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zhorovir

born: 1984
born in: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
interested in: photos, coffee, camping, geology, laundromats, effects of failure, cities with many stairs, chris marker, small dogs that don't know they're small, hanging bridges disinterests: mosquito bites,mysterious stains, corporate photo shoots, telephones calls, unsteady fire escapes, laminate flooring, dust, poorly... [more]

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Finding funding for a project is often the hardest part of doing it and tons of good ideas never come to fruition because the backers and the doers never find each other. Kudos to those who can self-finance their ideas, at least until the day the finished project is ready to be sold off/presented/displayed/etc. But everyone else?

I recently found out about KickStarter, which helps you find funders and also gives you a platform for potentially interested supporters to read about your project and pledge using KickStarter's system. If you raise your minimum the money gets deposited into your bank account when the project post expires and if you don't reach your minimum, you get nothing and no one gets charged. It also helps to make your project more interactive - by posting updates pledgers can follow your progress and by offering rewards (like prints from your photo project, mp3 dowloads from your music project, a copy of the book you're working on, etc.) supporters stay psyched till the end.   

Check out my project as well as many others on KickStarter and consider pledging, spreading the word or posting your own project.


this is a photo from my proposed project:

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Everyone's got their panties in a bunch over James Cameron's Avatar, hastily predicting that this movie will be the movie to end our present movie mindset, ushering in splendiferous [and hot!] CGI casts and Ferngully worlds where our senses will be free to flourish and to dissolve in real movie going experiences. It will be like movies on acid! Movies on glowing, breathing, living, sparkling, extraterrestrial speed! In the sequel audiences will not only receive their polarized glasses, but a bow and arrow to boot, to help the Na’vi in their plight! And if you tell your cousins and aunts and Facebook pals and neighbors to go see it and Avatar does really well maybe Cameron will have an even bigger budget for the sequel and hire someone to help him, just a little, with the script. I’m so into it I could burst!

But, ladies and gentlemen, I’m here to talk about photography. Let’s now please straighten out our panties and get serious. In my view, there isn’t too much going on in photography that’s breaking ground and ushering in new ideas. There’s the perpetually developing digital on the technical front and a persisting trend in boring photos on the idea front (“I like to find beauty in the everyday, boring things….”), and lots of photographers doing attractive, exciting, even interesting work in photography in general, but nothing particularly explosive. There’s no Avatar happening in still-life photography.

However, some attempts do come to mind. The first is a photographer named Sebastian Denz, who recently put out a book as well as exhibited his series Skateboarding.3D. He teamed up with the Carhartt skateboarding team (wha?) and traveled around Europe for three years shooting with a custom-built camera. The result is a book of 3D skateboarding photos, with two pairs of 3D glasses tucked inconspicuously into the back cover. Coupled with his impeccable location scouting, this definitely works. Check out the photo below, for example. But the exhibition prints, measuring in at about 4x8 feet, are more impressive. I only hope they make it to New York at some point in the near future.



Jonas Bendiksen, a Magnum photographer, is another shooter that’s trying to do innovative things with still photography. His project, The Places We Live, about slum dwellers the world over has an engaging website, a book, and a touring exhibition. The exhibit is organized thus: “Life-size images and audio segments in the exhibition help create the experience of a personal encounter with the slum dwellers. Each slum is represented by one room, where all four walls are built out of rear-projection canvas. Each room contains a cycle displaying five households. For each one, a sound recording containing statements from the inhabitants is showered down from the overhead speakers. Between each display of a household, images and soundscapes of the outside environment surround the visitor.” (from the website)

Finally, Outside magazine’s October issue experimented with a “living magazine” spread and cover, that had moving images busting out of the printed pages, a la Harry Potter. “Unlike in television or film, where people have signed up as viewers, with this media, the motion or images need to be engaging rather than noisy. And content using the principles of still photography achieves this. CBS Alive in the UK has done a good job of making Digital OOH a welcome part of the London commuter’s daily life. Many of their campaigns show still pictures, like the movie poster for Bride Wars, suddenly coming to life. What used to be flat still shots are now springing to life in a way unique from video,” writes Outside’s Alexx Henry. This harkens back to my previous post about the future of printing, as well, where technology could be used to refresh the printing industry instead of obliterate it. 



From these examples, innovation seems to be adding up to bigger = better and moving, talking, more engrossing presentation is the future. In many ways bigger has always equaled better; isn’t that how photography initially broke through and begrudgingly became considered an art form, when prints were able to be produced large enough to hang on walls and be appreciated? And it’s getting easier to make large format photos and to print them on exceedingly larger pieces of paper. While not always appropriate or necessary (again, I don’t really need to see “everyday, boring things” on 4x8 prints), bigger still works.

As for the other trends, are they simply inching more and more towards video, the already extant, obvious next step from still photography? Yes. Didn’t we already do that a while back, move along from still pictures to moving ones to great acclaim. Yeah. Why are we doing this yet again? Well, the two have existed side by side for some time now and each persists because each has different things to offer. Watching a walk through of a Nigerian slum on video and standing in a small room where still images of a family sitting in their home are projected on the four walls around you is different. The latter is packed, still [obviously], there to be examined at great length, there to be inspected and absorbed, there more permanently, in a sense. Innovation should feed on the qualities of still photography and work to accentuate them rather than to grow out of them somehow.

Considering the tools I use – a couple of bulky cameras from the late ‘60s, film, an oversized desktop PC, etc – I’m not exactly at the forefront of this innovation. I have a hard time imagining what the future may entail. Will movie going just become like a video game on a very large screen? Will movie theaters provide avatars to step into for the duration of the feature? Will photos of everyday life loom large as billboards at every step, jumping, feeding off passersby? Will content or technology reign supreme?      

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-from Last Days of W., by Alec Soth


“What would happen if the printed book had just been invented in a high-tech world in which people had never done their reading from anything but computer screens? The unquestionable advantages of the computer would not be threatened by this new product but the people, who so love to compare apples with pears, would be quite bowled over by this ultra-modern invention: after years spent chained to the screen they would suddenly have something they could open like a window or a door – a machine you can physically enter! For the first time knowledge would be combined with a sense of touch and gravity – this new invention allows you to experience the most incredible sensations, reading becomes a physical experience. And after experiencing knowledge only as a bundle of connections, as a system of interacting networks, suddenly here is individuality: every book is an independent personality, which cannot be taken apart or added to at will. And how relaxing these new reading appliances are, their operating systems never needs updating – the only thing that changes over the course of time is the message that they contain, which is always open to new interpretations.”



—By Juan Villoro, in an article in last month’s adn CULTURA (an Argentinian culture magazine) about the “future of books,” found on Darius Himes’ blog.



I just picked up a copy of McSweeny’s San Francisco Panorama, a literary magazine served up in newspaper format, with all of the sections a newspaper might carry, printed on oversized newsprint, with a magazine and a books section sandwiched in its fat fold. Their goal was for it to “basically be an attempt to demonstrate all the great things print journalism can (still) do.” I think that 1) they succeeded in producing a “great thing”, 2) a newspaper that takes 5 months to put together is awesome but not exactly a newspaper, even if printed on newsprint and presenting news, 3) it is an interesting exploration of the print format, which is suffering from some shrinking/growing pains. (The first printing has sold out, by the way.)



More than anything, this latest McSweeney’s issue is a call to keep printing and to experiment more with the medium (a paradox, really, since newspapers are not exactly experimental). And one of the reasons McSweeny’s has become so wildly popular is because it keeps doing these two things, and well – they serve up quality content and present it in unpredictable, eclectic bundles (sometimes gold embossed Medieval-looking hardbacks, others like a month’s worth of junk mail in an envelope) that I personally want to own, to physically handle and explore. Like Monocle, or the unfortunately defunct Nest Magazine, they explore the print medium and take advantage of what you can do with it, not revert to it because the internet or Kindle have somehow failed them.



So when Darius Himes writes that “the future of human language written on sheets of paper bound between two covers will exist with us for millennia into the future,” I hope (and think?) he’s right. It’s already clear, however, that print is changing. Let’s take, for example, the photo book.



Photo books are a beautiful, expensive luxury. The typical photo book, if you look in a book store, is an oversized tome with glossy pages, quality production (paper stock, well-designed covers, printing, etc.) and a hefty price tag. However, walking around at this year’s New York Art Book Fair, held at P.S.1 in October, there was a very notable presence of photo books that did not fit that bill. There were books printed on newsprint (again the newsprint!), small flipbooks, photo copied and stapled photo zines, and a ton of other DIY alternatives to the photo book. More and more there are people putting out their own books and a plethora or small publishers (basement co-ops, 3 person publishing agencies, friends printing shit while drinking Pabst, etc.) taking on projects. Made possible by relatively affordable and accessible printing technology, the self publishing approach is not only a great option for those who can’t seem to get published by a more established publishing house, but also the best way to get your work out the way you want it. Even Alec Soth, who can probably get published by whomever he wants at this point (he seems to prefer Steidl, who publishes some of the most beautiful photo books out there) has just started his own little “publishing house,” Little Brown Mushroom Books, and put out his latest series, The Last Days of W., himself (on newsprint!!).



While some photographers sell their little tomes for mad money, approaching it as if it were a bound, mini version of their limited edition prints, others sell them for $15, $20, $30. Great, right? The obvious downside to this kind of printing is its lack of distro power, which could develop as the book world settles more firmly into its new, boundless arena of producers. The other downside is the amount of stuff a consumer has to wade through – it may get exhausting flipping through countless versions of the same book to find one golden nugget – since a DIY approach to publishing will inevitably lack the [arguably] stringent editing a more formalized industry has. Also, big, beautiful productions may become less common (though perhaps not, since a niche for those is likely to remain).



I hope the print industry, photo books and otherwise, veers off into other experiments, [physical] formats, production models, and uses technology to do new things with an old thing: the printed book. My prediction (and woe be me if it’s true) is that the industry surrounding [photo] book production will shrink while both output and variety will blossom.


Check out this great blog devoted entirely to photo and books: http://5b4.blogspot.com/

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Here, in New York, it is appropriately wintry and cold on this Christmas Eve, with snow still lining the streets, albeit browned and pounded into impenetrable, slippery cover. Personally, I've always skipped this particular holiday, but today I have this singular hankering to spend the day at a bath house, a winter time nostalgia for penetrating warmth sans clothing.



I find bath houses to be resolutely un-American institutions (the anti-Christmas?). In a previous piece on bath houses, I wrote:


"Where the public bath was a matter of scrubbing oneself clean, it has vanished. In the U.S. practically every home is equipped with private facilities for the upkeep of hygiene and water is subsidized by the government, telling us, in effect, that we should use plenty of it to make sure we keep that hygiene up. Public bathing is limited to the beaches of various bodies of water, well chlorinated pools, and people’s parents’ Jacuzzis. On the other hand, where public bathing served a role larger than hygiene, it persists. In New York, for example, public bath houses were a popular meeting place for gay men into the mid ‘80s, when the NY Supreme Court ruled it legitimate to close one such establishment (thereby setting a precedent) under the pretext of public safety, citing the rising numbers of AIDS cases. Elsewhere, notably Mexico City, such massage parlors and bath houses carry on as before. In the US, there is no widespread tradition of the public bath except in the context of cleaning, and when cleaning became affordable, bathing became private and public baths extinct. Not so for the Russians, Japanese, Finnish, etc, who have a long history of using the bath not only to wash but also to socialize and conduct business."



Jennette Williams traveled to bath houses in Europe and Turkey for her series called The Bathers. Her photos capture this social bathing that is practically non-existent in the US, with the exception of immigrant-run establishments in emigre enclaves, focusing especially on women bathing. Williams says of the project, "I began with what were simple intentions. I wanted to photograph without sentiment or objectification women daring enough to stand, without embarrassment or excuse, before my camera and I wanted my photographs to be beautiful. . . . I drew upon classical gestures and poses from Titian, Ingres, and Pre-Raphaelites (to name a few) and utilized the platinum printing process to assure a sense of timelessness, as if the older or 'normal' woman has always been a subject of the arts."



Though I'm not sure she's successful at avoiding sentiment (how could she have, after talking about herself, a middle-aged woman, executing the project and what it meant to her personally), she is successful at capturing the comfort, the ease and the beauty of these bathing women. Check out Daylight Magazine's slideshow of The Bathers. Williams won the Honickman First Book Prize in Photography for 2009 with this series.




 


 


 


 


 

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In its final days hanging at the Gagosian Gallery on Madison Ave, I went to see the new Roger Ballen series, Boarding House. Roger Ballen and the upper east side seem incongruous to begin with, but the Gagosian Gallery, high ceilinged and nestled comfortably amongst Gucci and Oscar de la Renta storefronts, makes the disparity glaring.


The photos, a fluid continuation of Ballen's assiduously swarthy prints depicting almost fantastical menageries of people, animals and baren, dirty rooms, are all from a squat which he formally dubs the Boarding House. While the collection builds on his previous series in its aesthetic and subject matter (marginalized South Africans are a Ballen specialty) it also continues to foment the sculptural, almost architectural, compositions that started to come out in previous works like Outland and Shadow Chamber. Here, people are as present as ever in the photos, though their presence is less straightforward  than in the past. We see hands cut off by the frame, disjointed mouths, feet. Compositions include body parts with the same tenderness that they include the faces painted on the walls, dirty mattress profiles and wire hangers arranged like curtains. On Nov. 9, speaking at SVA in Manhattan, Ballen conceded, without giving much detail, that the recent photographs are more of a collaboration with those he photographed than any of his previous work. He also coceded, with some excitement, that he is moving more and more into the realm of what he called art, as compared to the more grounded documentary tradition with which he could be associated. The images convey a fractured theatricality, timeless, placeless and ephemeral. 


Yet, despite the fictionalized. the images contain the facts as well; Ballen is photographing in a marginalized, poor, and depressed place. That's what makes the 7-ply mat board on the prints and spacious grey walls seem at odds with the photos that they are showcasing. But where else show it, I suppose? On the walls of the squat where they were shot? It's theater to the nth degree regardless.


 

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