CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/4/2014
In their new design monograph from Damiani, the Haas Brothers write, "In the world of things that look like animals, there is a formal and emotional spectrum that runs from toy to taxidermy—one end being very generic and favoring attributes such as cuteness and the other end being very specific and favoring superficial realism. What strikes us as interesting when comparing these two is that between a stuffed animal which is extremely simplified and a stuffed animal that looks nearly lifelike, it is likely than any human who encounters the two will feel more affection for the generic version of the animal. The psychological mechanism behind this, which we equate to the concept of the "uncanny valley" in humanoid robotics, is instinctual and automatic. Our goal with our beasts, particularly because our use of real fur keeps us in constant flirtation with the valley, has been to understand and manipulate this emotional response. By simplifying some forms and enhancing others, adding humor, and playing with gesture, we have found that it is possible to imbue an inanimate object with not only a feeling of sentience, but with a distinct personality." Featured image, of "Ed Bel-fur" and "Bok Hudson" (both 2014), is reproduced from The Haas Brothers.
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/4/2014
Stephen Shore's iconic "U.S. 10, Post Falls, Idaho, August 25, 1974," from Uncommon Places, is reproduced from The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip, one of the greatest photography collections this year. Author David Campany writes, "Shore's photographs are analytical but not overtly critical, curious yet distanced, at once literal and consciously symbolic. In this sense, they carry forward a way of understanding and picturing America first distilled by Walker Evans. 'I was fascinated with architecture as a physical expression of cultural forces. That’s what I’m always looking for. A picture can contain conflict, but that’s not all the picture is about.' As soon as he felt he was repeating himself, Shore brought this way of working to a close. Overall, there are some 700 photographs that Shore feels belong to the project. Uncommon Places was first published in 1982 with 49 images. The emphasis was on intersections and roadsides, but in reality the approach had a far greater sweep. There are landscapes, townscapes, studies of buildings, portraits and still lifes—all motivated by the sheer challenge of picture making and the complex pleasure taken in things and appearances."
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/3/2014
"New Mexico" (1980), by Bernard Plossu, is reproduced from The Open Road, Aperture's highly anticipated collection of photographs of the American roadtrip. David Campany writes, "In 1965, aged twenty, he visited Mexico and met numerous people, one of whom took him to California (Carmel and Big Sur). From then on, for two decades, he never stopped driving the country's roads. His great loves were beatnik America, nature, the California Sierras, and the poetry of Garry Snyder. He met all kinds of people from all walks of life, and the whole experience was accompanied by music on the radio. Sometimes he was in a Volkswagen van, or in an old convertible gold Oldsmobile Cutlass, bought from a Texan lady for seven hundred dollars… It was a freewheeling life, all of it new and constantly exciting. He stayed with friends (including photographers Lewis Baltz and Steve Kahn) and in hotels: I'm in love with hotels—in art, photography, in literature, and in films. They're places where you can leave everything behind. Changing from one room to another is like changing film in a camera. They're like islands, you take a little with you, and you change your sense of rhythm. For me, they are the symbol for travel.
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/2/2014
Justine Kurland's 2010 photograph, "Spare Some Gas," is reproduced from The Open Road: Photography and the American Roadtrip, a book that belongs in every serious collection. David Campany describes Kurland's experience traveling America with her infant son Caspar. "Mother and son would travel in their customized van, going south in the winter and north in the summer. As well as photographing people encountered in passing, Kurland would revisit friends and acquaintances living on the edges of society or close to subsistence levels. 'How to photograph such lives is a tricky question,' she admits. 'There's such a mythology around life on the margins. It goes back to John Steinbeck's writing and beyond.' That mythology, coupled with ethical difficulties of depicting the lives of others has put off many contemporary writers and photographers, resulting in further invisibility. 'I believe it's where the social fabric begins to unravel that we can learn about society. I love that part of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men where James Agee asks 'Who am I to be writing about the lives of these struggling tenant farmers?' but then asks 'and who are you to be reading these words?' For all the criticisms made of documentary practice I still come back to it.'"
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 11/1/2014
Joel Meyerowitz's 1970 photograph, "Florida," is reproduced from The Open Road, Aperture's essential paean to photography and the American roadtrip. David Campany quotes Meyerowitz, "'I began to understand that the car window was the frame, and that in some way the car itself was the camera with me inside it, and that the world was scrolling by with a constantly changing image on the screen. All I had to do was raise the camera and blink to make a photograph.' Meyerowitz had returned from [a] European trip with fresh eyes, alert to the profound changes in America. Where the best road trip photography of the 1950s and '60s had been either angry or melancholic (and frequently both), much of the defining work of the 1970s was perplexed, fascinated, and even surreal in tone. Meyerowitz was attuning himself to the nation's wild incongruities, ideological contradictions, and dark rituals. Most often his subject was leisure and even this was a source of unsettling humor."
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/30/2014
In "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters" (1797-99), from Goya's Caprichos series, the sleeping figure is a self-portrait of sorts, depicting the artist as an "alternate version of himself," according to Manuela B. Mena Marqués' essay in our Halloween favorite, Goya: Order & Disorder. An owl at the artist's shoulder offers up a stylus or crayon, while the image of the artist dreaming describes a "place where reason and the laws of nature have been suspended." Goya's titular inscription "takes on a different meaning when understood as 'The dream of reason produces monsters,' a translation equally possible, as sueño can mean either sleep or dream. Understood that way, the monsters are the dream produced by the inventive mind. It is not surprising that in a print devoted to the concept of creativity, Goya uses a term that requires the viewer to hold simultaneously equally valid and contradictory ideas."
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/29/2014
"Anyone who's ever renovated a house knows that interiors are all about surfaces. The kind of flooring, the kind of wallpaper, the color of the paint—these all add up to create the environment of a house. I think the surfaces that we grew up with are imprinted in our memory in a really deep way. People respond immediately to 1970s wood paneling, for example. They recognize that it's not a typical part of our surroundings anymore. So this one detail can carry you back to the past and elicit memories. I think there's something profound about how that happens. A picture is not contained by its frame.
The space we exist in within the home is incredibly important. Each room in the house has a different meaning. A picture taken from the perspective of someone watching TV in the basement has a different meaning than one of a bedroom because so many different activities happen in that room. Certain things happen in a bed, and a photograph of a single bed tells a different story than one of a double bed. All of these details matter to the mood and meaning of a picture. A picture of a bed is not necessarily a picture of a bed—it could be a picture about a relationship, it could be a picture about sexuality. It could be a picture about loss or love, or it could be a loveless picture." Featured image, "#1843," and text excerpt are reproduced from Todd Hido on Landscapes, Interiors, and The Nude, the newest book in Aperture's acclaimed Photography Workshop Series.
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/28/2014
J. Hoberman of 'The New York Review of Books' calls 'What Nerve' "cranky, sometimes menacing, often hilarious and, in the case of the Hairy Who and Destroy All Monsters, particularly fresh."
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/27/2014
Photographer David Armstrong died this weekend—on October 25, 2014, of liver cancer—at the age of 60. One of the key artists of the "Boston School," which also included Nan Goldin, Jack Pierson and Mark Morrisroe, Armstrong is best known for his intimate, sexually charged portraiture and a life hard lived. Featured photograph, "Dylan," (2008) is reproduced from 615 Jefferson Avenue, Damiani's 10-year retrospective of Armstrong's photographs of beautiful boys who came to stay with him in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn or his farm upstate while working on fashion photographs. In an interview published in the book, photographer Ryan McGinley asks Armstrong about his return to photography, and New York, in 1990. Armstrong responds, "Nan taught me: 'You have to look at a picture and think, Could anyone else have taken this? Aside from you? If someone could have, it’s no good for you. Just get rid of it. Is it yours? Is it possible anyone could have taken it but you?"
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/26/2014
"'Fake it 'til you make it!' Casey Spooner would say. Did Fischerspooner successfully fake it, or make it? To this day, I'm still not sure," writes MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach in the deluxe new Fischerspooner retrospective monograph New Truth. "What even separates truth from fiction in their world, and does it even matter?" Join Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer for the book launch this Tuesday night, October 28 at VFILES on Mercer Street in Soho. In addition to the book, VFILES will have a reissue of the classic Fischerspooner T-shirt featured in the book. Biesenbach concludes, "Like may other socially-engaged artists, Fischerspooner overturned the classic arrangement between artist, art object, and audience; artist turns into a glamorous army, art object becomes spectacular performance, and audiences becomes loyal fans. Through their utilization of readymade forms of entertainment, coupled with the insurgence of digital media and the Internet, Fischerspooner infiltrated the popular consciousness and manipulated the means of production to a degree, to the extent that they could put forth a utopian relationship between art and the social. My personal connection to Fischerspooner is emblematic of their effect—we were all brought into their world, enraptured, perplexed, and uncertain what were claims and what was fame."
"Paging through a book is like closing a door behind you that simultaneously opens another onto a new room -- all the while keeping the previous room available, just behind the now-closed door of the turned page. Here I am in the hallway of the introduction..." -- excerpt from Sharon Helgason Gallagher's remarks at the New York Public Library panel discussion The Future of the Art Book
What are the kinds of books we ought to be publishing today as exemplars of the book for the future? What is the enduring legacy of "bookishness" that we want to -- may I say "ought to" -- transmit to the future? What kinds of meaning are and can be transmitted uniquely in the book form? What is the "bookishness" of the book that does not survive conversion, translation, adaptation, or reformatting as a digital publication? And what kinds of books even posses this quality?
Tonight, TamTam Books launches Gilles Verlant's authoritative new biography of the legendary French pop star, Serge Gainsbourg. Below is an excerpt: Verlant's chapter on Gainsbourg's passionate but short-lived love affair with screen legend, Brigitte Bardot.
"ONE DAY Schindler was looking at the floor plan of a house that had just been developed in quarter scale from the rough plan he had made directly on the surveyor’s eight-scale contour map."