Archive for the 'digital archive' Category

12
Nov
13

Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection at Historic New England, Boston, Mass. now available online

Historic New England

.

I had never heard of this photographer before, but it is such a joy that these photographs have been digitised and are now available online. How gloriously elegant these yachts were (but still at the cutting edge of technology of their day), when compared with the ugly, contemporary America’s Cup trimarans.

All the photographs in this posting are wonderful for their classical eloquence and framing of the subject. I especially like the first image, George W. Wells (1900, below), as the photographer stands on a tug belching smoke that has gone out to meet the largest schooner in the world at the time. With land in the distance and a rope snaking across the water back to the tug, the lack of sail – along with the darkness of the hull and the attitude of the ship – make it seem as though this were a ghost ship. The other image I particularly like is Start of Schooners (1920, below). The angles of the three ships as they manoeuvre on a seemingly becalmed sea adds a wonderful aura to the photograph.

Can you imagine trying to take these photographs using a large format camera with dry-plate glass negatives on the open sea? While dry-plate photography with its fast exposure time and ease of use had made photography more practical, the difficulty of getting an in focus image on an open, exposed, rocking ship would have been enormous. That the artist achieved such outstanding results says a lot about his previsualisation and his expertise and craftsmanship as a photographer.

Marcus

.
Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All images © Historic New England

.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'George W. Wells' 1900-10-26

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
George W. Wells
1900-10-26
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
The first arrival of the new George W. Wells in Boston, then the world’s largest schooner and its first six masted schooner. The tug Storm King picked her up off Highland Light and N. L. Stebbins probably went on the Storm King to take this photo.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'George W. Wells' 1900-10-26

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
George W. Wells
1900-10-26
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Gadabout' 1893-10-07

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Gadabout
1893-10-07
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
Taken on the day of the first America’s Cup race between Vigilant and Valkyrie, 15 miles to windward and return, starting from Sandy Hook Lightship, Vigilant won.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Egeria' 1886-07-09

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Egeria
1886-07-09
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

.

“Historic New England announced that it’s collection of Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographs will be accessible online on August 22, 2013. Stebbins, a celebrated marine photographer, captured the quintessential New England pastimes of yachting and racing, as well as an extraordinary variety of marine vessels. This spectacular photographic collection consists of approximately 6,000 original prints. Dating from the early 1880s to c. 1922, the images depict recreational sailing vessels, steamships, ferries, and police boats, as well as boatyards and other dockside facilities. The images are a record of an important era in maritime history and document commercial and recreational maritime activities that would eventually fade away due to changes in transportation and technology. Architectural views are also part of the collection.

Born in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Stebbins developed a love of ships at a young age, and made an ocean voyage to South America as a young man. He published several books on marine and naval topics, including The New Navy of the United States (1912), The Illustrated Coast Pilot, with Sailing Directions (1891), and The Yachtsman’s Album (1896). Stebbins took roughly 25,000 photographs before his death in 1922. The digitization of the Stebbins collection is an important step in Historic New England’s ongoing Collections Access Project, which launched in 2010. The Northeast Document Conservation Center and the Boston Public Library in conjunction with the Digital Commonwealth participated in the effort.”

Text from the Art Daily website

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Puritan' 1885-08-03

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Puritan
1885-08-03
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
Goelet Cup, Newport 

“Mr. N. L. Stebbins, the marine photographer, succeeded in getting a large number of views of the Puritan, Priscilla and other yachts in the race for the Goelet cups Monday [1885-08-03].” (Source: Anon. “Yachting Spray.” Boston Globe, August 9, 1885, p. 6)

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Mayflower' 1886-09-07

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Mayflower
1886-09-07
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
First race for the America’s Cup 1886, Mayflower won against Galatea

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'America's Cup Race: Start, Vigilant and Valkyrie' 1893-10-07

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
America’s Cup Race: Start, Vigilant and Valkyrie
1893-10-07
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
First America’s Cup race, 15 miles to windward and return, starting from Sandy Hook Lightship, Vigilant won

.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins (January 9, 1847 – July 10, 1922) was a noted American marine photographer, whose surviving photographs document an important era in the development of American maritime activities, as sweeping technological and social changed revolutionized activity on the water, in military, commercial and leisure spheres… He became interested in photography in about 1882, shortly after the introduction of dry-plate photography, with its fast exposure time and ease of use, made photography more practical. With an interest in the sea, and little competition in that area, it was natural that he should specialize in maritime photography.

Over his working career as a commercial photographer (from 1884 to 1922), he took approximately 25,000 images. Of these, about 60% were of marine subjects (the majority of those being of leisure activities, but many are of military and commercial scenes, a valuable record for historians). The remainder include a wide variety of commercial work, including the theatre, railroads, home interiors, etc. His collection at his death included about 20,000 negatives, almost all on glass plates (the usual medium for high-resolution negatives in his time); it was bought by another photographer, and on his death, many of Stebbins’ plates were sold for scrap (tradition holds that they were used in greenhouses).

A few plates found their way to the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and another small group eventually wound up at the Mariners’ Museum, but the bulk of the remaining collection (about 5,000 images total, of which a little over 2,500 are the original glass negatives) were rescued for Historic New England by William Appleton, the founder of the Society. Almost all are of maritime subjects; very little of his non-maritime work survives.”

Text from the Wikipedia website

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'America's Cup Race: Two minutes after start, Valkyrie & Vigilant' 1893-10-09

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
America’s Cup Race: Two minutes after start, Valkyrie & Vigilant
1893-10-09
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
Second America’s Cup race between Vigilant and Valkyrie, equilateral triangle, starting from Sandy Hook Lightship, Vigilant won

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'America's Cup Race: Vigilant at the mark' 1893-10-05

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
America’s Cup Race: Vigilant at the mark
1893-10-05
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

First America’s Cup race, 15 miles to windward and return, starting from Sandy Hook Lightship, Vigilant won.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Colonia, Vigilant & Jubilee' 1893-08-11

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Colonia, Vigilant & Jubilee
1893-08-11
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

Defender

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Defender
1895-07-20
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
First trial race between Defender and Vigilant, 30 miles windward and leeward from Scotland lightship. Defender’s first race and win. Defender, designed and built in 1895 by N. G. Herreshoff to defend the America’s Cup against Valkyrie III. Her bottom was polished bronze, but her topsides, deck beams, and some of her deck framing were aluminum (making her a giant battery with electrolysis).

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Elsemarie' 1895-08-02

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Elsemarie
1895-08-02
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
Goelet Cup, Newport

N. L. Stebbins took photos from the Amadis (Boston Globe, Aug. 3, 1895, p. 1-2). Volunteer won the slop class (after Defender had been disabled by a broken gaff); Emerald the schooner class.

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Gitana' 1888-06-10

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Gitana
1888-06-10
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Jubilee' 1893-09-07

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Jubilee
1893-09-07
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.
First trial race to choose an America’s Cup defender

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Start of Schooners' 1920-07-10

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Start of Schooners
1920-07-10
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer) 'Troubadour' 1888-08-14

.

Nathaniel Livermore Stebbins 1847-1922 (Photographer)
Troubadour
1888-08-14
Nathaniel L. Stebbins photographic collection
© Historic New England

.

.

Historic New England website

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

20
Jun
13

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: South Yarra and surrounds, 1994

.

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

.

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

.

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Stained glass, cracked' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Stained glass, cracked
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'White door 1' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
White door 1
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien, 1994' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Damien, 1994
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Night repair' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Night repair
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry holding a brush, South Yarra' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Jerry holding a brush, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry behind safety screen, Punt Road, South Yarra' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Jerry behind safety screen, Punt Road, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Presence' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Presence
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Nautilus shell in cup' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Nautilus shell in cup
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Jerry with shaved head' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Jerry with shaved head
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Undergrowth' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Undergrowth
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'White door 2' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
White door 2
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien sitting outside his flat, South Yarra, 1994' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Damien sitting outside his flat, South Yarra, 1994
1994
Silver gelatin photograph
.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Trees, capstone, shadows' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Trees, capstone, shadows
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Damien with snake' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Damien with snake
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Glass bird, Punt Road, South Yarra' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Glass bird, Punt Road, South Yarra
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Easter Sunday' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Easter Sunday
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Capstone, night, Windsor train station' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Capstone, night, Windsor train station
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

Marcus Bunyan. 'Paul, cock on anvil' 1994

.

Marcus Bunyan
Paul, cock on anvil
1994
Silver gelatin photograph

.

.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

LIKE ART BLART ON FACEBOOK

Back to top

19
Jan
12

marcus bunyan black and white archive: self-portraits and nudes, 1991/2

.

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

All images © Marcus Bunyan but can be used freely anywhere with the proper acknowledgement. Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

.

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Self-portrait in Punk Jacket
1991/2

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Marcus Sucking His Thumb
1991/2

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Marcus in his Punk Jacket, Punt Road, South Yarra
1991/2

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Marcus as The Fool (posing for the sculptor Fredrick White)
1991/2

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Nude, in the Flat, Rear of Derelict House, 455, Punt Road, South Yarra
1992

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Nude on Floor (with Clifford Last)
1992

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Nude on Couch, Punt Road, South Yarra
1992

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
Nude on Couch, Punt Road, South Yarra
1992

.

.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

Back to top

16
Jul
11

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘At Newport’ series 1991

.

I am scanning my negatives made during the years 1991 – 1997 to preserve them in the form of an online archive as a process of active memory, so that the images are not lost forever. These photographs were images of my life and imagination at the time of their making, the ideas I was thinking about and the people and things that surrounded me.

Please click the photographs for a larger version of the image; remember these are just straight scans of the negatives !

.

1991

‘At Newport’ series

This series of photographs was taken in Melbourne at the old Victorian Railway’s Newport Workshops and formed the second part of my first solo exhibition, ‘Of Myth, Magic and Music’ held in 1991. Some of the titles e.g. ‘Fords are a Joke, GMH are shit’ (1991, below) are taken from the graffiti scrawled on various surfaces. All are silver gelatin photographs on fibre-based paper.

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Fords are a Joke, GMH are shit’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Harrys got a…’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Screened figure’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Heavy springs’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Untitled’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘I, Robot’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Large Anvil’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Spring, Turrets, Keep and Ladder’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Big Cogs’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Coronation’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Frank’s Apron’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Hand is fucked, Farm is flooded, Caravan drifted away I’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Hand is fucked, Farm is flooded, Caravan drifted away II’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Untitled’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Hoe with Surging Rainwater’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Forms I’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Forms II’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Forms III’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan
‘Forms IV’
from the ‘At Newport’ series
1991

.

.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

Back to top

28
Apr
09

The Donora Digital Collection

 

I stumbled across this digital collection quite by accident when researching something entirely different and was amazed by some of the powerful images that reflect life in a Pennsylvanian industrial town.

 

“The month of October, 2008 marks the 60th Anniversary of a 1948 Donora smog incident that claimed the lives of at least 21 people and sickened thousands. All signs pointed towards the emissions from the world’s largest zinc mill and a weather inversion that encompassed the geographical horseshoe of the Mon Valley. Sixty years later a museum opened on McKean Avenue to preserve and share the unique history of Donora, PA and to celebrate the clean air movement that followed. This Digital Collection is the site of a special exhibit devoted to the arduous process of digitally preserving and cataloging hundreds of the primary source materials that have survived the test of time. These materials provide special insight into industrial and social aspects of American life in southwestern Pennsylvania and date from the beginning of Donora at the turn of the 20th century up to the current period.”

Text from the The Donora Digital Collection website

 

A shot of the Wire Works Acid Plant from across the Monongahela River nd

 

‘A shot of the Wire Works Acid Plant from across the Monongahela River’
nd

 

Looking toward the Zinc Works in Donora, PA from Webster, PA, 1948

 

‘Looking toward the Zinc Works in Donora, PA from Webster, PA’
1948

 

Open Hearth and Rod Yard nd

 

‘Open Hearth and Rod Yard’
nd

 

Wire workers in mill near large cables, August, 29, 1925

 

‘Wire workers in mill near large cables, August, 29, 1925′

 

Acid storage area nd

 

‘Acid storage area’
nd

 

Workers among huge gear mechanisms nd

 

‘Workers among huge gear mechanisms’
nd

 

Workers and crane inside the Wire Works, July 14, 1925

 

‘Workers and crane inside the Wire Works, July 14, 1925′

 

Man in suit underneath train nd

 

‘Man in suit underneath train’
nd

 

The last photograph is one of the most painful and emotive I have seen in a long time. ‘Man in suit underneath train’.

Sitting in a suit under a train this photograph says nothing but everything about this man’s life. He sits in the dirt, crumpled suit, dirty shirt, filthy hands, head bowed, one armed with his left suit sleeve hanging limply at his side, eyes daubed with dark rings staring straight at the camera under glowering lids. This is me this is who I am! he declares. Sitting in the dirt in a suit under a train.

Perhaps he was a odd job worker in the town, but he doesn’t wear a labourers clothes and the suit is incongruous with his dirty hand. Perhaps he was a hobo hopping from town to town on the railcars hoping not to get caught. From the photograph it looks like the 1920s. The dark shadow of the train looms menacingly over him and two steel poles lay abandoned by the tracks. I can’t make out what the writing says directly above him and I am unsure whether it is written on the side of the train or on the photograph itself. But it is his text, the marking an anonymous epitaph for his life: “I was here, I lived.”

And I thank God he did.

 

 

The Donora Digital Collection
Donora, PA: From its Origins to the Nationwide Case for Clean Air

The Donora Digital Collection website

Bookmark and Share

28
Mar
09

Exhibition: ‘Plant Studies by Karl Blossfeldt and Related Works’ at Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne

Exhibition dates: March 13th – 17th June 2009

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

“According to the records, attention was drawn to Karl Blossfeldt s work in particular by the fact that the Berlin gallerist Karl Nierendorf heard about his work and presented the first exhibition of his photographs outside the school context in 1926. The plant photographs, still under the influence of the ornamental art nouveau although more as a reaction to it were highly appreciated in the early days of New Objectivity. These studies seemed to put into practice the newly formed principles contained in the art of the 1920s, in which there was a demand for things to be presented without artistic digression, in a clear, authentic pictorial language, at the same time providing insight into their nature. It is therefore even more surprising that Blossfeldt was able to achieve this so easily, considering that he accomplished it seemingly uninfluenced by questions of artistic or photographic history categories. His motivation stemmed from his didactic and pragmatic aims to depict plant forms with precise accuracy, in order to provide flawless reference aids which would encourage his students to transform them artistically. His straightforward, passionate concentration on one theme, which he almost endlessly varied within a limited field, opened it up for comparative viewing. In particular since the 1970s, in the light of a new-orientation of the medium, his work was highly regarded and gained indirect influence on contemporary art, to the extent that knowledge of his images influences today s viewing perspectives.” 

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

“In 1928 Karl Blossfeldt (1865 – 1932) published the now legendary photographic book “Art Forms in Nature.” Brought together were a selection of images of plants that this craftsman had photographed only as illustrative material for his students at the college in Berlin. He photographed the plants isolated in front of a neutral background, their blossoms, buds, stems, umbels and seed capsules often greatly magnified to serve as a dinstinct model for the decorative art forms of the Art Noveau movement, whose own bloom period was already fading …

It is quite clearly the particular combination of subject matter and photographic style that gives the works a classic timelessness, allowing them to be discovered “afresh” again and again. So the isolating, monumental and formalistic approach to nature not only tied in well with concepts of New Functionalism, but was also successively interpreted as illustrating the relationship between Art and Nature and as a precursor of Conceptual Art.”

Text from the Karl Blossfeldt Archive website

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

“He photographed plants by the thousands – photographs which feature flowers, buds, branched stems, clusters or seed capsules shot directly from the side, seldom from an overhead view, and rarely from a diagonal perspective. He usually placed the subjects of his photographs against white or grey cardboard, sometimes against a black background. Hardly ever can details of the rooms be detected. The light for his shots was obtained from northern windows, making it diffuse, but it fell from the side, creating volume. The technique and processing conditions were very simple; only the medium size of the negative format was somewhat out of the ordinary. Nothing detracted from the subject. This man produced such pictures for over thirty years.

The man’s name was Karl Blossfeldt, and his life’s achievement occupies a firm place in the history of 20th-century art, although the aims of his undertaking place him firmly within the 19th century. Blossfeldt shares this bridging of two centuries with other great collectors in the history of photography, such as the Parisian Eugene Atget, and it is to this bridging of two centuries that his influence may be attributed today …

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

Karl Blossfeldt from 'Art Forms in Nature'

 

The plant photographs were produced by simple means. Legend has it that a relatively straight-forward homemade camera was used, one common in its time and not very large, with a format of 9 X 12 cm. The glass plates which served as negatives were coated with inexpensive but not completely neutral-coloured orthochromatic emulsion, and occasionally – after 1902, as they became more widely available – with panchromatic emulsions, making possible a neutral reproduction of the colour red in halftones. Since the first emulsion was thin and therefore enabled high contrast with extremely sharp edges, it served especially to stress the structural elements. It was thus used primarily for photographs with white or grey backgrounds. The rarer photos with panchromatic emulsions were used to illustrate entire clusters or beds of flowers with a wider variation of chromatic values or halftones.”

Text by Rolf Sachse from the book Karl Blossfeldt Benedikt Taschen Verlag (April 1997) available on Amazon.

 

Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur website

20
Mar
09

Review: ‘Order and disorder: archives and photography’ at the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 18th October 2008 – 19th April 2009

 

“Archives contain elements of truth and error, order and disorder and are infinitely fascinating. As both collections of records and repositories of data, archives are able to shape history and memory depending on how, when and by whom the materials are accessed. Their vastness allows for multiple readings to be unravelled over time.

Photography is naturally associated with archives because of its inherent ability to record, store and organise visual images. With this in mind, this exhibition brings together artists drawn largely from the permanent collection of the NGV who explore the idea of archives as complex, living and occasionally mysterious systems of knowledge. Several of the selected artists act as archivists, collecting and ordering their own unique bodies of photographs, while others create disorder by critiquing the ideas and systems of archives.”

Text from the NGV International website

 

 Patrick Pound. 'Writing in a library' 1996

 

Patrick POUND
New Zealander 1962–, worked in Australia 1989–
Writing in a library 1996
photocopies, oil stick, card
169.4 x 127.2 cm (image); 180.2 x 137.2 cm (sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1997
© Patrick Pound  

 

 

“These fragments I have shored against my ruins”

T.S. Eliot


An interesting exhibition is presented in the permanent third floor photography gallery at NGV International, Melbourne on a subject that deserved a much more rigorous investigation than could been undertaken in this small gallery space. Presenting single works by Ed Ruscha, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Patrick Pound, Robert Rooney, Simon Obarzanek, Penelope Davis, Candid Hofer, Linda Judge and Charles Green and Lyndell Brown the works seek to investigate the nature of the relationship between photography and the archive, between the semi-permanences of an archival memory and the spaces of a transgressive intertexuality marked by fragmentary, ironic counter-performances.

As noted in the catalogue essay by NGV curator Maggie Finch the archive is a place for holding knowledge that contains elements of truth and error, order and disorder; archives are able to shape history and memory, depending on how, when and by whom the records are accessed. Any disruption of order, governance and authority can lead to alternative readings and interpretations as the arcane ‘mysteries’ of the methods of classification are overturned. Since Victorian times when the body came under the self-surveillance of the camera and was found wanting, photographs have documented the faces of criminals, the physiognomy of degeneration and the fever of war.

As Yiannis Papatheodorou has observed when reviewing Jacques Derrida Mal d’Archive

“Derrida declares that since the dominant power of the archive derives from the economy of knowledge, it also provides the institutional responsibility of the interpretation. The localisation of the information transforms the inscription, provided by the function of the archive, into the impression of a memory’s trace, conscious or unconscious …
The preservation of memory, the access to information, the “resources” of the sources and the working environment are not just the representation of a future memory. They are active practices and discourses that create hierarchies and exclusions. The archives are the languages of the past, activated however dialogically, according to scientific and social demands. The content of our choice is marked by the way we are seeking information. Far from being an abstract principle, our choice is an ideologically oriented negotiation closely related to the politics of interpretation.”1


An there’s the rub. Not only is this exhibition a reordering of an unpublished memory by the artist (for that is what an archive is, a unique unpublished memory whereas a book has multiple copies) it is also a reiteration of the authority of the gallery itself, the “institutional responsibility of the interpretation.”2 Deciding what was in this exhibition and what to leave out creates hierarchies of inclusion and exclusion – and in this case the inclusions are mainly ‘safe’ works, ones that challenge the ontology of existence, the cataloguing of reality in a slightly ironic way but oh – nothing too shocking! nothing too disordered! Nothing here then of the archive of images that substantiate the horrors of war, the trans/disfiguration of men in both World Wars for example. There are few images to haunt us, none to refresh our memories in a problematic way.

 

Ed Ruscha. 'Every Building on Sunset Strip' 1966

 

Ed Ruscha. 'Every Building on Sunset Strip' 1966

 

Ed Ruscha. 'Every Building on Sunset Strip' 1966

 

Ed RUSCHA
American 1937–
Every building on the Sunset Strip 1966 
artist book: photo-offset lithographs, letterpress, concertina, cardboard cover, silver-coated plastic-covered slipcase, 1st edition
17.8 x 760.7 cm (open); 17.8 x 14.4 x 0.8 cm (closed); 18.6 x 14.6 x 1.4 cm (slipcase)
Private collection, Melbourne
© Ed Ruscha, courtesy Gagosian Gallery, New York

 

The more successful pieces, the works that challenge the order of the archive (“what is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way”)3, are the ones by Ed Ruscha (above), Penelope Davis and Simon Obarzaneck (below).

Ruschas vertical inverted cityscape is trapped in a display cabinet opened out on the horizontal plane in concertina format, like one of those optical illusion images in which you see an image looking from one direction and a different image from the other direction. Ruscha’s personal experience of driving down Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and his anthropological recording of the urban experience has been disseminated in a mass produced ‘artists’ book. No unique unpublished archive here. Beneath the facades of the shops other narratives emerge – images are stitched together, cars chopped off, people dismembered – all in a very linear, conceptual way; a journey from one point to another, one that is both subjective (the voice  and hand of the author) and objective (the en masse production of the book).

As Chris Balaschak has noted, “The images, taken during the day, capture only the facades of the buildings. Ignorance is given to cars or people, both of which are often cut in half between separate exposures. The imperfections of matching the facades are cracks along Ruscha’s drive. Through these cracks we find Ruscha, not such an anonymous author after all. Splitting cars in two, and mismatching facades we become keenly aware of the passage of time. The facades of buildings may appear as stage sets but they are active points on other itineraries, anticipating future and past narratives.”4

This is Ruscha’s trace through the city but also our intersection with his journey, our chance to make our own itineraries as Balaschak in his insightful writing rightly points out. The fragmentary dismembering becomes the space between, the disorder of the linear into a heterotopic space of remembering. We the viewer create our own narrative, flitting through the cracks in the archive of memory, the photographer, the author of our own journey.

 

Penelope Davis. 'Shelf' 2008

 

Penelope DAVIS
Australian 1963–
Shelf (2008)
from the Fiction-Non-Fiction series 2007–08
type C photograph
90.0 x 70.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2008 (2008.100)

 

 

Penelope Davis photograms are luminous objects. She makes resin casts of the spine of discarded books and places the casts directly onto photographic paper and then exposes them to light. The books glow and hover in the blackness, the words on the spine reversed. Stripped of their context, of their memory, they become ethereal books, phantom texts, liminal images that hover between what is known and what is imagined. As Davis has said, Most people assume that when they look at a photo that they are looking at the thing photographed – but they are not. They are looking at a photo. Books and photographic images and archives are enigmatic – you can’t be sure of a singular definition or meaning.”

Davis is ‘messing around’ with the idea of veracity, the truth of photography and the ordering of the archive of our mind through the images we collate. We seek to grasp the original memory of an event, of the reading and ordering of our life through images and none is available to us, for as Foucault has observed memories are only ever fragmentary and distorted representations, partial truths a best. Like Jorge Luis Borges’ journey into the infinite universe of The Library of Babel for Foucault the psyche is not an archive but a mirror, like the shining silver foil surface of the cover of the Ed Ruscha book:

“The search for the self is a journey into a mental labyrinth that takes random courses and ultimately ends at impasses. The memory fragments recovered along the way cannot provide us with a basis for interpreting the overall meaning of the journey. The meanings that we derive from our memories are only partial truths, and their value is ephemeral. For Foucault, the psyche is not an archive but only a mirror. To search the psyche for the truth about ourselves is a futile task because the psyche can only reflect the images we have conjured up to describe ourselves. Looking into the psyche, therefore, is like looking into the mirror image of a mirror. One sees oneself reflected in an image of infinite regress. Our gaze is led not toward the substance of our beginnings but rather into the meaninglessness of previously discarded images of the self.”5


This leads us nicely onto the images of Simon Obarzanek.

In a great series of photographs, the only ones of this exhibition that seemed to haunt me (as Susan Sontag says images do) Obarzanek photographs people in an ordered almost scientific manner. Photographed face on against a non-contextual background using a low depth of field, these repetitive, collective, unnamed people remind me of the images of Galton. But here the uniformity is overwhelmed by quirky differences – the placement of eyes and lips seem large offering a strange, surreal physiognomy. These images resonate, the challenge, they remain with you, they question the order of things as no other photograph in this exhibition does. From simplicity comes eloquence.


Simon Obarzanek. '6 faces from 123 faces' (2000–02)

 

Simon OBARZANEK
Israeli/Australian 1968–, worked in United States 1995–2001
6 faces from 123 faces (2000–02)
gelatin silver photographs
(a) 33.1 x 25.4 cm; (b) 33.4 x 25.4 cm; (c) 33.2 x 25.3 cm; (d) 33.4 x 25.4 cm; (e) 33.4 x 25.4 cm; (f) 33.4 x 25.4 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased with funds arranged by Loti Smorgon for Contemporary Australian Photography, 2003 (2003.86.a-f)
© Simon Obarzanek

 

 

To finish I must address the elephant in the room, in fact two elephants!

There is not one digital photograph contained in the exhibition, the work being collage, Type C colour or black and white silver gelatin prints. There is no mention in the catalogue of the crisis of cultural memory that is now permeating our world. Some believe the ever expanding digital archive, the Internet, threatens our lived memories “amidst the process of the ‘digitisation of culture’ and the new possibilities of storing.”6 This vision entails the fear of loosing cultural contents, hitting the delete button so that  memory passes into forgetting. This is a vision to which I do not subscribe, but the issue needed to be addressed in this exhibition: how are digital technologies altering our re-assemblance of memory, altering photography’s ability inherent ability to record, store and organise visual images? What about the aura of the original or was there never such a thing?

Furthermore, it would seem that with photographs becoming less and less a fixed essence, with the meaning of the photograph more and more divorced from its referent, with the spectators look the key to reading photographs and the performance of the photograph a cut and paste reality then perhaps we are left not with the two polar opposites of order and disorder but some orthogonal spaces in-between.

The second elephant in the room in the gallery space itself.

Whilst the curators of photography at the National Gallery of Victoria do an amazing job running large exhibitions such as the Andreas Gursky and Rennie Ellis shows that have starred this year, the NGV ‘International’ is shooting itself in the foot with the current permanent photography gallery space. Small, jaded and dour it seems an addendum to other larger spaces in the gallery and to be honest photography and Melbourne deserves better. Personally I feel more alive in the fashion gallery that is on the floor below and that, for an photographer, is a hard thing to say.
As the theme for this exhibition deserved a greater in depth investigation so the gallery needs to expand it’s horizons and give the permanent photography gallery a redesign and overhaul. Where is the life and passion of contemporary photography displayed in a small space for all to see in a gallery that sees itself as ‘International’? In an occularcentric world the key word is intertexuality: the gallery space should reflect the electri-city, the mixing of a gallery design ethos with images to surround us in a space that makes us passionate about contemporary photography. Now that would really be a new order of things!

M Bunyan

 

 

1.  Papatheodorou, Yiannis. History in the promised land of memory. Review of  Jacques Derrida, Mal d’Archive, Paris, Éd. Galilée, 1995 [Online] Cited on 20th March 2009. http://www.historein.gr/vol1_rPapatheodorou.htm 

2. The archive is understood as collective reservoir of knowledge fulfilling diverse functions and conditioned by three main factors: conservation, selection and accessibility. How are contents stored and which media are used to conserve them? What is selected for storage and what is decided to be cleared out and thus forgotten? Who decides what is archived and who has access to the resources? All these questions paint the archive as a political space where relations of power cross aspects of culture and collective identity.” 

Assmann, A. (2003) Erinnerungsräume, Formen und Wandlungen des kulturellen Gedächtnis. [Memory Spaces, Forms and Transformations of Cultural Memory] Special paperback editon, 1st edition publ. 1999, München: Beck, p.343-346.

3. Derrida, J. (1996) Archive Fever, A Freudian Impression. Transl. by E. Prenowitz, p.18 orig. publ. as ‘Mal d’ Archive: une impresion freudienne’ in 1995, Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.

4. Balaschak, Chris. Itineraries [part 3] [Online] Cited on 20th March 2009. http://glowlab.com/lab2/artist_project.php?project_id=114&artist_id=5

5. Hutton, Patrick. “Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self,” in Martin, Luther and Gutman, Huck and Hutton, Patrick (eds.,). Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. London: Tavistock Publications, 1988, p.139.

6. Featherstone, M. (2000) “Archiving Cultures,” British Journal of Sociology, 51(1): 161–184.

27
Nov
08

Europeana: connecting cultural heritage – digital paintings, books, films and archives

 

europeana_launch

 

“Europeana – the European digital library, museum and archive – is a 2-year project that began in July 2007. It will produce a prototype website giving users direct access to some 2 million digital objects, including film material, photos, paintings, sounds, maps, manuscripts, books, newspapers and archival papers. The prototype will be launched in November 2008 by Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

 

The digital content will be selected from that which is already digitised and available in Europe’s museums, libraries, archives and audio-visual collections. The prototype aims to have representative content from all four of these cultural heritage domains, and also to have a broad range of content from across Europe. The interface will be multilingual. Initially, this may mean that it is available in French, English and German, but the intention is to develop the number of languages available following the launch.”

 

 

See the video that takes a trip through the kind of thing you can find on Europeana. See the new look and download the demo ppt. http://dev.europeana.eu/home.php

 

Can’t wait for the real thing!




Join 1,104 other followers

Follow Art_Blart on Twitter
Art Blart on Pinterest

For photographic services in Australia, Art Blart highly recommends CPL Digital (03) 8376 8376 cpldigital.com.au/

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘The Songs of Eternity’ 1994

Recent Posts

Lastest tweets

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

August 2014
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Archives

Categories


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,104 other followers