Friday, November 30, 2012

High Lights, Clear View on the Vista

Stars so close,
You can reach out and kiss one.

Salk Institute of California, Ezra Stoller image

Kennedy Airport, Ezra Stoller image

Architectural photographer Ezra Stoller was a nostalgic master of chiaroscuro, invoking Film Noir and the old world glamour of Hollywood with his deep focus and razor sharp foreground detail.

"My photos, tend to be confusing.  I show a great many vistas."
- Ezra Stoller

Stoller's images offer up a number of different framed views in each single shot, reflecting on his own photograph of the Salk Institute of California (Louis Kahn), Stoller says "there are I think nine separate areas you can view through, nine vistas."

Salk Institute of California, Ezra Stoller image
more here

Natalie Bookchin and Lev Manovich:Porno-Pictorialism, 1995

This digitally manipulated image by Lev Manovich and Natalie Bookchin, has us viewing a scene of viewing, though this time we do not see the viewer's gaze, only infer it from her legs and feet.  The oval framing of the scene suggests either peephole or classic oval frame, the latter associated with time remembered.  The spherical distortion of the end of the bed suggests a wide-angle lens, but in any case, the oval masking and optical distortion place us in the position of voyeur.  We do not see her expression to understand what she makes of her collection of art nudes and we do not see her hands.  The title suggests the erotic reverie of a teenager.  The picture reminds us that art has long sanctioned the viewing of naked bodies and one could do worse than these books of images when musing upon one's nascent sexuality.  The train bearing down on the bedroom would seem an obvious paste-in and portentous sign of the force and power of that sexuality.  It contrasts strongly with the delicacy and obliqueness of the rest of the picture. (Perhaps also an allusion to Alfred Stieglitz's The Hand of Man).

Alfred Stieglitz: The Hand of Man, 1902
Absorption/recognition: a notion that gained currency in the Diderot era of France that the viewer's pleasure in a painting with human figures, lies in the works ability to wholely engross the viewer.  It depends on the assumption that the subjects are not posing, rather, that they are absorbed in whatever they are about, and this absorption is a condition for our absorption in viewing them.  more here

Jeff Wall: The Destroyed Room, 1978

Jeff Wall considers this large format photograph to be his first successful attempt in challenging photography norms using lightbox transparencies. Referencing pop culture (illuminated cinema signs, advertising) and the sense of scale invoked by classical painting, The Destroyed Room is a staged scene of destruction in the bedroom of a young woman in which only the lithe figurine on the bureau and one black stiletto remain standing. The discarded objects are the debris of commodities that promise personal beauty, but are subject to constant changes in style and planned obsolescence.

Wall has said that he “filtered” the work through Eugene Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalous (1827), a painted depiction of aggression and violence. Thus, Wall has associated his picture with the tradition of Western painting just as it was turning from the idealization of historical painting toward a preoccupation with the late Romantic emotional turmoil or psychological disruption.

Eugene Delacroix: Death of Sardanapalous, 1827

The personal possessions strewn across the floor invoke not only images of anger, the state of mind the imagined gestures might have revealed, but also, the notion of the abject embodied in commodity fetishes in a culture of waste. This photographic tableau is a beautiful picture of a devastated interior in a present marked by the commodity culture of late capitalism. more here

And so apt that Sonic Youth made use of it then for their compilation album of tracks (hand picked by the band) previously only available on vinyl, limited-release compilations, imports, and b-sides to international singles, including unreleased material:
The Destroyed Room: B-sides and Rarities. 

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