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Thursday, 23 May 2013


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I agree with your comment on the maturing of the narrated slideshow form. I do Digital Storytelling workshops at college campuses around the country; over one or two days everyone makes a short "film" out of still images and a spoken narrative. Sometimes a little clip of video, sometimes music, but the heart of it is photography and spoken word. It's a wonderful, powerful storytelling form. Magnum in Motion has done some great work with it, really bringing to life the photographers and their work.

Mike, What an interesting film! From the UK point of view it underlines an interesting contrast between our two countries. So many places in Britain have lost the industry on which they depended but people have stayed on hoping for better times. Would it be fair to say that Americans don't hang around but go looking for a better future elsewhere?

I enjoyed that very much, thank you. If folks have a Roku (or perhaps some other streaming device for your tv) you can add the Vimeo channel and watch both videos fullscreen in HD. They look quite good, though you might have to adjust the image ratio to stop it from cropping the sides.

Thanks for this. I grew up in inner city Cleveland, what is now called Ohio City, and have only been back once, in 2001, since I left,. I was appalled at the decline, and all the totally cleared and boarded up areas. I will get his books. Must watch the video again, see if I recognize any areas.

"[A] modern multimedia version of a book that pairs pictures with accompanying text, my favorite form." - now...I'm imagining the possibility for an app, here. A photo book audio guide, if you will. Or a photo book director's (photographer's) commentary. I agree that accompanying text can often complement an image wonderfully. And one of my favourite web video finds of recent years was an extract from the 'Contacts' video series where photographers - William Klein, in this case - talk over their contact sheets. Now imagine if that accompanying audio could be partnered with a wonderfully printed Steidl instead of a platry Vimeo? Add in a jazz soundtrack and a glass of Aberlour...bliss.

Thank you for highlighting Andrew's work, Mike. As I looked through image sets on his site his style struck me as rather a combo of Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld with smatterings of Mitch Epstein for grunge seasoning.

Andrew does a very competent job of the post-apocalyptic rust-belt genre. His midday, slightly over-exposed visual style (in color), which he carries consistently, is effective for the type of sterile human-less exposition he's presenting.

No slight to Andrew's work but I think I'm just tiring of this genre. It seems depressingly pervasive, ever-wagging a sermonizing finger imploring viewers to feel guilt and sorrow for decaying consequences of social and economic changes. Was the world of these scenes' heydays really a "more honest time", as Andrew asserts in the video? Certainly not, quite the contrary.

So I salute Andrew for making good work from the leftovers of a party that was over even before he arrived 30 years ago. But my appetite for urban decay presented wistfully has been long over-sated.

Hearing Borowiec talk about a landscape 'as almost totally conceived first on paper by man' as a "great work of human imagination" while we looked at his superb pictures of fairly bleak industrial landscapes had a great effect here. For me digital photography is trying to use the full power of the computer to communicate rather than just using it to make our prints in Lightroom rather than in a darkroom.

My most recent photo film overlays revealing photographs of Turkish bazaars with comments about the online camera buying habits on display in the dpreview camera forums.


Good stuff!

I went to college in Ohio in the 70's and visited again about a year ago. The transformation of the industrial towns during that time is quite poignant.

I sense influences of Charles Sheeler crossed with Walker Evans as well as new American landscape.

Any idea what camera Andrew is using? Looks like a rangefinder from the way the work looks and from what I could see of his camera in the movie.

Stan Banos has a keen eye for engaging photographic art. I'm glad you picked up on one of his blog postings. His blog is one of two (guess who the other one is) That I always start my day with. Now if Stan could only take a photograph with a level horizon (inside joke).

Wow, Mike, I enjoyed that so much. The short video is a great taster for what follows. Andrew articulated his feelings very well and the video allows us to share his delight in the small humourous details he observes. And his Industrial Perspectives gallery is georgeous. There's those spherical tanks from the front cover of my childhood copy of The How and Why Wonder Book of Chemistry. I'll enjoy coming back here to look around at everything. Thank you.

After just seeing Richard's Misrach exhibition of cancer alley over at Stanford University, this really helps tie it all together.

+1 on Ken Tanaka's comment.

Richard R.- He describes the equipment for his various projects in the interview.

Ken and Dave- Think you'll find this quote of interest (also in the Borowiec interview):

"I have nothing but contempt for the legions of “ruin porn” photographers, those guys who parachute into our Rust Belt towns to make melodramatic pictures of the most obvious decay, then retreat to the safety of their studios to bloviate about the metaphorical meaning of their oeuvre. For all the dilapidation that you can see in my pictures, what I am really looking for is some manifestation of the human spirit that gives comfort, a glimmer of beauty, a hint of humor, a sign of hope."

I decided to go to the "horses mouth" to get an answer to my previous question about what camera Andrew uses. I wrote him an email and he replied within 30 minutes. Anyway, here's what he had to say,

"Yes, I've been using rangefinder cameras since 1977, starting with a Leica M2. In 1980 or so I began using a Fuji 6x9cm camera, which I used for almost three decades and still use for black and white work. However, in 2009 I began using a digital Leica for color work, first an M8 and, a few months later, an M9."

What a pleasure it was watching that.

Just wanted to add one more thought. A couple of earlier commenters expressed "fatigue" (if that's the right word to describe it) with the urban decay genre. I can understand that sentiment, sort of. If you walk through 10 museums full of examples of it, you stop being receptive, and I'm sure it would happen to me too. But I am much more tired of the actual urban decay. We should stop doing it, and I like it that people point it out.

I've been photographing in the Canton/Massillon area for years and found it interesting that in some of Mr. Borowiecs' shots the buildings have not changed for decades. The pawn shop looks the same as it did in the early 70's when I was in high school and the same goes for the the T.V. shop. I like the video,but urban decay? Even though some photos portray it clearly I'm sure there are much better examples...

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