Repetition, Iteration, Re-Iteration (Introduction – Part II) — by Bryan Krueger

Continued from:
Repetition, Iteration, Re-Iteration (Introduction – Part I)

 

In Ruscha’s 1966 book, Every Building on the Sunset Strip, the viewer encounters a more provoked dialogue between image making processes and this narrative-content divide.

 

Despite the fact that the content chosen for this work has the vague indication of linear reading – one drives or walks up and down the Sunset Strip; one interacts with the businesses and people that fill this public space – this does not necessarily indicate the presence of linear narrative within the context of Ruscha’s intentions.

 

What is highlighted throughout all of his books is the interaction with pure content.  The specific conversation between title and image in Every Building on the Sunset Strip self consciously recognizes its relatively limited descriptive power through syntactical  summarization of visual content – the title describes the conceptual boundaries of what the viewer will encounter with the visual content.  Within these boundaries, the viewer will not expect to be presented with content outside of the Sunset Strip.  What is viewed is what has been explained textually.

 

Rather than seeking, photographing, selecting and editing a single idealized image to represent the etherial idea of the Sunset Strip (or individual groups of images, as in Nine Swimming Pools), he shares it with the viewer linearly in its entirety.  In this way, the individual images coexist on a single seamless image-platform to be viewed at once as a sort of general overview of the subject through a myriad of unfolding views. The group of images dance around the line of being considered a single idealized image since we, in a sense, experience it as such. However, the process by which the work was made puts it in a separate category from our previous example.

 

It is not a qualitative process, per say, but quantitative.

 

A poignant qualitative counterpoint to his quantitative approach, in respect to image making processes, can be found in Carleton Watkins’ 1865 stereoscopic image From The Best General View, Mariposa Trail.  Though the initial intentions of these examples are arguably distinct from one another, the latter highlights the aforementioned concept of choosing a “single idealized image” to represent the chosen subject matter.  In other words: choosing the Best General View. The conversation between title and image here are prevalent, like Ruscha’s work, in the sense that we are textually explained the parameters of how to view the image.

 

The content within Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass may also fall into the category of a qualitative process since it contains a grouping of idealized, though seemingly arbitrary, images that point to the concept of a subject matter.  Though Every Building on the Sunset Strip is also made up of a grouping of individual  images, they are images composited to represent a single “object” (the Sunset Strip) through a multiplicity of views rather than singular views of a multiple “objects” (nine swimming pools and a broken glass).

 

By extending the canvas of these images to create one overarching representation of this “object”, both Watkins & Ruscha have created an improbable image not yet seen at the time.  They create “photographs” of something that could not otherwise be photographed. If this image is improbable, it makes other individual images of specified views seem a little more probable, a little more recognizable – allowing them to be more readily adapted to the viewer’s previous experience with the subject matter.  Improbable images make that interaction a little more difficult since the image making process presents a new way of viewing.

 

To be continued in:

Repetition, Iteration, Re-Iteration (Introduction – Part III)

 

*Ideas found within this posture of thinking are inspired by and informally quoted from Vilém Flusser.

Notes on Der Baum by Erik van der Weijde – by Pierre Le Hors

 

The following notes on Der Baum by Erik van der Weijde (self-published, 2010) were read aloud for a short presentation on zines at the 2011 NY Art Book Fair, at PS1.

 

How many photos make up a typology?  Does the accumulation of pictures of a given subject necessarily amount to a greater understanding of that subject?  In this case, the subject would be trees–or, rather, the tree, der Baum.  There is a way in which the more views are being offered to us, the less we understand, and the more alien their purported subject appears to us.

 

The typological approach is predicated on a somewhat delusional notion: that knowledge results from the study of types, in which variants of the given subject’s outward form, in being recorded, become the exclusive vehicle for information about that subject.  So classification of these collected forms amounts to a deceptive kind of pictorial order, one to which photographs happen to be especially well suited.

 

The proper, by-the-book photographic approach is meant to yield a negative rich in detail, and detail is synonymous with “information.”  There is information in the shadows, we say.  Expose for the shadows.

 

But each exposure also conceals.  Divorced from its attendant caption, the photograph remains mute; it is indifferent to history, to humanity and ideology, as are the trees that are the purported subject of the pictures in question.  So naturally, we ask: where was this picture taken?  The index reveals that we are looking at a street in Milan, at a parking lot in São Paolo, at former SS barracks in Nuremberg.  Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin, a park in Kassel, a residential block in Le Havre.  The cover image, we learn, depicts the street where kidnap victim Natasha Kampusch was held for almost eight and a half years.

 

With each tree an indifferent witness, the pictures seem to say: we are, all of us, implicated.  We have developed machines ever more suited for pictorial clarity.  In our drive for precision, resolution and detail, we have printed books in which to publish our findings.

 

But the application of a system is an ideological function first of all.  No system is ever impartial, despite the objectivity of the camera’s gaze.  Where does that leave us?  We look for the incidental details: a security camera on a building facade, a gate barring entrance to a driveway, a Burger King sign, the austere facade of a museum, gravestones and mausoleums.

 

 

The trees in these pictures now appear as sentinels, as guards preventing entry into a past too distant to know first-hand.  Each of them lies more or less centered in the frame, forming a barrier–and the effectiveness of these photos lies in this refusal.  The discovery that one or two images conceal a traumatic history casts suspicion on them all.  The neatly trimmed hedges and lined-up cars, apartment blocks and rows of municipal buildings, all seem suddenly part of the same suffocating impulse.  Every detail is loaded, each scene becomes the location for some potential crime.  Der Baum depicts a world that is permeated by doubt.

An Interview With Jesper Fabricius – by Rebecca O’Keefe


 
 

My first encounter with the work of Jesper Fabricius, was in 2009 while I was an intern at Printed Matter Inc. At the time, I was making collages and while at the store I would pick up every book I saw that contained found images or cut outs of any sort. It was during one of my days there that I picked up Kunsthaefte nr. 1, and found a 6 page, 11.5” x 8” pamphlet of simple cut outs with a beautiful color palette. I continued to follow Jesper’s work over the next few years, purchasing a few copies of Pist Protta, Stellungen, published by Lubok, and other Space Poetry titles (Jesper’s imprint). I waited until I left my full time job at Printed Matter to buy Kunsthaefte nr. 1. Knowing where it sat on the shelves for about three years — mostly untouched because of how thin it was — I already felt it was mine. After finally paying $3 for it, I spent the next three months purchasing every other issue of the Kunsthaefte series (22 in all, with two more on the way). I also started e-mailing Jesper.

 

What attracted me to Jesper’s books was that they were naughty. Some were whole pamphlets full of cut-outs of nipples and crotches. I’ll be the first to admit I love a dirty book, and as a bookseller have found that most others do as well. Some of the books are just dedicated to hair, and in many he considers the subjects’ relationship to interior space. Of course they contain much more than this, and over the past few months I have grown fond of Jesper’s other artwork, most notably his super 8 films.

 

At the time of my discovery of Jesper’s work, I had yet to accept my belief that our attraction to images or objects, regardless of their content or use, is one of a sexual nature. I saw a freedom and confidence in Jesper’s maneuvering of images that I had been trying to create myself, and I proudly admit that his collage work has been of the highest influence on my own. Most importantly, I saw humor and playfulness in his publications. If I’m going to pick up a dirty book, I can only hope it will make me laugh.

 

I’ve e-mailed Jesper many times for a variety of reasons. I asked him where I could purchase more of his titles, if he would send books to a variety of projects I have participated in, and finally, if I could interview him for this piece. Because I have never met Jesper, and I’ve never really told him what his work has meant to me, this opportunity provided me with the benefit of finally asking a few questions that have been on my mind. I don’t know if I will ever have the pleasure of meeting Jesper, or traveling to see one of his foreign shows, but the distance between us has proven to make the discovery of his work all the more fulfilling for me. It is easy to “discover” art through the Internet and communicating with an artistic circle, but to become acquainted with an artist purely by chance — while looking through a bookshelf — is truly something to cherish.

 

Jesper Fabricius is a Danish artist living and working in Denmark. He has recently shown his work in Glasgow and Oslo, and has been making artists’ books for close to four decades. If you’d like to find out more about him, check out his website or the shelves of artists’ bookstores. His work is best when you discover it on your own.

 

 
 

Can you write a bit about how you got started making artists’ books? What was the first one that you made, and why did you think that publishing your work in book form would be a good experience?

 

The first book I made and published was “Kontainer” in 1980, and I made it with 3 fellow artists (Claus Egemose, Jesper Rasmussen, Joergen Brandt Birman). The idea was to make a catalogue with photos from an exhibition we made in 1979. Then we thought, that we could put a lot of other things in, like drawings, text, poems etc., and we printed 2 extra colours, which made it look quite nice and very much different from the show. It became a thing in itself.

 

How does creating artists’ books connect to your general art practice?

 

My work is very connected to the making of books, partly in the magazine Pist Protta, which is an ongoing collective work (since 1981), about experiencing and challenging the format and idea of the magazine.

 

What motivates you to make art, and what themes, concepts, or imagery inspire your work?

 

In my personal work, I’m very interested in organizing found pictures (and text pieces) which is sometimes very good in the format of books and booklets. The printed book also has this very important status, to confirm your artistic statement. And I really like the democratic idea that many people can have your work, and it is much cheaper than the original works of art, but is equal in its statement.

 

How many books in all do you think you have published?

 

I think I might have published about 300 titles including Pist Protta and Kunsthaefte.

 

You seem to have branched out in a few different directions with your work, from Pist Protta to Kunsthaefte, and others. How does each of these series differ from the other, and do you have a favorite?

 

I have done a lot of different books, like artists books, catalogues, poetry, photo books. Not all of them were good. I really like Bill Burns: Dogs and Boats and Airplanes – told in the form of Ivan the Terrible, where the context changes the meaning of quite every day photography. My own “Unge Kunstner Bohemer i slutningen af 70´erne” actually does the same in telling about how to become an artist. Pist Protta 34 – 45 is an issue of the magazine only containing the 12 covers to issues to imagine. There is no content, though some of the covers (which are all different sized, like all other Pist Prottas) do have some very interesting lists of content. I think that´s my favorite.

 

How do you get your work out to the public, as in distribution, display, and sales?

 

Distribution, getting the books and magazines to bookstores and subscribers is hard work. Sometimes I go to book fairs, which is nice, you can show a lot of your books and meet people.

 

Does it matter to you that you make a profit from publishing your work, and who in particular do you hope to reach with it?

 

My ideal reader could be a young person, who finds this strange book/magazine at a remote library or second hand bookstore and he/she would sense a feeling of freedom. About the money, I do get some grants, which makes it possible for me to survive and publish together with the income from book sales. But actually most of my income comes from exhibiting art, lecturing (a little) and other art related activities.

 

 
 

Can you describe the roles that both erotica and humor play in your publications? I was first drawn to your work because of your playful use of what could be called pornographic images, and would like to hear more about where you find the imagery that you use in your books.

 

I use a lot of material from porn magazines from the 70´s. It was the golden years of pornography in Denmark (and Sweden). I get them from small bookstores for used books (antiquariats). It´s a way of collecting and generating material for work. They are not only for books but collages as well. I also use text from art magazines, pornography, scientific books. The combination of things that are not connected, and the mingling of high and low culture often make it very humorous. And of course I do change the status of the pornography into high art modernism. Actually, you can also see me playing with hierarchies in the latest Pist Protta 70. There the theme is sculpture, but then there are also photos of sculptures or what would look like sculpture.

 

 
 

I love the community of independent publishers and publications because of the circle of friends I have made through it. Do you have a circle of artists and/or publishers with which you enjoy working and communicating? I know you recently published a small book with LUBOK. Have you published with any other groups?

 

There are quite a few small and independent publishers here in Denmark, but it is also a small community. To make some events and fairs we often have to work together. I have done a nice thing for the art magazine ARK from Aarhus. Last year I did STELLUNGEN (POSITIONS) for Lubok in Leipzig, Germany. This year I did a thing for Feil Forlag in Oslo, Norway and HET ANDRE BEHR PAMFLET 22 by Boekie Woekie, books by artists, Amsterdam, Holland. I am supposed to do a new booklet for Lubok in September in connection to an exhibition in their showroom in Leipzig.

 

What role does the internet play in your practice? I know you have a website which archives many of your titles. Does having an internet presence matter to you?

 

I must say, I’m not really interested in the internet. It is kind of useful, but I don’t feel that it is my media. I could imagine it would be good for small films, a media I worked with years ago.

Repetition, Iteration, Re-Iteration (Introduction – Part I) — by Bryan Krueger

On page 384 of Photography: A Cultural History by Mary Warner Marien, under the section heading “Philosophy and Practice: Photography ‘Born Whole’ “, the author discusses an exhibition John Szarkowski organized in 1978 entitled Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960.

 

This exhibition explored concepts ranging from the idea of the mirror (the artist’s concern with self) and the notion of the window (the appearance of the world). Paragraphs in, it is explained that the inclusion of work by Ed Ruscha leaned toward the latter approach in that he “saw the camera as essentially a bland, inexpressive device with which to record dispassionately a banal human environment”.  On page 427, his use of photography was explained in a similar fashion around the context of renunciation of personal expression within the medium. Ruscha uses the camera as a device to record, itemize, and compile images of familiar locations and buildings such as gas stations, parking lots, and motel swimming pools to the end of showing through repetition similarities and differences between specific subject matters.

 

Considering that photography is a tool he uses largely within the context of the artist book, it seems Ruscha approaches the photographic and book making practices from relativelypure standpoints.  For the purposes of this introduction, the term ‘pure’ is not intended to connote the romanticization of content – rather, the realization of the camera/book as a willed objects. From this photographic perspective, the camera is a device whose function is to record and transmit information – information that fits within the photographic program.  Similarly, the book (in the general sense of the term) is a venue in which content can be stored and presented to the viewer as a platform for information to be disseminated and received. It is a somewhat open format, relying on content to give it direction. But in the end, it shows what can be shown on the page, or else point outwards to other media that handle content in different ways.

 

It’s not really important who takes the photographs, I don’t even look at it as photography; they’re just images to fill a book.   – ED RUSCHA  2

 

In his 1968 book, Nine Swimming Pools, Ruscha chose as his content nine different swimming pools, which he presented with numerous blank pages between plates.  Using the title as our guide, we trust, even if we don’t initially understand his motive, that there are in fact nine variations of similar subjects rather than a single subject being repeated from various perspectives.

 

Though, the presence of visual rest as provided by these blank pages tricks us into questioning this fact, forcing us to jump between each variation to analyze and compare their similarities and differences.  The act of retracing visual steps encourages the viewer to slow down and focus on the content, despite the familiar nature of what is pictured – familiar through personal experience or visual culture.  The repetition of this strange familiarity is what allows a static narrative driven by the content to be developed.  This is to say, a narrative about the viewers interaction with content, rather than a narrative that immerses the viewer in content.

 

Continued in:
Repetition, Iteration, Re-Iteration (Introduction – Part II)

But What Is To Become Of History? – Part 1 — by Jesse Hlebo

Syntaxtual creation results in a finished product one could consider ‘clean cut’, a result of its means of production. This type of creation is not without imperfection, the fragments that occur have to be sought out rather than existing in an openly visible manner. Documents, images, manuscripts, news items, personal correspondence, and the like, constitute things that formerly resided as physical and tactile medium’s, but now occupy an almost exclusively digital existence. This consolidation and transformation has resulted in the neglect of the archive, at least under the terms ‘archive’ has applied towards since the invention of the printing press (a space where objects deemed to be of historical worth are collected).  Papers containment of content in a fixed manner becomes one of its many attributes as a medium of historical reference, an attribute that is being reclaimed while simultaneously discarded in our present culture.

 

Articles of a particular personal and historical value (specifically, self-published books and ephemera, as well as other such small press) frequently employ the same devices that once occupied the space of distributing information to the majority, albeit in a corporate environment. Devices such as laser printers, Xerox machines, Risograph’s, offset presses, and fax machines are among the rapidly outdated vessels of popular information dissemination. That which once primarily belonged to the office and the commercial, have shifted in use to that of the artistic. These devices are a receding splinter of information disseminators in a world of near-instant communication and gratification. Though many of the devices are meant for near-perfect reproduction, sometimes on a mass scale, the reality is that the objects created with such machines and methods are not perfectly reproduced and as such occupy a unique space in the world.

 

Utilizing this consciously ‘unique’ method of production is not without the intention of making the form available to many people, but is in affect shifting the priority onto that of the objects value. The objects physical limitation and existence becomes its primary attribute, which is not to say that content becomes null, far from it, it is instead a visible recognition of the importance of the vessel in which content is contained. By not achieving what the digital world accomplishes so well, the print medium as a standard format of information containment and dissemination, drifts off into a place it has always known well, that of the remnant.

 

The loss of the historicity of content, due to its detachment from the physical, and therefore the limited rather than the unlimited, signifies a substantial shift in the way cultural materials are consumed. Previously the value, authenticity, and relevance of an object were procured from the knowledge that the creator had come in contact with that specific object. There is now only the content itself as a means of value, all other facets of the objects ‘aura’ have been lost. With the recent rise of self-publishing in certain artistic communities, a re-focusing on the importance and value of the ‘aura’ has taken place and thus sets the stage for the facets of this culture that will be further discussed.

Notes 05-31-2012 — by Pierre Le-Hors

“A trip, with its displacements in time and space can be the perfect way to frame a story”

 

Moyra Davey, The Wet and the Dry

 

This morning I was woken up around 5:30 by what I think was the sound of a crow. The sun was already above the horizon and a palid light, filtered through overcast skies streamed in through the windows above the bed. I closed the pane in order to dull out the sound but was unable to fall back asleep, the room was already too bright. I unplugged my phone from its charger on the bedside table, saw that it was 5:30, and spent the following two hours reading a series of wikipedia entries detailing the post-WWII years in Berlin.

 

The need to locate myself within a history is steadily becoming impossible to ignore.

 

Publications purchased in Paris and Berlin:

 

Selected Works from 2006 to 2011 by Salvatore Arancio

 

published by Innen in 2011

€ 6,00

 
 

In the Beginning it was Humid by Bastien Aubry and Dimitri Broquard

 

published by Nieves in 2011

 

€ 18,00

 

25.Sept – 14.Nov.2010 by Marieta Chirulescu

 

published by Kunsthalle Basel and Distanz Verlag in 2011

 

€ 19,90

 

Isolated Rooms by Mark Manders

 

published by Roma Publications in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago in 2005

 

€ 40,00

 

Project Prints by Luigi Ghirri, edited by Elena Re

 

published by JRP Ringier in 2012

 

€ 45,00

 

Bilder Pictures by Hans-Peter Feldmann

 

published by Buchhandlung Walther König in 2002

 

€ 25,00

 

The Wet and the Dry by Morya Davey

 

published by Paraguay Press in 2011

€ 5,50

 

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want by Jan Verwoert, edited by Vanessa Ohlraun

published by Sternberg Press and Piet Zwart Institute in 2010

 

€ 18,00

 

At Orly airport, leaving Paris for Berlin, I reluctantly allow 5 exposed + 5 unexposed rolls of film to pass through the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint. The security officers refuse to hand-check my film, threatening to deny me entry aboard, repeating that any film rated under 1600 ISO can pass through the x-ray unharmed. Nevertheless, my empty camera is pulled aside for further inspection after the machine fails to register its contents. I am happy to leave Paris, a city I perceive to be preoccupied with preserving its past. I have my film processed in Germany and hope for the best.

8 Ball Zine Fair: Q&A with Lele Saveri — by Troy Kreiner

Q&A with the Romano photographer who has one foot in Milan and the other in New York, Lele Saveri, the brain behind Brooklyn’s 2012 – 8 Ball Zine Fair.

 

 

Lele’s first ‘zine’ fair was an effort to save his admired Brooklyn Grand Billiards, which has been kickin’ for the past seven years. On June 3rd, starting at 2pm, every pool table, providing just enough light, was filled with publications from publishers and bookstore like Hassla, JSBJ, Pau Wau Publications, Ed Varie, Hamburger Eyes, et al. The collaboration between Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari creates Toilet Paper Magazine, they had their own pool table showing off their latest issue alongside some older–rare, sold out issues.

 

Across the way from the drop-off ‘zine’ table was the special edition ‘zine’-set with contributors Peter and Andrew Sutherland, Maggie Lee, Lele Saveri, Jesse Hlebo, Weirdo Dave, Miyako Bellizzi, et al. Across the tables there was an emphasis on photography. Slow walking, quick gleaning, flipping from back to front, frozen margaritas and french fries; all for sensational paper. The proceeds went to Grand Billiards. 8 o’clock rolled around and the regulars commenced.

 

 

Why the name 8 Ball Zine fair?

FYI: its not a drug-related title. The name was a simple decision, we’ve been organizing parties in the pool-hall for about a year or so, and whenever someone was designing a flyer, we’ve asked to add an 8-ball- almost like a logo for the night. When we were choosing a name for the fair, that was the easiest.

 

What is a zine, what is a publication, what is the relationship between the two?

A Zine is a self-made publication which allows artists to show their work in whichever way they like– fast and in-expensive. A publication, whether it’s a book or some kind of a book-zine, its a collaboration between the artist and the publisher, someone who uses book-making to express his art. A Zine is more immediate, a publication is a step deeper.

 

Why did you choose the billiard hall for the 8 Ball Zine Fair?

I chose to have the 8-Ball Zine Fair at the billiard hall in order to help support the owners of the hall. In addition, the tables and the spot-lights worked perfectly for this purpose.

 

How where the vendors/distributors chosen for the 8 Ball Zine Fair?

I decided to go for publishers and bookstores that were one phone-call away. I only had 3 weeks to set everything up. I selected all the ones that mostly represented the sense of DIY and were the most “pure” and “true” to the artists and their work.

 

 

Why did you include a public/drop off table for artists work?

Because that’s the real meaning of a Zine Fair – show people’s work through self-published Zines.

 

In a global context, what is significant about independent publishing?

I think independent publishers as oppose to the more established ones, have more freedom to express themselves. There’s more dialogue between the artist and the designer, which displays the work in the closest way possible to what’s in the artist’s heads, without being burdened by the rules that more mainstream publishers have.

Globally, we live in blog-land, where book-makers have to be as creative as possible to make their product as attractive as they can to survive. And I think that’s exciting.

 

How do you think the internet plays a role in events like 8 Ball Zine fair?

Internet was very helpful for us. People spread the word and made the event sound very interesting, even without knowing what was going to happen (this was my very first zine fair). It is important for many people to see and touch with their hands in person, especially the books and zines that they’ve only seen online. It was also very beautiful to see many people who I’ve noticed being very active on the internet- almost as if their web posts suddenly had taken a physical form.

 

Do you have any future plans for events like 8 Ball Zine fair?

We’re trying to do an independent record-fair, but we’ll see if we can keep the billiard  hall open long enough!

 

For a moment of projection, what would you like to say to the people who could not experience this event?

Make things and support other people who make things.