The masks we've worn

Francesca Magnani wrote about her ongoing photo project, documenting people wearing masks and the reasons behind them (besides the pandemic of course):

With a background in classics and anthropology I have long been interested in issues of identity and self-representation and in how people live and manage everyday challenges. As a street photographer I have followed with curiosity how people cope with the pandemic, dealing with the unknown. I was here on September 11 and during Sandy’s aftermath, and last March I saw in people’s expressions and movement their anguish, their incredulity, and confusion that matched my own. I walked around different New York neighborhoods every day and noticed the progression in more and more people starting to wear their feelings on pieces of decorated cloth.

[…] This small object has become a symbol of this time. Some images from the series have recently been acquired by the Smithsonian Museum as part of the first set of multiple pandemic-related digital acquisitions. Two COVID-19 related photographs are part of New York Responds: The First Six Months at the Museum of the City of New York, and one (May 10) mask was part of the #ICPconcerned group show.

Fumi Ishino's 'Index of Fillers' chronicles Japanese culture in the 80s and 90s

someone making stir fry in a wok

Index of Fillers is the artist’s second monograph following his acclaimed publication rowing a tetrapod (MACK, 2017) and is the first artist book published by Assembly. Composed of found images of Japanese culture from the late 1980s and 1990s along with Ishino’s own photographs, Index of Fillers is a recreation of the artist’s elusive memory of growing up during this era in Japan.

I like the Japanese comic strip panelling he uses for his images. There’s nothing dramatised or embellished about the subject matter; it’s literally an index of cultural fillers and while that may seem mundane to some, it’ll be refreshing to others.

Buy it on the Assembly Art website.

Flim: an iconographic search engine

Bespoke search engines are everywhere and as a search engine optimiser (that’s my day job), I love this kind of stuff. Flim follows in the footsteps of Frinkiac and Filmgrab but with a key difference: AI.

FLIM is the answer to the statement: images are everywhere, movies, TV, music-clips, internet. Images are needed at every creative process level. From Fashion to design, via cinema and music video. To meet that need, Dan PEREZ (C.E.O. of Flim) started in 2011 a website « ffffilm.com ». This site collect screenshots from movies. The FLIM’s ancestor had 50 000 monthly users and more than 30 000 screenshots library. This experience is absolutely clear: there is an empty space for iconographic searching.

Flim’s database has over 300,000 screenshots from movies, TV shows, music videos, and loads more. Each one is categorised by media type, director, director of photography, style, and release date but here’s where the AI comes in: it can detect things like clothing, characters, identified colours, and objects. So if you searched for “table”, you’d get screenshots like this:

A search results page for the term “table” on Flim

That’s a lot of tables. I also tried a manual colour search (magenta, although you can search by colour using Flim’s dedicated swatch search feature) and it worked really well.

'Brutalist Paris' to explore post-war Brutalist architecture in the French capital #

from the curved concrete balconies of ‘les choux de créteil’ to oscar niemeyer’s ‘bourse du travail’, ‘brutalist paris’ documents the movement’s most significant examples in and around the french capital. back in 2017, blue crow media commissioned robin wilson and nigel green of photolanguage to research, write and shoot photography for the brutalist paris map. since the map’s publication, through their research, writing and photography, photolanguage have continued to draw attention to brutalist architecture across the city and its suburbs.

See also: Souvenir d’un Futur and the forgotten brutalist estates of Paris

(via designboom)

The Bettmann Archive, hidden in a limestone mine in Pittsburgh #

To get into the Bettmann Archive, about 90 minutes north of Pittsburgh, you need more than a library card. You need the proper credentials to get past the armed guards at the door. You need to be gloved and swaddled in several layers to deal with the cold. And you need to be OK with claustrophobic conditions, since the trip requires being shuttled hundreds of feet underground.

If you meet all those conditions, you might get a glimpse of Getty Images’ hidden trove of photographic history.

Roy Mehta's 'Revival' explores Brent's multiculturalism between 1989–93

Revival book cover

Roy Mehta is a London-based photographer and in his latest publication, Revival: London 1989-1993, he reconnected with his roots in Brent, north-west London. The book is a collection of Roy’s photos taken in a 4-year period from the tail-end of the 80s to the early 90s.

During this time, in 1989, Roy was living in Farnham, but he knew the area of Brent like the back of his hand – he just hadn’t been there for a while. So he packed up his camera and started to wander the roads of his old hometown, taking pictures along the way and observing the streets that he once used to roam as a child. “I gradually got to know the people and began to be accepted into churches, pubs, homes, dancehalls and other places in the community,” Roy tells It’s Nice That. “This was a long time before digital photography and social media, so photography was a different kind of practice; people related to the camera in a different way.”

Quote from It’s Nice That

Revival: London 1989-1993 is available from Hoxton Mini Press and on Amazon. There will also be an exhibition of the work in March 2022 (you can check some of the photos from there too).

Marc Wilson's 'The Last Stand' photo series

I loathe warfare or anything related to it but I’m making an exception for this since the photos are so captivating.

The Last Stand is a photo series by Marc Wilson that looks at relics of military conflict and the memories they hold.

The series is made up of 86 images and is documents some of the physical remnants of the Second World War on the coastlines of the British Isles and Northern Europe, focusing on military defence structures that remain and their place in the shifting landscape that surrounds them. Many of these locations are no longer in sight, either subsumed or submerged by the changing sands and waters or by more human intervention. At the same time others have re-emerged from their shrouds.

Marc took these photos over the course of four years and travelled 23,000 miles to get them. Locations include the UK, France, Belgium and Denmark.

You can buy a photobook of the series on Marc’s website.

The urban photography of Apo Genç

While I was watching Blade Runner 2049, I quickly browsed through Abduzeedo’s blog and found a piece on Apo Genc. The cinematic resemblance was striking.

Apo Genç was born in Turkey and became a professional videographer back in 2013. The above shots were taken last November in Hamburg as part of a series called Hamburg Noir.

You can find more of Apo’s work on his website, his Instagram, and his Behance portfolio.

Souvenir d'un Futur and the forgotten brutalist estates of Paris

Katy Cowan interviewed Laurent Kronental for Creative Boom and discussed his latest photo series, entitled Souvenir d’un Futur.

Tinted with melancholy, his resulting photographic series, Souvenir d’un Futur, exposes these unsung suburban areas but reveals a beauty behind the modernist utopia that had so much promise and wonder. A project that was four years in the making, Laurent combines a mixture of sensitive portraits of older residents along with beautiful architectural photographs that offer pleasing geometric compositions of what feels like a crumbling, ghostly world.

Kronental said he was inspired by his time living in China and that’s where he discovered photography.

“The big cities of this territory stunned me by their gigantic size, their tentacular immoderation, their paradoxes, their metamorphosises, their contrasts and the way the human being lives in this abundant and overpopulated town planning.”

There’s a lot of brutalism in Kronental’s shots interspersed with the people who live in and around the buildings. Old, pale, and grey seems to be the running theme, intentional or otherwise.

French/concrete/photography related: If you like brutalism, check out the Concrete Montreal Map by Blue Crow Media. And what about Arnaud Montagard’s photo series, “The road not taken”?

(Featured image: all rights reserved © Laurent Kronental)

Black Archivist: a project for Black artists to tell their stories

Black Archivist

Black Archivist is a project created by Paul Octavious, a Black queer photographer based in Chicago. In 2005, he got into photography and his life changed from there.

This project provide the tools and resources for other Black people to document their lives:

Black Archivist believes in the power of the Black narrative and that Black artists are best suited to tell the stories of our community. We provide the tools and resources for Black people to document the life around them, both triumphs and tribulations. We believe access to equipment should not be a barrier to entry for documentation or compensation.

If you want to help, you can donate a camera or apply for one yourself. And if you want to see more Black photography, check out the photography of Kennedi Carter.

Follow Black Archivist on Instagram.

The photography of Kennedi Carter

Kennedi Carter is an African-American photographer from North Carolina who specialises in photography and creative direction of Black subjects.

Her work highlights the aesthetics & sociopolitical aspects of Blackness as well as the overlooked beauties of the Black experience: skin, texture, trauma, peace, love and community. Her work aims to reinvent notions of creativity and confidence in the realm of Blackness.

Jacqui Palumbo profiled her latest works for Artsy where Carter depicted expressions of Black love:

Drawn from her series “East Durham Love” (2019), the works on view at Rosegallery feature images of Black love that Carter shot as her own relationship underwent a significant transition. “I wouldn’t necessarily call it an ending; it was just the reforming of a relationship,” she said. “It was the first time I had truly experienced love. And I think part of the project was trying to unpack what [it] meant to me as well as what I’d like to think it meant for them.”

Carter’s series contrasts the oversaturation of Black trauma we’ve seen in the press this year and, in her words, “manifested the type of love” she thought she deserved. “There was this sense of longing and truly experiencing what it means to miss someone.”

Val & Shaq, from The Soloist, 2019
Lovely Boys, from The Ganzy, 2020

For more, read the Artsy article and check out Carter’s collection on her website.

"The road not taken" by Arnaud Montagard

In his photo series “The road not taken”, French photographer Arnaud Montagard took shots of America, from Idaho to New Mexico, capturing its Americana essence.

“My work is above all a story about light. The strong shadows create a feeling that make the pictures look like paintings.”

There is a timeless elegance that Arnaud Montagard captures in his photography that echoes work by painters such as Edward Hopper. An isolated figure, lit beautifully, staring out of view or caught in his own thoughts. Or classic American diners with their strong retro shades and bold lines. You’ll find the same subtly and eye for detail throughout his portfolio. Whether that is through his analogue film or digital work.

Setanta Books on Arnaud Montagard

The Road Not Taken is available as a photo book and while it is currently sold out, Setanta Books will be releasing limited edition copies later in the year.

The night photography of Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe cityscape

I love night photography but they often follow a theme of neon lighting, especially when Japan is the setting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but something unique always catches my eye and Junya Watanabe did that.

Watanabe (not to be confused with the fashion designer) is a Tokyo-based photographer and retoucher that captures the essence of the city that’s bright but unsaturated, giving a unique type of vibrancy you don’t see very often in night photography.

He was born in 1992 in Shiga, Japan and started photography in 2017. Already, he has amassed a spectacular portfolio working with the likes of Nikken, Gaku Ramen, and Orphe Shoes.

Check out his website, his shop where he sells his presets, and his Instagram.

(Thanks to kottke.org for the recommendation.)

The stylish photography and creativity of RKZ

RKZ

(Featured image: all rights reserved © Rikesh Chauhan)

In 2015, I experienced a personal tragedy. I had to take some time off work to heal but I also needed distractions. One of them was to make a cultural “sister” site to Sampleface.

It has since been deleted but I tweeted my friend RKZ to say I should start a culture blog to showcase his photography and call it Cultureface (as it was known at the time). His response?

And so it began. But over 5 years have passed and I still hadn’t got round to doing that blog post. Until today.

Who is RKZ?

Besides being a childhood friend since junior school, RKZ (real name Rikesh Chauhan) is a singer, writer, photographer, music video director, producer, editor, social media manager and all-round creative polymath. I’ve had the pleasure of working with RKZ in the past and his attention to detail and creativity is second to none. I don’t know many photographers with an eye like his, although some say he has two.

He’s worked with a wide range of brands, agencies and organisations such as Turnbull & Asser, Born Social, CALM, and most recently, The Rake. He’s also a careers mentor at University of Westminster where he studied and graduated in 2011.

A king of sartorial snaps

Follow him on Instagram for more of the same. The drip is everlasting.