Artifacts and Photographs at Julie Saul Gallery

Installation View Julie Saul Gallery, 2012

This week begins the final week to visit my current show, Is This Place Great or What: Artifacts and Photographs at the Julie Saul Gallery in New York.
In many ways, the inter web has been profound in broadcasting the medium of photography across it’s data waves. Besides the apparent resolution issue, one can get a strong idea of what a work is, or will be. This exhibition is one of the first where it becomes crucial to actually visit in person. I do not mean to undermine my own insistence on the print being something grandly revealing in person. It’s just that this show is the first to include a myriad of objects along the photographs.

The compulsion to collect physical things grew out of the act of photographing itself. After spending some countless hours trying to photograph a sign on the outside of a long abandoned mall, I came to the conclusion that while the 8×10 camera really does transform something so dramatically, some subjects test its limits. It simply seemed to make more sense to move the sign itself rather than the representation, in my thinking and extension of the photographic process itself. This set in motion a succinct attention to the artifact. The process is not easy, choosing an object with an idea that it may transform through a new context or reconfiguration means investing a lot in what could simply exist as junk. Further this dilemma with the content of the thing itself; retail ephemera, signs, maps, architect drawings, photographs, reams of office correspondence, and it becomes clear why I never let myself give in to this inclination over the last 10 years, I needed the storage!

Show closes Saturday, May 5th.

Julie Saul Gallery
535 West 22 Street
6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

Objects in My Studio 3

Detail, Montgomery Ward Door Pulls, 2011

Object in My Studio 2

Burts Shoes 2010-2011, unfinished (Steel Signage, Drywall, Plastic, Fluorescent Electornics, appox. 30"x338"x8")

Objects in My Studio 1

Montgomery Ward Door Pulls, 2011 (Milled Aluminum, Approx. 9"x78")

 

Book Preview – Is This Place Great or What

Is This Place Great or What preview

Aperture

Photoeye  - Signed copies available

 

Miami

Installation View, Cleveland Museum of Art

Making a quick trip down to Miami this Saturday for a conversation with the amazing Penelope Umbrico. It’ll be a small affair with limited attendance so RSVP if you can make it. The event will be part of the Scope Art Fair but at an offsite location.

Penelope Umbrico and Brian Ulrich/ Aperture Foundation 
Saturday/ December 3rd 4-5pm
Artists Panel | Soho Beach House
4385 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
RSVP@aperture.org

You can also see my work at the Pulse Fair Julie Saul Gallery, booth B204
And of course copies of my book available at the Aperture booth at Scope.

Book Release Event NYC

Benefit for Leon Shambroom

Leon Shambroom, Augustana Health Care Center, May 2011

In July of last year, I heard the sad news that the son of Paul Shambroom and Joan Rothfuss was caught in a bad fire in South Minneapolis. Thankfully Leon survived but with some severe brain injuries. Being a new father myself I cannot fathom the heartbreak and terror of what Paul, Joan and Leon must have gone through. I’ve known Paul for some time and he’s been an incredible mentor and friend. I spoke with him sometime after Leon’s accident and in keeping with his character, he had a great attitude about it all, saying that he’s thankful he can still keep his role as father, it’s just different than before. As of now Leon is unable to walk or talk due to the smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning, and requires 24 hour medical care. The costs of all that can be boundless.

Alec Soth, Carrie Thompson and I spoke with Paul about organizing an benefit auction to help supplement the costs of Leon’s care. The Weinstein Gallery came on board and will host the event tomorrow evening, July 14th. There are some great works, graciously given by some quite renowned names. In keeping with the strong community of artists we feel the need to do what we can in our hectic schedules to try and help out friends in need. We hope to additionally hold an online version of this auction at a future date, TBD.

Donations can also be given through Health Advocates.

Some of the many artists; Jeff Brouws, Ed Burtynsky, Todd Hido, Doug Dubois, Alec Soth, Beth Dow, Jason Fulford, Lauren Greenfield, Eirik Johnson, David Maisel, Susan Meiselas, Richard Misrach, Abelardo Morell, Angela Strassheim, Carrie Thompson, Catherine Wagner, Joann Verburg, Alex Webb, Michael Wolf, Elinor Carucci, Stephen Shore, Tim Davis, Martin Parr, Mark Steinmetz, Laurel Nakadate, Justin Newhall, and more.

With a musical performance by Channy from Roma di Luna

Thursday July 14, 2011
Reception: 6pm – 9pm
Auction 6pm – 8pm

Weinstein Gallery
908 West 46th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55419
612-822-1722

Abelardo Morell, "Mirror and Its Shadow", 24x20"

Todd Hido, 20x24"

Stephen Shore, "East of Dilworth, US 10, Brainerd, MN, July 12, 1973", 20x24"

Its All Come Down to This (Marinated Delicious)

15 hours on a United flight straight out of the Dharma Initiative

Not all photographers go ‘on press’ for their books. If the printer has a lot of experience printing photographic books and the proofs are spot on then it can simply be a case of the printer doing their best to match the proofs. When Aperture first asked if I would want to go on press I felt it important for a lot of reasons. My photographs are not easy to print. The crummy lighting often can make getting things neutral very tough, other times a nuanced shade can get lost and frankly I’ve seen my work produced badly enough to try and coax as good quality out of the book version as possible. In addition I knew I could learn a lot about the CMYK printing process while there. Honestly I was not all that enthralled with spending a week in China. It’s not that I’m not enamored with the idea of the place, I’ve certainly thought often of China in relation to my work over the years, but the idea of a trip that taxing sounded very ‘un-fun’, in addition to the expense, I was hoping a trip to China could be more explorative.

The un-funness was clear when stepping into the giant plane tube to endure 15 hours of recycled air, grumpy folks and Adam Sandler movies (is a plane ride ever fun these days?). 4 movies, some naps and 2 1/2 meals later I was groggily picked by Philip See from Main Choice. Philip drove me from Hong Kong into mainland China and up into Dongguan. Dongguan is a large manufacturing city producing many of the consumer goods that appear in my photographs. I had known of Dongguan since it is ironically home to one of the world’s largest Dead Malls, the New South China Mall. Hopes of photographing at this place were curbed quick though by the tight schedule printing. PBS Documentary, Utopia on the New South China Mall. The more I mentioned a possible visit to the place, the more my hosts seemed rather nervous about the prospect of a westerner roaming the streets at all. (Can’t say I don’t blame them, I do have a bit of track record of getting myself into places I don’t belong).

We arrived late that evening at the Goodview Hotel which was a surreal sort of place with bellhops in Hawaiian outfits and cowboy hats. Roaming the lobby were random bunches of white dudes with several cell phones on their belt and looking rather confused. This all gave the sense of the film, Lost in Translation.

Goodview Lobby

Serious Carpet

Late night buffet

Goose Web

One of the great things about traveling for work is the access. I hate feeling like a tourist and having a guide or host often presents some great and real experiences that give a much better flavor for a place than hitting the iconic sites. In general I enjoy having a policy of not saying no at all. Makes for some delicious meals and new tastes.

Finally it’s trying to sleep off the jet lag as the next day is a big day of printing.

Seeing in Color

Thomas Lock Hobbs writes in response to my post on making book proofs:

Hi Brian,

I’ve been following your blog for 4 or 5 years now and though you only post infrequently now I always look forward to reading one of your posts. Congratulations on the book! I can’t wait to order it.

Reading your last post got me thinking again about seeing in color, specifically having a really sharp eye for color casts and hues. In showing my work to other photographers I feel like I’m color blind sometimes. Its as if they are able to access a whole layer of perception that is closed off to me. For instance, the picture of the blue shopping cart is too cyan? I just see a blue shopping cart.

I think part of the trick may be in turning off those parts of the brain that deal with subject cognition. It’s almost like you have to look at something a little stupidly. How do you learn how to do this? Are there techniques for it? You said you have students. Does this ever come up as a topic? Is this something you can explicitly teach and practice?

Thanks!
Thomas

These are great questions so I thought I would elaborate on the blog. Learning (and teaching) to see those subtle shades of color is tricky business. The tough part is our eyes are much more complex than these silly machines. Since our eyes are connected to our brains, we have a fantastic ability to process color as well as see very subtle shades rather quickly. For instance when in a dark room for some time, our eyes adjust and we eventually can begin to see shapes. For a camera to do this, it would simply need a long enough exposure to render image and in most cases the image would not replicate that incredibly nuance of light. A proper term for this is gamut. Gamut refers to the amount of color rendered by a specific instrument, a camera, printer, monitors, etc… can only render so many shades of a color. We try and cheat this by various methods and thus lies the great challenge and difference between great prints/images and mediocre ones.

When I first began to learn to print color in a traditional darkroom, I took a class from the wonderful Bill Frederking. Bill is a gifted teacher and photographer who has a knack for translating ideas in a way that makes them simple and achievable. He said one crucial thing to me then which was in order to see a specific color cast, you had to see the opposite cast against it. So for instance; make a print, if that print looks too yellow, make a blue print to see how yellow. This not only helps to see these hues but also establishes a threshold of warm and cool, neutral is somewhere in between.

I could on for days and do in classes. But after some time one really does begin to notice the reflected blue in a shadow on the wall, or the green cast over skin in bad indoor florescent lighting. After some time it can drive one batty! But the results are far worthwhile in that you’ll never look at color the same.