Category Archives: ART

ADOLF LOOS: ORNAMENT AND CRIME, modernist essay/lecture, 1908

“I will not subscribe to the argument that ornamention increases the pleasure of the life of a cultivated person, or the argument which covers itself with the words: “But if the ornament is beautiful! …” To me, and to all the cultivated people, ornament does not increase the pleasures of life. – Adolf Loos, Ornament and Crime

Ornament and Crime was an essay and a lecture by modernist architect Adolf Loos, that criticizes ornament in art, first given on 21 January 1908 in Vienna and first published in Cahiers d’aujourd’hui(issue 5 of 1910) under the German title Ornament und Verbrechen. It was under this challenging title that in 1913 the essay was translated into French; it was not published in German until 1929. “The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects”, Loos proclaimed, linking the optimistic sense of the linear and upward progress of cultures with the contemporary vogue for applying evolution to cultural contexts. Loos’ work was prompted by regulations Loos encountered when he designed a tailorshop without ornamentation next to a palace. He eventually conceded to requirements by adding a flowerpot. 

The essay was written when Art Nouveau, which Loos had excoriated even at its height in 1900, was about to show a new way of modern art. The essay is important in articulating some moralizing views, inherited from the Arts and Crafts movement, which would be fundamental to the Bauhaus design studio and would help define the ideology of Modernism in architecture.

In Loos’ essay, “passion for smooth and precious surfaces” he explains his philosophy, describing how ornamentation can have the effect of causing objects to go out of style and thus become obsolete. It struck him that it was a crime to waste the effort needed to add ornamentation, when the ornamentation would cause the object to soon go out of style. Loos introduced a sense of the “immorality” of ornament, describing it as “degenerate”, its suppression as necessary for regulating modern society. He took as one of his examples the tattooing of the “Papuan” and the intense surface decorations of the objects about him—Loos says that, in the eyes of western culture, the Papuan has not evolved to the moral and civilized circumstances of modern man, who, should he tattoo himself, would either be considered a criminal or a degenerate.

Loos never argued for the complete absence of ornamentation, but believed that it had to be appropriate to the type of material.

Loos concluded that “No ornament can any longer be made today by anyone who lives on our cultural level … Freedom from ornament is a sign of spiritual strength”. -wikipedia, ornament and crime

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**republished from Archdaily.com

Ornament and Crime began as a lecture delivered by Adolf Loos in 1910 in response to a time (the late 19th and early 20th Centuries) and a place (Vienna), in which Art Nouveau was the status quo.

Loos used the essay as a vehicle to explain his distain of “ornament” in favour of “smooth and previous surfaces,” partly because the former, to him, caused objects and buildings to become unfashionable sooner, and therefore obsolete. This—the effort wasted in designing and creating superfluous ornament, that is—he saw as nothing short of a “crime.” The ideas embodied in this essay were forerunners to the Modern movement, including practices that would eventually be at core of the Bauhaus in Weimar.

Extract from Ornament and Crime

The human embryo goes through all the phases of animal life while still inside the womb. When man is born, his instincts are those of a newborn dog. His childhood runs through all the changes corresponding to the history of mankind. At the age of two he looks like a Papuan, at four like one of an ancient Germanic tribe, at six like Socrates, at eight like Voltaire. When he is eight years old, he becomes conscious of violet, the colour discovered by the eighteenth century, for until then violets were blue and purple-fish were red. The physicist today points out colours in the spectrum of the sun that have already been named, but whose comprehension has been reserved for future generations.

The child is amoral. So is the Papuan, to us. The Papuan kills his enemies and eats them. He is no criminal but if a modern man kills someone and eats him, he is a criminal or a degenerate.

The Papuan tattoos his skin, his boat, his rudder, his oars; in short, everything he can get his hands on. He is no criminal. The modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons in which eighty per cent of the prisoners are tattooed. Tattooed men who are not behind bars are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If someone who is tattooed dies in freedom, then he does so a few years before he would have committed murder.

The urge to decorate one’s face and everything in reach is the origin of the graphic arts. It is the babbling of painting. All art is erotic.

The first ornament invented, the cross, was of erotic origin. The first work of art, the first artistic act, which the first artist scrawled on the wall to give his exuberance vent. A horizontal line: the woman. A vertical line: the man penetrating her. The man who created this felt the same creative urge as Beethoven, he was in the same state of exultation in which Beethoven created the Ninth.

But the man of our own times who covers the walls with erotic images from an inner compul­sion is a criminal or a degenerate. Of course, this urge affects people with such symptoms of degeneracy most strongly in the lavatory. It is possible to estimate a country’s culture by the amount of scrawling on lavatory walls. In children this is a natural phenomenon: their first artistic expression is scribbling erotic symbols on walls. But what is natural for, a Papuan and a child, is degenerate for modern man. I have discovered the following truth and present it to the world: cultural evolution is equivalent to the removal of Ornament from articles in daily use. I thought I was giving the world a new source of pleasure with this; it did not thank me for it. People were sad and despondent. What oppressed them was the realization that no new ornament could be created. What every Negro can do, what all nations and ages have been able to do, why should that be denied to us, men of the nineteenth century? What humanity had achieved in earlier millennia without decoration has been carelessly tossed aside and consigned to destruction. We no longer possess carpenters’ benches from the Carolingian period, but any trash that exhibited the merest trace of decoration was collected and cleaned up, and splendid palaces built to house it. People walked sadly around the showcases, ashamed of their own impotence. Shall every age have a style of its own and our age alone be denied one? By style they meant decoration. But I said: Don’t weep! Don’t you see that the greatness of our age lies in its inability to produce a new form of decoration? We have conquered ornament, we have won through to lack of ornamentation. Look, the time is nigh, fulfilment awaits us. Soon the streets of the town will glisten like white walls. Like Zion, the holy city, the metropolis of heaven. Then we shall have fulfillment.

But there are some pessimists who will not permit this. Humanity must be kept down in the slavery of decoration. People progressed far enough for ornament to give them pleasure no longer, indeed so far that a tattooed face no longer heightened their aesthetic sensibility, as it did with the Papuans, but diminished it. They were sophisticated enough to feel pleasure at the sight of a smooth cigarette case while they passed over a decorated one, even at the same price. They were happy with their clothes and glad that they did not have to walk about in red velvet pants with gold’ braid like monkeys at a fair. And I said: look, Goethe’s death chamber is more magnificent than all the Renaissance grandeur and a smooth piece of furniture more beautiful than all the inlaid and carved museum pieces. Goethe’s language is finer than all the florid similes of the Pegnitz Shepherds.[1]

The pessimist heard this with displeasure and the State, whose task it is to retard the cultural progress of the people, took up the fight for the development and revival of ornament. Woe to the State whose revolutions are made by Privy Councillors! A sideboard was soon on show in the Vienna Museum of Arts and Crafts called The Rich Haul of Fish, soon there were cupboards called The Enchanted Princess or something similar, relating to the ornament that covered these unfortunate pieces. The Austrian government takes its task so seriously that it makes sure that puttees do not disappear from the borders of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It forces every civilized twenty-year-old man to wear puttees instead of knitted hose for three years. For every government still labours under the supposition that a nation on a low standard is easier to govern.

All right, then, the plague of ornament is recognized by the State and subsidized by State finds. But I look on this as retrogression. I do not allow the objection that ornament heightens a cultivated man’s joy in life; I do not allow the objection: “but what if the ornament is beautiful…” As far as I am concerned, and this goes for all cultivated people, ornament does not give zest to life. If I want to eat some gingerbread, I choose a piece that is quite plain, and not in the shape of a heart or a baby or a horseman, and gilded all over. The man from the fifteenth century will not understand me. But all modem people will. The advocate of ornament believes that my urge for simplicity is equivalent to a mortification of the flesh. No, my dear art school professor, I’m not mortifying myself. I prefer it that way. The specta­cular menus of past centuries, which all include decorations to make peacocks, pheasants and lobsters appear even tastier, produce the opposite effect on me. I walk though a culinary display with revulsion at the thought that I am supposed to eat these stuffed animal corpses. I eat roast beef.

The immense damage and devastation wrought on aesthetic development by the revival of decoration could easily be overcome, for no one, not even governments, can arrest the evolution of mankind. It can only be retarded We can wait. But it is a crime against the national economy that human labour, money and material should thereby be ruined. This kind of damage cannot be put right by time.

The tempo of cultural progress suffers through stragglers. I may be living in 1908, yet my neighbour still lives in 1900 and that one over there in 1880. It is a misfortune for a country if the cultural development of its people is spread over such a long period. The peasant from Kals lives in the twelfth century. And in the jubilee procession there were contingents from national groups which would have been thought backward even in the period of the migrations of the tribes. Happy the country that has no such stragglers and marauders! Happy America! In our country there are old-fashioned people even in the cities, stragglers from the eighteenth century, who are shocked by a picture with violet shadows because they can’t yet see violet. They prefer the pheasant on which the chef has had to work for days, and cigarette cases with Renaissance decoration please them better than smooth ones. And how is it in the country? clothes and furniture belong entirely to earlier centuries. The farmer is not a Christian, he is still a heathen.

Stragglers slow down the cultural progress of nations and humanity; for ornament is not only produced by criminals; it itself commits a crime, by damaging men’s health, the national economy and cultural development. where two people live side by side with the same needs, the same demands on life and the same income, and yet belong to different cultures, the following process may be observed from the economic point of view: the man from the twentieth century becomes ever richer, the one from the eighteenth ever poorer. I am supposing that each lives according to his inclinations. The twentieth century man can pay for his needs with much less capital and can therefore save. The vegetables he likes are simply boiled in water and then served with a little melted butter. The other man doesn’t enjoy them until honey and nuts have been added and someone has been busy cooking them for hours. Decorated plates are very dear, while the plain white china that the modem man likes is cheap. One man accumulates savings, the other one debts. So it is with whole nations. Woe to the country that lags behind in cultural development! The English become richer and we poorer…

Even greater is the damage ornament inflicts on the workers. As ornament is no longer a natural product of our civilization, it accordingly represents backwardness or degeneration, and the labour of the man who makes it is not adequately remunerated.

Conditions in the woodcarving and turning trades, the criminally low prices paid to em­broiderers and lacemakers, are well known. The producers of ornament must work twenty hours to earn the wages a modern worker gets in eight. Decoration adds to the price of an object as a rule, and yet it can happen that a decorated object, with the same outlay in materials and demonstrably three times as much work, is offered for sale at half the price of a plain object. The lack of ornament means shorter working hours and consequently higher wages. Chinese carvers work sixteen hours, American workers eight. If I pay as much for a smooth box as for a decorated one, the difference in labour time belongs to the worker. And if there were no ornament at all – a circumstance that will perhaps come true in a few millennia – a man would have to work only four hours instead of eight, for half the work done at present is still for ornamentation.

Ornament is wasted labour and hence wasted health. That’s how it has always been. Today, however, it is also wasted material, and both together add up to wasted capital.

As ornament is no longer organically linked with our culture, it is also no longer an expression of our culture. Ornament as created today has no connection with us, has no human con­nections at all, no connection with the world as it is constituted. It cannot be developed. What has happened to the decorations of Otto Eckmann and those of Van de Velde? The artist always used to stand at the forefront of humanity, full of health and vigour. But the modem ornamentalist is a straggler, or a pathological case. He rejects even his own products within three years. To cultivated people they are unbearable immediately, others are aware of their unbearableness only after some years. Where are the works of Otto Eckmann today? Where will Olbrich’s work be in ten years’ time? Modern ornament has no forbears and no descendants, no past and no future. It is joyfully welcomed by uncultivated people, to whom the true greatness of our time is a closed book, and after a short period is rejected.

Mankind today is healthier than ever, only a few people are sick. But these few tyrannize over the worker who is so healthy that he cannot invent ornament. They force him to make the ornaments they have invented in the greatest variety of materials.

Changes in decoration account for the quick devaluation of the product of labour. The worker’s time and the material used are capital items that are being wasted. I have coined an aphorism: The form of an object should last (i.e., should be bearable) as long as the object lasts physically. I shall try to clarify this: A suit will change in fashion more often than a valuable fur. ball gown for a lady, only meant for one night, will change its form more speedily than a desk But woe to the desk that has to be changed as quickly as a ball gown because its shape has become unbearable, for than the money spent on the desk will have been wasted.

This is well-known to the ornamentalists, and Austrian ornamentalists try to make the most of it. They say: “A consumer who has his furniture for ten years and then can’t stand it anymore and has to re-furnish from scratch every ten years, is more popular with us than someone who only buys an item when the old one is worn out. Industry thrives on this. Millions are employed due to rapid changes.” This seems to be the secret of the Austrian national economy; how often when a fire breaks out one hears the words: “Thank God, now there will be something for people to do again.” I know a good remedy: burn down a town, burn down the country and everything will be swimming in wealth and well-being. Make furniture that you can use as firewood after three years and metal fittings that must be melted down after four years because even in the auction room you can’t realize a tenth of the outlay in work and materials, and we shall become richer and richer.

The loss does not hit only the consumer, it hits the manufacturer above all. Today, ornament on items that need no ornament means wasted labour and spoilt materials. If all objects were aesthetically enduring for as long as they lasted physically, the consumer could afford to pay a price that would enable the worker to earn more money and work shorter hours. I don’t mind spending four times as much for an article which I am certain I can make use of and use up completely as I would for one inferior in shape and material. I don’t mind spending forty kronen for my boots although I could get boots for ten kronen in another shop. But in trades suffering under the tyranny of the ornamentalists, good or bad work­manship does not count. The work suffers because nobody wants to pay its true value.

And that is a good thing, because these decorated objects are only bearable in the cheapest form. I can get over a fire’s havoc more easily if I hear that only worthless rubbish has been destroyed. I can enjoy the tripe in the Künstlerhaus because I know that it has been put up in a few days and will be torn down in a day. But throwing gold coins around instead of pebbles, lighting cigarettes with a banknote and pulverizing a pearl and than drinking it is unaesthetic. The most unaesthetic decorated objects are those made of the best materials with the greatest care, those that have demanded hours of work. I cannot deny having asked for high quality work above all-but not this kind.

Modern men who revere ornament as a sign of the artistic expression of earlier generations, will immediately recognize the painfully laboured and sickly ornament of today. No-one can create ornament now who lives on our level of culture.

It is different for people and nations who have not yet attained this level.

I am preaching to the aristocrats; I mean, to the people in the forefront of humanity who still fully appreciate the needs and strivings of those beneath: them. They understand the native weaving ornaments into textiles to a certain rhythm, which can be seen only when torn apart, the Persian knotting his carpet, the Slovak peasant woman embroidering her lace, the old lady crocheting wonderful objects in beads and silk. The aristocrat lets them be, for he knows they work in moments of revelation. The revolutionary would go there and say “This is all nonsense.” Just as he would pull the old woman away from the roadside shrine with the words: “There is no God.” But among the aristocrats the atheist raises his hat on passing a church.

My shoes are covered over and over with decoration, the kind made up of pinking and perforations. Work done by the shoemaker but not paid for. I go to the shoemaker and say: “You want thirty kronen for a pair of shoes. I’ll pay you forty.” In this way I have raised the man to a level of happiness which he will repay me for by work and material of a quality absolutely out of proportion to the extra cost. He is happy. Good fortune rarely comes his way. Here is a man who understands him and appreciates his work and does not doubt his honesty. In his imagination he can already see the finished shoes before him. He knows where the best leather is to be had at present, he knows which of his workers he can entrust the shoes to. And the shoes will boast perforations and scallops, as many as can possibly be fitted on an elegant shoe. And then I add: “but there’s one condition. The shoe must be quite plain.” With that I’ve toppled him from the heights of contentment into Tartarus. He has less work, but I have robbed him of all his pleasure.

I am preaching to the aristocrats. I tolerate ornaments on my own body if they afford my fellow-men pleasure. Then they are a pleasure to me, too. I put up with the ornaments of the natives, the Persians, the Slovak peasant woman and my shoemaker’s ornaments, for these workers have no other means of reaching the heights of their existence. We have art, which has replaced ornament. We go to Beethoven or Tristan after the cares of the day. My shoemaker can’t. I must not take away his joy as I have nothing to replace it with. But whoever goes to the Ninth Symphony and than sits down to design a wallpaper pattern is either a rogue or a degenerate.

Lack of ornament has pushed the other arts to unimagined heights. Beethoven’s symphonies would never have been written by a man who was obliged. to go about in silk, velvet and lace. Those who run around in velvet nowadays are not artists but buffoons or house painters. We have become more refined, more subtle. The herd must distinguish themselves by the use of various colors, modern man uses his clothes like a mask. His individuality is so strong that he does not need to express it any longer by his clothing. Lack of ornament is a sign of spiritual strength. Modern man uses the ornaments of earlier and foreign cultures as he thinks fit. He concentrates his own powers of invention on other things.

Footnotes
[1] 
A society founded in 1644 by Georg Philipp Harsdörffer and Johann Clajus, devoted to ennobling the German language.

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DAVID HOCKNEY ON PHOTOGRAPHY AND OTHER MATTERS, documentary, 2010, 51min.

British artist David Hockney discusses the nature of photography as an artistic medium and the role it plays in his artistic practice.  BBC documentary, 2010

HELGA PARIS: FOTOGRAFIE

NOTES FOR THE EXHIBITION OF HELGA PARIS’ PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKS, STREET LEVEL PHOTOWORKS, GLASGOW, 2014

Fotografie is a retrospective look at the work of German photographer, Helga Paris. Exhibiting a collection of photos taken in East Germany in the postwar period, Paris’s work is considered to be one of the most revealing and compassionate bodies of work reflecting life in Germany at that time. Going beyond a simple ‘social study’, Paris’s technique was simply to engage with her subjects, rather than take on the role of the distant street photographer. In making this connection, the result has been a collection of photos that give the viewer an insight into a moment of the everyday lives of an East German resident.

Starting in the 60s, Helga Paris took an interest in photography and began teaching herself the basics. Paris came from a fashion and art background, but it was her interest in the everyday lives of the East Berlin people, during the postwar period that made her want to capture that on film.

JONAS MEKAS: HARE KRISHNA, video, 5min.,3sec.

Jonas Mekas: Hare Krishna
5 min. 3 sec.

This was filmed on November 5, 1966 in New York City. It is with Srila Prabhupada, Barbara Rubin, Phil Corner, and many others. Sound: Chanting by the participants and Allen Ginsberg

Jonas Mekas‘ 1966 four-minute short documentary film featuring a kaleidoscope of images, anchored, to some degree, by Allen and Peter chanting Hare Krishna, is the next (seventh) in our series of Annotated Streaming Videos. Here’s Mekas’ note from the catalog of the Film-Makers’ Cooperative: “A “documentary” – one Sunday afternoon in New York – beautiful new generation – dancing in the streets of New York – singing “Hare Hare” – filling the streets and the air with love – in the very beginning of the New Age – Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky (on soundtrack) singing “Hare Hare”. Mekas incorporated this footage into his diary film, Walden, three years later – “Filmed 1964-68. Edited in 1968-69. Since 1950, I have been keeping a film diary. I have been walking around with my Bolex and reacting to the immediate reality: situations, friends, New York, seasons of the year…Walden contains materials from the years 1965-69 strung together in chronological order.

– The Allen Ginsberg Project, http://allenginsberg.org/2011/06/jonas-mekas-hare-krishna-asv-7/#!/archive/document

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Gestapo Informer Identified, Dessau, Germany, April, 1945

 

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Cartier-Bresson was 36 years old at the time the photo was taken and had been taking photographs since 1931. He had also worked in filmmaking and had assisted the celebrated French director Jean Renoir on two of his films.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Cartier-Bresson joined the French Army’s film and photo unit. His work involved filming and photographing artillery fire, road bombardments and troop movements. However, in June 1940, he was taken prisoner by the German army and was held for more than three years, most of which were spent doing hard manual labour.

He tried to escape three times and succeeded at the third attempt, returning to France with forged papers. Before being captured, Cartier-Bresson had buried his beloved Leica in farmland in France. One of the first things he did after escaping was to return to the farm and dig it up. He later photographed the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944 while working as a war correspondent. Continue reading Henri Cartier-Bresson: Gestapo Informer Identified, Dessau, Germany, April, 1945

DEVONTE HYNES & PHILIP GLASS: When You Gonna Get A Real Job?, NPR MUSIC, video 6.5 min.

‘When You Gonna Get A Real Job’: Philip Glass And Devonté Hynes Compare Notes

by THOMAS HUIZENGA

At first glance, Devonté Hynes and Philip Glass might appear like musical opposites. Hynes, the 31-year-old British producer and songwriter who performs under the name Blood Orange, makes hit records with Solange and Carly Rae Jepson. Glass, the 80-year-old Baltimore-born New Yorker who writes operas and film scores, is one of classical music’s legendary artists.

But walk into Hynes’ third floor loft in New York’s Chinatown and you’ll find a photo of Glass on his piano. Hynes, it turns out, is a fan. He discovered Glass’ music by chance as a London teenager, when he bought the 1982 album Glassworks on the strength of its crystalline cover image alone. What he heard after he brought it home transfixed him. Today, he says Glass’ influence “seeps” into his music — the interlocking marimba parts in “Best to You” or the feather light ostinato that ignites “Better Than Me.” Last year, he surprised a few ears when he played excerpts from Glass’ solo piano suite Metamorphosis during a live session on SiriusXM.

This spring, Hynes invited Glass to his apartment where they sat at a piano, compared chords and traded stories. Ninety minutes later, their wide ranging conversation had touched on the pulse of New York City, the pains of striking out on your own as a musician, what role the arts play in society today and Hamilton. Plus about a hundred other ideas.

Perhaps the most potent virtue Hynes and Glass share is an instinctive ear for collaboration. Glass has worked with everyone from Ravi Shankar and Paul Simon to dozens of filmmakers, dancers, poets and visual artists. Hynes moves adroitly, too. These days he pairs up with Sky Ferreira, FKA Twigs, Haim and ballet dancer Maria Kochetkova, but in his teens he joined a dance-punk band named Test Icicles, then moved on to the quirky folk-pop of Lightspeed Champion.

Maybe it’s that willingness to let something unknown percolate into a new idea. And maybe that’s why these two musicians, some 50 years apart in age, decided to meet on a cloudy April afternoon in Chinatown to let yet another intriguing collaboration blossom.

 

NUNO SOUSA VIEIRA

In sculptures made out of an array of discarded factory materials and old office furniture, the Portuguese artist Nuno Sousa Vieira confronts opposites: consumption and usefulness versus refuse and obsolescence; the mass-produced versus the handmade; function over form versus form over function. Sousa Vieira renders utilitarian materials useless, while referencing their former functions and investing them with new life as sculptural works. Utilitarian objects are repurposed and recycled into poetic, deconstructed geometric forms which subvert yet still refer to their original functional forms and milieus.  The transformed objects, devoid of original purpose, often are placed within their original “useful” environments,  highlighting the transgressional aspect of their transformations.

“The media daily bombs us with images of ruin and large scale human and urban devastation. The idea of ruin interests me but not its aestheticization or displacement into a sheltered context, be it the exhibition or the comfortable screening in front of our sofas. What interests and concerns me is to recuperate and understand how we can use that physical and symbolic material without causing more waste, re-edifying it, raising it from its ashes. In this context, I choose objects developed for human use like tables, chairs, typewriters, or architecture and construction materials – doors, windows or floor pavement. I consider them raw materials for my sculptures. Although these objects are capable of being used, they were abandoned when the factory shut down. What I want is to get them reintroduced at a visible level. In my practice I replicate industrial procedures because, in my studio as in the factory, the process starts by thinking and experimenting the context – the work space.”

Vieira’s studio is located within an abandoned industrial building in Lisbon, a location filled with items for “relocation and reintegration into a platform of discussion and visibility within the art sphere.”

“The objects I have been developing have an address, Plásticos SIMALA, S.A., Estrada dos Pousos, Pousos, 2410 Leiria, Portugal, and that is the place where they can fully reach their meaningfulness. The elements intervened come from an industrial structure which is now my studio and this is where, along with their fellow objects, that they find their measure and fitting. That space is doomed to disappearance because urban developed so predicted but there is, on my part, an attempt to save and inscribe that place on the map of my artistic practice. On the other hand, this place allows me to achieve an awareness of issues and situations paralleled in our daily lives, such as ruin and abandon. What interests me is not an “aesthetisation” of each one of them but their relocation and reintegration into a platform of discussion and visibility within the art sphere.”

Vieira trained at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon University, where he obtained a master’s degree in Painting and studied for a doctorate. Nuno Sousa Vieira has had a multidisciplinary international career and includes in his projects drawing, sculpture, and the installation of objects he finds.

An interview with Vieira, originally published in Juliet magazine, can be found here.

Nuno Sousa Vieira was born in Leiria (Portugal), in 1971. He currently lives and works between Leiria and Lisbon (Portugal).  http://www.nunosousavieira.com/

 

 

Sources:

Galerie Emmanuel Herve, Paris

Drawing Room, Madrid, Feb 2018

João Silvério, notes for exhibition at Empty Cube, Lisbon
October 2008

DAVID LANG: THE PASSING MEASURES – CITY OF BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY CHORUS, FEATURED ARTIST, MARTY EHRLICH, CLARINET

 

The Passing Measures – for bass clarinet, amplified orchestra, and women’s voices – is an ambient and emotionally charged meditation on the passing of time.

“This heartfelt, mournful piece, a wordless, 45-minute quasi-concerto for women’s chorus, bass clarinet, and amplified orchestra, is a welcome surprise from a composer whose always deft and subtle work has often seemed ironic and arch. The clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Chorus, conducted by Paul Herbert, provide a dignified performance, giving gentle life to the work’s lustrous waves of color. [This is one of the] best classical albums of 2001.”
– Russell Platt, The New Yorker

“Sits and shimmers gently, like a jeweled pendant turning very slowly in the light.”
– Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Lang has created a moody, moving 43-minute experience.”
– Bradley Bambarger, Billboard

 

David Lang on The Passing Measures

“I think one of the reasons our commercial culture likes all music to be fast and snappy is because in fast music it is much harder to recognize the passing of time. You listen to the tunes, to the catchy phrases, but you are not allowed to feel just how time slips away. Fast music is stirring, optimistic – that is why we are bombarded all day by active, energetic music that tries to make us buy things or do things or think things. Slow music, on the other hand, is good for contemplation but is terrible for business, so you don’t get much of it in your daily life. More and more I have become convinced that one of the noblest things you can do in a piece of “serious” music is to allow for an experience that can’t happen in your everyday life. The Passing Measures is that kind of experience.

My piece is about the struggle to create beauty. A single very consonant chord falls slowly over the course of forty minutes. That is the piece. Every aspect of the piece is on display, however – magnified, examined, amplified, prolonged. The soloist’s notes are impossibly long, requiring frequent drop-outs for breath and for rest. The players are all instructed to play as quietly as possible, and then are amplified at high volume, in order to make their restraint an issue of the piece. Four percussionists scrape pieces of junk metal from start to finish, as if to accompany the consonance of the chords with sounds of dirt and decay.

The Passing Measures is dedicated to the memory of Bette Snapp.

 

PAVEL KOSENKO, RUSSIAN STREET PHOTORAPHER: INTERVIEW, from Leica Liker.com

 PAVEL KOSENKO, Moscow (Russia) Street Photographer



Leica Liker is honored to have Pavel Kosenko, a Moscow (Russia)Street Photographer as our #17 guest.

I first discovered Pavel Kosenko through his Russian website  http://www.pavel-kosenko.livejournal.com. No, I can’t read Russian but Pavel is a blogger and photo discoverer himself. I came upon his post from another post of “4 x 5” Kodachromeslides of the American war effort during World War 2. They are stunning examples of color and subject matter by industrial and military photographers. You can check it out here. It was from there that I found Pavel.

What drew me to Pavel’s work is his sense of color. When you look at his images, you can just eat the colors. They are exquisitely rich and velvety or harsh and poppy. It’s as if he took them with Kodachrome, except it’s digital.

Pavel talks about the harmony between colors. He is devoted to the study of color. Not just with color wheels but how master painters, who have command of color, are able to combine colors to compliment each other.

Many of us start by contrast of forms, objects, composition, shadows and irony within the frame of story telling. Pavel on the other hand starts with color and in a way, emotions. Not emotions like happy or sad, but a kind of internal stirring. If you study many of his photographs, they are simple observations. Yet some of them have a subtle yet powerful complexity to them because of the variety and depth of colors. His colors define details that would have been overlooked had the image been too contrasty or over exposed. So you are pulled into the image wanting to explore every corner.  That’s not to say that sometimes Pavel also loves to make colors pop in high contrast shots. But when he is able to capture the digital version of that ‘Kodachrome’ magic, I can’t stop poring over every pixel of his photographs.

Here is my interview with PAVEL KOSENKO:

Nick Name: No, I just have my real name – Pavel Kosenko.
Currently living in: Moscow, Russia
Motto: “You can only be happy here and now.”

Street Photographer since: 2011
Profession/Job: Photographer
Websites: http://www.pavelkosenko.com
Organizations or Group: None

What do you do as a photographer professionally?Technically photography does not pay my bills. I do many things to pay the bills as a photographer. For instance, I organize photography tours in a variety of countries like Turkey, Vietnam, etc.. I also teach master classes in color for photographers. I have written a book, titled THE LIVING DIGIT, which is presently only published in Russian. I want to translate it into English to get a larger audience.

I also do color consulting for print. I have a small photography school in Moscow. I have a popular blog with 15,000 readers and 50,000 views posts per day. I have people who pay advertising on my blog. Camera companies give me cameras to use to write reviews about. I also have projects that are photography related. I have a friend in advertising who thinks my sense of color could be utilized in film. As you can see, I do a lot of things.

Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon EOS 1D X with Canon 35 mm f/1.4 lens, Canon 50 mm f/1.2 lens
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon 18 mm f/2.0 lens
What and when was your first camera? Zorki Russian camera. I don’t remember the number.
Favorite photography gadget: iPhone 5

Favorite street food: Italian
Do you listen to music while shooting? Sometimes, but not often.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos:Royksopp, Delinquent Habits, Moloko, Cypress Hill, Depeche Mode, Die Antwoord, Pink Floyd, Royksopp, Django Reinhardt, Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show 🙂 etc.
Favorite photo software: RPP (Raw Photo Processor)

3 Favorite Master Photographers: Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: The same
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? Unfortunately, I don’t have any.
Color or Black and White? Color

 

Shoot Film or Digital? Basically digital because film does not have the abilities that digital has to offer. With digital, I have more possibilities to push the limits of color as well as provide the best quality. But sometimes I play with film because is has an inherent aesthetic component which digital does not have. Film allows me to improve my visual experience and I try to apply what I learn in my digital work.

If Film, what type of negative? Last time I used film it was Kodak Ektar.
Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Any time. But lately I like to shoot without sun light (in the evening and with candlelight in rooms).

How do you define street photography? Exactly like Henri Cartier-Bresson defines it.
How did you get into photography? Actually my life was originally not destined for photography. I was born in the small Russian town of Protvino in the Moscow region. It has around 37,000 people. Protvino is a town of scientists. The main business is the research institute. It’s a tradition for young people in this area to go to the Moscow Physics Institute to become a scientist. The parents force their children to follow their footsteps. I left because I studied in Moscow at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute where I was for 1-1/2 years. But after attending the institute, I realized I needed to be creative. I went to music school for 5 years instead. After that I realized music was not my thing.

When I was 6 years old my father gave me a camera. I was shooting everything from family to friends, but primarily for myself only. While I was in music school I figured out photography was my where my passion and interest lied.

What is it about the medium photography that attracts you? What are you trying to express in photography?  For me it’s like drugs. I need it. I wake up and grab my camera. Or I switch on the computer and search for photographic images. I need to improve my visual experience all the time.  Even when I was studying physics and music, I was taking photographs. Sometimes I leave my camera at home and then I have to have it a few days later.

Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting? I did not choose only Street Photography. It was my interest for the last 2 years, but I like art photography too. I try to mix it up.

What motivates you to photograph the streets? My interest in ordinary people and their lives.
Is Street Photography an obsession? I think yes.
Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? Both

Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Visible. I like to communicate with people. I believe that photographer cannot be invisible. You can’t shoot outside and think you have no effect on it. Each photographer sees his own particular way. We all get different photographic results, even if we all shoot the same place and in the same direction.
Favorite street photography city: Istanbul

What inspires your photography? Art, especially by Russian painters. I was a jazz musician in my past life. Although, I haven’t played the guitar for 6 years, the idea of art as an expression of me is extremely important. I love music. Sometimes I shoot while listening to music in my headphones. It is important what I listen to because the combination of the music and what I shoot is the process of my artistic expression.

Here are some painters I look to for inspiration: Konstantin Korovin (http://pavelkosenko.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/constantin-korovin/), Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Nicholas Roerich, Arkhip Kuindzhi, Alexandr Rabin, Wassily Kandinsky, Alexandr Zavarin, Caravaggio, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, etc.

Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I think it is better to quote Gueorgui Pinkhassov:  “Shoot the bad pictures, you might get a good one.”

What is your style? I don’t think I have a style. Often photographers don’t see what they see. It takes others to see what the photographer saw. My reaction to my fotos is often much too critical, sometimes dismissing good shots. I need to have a curator.

In general, I look for color and “chiaroscuro”. I am interested in light and dark colors. For showing light we need dark. I experiment in colors, dark, light. I always think about dark and light in my color compositions.

How has it changed over time? I think like everyone, I took travel photos first. After that I realized that they were good but they were like postcards. You know, National Geographic-type. It’s the first level of photography that everyone reaches. I realized I had to go to next level. I then went to one town and stayed a long time whereas before, I stayed 1 day in each town like a mindless tourist. I extended it to 3-4 days to a week. At first, I responded to anything exotic. For instance, if you come to Moscow, your first day would be spent at the obligatory Red Square. It’s not a deep level of understanding of our city. It’s only after spending a year can you have a chance to see life that’s not at a touristic level. I consider myself now  at 2ndlevel. I’ve been to Vietnam 9 times now. At first 2 weeks, then 2 months at a go. In the beginning, it was ‘pop’ like Britney Spears. Now it’s more impressionistic because I am getting the feel of the real Vietnam. SO I would say my style has moved from travel photography, to street photography and it’s moving towards art photography. I am more interested in impression and not information. I call it art.

What do you look for in a good photograph by others? What makes a color photograph look good? I don’t look for anything specific in other photos 🙂 I rely only on feelings. I am drawn to pictures with vivid colors, but I like b/w pictures too. With colors, I like harmony and rich variation (not many difirent colors, but many variation with lightness and saturation). And I don’t like supersaturation. In b/w I like geometry, texture and rich variation of shades of gray. Composition for me does not matter, because it is pseudo-science. The important thing is feelings and emotions.

How does color play a role in photography? Funny you should ask. My book THE LIVING DIGIT is exactly about that. When modern photographers look for colors they go to post production books to study histograms. This is the wrong way. The main idea in the book is to question the colors you find in museums. I mean, you need to study color through painters and history of art. Study the visual experience. After you have enough visual experience, your eyes can actually see what colors are in harmony and what not. And what works with each other. Then you can use digital tools to help you. It is about the aesthetics of color. In my book I start off with psychology of perception. I write about saturation and perception of colors – blue works better in dark regions while yellow is better in light situations. For example, I show how people normally see and perceive, from art to post production. Then I show the ‘art’ of perception followed by raw files and how it works. I use language of the modern digital photographer to explain a complex language in simple photo language. I talk about this in my master class.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?Sometimes I like to sit at a café and watch for around 1-3 hours. I see. I look. If I find an interesting background, I wait for some people to walk into my frame. But some times, I like to talk to people. For instance, last time I went out to shoot, I walked on the street and immediately spoke with people; to connect with them and to learn about their lives. While we were talking I noticed they had relaxed. That’s when I took a relaxed portrait of them. Not passport photos. Of course it’s very important for me to form interesting geometric frame. So while I’m talking to them, I am constantly looking for an interesting viewpoint. I am more interested in the art of the shot and  not the classic street frames. So my shots tend not to be classic street captures. Sometimes it’s just the color. I like to take impressionistic images. For instance, Vietnam before bedtime.  That’s the direction I am more interested in.

Can you describe the entire process of photographing these photos, from preparation to when you pressed the shutter button?  I took this picture in Colombo. It was the last day of my two-week trip to Sri Lanka. By this time I thought every shot I made were all “masterpieces”. I just walked around the city with a camera in hand, and assumed the images would somehow make interesting photo-stories. As always, I am interested in texture and color. So when I walked past the garbage, I took about ten shots, not counting on any one to make a good photograph. But when I worked the Raw-files, I saw a good picture. It was  interesting, not only in color, but the scene itself (crows and cats).

In this photo (below), what is interesting is not so much the picture but the story behind this woman. Her name  is Kulipa. She lives in the village of Jeti-Oguz on Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. She is 80 years old and raised 11 children in the one-room apartment with total area of about 30 square meters. Now  her kids have grown up and gone to different cities and countries, but sometimes they come to visit their mother. They come with their wives, husbands and children, so in this tiny apartment sometimes there are 20-35 people. In this case, sleeping on the floor, one next to each other. It sleeps 10 people, therefore 10 or more are awake. They all take turns sleeping.

I managed to get into the Kulipa’s house, because I was working on a project in Kyrgyzstan at the time. The project was linked to the search for information about Soviet astronauts who trained at the local air force base. Kulipa worked at the base as a cook from 1960 to 1970.

I was visiting Kulipa for many hours. We looked over all of her family photo albums. She told me a lot about her life. We drank tea. After 2 hours she was used to me and stopped paying attention to my camera. That’s when I snapped the picture.

How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good? This is the most complicated process. On the selection of photos I spend 100 times more time than processing them. I try to focus only on my gut feeling.

Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Stay in the moment. Use mostly wide angle lenses. Treat people well.

Best single advice on how to improve your work: Visit the museum and look at paintings.
Best single advice on how to edit your work. Excuse yourself from work and go shoot some photographs.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Study the classic street photographs.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? I do not have a career in street photographer. I shoot for pleasure.
What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? See the answer to the previous question.
What projects are you working on? Now I’m interested in a whole series rather than single shots. It’s the direction I am taking.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? I am not sure that in 5 years I would do exactly street photography 🙂

Are there exhibitions planned in the future? I am not ready for a serious personal exhibition. However, I have been repeatedly invited to participate   in group exhibits. As soon as I’m ready to show a body of work, I’ll do it.

Leica Liker thanks Pavel for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in with him in the future.

You can check out Pavel’s book here.

You can check out Pavel’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.