The first blue pigment to have been created in over 200 years will serve as the newest Crayola crayon. “YlnMn blue” was not developed within an arts context, but rather accidentally discovered in in an Oregon State University (OSU) chemistry lab in 2009. Graduate student Andrew Smith made the discovery alongside Mas Subramanian after combining manganese oxide, yttrium, and indium, elements which also serve as the inspiration for the pigment’s name.
“Most pigments are discovered by chance,” Subramanian explained in a statement. “The reason is because the origin of the color of a material depends not only on the chemical composition, but also on the intricate arrangement of atoms in the crystal structure. So someone has to make the material first, then study its crystal structure thoroughly to explain the color.”
YlnMn blue has a unique elemental structure which allows its manganese ions to absorb red and green wavelengths of light, only reflecting back a deep blue. This color is so durable that even when placed in oil or water it does not fade which makes it an attractive and versatile commercial product.
Shepherd Color Company, which received exclusive licensing to YlnMn blue in 2015, has since partnered with Crayola to launch its newest crayon. YlnMn blue’s name will be replaced this summer after a public rebranding contest by Crayola which ends June 2. The vibrant blue will take the place of Crayola’s yellow Dandelion crayon, which is being retired after a 27-year-run. (via Hyperallergic)
In this exclusive interview for desiginingsoud.org, the great researcher Michel Chion talks about the intersections between sound and language in his theoretical work. The ramifications are countless ranging from the place of the spoken word in film sound and the particularities of French language heard at the cinema to the new discipline of Acoulogy created by him. Have a nice reading.
DS- In La Toile Trouée, you wrote about the passage from silent film to sound as a moment where the written word lost some of its value. Not only because it was the end of the use of intertitles, but also because the image itself had a very strong textual quality. Nevertheless, sound cinema remains verbocentric for the most of it, as you’ve written yourself. In what degree the text embodied by the voice of the actors is distant from the abstract character of the written dialog on silent films?
CHION- La Toile Trouée was published almost 30 years ago. A lot has changed since then. There are more recent books where I deal with these questions such as Film, a Sound Art and and a new French edition of Audio-Vision, published this year. I’m also working on a general chronology of verbal and sound cinema. Word on Screen, one of my most recent books, addresses the topic of the resurgence of written text on cinema over the last 30 years. The most well-known examples are those of text messages and emails sent by the characters, but there are a lot more (take, for instance, a film like Stranger than Fiction). Cinema remains a verbocentric art for the most part, even though its sensory aspect is still very important. The verbocentrism is a fact. I don’t judge it as a “good” or a “bad” thing, even if there are exceptions to the rule. Why do contemporary blockbusters still have a lot of dialog? Because they have to count on the fact that people will watch them under certain conditions that didn’t exist until recently: inside an airplane, on the computer, iPads, etc. In such situations, dialogs are easier to perceive than more subtle sound effects, specially if we read them using… subtitles. This happens to me very frequently. On long plane trips, I sometimes watch an action movie without putting the earplugs (the ones they offer sound really bad and you still have the noise of the airplane disturbing your perception). I can still follow the action thanks to the subtitles. The film is still enjoyable, even if we “lose” a lot of its expressive intentions. I think that today those who work in the film industry know that a film should be “audio-viewed” in very different contexts and therefore it should be compatible with all of them. One particular problem happens when you have a film that is spoken on several languages. We lost track of what language we’re hearing because the subtitles remain the same no matter what. In some rare cases, as in Mademoiselle (2016, Park Chan-wook), the subtitles change according to what language is being spoken: on this film we have yellow subtitles for Korean and white ones for Japanese.
DS- Do you think that when multi-track sound came in the 70’s, it changed significantly the way films were done, disturbing the stability of classical forms structured around the text? You’ve written about a return of the sensory aspects of cinema with the Dolby…
CHION- Today I think I overestimated this return to the sensory aspects of cinema. I don’t think anything changed drastically regarding the place of the spoken word. Even the organization of shots hasn’t changed a lot with multi-track sound. This new world of sensations found a balance with the traditional forms of cinema that remained, for the most part, untouched.
DS- What’s your opinion about the new possibilities of Virtual Reality for that matter? Carne y Arena, a VR installation by Alejandro Iñárritu, was a part of the Cannes Film Festival this year…
CHION- I only saw one demonstration of Virtual Reality: a documentary shown at the Avignon Film Festival with a system made by Samsung and I look forward for the next time. Nevertheless, I think that the term Virtual Reality is an exaggeration. During such experiences, we’re still in the real world, our body still feels the same smells, the same pain that we felt before putting that helmet… The only form of Virtual Reality worthy of that name happens during our sleep, when we dream. Other than that, I don’t think I can anticipate the consequences of VR over sound. The compatibility would still be an issue for sure. As it happens already for films in 3D that should also be screened in 2D, in very different conditions, such as the ones I mentioned before (iPad, computers, etc.). Therefore, I don’t think a film could depend entirely on a single technical procedure.
DS- There is this wonderful text, almost poetic, that you wrote about the place of language on Tarkovsky’s films. What do you find so fascinating about his work?
CHION- Thank you for your words, I’m glad that you liked this chapter. I think that Tarkovsky gives us the opportunity to feel the magic of the cosmos and its mystery as we felt it in the first years of our lives. He also deals, in a very touching way, with a subject that concerns us all: the place of transmission and paternity today, and the presence of the unspoken on our daily lives. The text that you’ve mentioned was one about Tarkovsky’s last film, Sacrifice, a very strange film that, as I understand it, is told according to the point of view of a little boy, the son of the protagonist; even if that boy is not present for the majority of the scenes, it’s like we perceived the incomprehensible and obscure world of adults through his eyes. And they don’t verbalize what’s going on. I was fascinated by the fact that, at the end, the father only becomes a father (at least, considered as such) by renouncing to speak and leaving his family.
DS- In Le Complexe de Cyrano, you have written about the history of spoken language in French cinema. The films you have chosen to analyze are really diverse, going from La Jetée, directed by Chris Marker, to Amélie, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. How much these different manifestations of the spoken language correspond to conscious aesthetic choices? Or are they really beyond any idea of authorship, being something that surpasses largely any decisions made by the directors?
CHION- A bit of both: a person who writes and directs a film spoken in French must do it “with” that language. He is not completely free with his choices, even if he considers himself autonomous as an auteur. The language is never a neutral instrument, even though a few French directors think differently, as I’ve written about in my article, No Man’s France, included later in the book. I think that we are much freer when we know where we stand and what others have already done.
DS- The absence of a neutral style in French spoken language is one of its defining attributes as you put it in your book. Does this make the dialog in French films a greater problem than if we shot a film in English, for example, where this neutral style is relatively easy to find?
CHION- Yes, I think so. The spoken French in films is a very singular and complex matter. But every language has its own challenges. Another defining trait of French cinema is that the local accents were mostly neglected by it. The same doesn’t apply to British films that show a diversity of registers according to the regions depicted and according to the social class of the characters. I know that a similar work could be done about the Italian cinema as well (with its dialects, different registers of the spoken language, etc.) or with Japanese films… but clearly I’m not suited for this task! Even the French language is much more diverse than we might think. Someone could do a similar work, for instance, about Canada and the Québec region, where French has a history of its own.
DS- Is the neutral style in French Cinema a paradox? As you wrote in Le Complex de Cyrano, if we think about the films of the few directors, like René Clair and Robert Bresson, who adopted it, the sensation is of a certain strangeness…
CHION- For a French or francophone spectator, yes, this is true. But the films of these directors are viewed and heard by people from all over the world and this strangeness is not felt at all in this case. The translation can’t give the same impression. Likewise, if I watch a Brazilian film, there will be a lot of elements that I won’t be able to grasp. The subtitles simply can’t give all these informations.
DS- Could you talk a little bit about the discipline of Acoulogy created by you, where language is of crucial importance… How, for example, the act of naming and describing reveals a complexity that is absent from the traditional musical notation?
CHION- The musical notation deals only with a very small part of all existing sounds. Music sheets aren’t interested in describing the sounds of the instruments themselves as well. Their only goal is to give simple indications to the musicians for performing a certain piece. In a musical score to be played by a piano, for example, it’s not written that each note of the piano starts with a certain intensity that decreases ineluctably with time… There is no point on saying that, since we already know it’s the sound of a piano… There are also a lot of sounds that can’t be represented by a musical score simply because they don’t have a precise note. Words in different languages are not enough as well to describe all the aspects of sounds. Nevertheless, their use makes us go forward and trust what can be achieved by language itself, starting with words that already exist and that we generally use very little.It must be said as well that I don’t think that the waveforms we see in every digital workstation today should be used as instruments of description. They’re just good in depicting variations of intensity of a sound, but they don’t tell anything about its other aspects.
DS- In Sound: An Acoulogical Treatise, you have proposed to gather words from different languages, not only French, your mother tongue, and build an international lexicon to describe sounds. From that we can assume that the act of naming for Acoulogy is not a static, limited one, it rests open for new possibilities…
CHION- Yes, that’s accurate. The power and the importance of language is that (in the opposite way of the musical notation and “visual representations” given by different software) we are always aware of its insufficiency. At the same time, language structures our perception and can improve it. This vocabulary will perpetually grow, being open to new findings.
DS- You’ve once mentioned to me the project of a Book of Sounds. Are you still working on it? Could you tell us a little bit about it?
CHION- Yes, I’m still working on this book, which will be huge. I have thousands of quotes, the majority of them in French since it’s my mother tongue, but there are quotes from different countries as well and I want to use not only their translation to French, but also the originals. That’s one of the reasons it’s taking so long to finish it.
As a domestic command centre and haven of hospitality, the contemporary kitchen should be as welcoming as it is practical – not an easy feat, considering the various appliances required to run it. Yet through its long history of pioneering household wares made largely by hand in the most durable of materials, the German firm Gaggenau has consistently achieved just that. All the elements that belong in a professional kitchen, including the most advanced technologies, are issued in clean, precise designs that always consider the appliances’ effect on a home kitchen. As Gaggenau’s global head of design since 2011, Sven Baacke ensures its products continue to be highly functional sculptural objects. Sotheby’s spoke with Baacke about the luxury brand’s pursuit of perfection, down to the smallest detail.
FOR GAGGENAU’S HEAD OF DESIGN, SVEN BAACKE, A WELL-DESIGNED KITCHEN SHOULD SEAMLESSLY
COMBINE ARTISTRY AND TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS. © PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON BROWN.
When did your passion for design first begin?
It started when I was a child. My father was an architect, and there were painters and artists in the family – creativity was all around us. I first thought I would go into architecture, and design came a little bit later. For me it was the perfect combination of creating something that is useful to people and beautiful to look at.
How would you define your design approach?
We think about how people live, as well as about how people will live in the future. We study the way people inhabit their homes worldwide, and then think of ways to improve that experience. Gaggenau has been thinking along such lines for more than 330 years. So on the one hand, the design team’s work is rooted in tradition, while on the other, it is looking to the avant-garde.
Does addressing both tradition and the avant-garde pose a creative challenge?
It is challenging because the end result has to look effortless. Designers always strive to do things in a different way, and that disposition creates a positive conflict with the tradition of Gaggenau. As a result, we are always self-checking: “Should we do it this way? What does this add?” We don’t do something just because it is the latest technological advancement. Tradition helps keep us grounded. This tension between heritage and future defines our approach.
GAGGENAU’S PARIS SHOWROOM © PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON BROWN.
People become emotionally attached to objects in their homes, however functional. How do you make a domestic object stand the test of time?
In an ever-changing world, people are seeking things that act as anchors, as constants. Our products are timeless so they can travel with you into the future, and they will continue to be modern. They don’t look dated.
Do you get a chance to speak to your clients and customers?
Yes. Our clients are not typical customers, so it’s always very interesting for us as designers to speak with them. What I really like is talking to people who have owned an oven for twenty years: it has become part of a family and its way of life. That’s inspiring for us.
From where do you draw inspiration?
Everyday life is one of the biggest inspirations for me and for my whole design team. We are looking everywhere, noticing details that no one else would notice. We are all interested in craftsmanship – there is one member of the team who forges knives by hand, and another who shapes surfboards. We all love to cook, and sometimes we cook together. We love drinking wine. We’re interested in art, music. As designers, everything speaks to us and tells us a story.
GAGGENAU’S SHOWROOM IN INSTABUL © PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON BROWN.
What is your working relationship like with the engineers at Gaggenau?
Because we are all product designers first, we have a fairly practical approach to the design process. The common assumption is that designers have their head in the clouds, but our team has the technical experience to recognise what is possible and what is not. We work very closely with the engineers from the start; without that I don’t think we would come up with these great products.
What does the future hold for Gaggenau?
At the moment, we like to do something that we call “back-casting.” We project ourselves into the near future – to 2042 or a time that’s far away, but not too far – and try to envision what the world looks like there. How will people live, what will housing be like and what will Gaggenau look like there? And then we work back from this perspective. How will London look in 25 years? Will kitchens and houses be as big? Will there be kitchens? Will everything be completely digital? We are a very tangible brand. We are always looking for new lines of vision.
LEAD IMAGE: GAGGENAU’S PARIS SHOWROOM. © PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIMON BROWN.
As a domestic command centre and haven of hospitality, the contemporary kitchen should be as welcoming as it is practical – not an easy feat, considering the various appliances required to run it. Yet through its long history of pioneering household wares made largely by hand in the most durable of materials, the German firm Gaggenau has consistently achieved just that. All the elements t… http://ift.tt/2qC3Vcr
Books and writing seem to be as popular as ever, but writers are having a hard time making a living from their work. While writers may have always struggled, a number of recent ideas have been put forward suggesting ways to help them out.
Writing in Meanjin, Frank Moorhouse proposed, among other measures, renewable ten-year “national contracts” for mid-to-late career writers. And in the Sydney Review of Books, Ben Eltham describes an initiative that he is working on that would aim to provide literary fellowships for fixed periods of three to four years.
Both writers make the valid point that, as fewer successful writers are able to sustain themselves via book sales and royalties, the role of public support becomes more important. They both argue for the need to radically expand the range of fellowships available to writers.
While more secure fellowships are certainly welcome ideas, there are other ways to support writing that address the current economics. So in the spirit of keeping the conversation going, here are a few thoughts.
The value of books
Moorhouse and Eltham both seem to be arguing for fellowships that might provide the long-term security that many working writers currently lack. This suggests a fundamental shift in the purpose of this kind of writing support.
Individual grants and fellowships have typically been provided as a short-term investment in a writer or author, with a duration ranging from a few months to a year. They are there, ideally, to encourage new projects and innovation – offering opportunities for a concentrated period of work, for research, for travel. The University of Melbourne Asialink arts residencies program is a strong example of this. It offers support to a range of Australian writers and artists to live and pursue creative projects in Asia for six weeks to three months.
Longer-term fellowships would certainly have many benefits for established writers. They help compensate them for cultural labour that is not always adequately rewarded in the literary marketplace. As Moorhouse observes, the value of a book often goes beyond its cover price. Books are read and reread, loaned to family members and friends, speculated upon and debated. They inspire insights, arguments and critical and creative forms of engagement. Singular sales and royalty payments cannot reflect this hidden or social value of a book.
However, the criteria that Moorhouse proposes for his ten-year contracts – multiple publications, international distribution, being the subject of academic research – could cluster a lot of funding around a small number of conventionally successful authors.
A particular kind of writing?
In his article, Eltham suggests that a lack of individual fellowships has contributed to the rising importance of literary prizes in Australia. According to Eltham, prizes have become “the closest thing to a fellowship most Australian writers can aspire to”. In the same vein as Ivor Indyk’s 2015 Sydney Review of Books article, he argues that “‘prize literature’ is now a discernible genre of its own, taken to represent a certain form of middlebrow that is accessible, appealing and safe.” The implication is that the exclusive pursuit of prizes results in stylistically homogenous literary fiction, and that more individual grants and fellowships would provide writers with more freedom to experiment and take risks.
However, shifting a writer’s focus from winning a literary prize to appeasing a grant committee or funding body will not necessarily result in more adventurous fiction. Writing in 1971 about the Commonwealth Literary Fund (which subsidised Australian writers from 1908 to 1973), Maurice Dunlevy reflected on the value of literary fellowships, observing that “the fund has yet to aid the birth of a genius” or even a “classic Australian novel”.
He went on to claim that “the overwhelming number of fellowships have been awarded to well-known mediocrities who have produced mediocre work.” I won’t pretend to know exactly how fair Dunlevy is being to the fellowship writers of this period. But his critique can easily be compared to some of the contemporary objections to Australian prize culture.
There are a number of questions any new fellowships would need to answer. What kinds of literary work and lives would they encourage writers to work towards? What kinds of writing would be eligible for this kind of support? Would it favour the writer who produces a steady output of moderately successful publications over a powerful single work? Or the traditional print-based author over a writer creating innovative material for digital platforms?
Meeting the world
I don’t want to argue against more fellowships for writers (especially since, given the state of arts funding, this would likely be an argument over imaginary money). But we should question whether fellowships of the length that Moorhouse and Eltham are proposing are sustainable or even desirable.
In his 1991 lecture, On Writing, the Canadian author Robertson Davies expressed some of his reservations about the culture of writing grants, noting that even as they seem to offer freedom for writers they also potentially isolate them. Davies argues that, for a writer, a job isn’t just a distraction from the serious business of their craft. It is also a valuable opportunity to “meet the world” in their own particular way, and to find a daily task that keeps them from “writing too much” to the point where “their talent has become diseased, hypertrophied because of the continual gross and indecent solicitation of the imagination”.
I can’t pretend to share Davies’s distain for writing grants, having been the grateful beneficiary of a couple myself. But I think that there is a spleeny contrarian wisdom to his critique that is worth considering.
Relatively few successful authors throughout history have lived professional lives that were focused solely on writing. For many, the kind of subsidy that Eltham and Moorhouse have proposed might not be particularly useful. Being able to focus solely on writing for three, four or ten years might offer some incredible benefits, but it also presents the possibility of isolation, insularity, and a continued dependence on this kind of funding that might be detrimental for a writer’s work in the long run. As Davies writes: “Nothing – including grants – is for nothing”. The kind of freedom they offer always comes at a cost.
On balance, individual funding might be more suited to providing opportunities for travel (like the brilliantly conceived Antarctic Arts Fellowship), cultural exchange, or residencies. These require engagement with the life and rhythms of unfamiliar institutions, offering both emerging and established writers new ways of meeting the world.
Julian Novitz has received funding from the Australian Postgraduate Award, Creative New Zealand and the Frank Sargeson Trust.
New York by playhouse_animation
Designing a public transit map can be a complicated process, taking months if not years to create a concise layout that can be interpreted quickly for commuters on the go. To make things easier to understand the obvious decision is to use symbolic geography in lieu of real maps so that everything fits in a legible manner. Over at the subreddit r/DataIsBeautiful, Reddit user vinnivinnivinni had thew idea to create an animated comparison of a Berlin subway map compared to its real geography. The post went viral and several other users chimed in with their own contributions. Gathered here are some of the best examples, but you can see a few more on Twisted Sifter (gotta love Austin).
Berlin by vinnivinnivinni
Tokyo by -Ninja-
Singapore by wrcyn
Shanghai by KailoB6
São Paulo by sweedishfishoreo
Washington D.C. by stupidgit
Oslo by iamthedestroyer
Montreal by weilian82
*Several months ago I started to write about my newfound affection for cassette tapes but never made time to finish writing it so I decided to pick this back up to finish it and share it with you guys because its all still quite true and since writing this I have fallen even further down the resurgence of cassette tape releases. So lets dig in.
I recently found myself realizing how many cassette tape releases I had collected from small, independent musicians and labels so I took the net to find an affordable portable tape player so I could put them to better use. I never once thought about it being an outdated format during my dig, I only felt sad that the only new players left on the market are more or less junk which left me searching the depths of eBay for those willing to sell nice old players at a fair price.
My research lead me down a rabbit hole full of old Sony Walkman players among which I was left digging around a specific line of cassette tape Walkmen that I assume were manufactured somewhere toward the end of the tech’s lifespan as a popular medium. I discovered a number of thin, pocketable players constructed from metal rather than plastic and knew I was on the right track. These were actually some really great devices, even by todays standards. Many of the nicer later models were not all that much bigger than the plastic cases that house most cassette tapes. After settling on one that appeared to be in good shape I went digging around the fringes of Amazon for a couple of batteries and a charger to make it work and haven’t looked back since.
After a week or two of carrying it around and doing my best not to get pigeonholed as a hipster with vintage tech in one pocket, iPhone 6 in the other, I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed having it around. It lead me to a few interesting observations on the state of physical media today and the illusion of its demise.
I see cassette tapes as an intentional format (in a similar way that vinyl or polaroid film is). It represents a physical connection between music and the listener and causes the listener to be intentional in his or her decision to listen to an album. There are no features to get in the way, just start, stop, and fast forward which could be seen as primitive compared to digital music access but it has the benefit of forcing you to simply leave the music playing and enjoy it start to end. Physical media is true fan service.
Looking at it from another angle, cassettes offer me something that vinyl does not, a portable, personal experience to add to the already intentional act of picking a tape or two to take along for the day. While some question the fidelity of cassettes and joke of their irrelevance in todays world, I would greatly prefer listening to a tape over a badly encoded MP3. In fact, later tape technologies were actually pretty well refined and balanced in the full frequency spectrum and had even all but eliminated the tell tale hisssss of older ferric tapes.
There are many of you rolling your eyes right about now and thats fine, I get it, it sounds frivolous at best, surely I have lost my mind. But keep in mind, I’m a romantic. I love the feeling of deliberate fandom in buying a physical copy of an album from a band or artist that I really love and want to support and in some circles there are some amazing artists who have been releasing exclusively on tapes and for good reasons.
The most obvious is the fact that even quality tapes are vastly more affordable to make than pressing records and a lot more fun than selling boring old CDs which may as well be a digital download as far as I’m concerned. Tapes have a long, tried and true presence in the music industry as a method of releasing music in the underground and have recently been discovered as a perfect middle ground for fans of musicians that want to buy a physical copy of their favorite new music but can’t afford to shell out $20 for a vinyl copy.
So, how about you, what do you think about analogue formats? I still hold close the belief that if you really love an artists music that you will do more than toss pennies into their hats with streaming services and buy their music outright so why not do so in a collectible and fun analog format?
If you are a Panerai lover, you probably recognize this watch. That’s because it is the third iteration of the Mare Nostrum, dating back to the early days of Panerai. The Mare Nostrum was the first chronograph ever produced by Panerai, first created in 1943 for the Italian Navy. The design was later revived in 1993 as the first re-edition, the reference 5218-301/A, which was in production until 1997. The watch you see here is almost exactly like that 1993 re-edition, though with a few small updates.
This watch starts with a 42mm AISI 316L stainless steel case, just like the 1993 edition, with round chronograph pushers, and a tachymeter bezel calibrated to 60 Km/h. The very first Mare Nostrum measured in at a whopping 52mm, so there is a quite a difference here, and it makes the watch, you know, actually wearable. The dial, which is also quite attractive, has two different colored accents: bright white for the signature and the two registers, and beige SuperLuminova (with a slight faux-patina vibe) for the indexes, Arabic numerals, and hands.
Panerai chose to use the same movement as the pre-Vendome edition, the caliber OP XXXIII, which is based on an ETA 2801-2 with a Dubois-Dépraz chronograph module. It is COSC-certified and has a power reserve of 42 hours.
It’s pretty cool that Panerai has stuck to the archives for this watch. It’s an attractive piece that will likely be a hit with new and old Panerai collectors alike. The latest is being produced in a series of 1,000 pieces and comes in a wooden box that is shaped like the Luigi Durand De La Penne, an Italian Navy destroyer ship from the era of the original Mare Nostrum.
The watch retails for $10,200 and you can read more about it by visiting Panerai online.
You know those famous photographers everyone’s always squawking about? Bresson, Ansel Adams, Daidō Moriyama… Eric Kim? This isn’t about them. They’re covered ad nauseam and we know you’re tired of hearing the same old. So today we’re going to talk about a handful of lesser-known photographers whose work you should study, and whose stories you should know. When we say “lesser-known,” these aren’t obscure nobodies – these are pro photogs from the heyday of film who are known to real photo geeks, but for whatever reason, don’t seem to get mentioned on the photo-blogosphere as often as those other guys.
Let’s get squawking.
Ray K. Metzker
Metzker was a photographer whose work defied categorization. With a career spanning more than four decades, this is unsurprising. Displayed in more than fifty public collections, including some of the most prestigious museums in the world, his work has been described as “complex” and “terrifically different.” Perhaps his most famous work was a series of composites that he produced over a span of more than twenty years. These pieces are composed of multiple superimposed, combined, and repeated frames of 35mm film packed into a single image. They’re dense, mysterious, loaded with contrast, and worth examination. See more here, or buy the book.
One of the most notable post-war Japanese photographers, Hosoe’s work began in the mid-1950s and continued for decades. Known for his use of symbolism and the psychologically charged images he produced, Hosoe was at the forefront of the experimental arts movement that followed World War II. His work often took the form of collaborations with well-known figures, such as Yukio Mishima, the writer who famously formed a militia and committed ritual suicide by seppuku when the coup d’état he spurred failed to restore the Emperor’s pre-war authority. Other collaborations involved the dancer Tatsumi Hijikata embodying the role of a supernatural ghost who wanders the Japanese countryside. This haunting, puzzling, and sometimes frightening series, called Kamaitachi, follows this ghost and chronicles its encounters with local farmers and children. This work was groundbreaking when it was first produced, and even today there’s very little out there that can compete with Hosoe’s obtusely unnerving originality.
Though Robert Landsburg no doubt shot countless rolls of film in his career as a photographer, his most famous is the final roll, which tells a story of dedication to the noblest ideals of photojournalism. In the first half of May, 1980, Landsburg was on assignment shooting the changing face of Mount St. Helens, a volcano located in the state of Washington. On the morning of May 18th he was just a few miles from the summit with his camera and tripod when an earthquake rocked the site and caused the entire north face to break away. The ensuing avalanche tumbled down the mountain, followed by a massive pyroclastic flow. Landsburg saw the eruption and the enormous wall of superheated ash that was now pouring his way. He fired as many shots as he could, then famously rewound the film, loaded the camera into his backpack, and apparently laid himself upon the pack to preserve his film. His body was found seventeen days later, his pack beneath him. The film was processed and the photos and accompanying story of Landsburg’s final moments were published in the January 1981 issue of National Geographic.
Pretty famous in his own right, at least amongst photographers, Ronis’ story is the stuff of romantic legend. Born in 1910, his first thirty-odd years were spent in the family business (a photography studio) where he met and befriended legends Robert Capa, Bresson, and David Seymour. In the mid-thirties he became a freelance shooter, producing his first collection of work with a Rolleiflex. The next decade would find him fleeing Nazi occupation, traveling with a theatre troupe, and courting his future wife. In the mid-’40s he returned to France to photograph returning war-prisoners and deportees, and then spent the rest of his life taking magically humanistic photos that would appear in books, galleries, and LIFE magazine. His work shows the deeply human side of life in Paris, life during war, and life in peace. Most striking, and worth emulation, is his humility and respect for the people in his photos. “I never took a mean photo,” he once told the Associated Press, adding, “I always had a lot of respect for the people I photographed.”
Wüst, who for a long while was mostly unknown in the West prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, is now known as one of the most important photographers to come from the German Democratic Republic. His work, begun in the 1970s, evolved over the subsequent three decades into a powerful examination of Socialist life, and a critique of the East German way of city planning. But while we might assume all of these images would be stark and dour, which they sometimes are, the opposite is also true. Wüst’s images also show the private lives of non-conformists in a nearly hermetically sealed society. His photography in the era of reunification, while completely different, is just as interesting.
So many photographers, so little time. Let us know in the comments if we’ve showcased one of your favorites, and tell us which photographers really inspire you.
Looking for more inspiration?