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Category Archives: Miscellaneous

TXN_005Bill Daniel, “Black Flag w/Henry Rollins,” 1981

News coming off the wire from experimental filmmaker, tireless photographer, and American Romantic Bill Daniel:

Many readers of this blog are undoubtedly familiar with Who is Bozo Texino, Daniel’s mesmerizing documentary about the “secret society… of hobo and railworker graffiti.” The artist has just released a fine-looking portfolio of black and white fiber prints that showcase the rail drawings of Herby, The Rambler, Coaltrain, and Bozo Texino himself, in addition to a portrait of the elusive Colossus of Roads. The entire suite of prints, which Daniel dubs “Moniker,” runs for remarkable price of $250.

But wait, as the wise man once said, there’s more.

Moniker_portfolio_Coaltr001Daniel has also opened the archive to his classic Texas Punk Pioneers and Texas Skatepunks work from the early ’80s, which found the artist at basement and backyard shows for seemingly every important punk band of the era (Hello, young and skinny Henry Rollins. Aloha, Jello Biafra.), as well as poolside with skate legends like Jeff Phillips and Craig Johnson. I’ve geeked out on these photos many, many times, and I’m really excited that he’s selling 8×10 fiber prints of a lot of this work for $25. That’s crazy cheap, especially when the prints are being sloshed around stopbath and fixer under safelights, rather than rolling en masse off an inkjet printer. To check out these sweet pics, hit Daniel’s new print site, Tri-X-Noise.

Finally, this seems like the perfect time to mention that Daniel’s work appears in the new issue of Hamburger Eyes, which is evidently out now.



Oscar Muñoz, “Línea del destino (Line of destiny),” 2006, single screen projection

A girl named Bice, someone’s ex-sister-in-law, and another named Lydia, someone else’s ex-secretary, asked him please to take a snapshot of them while they were playing ball among the waves. He consented, but since in the meanwhile he had worked out a theory in opposition to snapshots, he dutifully expressed it to the two friends:

“What drives you two girls to cut from the mobile continuum of your day these temporal slices, the thickness of a second? Tossing the ball back and forth, you are living in the present, but the moment the scansion of the frames is insinuated between your acts it is no longer the pleasure of the game that motivated you but, rather, that of seeing yourselves again in the future, of rediscovering yourselves in twenty years’ time, on a piece of yellowed cardboard (yellowed emotionally, even if modern printing procedures will preserve it unchanged). The taste for the spontaneous, natural, lifelike snapshot kills spontaneity, drives away the present. Photographed reality immediately takes on a nostalgic character, of joy fled on the wings of time, a commemorative quality, even if the picture was taken the day before yesterday. And the life that you live in order to photograph it is already, at the outset, a commemoration of itself. To believe that the snapshot is more true than the posed portrait is a prejudice…”

So saying, Antonino darted around the two girls in the water, to focus on the movements of their game and cut out of the picture the dazzling glints of the sun on the water. In a scuffle for the ball, Bice, flinging herself on the other girl, who was submerged, was snapped with her behind in close-up, flying over the waves. Antonino, so as not to lose this angle, had flung himself back in the water while holding up the camera, nearly drowning.

“They all came out well, and this one’s stupendous,” they commented a few days later, snatching the proofs from each other. They had arranged to meet at the photography shop. “You’re good; you must take some more of us.”

Antonino had reached the conclusion that it was necessary to return to posed subjects, in attitudes denoting their social position and their character, as in the nineteenth century. His antiphotographic polemic could be fought only from within the black box, setting one kind of photography against another.

“I’d like to have one of those old box cameras,” he said to his girl friends, “the kind you put on a tripod. Do you think it’s still possible to find one?”

“Hmm, maybe at some junk shop…”

“Let’s go see.”

The girls found it amusing to hunt for this curious object; together they ransacked flea markets, interrogated old street photographers, followed them to their lairs. In those cemeteries of objects no longer serviceable lay wooden columns, screens, backdrops with faded landscapes; everything that suggested an old photographer’s studio, Antonino bought. In the end he managed to get hold of a box camera, with a bulb to squeeze. It seemed in perfect working order. Antonino also bought an assortment of plates. With the girls helping him, he set up the studio in a room of his apartment, all fitted out with old-fashioned equipment, except for two modern spotlights.

Now he was content. “This is where to start,” he explained to the girls. “In the way our grandparents assumed a pose, in the convention that decided how groups were to be arranged, there was a social meaning, a custom, a taste, a culture. An official photograph, or one of a marriage or a family or a school group, conveyed how serious and important each role or institution was, but also how far they were all false or forced, authoritarian, hierarchical. This is the point: to make explicit the relationship with the world that each of us bears within himself, and which today we tend to hide, to make unconscious, believing that in this way it disappears, whereas…”

“Who do you want to have pose for you?”

“You two come tomorrow, and I’ll begin by taking some pictures of you in the way I mean.”

“Say, what’s in the back of your mind?” Lydia asked, suddenly suspicious. Only now, as the studio was all set up, did she see that everything about it had a sinister, threatening air. “If you think we’re going to come and be your models, you’re dreaming!”

Bice giggled with her, but the next day she came back to Antonino’s apartment, alone.

The Adventure of a Photographer

10stru_ca1ready1Thomas Struth, “Hermitage 1, St. Petersburg,” 2005

Beginning on January 28, I will be teaching an 8-week course about art writing at PNCA, which I invite everyone to consider taking. Art Criticism + Journalism meets Wednesday nights (6:30-8 pm) through March 18, and is offered through the school’s Continuing Education department.

The class premiered last fall, and was more engaging and dynamic than I had even hoped for. PNCA has extended it from a 6-week course to 8 weeks this semester, which will allow for even more in-class development, feedback, and exploration. The course is open to all levels of experience, and the class of 2007 included a frighteningly bright high school senior, the former art director of a national culture magazine, and an investment banker who wanted to write about the opera in his retirement.

Focusing primarily on reviews of visual art shows (although students are encouraged to write about all art forms), classes are comprised of discussions, lectures, writing exercises, and readings. The craft of writing insightful, persuasive reviews is covered in depth (drawing largely from the texts of Terry Barrett, Sylvan Barnet, and Henry Sayre), but we also discuss many of the social/pragmatic issues that commonly face art critics. This includes topics ranging from the usefulness of negative reviews to practical issues like starting your own blog and writing effective pitches.

If anyone is interested in signing up for the class, I encourage you to do so, or to email me with questions (chasbowie @ gmail). Classes start in less than two weeks!

I’ll skip the groveling and self-flagellation that usually follow stretches of blog blackout to say that paying gigs and personal sanity (rightfully) took priority over all of my passion projects, including That’s a Negative, although I remain dedicated to developing this site. The past six weeks or so found life too overcrowded for everything, so blogging had to take the backseat for a late summer break. (As did blog-reading; my Google Reader overfloweth.)

Out of necessity, my original goal of reviewing each of these shows was revised to the idea of having one long essay that somehow encapsulated all of the exhibitions. Unfortunately, that ship has already sailed. For the sake of wiping the e-slate clean and unshackling myself from the burden of reviews not yet written, here is a roll-call of everything I have intended to write about during this period of inactivity. In many cases, I really regret not being able to expound on my notes and thoughts, but I’d be working on this post until the Obama victory if I took the time to do so. I’m still on deadline and desperately short on time, but circumstances are conspiring to give me a little more blogging time very soon. Here, then, are the things I would have reviewed in a more perfect world.

In Portland:

Emi Anrakuji: IPY at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art

Andy O’Brien: “Star Maps: (l-r) Spike Jones, Nicolas Cage, Don Johnson” at Newspace’s Annual Juried Exhibition (Full disclosure: I bought the Nic Cage piece)

Melody Owen: Alexandria, I’m Waiting at Elizabeth Leach Gallery

In Seattle:

Isaac Layman: Photographs from Inside a Whale at Lawrimore Project. (My favorite show of the season; I must write about Layman soon.)

Gregory Blackstock: Vernacular Photography at Garde Rail

New Photo: Richard Barnes, Martin Klimas, and Fred Muram at Howard House (Fred Muram, “One Day I Will Learn to Build Things” pictured)

Ask a Banana, Baby: Swedish Contemporary Video and Photography at Howard House (Annika von Hausswolff, “A Given Moment in the History of Coming into Being” pictured)

Smoke & Mirrors at the Seattle Art Museum (through Nov 9)
A really well curated group show from the museum collection, exploring depictions of and experiments about ephemerality in photography, featuring Muybridge, Sugimoto, Nagatani, and many others. Titled for Eileen Quinlan’s photos of smoke and mirrors—many of which I like very much. (Quinlan, “Smoke & Mirrors #10” pictured)

Mark Soo “That’s That’s Alright Alright Mama Mama,” c-prints, 3-D glasses, and angled wall at Western Bridge‘s You Complete Me

In San Francisco:

The Art of Lee Miller at SFMOMA (through Sept 14)

Double Exposure: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera at the Museum of the African Diaspora (Roy DeCarava, “Couple Dancing” pictured) (through Sept 28)

Amy Stein: Domesticated at Paul Kopeikin Gallery

Noel Rodo-Vankeulen, from the series Nocturne, 2007-8

Gentle readers,

My apologies for the leaden dearth of activity on That’s a Negative; freelance life is in overdrive at the moment, and I haven’t had the opportunity to compose anything substantial for the blog. My “to post” backlog is enormous, with half-written reviews of great shows in Portland and Seattle, previews of exhibitions in both of those cities, thoughts on several new books, and other tokens of photo-miscellany. Normal posting should return by next week; in the meantime, a few quick thoughts:

If you’re in Seattle, Isaac Layman’s show at Lawrimore Project is a must-see. There are a few aspects of the work I still harbor reservations about, but rarely do I have an ongoing mental argument with a show for this length of time. It’s as smart and bold as any gallery show I’ve seen in Seattle, and Layman is clearly an artist who has given the nature of photography a lot of consideration.

Next Tuesday, August 12, artist TJ Norris and I are co-presenting a mini-slide jam at a Pecha Kucha event, to be held at the corner of NW 8th & Couch. I’ve never been to one of these, but participants show 20 slides at 20 seconds apiece, so at eight presenters, it should be a wham-bam, visual overload of a free event. (Other participants include the project manager of Maya Lin’s Confluence Project; bike advocate Meghan Sinnott; and a former curator of the Harvard Film Archive.) TJ and I curated a jpegshow (formerly slideshow) that zigzags from Klansmen to Trekkies to hot air balloons. Hopefully we’ll figure out how to tie it all together by next week. (Event is Tues, Aug 12, 34 NW 8th, 7:30 pm [starts at 8:20], sliding scale.)

Noel Rodo-Vankeulen’s Nocturne series strike me as the antithesis of every tedious trend currently being played out in contemporary photography. I’ll defend my position soon enough, wishing all the while that I was able to check out his prints on view next week at Brooklyn’s Bond Street Gallery.

Lastly, what’s happening San Francisco? If a particular photo enthusiast were passing through in a week or two, what would said stalwart be foolish in missing? I’m planning on catching Amy Stein at Robert Koch; Double Exposure at the Museum of the African Disapora; RongRong at SF Camerawork; Lee Miller at SFMOMA; and perhaps Edwin Hale Lincoln at the deYoung. Have I missed anything fantastic?

Jindrich Štyrský, “Untitled [Bez názvu], from the series The Movable Cabinet [Stěthovací kabinet], 1934, photomontage

The catalog for Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918-1945 is one of the richest and most impressive historical surveys I’ve received in ages. If, when asked who your five favorite photographers of the 20th century are, five American names leap from your mouth (*bashfully raising hand*), put down your copy of Uncommon Places and check this book out. If you’re not so native soil-leaning, pat yourselves on the back, and then check this book out. (BTW, Robert Frank and Cartier-Bresson count as honorary Americans in this exercise, because of their Yank influence and towering stature in stateside photo history courses. My blog, my rules.) In addition to familiar names such as Sudek, Renger-Patzsch, and Maholy-Nagy, Foto features countless mind-blowing photographers who get virtually no play in America, and whose working styles are so wonderfully divorced from our realist tradition. DC, NYC, and Minneapolis have all had an opportunity to see Foto (please leave a comment about the show if you caught it); the exhibition is in Edinburgh now, and Adrian Searle was thoroughly impressed. “Our culture seems so homogeneous by comparison. Even the word ‘experiment’ feels hollow now. What a killer show.”

Back in the boring old USofA, Page 291 has a very unboring review of Sage Sohier‘s equally unboring show, Perfectible Worlds, at Foley Gallery. (PW was shown at Blue Sky last year, and Portland’s Photolucida published Sohier’s monograph of the same name.) Sohier’s portraits of people who become singular deities over microcosms of their own creation are startling, funny, and deeply humane. They don’t succeed for me every time (visually or conceptually), but when they hit, they’re like bottom-of-the-ninth grand slams on Hot Dog Night. Megalomania should always be so fun..

We’re having a lot of fun here, folks, but if we can get serious for just a minute, it’s time to talk about depictions of abject human suffering. (Effortless segues like that are what keeps That’s a Negative so popular and profitable!) No Caption Needed analyzes photography in ways that nobody else online is touching; the authors don’t come from art-photo backgrounds, and their takes on photojournalism are always as surprising as they are insightful. For example: This recent post about black & white reportage begins with what sounds like a rather clunky generalization, but Robert Hariman tightens his argument until we are forced to consider monochromatic images in light of “our own deficiencies.” (Of course, the recurring Sunday feature that directly precedes that particular blog entry does not do much to support my endorsement of No Caption Needed’s customary intellectualism.)

Lastly, Pentimento/Polarama turned up my favorite photography story of the week. I just really hope that widow doesn’t somehow find that blog and recognize herself (literally and figuratively). How come every time I go to the Goodwill, I just find musty sweaters and barely humorous tchothckes that I carry around for half and hour before deciding to leave empty-handed?

Thumbaniled photos, from the top:
Sage Sohier, “Man applying tanning lotion before a bodybuilding competition, Worcester, MA,” 2003, c-print
Erno Berda, “Hand,” c. 1931, gelatin silver print
Farooq Naeem, “Student Praying in Islamabad,” AFP-Getty Images
Anonymous, untitled, n.d.

Fireworks and freedom interfered with Newspace‘s normal opening reception schedule this month, so the gallery’s juried exhibition (which contains a generous helping of strong photos, I must say) will be celebrated tomorrow night with a reception from 7-10 pm.

But that’s not all that’s happening tomorrow night: I just got word that Michael Burnett is having an exhibition and book release party at Cal’s Pharmacy (15 NE Hancock) from 7-10 pm as well, with live music by Yes Father. Cal’s website says that “Most skateboard types who pay attention will know Mike as the driving force behind Thrasher Magazine over the last 5 years or so.” Presumably, everyone reading this has been paying attention, didn’t need the reminder, and is psyched to check out his new book of photos taken on tour in China and Russia, The Outskirts of Awesome. (The cover photo is pretty great.)

Also happening Friday evening: Apart from That makes its Portland debut at Living Room Theaters (across from Powell’s)! Directors Randy Walker and Jennifer Shainin made this truly independent film in Mt. Vernon, Washington (better known as B.F.E.), and despite critical raves, they found themselves with a completed feature on their hands and zero distribution. So Walker and Shainin produced a gorgeous book to accompany the DVD, and have been hitting bookstores and hosting special screenings around the country. The film is fantastic; click one of the linked reviews for a synopsis, or just soak in these influences that the directors cite online: Uta Barth, Raymond Carver, John Cassavettes, Jim Jarmusch, William Eggleston, Edward Albee, and Daniel Johnston. All together now: *swoooon.*

Apart from That runs Fri-Tues at Living Room Theaters (film times here), but Friday’s 7:25 screening is the one to catch, as Walker and Shainin will be in attendance.

Flapper Girl, Green Tulle Hostess Apron, 2008

Changing the subject for a moment, I am moved to point out that my favorite crafty lady in the world (and certainly the cutest), Flapper Girl, is featured in this month’s highly selective Poppytalk bazaar. Peep the very cool tulle hostessing aprons (originally favored by post-WWII party-throwing fashionistas), as well as the brand new coffee cozies. (I can attest to the stylish effectiveness of these; I use my “Hustlin'” cup warmer daily.) Be sure to check out the sites, especially if you’re so inclined to support small businesses and well-crafted, handmade goods.

(Photography by yours truly.)

Film still from I’m Not There, dir: Todd Haynes, dp: Edward Lachman

Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There isn’t “photography” in any strict sense, but (as evidenced by these stills) the 2007 film is a gorgeous work of art: intellectually provocative, hugely ambitious, moving, and frequently hilarious. But there’s no point in trying to encapsulate my thoughts on Hayne’s film here: I just added “Beyond the Six-Actor Conceit: Why I’m Not There Matters,” a feature I originally wrote for the Portland Mercury, to That’s a Negative’s Selected Writings page.

It is, I strongly feel after only one viewing, one of the smartest, most innovative, and beautiful films of this era. It’s as if Haynes has taken full ownership of the varied approaches to filmmaking that he’s cultivated since Superstar, and orchestrated them into a densely hypnotic tapestry, where styles and signatures melt into a continuous spectrum.

I’m Not There synthesizes cues from Italian neorealism and surrealism, Richard Lester’s Beatles films, cinéma vérité, Wong Kar Wai’s early sensual experiments with celluloid manipulation and debasement, Godard’s Sympathy for the Devil, Douglas Sirk’s tearjerkers, contemporary “talking head” documentaries, and other innovations that feel entirely new. Haynes’ cinematic deconstructions of Dylan songs, like the “Ballad of a Thin Man” interlude, constitute unforgettable and mesmerizing short films unto themselves. Somehow, this all coheres into a fantastic, complex vision that’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, although it shares a creative kinship with the best films of Gus Van Sant, Peter Greenaway, and Chantal Akerman.

Film still from I’m Not There, dir: Todd Haynes, dp: Edward Lachman

Film still from I’m Not There, dir: Todd Haynes, dp: Edward Lachman

(To read more about cinematographer Edward Lachman, check out “Deconstructing Bob Dylan. Film stills taken from the Times‘ insightful “This is Not a Bob Dylan Movie.” )

“He calls me over by himself (recalls Gere)… and we’re looking at a picture and he says, ‘This is really poor quality.'”

The first thing you will do as a photo critic is ask yourself two basic questions of each and every photograph that you view:

•Is the photograph a technically perfect image?

•Is the photograph an aesthetically pleasing image?

If the image cannot meet these two basic requirements—technically perfect and aesthetically pleasing—you should stop the critique. Any photographer who cannot create a technically perfect and aesthetically pleasing photograph should not expect to have his or her work exhibited to the viewing public.

Enroll now: Photo Criticism School

Melanie Bonajo, from (Our) Nature Has No Boss, published in Foam Magazine #15

Big thanks to 2point8 for steering me to, my favorite time-waster of the week. Billing itself as “somewhere between a blog and a directory,” combines the best elements of Useful Photography, Evidence, August Sander, bad product photography (my Achilles heel of campy delights), Google Image, and Yahoo Answers for a clusterfuck of un-self conscious, web 2.0 vernacular giddiness. On your visit to the “Billboard Charts for gadgets,” be sure to check out Ghost Particle Detectors, DIY Frankenstein Lab Items, Drug-Smuggling Submarines, and, of course, the Walls of Death.

Although it might not have the initial sexiness of other free online photo mags like Seesaw, Purpose, and 1000 Words, one would be remiss in not checking out Volume 1, Issue 1 of Photographies, a new biannual journal from Routledge that “aims to open up a forum for thinking about photography within a trans/disciplinary context, open to different methods, models, disciplines and tactics.” Sure, it’s an academic journal, but I think it’s about time that academics and artists/enthusiasts declare a working truce, as we’re all in this for the same reasons, although our “methods, models, disciplines and tactics” may differ. I’d suggest that scholarly writers begin to reign in some of the impenetrable jargon, and to consider putting those massive brains to use for an audience beyond their fellow conference-goers, just as I’d urge the academically adverse to be a little more open to theoretical writing , for the sake of being exposed to some frequently mind-blowing propositions. Give and take, give and take. And since Photographies is giving it away free, that seems like a good place whence to start taking. May I recommend “Traumatic Images” by Jessica Catherine Lieberman, “Blessed be the Photograph” by Juha Suonpää, or “Digital Imaging Goes to War” by André Gunthert? (via the slightly cryptic pentimento/polarama)

This some slipped under my radar until I was penniless and book browsing the other day, but Geoffrey Batchen has penned a monograph on Henry Fox Talbot for Phaidon, which looks gorgeous and is officially at the top of my summer wish list. Batchen is perhaps the leading Talbot scholar in America these days, and his short essay on “The Latticed Window” in Singular Images is one of the most extraordinary short works of photo history I’ve ever read. Until I get my hands on the new Phaidon book, I’ll have to content myself with The Correspondence of Henry Fox Talbot, and unbelievable collection of nearly 10,000 letters to and from the Wiltshire genius.

Although I have yet to see a hard copy, the new issue of Foam looks like another winner, with fascinating-looking work from Melanie Bonajo, Moira Ricci, and Toshiko Okanoue all standing out. These three artists only contribute to my recurrent but entirely unscientific belief that women are completely kicking guys’ asses in contemporary photography. I’m not willing to defend this to the death just yet, but when I think about whose work I really love these days, women tend to dominate the list. (On further reflection, I might be going overboard at the expense of some of my other favorites.)

If, like me, you hadn’t scraped together enough frequent flyer miles to make it to PhotoEspaña this year, We Make Money Not Art was gracious enough to fill us in on the good times and even better photography that we missed in two mustread blog posts. There’s enough new work in these reports to keep me busy all day. (via Page 291; image at left is from To Russia With Love by Monica Menez.)

I just added a tabbed page to That’s a Negative that will host a selection of my published pieces about photography. I will add essays and reviews gradually, and am kicking things off with a creative piece from many lifetimes ago, called “Proposals for an Imaginary Photographer.” I don’t plan to run these older pieces in their entirety here, but am making an exception for “Proposals,” which I wrote in that faraway year of 2000. This was originally published two years later in Glasstire, reprinted here exactly as it first appeared, minus a few typos/formatting errors.

Proposals for an Imaginary Photographer

Pretend aliens have landed on Earth. Document their presence. Look for clues. What ceases to be suspect? Can you be sure? Convince me.

Make 36 religious photographs that make no overt reference to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other organized religion.

Anonymous, “Human Jigsaw by an American Unit,” c. 1925

Show me a storyboard of failure. In reverse, does it spell success?

Please imagine, just for a day, that you are a dwarf. Nobody looks at you but your children. You can not drive, get a job, nor earn your father’s love. You have never been kissed on the lips. What does today look like?

Would you like to be an action painter? A physicist in repose? An actor between jobs or a Tejano musician at 1:30 Saturday morning? What time would you wake up if you worked the press line for a major newspaper? How many earplugs would be on the front seat of your car? Where are you going on that plane overhead? What did you do fourteen years ago? Fifty years from now?

Herbert Bayer, “Self-Portrait Before a Mirror,” 1932

In a boutique, I saw a bar of soap with a photograph inside of it. What picture would you clean yourself with?

What does a low-rider photograph look like?

Show me a cycle. Now a tri-cycle.

Anders Petersen, from “Nobody Has Seen it All,” n.d.

Take vacation photographs without changing your daily routine.

Please pinpoint, in one photograph, the midpoint between sex and death.

What is the strangest picture you know? Whatever pops into your head, re-photograph it.

Arno Minnkinen, “Self-portrait with Daniel, White House Overlook, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona,” 1995

Propose a condensed historical view — of your life, of language, of art, in a suite of photographs. Does it have a soundtrack?

Do you ever think about God?

What is the closest you can get to a barking dog or a naked senior citizen?

Please make a picture for someone you miss.

Richard Avedon, “W.H. Auden,” 1960, bromide print

This fall I’m teaching a six-week class about art-writing at PNCA, and in preparing last night, I found this wonderful passage from Auden.

What is the function of a critic? So far as I am concerned, he can do me one or more of the following services:

1. Introduce me to authors or works of which I was hitherto unaware.
2. Convince me that I have undervalued an author or a work because I had not read them carefully enough.
3. Show me relations between works of different ages and cultures which I could never have seen for myself because I do not know enough and never shall.
4. Give a “reading” of a work which increases my understanding of it.
5. Throw light upon the process of artistic “Making.”
6. Throw light upon the relation of art to life, to science, economics, ethics, religion, etc.

—W.H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand, 1963

Reproduced in A Short Guide to Writing About Art (5th ed.), Sylvan Barnett

Thomas Tulis, “Untitled (See Rock City),” 1991, cibachrome print

[Ed.—When I started pulling together links and articles for this web roundup, I was halfway through before realizing they were all somehow tied to my years as a photography student in Texas during the mid-90s. But I figured if Artforum could run two consecutive issues devoted to their editor’s Reagan-riffic glory days, one Around the Web about the “Photoshop 4” years wouldn’t hurt. This post goes out to everyone who lived through this.]*

Just as most photographers have one picture or one image-maker who inspired them to pick up a camera, A.D. Coleman was the single impetus for my interest in photo criticism. Critical Focus and Light Readings were my sacred texts in college, and they inspired me to start making sense of the exhibitions I was voraciously consuming by writing out my analysis and opinion. (I really wish I could find those early stabs at the work of Mariko Mori, Cassio Vasconcellos, and Thomas Tulis.) When I saw Coleman in Houston a few months ago, he said that he was essentially retired from journalistic criticism, and had turned his focus to poetry and curatorial projects (including a retrospective of the wonderful Arno Rafael Minniken and a group exhibition of Chinese documentary photographers), and writes essays at a more measured pace than in previous decades. He also maintains C: The Speed of Light, which along with ZoneZero, were the sites for photonerds in those early years of the interweb. I was poking around on Coleman’s online newsletter today, and ran across a typically smart and readable essay about photographic experimentation that he wrote in 2000 for the exhibition this is [not] a photograph. You can read it here (pdf), but probably for a short time only, before it heads off for the Photography Criticism CyberArchive.

Mark Steinmetz, from the series “South Central,” 1991-3

Speaking of Thomas Tulis, things seem very inactive on his front, as far as I discern from Googleville. He, William Greiner, and Mark Steinmetz were my Southern-photographer heroes in college, but Tulis has an elusive presence online today. There’s a fairly comical Wiki (“Tulis lives a very simple life.”), a five-year old article about starving artists in Atlanta, an online gallery of his paintings (who knew?), which are… um… different…, and an Amy Stein post inquiring as to his whereabouts that went unanswered. (Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the pictures I discovered of Tulis shirtless. At least we know he looks good.) Thomas—the internet calls you. Please turn up online to claim your Recently Rediscovered/Unfairly Obscured Photographer e-card!

There’s been a rash of online video interviews with photographers making the rounds lately, but how about taking a break, making your English teacher happy, and reading interviews with contemporary masters over at the Journal of Contemporary Art. Take a pick from a huge selection of gems from the mid-90s, such as Uta Barth, Larry Clark, Miwa Yanagi, Joan Fontcuberta, and Cindy Sherman, who I think is really going to go somewhere with this photography thing if she sticks with it!

Finally, in keeping with this theme of Pecker-era photography, I’d like to send a shout-out to See: A Journal of Visual Culture, which was, in my opinion, the finest American photo magazine of the decade, and which I sorely miss.

*[Doesn’t it seem odd that Metamorphoses was reviewed here?]