Looking to the Future: Five Photographers

If you’re an active reader of photography blogs I’m sure you’ve noticed a few posts about new ideas in photography led by Colin Pantall and Joerg Colberg.

“To celebrate new ideas in photography, we are asking people to nominate up to five photographers who have demonstrated an openness to use new ideas in photography, who have taken chances with their photography and have shown an unwillingness to play it safe. These three categories can be interpreted in any way. We ask that people put their nominations up on their photography blogs starting Monday, September 17th, with a short text and a key image (from 100 words up to however long you think ‘short’ can be) as a nice way to kickstart the Autumn: a collective effort of the photography blog community.”

I had to think about this for awhile before compiling a list. I’m not certain I’ve strictly followed the guidelines but these photographers have been on my mind in relation to this inquiry. Also, I by no means have a thorough understanding of contemporary fine art photography so there are certainly many photographers creating innovative work that I’ve simply never come across as of yet.

Other selections for this initiative will be posted on by: ConscientiousAndrew PhelpsaCuratorMrs DeaneReciprocity failureHarvey BengeMicrocordeyecurious, fototazo, and Stella Kramer.

©Asger Carlsen

When I saw Asger Carlsen’s work on tinyvices I was confused. At first it didn’t cross my mind that these photographs were manipulated in the computer, but then I started to become suspicious, something was ‘Wrong’ with them. There were many that didn’t resonate with me as individual photographs but the body of work as a whole was something very distinctive. I’m fairly certain Carlsen is a visitor from a parallel universe here to show a glimpse of what his world looks like.

Those unfamiliar with Jessica Eaton‘s work work and process might have a hard time believing these are even photographs. They are, and they’re created with film and a 4×5 camera in her Montreal studio. Over the last few years she’s received considerable attention for her work, and justifiably so. The reason she’s on my list is because she doesn’t seem to strike me as the type of artist that’s going to stop experimenting or pursuing new ideas. What she creates next will probably make people ask a whole new set of questions. The following quote is from an interview with The Believer. 

I think “abstract” is a weird word to apply to photography; de- or re-contextualized might be better. You’re recording light and light is. With analogue photography, there’s a fundamental connection to – maybe not “reality,” but physical phenomenon right? The pictures are of something that very much exists. Regardless of how we perceive reality, light is. It’s outside of ourselves, and it is.

Do I need to fully understand Kate Steciw’s work to appreciate it? I try to pick up what’s going on but more often than not my head ends up tied in knots, so I’ll just appropriate Kate’s own words from this interview with Rhizome.

I guess this impulse comes from a drive to reevaluate the predominant media via which so much of our culture is produced and disseminated. The conceptual drive in the work both online and off, two dimensional and three, has a lot to do with the ways in which photography creates appetites for physical objects that are then fulfilled to varying degrees of success or failure by the objects themselves — in particular, commercially manufactured objects. In a way, I see the objects and materials I use in the sculptural work function as images themselves. Similar to the tools used in Photoshop or other editing software, many of the objects we interface with on a daily basis come with prescribed uses. I believe that hidden in these prescribed uses are assumed ideologies that through misuse, omission or recombination can be revealed, reconsidered, or at the very least, interrupted.

Alec Soth is one of the most recognizable names in contemporary photography. I’m certain he could probably do very well for himself lugging around his 4×5 creating the type of work that made him famous. But he’s not that type of photographer or artist. He’s the type that’s going to experiment with different styles and formats, publish small zines, start single serving Tumblr’s, collaborate with writers, and generally do what all great artists do, which is fearlessly tip toe on the edge of complete failure.

These snapshots are from Paul Kwiatkowski‘s book ‘And Every Day Was Overcast.’ What makes them special? Well, nothing really. They’re out of context. To fully understand them you need to read the accompanying stories. Over the years I’ve been interested in how words and photographs work together, and after reading Paul’s book I finally understood the potential. It’s a high wire act that not many people will be able to pull off. Paul is a great writer and a great photographer. You’re not going to find that combination in many people. If you don’t believe me, take it from Ira Glass.

I just started the manuscript of this book, “And Every Day Was Overcast,” by Paul Kwiatkowski, that’s unlike any book I’ve ever read. He’s a photographer, and the book is a mix of this clean, spare, unaffected prose about growing up near the swamps of South Florida — plus these incredible photos he’s taken of that area. Seems like he spent his teenage years wandering from one trashy spot to another, drinking vodka, taking drugs and messing around with girls. It’s totally killing me. A completely original and clearheaded voice. Google him if you’re curious. Last I heard he doesn’t have a publisher because it’s such an in-between sort of project — part pictures, part story.

Bonus Photographer!

We all know the Vivian Maier story. Why is she my bonus photographer? What’s new about her photography? Well, I think these days perhaps the most bold thing a photographer can do is simply go out into the world and make photographs without any sort of desire for validation or recognition. I don’t know if this was Maier’s objective. We’ll probably never know, but the fact that she left her entire archive for a future generation to sort through, dissect and edit is something that has implications on our current state of internet image saturation.