As a summer project between first and second year of university we were given the task of going back to our first year read “The Photograph as Contemporary art” by Charlotte Cotton. Pick one chapter that interests us, pick an artist from that chapter an say why we think he/she fits that particular chapter and give three images as examples. After that we are expected to take 8 to 10 images or a minimum of 2 minute long video that fits the chapter.
“The chapters of the book divide contemporary art photography into eight categories. These categories, or themes, were chosen to avoid giving the impression that it is either style or choice of subject matter that predominantly determines the salient characteristics of current art photography. Naturally, there are stylistic aspects that connect some of the works shown in this book, and there are subjects that have been more prevalent in the photography of recent years, but the themes of the chapters are more concerned with grouping photographers who share a common ground in terms of their motivations and working practices. Such a structure foregrounds the ideas that underpin contemporary art photography before going on to consider their visual outcomes.”
(pg.7 – Introduction / “The Photograph as Contemporary art “, Charlotte Cotton)
The chapter I have picked is named “Deadpan”, taking a look at a more recent type of photography that has become a new branch in the tree of photographic genres. It has started to spread more widely amongst artist in the early 1990’s and has been a part of every contemporary museum ever since. In the beginning the focus of the artists has been primarily on landscapes and architecture, and later on human subjects. What sets this genre apart from the others is as its name suggest it tries to create this lack of emotion scene by placing the subject centre of the image though not always the case. The photographs are filled with details, like Gregory Crewdsons , who is not mentioned in this chapter, series “Twilight”. Some artists create these type of typologies of nature, industry, architecture and people, by photographing the subject from a specific angle or in the case of people holding something. Bernd and Hilla Becher are the two people who would come in people’s minds when it comes to this type of Deadpan photography with their series of water towers, houses, etc.
The artist that i have picked is Andreas Gursky. A German photographer born on 15 January 1955 in Leipzig. I chose him because as it is mentioned in the book, you are stopped in your tracks when catching a glimpse of one of his photographs. Because he uses a large format camera he is able to capture a massive amount of details in one shot. When looked at from a distance for the first time his images look fairly abstract, in some cases colourful, others not so much. For example his famous shot “Chicago, Board of Trade II” at first looks like a splatter painting, but at a closer inspection you start to see all the people, screens, etc in the image. Just like Vik Muniz’s self portrait compiled of different objects to create an image of himself. You start by seeing a mess of colours and a few seconds in, the actual detail.
Here are my images that I think would fit the chapter.