Technological innovations changes image-making

A series of rather recent technical developments permit photography to go in new directions. I think we should welcome them and explore them – but without letting technology or perfection take over. Photography will always be a matter of shooting the right motive at the right place at the right time – and what that means will never be defined once and for all – and a lousy picture won’t become great just because you put it through Photoshop.

Look at the photo below of a pair of pears. Under them is a plate with some coffee beans with a napkin on top and then those two beautiful shapes, almost making a couple, signifying autumn and juicy delight. I did it in no time in a private kitchen between carrying things out and in and it was only a raw picture, and I tell you it all looked very commonplace, trivial…outright boring; exactly as something just put there in a hurry in a kitchen – although I took advantage of the structure of the beans to let them stand up on their ends rather than lying on the napkin. But that is all I did.

The result you see is all thanks to technology, an iPhone with some “app” used in a late evening in a kitchen corner with too little light and then worked on just a little in Photoshop. It could have appeared in literally thousands of other ways; this is just one example.

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This article offers some of my thoughts on this, not the least stimulated by people coming to my gallery and often questioning the use of “all these new things” and “why can’t a picture just be a good picture anymore”? They are very legitimate and I respect those who stick the their last day with good old films (as long as you can buy them) and lock themselves up in a darkroom. Fine – but I don’t.

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The Venice Biennale & Venice – Hurry up!

November 27 is the last day, so you’ve got a month to go there. And it’s well worth it. The connoiseurs may have their sophisticated views of what is really happening now, what the significant trends are, etc. I’d say instead: Go there without any preconceived ideas, take in as much as you can. There is so much inspiration in so many directions that you can hardly return home without feeling it was worth the time, energy and costs (on the latter, Venice hotels and restaurants charge at least double rates while the Biennale is on, so…).

It is simply impossible to write about it, so sorry for this short attempt to defy the impossible! There are the official, enormous Biennale spaces at Giardini and the Arsenale. But then – without much co-operation or even communication with the Biennale management, it seems – there are art events all over town at museums galleries, art institutions, in abandoned flats, backyards and in the streets. My wife and I spent about 8 hours per day for a week and we probably saw only a fraction.

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© Jan Oberg 2011

That’s Venice and the Biennale* – enormous, weird, overwhelming, frustrating, enigmatic, and simultaneously an incredible positive documentation of multi-cultural creation in a globalizing world. In the midst of wars, environmental decay, deep economic crisis and all the rest, it simply gives me hope to walk around at the Venice Biennale and in the rest of town.

I believe it should be OK to write about it in a totally subjectve but positive manner and with an emphasis on what attracted me in general and as a photographer in particular. So I’ll simply tell you what made a lasting impression on me – lasting because it is more than a month ago I visited Venice and I find that some things have stayed with me while others are now more or less forgotten. If you’ve been there, can we compare notes?

Continue reading “The Venice Biennale & Venice – Hurry up!”

Venice in peril – Save Venice

I recently visited Venice – the Biennale, of course. Art critics, directors and commentators have many sophisticated views about the Biennale. That’s fine with me. I take it as a week-long bombardment of inspiration and – mostly – wonderful experiences in what is still one of the world’s most amazing, charming and picturesque cities.

I come home confirmed that there is a lot of dynamic, creative and visionary things going on – but, of course, that there are no standards anymore as to what is and what is not quality – not to speak of what is and is not art.

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Venezia Collage # 4 © Jan Oberg 2011

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iPhoneography printed on different materials

Last night was “Art Evening” here in Lund, Sweden. It’s an annual event and 18 museums and galleries including Oberg PhotoGraphics are open from 5pm to 10pm.

This year I had chosen, together with my colleague and masterprinter Anders Jonsson, to work on a number of pieces shot by the iPhone, not the least by the use of the Hipstamatic app with its many options.

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Lund Botanical Garden Fog @ Jan Oberg 2011

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Pigment Bombs on the "Cultural Night" in Lund, Sweden

It happens every year, in September. Some 400 events all over this 100.000 people town and 50.000 people on their feet. They explore culture in terms of theatre, music, art, food, debates, happenings, what have you – and some come to see my photo gallery.
This year I conduct an experiment with my friend, working partner and master printer Anders Jönsson called “Pigment Bombs For A More Beautiful World”.

Here is a photo of Anders’ daughter Kaja in the sunset printed on a sheet of steel that has been given a yellow coating before printing.

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© Anders Jönsson 2011

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Venezia Series

Late last night I finished a series of four abstract collages based on photos taken in Venice two weeks ago.

There contain mixes of Canon-made photos and Hipstamatic iPhone images. They are lose compositions of shots of many kinds, just reflecting my search for something “Venetian” that contrasts the usual – nowadays souvenir-kitch – image of that city. 

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Venezia Series # 2 © Jan Oberg 2011

They will be on show today at the “Cultural Night” of Lund, Sweden, where everybody is on their feet to experience culture in all its forms and shapes.

Otherwise, in the post above you may see how Anders Jönsson and I during this Cultural Night create an experiment…”Pigment Bombs for a More Beautiful World”.

Photos and peace

Today Soren Sommelius and I held two mini-lectures about pictures of violence and peace; it took place in the gallery where Sommelius’ exhibition, “Between War and Peace” is on show. We walked around and paused here and there and told the visitors the various stories behind single images.

We are both very concerned that there are so many pictures in media and entertainment that – consciously or not – convey the message that violence is natural and sometimes necessary – even the only tool to use.

In different ways we work with pro-peace images – but what that is, isn’t easy to define! I have no conrete idea about it. And there is a huge difference between photos of peace and photos for peace…if at all they exist and can be defined. Continue reading “Photos and peace”