Monday, September 17, 2012

Photographers who are open to new ideas, take chances and are unwilling to play it safe...

Colin Pantall and Joerg Colberg write:  To celebrate new ideas in photography, we are asking fellow photography bloggers to nominate up to five photographers who have demonstrated an openness to use new ideas in photography, who have taken chances with their photography and have shown an unwillingness to play it safe. These three categories can be interpreted in any way. 
We ask that nominations are posted starting Monday, September 17th, with a short text and a key image....

My take on this is quite simple. It's really a question of the photographers taking something and doing something with it, as opposed to taking something and doing nothing. Or worse, thinking that they have.Then factor in authenticity and work made for the right reasons. And you have it.

Here are my choices, photographers whose practices in my view push forward.

1. Paul Graham
When I knew that Paul Graham was shooting new work in New York I couldn't imagine that anything fresh could be done in a territory that had been so raked over in the past. Graham has done it. His work, The Present appears simple and with great finesse deals with questions of awareness, impermanence and the flowing continuum of life. Graham's previous work American Night (2003) and a shimmer of possibilty (2007) were equally groundbreaking.

Paul Graham - The Present

2. Jason Evans
British photographer Evans is a prolific observer of the passage of everyday life. He is a brilliant exponent of what I call "stream of consciousness" photography. Pointed, profound and with an enthusiasm for looking and being. In the words of William Eggleston, he is at war with the obvious. He publishes a new photograph everyday on his blog The Daily Nice.

Jason Evans - Todays Daily Nice

 3. Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin 
With a clear political agenda these London based artists continue to scrutinise the photographic medium, questioning the documentary traditions of photography, leading viewers through convoluted history lessons employing a combination of found images, rescued artifacts and a muddle of fact and fantasy. With six books to their name the expectation is to expect the unexpected. 

Broomberg and Chanarin - Afterlife 1, 2009

4. Jens Sundheim and Bernhard Reuss
Jens and Bernhard are The Travellers. Jens Sundheim travels from webcam to webcam, so far over 10 years to 400 webcam locations in 15 countries. On location, he is photographed by the cam. Back in Germany photographer Bernhard Reuss records the image, saves the transferred data, and selected images are presented as large-format photographs. Obsessive and amazing.

Sundheim and Reuss - New York 2002


Stan B. said...

I'm probably in the minority here, but I can't help but feel that Mr. Graham's latest triumph of genius is something that many photographers (of all levels) have consciously practiced and acknowledged for a good many decade. Basically, it amounts to little more than the before and after shots of many a street shooter's contact sheets- except in this case, there is no "money" shot, no "decisive moment."

Is it really that revelatory that time goes on, that mere seconds count and can effectively alter and change a given scene visually, emotionally, contextually? Were we all that blind to this fact before this series of rather mediocre sequences? True, kudos for being the first person to get the obvious published by a major publisher while others merely study and store theirs away... but I really don't see the ground breaking innovation here- neither in how one thinks or views things photographically, nor in the end product itself.

Dawn Roe said...

But, Graham didn't just happen upon this as any sort of happy accident (I don't think) and to me they really don't read like a sequence of outtakes. The images in The Present seem like a natural next step for Graham, as he has been pushing around the possibilities of the single image for some time, either through sequencing and structure, repeating very similar instances/moments that are seemingly only a fraction of a second apart, but sometime read as though the subjects have been still for hours - or in his use of whitewash/underexposured groupings juxtaposed with highly saturated imagery.

I don't think it's necessary to apply the "artist-as-genius" rubric here, though (or anywhere, really). Instead, I appreciate this work as innovatively solving a problem - that of addressing the nature of time itself through the rapidity of the motion/moments of the street while simultaneously calling attention to the difficulty in defining any sort of present moment either through/within experience or its visual representation in the form of a photograph.