The PhotoBook Journal

March 18, 2017

Lorena Endara – Ė Arenas: Nariz

Filed under: Book Publications, Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , — Gerhard Clausing @ 2:04 am

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Photographer:  Lorena Endara (Los Angeles, CA)

Music:  Composed, arranged, and produced by Eduardo Arenas

Publisher:   Producciones Con Sal, Los Angeles, © 2016

Stiff cover, saddle stitch binding; 32 unnumbered pages; 13 color photographs, accompanied by the corresponding song titles from the vinyl album that it accompanies; printed in Los Angeles, CA; 8.5×8.5 inches

Photobook Designer:  Lorena Endara

 

Notes:

A labor of love and creativity – this package of music and photography speaks of all that and more.

Eduardo Arenas, a talented composer and musician, plays a variety of instruments and sings, along with some support musicians, in a set of twelve songs that comprise this exciting innovative solo album, Ė Arenas – Nariz. The “in your face” themes reflect our time – ever searching and sometimes finding. The resulting “world fusion” music (using this term in a supportive, constructive way here) is most expressive, showing Anglo, Latin, and Brazilian influences, in the rhythms and in the lyrics as well. Outstanding sounds, a variety of unexpected pleasures, speak for the creativity of the artist. You can preview the music on this CD Baby page.

And, getting to our main focus here, his lady, Lorena Endara, worked hard during those six years as well, supporting the project, and was also inspired to create images that reflect the tenor of the musical pieces. And again, we report a distinct measure of success; instead of merely illustrating the content of the music and lyrics, the images are in themselves an interpretation of the emotional substance and context of what the music represents and engenders. In her images, she achieves a level of abstraction that allows the viewer/listener to dream and wonder. You will need to obtain the vinyl version (yay! resurgence of vinyl!) to appreciate the images, printed in a separate booklet that comes with the album; some of the double pages are reproduced below.

We are looking forward to further work from this talented team!

Gerhard Clausing

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February 7, 2017

Barbara Kyne – A Crack In The World

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Copyright 2016 Barbara Kyne

Photographer: Barbara Kyne (b. Hoboken, New Jersey – resides. Oakland, CA)

Publisher: Daylight Books (USA)

Essays: Barbara Kyne, Susan Griffin, Jasmine Moorhead

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Index, printed in China

Photobook designer: Ursula Damm

Notes: Barbara Kyne and her partner Fran Lowe have property in Mariposa, located east of the San Francisco bay in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. The land is a bit rough and tumble, which is to say a little on the wild side. Although her book appears to be an abstraction of the natural landscape, Kyne is seeking to go beyond the apparent and investigate an aspect of nature that we do not usually think may be occurring; how does nature view itself?

In nature we take for granted that there is an active interplay between the wildlife animals, birds and other crawly creatures, but we have not been taught or made aware that perhaps the trees and vegetation may actively communicating among themselves. Kyne has tapped into the writings and scientific investigations that gives credence that plants and trees are in a sense actively communicating with each other. Thus raising the question; if plants and trees can perceive, what might they comprehend and what could that vision look like?

In discussing this book, she stated “And my work is about reality. Reality and time. I’m just looking at reality from what I imagine is the perception of another species. I’m attempting to expand our perception of reality and let go of or at least loosen the grip of our human-centric perception.”

Her photographs are abstract and very lyrical as I find Kyne’s hypothesis and subsequent investigating to be very intriguing and visually beautiful.

Other photobooks by Barbara Kyne reviewed on The Photobook: Gerhard Clausing’s review of By Fire

Cheers

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January 8, 2017

Barbara Kyne – By Fire

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Ph­otographer:   Barbara Kyne (born Hoboken, NJ; resides Oakland, CA)

Publisher:  Self-published, © 2015

Essay:  “On Contemplation and Perception” by Barbara Kyne

Text:  English

Stiff cover book with 32 pages, not numbered; 10 duotone photographs; 8.75 x 7.25″. Marketed by Norfolk Press  and by the photographer.

Photobook Designer:  Yon Sim

 

Notes:  

By Fire is a fascinating seminal volume that has as its goal creating a connection between severe personal tragedy and the universe of nature as a sphere of continuity and as a context permitting some healing. In ten well-chosen images that have also been given intriguing titles, Barbara Kyne allows the viewer to enter a foreboding yet promising atmosphere: we can project events that have fundamentally affected our lives into a series of fiery depictions of nature. These often include a shadowy figure – a stand-in and ethereal spirit, hinting at a gutsy universality beyond the comprehension of any one individual being, as well as pointing toward some solace and an understanding that we are not alone.

Barbara Kyne has a keen interest in pursuing the deeper meaning of reality and discovering clues to the great existential questions, using her photography to serve as a conduit to understanding “the cycles of life, death, and rebirth, often and surprisingly connecting pathos and joy.” Regarding this volume, she states, “If we move through the metaphorical fire with awareness, we may find that facing mortality creates expansion and renewed life.” Indeed, there is a mysterious and mythical quality to her photography that envelops and fascinates the viewer, inviting several types of discovery.

Barbara Kyne is continuing her important photography in further volumes. We admire her work and are looking forward to further illuminations.

Gerhard Clausing

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April 5, 2016

Kenneth Josephson – The Light of Coincidence

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Photographs Copyright 2016 Kenneth Josephson

Photographer: Kenneth Josephson (born Detroit, MI, resides IL, USA)

Publisher: University of Texas, Austin (USA)

Essays: Gerry Badger and Lynne Warren

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, includes List of Plates, Chronology, Exhibition History & listing of Collections, printed in China

Photobook designer: not stated

Notes: This thick, retrospective monograph examines the photographic works of Kenneth Josephson, an early innovative conceptual photographer. Early in his career, Josephson’s photographs ran counter to Szarkowski’s MoMA (1960 – 70’s) trend towards documentary photography, during which Josephson created photographs as objects that are “made”, not taken.

As Gerry Badger states in his forward to this book; “These images may contain meanings that are primarily private and personal to their maker. However, although Kenneth Josephson exemplifies the turn inward toward a self-reflective vision that marks post-World War II photography – he was taking selfies, though very complex selfies, decades before the iPhone generation – he was also enough of an artist to look outward.”

Many of Josephson’s photographs probably will appear hauntingly familiar, probably much more recognizable than his name.  His humor and wit is an undercurrent in many of his photographs, such as a car with a white shadow, which is not uncommon sight where the sun quickly melts the snow except for that which is in the shadows. Or when he frames his own shadow (early selfie) cast over his son laying on the ground, or his outstretched arm holds a photograph to create a juxtaposition of myth/reality into his composition. Josephson warrants a second look as someone who is providing a conceptual foundation for much of the current photographic practices.

Cheers

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February 29, 2016

Ralph Gibson – Political Abstraction

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Copyright 2014 Ralph Gibson

Photographer: Ralph Gibson (born Los Angeles, resides NYC, USA)

Publisher: Lustrum Press (USA) (Distributed: University of Texas Press, Austin)

Essays: Ralph Gibson

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust cover, sewn binding, four-color lithography

Photobook designer: not stated

Notes: This is Gibson’s first stated foray into digital photography and the book is also meant to be an exhibition catalog. His vertical photographs, now incorporating color in combination with his classic black & white images, are ambiguous photographs and not unlike those of his earlier seminal photobooks Somnambulist and Deja-vu. Gibson’s current book, Political Abstraction again provides Surrealistic juxtapositions, as his stated intent is to provide photographic diptychs for the reader/viewer to compare and contrast.

The Abstraction aspect of the book’s title is somewhat easy to grasp, as his truncated photographs are simplified and ambiguous forms, lines, shapes and colors without revealing the greater context of what (or where) the subject actually is. Gibson does pull back to provide more contextual information to the female nude forms, one of his stated sources from which all shapes are derived from. In his introduction, Gibson bullet-points almost 50 definitions of what he considers Synapses, including three repetitions of the “in democratic cosmopolitan culture a book can begin or end on any page in the book”, a key element of his Political theme, thus signaling that his paired pages can stand alone and his book does not necessarily provide an overall narrative save what the reader might glean form their appraisal of his collective pairings. Gibson concludes that “the reader is the subject of this book”, an interesting, if not confounding statement, born of his Ed Ruscha/ LA generation.

Cheers

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August 20, 2015

Aaron Siskind – Another Photographic Reality

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Copyright 2014 the estate of Aaron Siskind

Photographer: Aaron Siskind (1903 – 1991) USA

Publisher: University of Texas Press, Austin (TX) (first published by Editions Hazan, Paris, 2014)

Essays: Charles Traub, Gilles Mora

Text: English

Hardcover book with dust jacket, sewn binding, four-color lithography, Chronology, Bibliography, List of Photographs, printed in Italy

Photobook designer: Nicolas Hubert

Notes: A photographer who first came into recognition for his documentary photographs of NYC as part of Photo League. Siskind then evolved into one of the ground breaking and subsequent prominent photographers making the conceptual leap into Abstraction and his close friendship with Franz Kline and Robert Motherwell. He viewed photography as a visual language of signs, metaphors and symbols as the equivalent of poetry and music.

Cheers, Doug

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August 17, 2015

Minor White – Manifestations of the Spirit

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Copyright 2014 the estate of Minor White

Photographer: Minor White (1908 – 1976 USA)

Publisher:  J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Essay: Paul Martineau

Text: English

Hardcover book, sewn binding, four-color lithography, list of plates, pagination and captions, printed in China

Photobook designer: Jeffrey Cohen

Notes: A beautifully printed retrospective monograph, which also functions as an exhibition catalog of a modern photographer who was a creative photographic innovator, poet, teacher and one of the co-founders as well as the first editor of Aperture magazine. Known for his spirituality and equivalence inspired photographs.

Note: This extensive and well-illustrated monograph contains only White’s black and white photographs and does not contain any of his later color photographs.

Cheers, Doug

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September 7, 2014

Wynn Bullock – Revelations

 

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Copyright the estate of Wynn Bullock 2014; published by University of Texas Press, Austin & High Museum of Art, Atlanta

In some regards attempting to write about Wynn Bullock (b. Percy Wingfield Bullock, Chicago April 18, 1902, d. Monterey (CA) November 16, 1975) and his photography is a bit difficult for me having followed his photographic career since we moved the Pacific Coast in the early 1970’s. It seems to me that I am writing about the obvious but I realize that his photographs and diverse and creative background are a bit unknown to the current generation.

To place into context his black & white landscapes have that Brett Weston West coast appearance while his investigations into abstraction (both black & white and color), metaphysics and symbolism place him much closer to the photographic likes of Minor White. He was a friend of and knew many member of the f/64 group that birthed modern (straight) photography but he experimented in techniques and unorthodox manipulations of the photographic materials more than most of his peers. This was probably a result of living in Paris and the influence of the post-impressionist in the early 1920’s and his association with the photographers/artists Man Ray and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

As the book’s editor Brett Abbott states; “Ultimately Bullock was of the existentialist lineage drawn by Sartre. He (Bullock) pursued his art under the premise that an individual must live passionately and sincerely and that his experiences – including creative acts – were as important as philosophy and science in the unraveling the meaning of human existence.”

The two Bullock photographs that were selected for Edward Steichen’s “The Family of Man” exhibition the mid-1950’s were highly acclaimed and he gained international recognition as a result. He, like others in the 1960’s, struggled with the reproduction of color photographs and as a result only displayed his color experiemental work as slide shows. Fortunate for the reader, included in this retrospective is a large selection from his oeuvre “Color Light Abstraction”. His later black & white photographs are reversal prints (sometimes inverted) that are a delightful challenge to read.

As a book object this retrospective is dense with photographs and the essay’s are clear, informative and footnoted and accompanied by an illustrated chronology. The interior photographs are beautifully printed as originally conceived without the mild cropping of the early books illustrating his work, with the photographic plates having generous white margins, captions; including dates of the work accompany each photograph. Recommended.

Cheers!

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June 24, 2012

Gytis Skudzinskas – Tyla – Silence

Photographs copyright Gytis Skudzinskas 2011 published by Culture Menu (Kulturos Meniu)

Gytis Skudzinskas joins the minimalist ranks of the 1960’s color field painters and the recent cadre of long exposure photographers who reveal that with the passing of elastic time, that there are other “realities” that exist beyond our everyday comprehension and perception.

He creates contemplative images with beautiful lyrical colors of things that are, but yet are not. The results can be somewhat serendipitous as the final results are seldom visualized yet there is a core essence that can be anticipated.

The photographs are created with a neutral and static composition with the boundary between the upper and lower sections drawn mid way, dividing the two color fields into equal halves. This ccompositional tool is then consistently employed providing a sameness and interrelationship to and between the various photographs.

Beyond a contemplative opportunity for these photographs I regretfully do not find anything of sustaining value. The photographic content exists entirely within the boundaries of these photographs and other than the variations in color there is little else to hold my attention, to tweak my curiosity or create a desire to return.

The hardcover book is nicely printed and bound, the color photographs are suburb, but the textual design element of using a light color font on a paper of similar value increases the difficulty to read and comprehend the essays. This may be a case in which the attempt to be creative in design fell short, but an attempt to challenge the basics of book design is applauded. As an artist, risk need to be ventured and creative failure is a surrogate for success, as nothing ventured, nothing gained.

By Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook

December 8, 2009

Chris McCaw – Sunburn

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Book Discussions, Photo Books — Tags: , , — Doug Stockdale @ 5:42 am

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Copyright Chris McCaw 2009 courtesy Cavallo Point Resort

I enjoy McCaw’s frankness in how his project Sunburn came about, the effects of “whisky” and not being conscious to close the shutter of his camera after a night long exposure. Rather than trash the results of the night, he decided to follow serendipity and chance to investigate the results. And there was something that awaken his inner spirit to further pursue this random act of creativity.

Whereas most of us have been repeatedly told not to focus our camera’s lens on the sun, which could ruin the film, the shutter and who knows what. McCaw found himself running counter-initiative to this sage advice, because in fact he wants to sear, burn, destroy, deteriorate, degrade and otherwise trash his film or enlarging paper when loaded in his film holders. The name of his project, Sunburn, is very descriptive of his creative intent.

Incidentally, this book has brought back memories as a kid, wondering around trying to create havoc with my little handy-dandy plastic magnifying glass, later upgrading to a glass, an even more destructive model. Melting crayons, frying ants and trying to start little fires, the things very young guys seem to be attracted to. I was fascinated with what this simple little device could perform in conjunction with sunlight and a little skill and dexterity in focusing it into a small little intense point of light. Oh, yes, and I quickly learned not to focus that bright sun-spot anywhere on my skin or clothes.

I also wonder if there is some subconscious link back to McCaw’s youth and what little fires he has started from time to time. So in one sense, this body of work has a playful, but sinister quality, to its conception and creative inquiry.

McCasw creates one of kind photographic objects with indelible marks on paper and film substrates. This series can be segmented into two genres; minimalist abstract marks on paper/film or photogram light-drawings. Both employ various burning patterns and processes, not an entirely controllable process. The results are born both of experience and serendipity, couched in mystery.

His marks made on film usually have hard edges, appearing like glowing orbs, molten balls, with a white stark center and a dark circular ring. Occasionally these orbs are a little thicker on the bottom edge, adding weight and creating a non symmetrical circular design. His marks on paper generally have softer edges. The circular patterns, orbs and streaks are cerebral, vague gestures, employing random patterns, frequently created by multi-exposures.

His abstract minimalist photographs are monotone fields with a series of marks. His designs vary from wide open expanse, populated by of streaks and intermittent orbs, to a field of marks, much like a shot-up sign you might find in the deserts of Nevada. He employs a multitude of designs, searing strokes, pinpoints or soft radiant spheres. The resulting damage to the film and paper creates subtle color changes, but occasionally with sooty black edges, evidence where the material has been burned and deeply scared.

When McCaw repeatedly decomposes the camera, he creates random and abstract pattern of marks that have varying intensity, with a slight change in modulating colors. Depending on the intensity and duration of the exposure on each type of medium, his marks can have either hard edges or soft edges. A single mark may have an interesting combination of both hard and soft tonalities blending together, simulating a meditative state of being here, while not being here.

The shape of the spheres are much like the sun itself; and are portraits of the sun and indirectly sunshine. When allowing the sun to continuously track through one frame, the effect is a monotone rainbow, gently arching across the pictorial frame. The marks are also a form of “light” writings, a vague language that McCaw has developed.

The other series of photographs is related to the photograms, the earliest of photographic processes first developed by Henry Fox Talbot. A photogram, meaning light drawing, is a latent image created by a long exposure of a subject retained on photo-sensitive paper, a creative process still utilized by photographs, such as the late Jerry Burchfield. A disorienting aspect of photograms is that they are negative images, with a reverse tonality.

The subjects in a photogram are usually not sharply defined, but provide vague shapes and mass that allow some contextual recognition, contrasting with a sharply defined sun-burn. It creates a yin-yang set of opposites, creating dark and mysterious images.

Some of the resulting photograms capture what appears to be a meteor streaking through the sky. Or perhaps documents the landing of alien space craft, or something from the fourth dimension. Multiple images of the sun-burns crossing a dark sky, much like the work of Mark Klett and Michael Lundgren, symbolize the passing of time. There is something vague and elusive, but yet familiar with these photograms.  There is a faint definition of shapes and mass that begins to anchor our memories, but disconnected enough to leave us adrift, wondering what is this mysterious place. The sunburns weave through this stange landscape or create a searing pattern across the reflecting waters below.

Although this creative process could result from playfulness, it is also an act of violence, that relates to anger, frustration and fear. These images are indicative of a love/hate relationship. At a personal level, I sense his love of photography and working in this medium, while the physical mayhem of his medium strongly hints at a deep frustration, perhaps with the process, it’s limitations, control or resulting economic conditions as an artist or other personal issues. These images have a strong emotional content, like a torn and shredded canvas that has been hacked at by the painter.

Attacking his film and paper can also be construed as an attack on the esthetics of traditionalist and modern photography, where a pristine and perfect print is revered. There is no pristine print left in the traditional sense. But the creation of a one of a kind photographic object is the antithesis of postmodernism, which denies the idea of the individual artist. So McCaw is working within that in-between place of Modernism and Postmodernism, and I think the evidence will eventually show him to be more in the Postmodern side of this equation.

In yet another sense,  I find McCaw’s photographs reflect an environmental concern with global warming. The patterns and searing marks are symbolic of the possible effects by a sun that is not modulated by a protective outer atmosphere. A tome to what could be resulting conditions for mankind with a sun that burns, sears, and subsequently destroys, and that mankind is indeed playing with fire.

In the end, it is in the act of destroying his medium that McCaw is creating something new and unique. Perhaps like the seeds of species of tree that requires fire and heat to germinate and grow anew. From the ashes of destruction, Hope has been found.

Consistent with the other books in the Cavallo Point series, this is a small hardbound book with nice printing but the usually issues with a print-on-demand glued in binding, although I would not let that hinder a purchase of this interesting and provocative book.

Cheers,

Douglas Stockdale

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