Korean Landscape, Photographs by Sungseok AHN

Image Via Design Boom

South Korea is a country known for how quickly it went from being one of the poorest to one of the richest countries on the globe. This quick transition is captured in many ways. In this case, Sungseok AHN demonstrates Korea’s landscape in layered photographs of the past and present. To see how the artworks were displayed visit the artist’s website.

Posted: April 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

“Trickle, Splash, Shoot” published with Modern Art Asia

Modern Art Asia’s Issue 14, Standing, Sitting, Crooked, features the extended version of my piece on Chang Jia’s photographs Standing Up Peeing. The introduction to the issue states, “The issue opens with Kate Korroch’s analysis of Chang Jia’s Standing up Peeing series. Chang Jia, a South Korean photographer, documents the feelings of compromise, jubilation or rebellion women experience in the act of pissing, upright, under the camera’s gaze.”

Posted: July 15th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review, Body | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Trickle, Splash, Shoot” published with Modern Art Asia

There Is A Body On Screen!

There Is A Body On Screen!: Reflections on Humanities in Contemporary Computer-aided Art considers the dialogue between the United States and China in the context of computer aided art that represents the body virtually and diversely. The exhibition is co-curated by Hanna Yoo and Frank Yefeng Wang and the artists include Wang, Claudia Hart, and Kurt Hentschläger.

Above is an image from the exhibition’s Tumblr.

If you won’t be in China this summer you can follow along with the exhibition via their Tumblr. According to the website, “This tumblr site operates somewhere between digital exhibition catalogue, blog, site for the audience participation. Curator Hanna will also share back stories behind the organizing process here.”

Museum of the Luxun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China, May 22 – May 30, 2013, With a special lecture on the opening day

99 Art Center at Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, Shanghai, China, June 20 – July 2013, With a special lecture and class in conjunction with the exhibition

Congratulations, friends!

Posted: June 20th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review, Body | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on There Is A Body On Screen!

Welcome to the Jewsroch’s!

Screen shot 2013-05-27 at 3.04.32 PM

My multitalented friend, Alexis Buryk, recently posted a tour of our apartment on Apartment Therapy. She took some incredible photographs that really made our space look great–I wish I could always see through her lens! Alexis also wrote an article about our priorities when it comes to decorating and building a home together. I’ve always wanted to put together a post about our growing art collection done on a budget, I think this does the trick.

Alexis says, “Art leads the way in Kate and Chad’s colorful and curated Chicago home. Working with a simple, open layout, with white walls as their canvas, the couple bases their apartment design on what matters to them most.” To read the rest and view the images click over to “Kate & Chad’s Art-Filled Dwelling” by Alexis Buryk for Apartment Therapy.

Thank you, Alexis!

Posted: May 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Welcome to the Jewsroch’s!

Just Humans: An interview with Angelica Dass, creator of Humanae

This interview was originally published on Sixty Inches From Center

As children, we are often told not to judge a book by its cover, but this is a lesson we tend to forget over time. In Angélica Dass’s project, Humanae, also known as “The Pantone Project,” she erases the stigmas surrounding skin color by creating a growing collection of pigments—of people’s skin. In her travelling studio, Dass invites random sitters to plop down on a stool and have their photo taken. She then takes the average of the person’s skin tone pigment and matches it to a Pantone color, which becomes the background of the portrait. By documenting skin, Dass somehow removes its limiting markers. Our contemporary parlance imposes a certain system of categories and signifiers upon discussions and interpretations of race and ethnicity. With Humanae, Dass provides a stunning and straightforward apparatus that highlights the cultural barriers we place on ourselves and in doing so she starts to deconstruct them.

 Kate Korroch (KK):  What was the initial inspiration for Humanae?

Angélica Dass (AD): The inspiration for this project comes from my family roots: I am the granddaughter of a black and native Brazilian and the daughter of a black father adopted by a white family. I am a mixture of diverse pigments. Like in a painter’s pallet. Why not try to find the results of these mixtures? Is the color important? It’s a pursuit for highlighting our true color rather than the untrue red and yellow, black and white. For me it’s a kind of game for subverting our codes.

KK: By codes, do you mean social constructs?

AD: Using the word codes, I mean that we have learned many things that are both social, linguistic, and cultural–everyday nuances that I would like to rethink.

KK: When did you begin taking the photographs that comprise Humanae?

AD: I started this project as artistic photography for the final work of my master’s in April 2012. The first images were taken in Brazil with members of my family. Then I did the project at two arts festivals, the Rojo Nova in Barcelona and De las Artes in Madrid. I also did two Internet calls with some Spanish friends and friends of friends.

KK: How did the Internet call work? Did people meet you at your studio?

AD:  I made a public invitation on Facebook and on Tumblr with the photo studio address. People came to become part of Humanae.

KK: You haven’t been able to travel with Humane around the globe, yet your work has been written about in many languages and has gone viral on the Internet. Were you expecting this massive amount of attention, especially from the Internet?

AD: I’m impressed by this success. I think that these portraits are very expressive because they evoke empathy in the audience. They echo what I talk about. What emerges from the photographs of the portrayed people’s faces completes the sense of the image. It’s not our essence, it´s only our skin colors, and they can change and vary in incredible ways: I´m not “black” and you are not “white.” One day all these issues will be studied as part of the past rules and handicaps, and I have discovered that it´s not only my point of view. My voice has found a lot of echoes and that’s maybe part of the repercussion. Considering the unexpected good reception, what I want now is to increase the catalog, and interact with more and more people from all over the world, with different perceptions, tones, trends, and origins

KK: I am glad you brought up the barriers contemporary language places on our ability to look beyond race. Do you have any ideas about how that evolution of language could come to pass?

AD: I am the daughter of a professor of literature. Words, language, and folk sayings fascinate me. I don’t know how this evolution can happen, I don’t know if this is possible, but in my world, in my house, black and white are not words that are synonyms of difference if I talk about skin color.

KK: Humanae not only comments on the cultural codes inherent to language; it also transgresses upon them. Have you ever encountered anyone whom has had a negative reaction to the concept of Humanae? If so, can you tell me about the situation?

AD: I never read the comments on the articles written about Humanae. On the Internet there are many people who spend time not necessarily to criticize, but to aggress. I have received mail with criticism, focusing on the lack of ethnic diversity in the project. A U.S. Senator said that they “love Humanae,” but that they were disappointed that the rich dark colors of Central Africa and India are not shown and that they hope they get at least as much attention as the European shades.  In these situations I always respond, “Thank You!” and I tell them that in the end of the project I would like to show [the audience] Chinese, Japanese, Swedes, Danish, Colombians, Indians, Russians, African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, Africans, Indigenous Australians, and Brazilians like me–black, white, yellow, pink or green as a Martian. Just humans.

KK: At this point, you have only been able to catalogue people at art fairs in Madrid and Chicago. You have made it clear that you’d like to conduct the project around the globe. Where would you like to go next?

AD: I would like to continue collecting images in the USA and Brazil. I think they’re two countries with a history of immigration and miscegenation. We are very mixed and I think it is interesting to investigate these tones. But some people asked me to go to their countries in Asia or Oceanía and how can I deny that dream? I would like, of course, going to Beijing, Tokyo, Cape Town, Luanda, Helsinki, Oslo, and New Delhi or find the subtle differences that are theoretically equal.

KK: It would be interesting to see the varied tones in historically homogenous and xenophobic countries. Will you try to seek out specific kinds of areas? So far the project has focused on art fairs in buzzing capital cities; do you plan to visit rural areas too?

AD: Of course I would love to. The difficulty is to find people and/or companies that want to finance this research. Right now I’m tied to my current city, Madrid, and to the spaces where my gallery can carry me–that determines that I will continue portraying the environment of the art world. On a global scale it would be impossible for me to do this without help. At present, only galleries and art festivals have invited me, but I would like to bring my work to other settings. I think it is important for the quality and diversity of work. But imagine: after 10,000 or 20,000 portraits, I can analyze all the cities where I go. I can check the pallets of each region, the color of a country. Imagine that in Gaza.

KK: How many volunteer models have you documented thus far?

AD: About 400.

KK: Through Humanae you encourage people to look at skin as part of a color spectrum rather than categorical identifiers of race. Have you found any cases where people who might socially be classified as different races are actually the same, or close to the same color? Or do you ever look at a person and assume their skin is one tone but it’s actually completely different?

AD: Of course this happens. Those classified as black match those classified as Latin, which is very close to an Indian who has the same color as a Pakistani who is a little more toasted than a white person who is sunburned. Even more, someone who is classified as occidental “white” (maybe with Italian, Greek, or Spanish ancestors) have results that are darker than a black categorized woman. Or, for example, Magreb people are the same tone or even lighter than people from Northern Europe. It’s one of the things I like about the project: we are equal but unique and we have to evolve even from our perception to our language.

KK:  Have there been any exact matches? Is that even possible?

AD: There are exact matches. The colors and shades of human skin are “unlimited,” even in the same person (the proof is the sunburned guys), but the rating system Pantone (R) is limited. The color classification system in picture editors is based on mathematical algorithms that at times reach their results by approximation. So in the end there are more subtle nuances than human science can define! That’s why sometimes I think about leaving the Pantone scale and moving on to something more precise like CMYK, working with color percentages.

KK: It’s interesting to think about cosmetic trends such as whitening creams, bronzer, and sunless tanning. What do you think of the desire some people have to alter their skin tone to achieve what they maybe perceive as a more desirable palette?

AD: Everyone is free to do what they want, but your question makes me think about the stimuli we receive for these changes. We are influenced by aesthetics, fashion, campaigns, and celebrities. Maybe we have to “plant” other values to “harvest” other references.

KK:  That’s a very good idea, and Humanae is doing just that! The title of the project, Humanae, is a Latin word meaning “human.” I did a bit of research on the word and I continually encountered it paired with “vitae” and “dignitatis,” usually in the context of Catholicism. Vitae roughly translates to life and dignitatis translates to dignity. These are wonderful words to be associated with your project. Do you intend to suggest these associations?

AD: I like all those words, adding others, like freedom, common, balance, share, mind. I think that those to which you refer can come together as the essence of what we need as human, a dignified life. Maybe it’s a good starting point to link words as color tones between humans.

KK:  Can you talk a little about how you chose your title?

AD: I want to show people the most important point that unites us: we are human. All the other nuances make us special as individuals, but collectively we should think of what unites us as a collective. Latin is a language that can be understood as the root of human word in many languages, or at least in my mother language, which is why I chose it.

KK: On the Humanae Tumblr you clearly label the project as a work in progress. Do you think you will ever be able to consider the project finished?

AD: One day, probably, I’ll stop, but this project will always be unfinished, with missing colors, people, and shades. I expect to reach a huge catalog with as many tones and people possible.

KK: Yes, please do! So far I’ve seen your Humanae photographs on your Tumblr, displayed in a standard gallery format at Expo Chicago, and in a mock-up Pantone color book. Are you planning to experiment with other exhibition formats?

AD: Yes, but to do that I have to improve and increase the collection of images that are part of the project.

KK: If you had unlimited time and resources, what would you do next with Humanae?

AD: I would love to travel across the five continents for a year, trying to increase the catalog. But that depends on not just money and time, but also opportunities. I would love to take pictures at United Nations meetings portraying opinion makers and leaders, but there is no money to buy this opportunity.

KK: Including UN leaders could be very interesting. Do you think they could learn something from the project? What would you want to say to them?

AD:  Learn? Maybe that’s not the word, but maybe think, or reflect, or (why not?) play. This project is so visual. A look at the Tumblr shows how similar and unique we are. This simple statement should be clear to our leaders.

Angélica Dass (pictured above) currently lives and works in Madrid. She is represented by Max Estrella. To view the project and watch it expand visit Dass’s Humanae Tumblr. You can also visit her website here.  

All images used in this interview were provided by the artist. 

Posted: November 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review, Body, Lifestyle, Visual and Critical Studies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Seeing the Unseen: An Interview with Jeremy Bolen

This interview was originally published on Sixty Inches From Center.

How do we visualize what we cannot see; things that are scientifically proven to exist but are unable perceive with the naked human eye? Photographer, Jeremy Bolen uses his photographic process, a combination of science and art, to explore the unseen realm. In this interview we discussed his interest in the unseen, a bit of physics, some visual theory, and much more.

Kate Korroch (KK): What inspired your interest in artistically documenting the unseen?

Jeremy Bolen (JB): I guess it kind of began with an interest in exploring the apparatus. To create a site specific apparatus that could have a more intrinsic relationship, or collaboration, with the space or non- space. From the very beginning photography has been about capturing the unseen, about creating a different way of seeing, a new mode of observation and documentation. I have been rethinking the potential of the document and trying to create a more comprehensive, poignant document- a document with greater presence, a document incorporating the ontological. I spent some of my childhood living near Fermi-Lab, and when I was in high school my band practiced across the street from Fermi. The idea of particle collisions and trying to record what is not visible to the human eye is something I have been considering for quite a while, the nature of nature and the similarities between High Energy Particle Physics and Artistic Practice.

Jeremy Bolen in Collaboration with Dr. Stefan Vogt, “Sheet of Film Covered with a Small Piece of Lead and Left Next to the Advanced Photon Source for Two Weeks,Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL” 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

KK: When you say “the apparatus” do you mean the camera?

JB: Sort of. Simply put it is the device used to translate light and energy into a different kind of information. At times it is a “camera” of sorts, but at other times it is a river, lake, the ground, the US postal system, humans.

KK:  Your work is now currently showing at the Hyde Park Art Center in the group exhibition Ground Floor. I was particularly drawn to your piece “In Five Directions, Above the Tevatron Particle Accelerator, Fermi Lab, Batavia, IL” (2011). I must confess, though I was drawn to it, I still had to do a bit of “Google-ing” to learn what “Tevatron Particle Accelerator” means. When I approached the piece my immediate thoughts were directed towards ideas of vast space, the paranormal, and hay bales. I was drawn to the work aesthetically and then inadvertently created a story about the unknown. What do you expect of your audience when presenting these creative and sometimes abstract works with scientific subject matter?

JB: I really don’t have concrete expectations for the viewer, but the detailed account of your experience is wonderful. That the piece was engaging enough for you to do some research, that gave you a glimpse into my research, which in turn brings you to a sprawling, endless field of ontological and epistemological inquiry. Beyond that, the unfamiliarity of the photograph made you engage with the image as a projector rather than a mirror representation. But what is truly amazing about your interaction is that the image was made by capturing five visible perspectives at once (along with a number of possible invisible phenomena) and you seem to have been able to talk about many elements that were actually documented. I should also add that I don’t see any of my work as abstract. What is truly abstract is the invisible.

Jeremy Bolen, “In Five Directions, Above the Tevatron Particle Accelerator, Fermi Lab, Batavia, IL.” 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.

KK: Also in Ground Floor you present a series of diptychs such as “Above/Below ground and In the Fox River at NPL-8 (remnants of radium dial company)” (2012) which is composed of a traditional archival print and river sediment. What is the relationship between the two prints?

JB: I am very interested in exploring relationships between objects created and, in general, the fact that a connection has to be considered. I think of it as a sort of image collision, where two moments of time and space/non-space are represented using two different recording processes, and modes of presentation. We become more aware of perception and travel outside the frame. Vision is slowed by the prints not actually colliding, so the collision has to take place in the viewer.

KK:  Can you talk a bit more about the “altered viewing experience” you create by adding elements such as dirt and sediment to your work?

JB: I am very interested in the tension between the visible and invisible. I am also very interested in Niels Bohr and his theory of complementarity (simply put the apparatus you use to record phenomena is just as responsible for the results of the phenomena you record). So, in some of these newer projects I am incorporating the material somewhat responsible for creating the image as part of the object. It also becomes a first order experience for the viewer as you are dealing with the actual, not just a representation of the actual. I am also interested in how the images will now evolve due to their now permanent interaction with the other materials.

KK: Your work makes me more aware of the relationship between the human eye as a lens and an actual camera lens or even a microscope–it highlights what we cannot visually perceive, even with something as simple as light and dark. Do you see your artwork as something that expands your audience’s visual vocabulary?

JB: Well put. Perhaps. How does vision shape knowledge? What do you think? Walter Benjamin wrote about the optical unconscious, and I think some of this work is acting in line with that theory.

Jeremy Bolen, “Above/Below Ground and in the Fox River at Npl-1
(Remnants of Radium Dial Company), Ottawa, IL,” 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

KK: Absolutely. I love that you brought Benjamin into this! Speaking off the cuff, I’d say our senses, vision being the primary one we’re discussing, shape everything but that what our senses are telling us is not necessarily true or false—it is unknown. Can you elaborate a bit on the “optical unconscious” especially in regard to your work?

JB:  We can only perceive a very small amount of the electromagnetic spectrum. To make invisible phenomena visible through recording with photographic film increases social consciousness of phenomena we may be affected by, but have no way of seeing with our eyes.

KK: Last summer you began a long-term project in collaboration with CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), can you tell me a bit more about that project and what drew you to working with them specifically?

JB: Well, I don’t want to talk about it too much, simply because none of the work has been shown to anyone yet and I don’t want anyone to enter the work with more pre-conceived notions then they already may have. The Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermi Lab was closed in September of 2011. The only serious particle accelerator left in the world is at CERN. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is also the largest machine ever created: an underground circular tunnel spanning 17 miles underneath parts of France and Switzerland. The LHC has had major breakdowns. It has come close to possibly discovering missing pieces of the standard model. There are lawsuits from surrounding communities about possible black holes being created by the LHC. The Big Bang has been recreated and recorded there. I lived there for a while this past summer and created a new body of work. I am fairly certain that the work will be shown at Andrew Rafacz in February 2013.

Jeremy Bolen in Collaboration with Dr. Stefan Vogt, “Advanced Photon Source
Beam Projected Through a Sheet of Film, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL.,” 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

KK: I’m looking forward to seeing that work! What a fascinating place to spend a summer. Is your relationship with CERN at all political or does it bring political elements to your artwork?

JB: I am not sure I would want to declare that kind of thing, as I want to give the viewer space to create their own experience with the work. I am pretty sure that most of my work has some political underpinnings……

Bolen is represented by Andrew Rafacz Gallery and currently has work at Rafacz Gallery in the group exhibition Sea Change (September 21-Ocboter 27, 2012) and at Hyde Park Art Center in the group exhibition Ground Floor (August 19 – November 11, 2012). Bolen also maintains a website, JeremyBolen.com.

Posted: October 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Familiar Faces

Thank you to Angelica Daas for letting us be a part of your project, Humanae! All images are from Dass’s Humanae Tumblr, see it here. Look for my interview with Daas on Sixty Inches From Center–coming soon!

Posted: October 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review, Body, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Shooting the Periphery: An all-nighter with Zane Davis

This article was originally published on Sixty Inches From Center

Zane Davis, “Chicago River (South Branch) at South Canal Street”, Chicago, 2012.
Image courtesy of the artist.

“Following the north branch from the edge of Skokie to the heart of downtown you see the complete transformation from a creek in a forest, to a drain for the city.” —Zane Davis on the Chicago River

A dark and sober night makes me pay attention. Shadows hide the distracting details of daily life; the bits of light that are present guide my eyes. I meditate on the details as something seemingly ordinary transforms to something noteworthy.

From industrial parks to deer sprinkled mid-western forests, the bridges dispersed along the Chicago River highlight the heterogeneous landscape of the great city. Zane Davis’s series Towards Wolf Point, gives the viewer a chance to see this. He shoots at night and invited me to go along for one of his “all-nighter” photo adventures. The plan for the evening was to jump into the rented convertible, Rosa, and shoot the Chicago River from the bridges on the city’s periphery. Around 10:00 P.M. we started at West 35th Street and Ashland, the southernmost bridge crossing the Chicago River. Each image is taken standing on a bridge facing towards downtown, and, per the series title, Towards Wolf Point, where the branches of the Chicago River converge.

At South Archer Avenue, the second bridge on our long list, I started to look at the landscape not as an unknowing pedestrian but as a curious lens, collecting the unnoticed details. Here, guided by Davis’s attention, the infrastructure hovering over the river becomes an abstract study of symmetry, line, texture, and light. I noticed tiny but bright patches of color—twinkling lights hanging from the bridge and reflecting in the water. I saw the small bugs in the water creating spatter-like ripples scattered around the murky water. Davis uses the bridges as a starting point, he says, “The bridges actually don’t matter all that much to me, it’s the River that I’m interested in and the bridges provide a curated number of viewpoints onto the river.”

Zane Davis, “Chicago River (South Branch) at South Archer Avenue”, Chicago, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

Suspended above water on the manmade structures, Davis takes photographs with a long exposure time for which he must pay attention to uncontrollable aspects of the environment such as wind and cars passing by—their interference causes unwanted vibrations which make the photographs blurry. He waits for stillness. On the other hand, Davis will also sit and wait to capture a duck, or, in this case on South Archer Avenue Bridge, a semi to pass divulging the element of time and exposure imbedded in each photograph. When looking at this particular photograph one notices the horizontal faded shape above the edge of the bridge. Due to the long exposure, instead of a solid mass, the quickly passing semi truck is an abstract blur.

After South Archer Avenue we sped to South Loomis Street, the first cantilever bridge on our journey, then to South Halsted Street. Next we parked in front of Lawrence Fisheries that, according to Davis, sells the best fried shrimp in Chicago, and proceeded to shoot the bridges at West Cermak Road, South Canal Street, and West 18th Street. To briefly summarize the experience of walking among these three bridges I think of Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil from 1985—industrial, eerie, and abstract. Standing on the South Canal Street Bridge we faced north to view Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge 458 which is almost 100 years old. This bridge is the essence of actual visual abstraction. Instead of comfortable, balanced looking angles the two main legs of the bridge are trapezoidal, perplexing, and look unsteady, as though your vision is obscured. On top of the bridge is a small, rectangular house balanced in the center. At the point where the base of the house and the top of the bridge meet, blue, green, and white light shines through in bright star-like shapes. Extended reflections of the glittering light shine in the river below.

Despite the fact that the Chicago River is naturally occurring, man has plucked and pulled the natural space—building bridges, inserting artificial lighting, creating the canal, and even reversing the actual flow of the river. “I try to emphasize this unnaturalness in my images”, Davis says “but honestly, because of the typological style I pursue—I trust that the river will reveal itself over the course of the images. The most I do to facilitate the unnaturalness is to deliberately shoot at night.” The meandering bends and curls of the Chicago River reveal the evidence of man’s hand on nature.

Zane Davis, “Chicago River (South Branch) at West Roosevelt Road”, Chicago, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

The last bridge on the southern leg of our tour was at West Roosevelt Road. Facing north, one observes a wonderful sampling of eclectic architecture the Chicago River slips by. In the foreground of Davis’s photograph, stands the Union Station Power House to the left—the structure is a large cube basked in golden light with two massive black smokestacks thrusting out of the roof, proudly piercing the night sky. The front and side of the structure have three sets of long, dark, rectangular, stripes imbedded in the rigid form. In the background, echoing the dark, sinewy forms in the foreground, the notorious Willis Tower juts above the horizon line—its two piercing white spires accentuating its stature. One hefty and understated, the other glittery and glowing; both structures proudly boast long shapes penetrating the sky.

After West Roosevelt we climbed back into trusty Rosa, and jumped on the highway headed for the northern most bridge crossing the Chicago River. Between bridges, Davis and I chatted about the greater meaning of Towards Wolf Point both in the world of photography and more generally in the art world as a whole. Educating me a bit on other photographers, Davis explained in a distilled fashion, “So Ansel Adams makes beautiful things, beautiful to the point of myth—to the point of deliberately omitting anything that wouldn’t be beautiful. [Edward] Burtynsky makes ugly things beautiful, so much so that he’s been criticized for glorifying environmental horror.” I asked Davis where Towards Wolf Point lies on the Adams/Burtynsky spectrum. He replied, “I’d say I’m near Burtynsky: risking glorifying the city, but I’d also say that I’m more interested in showing the spectrum itself.” To further explain, Davis brought another photographer into the conversation, “Which might be why I like Robert Adams: because he expressly wants to show the impact we’ve had on the landscape.”

Zane Davis, “Chicago River (North Branch) at West Devon Avenue”, Chicago, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

When we arrived at West Devon Avenue it was well into the early hours of the next day. In a quick car ride the scenery transitioned from urban-industrial landscape to suburban forest. The views from the northernmost bridges are quite similar—dim water covered with a mixture of dark shadows and streetlight reflections. Trees hover above, sticks and mud underscore where water and land meet. Far north, though the manmade structures are not present in the images, evidence is there—shadows and reflections of light. The progression towards the city is subtle but noticeable. Due to the long exposure time there is an artificial glow from the street lamps that tints the photographs. At North Cicero Avenue one can see the tiny light peaking through the trees; at West Foster Avenue the shadow and reflection of the bridge are perceived. Working further south, at North Pulaski Avenue, manmade structures are just a stone’s throw away—a street lamp, the road, road signs, the concrete wall along the river. The photograph from the last stop on our journey, the second bridge on West Foster Avenue crossing the river, is unique among the rest taken that night in a Where’s Waldo style—along with a building peaking through the trees, a fence in the distance, and a floating duck, a photographer, his friend, and his camera linger in the shadows.

Towards Wolf Point can be seen as documentary or art photography. Davis calls the series a typology, and treats it systematically. As we went from bridge to bridge, repeating the same process, I thought of my middle school science lab and learning the scientific method. Despite the scientific air of making Towards Wolf Point, I cannot help but look at the work as a creative process. Davis’s trained eye directs each image. He guided my experience by encouraging me to view my regular surroundings as works of art. Simply taking the time to pay attention transforms the landscape from mundane to distinctive. In On Photography Susan Sontag states, “Nobody ever discovered ugliness through photographs. But many, through photographs, have discovered beauty… So successful has been the camera’s role in beautifying the world that photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of beautiful.” As I followed Davis along on this nighttime photo journey, his action of taking a photograph changed my view of our surroundings (for this insight I am grateful to my colleague and friend, photographer Elizabeth Nelson).

Zane Davis, “Chicago River (North Branch) at West Foster Avenue”, Chicago, 2012. Image courtesy of the artist.

Davis is in the process of completing Towards Wolf Point, chipping away at the many bridges that cross the Chicago River between 35th Street and Devon Avenue. Along with creating his handsome photography, Davis also maintains a noteworthy blog, Plane of Focus, featuring his photos, his reviews of other photographer’s work, a good dose of Chicago, and a dash of his cat Pynchon and wife, writer Julie Davis.

Posted: October 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Nerhol via DesignBoom

Misunderstanding Focus by Nerhol

via DesignBoom

These images are created with layers of photographs. I keep thinking about tree-ring dating.

Posted: July 23rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Art Review | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Nerhol via DesignBoom