Monday, March 21, 2011

JoAnn Verburg

In the photography of JoAnn Verburg, the selective focus and focal planes of the eight-by-ten she shoots with are used to dramatize her otherwise ordinary subjects. Even in this image, a situation where the view camera would be ideal for maximum depth of field, she choses to place the focus on the first window, letting the viewer guess at the rest of the image. Her typically pastel color pallet lends its self to the air of mystery present in so much of her work. Formally well composed, this image takes a more geometric approach to composition then much of her other photography. The dark triangle in the bottom left balances the light triangle formed by the windows in the top right. The slice of ground that leads to the door on the right is played off with the inclusion of the structure behind the wall on the top of the same side.

More so then the previous image, this photograph is characteristic of Verburg’s whimsical, dream like, style.  Once again the bright day light and pastel colors suggest a happy, cheerful place.  The entire image is a balance between the blur selective focus and the crisp points where she brings out her chosen subjects into sharp clarity. Here the close tree branch and then the tree behind it are the subject of her focus. This duality suggest a macrocosm-microcosm theme in which both the individual part and the group as a whole are shown in comparison.  

Diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs make up another facet of Verburg's work. The choice of devisions with in this specific piece are especially fascinating. across the horizontal borders, the images line up fairly well, the news paper seems continuous as do the tress and wall. However, when moving vertically the transitions are less smooth. Here the movement from one set to the next is prohibited by the focus selection, a deliberate tool which JoAnn Verburg enjoys using. At first glance the leaves above the man appear as though they belong below him. the selective focus masks the wall that they sit on and puts the bench in an underground world. Once again the soft focus on the trees plays an important part of the transition. She effectively throws the top set back ground by choosing to only focus on the upper half of the images, making them feel distant while still retaining detail in the upper parts. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lynn Saville

When I saw the title of Lynn Saville’s book “Night Shift” I immediately knew I was going to enjoy the work. All night photographs in full color, all brimming with the tones and shades of a thousand street lamps and outdoor house lights, the series is an investigation of the beauty of artificial lights. In this specific picture, the green interior light spills out onto the pavement, looking like an alien presence in comparison with the natural blue and slight pink of the sky. The bridge overhead breaks up what mass of blue creating another formal element that plays off of the dark building, almost becoming a continuation of it.  

Thomas Demand

Demand's pictures are purely about formal relationships. The tightness of the compositions in terms of both line and color turns his photographs into what could by a 2D study of composition. Though the images are of spaces, he uses stopped down apertures to achieve a depth of field long enough to flatten the space into one plane. This particular image is comprised of parallelograms of varying sizes and colors. The larges elements are the orange and blew of the two tables, the turquoise of the floor and the gray of the two machines. Each of these shapes is balanced by the smaller shapes the break up the larger masses, the telephone, control box and plastic tubs. Every border is engaged while the space within is fully activated.

Miguel Rio Branco

I stumbled across this photographer in the library while shelf-reading and was immediately intrigued by his use of color. His photographs move between documentary subjects with a fine art eye, as is the case here, and Nan Goldin style subcultures of Brazil, with low light and lots of motion blur. In many of his photographs, Miguel mixes light temperatures to achieve the range of colors his images exhibit. In this image, the subject is the shoe that is falling apart; however, the interest of the photograph is the color play between the blue smoke and rocks and the read earth. Perhaps achieved by combining fire light and day light, it is this juxtaposition that gives the photograph life.