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Original author: 
David Brittain

Photographic technology was born in Europe, but the art of photography as we know it, was invented in the USA during the 1950s and 60s, sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. John Szarkowski, MoMA’s powerful Director of Photography, declared that great British photographers belonged to a “documentary tradition” that included Bill Brandt (whose press pictures of Britain in the 1930s were exhibited at MoMA in 1969). David Moore’s work from 1987-88, which was first published in Creative Camera in 1988, and now published as a book, Pictures from the Real World, conforms to the expectation that British photographers should, like Brandt, be primarily social observers.

The notion of a “documentary tradition” does not stand up to scrutiny, however, because of the many disparities between Brandt’s generation and Moore’s. Unlike his forebears, Moore benefited from a cultural climate that recognized and rewarded his artistry (the state-funded Arts Council supported dedicated galleries and magazines). This made it possible for him to cultivate a personal style that did not yet conform to the demands of the mass media. Commentators of the 80s interpreted the rather shocking use of color photography, by Moore and others, as a rebellion against the old black-and-white school, but in fact color became simply an extension of a “documentary aesthetic” popularized by the American formalist, William Eggleston.

While Moore was at college (he studied with Martin Parr from 1985 to 1988 at the West Surrey College of Art) the first serious challenge arrived to those who championed documentary photography as both an art form and a tool for reform. In the US and Britain, the theories of French thinkers such as Roland Barthes, challenged claims that photographs were objects of artistic expression or transparent reproductions of “reality.” As these ideas took hold two things happened: the supposed truth of documentary photography became discredited, and it was “saved for art.”

There have been many claims for British documentary photography of the 1980s, including the claim that it was a social critique of the Thatcher years in Britain. This has yet to be demonstrated. Arguably, the most radical aspect of these pictures, is Moore’s refusal of the role of “neutral observer” — something he shares with others of his generation. To eyes accustomed to digitally enhanced photography, many of these pictures will seem familiar. This is because they were cleverly manipulated, both formally (using flash mixed with ambient light to invoke a heightened reality), and conceived, not as “records of life” but opinions. Did Moore just happen to pass by and “snap” the conjunction of the baby and the television image, or did he find the image on a video? Looking back, we can see that this “documentary-style” photography (a term coined by the great American photographer Walker Evans) marked an important stage in the unravelling of the sacred bond between photographer/witness and “reality” that forms the basis of the authority of photography in the press and in society. The relatively recent invention of Photoshop has taken the process much farther.

This is a welcome and important book that is part of a current reappraisal of the British photography of the 1970s and 80s.

Pictures From The Real World (2013) by David Moore is published by Here Press and Dewi Lewis Publishing.

David Moore is a London based photographer who has exhibited and published internationally. He has been working as a photographer and educator since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design, Farnham, in 1988.

David Brittain is a curator, critic, documentary maker, lecturer and was editor of the respected international magazine, Creative Camera, (1991-2001). In 2000, his anthology of writings, Creative Camera: Thirty Years of Writing, was published by Manchester University Press.

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Since it was established in 1985, the annual New Photography exhibition at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art has sought to showcase emerging photographers who are experimenting with techniques, subject matter and presentation that challenge the very definition of the medium itself. That goal has only gotten more difficult each year, as advances in technology and social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram have bombarded viewers with a proliferation of images; the New York Times predicts that more than 380 billion photographs were taken in 2011 alone. That saturated environment serves as the backdrop of this year’s show, which opens Oct. 3 and runs through Feb. 4. And while it’s a reoccurring theme among this year’s five featured photographers (Michele Abeles, Shirana Shahbazi, Zoe Crosher, Anne Collier and the collective Birdhead, composed of Shanghai natives Ji Weiyu and Song Tao), the artists’ different approach to image saturation nods to the wide breath of work that New Photography hopes to survey each year.

“We often think about variety and diversity, so that each artist—whatever ideas they’re exploring—will stand apart from one another,” says associate curator Eva Respini. “It’s in the mix of the artists that you can get a sense of the diversity of what’s happening in contemporary photography today.” Among this year’s mix: Abeles (American, b. 1977), whose collage-like work juxtaposes male nudes against common objects like wine bottles; Shahbazi (German, b. Iran 1974), who disseminates her images in various creative ways, such as a photo rug with help from weavers in her native Tehran; Crosher (American, b. 1975), who re-purposes and re-photographs Michelle Dubois’s existing archive of self portraits; Collier (American, b. 1970), who combines found objects in her reflection of mass media and pop culture; and Birdhead, (Ji Weiyu, Chinese, b. 1980, and Song Tao, Chinese, b. 1979), whose black-and-white snapshots of daily Shanghai life are installed in grid format, without ever identifying the author of an individual image. “The fact that they don’t really distinguish who takes what pictures speaks to what their work is about,” says Respini. “It’s a reflection of a Facebook generation—a generation that’s used to thinking about multiple images and an accumulation of images instead of discrete images that are elevated to a fine art status.” Four of the five artists are women, a trend Respini says would be “great to continue.”

Even the installation of the show itself reflects photography’s changing nature. Visitors will see traditional modes of presentation—such as framed photographs on a wall—but also more sculptural elements, such as lithographic wallpaper from Shahbazi and a site-specific configuration from Birdhead. This, combined with the diverse output from the photographers themselves, will—as MoMa surely hopes, anyway—elevate New Photography 2012 from the mass of photography exhibitions.

New Photography opens October 3, and runs through February 4, 2013. Learn more about the show here.

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The Bad Astronomer writes "Astronomers have used two big telescopes to create an infrared survey of the Milky Way that is the largest of its kind: the resulting image has an incredible 150,000 megapixels containing over a billion stars. Something that large is difficult to use, so they also made a pan-and-zoom version online which should keep you occupied for quite some time. These data will be used to better understand star formation in our Milky Way, and how far more distant galaxies and quasars behave."

The interactive image is powered by IIPImage which happens to be Free Software and is cool in its own right (right click the image to get help — it has a full set of keybindings for navigation).


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The Internet’s Leigh Alexander gave us her take on visual novel, Katawa Shoujo.

It’s with a mix of amusement and chagrin I admit my career as a game journalist might well have never taken off if it weren’t for the erotic visual novel genre. Some of my earliest writing explored the “weirdest” games I could find – bunny girl dating sims, teenage girl “training/raising” games, brutally sexual supernatural murder mysteries, and stuff like that, and I think my work was recognized fairly early on in my development as a writer just because I was pouring so many words onto stuff no one else would touch.

I put “weird” in quotes, by the way, because I actually tasked myself with understanding and explicating them. And when you do that, these games don’t actually seem all that weird. What else would a niche, shut-in audience of otaku want but a gameplay experience that blends anime porn tropes with emotional simulations of human drama – without any possibility of becoming stuck or frustrated, since visual novels are indeed more “story” than “game”?
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Tomasz Lazar

Theater of Life

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In 2008 we began working on the long term project entitled ‘Theater of life’. Themes are the changes occurring in our society under the influence of culture and technology, which are increasingly present in our everyday lives.

Historically, Platon developed the notion of Theatrum Mundi – Theatre of the World. Place where a man is only a puppet, an actor whose role is to play its normal role on stage of life. Planned by the powerful being known as the creator (Demiurg, God). At present, the place of this being has been taken by mass media.  Mass media, with which we have to deal every day. They have increasingly greater impact on us, our life and behavior. People under the influence of mass culture that comes straight from the television or the Internet, get lost in the border of two worlds: the real world in which they live and the world created by the media.

Topics touched upon in his essay can best be seen in most developed countries. Places where people use more and more technology, areas in which technology, the media have the greatest impact on people. Therefore, a further stage of the project is to travel to places like Tokyo (Japan), New York (USA), Las Vegas (USA), Hong Kong and Sydney (Australia). As well as to further develop this theme in my home country and the countries adjacent to it.

 

Bio

I was born in Szczecin(Poland), 31th march 1985. Studied Information Technology at Westpomeranian University of Technology. During my studies I discovered photography . After several months I discovered that it is my passion and that is what i want to do in my life. After three years I decided to begin photography studies at the European Academy of Photography. I studied under the guidance of Tomasz Tomaszewski, Lorenzo Castore, Michael Ackerman, Isabel Jaroszewska and others. Since December 2010 I started being apprentice in the biggest studio in Poland – Makata, to develop my capabilities with using artificial light in practice. I was also involved in various workshops, like with Tomasz Tomaszewski on photojournalism and photo edition. At present, I am planning to expand on my photography knowledge by studying at the Institute of Creative Photography in Opava (the Czech Republic).
Currently I am working on a project titled Theatre of life, whose task is to move aspects of everyday life and cultural changes taking place in society as a result of the development of media and technology in the world.
I am interested in mainly the impact of various factors on human life (such as culture, technology). I get pleasure from every moment of being with people and the possibility of taking pictures.

 

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Tomasz Lazar

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