s personal information and would have to be carried at all times and presented to the authorities when requested, with no grounds for such a request having to be asserted. This would mark a reversal of the democratic principle of the state’s answerability to its citizens, with surveillance acting to inflate the currency of fear and paranoia on which Western governments, particularly in the US and UK, now trade in exchange for their citizens’ acquiescence to the ever-narrowing restriction of their civil rights.   How might photographers, artists, activists, along with their fellow citizens, further respond to the plethora of undemocratic restrictions to which they are now subjected in the name of security? Is the right to watch swiftly becoming a monopoly of the state? Is democratic citizenship also now a struggle for the right to see as well as to be seen? Who now has the right to record individuals’ and groups’ experiences of public spaces?       One perversely subversive deconstruction of the state of surveillance is that of the artist Hasan Elahi, who was mistakenly detained at Detroit airport in 2002 on suspicion of being a terrorist. Repeatedly interrogated by the FBI, Elahi not only proved his innocence by using online records to trace his movements but decided to make his entire life an open blog. Elahi continues to prove his innocence with each of about a hundred photographs he daily posts to his website and thus forestalls his possible disappearance to Guantánamo through total visibility. Elahi is effectively overloading the surveillance systems to which he is subjected by continuously GPS live-tracking his location online through a cellphone hacked anklet, photographing, and providing textual data of the most trivial details of his daily life online 24 hours a day. The resulting information overload `floods the market’, in his words, and devalues the intelligence held on him by the authorities through an exhaustive process of self-surveillance.     Elahi’s response might be associated with the idea of the `Transparent Society’ developed by the author David Brin in his 1998 book of the same title. Seeing the loss of privacy as an inevitable result of the digital age, Brin believes that the only way of restraining the authoritarian deployment of surveillance is by embracing surveillance and making it openly available to all. In this way, according to Brin, the accountability of surveillance is ensured.   The subversiveness of the transparent life Elahi has adopted also aligns him to a certain extent with the concept of sousveillance, of which there are several noteworthy proponents. The term refers to actions that imply a process whereby surveillance is placed under reverse scrutiny. This is achieved by ironically mirroring its technologies and strategies of looking from the point of view of the citizen under surveillance. The aim of sousveillance interventions is to make visible the power relations inherent in contemporary surveillance society by temporarily turning them upside-down: surveillance, from above, is translated into sousveillance, from below. The communal online presence and democratic accessibility of grass-roots sousveillance interventions, might counter surveillance’s authoritarian corrosion of a sense of community in a climate of suspicion. Sousveillance would reconstruct the secretive centralised authority of surveillance as a distributed power structure that aims to strike a state of equiveillance through its inherent accountability and egalitarianism. Equiveillance ideally implies a democracy where citizen and state have equal access to the means of watching in and watching over public space. How might this be achieved to our benefit?   An international coalition of activists from the arts, sciences, and technology, including have declared the 24th of December, World Sousveillance Day or Shoot Back Day. Since 2001 they have used their own cameras to `shoot back’ at surveillance cameras in public spaces on the busiest shopping day of the year, when the highest numbers are probably under surveillance. Inevitably, they also record their encounters with security guards who attempt to stop them.   The inspiration for these interventions is Steve Mann, one of the sousveillance movement’s most influential figures. Having coined the term sousveillance, Mann is a pioneer of the cyborglogging or glogging technologies deployed by Elahi, whereby the web-posting of data, whether visual or other, is an autonomous process that does not need to be consciously triggered by the user. (Cyborglogs "glogs").   Mann’s current research at the University of Toronto involves the development of wearable webcam and webcasting equipment and software that allows the user to glog 24 hours a day. Mann has experimented netcasting his life by wearing a webcam-enabled helmet and has focused his attention on surveillance environments and those who enforce the authority of surveillance, such as security guards and even shop employees, who oppose his choice to turn his camera on them. As Professor Ronald Deibert, also of the University of Toronto, has observed, the result of such a reversal is that `they lose their anonymous power of surveillance, and it makes them feel vulnerable’. (Record the Lens That Records You). Mann’s suggestion for the 2002 World Sousveillance Day, as reported by (ibid.) underlined its subversive rationale:   Affix a dark acrylic rectangle to the front of a sweatshirt, with the following words clearly visible: “For your protection, a video record of you and your establishment may be transmitted and recorded at remote locations. ALL CRIMINAL ACTS PROSECUTED.” Mann likens this device, which he calls a MaybeCam to Shrödinger’s Cat: maybe it is a camera, maybe it isn’t, but its very existence changes the behaviour of the people nearby.     Similarly, Mann and other activists have further experimented with wearing fake security MayBeCams modelled on those used in casinos and department stores.   In `Cyberglogging with camera phones: steps towards equiveillanc, Mann and his co-writers point out that, though it is tempting to view the relationship between surveillance and sousveillance `as binary, us-versus-them opposites, [but] we are hoping to build a system of equiveillance, that is, the possibility that these two very different social practices might somehow result in some kind of equilibrium’ (p. 178). In parallel to Brin’s thoughts, they conclude that `one of the virtues of equiveillance is an increased reciprocal transparency in the operations of powerful entities engaged in surveillance’ (p. 179).   It is perhaps in the spirit of equiveillance that I would ask you, dear citizens and photographers, how safe do you feel under surveillance? Your response might be one small step towards reclaiming public space through debate. The resulting dialogue is necessary to ensure democratic freedoms and to counter the imposition of government policy from above based on hitherto non-transparent fear-mongering.   John Perivolaris April, 2008 **       John Perivolaris is an independent documentarian and fine art photographer. He is currently working on a project entitled Left Luggage, which explores migrant identities. Between 2005 and 2007 he was the Board Chairman of LOOK 07 and co-organiser, with Julian Tait, of The Democratic Image Symposium. Perivolaris is the administrator of the flickr `Surveillance Mirror’ group, to which readers are invited to contribute.     As always please joins us with your comments in our forums.      
Wednesday, 02 April 2008
Author:Randy Kennedy
  The phone call was routine, the kind often made before big auctions. Sotheby’s was preparing to sell a striking rust-brown image of a leaf on paper, long thought to have been made by William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the inventors of photography. So the auction house contacted a Baltimore historian considered to be the world’s leading Talbot expert and asked if he could grace the sale’s catalog with any interesting scholarly details about the print — known as a photogenic drawing, a crude precursor to the photograph.   “I got back to them and said, ‘Well, the first thing I would say is that this was not made by Talbot,’ ” the historian, Larry J. Schaaf, recalled in a recent interview.   “That was not what they were expecting to hear, to say the least.”     In the weeks since Dr. Schaaf’s surprising pronouncement was made public, “The Leaf”, originally thought to have been made around 1839 or later, has become the talk of the photo-historical world. The speculation about its origins became so intense that Sotheby’s and the print’s owners decided earlier this month to postpone its auction, so that researchers could begin delving into whether the image may be, in fact, one of the oldest photographic images in existence, dating to the 1790s.   This week the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which own similar photogenic drawings that once belonged to the same album as “The Leaf”, said that they planned to perform scientific analysis and further research on their images as well.   With these decisions, suddenly, a group of antique images known to the academic and auction worlds at least since 1984 — when Sotheby’s first sold them, fetching only $776 for the leaf print — have become the subjects of a high-profile detective story that could lead back to the earliest, murky years of the birth of photo technology and that could help to fill in crucial historical blanks.   Dr. Schaaf, who said he was not paid by Sotheby’s or by the owner of “The Leaf” print, said that he had been aware of the images — also known as photograms, cameraless prints made by placing objects on photosensitive paper exposed to light — for many years. He had seen five of the six prints that were once compiled in an album by Henry Bright, a Briton whose family was part of a group of scientists and tinkerers active around Bristol in the late 18th century.   But as with so many other early photographic images, Dr. Schaaf said, there was so little information about these that he never gave much thought to their origins. “In most cases we just don’t have any place even to get started”, he said.   It was when Sotheby’s inquiry reminded him that the images came from the Henry Bright family that he began to think about them again and to connect the dots with research that he had been doing for years into a group of photographic experimenters who had long predated Talbot and Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the other acknowledged inventor of photography.   Probably in the 1790s, according to accounts written shortly afterward, Thomas Wedgwood, a son of the Wedgwood china family, began experimenting with what he called solar pictures, making images on paper coated with a silver nitrate solution. A friend of his, James Watt, wrote in a 1799 letter that he intended to try similar experiments and in 1802 another friend, Humphry Davy, wrote an account of Wedgwood’s experiments in an article for a scientific-society journal, titling it “An Account of a Method of Copying Paintings upon Glass, and of Making Profiles, by the Agency of Light Upon Nitrate of Silver.”   Like the lost plays of Aeschylus that were written about but did not survive themselves, no known examples of the work of Wedgwood and his circle have ever been found. But Dr. Schaaf, in looking deeper into the leaf image, realized that these legendary lost images had something else in common: their creators were all part of the close social circle of the family of Henry Bright.   “The reason that I got so excited about this was that it was the most solid, indicative collection I’ve seen,” he said. “I’m fully prepared for ‘The Leaf’ to have been made by Henry Bright, or by his father, after the 1790s. But I’ve never seen a story that fits together so neatly.”   He added, with the resolve that comes from more than 30 years of research into early photography and Talbot, “Someone could obviously come along and say that these images are all in fact Talbots, but they would be wrong.”   Jill Quasha is the photo dealer and expert who bought “The Leaf” in 1989 as she was building the Quillan Collection, a group of world-renowned photographs that Sotheby’s sold (without the leaf print) for almost $9 million on April 7. She said that it was still too early to say exactly what type of research would be conducted on the image. Tests could include those to determine the age of the paper and to identify the chemical makeup of any substances on the paper.   “I think it has to be done quickly and efficiently and with the least amount of damage to the photograph,” said Ms. Quasha, who added that she hoped the research could be completed within six months so that the print could be put up for auction again with a more iron-clad, and perhaps stunning, provenance. (As a Talbot, it was estimated to sell for $100,000 to $150,000; if it is determined to be older, it could bring substantially more.)   But Dr. Schaaf cautioned that even when the all scientific evidence is in — along with what might be found by deep sleuthing in the archives of the families of Bright, Wedgwood, Watt and Davy — the best that experts might be able to say about it being among the oldest photographic images is “maybe.”   “Somewhere in the course of the work we might find a smoking gun,” he said. “But then again, we very well might not.”   by Randy Kennedy ©The New York Times Abril, 2008    
Wednesday, 02 April 2008
Author:Randy Kennedy
  War a Photojournalist, Dies at 72.   Philip Jones Griffiths, a crusading photojournalist whose pictures of civilian casualties and suffering were among the defining images of the war in Vietnam, died Wednesday morning at his home in London. He was 72. The cause was cancer, said Richard Hughes, an actor and activist who befriended Mr. Griffiths in Vietnam. The book that grew out of Mr. Griffiths’ reporting there, “Vietnam, Inc.,” is considered a classic, and its publication in 1971 helped turn public opinion against the war. Its harrowing pictures — of a blackened burn victim, a thin woman’s body splattered with blood, a South Vietnamese boy in soldier’s fatigues, his head tiny beneath a huge helmet — were the kind not often shown in newspapers. And Mr. Griffiths, a pacifist and passionate opponent of the war, never considered himself a traditional war photographer. “I saw myself as producing a historical document,” he said in 2002 interview on the Web site, adding: “Journalists should be by their very nature anarchists, people who want to point out things that are not generally approved of.” “It’s by criticizing that society that humanity has made progress,” he said. While critical of the way the United States was conducting the Vietnam war, Mr. Griffiths also included in his book many humanizing images of American soldiers at a time when they were often being demonized back home. One of the most stark showed an American offering a canteen of water to a Vietcong fighter who had survived a stomach wound for three days, holding in his intestines with a cooking bowl. A similar scenario is played out in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film “Apocalypse Now.” “There were some bad G.I.’s who did terrible, terrible things,” Mr. Griffiths said in a lecture at the Frontline Club in London in January “But for the most part they were kids who were confused. They were not the enemy, to me.” The enemy was usually governments and bureaucracies, he often said, and he saw photography as one of the best means to bear witness against their failings. “Virtually the whole of society believes in what they believe not by direct experience but by what they’ve been told,” he said. “We photographers are in this exalted, privileged position of actually going out to find out for ourselves, and that’s why we’re so dangerous. Because we were there. We saw what happened.” Mr. Griffiths was born in the small village of Rhuddlan in Wales, and came to photography only after an aborted career as a pharmacist. While working at a drugstore in London, he asked to be put on the night shift so he could take pictures during the day to try to sell to newspapers. “Never underestimate the power of boredom,” he said in an interview in January with the British newspaper The Independent. He told a Welsh interviewer in 2004 that “coming from a country being swallowed up by its neighbor gave me a natural sympathy for the Davids over the Goliaths of this world.” Mr. Griffiths was deeply influenced by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, a founder of the photo agency Magnum, where Mr. Griffiths became a longtime member and served as president from 1980 to 1985. Besides Vietnam, Mr. Griffiths reported from dozens of other countries. He covered the Yom Kippur War in 1973 and worked in Cambodia from 1973 to 1975. In 1996, a retrospective of his work, “Dark Odyssey” was published, and in 2001, “Vietnam, Inc.” was reprinted by Phaidon Press, with a new introduction by Noam Chomsky. In 2004, Mr. Griffiths published a photographic examination of the death, deformities and suffering caused by the use of the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam. Mr. Griffiths is survived by two daughters, Katherine Holden of London and Fenella Ferrato of Manhattan and Damascus. He never married, telling one interviewer that he refused to sign papers that would allow “bourgeois society to dictate my emotions.” The kinds of pictures that became “Vietnam, Inc.” were often difficult for Magnum to sell to publications, and at times Mr. Griffiths was so low on money that he considered leaving Vietnam. But in 1967 he managed to take pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy in Cambodia in the company of a British aristocrat rumored to be her romantic interest at the time; the proceeds from that paparazzi coup allowed him to continue his war photography. In interviews, he said that he realized early on where his journalistic priorities lay. A London newspaper editor once told him to remember to answer the five basic questions in every photo caption — who, what, why, where and when. Mr. Griffiths said the first two and last two struck him as merely perfunctory. “It’s the one in the middle that counts,” he said. “To me that’s our task, to say ‘Why?’”   by Randy Kennedy New York Times March 19, 2008         
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
Author:Pablo Antoli
  Date: February 29, 2008 4:37:11 PM   To all the ZoneZero team,   Thank you for all the effort you put into building such a fantastic project. I found in ZoneZero incredibly inspiring content that has deeply influenced my views on photography and multimedia. Your work is stimulating and gives new hope to the documentary tradition. Keep up with the good work.   Kind regards,   Pablo Antolí Photographer  
Friday, 29 February 2008
Author:Robert W. Frank
  Date: February 23, 2008 5:39:27 PM   Pedro I am reading a book on Photojournalism by Kenneth Kobre. Your site is one that he highly recommended, and I see why. I spent a few hours this morning looking at some of the posted gallleries. Great work by all! This is certainly a site I will visit for inspiration. Thanks   Robert "Ferd" Frank  
Saturday, 23 February 2008
Author:The British Journal of Photography
  Canon is investigating fresh claims of camera faults, this time affecting the top-of-the-range EOS 1Ds Mark III camera.   Photographers have been documenting instances where a scene appearing straight in the viewfinder leans up to one degree clockwise in the final image. The fault is said to be due to a misalignment of the camera's sensor with the viewfinder.   'We are aware of some issues relating to the viewfinder alignment,' a Canon spokeswoman tells BJP.   'The issues are currently under investigation. If any customers are experiencing such issues we are asking them to take their camera to their local service department for checking.'   Canon says it will release more information about the problem at a later stage.   The alignment issues come after Canon is said to be working on another new fix for its EOS 1D Mark III camera's autofocus problems.   In November, Canon began offering repairs on faulty EOS 1D Mark III cameras after it confirmed that a problem with the camera's sub-mirror - which deflects light on to its AF sensor - was the cause of reported autofocus tracking inconsistencies when used in AI (Artificial Intelligent) servo continuous shooting mode (BJP, 7 November 2007).   Now, engineers seem to have determined the root cause of the problems, and are preparing a new fix, which could involve both hardware and software upgrades.         © The British Journal of Photography February, 2008  
Monday, 04 February 2008

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unsecured loans . On the global pharmaceutical market this medicine was issued in 2003 by two companies - Eli Lilly and ICOS. Initially, permission to sell Cialis was obtained in Europe, Australia, New Zealand.
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