Noriko Furunishi – constructed texture of place

Noriko Furunishi .  “…how [the] images end up don’t really exist but, the texture and place exists [in the image]…”

The image of the human being within the landscape is of course important feedback on scale and helps the “viewer / audience” place themselves within the imagined context – a surrogate of sorts I suppose.

Noriko Furunishi Untitled (Rock), 2006 C-Print

Noriko Furunishi
Untitled (Rock), 2006
C-Print
edition of 10
40 x 30 inches  (image via: Murry Guy)

Consider how different landscapes appear though with and without human scale – an overt occupation.   We (as viewers) project a lot with regard to our own physical understanding and sense of size, scale and measure with the inclusion of the human figure within the image – almost as an aid to imagining ourselves with-in the image – a way into the picture…

What I like about Furunishi’s pictures is that odd sense of vertigo – something about comparing what I expect the landscape to look like – what if feels to be in the landscape – by this I mean feet on the ground -standing and perhaps looking out over the horizon….  and what the landscape scene looks like as imagined by Furunishi.

Link to an interview with Noriko Furunishi and a blog on past exhibitsMIA (Minneapolis Institue of Art) and the  MIA’s “New Pictures” feature….  great stuff and worth the time to browse.  Nice to see the work get more exposure and to see new work!

Previous post of mine on Furunishi work that I found interesting via Blind Spot

Olaf Otto Becker at Blue Sky Gallery

Ilulissat Icefjord 09 07/2003 by Olaf Otto Becker

Ilulissat Icefjord 09, 07/2003 by Olaf Otto Becker

I’ve enjoyed viewing the work of Olaf Otto Becker albeit previously through online web work and so I jumped at the opportunity to visit the current (January 2010) hanging at Blue Sky Gallery here in Portland, Oregon.  As always, it is good to see the work in person and it was time well spent.  The work from his series “Broken Line,” is shot in Greenland with 8″ x 10″ camera and the results are as expected loaded with fine crisp detail and a rich pallet of colors.  The prints hanging are “modest” in size at 25″ x 30″ and with the fine detail I found myself practically nose up to the prints in an attempt to take it all in.

579 Oquaatsut, 07/2003 69°20’23’’ N, 51°00’15’’ W by Olaf Otto Becker

579 Oquaatsut, 07/2003
69°20’23’’ N, 51°00’15’’ W by Olaf Otto Becker

705 Nuussuag 07/2006 by Olaf Otto Becker

705 Nuussuag 07/2006 by Olaf Otto Becker

What I found most interesting in terms of viewing the pictures is with a personal question about the problem of describing “a place” through photographs. In this case what sort of impression does Becker’s characterization through pictures of “place” in Greenland leave behind?

Becker’s photographs as assembled in the show reveal a balance between what I would call “natural beauty” as pictured in the more decorative photographs of icebergs and sculpted bays with the images of resident cabins, outbuildings and associated detritus of human inhabitation.  I recall about a 2/3 to 1/3 distribution with natural beauty leading the way…

The pictures of human habitation at first seem to me to keep to a neutral presentation – meaning my assumptions are that the images are simply “what can be found”.  The pictures seperately do not seem to convey an explicit indictment but when coupled together with overtly beautiful images of a potentially devastating environmental situation to me alludes to a larger question of how we choose to live in our surroundings. The human places pictured indicate to me a pretty ugly disregard and disordered inhabitation.  Of course this is completely my own conjecture, but the pictures of local inhabitation chosen to be pictured are what I would call beautiful pictures of ugly things and by transference, I begin to recognize how the “Broken Line” may be much more revealing in general about how we inhabit places and is therefor much more than simply pretty pictures of icebergs. Of course it’s a pretty big jump and a lot of transference to allow the inhabited pictures to speak about “human disregard” of the landscape… but I think it’s there none-the-less.

Thinking about the problem of keeping a body of work together in order to convey (potentially) an intent held within a group of pictures is a problem probably best solved by the photo book – the book containing these pictures The Broken Line by Becker presumably may hold some more answers.  I have not yet had a chance to see the book – but am curious to see if my intuition and assumptions might play out in the book…

Talerua Bay, 07/2005 by Olaf Otto Becker

Talerua Bay, 07/2005 by Olaf Otto Becker

This relates to a couple of posts as well on the potential value of a photobook as a reference item for collectors and is blog and post worth visiting as it is quite nicely elaborated upon by DLK collectors offering another point of view.  The photobook posts might explain a bit more regarding Becker’s work from the same DLK collectors on the new series “Above Zero”….  All of this make me wonder more about the question of “decorative” work as a hook to bring a larger audience towards work that ultimately wants to be more than just beautiful…

Michael Marten – Sea Change

Michael Marten_Grain_Kent

Grain, Kent – Michael Marten

Sea Change – by Michael Marten – on view at Blue Sky Gallery here in Portland –

I think because I grew up in the cornfields of the Midwest – the views offered by Marten of seaside edges at various tides – low and high in close comparison  – are for me quite interesting and somewhat foreign.   Of course I’ve visited various shorelines along the way, but there is something important about spending enough time in one place in order to see the influences of the natural environment (or manmade for that matter) on the shape of the landscape. Perhaps it is an issue of slowing down enough to internalize it in a way – to come back time and again is the key.  One can do this in any number of places of course at different time scales, but the regular contrast and steady rhythm of high/low tides is a wonderful opportunity to do so in a predictable way.

Michael Marten_ Bedruthan Steps_Cornwall

From Marten’s statement:

“… Natural processes have lit, watered and shaped the world since time immemorial. Paying attention to their rhythms and effects may help us to reconnect to the fundamentals of the planet, which we ignore at our peril…”

Indeed.  All it takes is to be reminded in a serious way – how quickly you can be come isolated – at the mercy of nature’s way.  Perhaps that is the element missing for me in these pictures which are striking on their own terms – but for me an element of risk would be an interesting additional dimension in the series…. I like the series though – it is a good start on any number of possible ways to look at our world around us.

More of Marten’s work here on his website.