Featured post

Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice: Online Course Starting April 27th 2022

  Sign up to my new series of talks on Contemporary Narratives - Photography: A Short Guide to History, Theory, and Practice .  Starts on Ap...

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Brave New World of Photography: Day 1 - Mishka Henner

Earlier this year, Joerg Colberg celebrated 10 years of his blog, Conscientious. I suggested he should commemorate the occasion by sharing the brave, new and bold photography that he had found over those 10 years. He suggested that there should be a communal effort and contacted, these bloggers among others; 

So the general idea is that this week, we will all be sharing our ideas of what is bold, brave and new in photography in the last 10 years.

What’s new then? There’s new technology for making, distributing, printing, publishing, showing and selling photographs. Then there’s the scale of new technology, so things can be bigger and bolder. Or there’s old technology meets the new and you get massive cameras, or huge projecting and printing spaces.
There’s the materiality of the photographic work; people who work with the physical aspects of a print or a negative or the digital and explore a theme or place through some kind of degradation and decay explore the interaction of the physicality of the photographic image with some element of the environment.
A shift in engagement with the subjects of photography also seems apparent, a blurring of boundaries and a mixing of voices which has resulted in some of the most demanding of photographic work.

New perspectives on the archive, on the history of the photography, on the author, on the voices of photography also seems apparent.  There’s an examination of the modified image and there are ways of shooting, of lighting, of moving equipment into places where that lighting rig, that lens, that film is rarely if ever used. 

There’s the recontextualisation of photography, of Google Street Views or computer screen shots. Which is really where I’ll start. There is something of the one-liner about this kind of work. It’s not really engaged with anything. It might take a lot of time, but essentially it’s easy. It’s navel-gazing type of stuff. Similarly, work that examines the materiality of the digital image, that blows it up till the pixels shine through is a bit of a one-trick pony.

But sometimes a whole load of one-liners can make up for a cracking dialogue; they can make ideas and blow them into places that the usual discourse doesn’t quite have the energy to go. And that’s where my first choice for this week’s selections comes in.

Mishka Henner has a barrel-full of ideas that connect with new developments in the sourcing, production and distribution of work. He gets these ideas in his head, he researches them, he acts on them and he gets them out to a wider audience with as little fuss as possible. There is a touch of the one-liner about some of his work, but I like it for its directness, its simplicity and the way it offends the more Jurassic of sensibilities. His re-interpretation of Robert Franks classic, Les Americains, is a case in point. Henner erased details of the sacred images and titled it Less Americains. He published it on Blurb, watched it hit both the virtual and printed headlines, basked in the critical comments.

Less Americains wasn’t a cash cow. It wasn’t priced to be. Published on Blurb and retailing at £80 a copy! Nobody’s going to buy that.

But who cares. That’s not what it’s all about. The fact that Less Americains cuts across so many  photographic genres and touches on facial recognition, perceptive fields and the dynamics of visual memory. So for his chutzpah, for his energy, for being clever and rolling out the one-liners, let’s hear it for Mishka Henner. 



No comments: