An exhibit of photographs by Tokihiro Sato is on display at the Haines Gallery in San Francisco from September 2 – October 23, 2010. The exhibit was previously shown at Tonkonow in New York, and reviewed by DLK Collection. Sato uses an 8×10 view camera to make exposures that are often measured in hours, during which he adds light, often by reflecting the sun back into the camera with a mirror. Unfortunately the previously inexpensive slim monograph Photo Respirations has gone out of print, and is now upwards of $100. A number of journals featuring Sato’s work are available through Abe Books.
During a full moon road trip last month, Troy Paiva and I got caught in an intense storm while shooting at the mining ruins of Kincaid, Nevada. As the lightning got closer we pointed our cameras in the direction of the strikes, and Troy made the fantastic image above. A composite of multiple 4 minute exposures in order to blend the best take of the flashlight painting on the house with the lightning strike in the sky.
New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape opened yesterday at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and runs through October 3, 2010 along with the companion exhibit, Picturing Modernity. I visited the museum yesterday, and really enjoyed the show. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the superb New Topographics book — viewing the actual prints was exciting.
Most of the exhibition contains small silver gelatin black and white prints with an open, low/medium contrast style of printing that is befitting of the subject matter. A few of the Lewis Baltz prints are a notable exception, with very deep blacks and stark high contrast printing. Stephen Shore’s photos are the only color images in the show.
Seeing the Joe Deal aerial subdivision views all together on the wall gave them a lot more weight than in the book. There is so much tension in not having any sky or horizon line. My eye wants to see something in the image as the horizon, which gives an off-kilter feeling to some of the images.
Finding a photographic approach that deferred and complexified meaning rather than specifying it, is what made these pictures interesting to me. — John Schott
John Schott’s work was also better on the wall than in the book. His accompanying audio segment is especially poignant. I’m still puzzling out how Nicholas Nixon’s Boston rooftop images fit into the show – they’re dense with the detail of the city skyline. Gohlke’s irrigation canal image is a deceivingly simple image that reflects the man vs. nature theme of the show so well with the beautiful sky and reflection balanced by weeds and tire tracks in the mud.
After seeing large prints of the Becher’s Industrial Landscapes a few years ago, the smaller prints in this show seemed lackluster, and a few are in need of conservation. This re-staging of the 1975 exhibit really shows the modest scale of the prints in the current era of giant 10 foot prints that are trying to compete with painting. After spending a considerable amount of time contemplating these intimate black and white prints, the large scale of the work in the Fisher Collection seemed rather ostentatious at times. Perhaps you’ll want to save that exhibition for another day.
Tip: Pick up the free audio tour to the left of the staircase as you walk into the museum. The New Topographics exhibit features about 2 minutes of commentary from most of the photographers.
Books from the Photographers in New Topographics
The New Topographics book is outstanding. Published by Steidl this year, the title seems to regularly go in and out of stock with each press run. I recommend reading the essays before seeing the show. The reproduction of the original catalog in the book is very cool. Below is a selected book list of photographers in the show, some with brief commentary. If there are photographers in the show that you’d like to investigate further, hopefully this list will save you some time.
- Summer Nights, Walking — night photography of Colorado in the 1970′s.
- Why People Photograph — a highly recommended book of inspiring essays on photography.
- The New West: Landscapes Along the Colorado Front Range
- What We Bought: The New World: Scenes from the Denver Metropolitan Area, 1970-1974
- The New Industrial Parks Near Irvine, California — The hardback from 2001 is about $45. A paperback re-issue is scheduled for later this year.
- Nevada 1977 — really looking forward to this one.
Bernd and Hilla Becher
- Industrial Landscapes — my favorite of the Becher books, these images show more of the surrounding landscape than the typologies.
- Bernd and Hilla Becher: Life and Work
- Thoughts on Landscape: Collected Writings and Interviews — there is gold in this book. Highly recommended right alongside Why People Photograph.
- Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke
- The Brown Sisters. Thirty-Three Years — an essential book for anyone interested in portrait photography.
- Live, Love, Look, Last
- Family Pictures (Photographers at Work)
- No monographs other than inclusion in the New Topographics book.
Lensflare35 features an extensive audio interview with night photographer Troy Paiva. Troy talks about his influences, light painting, urban exploration, and explains the lighting in a slideshow full of images.
Over the weekend, Blake Andrews posted an interview with Troy Paiva and me about night photography, ruin porn, and urban exploration.