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Traveling the World with a Skateboard and a Camera

Through DSL Magazine we found out about the beautiful project "The Photographer Series" by Andrew Norton. Norton tells the stories behind some of skateboardings most epic images and the dudes who made them.

This episode features photographer Jonathan Mehring who travels the world with his camera and a skateboard, enabling some pretty unusual encounters with locals and nature alike. To him, “It’s just an expansion of the high school road trip. You got your drivers license and you’re heading out into the unknown."

Find more episodes here.

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When I called photographer Martina Hoogland Ivanow in Stockholm to discuss her upcoming exhibition “Far Too Close” (opening tonight, October 11, at the Gallery at Hermès), I was sitting outside of the public library in Rathdrum, Idaho, population 6,969. In a quest to gain perspective on my seemingly anarchic New York City-based life, I had sought out the serenity of Northern Idaho and this was the closest place I could find with an Internet connection and somewhat decent mobile phone reception.

As Martina and I spoke, it became clear that it was this very notion of “perspective,” and the weight that we ascribe “home” and “away” that Martina set out to explore in “Far Too Close.” Shot over seven years, the project is, in Martina’s words, a “play with the idea of distance, emotionally and geographically, and the way people build up a pattern of perspective—both in the sense of being far from an object or place, or close to it.”

Juxtaposing vast images of the edge of continents or desolate landscapes with intimate family portraits and domestic interiors of her native Sweden, scrutinized to the point of abstraction, Martina constructs a visual commentary on not only how we see the world around us but also how we don’t see it; how our emotional distance from the foreign allows us a perspective that is rarely afforded those people and places closest to us.

Intrinsic to this examination are universal questions of physical and emotional retreat; poetic impulses; and the weight of history. And while “Far Too Close” more often further mystifies than clarifies these concepts, it also profoundly proposes the notion that perhaps perspective is more often gained through examination than by escape. Here, Martina tells us a bit about her own investigation process.

Erin Dixon: How did “Far Too Close” manifest?

Martina Hoogland Ivanow: As a photographer you tend to travel a lot, and I tend to question why it is easier to describe things that are far away, with an emotional distance, while the things that are closer to you seem to be harder to grasp.

Erin: Was there a particular moment when you thought: I need to pursue this—or was it an accumulation of all of those moments traveling that pushed you to this exploration?

Martina: There were a few different moments… When I was living in New York City, as soon as I got back to Sweden I would go swimming in a lake. I’ve always liked those two opposites, juxtapositions—how they attract each other. And I tended to travel like that; I would go to very isolated places. So [this project] became a personal question and challenge to myself: I’ll see if I go to these ends of continents if I fall over the edge into myself. Then, I started to think, historically, how a seemingly distant place had placed so many people in the same frame of mind. And also, politically, geographically, these places had so many similarities. That lead into this question of: Why do you have to go so far to take a step inside of yourself? Why is it so much easier to describe things that are emotionally distant and also geographically so far away?

Then there was a moment when it felt really important to include anything that was home, or supposedly home—whatever it is you’re deciding this [far away] place is far away from. So, I included all these family portraits and family interiors and that’s when this project started to become a bit more interesting. It was a process. It was something that took time to shape itself. That’s what makes it special.

Erin: Within that, how did you select the “far-off” locations for the project?

Martina: They are places at the end of continents or places where people—because of the perception of them being far away—have hidden things that they didn’t want to be found. For example, in Northern Russia the Kola Peninsula has military bases, prisoners… It’s a place to hide the nuclear waste, and things like this; [these “far-off” places] tend to have dark histories. Then there’s the poetic perspective of being close to yourself in a desolate space, so certain people are drawn to them. They are also, most of them, the endpoint of the continent. I would almost look at a map and start to research a place and then just go there for a couple of weeks and see what I would find, especially at the beginning. At the end, I would be more specific with what I was trying to find, but this tends to be the case with every project I do. I try to be a bit loose at the beginning and it becomes a bit more focused towards the end.

Erin: Is there one place that particularly resounded with you?

Martina: The Kola Peninsula is very special, and the Russian places in general are amazing because they stretch over such a big piece of land but they have so many similarities. Also they’re so populated because it was a way to [claim] land, to build these cities in these very desolate places.

I was [in Russia] for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II so I stumbled upon all these English veterans who hadn’t been there since then. I found myself at all these ceremonies and watching parades. It was so strong for these people and having these men crying made me more aware of the fact that I don’t really have a relationship to this place, so I really tried to describe my distance and take a lot of pictures from above and far away. I was trying to visualize or describe this emotional distance. Even though of course I can relate to that pain as a human, I wasn’t a part of that war. I live in a country that hasn’t had war for hundreds of years. That was maybe the most important trip. It was also the last one so I was clear on what I was going to do.

Erin: And how did you select the images of home that you did?

Martina: When I moved back to Stockholm, I had this thought that the things I could share and see in some of my relatives’ houses—the books, the interiors, a pillow or the textiles—were things I would find in my own home. And maybe these things were related somehow to a family bond, more than the emotional closeness. So [with the images] I was trying to describe the place, rather than the closeness to the person or the intimacy. In some places, I did this very intentionally, finding that particular light where they were abstracted. I guess I was also, in various ways, making the images so close that you couldn’t see—so that when I would place them alongside landscapes or travel images, they would also create a pattern or rhythm of perspectives. I was conscious to do things closer in, so close that you couldn’t see anything. I was trying to describe this lack of perspective, the irony that it is hard to see things that are so close to you.

Erin: And what are you working on now?

Martina: I haven’t quite pinned it down yet but I found myself, maybe six months ago, looking at the work I’ve made since I came back from Berlin, where I lived for a year. I saw how I had been shooting various things but also how they were all linked to each other without me really being aware. I thought they were three different projects, but they really relate very well. I can’t really explain it well yet…but it is definitely a continuation of my Satellite project. I also started working on this film about this dancer and doll maker. It’s about this woman in the ’50s and ’60s and about the emotions she created in others. How she woke so many aberrations and so much anger and irritation. She’s a bit haunting, so I decided to make something about her.

Images by Martina Hoogland Ivanow. Far Too Close is on view October 22 through November 26 at the Gallery at Hermès, 691 Madison Avenue, New York, New York.

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Ben Pier is a photographer who captures moments of youth and portraits of the young at heart in his recently published collection TEENAGE TEETH. Shot over the past decade, Ben’s photographs are an honest ode to sloppy ink jobs, to being drunk and crushing, to bedrooms that feel like fish tanks and that weird girl you met by the lake, who you just can’t stop thinking about. The release of TEENAGE TEETH was accompanied by a launch party and exhibit at Ed. Varie, a gallery/bookshop in the East Village. I chatted with Ben at the event and after via email about teenagedom, the suburbs and losing your “teenage teeth.”

Angela Melamud: Your work screams: I’m an awesome juvenile delinquent! What were you like as a teenager? Stories?

Ben Pier: I have stories. Buy me a drink, and I’ll tell you a couple. I think I was a pretty OK kid. I wanted to be a badass, but all the total burnouts scared the shit out of me—but I liked that. Those kids don’t last long, and it’s really fun being next to them while they’re around. As a teenager, I was went through the awkward comic-book-nerd stage, then into a metal-head phase, then I got really into punk, then I started a band, skated, skipped class and ate acid. But that didn’t seem too crazy. I was also on the hockey team and dated cheerleaders.

Angela: Although you live in New York City, most of your photographs seem to be set in the suburbs. Do they reflect your own childhood in Missouri?

Ben: I’m drawn to suburban/domestic life because it’s so foreign to me now, and it’s fun to explore what’s foreign, right? I love NYC, but I don’t totally love shooting personal work here. I like to get out of my surroundings to make my work. I like to go on the road and search people and places out, like a hunt. My eyeballs go crazy as soon as I leave the city. It’s great.

Angela: [The term] “teenage teeth” is evocative of baby teeth. What do you think is the transition for when we loose our teenage teeth?

Ben: Some people hold onto them forever. Others slowly lose them, while some people never have them. You know that quote from The Breakfast Club when the basket-case girl says, “When you get older, your heart dies?” It’s kind of true. The things you feel deep inside you when you’re a certain age—those things, they tend to fade away. But when you’re young or when you feel young and you’re totally immersed in everything you believe in, you can somehow exist inside that world you create—before the actual world comes and takes a dump all over your face.

Angela: Is the collection inherently optimistic because it captures the joy of youth? Or is it pessimistic because that joy has to pass, like teenagers have to become adults?

Ben: It’s both—you can’t have one without the other. Total yin and yang, dude.

To purchase TEENAGE TEETH email the Ed.Varie gallery at books@edvarie.com.

Above and below photos from Teenage Teeth

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This playlist from YouTube user hideyasann features more than 100 short clips of trains and train restrooms in Japan. Most of the train videos are of trains pulling into a station, or changing tracks. Most of the toilet videos emphasize the flushing mechanisms—of which there are a surprising variety.

As a rail fan, it's interesting to see what so many different Japanese stations and trains look like. And there's no narration, so it's also interesting to watch these very matter-of-fact clips and think about the visual context they trigger in your head. Men in suits waiting on a platform for a train to change tracks—that's a scene from a serious drama about the inner psychology of a businessman. A shakey clip where the videographer walks towards an arriving train, and a station agent, while breathing heavily—that's totally a scene from a horror movie. I'm honestly not sure what to make of all the toilets.

It's also kind of awesome to just think about the level of obsession that went into this playlist. I'm not really sure what hideyasann is trying to document—Train variety? Train cleanliness? Is he or she just collecting the same footage from as many trains as possible? Whatever the goal, you can clearly see the love and fascination here. There's totally a Happy Mutant at work.

Playlist Link

Via goldensloth on Submitterator

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From the magazine's three-part, nearly 80-page story about the Tour of Rwanda.

Photo: Ben Ingham

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Rouleur is to bike magazines what National Geographic is to nature photography. Instead of glossy, well-lit portraits and fancy racing shots, its pages are filled with long, thoughtful photo spreads that drive deep narratives.

“We want to tell stories, we don’t do just want to do winners and podiums,” says Guy Andrews, the magazine’s editor and founder.

This makes the London mag an anomaly among the typical bike magazines, or most any sport magazine these days. They don’t exist to pimp the newest product or tout the coolest new protégé, but to capture all the moments that happen around the sport. Like the old photojournalism adage: The photos don’t happen at the event, they happen in the parking lot.

“We don’t have pictures of riders crossing finish lines,” he says. “We tend to concentrate on what happens to support that.”

One example of the magazine’s storytelling is the enormous and beautiful three-part, nearly 80-page story the magazine ran about the Tour of Rwanda. The piece, loosely based around the race, also delved into the history and politics of this once-war-torn country, providing a dynamic and in-depth look at a place that many Western readers know nothing about.

The production quality is another aspect that sets Rouleur apart. Printed on thick, rich paper, it feels more like a book than a magazine. It only comes out eight times a year and each of the recent issues has been 162 pages and cost $20.

“Some magazines will give three pages to a story and we’ll give 20,” Andrews says.

The secret to keeping the quality up, says Andrews, has been building a healthy pool of freelancers who are constantly pitching ideas. Andrews say he would much rather send photographers to produce work they came up with and care about than make assignments.

Rouleur‘s success has also about giving the photographers as much time as they need to tell the story right.

“There has been a death in [the U.K.] of good photojournalism, but not just photojournalism, there’s been a death of any kind of story that takes more than five minutes,” he says. “To get quality you need to give photographers time to explore their craft.”

The magazine’s audience has responded in kind by growing every year. A majority of its 10,000 readers are located in the U.K., but Rouleur also has a healthy audience in the rest of Europe and the United States. It’s a modest readership for a cycling magazine, but it has become a must-read for both fans of the sport and fans of photography.

The magazine has benefited lately from an upswing in the popularity of road bikes among the kind of middle-class professionals who might otherwise play golf. In addition to the racing aficionados, it’s the dentists, lawyers and doctors who are now subscribing, says Andrews.

For Rouleur, there’s no race to push for online content until things settle down in the digital world. The plan for now is to keep producing quality magazines that tell interesting stories and highlight good photography.

“It’s like the wild wild West out there,” says Andrews. “I think we just need to stay creative.”

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New cabs hitting the streets of New York City next year will have charging ports for riders' electronics. They'll also have more leg room, a large skylight roof to gaze at the city skyscrapers and even odor-reducing and anti-microbial fabric to help deal with, well, you know, anything you might smell in the backseat of a cab.

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