The Digest – December 30th, 2012

©Timothy Briner – from ‘Sandy’

It’s the end of the year! Not a big deal in my book. But I would like to thank everyone that’s followed along and contributed this year. The relationship between publisher and audience is interesting in the digital age. For one, I don’t really think of you as my audience. Some people like to use the word community, but that doesn’t work for me either. I rarely interact with most of you on a personal level. So, how to describe this relationship? Sometimes I like to consider LPV a collaboration. That might not be completely appropriate either, but it’s what I’m going with. I’m a big believer in serendipity and this year has reinforced that. The people I’m interested in working with seem to find me at the right time.

I think we sometimes forget that there are many people that simply use the internet to listen and read. They’re not necessarily out there Tweeting, or promoting themselves aggressively on every social network. So, I suppose I want to send a special thank you to the silent majority out there that support LPV and other online outlets.

One more quick note. Tomorrow I’m going to publish my ‘What I read’ article. It’s filled with tons of links!

Onward to 2013

Links of Note

Gigi Giannuzzi, Founder of Trolley Books died way too early: 

In the tributes posted on Giannuzzi’s Facebook page, friends and colleagues frequently use the words “maverick,” “character” and “mad” to describe him. Berman notes, “When I saw him in London at the hospital just a few days before he died, he had two requests: to get him on an email list for an anti-slavery group I had attended, and to continue photographing fracking because [hydraulic] drilling had started in England and he was furious about it.”

PDN interviewed Foam’s Marcel Feil: 

PDN: What else did you learn from that project?

MF: There is always a need to show works from the past and to explain where photography came from and explain the path photography took and how we came to our current day.

Also one of our outcomes is the need for something or somebody that edits the increasingly large photographic footage that is made on a daily basis. We almost drown in this ocean of photographs that are uploaded on the Internet everyday, and all works are taken out of the original context and decontextualized. [We need] this editing process, because there is too much for [people] to select. That is perhaps [a] quite old-fashioned task for a museum to select, present [images] in a sensible way and explain things.

The same thing is true for the internet. I think the function of blogs is also to select and to pick those things that are really worth picking and to tell why… to really set things apart. I think there is still a huge, open territory online for us. We tried to develop the whole website into an autonomous platform for photography on its own means and of course you can do different kinds of things there. You can communicate with different groups in a different way and present photography in a completely different way and it’s simply trying to do justice to photographic practice of today. And the online existence is a huge part of that.

PDN: Where do you look for what’s new and interesting in photography?

I don’t look enough. I don’t visit enough. It’s always a struggle with time available. And of course the daily practice here with the museum is quite time consuming so before you know it you miss things and you don’t actually go out and visit exhibitions or galleries or visit artists at the studio. It is something really that we have to be aware of and protect ourselves from. How do we keep ourselves informed? One of the strategies from Foam is to build a network of artists and institutions. Partly through those collaborations that we did, but also we have a fairly fine network of artists and galleries that inform us. Every year we make the Talent Issue of the magazine. We do an open call and every year roughly a thousand artists from all over the world… send us the work and we always look at it, because there is always a huge amount of interesting work being made. Some is mature and some is not really there, but it at least informs us. And although we can only publish roughly 16 portfolios in the magazine, there’s always 20-30 other artists that are really interesting. So we have an annual update on that respect and in the magazine we definitely can and will present different kinds of work from the museum. It can be more young or challenging or risky, anarchistic, against the current, and photography that is better off in Foam magazine than in a solo exhibition in a museum.

We look at a lot of blogs, always a handful of blogs I appreciate and try to go back to. These are things that we can do in our own time when we are exhausted back home on the couch. The surfing part.

By talking to artists, artists can be a huge reservoir for knowledge, because they simply look and judge things in a different manner. I’m always quite [happy] when I sit with an artist who I know has a well-developed taste that goes beyond their own interests. I always like to hang out with book publishers, especially those small independent book publishers, they always have an eye for new and interesting things.

Refreshing interview. I especially appreciate that he understands that no single publisher can possibly cover all the good work being produced.

The guys at 1/125th on Rineke Dijkstra (and Cindy Sherman): 

I found Dijkstra’s photographs deeply off-putting. It’s tricky to pin down precisely why, though. Taken individually, they’re blandly enigmatic, which I think is more or less the default for large-format color portraits these days. They’re well-executed, and executed in service of a substantial organizing principle: recording subjects in periods of intense transition. (Adolescence, childbirth, military service, bullfighting, etc.)

The implication is that a photograph of a person in such a state will somehow provide more information, or more insight, or more truth — either into the subjects, or into humanity at large. In other words, Dijkstra’s photography seems to be working along philosophical principles similar to those of Shan Yu. Which is to say, it’s (a) creepy and (b) horseshit.

In fact, the way that Dijkstra polices contextualizing details within the frame systematically renders them less informative and less revealing — or, rather, it renders them informative and revealing only about Dijkstra. (Which I regard as a bug, although it can also be regarded as a feature.)

Dijkstra’s photographs form an incredible artifice — which would not necessarily be objectionable if they were not presented as offering an appearance-transcending insight. They deliver the viewer a visceral stimulus sterilized of context and specificity, but with a branding of verisimilitude. A bit like pornography presented in the format of an anatomy textbook.

This article in aeon takes on the fakery of the art world: 

In the place of modernist severity comes a kind of institutionalised fakery. Public galleries and big collections fill with the pre-digested clutter of modern life. Such art eschews subtlety, allusion and implication, and in place of imagined ideals in gilded frames it offers real junk in quotation marks. It is indistinguishable in the end from advertising — with the sole qualification that it has no product to sell except itself.

Yeah ok. Another intellectual that thinks modern art is superficial and meaningless. He makes some good points though. I imagine most people will just roll their eyes at it though. I wouldn’t blame them.

Wayne Bremser thinks Flickr is still Great: 

Recently I looked at my Flickr account, and of my 768 contacts, 240 have uploaded in the past week, 360 this month. This was before the new iOS app and Instagram TOS meltdown. These are impressive statistics, considering I’ve been a member since 2005. After hearing it declared “dead” and “irrelevant,” this is a community of people that care about what they are putting up. So much so that many of them pay for it. Flickr is already the paid alternative so many people are clamoring for. Your photos will not be used to create “meaningful brand engagement.” Years after Flickr ceased to be an exciting business story, it remains one of the most important places for photography culture online.

©Alain Laboile - via ‘Capturing a Childhood Idyll in France’ [LENS]