Today I was lucky enough to visit the Pier 24 exhibit A Sense of Place before it closes at the end of May. Pier 24 is an amazing, free photography museum right under the Bay Bridge. Only 20 people are allowed in at a time to view an amazing selection of photos. This exhibit explores how photographs shape our perception of environments. I really enjoyed seeing work by Paul Graham, Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Edward Burtynsky, Todd Hido, and Rinko Kawauchi. The absolute highlight was an entire room full of Lee Friedlander’s America by Car series. Unfortunately this book is currently out of print. And speaking of print, Pier 24 has exhibition catalogs from some of their previous shows available at very reasonable prices. The next exhibit is scheduled to open in August of 2014.
Time-lapse technical details: The time-lapse was shot with a Ricoh GR camera on a strap around my neck. The exposures were 1/30 at f/4, ISO 800. The camera was set to shoot small jpegs every 2 seconds. The resulting 1,425 images were minimally processed and then cropped to 1280×720 in Lightroom. The time-lapse was assembled and output in Photoshop. Titles and music were added in iMovie. The music is Perfect Dream from the 2006 self-titled album by Natural Dreamers.
Still, if the only goal were to attain quick visibility in the art world, the formula (at least on paper) is absurdly simple: devote ten percent of your effort to artmaking, and ninety percent to marketing and self-promotion. But that gambit works (when it does work) only as long as you keep sprinting down the fame & fortune treadmill — pause for an instant and it’s a straight drop into oblivion. The fact that cultivated fame has little substance behind it, however, hardly slows the stampede. In our media-dominated culture it’s an open question whether fame is the result of accomplishment, or whether fame — all by itself — is the accomplishment.
Ian Smith is a marquetry artist based in the UK. He creates amazing hand made images by designing, cutting, and laying out wood veneers. A few months ago he completed a wood version of a 360 night panorama that I shot of an old gas station in Desert Center, California. The gas station piece was a hit in a recent art show, and will soon be making the journey from England to California, where it will be displayed on my wall.
Who needs a tablet under the tree anyways — I want photo books! Here are 7 works that I read in the second half of 2012 that were an artistic inspiration. And here are more art books from the first half of the year.
Infra: Photographs by Richard Mosse
I saw Richard Mosse’s book Infra when browsing the photo section of The Strand book store in New York last month. My only real association with color infrared is the classic Beefheart and Zappa album covers. Mosse has pulled off an amazing accomplishment. This book contains amazingly beautiful large format war photos from the Congo shot on expired color infrared surveillance film. Lying somewhere between photojournalism and art, Infra is hypnotizing. Hands down the must see book of the year.
William Eggleston: Chromes
While in New York, I thought I was saving money by crashing with photographer Gabriel Biderman for a couple of nights. On top of his excellent collection of photo books was a fresh copy of William Eggleston’s Chromes. The lost scrolls of contemporary color photography? Beautifully produced by Steidl, Chromes is 3 hardcover books in a case. It’s like having 3 more Eggleston’s Guides. The current $345 price tag is steep, and will only get steeper. After spending an evening with this amazing series of photos, there was no doubt that I needed a copy. Hey, $345 is about what 2 nights in a New York hotel would have cost me — so thanks, Gabe!
Bruce Davidson: Outside Inside
Did I mention that Gabe also had a copy of Steidl’s 3 volume set of Bruce Davidson photos? Over 800 images chosen by Davidson. And at $195, this set is reasonably priced compared to Chromes. John Bartlestone: The Brooklyn Navy Yard
Also on the shelf at Mr. Biderman’s was John Bartelstone’s black and white documentary look at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York’s oldest industrial facility. If you’re interested in the history and transformation of World War II military facilities, this book is a must see. Bartelstone is an architectural photographer, and the compositions are very clean. The book shows a great feeling for the location. Highly recommended, especially if you’re interested in this type of subject matter. In Camera: Francis Bacon: Photography, Film and the Practice of Painting
In Camera takes a deep dive into how one of the greatest painters of the 20th century used photography as an inspiration. In addition to the interesting biographical details that emerge from this look at Bacon’s process, we are treated to some insights into how images can trigger feelings and memories. I picked this book up from the returns cart at the library, and it’s a sleeper. Highly recommended, whether you’re new to Bacon’s paintings or already a fan of his work. Jean-Philippe Toussaint: Camera
Less plot, more character. Hinting at something. Making you think a little bit. Very subtle comedy — this description of Toussaint’s book could very well substitute for what I’d like my photographs to do. Chris Ware: Building Stories
Let’s just get this out of the way first — Chris Ware’s 14-piece graphic-novel-in-a-box is a wonderful but melancholy work of art. Building Stories is also a riveting story, and amazingly designed. Viktor Pelevin: Omon Ra
What if you dreamed of entering the Soviet Space program and going to the moon. And what if you got your wish. And what if it turned out to be something very different than you expected. Life’s funny that way. If you like black humor and space travel, this is your book.
What follows is a list of the top 10 books that have inspired me in the first half of 2012. The list is in no particular order except for Robert Irwin interviews (#1), which is one of the most thought provoking art books I’ve read in a long time. Have you read anything outstanding this year? Feel free to add a comment or connect on goodreads.com.
Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees – One of the most inspiring books about an artist that I’ve ever read. Robert Irwin has had a lifelong interest in creating art that asks questions about perception. Reading about the evolution of his work from abstract expressionism to altering space itself will change how you see the world. Highly recommended for all visual artists.
Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – A new translation of the classic 1972 Russian sci-fi novel that was the basis for Tarkovsky’s film Stalker. A really compelling story, even if you don’t typically read sci-fi. Some key plot differences from Stalker make this a really fun read if you’ve seen the film. In the afterword, Boris Strugatsky talks about how one of the original words for the stalkers was prospectors — a great metaphor for those interested in exploring mysterious ruins.
Talking Heads’ Fear of Music – Jonathan Lethem has been on a roll lately and his homage to Fear of Music is no exception. At times the album is really just a point of departure for Lethem to wax poetic about growing up in New York in the late 70′s, and the joy of finding music that speaks to you.
Blue Desert – Charles Bowden has a deep understanding of the effects of development on the Southwest. Recommended reading for desert rats.
Daniel Clowes: Conversations – Fifteen interviews over a 20 year period. If you’re a fan of his work, and especially if you draw, this book is a really interesting read. Clowes is sarcastic, funny, and has some great insights into the evolution of his style over time.
The Pond – John Gossage’s book is considered by some to be one of the most important photo books in the post-New Topographics continuum. I find Robert Adams’ landscape work to be too subtle sometimes, but The Pond speaks to me. What a unique sense of framing, sequencing, and ultimately place.
Lee Friedlander: Self Portrait – I don’t like self portraits as a genre. This book is the one exception. Friedlander expresses the pure joy and amusement of making shape, line, shadow, and reflection into a picture.
First Pictures – A collection of 140 photos in 4 bodies of work made by Joel Sternfeld between 1971-1980. It would be easy for this book to be overshadowed by Sternfeld’s next phase that culminated in American Prospects. But First Pictures isn’t just early work that’s interesting when considering the development of an important and influential photographer – there are some amazing, raw, exciting photos here. The printing on the NY street work that was shot with open flash is especially fine – lushly dark, with no midtones. And the photos of people at malls holding up their purchases are hilarious for a child of the 70′s. Highly recommended.
Headlands: The Marin Coast at the Golden Gate – If you’ve hiked around the bunkers and seacoast fortifications in the Marin Headlands, this book is a must see, and can usually be picked up for under $10 used. The historic photographs of the batteries being built are amazing. Mark Klett’s black and white Type 55 photos are wonderful, and some of the other contributors include Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel.