Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Books, Blurb, and Bourriaud

Progress, Brothers! Ok, so we're not on the Potemkin, but progress is still happening. I've started to do page layouts for my book by Blurb and I'm really pleased with the visual rhythm of the book so far. My photos have a combination of black and white backgrounds, so I'm trying to use background colors as a way to prepare the viewer's palette so to speak. I'm going to take my older photos (photos with the white background) and edit them in Adobe Lightroom to create more aesthetic continuity among the photos in the book. I'll start by experimenting with one and see where that leads me. I'm thinking the book will end up being over sixty pages once I add attribution pages, and index, and my other photos. My models are all lined up to be photographed this week and next, so I'm hoping to capture some more gorgeous images both for large prints and to bring into the book.

©Hillary Rogers
I also did some reading about other photographers and their bookmaking endeavors as well as the influence of conceptual art on photography. Photography After Conceptual Art, edited by Diarmuid Costello and Margaret Iversen, explains how the shift of art's overall focus has affected the photographer and they way they present and document their works. Much of what resonated with me had to do with the way photographers dealt with text that accompanied their works as well as the artist's consideration of context. Ed Ruscha, even though much of his work revolves around capturing the truth of everyday life, has a similar approach to mine when it comes to the book as an object. He considers greatly the experience of the viewer looking through a book and how that is different and should be treated differently than viewing the art on its own and out of context. George Brecht's consideration of context was more focused on making his books appear interactive and echo reality through his use of text and graphic design. Overall, the combination of all these influences gave me an impression of documentation and context that was very similar to the need for art historians to contextualize pieces. This may have convinced me to include quotes from my Classics professor regarding the individuals that I end up using in my book.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


©Hillary Rogers
As a former art history major focused on Roman art and avid Classics student, you could say that I'm a little obsessed with any and all things ancient. I've had the great fortune of having a number of professors that have introduced me not only to the art of antiquity, but also to the larger-than-life personalities of the past. My photo series, entitled Personae, will focus on trying to visually document the characters of the ancient world using my friends and my lens (pardon the rhyme).

Personae will exist as a series of large inkjet prints in an exhibition for my Senior Exhibition art show in May and will also be translated into book format by early March. This means there will be much photographing, editing, and test printing in my future, but it will lead to a quality end product. So far I have two gorgeous images and have made a list of other individuals I'd like to try and capture as well as the models I want to use for each of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Design

In addition to making large prints of my photographs this term, I want to make a book. But where to start? Well, I popped over to the library to find some inspiration. While I thought I would pick from mountains of gorgeous design books or piles of contemporary books about art, I actually chose a retrospective book as well as a book about public monuments.
Jonathan P. Binstock's Sam Gilliam: a retrospective
The first book I found was a retrospective put together by Jonathan P. Binstock. The bleed on the cover is beautiful and richly colored. Also, I love the flush spine and the matte finish to the exterior of the book. When you open it, the book reads very much like any art history text book, but I must say that I love the treatment of the images. It seems very appropriate that, in a retrospective book, each piece floats in its own white space rather than doing bleeds of the images. Bleeds always suggest to me a certain contemporaneousness of the work. The images are slightly glossy, but definitely not matte finish. Overall, the design is clean, simple, and easily scanned by readers looking for a specific work.

The second book I found, Monuments for the USA,  was produced by the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. It is a catalogue of suggestions for monuments and public sculpture throughout the United States. I also really liked the matte cover of this book, even though the work within is of questionable quality at best. The way images inside the book are presented made me want to read through the entire book. There was a sense of randomness since there were so many different formats going on, but there was a rhythm that persisted through that madness.

Both of these books are at a scale that I'd want to print my work at, so I'll be interested to see which format influences my decisions more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Parody and Hysteria

Still from Cathy Cook's Immortal Cupboard:In Search of Lorine Neidecker (2009)

This week the video and filmmaker Cathy Cook took time to visit our class while she is on sabbatical from UMBC's visual arts program. Cook's lecture included a great number of cinematographic terms with visual aids that were provided by Cathy through her work and the work of one of her students, Samya Amorim. Cook's piece, June Brides, prominently featured her two most lasting inspirations: women and nature. What I found most striking, however, was the use of sound and color. My experience with the piece left me pondering what the hysteria of weddings would do to life if we had to encounter it on a daily basis. Of course, there would be the initial emotional high, but then the let down would come with the end of the festivities. Cathy's use of disorienting camera work and dissonant music and sound effects, she created a darkly funny look into how women in our society are expected to behave. Her work really reminded me of Terry Gilliam's animations from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
While I rarely, if ever, work with video, I could still relate to what inspired Cook the most: namely women and nature. Her documenting of extreme personalities and egos of brides directly relates to my work that I'm producing this term. After focusing on formal qualities, my next step in my series of photos is to try and capture in photos the personae of individuals immortalized in stone.
© Hillary Rogers

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Deb Brehmer and the White Cube

Deb Brehmer at Art Chicago
This week Lawrence University was lucky enough to host Deb Brehmer, the Director of the Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee. While I wasn't able to attend her lecture about the most recent exhibition gracing the walls of her gallery, I was able to have a deeply satisfying discussion about the successes and failures of the modern art gallery. Brehmer's gallery is currently comprised of a number of smaller rooms. This offers an intimate experience for viewers and also it creates an encounter with art that differs from the norm presented by other galleries. Brehmer has the opportunity to expand into a new and very malleable space and discussed with myself and other Senior Seminar members what she should do to appeal to art audiences while still breaking with the idea of the White Cube as a gallery template. Among the ideas thrown out by myself and other students were ideas of interactivity and food or drink to make the gallery experience a more social affair. I'm looking forward to seeing the space once Deb is able to construct her new space.

© Hillary Rogers
I was also able to do a one-on-one critique with Deb. I showed her a number of prints that I did last term for an independent study course. My photos focused on the formal aspects of the human figure that evoke the great works and personalities of antiquity. I had a difficult time figuring out what the viewer was supposed to get from the experience, but I found Brehmer's remarks extremely helpful. She enjoyed my combination of classical and contemporary, but had some words of wisdom to help me to further develop the concept of my work. As an art history professor and gallery director she was able to advise me to discover why I am as fascinated as I am with the subjects I choose to photograph. As I continue this photo series, I plan to step away from the figure study approach I had been taking and focus on the historical personalities that I am so drawn to and feel the need to document.