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February 26th, 2013
February 11th, 2013
King Cobra, 2011. © Mark Laita
Snakes have been used to represent the duality of human nature in literature, religion, psychology and art for centuries. Throughout Mark Laita’s new book, Serpentine, there are quotes to remind us that snakes are the manifestation of good and evil—the beauty and the bite of the serpent. Yet the reptiles take on another level of representation in Laita’s images, becoming abstract patterns and colors and forms.
By photographing the scaled carnivores on a simple black background, as Laita has done with other animals, they pop off the page and for a moment, we forget how dangerous these beautiful creatures can be. A timber rattlesnake wrapped around itself, the mesmerizing pattern of its stripes ending in a shock of blue before its rattle reminds you of its venomous bite. The sleek silver of the Mexican black kingsnake is so deceivingly shimmery, it comes as a surprise to learn it eats its own kind, not to mention birds, mammals and other reptiles.
The serpents’ pliable bodies twist and turn into more than just a singular line. We wonder: Did Laita manipulate the urutu into the shape of a heart, or did the viper become that on its own? How can an albino black pastel royal python, which reaches three to five feet in length, so delicately wrap its yellow and white body into a knot, appearing as if it has no head or tail?
That nature can create such fascinating beings is reason enough to celebrate their gorgeous glory.
February 1st, 2013
All images © Michael Patrick O’Leary
“This series of animal portraits came as a result of a benefit I helped out with for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore. They gave me behind-the-scenes access to all of these animals so that I could produce prints for the benefit auction. These animals were amazing to photograph. The lions were particularly striking. Their strength is always very apparent, yet their personalities so different. The male lion roared loud enough that I couldn’t hear the zookeeper standing right next to me. He wasn’t happy about my presence and made sure I knew it with his lingering, harmonic growl. The female was the complete opposite: I was able to kneel inches from her and photograph her indefinitely. So peaceful, just laying there staring into the lens. Animals keep you on your toes. It’s just a dance you have to do with them to try to frame something unique, find that window of light that will silhouette them cleanly.” –Courtesy of Michael Patrick O’Leary
January 24th, 2013
Honolulu, 1968. © Kenneth Josephson, courtesy Gitterman Gallery.
An exhibition on view at Gitterman Gallery in New York City through March 16 features rarely seen images by Kenneth Josephson. This early work of Josephson’s was influenced by Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan and made while he completed his master’s degree at the Institute of Design in Chicago. The exhibition features two continuous themes that have appeared in Josephson’s work since the 1950s: His exploration of abstraction with light, and his dialogue with nature.
Though much of Josephson’s work deals with conceptual ideas, formal concerns are integral to his vision. His early images have a syncopated rhythm of light which is echoed in much of the work he made in the 1960s. It is in his exploration of the abstraction of light in nature that this rhythm becomes almost meditative. In his later work, nature’s palette becomes more subtle and seemingly infinite.
–courtesy Gitterman Gallery
January 16th, 2013
©NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
By digging through the online image archives of various space probe missions, photographer and filmmaker, Michael Benson, has compiled his third collection of planetary landscape photography. The images–many of them close-ups of the surfaces of moons, asteroids and Mars–offer an awe-inspiring look at the desolate places that were once only imagined by science fiction writers and filmmakers. Benson photographs the black-and-white images through various filters to render the scenes in color, then he layers the images with a complicated compositing process. Going through the RAW images, he says, “is like being along for the ride. There’s a lot of panning for gold in the archives, which I really enjoy. And if you’re lucky you get something really unusual. You just sort of know it when you see it.” Shown above is a Cassini space probe image from January 18, 2005, showing the moon Mimas in transit across the northern hemisphere of Saturn. The images are among a collection published in Planetfall (Abrams) last October, and will be on view at the Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York City today through March 9. To learn more about Benson’s work, read the Q+A with him from the November 2012 issue of PDN. (more…)
© Christian Marclay, “Silence (The Electric Chair)”
Throughout photography’s history, photographers have strived to document a new perspective on the world around them. But an exhibition on view at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco explores what gallery owner Jeffrey Fraenkel calls “a parallel history in which photographers and other artists have attempted to describe by photographic means that which is not so readily seen: thought, time, ghosts, god, dreams.” “The Unphotographable,” on view through March 23, features roughly 50 works by photographers from every era and genre who use a variety of techniques to depict the unseen, the hidden or the merely imagined. They include pioneers like Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence John Laughlin, Diane Arbus and Man Ray, contemporary photographers such as Adam Fuss, Idris Khan, Chris McCaw, Jay DeFeo, Wolfgang Tillmans and Paul Graham, and some photographers who worked anonymously. Their images range from the abstract to the spooky. (more…)