I found this book in the library at my work. It’s by Publio Lopez Mondejar. Not on the usual lists of photo books (as far as I know). Black & white images. All the photographers are male. Documents or pseudo- documents. Those who seem to support the dictator. Those who do not. Hidden motions. Transgression. Those from outside. Viewers. Right now I don’t feel like reading so much of the text. The history of photography under Franco vs the images. In ways I think you can see this story in the images. Or do I add my own layers/perspective to this? Images that seem largely conservative. But things seep through. Masat’s bull pierced with swords, staring at the audience, at the world. Unflinching fascists. Police repression. When they come they clash with the images that surround them. The other pages in the book with their soft victorian pastoral images. Jarring. Genoves “four stages of a political crackdown”. Lobato’s “procession in Aliste” full of menace. Candid images. Images taken as power slips or outside of power and with honesty. These are the images that excite and interest. The broken state. The fascist state. Images that look behind and into. Toward the future and the death of the dictator. Simo’s image of two meaning clearing away symbols of Franco’s dictatorship. The general in a frame. Already something of a ghost, it’s power gone. The man staring at the camera, real and alive.
I started reading the Phaidon book on Stephen Shore. It reveals a lot about his work, it adds layers. I like his stuff but I didn’t really think about his work. Why not? Not seeing so much of his work? It’s range. The variety? Changes and developments. The ideas? Feeling as if it was too ironic. Americana. The kind of image that has become commonplace. The weight of influence?
This quote is a reminder. A note.
“Shore: One of the things I did at the time when I was taking those pictures was stand next to the camera on its tripod and simply look. After I had gotten a rough idea of what I was photographing I would look at what was in front of me and literally pay attention to as much as I could as far back into space as I could see. And I would decide whether there was any slight adjustment I wanted to make.
Shore: Yes, taking into account any perceptions that came my way. And I would say yes, systematically, because if I didn’t do it systematically then I wouldn’t do it.? Does that make sense?
Fried: Perfect sense.
Shore: So it was like a check list. Okay, I have done all this, I have got the rough framework of the picture and now I am going to stand here and really look at everything. The metaphor I have in mind is that I am clearing the space for the viewer. That by moving my attention through the scene and making any necessary adjustment to the picture, I clear the space for the viewer to move his or her attention through. If I look only 50 feet into the scene, then there would be a wall that the viewer would stop at."
Lessons in space and ways of seeing.
Le Havre. Aki Kaurismäki and Timo Salminen. Saturated. They impose lush colours (the past?) on to the present. Frame after frame of beautiful photography. An unreality? A dream? A golden age? everything picked and everything a choice. A lost world. A hand and bread . Stomach pain and a red onion. Masters of colour. They work to set a mood, a tone throughout the work. Creating a tension. Now Vs Then. Them Vs Us. It makes it feel like a ghost story. Spirits and holy fools. Miracles. How long were they in that container? Was anybody alive? Why do these colours make me doubt a surface reading of this story?
Colour use, making super-reality/reality/fantasy/myth. Adjusting the image and the world, in context, in shadow..
I found something difficult about this exercise. Just getting my head around the ideas we are trying to cover here, while creating something interesting, while creating something that I can relate to. Maybe I make life too complex for myself. Trying to sum up a book in the relationship between two or three elements seems kind of crass, too literal. It’s also the mood of the book that sticks with me. Less physical? Although not my favourite book I felt I could catch something of Lowry’s book with the things I had around me. I tried a number of set ups. Variations. But settled on this one in the end. While setting up the photo on a page as a front cover I felt as if it was lacking something. Punch? How many books have just a simple photograph on the front. There is usually a design element beyond the photograph, which I tried to add here. The use of colour. Simple shapes. The circle a reduction of the crater. the sun. blood, fate? It makes for a stronger image. Instant but with added layers. Does such malipulation still count as photography? If i say so?
Catalogue of photographs in the Norton Simon Museum. A strange book in some ways a snapshot of a fashion in photography. Many strong images but of a time. Before colour. Documents. Certain styles. Time has moved on from many. Left them behind. Somehow idealistic, engaged in the world but a little existential. Very 60’s if that means anything. The clothes & the approach. They sit together but there’s too much that doesn’t interest me and not enough by photographers that do interest me?? Why don’t they interest me? psychedelia? approaches that are clichés. Now or always were so. Things that do not connect with me. Art for arts’ sake. Painterly elements? Is it the way they are displayed in the book…too little space for the images to breath? Crammed together….smearing into one mood? There are lots of fine images in here and names to explore, but not to view here……
Narrative and evidence of action. Do all pictures show evidence of action. Of narrative? That something has happened. Its degrees? Its intent? These are always the questions. What do we want to say express. What do we want to leave unsaid? Is this picture of evidence of action???? Something might or might not have happened…………………….Every picture is evidence of action. Even if the only action is the pressing of the shutter?