Week 7&8 Contextual Research

This past two weeks I  attended the F-2-F. in Paris.  Being a long way from Los Angeles,  I decided to arrive a little early and stay a few days after the event. This rendezvous  basically ate up 12 days.  Well worth it on many levels. From a creative, technical and social perspective.

Paris photo was very informative and a little overwhelming. There where a lot of people and hundreds of booths. Very similar to the American Film Market I attend in Los Angeles where films, instead of photography is sold. They both have a sort of brothel quality to them.

I attended the first day with the cohorts, and the second day returned on my own.  I decided to brush by the booths slowly and see what caught my attention visually, in terms of form and content, as well as seek out the works of the old pro’s who have been around for a while, like Bill Eggleston. Eggleston’s Red Room, an image which I love (because of the redness, the composition and line that drags the eye to the center of the ceiling, to the bulb of illumination just waiting to be pulled. The image weirdness, it’s Americana-ness that one never sees anywhere else. I find these elements transforming.)

was on display, and a few of his other prints as well.

I thought it a good opportunity to look at the actual prints, which are Dye Transfers. I always imagined them to be very glossy and very saturated (as they appear in his book) so it was nice to have the opportunity to look at original prints.

I found the prints to be a tad dull, both in color and gloss, compared to modern Lightjet and Inkjet color printing techniques. The prints where not even as glossy or colorful as Ciba-Chrome prints, which are still available, and fortunately, by a lab close to me in Burbank called Ciba-Lab.  http://www.lab-ciba.com One of the few places left that can still do the process. The print did sell, I saw the tell tale little red sticker under the print. It went for €285,000.00 including the poster seen in the photograph at the bottom right.

I was in touch with a printer named Ctein (go figure) he looks like a Ctein as well, if one can imagine how a person with the name Ctein looks? well… he look exactly like that. http://ctein.com/howorder.htm  who still made Dye Transfer prints, but I think he has since ceased.  When I spoke to him many years back. A single print 20×24, cost in the region of $3200.00 with a 6 month waiting list.

Ctein

I was glad to have the opportunity to see these actual prints, as I have some color work myself and it’s nice to see all the options available, and the professionals who have used these older formats.

Most of the work that interested me was abstract works, and images that were printed on analogue paper. I found the Inkjet prints to be so technically perfect, that it was difficult to differentiate different artists work by their use of form, where as the old school prints all seemed to have their own marks of uniqueness, which I like, because they stood out in terms of form, as well as content.

I discovered a new photographer, who has been around for a long time, however, I had never heard of, by the name of Chargesheimer.  (Karl Heinz Hargesheimer)  He did some very interesting work with photograms

by painting chemicals on the paper and processing it. Some of the work I found to be very intriguing and mysterious, and I liked the way that he uses highlight and shadow as well the the forms and shapes that he creates in his work. In this particular photogram above, one gets lured into the darkness and wonderers what is beyond the image.  I found something similar I did in Light and Shadow in my first module.

https://pierrechemaly.myportfolio.com/shadow-light

I stayed on after Paris Photo and the Portfolio review to go up to Amsterdam to FOAM, as suggested by Anna to take a look at the work of Masahisa Fukase. I did look at his book on “Solitude of Ravens” however, it was good to see original prints of his work, I like to see the actual work. I found the prints in the book and the actual prints to be very closely matched, in tone, contact, and surface, except much larger prints were displayed at the museum.  In addition, FOAM had dedicated one entire floor to his work, which included Ravens, his big 20×24 polaroid prints as well as other works that I have not seen. It was nice to see Ravens in context of his other works, which consisted mostly of series as well.

The museum was small and gave me the opportunity to focus on a single photographer, instead of trying to focus on hundreds of photographers like at Photo Paris.  So, the experience was different. At Photo Paris I concentrated mainly on the form of the works, ie, presentation and mediums used by current and photographers past. By comparing prints on analogue to those made on digital, as well as photographs made on film compared to those made using digital cameras, I had the opportunity to make some AB comparisons, which I found useful because digital and analogue have always been at odds, not that one is better of worse, what I like are the differences.

In my own practice form and content are equally important. At FOAM I had the opportunity to focus on the content and form of the work of a single artist, where all his tools and worksheets were displayed, making it easier for me to figure his method of working. I am pretty proficient when it comes to the image making process and can pretty much figure out most ways images are made, but once in a while it is nice to have ones mental process confirmed with evidence, which was the case with the exhibition at FOAM. They had his camera, lens, film stock, contact sheet for all to see.

What I gleaned from Fukase in this module, is how to put a series together (poetically, as Anna called it. ) as opposed to technically. This is a nice break for me. I feel that Fukase has helped me understand how to put a series together in a creative way, instead of in a technical way, which I am so familiar with, but dislike intensely.

Fukase makes one ponder about the image, as in the one of the girls above. Why is this one of three young girls at the beach doing in a series of ravens? Answer:  It makes one think. And, my thoughts are: The girls hair looks like ruffled feathers, and the fact that their hair is black, also helps. The shape of a flying Raven protrudes out from the middle girls ear. On the left, at her ear, the hair is formed in such a way, that I can see it’s beak and claws. So when I see an image like this, I look intensely for those minute particulars. Now, I don’t know if I’m correct or not, but it gives me search and discovery satisfaction to see things that aren’t actually there?

I like form to play a part in my image making process, I like using different cameras, film, processing techniques. I use digital as well as analogue printing to give my images mood, and the setting for the content, if you will.  For me, Fukase is the ideal photographer to look at, both for form and content. I like the way his images look, they are not perfect as far as exposure, contrast, tones, grain, or even composition for that matter, in fact these technicalities are rather weak. However, I have always found imperfection attractive, and he gives me the affirmation that it’s okay to be imperfect, because liking it is one thing, doing it is another.

Paris Photo helped me concretize the medium I am going to work in for this module and hopefully for my FMP, which is analogue 35mm and 6×6 medium format B+W film which I will  hand develop myself and scan as well as make prints in my darkroom. There may be a slight chance that I may incorporate color into my FMP later on, but not sure yet. I will explore this possibility as I move along the course.

 

Citations:

Masahisa Fukase:https://www.michaelhoppengallery.com/artists/162-masahisa-fukase/overview/

Chargesheimer image: http://nonfigurativephoto.blogspot.com/2018/02/why-is-chargesheimer-so-overlooked.html

Red Room Eggleston: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-what-you-need-to-know-about-william-eggleston