A face in the crowd, Hamburg

toledano exhibition hamburg

Mingling with the first-nighters at the opening of the Phillip Toledano show in the Hamburg Triennial of Photography.  Here’s part of my Times review:

When just about everyone, thanks to smartphones, can become a photographer, what is the role of photography? … [A] glimpse of things to come is found at a captivating show from the Finnish Museum of Photography, given the social media-savvy title, “#snapshot”. Walking into the slightly gloomy industrial space at the city’s Oberhafenquartier, you are confronted with a mountain of photographic prints that neatly symbolise our obsession with transmitting images across the internet.

Erik Kessels’ “24HRS in Photos” draws on a simple idea. Using special software, the Dutch art director downloaded and printed every image shared on Flickr around the world in the course of a single day. Some 350,000 shots have been gathered. A collage of faces, pets and mundane images reminds us how cavalier we are about flooding the world with our memories. Other parts of the exhibition — co-curated by Risto Sarvas, a data analyst rather than a card-carrying member of the art world — remind us how our habit of sharing Instagram shots and the like compromises our privacy.

Nearby, in the same room, Catherine Balet’s extraordinarily atmospheric series, “Strangers in the Light”, presents a tableaux of atomised individuals immersed in their smartphone and tablet screens around the dinner table or at family gatherings. Balet’s vision is troubling yet it is redeemed by her wonderfully sensitive use of light: the shafts of silver light from the gadgets are as full of potency as sunlight filtered through stained glass in a Renaissance painting….

A hallucinatory atmosphere prevails at the magnificent Phillip Toledano show at the Deichtorhallen. In “Maybe” the British-born, US-based artist peers into his own future, posing in a series of intricately choreographed shots in which he plays out variations on his twilight years. The images provide a parallel to his earlier collection, “Days with My Father”, which documents the time he spent with a parent stricken with dementia. The shots are painfully raw at times. But Toledano is never a voyeur. Like the everyday smartphone user, he is sharing his life with the world, but these images, etched with infinite care and precision, are the work of a master painter.

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lenny kravitz paris

Lenny Kravitz outside Serge Gainsbourg’s home, rue de Verneuil, Paris.

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A useful folly?

I still haven’t made up my mind about the Garden Bridge over the Thames, but this interview with the designer, Thomas Heatherwick, has nudged me towards the “yes” camp:

The Garden Bridge is based on the idea that the best cities are ones with maximum ‘walkability’ and are places where city-dwellers (those lonely students with their Kindles and iPads, for instance) can interact with each other. It’s a highly romantic idea — a folly whose purpose, if there is one, is to encourage purposelessness. Heatherwick envisages daydreams, proposals and writing taking shape on his creation, rather than soliciting or mugging.

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Ornette Coleman at Ronnie Scott’s

1967. Benny Green was in the audience.

ornette coleman at ronnies

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The planners

How they tried to destroy Bath (my home town) in order to save it.  A “Look at Life” report from 1968.

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The perfect troll

Yes, the face is all too familiar.

dilbert dick from the internet

[Via Jonah Goldberg]

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“I said I was Jewish in the winter and Indian in the summer.” A child’s view of identity, from Mira Jacob’s photo-essay “37 Difficult Questions From My Mixed-Race Son”.

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Grand Palais, 1916

grand palais 1916 panh

“The Great Nave: Wounded Soldiers Performing Arms Drill at the End of Their Medical Treatment.” [@metmuseum via @RPanh]

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The future of journalism?

Are BuzzFeed, Vox and the other digital newcomers really as innovative as we like to think? Michael Massing, continuing his NYRB series on new media, is unconvinced:

When one considers the amount of resources that the sites I’ve mentioned have consumed, the level of attention they’ve received, and the number of people they employ, the results thus far seem dishearteningly modest. That’s especially so when compared with the consistently high-quality material produced by such traditional institutions as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian. These organizations are commonly referred to as “legacy” institutions—a gently derisive term that lumps them in with Blockbuster and Radio Shack as enterprises that, once thriving, were undermined by more innovative startups. When it comes to actual journalistic practice, however, it’s the media startups that in general seem the laggards.

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That year [1968], at the Reading Festival,  Arthur Brown was lowered onto the stage from a helicopter with his hair aflame. He’d just released a record on Track called “Fire” and this was a Kit Lambert publicity stunt. But Arthur jumped around too much and set the stage on fire. The gig was cancelled and there was no music, but the press coverage was good and the record got to No. 1…

Pink Floyd publicised themselves by announcing a psychedelic light show. Their manager at the time, Peter Jenner, explained how he made them some stage lights, which in those days was a completely new concept. “The group developed some polaroid effects, putting a polariser and analyser in the projector and stretching condoms across it, which gave good effects because they were very high quality latex.” One evening Pink Floyd’s van was stopped for a minor traffic offence. When the policeman peered inside he saw a young man cutting the tops off a pile of condoms.  “That’s our roadie,” group told him, “he’s crazy.”

Simon Napier-Bell, “Black Vinyl, White Powder”.

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