Friday, June 30, 2017

Two For The Road...

To make your work stand out in these days when everyone is a photographer, and everything has been done... one must first, make them notice, and then- have them actively engage with your work; that is what any and every photographer strives to somehow achieve. Many will go to extremes of locale, technique or promotion to achieve just that- while most of us settle for compositions that flatter the subject matter at hand or somehow visually entice the viewer's attention, if only for the most fleeting glances of approval. 

Photo: Teju Cole

Writer/photographer Teju Cole has taken a hybrid approach to this artistic dilemma in his latest publication called Blind Spot, readily combining his photographs with various short anecdotes and musings that may or may not be directly related to the image at hand. Some of the photographs are quite good and form a strong bond with their combined "story line;" the photograph sets the pathway for the visual journey, the words help elaborate our levels of appreciation and understanding. Other times, it seems he's granted extra points just for referencing and quoting "the classics" 

While some critics have labeled it a work of "genius," it's definitely more a hit or miss experience for moi. The most compelling combination for this viewer/reader being the photo of a woman with a tattoo of a name and year on the back of her neck- and the tragedy that related her to said date and person halfway across the world. The story behind that image was enough to overcome my initial outrage that the photograph featured the women's neck in deep shadow- blotting out even the slightest vestige of said tattoo! A tell tale sign that his signature strength lies in writing?

Disposing of the evidence? Or just out for cigs?  
 Photo: Mark Steinmetz

Fifteen Miles To K-Ville is the latest book from Mark Steinmetz. There's something about his work that not only attracts my visual curiosity, but also compels me to figure out just what the heck is actually going on- both within and beyond the confines of his photographs. Some have an almost film noir aura to them, a mystery frustratingly hard to put into words- and so they remain an inexplicable hostage of my own personal taste. To be sure, there are other photographs between its covers that are simple visual delights more likely to garner Likes on Instagram (eg- the hearse at the porn emporium)- together they make for a most transformative journey...

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