Power plant accoutrements -- by Joe Reifer

23 epiphanies: Ramblings on artistic influences

Power plant accoutrements -- by Joe Reifer

Power plant accoutrements — by Joe Reifer

My presentation at last week’s Mono Lake Night Photography Festival was about the value of cultivating a diverse set of artistic influences. You are already doing this informally. The idea is to talk or write about your artistic input, as a playground for better understanding how these things are influencing your artistic output.

I had 45 minutes to talk, and spent just under 2 minutes talking about how each of these artists has influenced my night photography. As the presentation was both fast and media intensive, I’ve reproduced the list of artists below for those who attended the conference.

I encourage you to make your own list of influences. This could be a desert island list of your favorite films, photography books, novels, museum exhibits, dance performances — whatever you’re into. Making a list is the first step — the epiphanies are born out of process of articulating why you love this work, and how the work has influenced you. The writing doesn’t have to be lengthy — start with one sentence for the why, and one for the how. Have fun, and feel free to share your list.

  1. Gordon Matta-Clark: Conical Intersect [video on UbuWeb] [photos & bio on artnet]
  2. John Divola: Vandalism Series [photos on divola.com]
  3. Roger Ballen: Outland | Shadow Chamber | Boarding House
  4. John Pfahl: Altered Landscapes
  5. Draw on your image: To be discussed in a future blog post
  6. Gaspar Noe: Enter the Void [Netflix]
  7. Matthew Barney: Cremaster Cycle
  8. Werner Herzog: Of Walking In Ice
  9. Mark Rothko: Rothko’s Rooms [Netflix]
  10. William Vollmann: Imperial
  11. Michelangelo Antonioni: Red Desert [Netflix]
  12. David T. Hanson: Waste Land
  13. Flotation Tanks
  14. Haruki Murakami: A Wild Sheep Chase
  15. Ikeda Carlotta: Butoh Dance
  16. Yasujiro Ozu: Tokyo Story [Netflix]
  17. Master Musicians of Jajouka: Apocalypse Across the Sky | Pipes of Pan
  18. Lotte Reiniger: The Adventures of Prince Achmed [Netflix]
  19. Caspar David Friedrich [friendsofart.net]
  20. John Hind: Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight
  21. Chris Verene: Family | Chris Verene
  22. Jacques Tati: Playtime
  23. Erik Kessels: In Almost Every Picture #9 Black Dog

Note: Book and movie links go to Amazon, and help put a few extra pennies into the epiphany research jar.

12 thoughts on “23 epiphanies: Ramblings on artistic influences”

  1. I’m so pop and mainstream by comparison . . .

    Films: Vanishing Point, Blade Runner
    Books: Earth Abides, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Stand
    Music: Frank Zappa, The Beatles, 70s Yes and Genesis
    Architects and designers: Ray Lowey, Eero Saarinen, Hugh Ferris, John Hench, Syd Mead
    Painters: Dali, John Berkey, Robt. Williams, Ralph Steadman, Todd Schorr
    Photographers: Misrach, Chip Simons, Bill Lesch, Storm Thorgeson

    All of these are easily googled. There are many others in all those categories, these just fell out of my head first.

    I’m seldom inspired by purely conceptual artists. I’m a fan of the ornate, grandiose and complex. I’d rather see a home made model of the Eifel Tower made out of toothpicks, or dioramas made out of roadkill squirrels (ala Dinner for Schmucks) than any bs Rothko painting 100 out of 100 times. I believe artistry and technique trumps concept, every time.

  2. Not that I want to follow Troy’s post…thanks again Joe for a excellent presentation! I looked forward to it and was not one bit disappointed.
    Thanks also for the easy links here. You gave many at the Festival a lot to think about. Well done!

  3. Joe,

    Thanks again for a great presentation. It gave me a lot to think about. I’m definitely going to watch “Enter the Void”. And I loved the “…Black Dog”.


  4. Great presentation. Matthew Barney continues to make my head explode.

    I’d have to put some architects on my list: Mies van der Rohe, Saarinen, Le Corbusier.

    Stewart Brand’s “How Buildings Learn” (book and then BBC special) has a wide range of examples of how people adapt their built environment over time. It gave me a lot to think about considering my interest in abandoned places subject matter.

  5. I just wanted to echo everyone else by saying thanks for a great presentation! It’s the kind of thing that photographers don’t always think about, and yet, we would be better off if we paid more attention to why we create what we do. Thanks for trying open our eyes more!

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