By assigning an intricately thorough vocabulary to describe a mundane, previously unexamined phenomenon, I mean to explore, and in a sense experiment with, the ways in which scientific classification constructs meaning and imposes order through language. In tandem with this is an interest in revealing, and thus sensitizing and complicating, viewers’ responses to a feature of their environment that is often either virtually invisible to them or an oversimplified signifier of urban decay or the perils of consumerism.
See more images and an explanation of the “system”:
Bernd and Hilla Becher. Winding Towers, Belgium, Germany. 1971–91. Gelatin silver prints, each 15 3/4 x 12 1/8″ (40 x 30.8 cm). Lent by Hilla Becher. Courtesy Sonnabend Gallery, New York. © Hilla Becher
The German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher, who began working together in 1959 and married in 1961, are best known for their “typologies”—grids of black-and-white photographs of variant examples of a single type of industrial structure. To create these works, the artists traveled to large mines and steel mills, and systematically photographed the major structures, such as the winding towers that haul coal and iron ore to the surface and the blast furnaces that transform the ore into metal. The rigorous frontality of the individual images gives them the simplicity of diagrams, while their density of detail offers encyclopedic richness. At each site the Bechers also created overall landscape views of the entire plant, which set the structures in their context and show how they relate to each other. The typologies emulate the clarity of an engineer’s drawing, while the landscapes evoke the experience of a particular place. The exhibition presents these two formats together; because they lie at the polar extremes of photographic description, each underscores the creative potential of the other.
Organized by Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography.
see also Tate Papers The Photographic Comportment of Bernd and Hilla Becher
Image Credit: Jonathan Gitelson, The Green Dolphin Street
Jonathon Gitelson, Chicago, IL
The Car ProjectDuring the summer of 2004, I moved across the street from the Funky Buddha Lounge, a popular nightclub in Chicago’s West Loop Neighborhood. Each night I would park my car on the street and each morning I would find that numerous club fliers had been shoved beneath my windshield wipers and into the cracks of my windows. By the time I got to my car each morning, many of the other car owners had already left for the day, discarding their fliers on the ground. This form of advertising intrigued me – an attempt at communication with consumers that was clearly failing, creating huge volumes of what was essentially expensively printed instant garbage.Shortly after I moved in, I began collecting the fliers from my car and from the sidewalk around my home. By the winter of 2004/2005, I had collected over 1000 fliers, enough to cover my entire car. I spent three months hand-sewing the fliers together to create a car cover and have photographed the car, with car cover, parked in front of the clubs from whom I had received fliers.“The Car Project” was completed in December of 2005 and consists of eight large-scale photographs. Each exhibition print is digitally printed at 40” X 50” which allows the viewer to read the individual fliers within each photograph.
I am fascinated by the fact that almost anything can be found in miniature. I’m equally intrigued by the desire to collect such tiny replicas of objects from our own material world. As a smaller scale surrogate of the original, the miniature seems to imply the existence of some kind of alternative universe where we are like gods, omnipotent and in control. For this series I photograph my friends and family interacting with miniature objects as if they are functioning, workable tools or possessions. In the darkroom I enlarge the 35mm color negative so that the previously small objects appear to approximate “normal” or “‘life-size” scale in the final photograph.
Here, gigantic adult figures invade a claustrophobic world of Lilliputian sunglasses, guns and keys, awkwardly attempting to make these under-sized objects function as if they were actual working possessions. This intersection of scales disturbs the imagined perfection of a mini-sized fantasy world. As viewers, we must rethink our point of view as our sense of natural order is called into question. Humorous and absurd narratives unfold in the process of reconciling and interpreting the relationships between large and small, adult and child, work and play, reality and illusion. These photographs draw attention to how we see. They ask the viewer to look beyond the surface and confront the betrayal of appearances. By making images that challenge our expectations, I’m exploring how photographs can be used to manipulate our perceptual experience and, as a result, shape our understanding of the world around us.
(More Turns) The Subway Turnstile Pictures I developed a situation so that various subjects could be defined by the constraints of exactly the same mechanical apparatus. The scenario consisted of someone passing through a subway turnstile. At the moment that the subjects passed through the turnstile, unknown to them, I took their picture stationed at a distance of eleven feet. I stood there turning pages of a magazine observing subjects out of the corner of my eye, waiting for only the moment when they pushed the turnstile bar to release the shutter.
I was tired of the conventions in which most photographs of people are taken. And I was tired of the results that often seem to pass for poetry. I needed something to be objective: I wanted the context to be clearly established. I wanted to play a role in the situation, but I wanted the situation to take a photograph of itself for me. I would design the scenarios in which this could happen, and then the situation could be responsible for creating the picture. The poetry would be as much in the design of that scenario as from any photograph that might come from it. These situations would include me but I would disappear as any kind of typical photographer. I would simply play a role in the scenario.
The series More Turns is part of a trilogy of work entitled 3Situations. The other 2 series involve people sitting for another artist’s portrait and being in an elevator as the doors open and close. Together the 3 series reveal how icons are created through framing, and how the grammar of portraiture is found in the world around us.
Each body becomes an index of passing time. Bones shift, muscles loosen, freckles and wrinkles form, bruises appear; skin is the forum for these transitions. It may also evidence sensitivity, embarrassment, discomfort, fear, excitement, infection, health, attraction, and energy expended—reflecting vulnerability and conditions we’ve inhabited.
My own skin frequently blushes and swells. I have dermatographia, a condition in which one’s immune system exhibits hypersensitivity, via skin, that releases excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear (lasting about thirty minutes) when the skin’s surface is lightly scratched. This allows me to painlessly draw patterns and words on my skin, which I then photograph.
I also make wallpaper with photographs of my skin cut into various designs. The patterns I use range from adaptations of Greek and Etruscan vases, Medieval wall coverings, and Renaissance pottery to contemporary clothing and wallpaper found in domestic spaces. Attached to the wall or onto board, these skin designs form shifting crimson patterns embellishing the surfaces. Recently I’ve turned some of the patterns made from photographs of skin into temporary tattoos, adorning my skin with the translucent designs. These tattoo designs cover me like clothing, an intimate fashion. They also go on the wall or window after they’ve made contact with my skin, leaving traces of cells and hair, and holding a record of skin’s map. I share these designs with my surroundings.
I am investigating where one surface ends and another begins, the bloom of adornment, and how shifting exteriors reveal as they conceal.