Loving this short film montage by Mishka Henner and David Oates, collectively known as BlackLab. By extracting and resequencing hundreds of movie scenes featuring photographers, Photographers explores the tropes of the photographer on screen from voyeur, to fashion photographer, investigator or war photographer. Beyond the fun of trying to figure out what films were used for the montage, this is also a fascinating deconstruction of the mythology of the photographer.
The latest Vice Photo issue has just come out weighing in at a hefty 210 pages with images from everyone and his dog, including 'dirty old men' and Vice regulars Terry Richardson, Richard Kern and many others with some rather predictable results (sex, booze, drugs, androgyny, neo-hippyism, YOUTH) as well as some even-more-disgusting-than-before-but-strangely-compelling imagery from Asger Carlsen and one terrific little portfolio by Jason Fulford which stands head and shoulders above the rest in my view. Maybe this is a sign that I am turning into a nostalgic old man, but I have to admit that the thing that really excited me about this issue (and is the reason for this post) is that the cover (image by Jim Mangan above) is scratch-and-sniff. This is the first photo-publication I know of that uses this magical and sadly forgotten technique and for that, Vice magazine, I commend you. Choose from banana, cherry, coffee, weed, something called "Ocean Mist" and coconut (this last one isn't listed on the press release but I'm convinced it's in there, or at least that they printed the whole magazine on coconut-scented paper). Sadly this blogpost is not scratch-and-sniff (I can't believe there is no WordPress plugin for this), but the magazine is free so you have no reason not to go out and get a copy. Scratch-and-sniff everything forever.
One of the most worn clichés in the realm of photography is the notion that a photographic portrait can somehow "capture the essence" of its subject. This has always struck me as pretty problematic; the idea that there is a moment that can be captured on film that encapsulates some fundamental truth about us, about who we really are seems to be a little reductive... I have always liked to think there was more to me than that. I can understand a photographer's search for an image in which the subject is as natural as possible, forgets the camera and maybe even themselves. However, this may not be any more revealing about the person being photographed than an image in which the subject is playing to the camera, showing another side of themselves in the process.
Whatever your take on the ability of a photograph to capture someone's essence, it turns out that there is a camera that is built to capture something pretty close to it. The aura camera was developed by an American scientist in an attempt to record what psychics might see (or perhaps those that are fond of the odd acidic experiment) when they look at someone's aura. Carlo Van de Roer's Portrait Machine project makes use of the aura camera to show us a few celebrity and other lesser-known auras and raise some interesting questions about the photographic portrait and the roles of the subject, the photographer and the viewer. The camera works by connecting the subject "directly to the camera by hand-plates that measure biofeedback, which the camera depicts as an aura of color in the Polaroid and translates into a printed diagram and description explaining the camera's interpretation of the subject. It also explains separately, what the the subject is expressing and how they are seen by others. ... This printout, which includes information about the subjects emotions, potential, aspirations, future, etc. is presented to the viewer along with each photograph". Click here to see the camera's description of Yoko Okutsu's remarkable aura (above).
If you are feeling inspired by Carlo Van de Roer's work, you might want to try out aura photography for yourself. Luckily it turns out that there is an online specialist aura camera store through which you can buy yourself the necessary equipment. The aura camera is currently discounted to a mere $3,497.00 (a remarkably specific price) and even better, their latest 3.1 version doesn't require those cumbersome hand plates and is a "nicer black color" than the previous one. What on earth are you waiting for?
One from the inbox: I received an email from husband and wife Claudia Ficca and Davide Luciano with links to their pothole photography project. Sadly, I do not have a driver's licence, and therefore am unable to fully relate to the urban curse of the pothole. However, I have recently started watching Treme, David "The Wire" Simon's new series on post-Katrina New Orleans, in which the character Davis McAlary runs for mayor with the slogan "Pot for Potholes", so potholes have been taking up more place in my life of late.
Until Ficca and Luciano came on I had never realized the myriad potential applications for these simple holes in the road: a convenient place to crush grapes, great when all the dishes are dirty and you're looking for something to eat your bolognese out of, or just a handy outdoor laundry basin. In their hands there's not much that a pothole can't do.