Marco Breuer – unique / process / photography

Marco Breuer, German, born 1966
Pan (C-362), c. 2005
Chromogenic paper, scratched
Courtesy Von Lintel Gallery, New York

“He makes unique works of art in a medium known for its multiple editions.” And I would add – makes work that explores the results of experimenting with process – also something that is unique to the medium – photography.   Resource=New Pictures Blog – MIA

NOTE:  Goal: I’m going to re-invest my time / effort in some way with this personal archive of notes – in the meantime – what started as a trickle has become a more active stream over here: though the focus is more on drawing / art / personal work.  What I want to do is to re-visit certain notes now that some time has passed – my feelings / and knowledge have changed over time so it is good to revisit notes / revise what needs to be…  “stay tuned”…


Constructed Contemporary Photographic Visions

Ice Park (B) - 2007 by Noriko Furunishi

Noriko Furunishi
Ice Park (B), 2007
(original C-Print 
89 1/4 x 60 inches)

I first came across the work featured above from Ice Park 2007  by Noriko Furunishi in a recent issue of Blind Spot 37.  I have to admit that my first, second,third glance through the images in the issue was very brief and casual – on the bus ride into work. But,  I found Furunishi’s images to be quite nice – beautiful depictions of ice formations in wintry mountainous terrain.  I liked them enough – simply for their composition and form – and the fact that you don’t “usually” see landscape depictions composed in a vertical photographic format.  The images stuck in my mind from the other more “constructed” and you might say overtly manipulated photographic work – begging for a “reading” either of subject matter and/or acknowledgement of the artists chosen photographic process or more frankly simply the artist’s hand – at least for the first few glances.  At any rate – for some some reason – the Ice park images stuck (and still remain) in my memory.

Ice Park (D) 2007 - by Noriko Furunishi

Noriko Furunishi
Ice Park (D), 2007
(original C-Print
89 1/4 x 60 inches)

So upon a closer look again, I noticed a detail here or there that at seemed odd, not quite what I had expected to see – then looking closer, I realized more and more details revealing wonderfully odd juxtapositions and shifts in perspective – a real “cubist” moment for me – at least at the surface of stylistic references.   Everything seemed to be in and out of scale, upside down and quite disorienting – but revealing something to me in a good way.  I can only imagine the effect in the presence of a full scale work might be compared to the diminutive but still rewarding size as reproduce in Blind Spot.

Reading up a bit on what I could find about this work introduced to me to a deeper appreciation for the approach. Furunishi’s contemporary approach along with a measured comparison to a historical cultural appreciation of nature as read in the context of more traditional Chinese landscape painting reveals an artistic attempt to convey a contemplation and depiction of our contemporary relationship with nature.

My first realization is that the depictions go beyond mere superficial mimicry and gimmicks – if you consider the subject matter depicted – for example, a snapshot of the artificial ice climbing competition – pictured below – from one such “ice park”

My read on the work (now that I’ve spent some time with it), and the subject matter that Furunishi deals with in this series is about a very contemporary cultural view of “man VS. nature” where your worth is measured by the time and skill with which you can overcome nature’s obstacle before you – even if it is artificially natural…

Second realization, is to consider a reference to historical Chinese landscape painting – traditionally depicting a way of being with and in commune with nature – in a more mystical and spiritual way –  not in opposition to nature – this is where it begins to be interesting and to me seems to be the “message” in the work to consider.  Where do we stand in relation to nature?

Tang Yin (1470-1523): Conversation by the River.

A question to consider: How will we – our cultural generation – be “remembered” for our depictions of our view of the landscape and “nature” in generations to come? 

For me anyway, I find this sort of contemporary fine art work interesting to consider and a much more fruitful endeavor considering the potential of “constructed” photographic work that abounds.  Thanks again Blind Spot for another fine example of the strong work out there for sure worth looking at more than a few times over…

More on NORIKO FURUNISHI – via Murray Guy, Blind Spot and a brief review by Roberta Smith of the NYT.

Photography; Considering contemporary issues of the day…

I start out this “first post of the year” thinking about extending an effort towards building a personal understanding on how artists/photographers, approach depicting “contemporary events”.  It comes from the “what’s new?” question  posed in “Making Art New” by Robert Adams which I still am very much interested.  I was thinking about the kind of work that you might find out there that looks at the broader issues of the day – take for example, our relationship (or lack of understanding thereof) with the environment.

Crushed cars #2, Tacoma 2004 – Chris Jordan

The images are there – a lot of them – some flirt with an aesthetic that is almost “beautiful” albeit ultimately destructive.  Most of the photographs, that I’m aware of (please, I’d like to become better informed), seem bleak in outlook, or so about destructive imagery that I for one, can’t imagine myself “transfering” seeing into doing,  taking an action about the situation…  It’s novel to be able to view a million, billion sheets of paper and realize that we use up that much resource.. by the minute… or something along those lines… but it leaves me feeling dismayed and disconnected – I feel like “throwing up my hands” with a helpless feeling overwhelming me – I can’t not use paper after all… maybe more wisely, but…

Jordan notes in his statement rather hopefully:

“As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. “

Maybe a future post can find something more contemporary- in photography – that deals with the issue in a more straightforward way – I’m  sure it exists out there.  I suppose I’m looking for something that is a little less “over the top” – something subtle – something I can transfer my being into.  Maybe the question is what other ways might a photographer engage the viewer that doesn’t involve being “shocked” by the image in order to provoke a deeper understanding…

So,  instead I want to look back and with the benefit of hindsight and the passage of time and consider some work of another time of transition in the US, where there might be said a clear moment of “leaping forward” change,  that being the “industrial” age of the American experience.

Charles Sheeler – Precisionist painter, photographer.


Wheels – Charles Sheeler
American, New York City, 1939

The “Wheels” was a photograph by Charles Sheeler while on a commission from Fortune magazine to create a series of paintings entitled “Power.” Energy – raw power steam – applied in a controlled way – that’s a nice image to consider.

Charles Sheeler - Ford Plant

Criss-Crossed Conveyors – Ford Plant, 1927 – Charles Sheeler

These images of the “time” in which America embraced worshiped celebrated the potential of the machine are in the styles of art current at that time of cubism, precision-ism… etc.  These photographs were constructed to portray a sense of power, utility, and the machine – all that was “modern” about that moment. The obvious monumental quality of the image the object pictured leads to  a sense of  self sufficiency, the energy of being independent – the freedom and know-how that is associated with this kind of image is easy to get caught up in – perhaps sometimes the images feel a bit like propaganda – commissioned by the Ford Motor Plant and all –  perhaps the images became politicized through time and use by others to signal a “new age”… Now with the benfit of time and understanding – we might now view this image in a more slavish way.

Ford Plant, River Rouge, Stamping Press, 1927 – Charles Sheeler

Here, a worker oversees a huge machine that stamps out car fenders. It rises above him like an altar, reflecting Sheeler’s statement that America’s factories are “our substitutes for religious expression” and similar sentiments expressed by President Calvin Coolidge, who proclaimed, “the man who builds a factory builds a temple, [and] the man who works there worships there.”DIA – Exhibition Information – references.

For its heroics and monumentally, this Sheeler photograph is completely over the top and I love it for that.   All of this machine to form a fender, on a cheap Model “A”.

So was Sheeler’s photography a reflection upon the contemporary issues of his time?  Was he “true to his subject?”

A different more subtle take on the subject but related in someways is the work by Alec Soth “Making Parts”.

“Bliss” from the series “Making Parts” (for Granta Magazine) – by Alec Soth

“The business of making things is becoming a memory for much of the western world—the very business that once gave mastery over the east and the south. Factories don’t just make objects. They created (and elsewhere go on creating) a way of life.” – Granta.

It’s about the people and their lives affected by the real endgame of the more menial task of making bits of things and who are now finding themselves in a very a hard place competing with those who view this as a step up in the world. But, have no illusions about the step ladder – it leads nowhere here in this particular series.

More on this in the future, as I endeavor to discover more positive out looks on the possiblity of regaining a healthy relationship with environment – by considering the impact of making things – regional and global.