I am currently reading this book.
"The Pleasures of Good Photographs (Aperture Ideas)" (Gerry Badger)
One particular chapter has been very refreshing, apart from discovering a couple of names I'd not heard of before, elsewhere in the book. The chapter or rather essay entitled, 'From Here to Eternity: The Expeditionary Artworks of Thomas Joshua Cooper', has been very refreshing. In this essay, Badger, loos at Thomas Joshua Cooper, his work and some of his large ongoing projects, all made on a 5x7 film camera and made as exquisite contact prints. It is an intersting insight inot a photographer I'd never heard of, but who sounds deliciously interesting.
He rounds off this essay of Thomas Joshua Cooper's life & work. A photographer I'd never heard of but am suitably interested in to see more of his work. The essay covers a lot of ground, from Aperture, the Magazine, to Minor White, Zen & Transcendental Photography, Modernism and back. A great read indeed, I might even go so far as to say, as good as John Szarkowski, and Robert Adams' writings.
Another essay; entitled It's 'Art, But is it Photography? Some Thoughts on Photoshop', was really inspiring as Badger talks about the highjacking of the art scene and the value placed on a piece of Photographic Art work by large scaled and or staged works. He talks about how art and photography dance a lurid dance over ideas about objects, veracity, connoisseurship, the art market and galleries all have produced a 'look' quite common in art circles these days, one, that is the large scaled staged and often highly manipulated prints. Compared to to say the more understated; 11x14 or 16x20 that is the trademark of some older photographers, whose contribution has been as long lasting and more profound than some of the newer players on the market.
Mr. Badger very adroitly argues that, somewhere in the whole art market, connoisseurship, object d'art game; photography; has kind of lost some of it's power. He talks about using digital tools to make cosmetic and aesthetic changes in a manner that reminds me of the story Goliath and his hair.
For those of you unfamiliar, the story goes something like this.
You back, now? Good.
I think it is awfully brave of him to do things like announce the perfect size print, being about 20 x24 inches, and uses Cézanne, as a spring board for his argument.
A great Sunday morning page turner indeed.
On Friday the 3rd of December, I visited ARI King's Gallery. There are 3 shows on there at the moment, I was particularly drawn to John Billan's work. It was a real refreshing sight to behold, such an elegantly crafted body of work presented in a manner that was aesthetically pleasing while still holding a little mystrey.
Here are my notes jotted down on the day I was there.
Beautiful yet eclectic mix of images on the wall from classic landscapes to obscure objects / still lives, and re-photographed etchings, circa 1800s ? Strange yet evocative video sound piece as well. But the Frederick Sommer traditions live on. Just beautiful is all I can say, gorgeous prints superb installation and, mystery to boot.
The gallery itself is small and intimate, good for a single person show, there are three in total. Odd location though, with traffic noise factoring in as I sit here typing. I can however faintly hear John's piece in the background a haunting piece e it is. I wonder how long it took John to collate the images they seem to have come from all over the world! One is a strange half dome possibly a cold war radar left over? Which suggests Europe, and one reminds me of New Zealand, the caravan image. A cone repeats throughout the wall in several incarnations, combined with the video sound piece I'm reminded of space and maps, and ideas like quantum mechanics, or something like that?
Beautiful, just beautiful, in a deep resonating kind of way.
The image above was made at the gallery on the day, and emailed to the artist from the spot.