Monday, September 15, 2014

Shows to See: Photography Shortlist September 2014

September marks the beginning of the school year and also the Fall exhibition season. Here is my list of top photography gallery exhibitions to see over the next few weeks.

Lois Conner at Gitterman Gallery. 41 E. 57th St, #1103. Through November 15. Panoramic landscapes from the American Southwest, China, New York City and other places.

Matthew Pillsbury at Bonni Benrubi Gallery. 41 E. 57th St., 13th Floor. Through October 25. Tokyo.

Mona Kuhn at Edwynn Houk Gallery. 745 5th Ave. Through October 18. Acido Dorado.

Stepehen Shore at 303 Gallery. 507 W. 24th St. Through November 1. Images from Israel and the Ukraine.

Justine Kurland at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. 534 W 26th St. Through October 11. Sincere Auto Care.

Marco Breuer at Yossi Milo Gallery. 245 10th Ave. Through November 1. Abstractions made by scratching through the paper emulsion, folding it, and other things you're not supposed to do.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

2014 Fall Photography and Photoshop Classes at ICP

Fall Photography Classes at ICP

Photographic Vision and Composition: Beyond the Photographer's Eye

October 2 - December 11, 2014, Thurs 6:30-9:30 pm

Photographs tell stories. As a writer might use cadence, sentence structure, or even the sounds of words to help advance a story, photographers use light, shape, and color. But beyond employing general visual principles, photographers have a specific set of problems to solve in order to communicate effectively. This course provides an analysis of those problems and their potential solutions. Primarily based on ideas suggested in two seminal writings on photography, John Szarkowski's The Photographer's Eye and Stephen Shore's The Nature of Photographs, the class investigates how photographs say what they say. Through regular shooting assignments dealing with the principles of photographic vision and composition, students develop a better sense of how to formulate and strengthen an idea and are better able to translate that idea into the visual form of a photograph.

Photography II: Digital Intensive
2 weekends, October 25 - November 2, 2014

Why Photoshop?

I've always believed that the process of working on images in Photoshop can be a way of becoming a better photographer -- taking the time to observe and alter the visual relationships on screen over time begins to inform how we see when we go out to shoot. For a lot of photographers, it can be a virtuous circle. Photoshop classes are about learning techniques to solve expressive and aesthetic problems: for example: how do we create the illusion of space in a photograph, how do we identify the subject, how do we use color expressively, how do we create a path for the viewer's eye within an image? In other words, linking the decisions made in image processing and manipulation to ideas about composition and meaning. 

Photoshop 1: Digital Imaging for Photographers
September 30 - December 2, 2014, Tues 6:30-9:30 pm

Photoshop 2: Digital Imaging for Photographers
September 29 - December 8, 2014, Mon 6:30-9:30 pm

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kara Walker at the Domino Sugar Factory

Time is running out to see Kara Walker's installation at the Domino Sugar Factory. While most of the attention (and controversy) has centered around a giant sexualized, sphinx-like figure of a black woman made out of white sugar that occupies a good part of the five story warehouse, far more interesting are the many sculptures of smiling child laborers scattered throughout the space. The sculptures of the boys, cast from combinations of unrefined sugar and resin, have been allowed to twist, melt, and generally break down over the course of the installation. Some take on the appearance of funerary statuary covered with lichen. Others suggest the decay and transformation of the body after death.

Walker's work deals with race and history in ways that can be complicated and polarizing. By combining the grotesque and the comical, symbol and caricature, she requires the viewer to have an imaginative rather than a literal response.

The installation is located in Williamsburg and is open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through July 6. Be prepared for a 45 minute wait to get in.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mark Cohen at James Danziger Gallery

A retrospective of the work of street photographer Mark Cohen is up at James Danziger Gallery in Chelsea through June 20.  Cohen often takes an aggressive approach to photographing his subjects, moving towards them with the camera stretched away from his body until it is mere inches from the subject's face. The off-kilter framing and fragmentary rendering of passers-by on the street creates images which feel especially alive and spontaneous. Cohen's manner of shooting  may be intrusive, but his results range from the unexpectedly intimate to the surreal.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chino Otsuka: Imagine Finding Me

I was recently introduced to the remarkable photographs of Chino Otsuka. The images appear to be snapshots of mother and child, older and younger sisters, two friends, or in some cases even strangers. The reality is the photographer has seamlessly inserted her current adult self into photographs taken of Otsuka during her childhood and youth. The composited images become a poetic meditation on time, memory, and the self.

Otsuka clearly gave a lot of thought about how to match the gesture and appearance of her current and past selves. It is from those similarities and differences that the viewer begins to reflect upon the nature of the self through time: contemplating what changes and what remains constant. There should be some comfort in seeing the older self beside the younger -- armed with the knowledge that through each uncertainty or challenge she did in fact persevere, but it is hard for me not to feel somewhat melancholy looking at these pairs of temporal doppelgängers. United in the photograph, each self seems nevertheless quite alone.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Winter Term: Classes at ICP and Pratt

It's not too late to register for Photography and Photoshop classes beginning in the next few weeks. My schedule includes one class at Pratt and two at ICP. Learn about photographic composition in The Grammar of Photography, which will be held at Pratt's Center for Continuing and Professional Studies. You can see examples of student work here and read about the course topics and goals here. Some outstanding examples of street photography by two members of last Fall's class, Paul Kessel and Felice Simon, are below.

The Grammar of Photography, Pratt Center for Continuing and Professional Studies, Thursday evenings, 6:05 - 9:05, for 10 weeks, beginning February 6. (There is no direct link to the class on Pratt's website. To register for the course, you'll need to first click on the highlighted course name at the beginning of this paragraph, then the Search, register and pay online for CCPS courses link in the left column of that page, then enter PMPH-472-01 as the course code number.)

Paul Kessel

Paul Kessel

Felice Simon

Felice Simon

At ICP, I'm teaching Photoshop 1 and Photoshop 2. Photoshop 1 will cover RAW conversion, color correction, printing, and local adjustments using layer masks and selections. The objectives for the course are to develop students' sensitivity to color and tonality and give students the tools to transform the image the camera records into the picture the photographer imagines.

Photoshop 2 further strengthens students' abilities to solve expressive and aesthetic problems. The class is devoted to linking the decisions made in image processing and manipulation to ideas about composition and meaning. For example: how to enhance the illusion of space in a photograph, how to identify the subject, how to use color expressively, how to direct the viewer's eye within an image. The major technical component of the class is the introduction of advanced masking techniques. Photoshop classes are not just about learning software; they are, more importantly, about learning to see.

Photoshop 1, International Center of Photography, Monday evenings 6:30 - 9:30, for 10 weeks beginning January 27.

Photoshop 2, International Center of Photography, Wednesday evenings 6:30 - 9:30, for 10 weeks beginning January 29.