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Stanley Kubrick shoots the N.Y.C. subway, 1946
01.29.2015
11:09 am

Topics:
Art
Media
Movies

Tags:
Stanley Kubrick
photography
subway


 
In the summer of 1945, Stanley Kubrick, many years before he was the acclaimed director of Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and A Clockwork Orange, had a series of photographs published in LOOK magazine, a competitor to LIFE. He was just 16 years old. Thus would begin a relationship with the magazine that would last several years, until he began making movies in earnest around the age of 23, in the early 1950s.
 

Kubrick took this self-portrait in 1949 with his Leica III while working as a staff photographer for LOOK Magazine
 
Kubrick was fond of street photography, somewhat like the recent discovery Vivian Maier, and in 1946 he did a series about the New York subway. For more on Kubrick’s photographic career, see the archives of the Museum of the City of New York. Philippe D. Mather recent book Stanley Kubrick at LOOK Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film appears to be the only decent one out there on the subject.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
More of Kubrick’s stunning subway pics, after the jump…...

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The transgender women of Singapore’s ‘Boogie Street’
01.28.2015
06:59 am

Topics:
History
Queer
Sex

Tags:
photography
transgender

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Singapore’s Bugis Street was renowned as a meeting place for trans women to mix, mingle and have fun during the 1950s-1980s. Each evening, a fabulous parade of glamorous trans women would walk up-and-down the rundown streets at Bugis Junction, flirting with tourists, sailors and G.I.s, often charging them to have their photograph taken, inviting them to a bar for a drink, or taking them to a quiet room (or rooftop) for sex.

Bugis Street was a popular area for touring British servicemen in the 1950s, who became fans/lovers of many of the trans women, and rechristened the area “Boogie Street”—a mispronunciation of the district’s name that stuck in 1970s with the rise of disco.

For thirty years, Bugis Street thrived as a haven for trans women and their admirers, until the government cracked down on what was described as “shameful” and “lewd behavior” in the 1970s. Many servicemen were arrested at gunpoint, tourists were threatened and frightened away, the bars were closed and many trans women were arrested. Eventually the hard-line puritans won and old Bugis Street was demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced by a shopping mall and entertainment outlet.

In December 1980, French photographer Alain Soldeville was on a two-year trip to Asia and Australia when he arrived in Singapore. After a few days sight-seeing, he headed out one evening to Bugis Street.

Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun.

I stroked up a conversation with Anita who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, with a clearly outlined masculine face, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Anita and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine, Rosa and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses.

After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway.

Bugis Street still has its glamorous legend, and a moderately successful film was made about the transgender women of the area in 1996. Soldeville forgot about the photographs he took in 1981 of Anita and her friends for over twenty-five years, until he rediscovered them in storage. Since then, they have been exhibited in France and Thailand.
 
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More pictures of Bugis Street, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Black Flag producer SPOT’s photos of L.A.
01.06.2015
06:43 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Music
Punk

Tags:
photography
SST
SPOT


 
To the extent that he’s known at all, SPOT is known for his time as the in-house producer for SST records in the 1980’s. His were the hands on the board for unimpeachable classics like Meat Puppets II, What Makes a Man Start Fires?, Zen Arcade, Milo Goes to College, and the first four Black Flag albums. He eventually retired from producing (and really, not even he could have saved What The…) to focus on performing music.

But all that time, he had another, lesser-known talent as well—as a photographer. The new book Sounds of Two Eyes Opening collects SPOT’s photos of L.A., spanning from the surf/beach scene of the ‘60s to the punk/skate scene of the ‘80s, and he is (was?) a very fine shooter, with a solid eye for composition. From the publisher’s hype-sheet:

Spanning the late 1960s through the early 1980s, Sounds of Two Eyes Opening offers an amazing portrait of Southern California coastal life: surfing, bikinis, roller skating and skate boarding’s fledgling days are set in contrast to iconic shots of all the key denizens of hardcore punk rock as it is being invented; candid shots of Black Flag, The Germs, Minutemen abut those of everyday punks, fans, cops, clubs and now-shuttered rehearsal spaces.

 

 

 
Some editions of the book come with an Ed Templeton-designed picture 7” featuring SPOT’s song “Too Wise to Crack.” I scoured the web in vain for a streamable version to play for you, but I turned up squat. I quite like it though, it’s a loose, free, and economical piece of music with spoken vocals that recalls moments from Funambulist, Worldbroken-era Saccharine Trust, or Keith Morris’ Midget Handjob project—and what an idiot I was to search for videos of that band.

Sinecure Books were kind enough to share these images from Sounds of Two Eyes Opening. Enjoy.
 

 

 

 

 
Fun on wheels after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Streets of New York: Vintage photos of the Big Apple 1940s to 1970s
12.30.2014
08:35 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
New York City
photography

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Theater marquees, 1944.
 
When we think of a city we tend to think of it from its representation in films and TV—unless of course we’ve been there. Paris is the Eiffel Tower. London is Big Ben. Russia and it’s the onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral or the red brick spires of the Kremlin. Rome the Colosseum. Los Angeles—Hollywood Blvd., freeways and Rodeo Drive. New York, well it’s Times Squares, the tenements and neon lit restaurants and of its bars as seen from countless detective shows and gritty urban movies. These beautiful color photos of the New York from the forties to the seventies are like backdrops to those feature films, or even better images that capture pages from a Kerouac novel that inspire dreams:

What’s Times Square doing there anyway? Might as well enjoy it. — Greatest city the world has ever seen. — Have they got a Times Square on Mars? What would the Blob do on Times Square? Or St. Francis?

 
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Giant advert for Jane Russell in Howard Hughes’s production of ‘Underwater’.
 
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Broadway 1955.
 
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The RKO Palace and a Planter’s Peanuts advert 7th and Broadway.
 
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Street scene outside McGinnis restaurant, Tango Palace and Cobbs, 1962.
 
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Broadway looking north from 50th, 1962.
 
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Camel advert near Times Square, 1962.
 
More vintage shots of NYC, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Visible Girls: London’s lost female subcultures

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Lynne and Penny at home in Kingston, March 1981.
 
In the early 1980s, photographer Anita Corbin documented the “informal uniforms” of young women’s subcultures across London. Corbin photographed rude girls, rockabillies, mods, skinheads, and some “less defined” female groups including soul, rasta, punk and futurist, as well as those involved “in and around the women’s liberation movement.”  Her photographs were exhibited in a traveling exhibition organized by the Cockpit Gallery Project called Visible Girls in 1981.

In her introduction to the Visible Girls exhibition, Corbin wrote:

In this project I turned my attention to more personal visual details and I became increasingly interested in the effect appearences have on everybody’s lives.

The way we use dress as a means of communication/identification and how it can both inform and misinform us.

I have chosen to focus on girls, not the boys (where present) were any less stylish, but because girls in “subcultures” have been largely ignored or when referred to, only as male appendages.

Corbin discovered that for these young women belonging to a subculture was not just a weekend hobby but a whole way of life.

More than thirty years later, Anita Corbin has reconnected with some of the women in her photographs, but would like to contact them all, if possible. If you recognize yourself or any of these women, then you can contact Anita here.
 
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Kath and Em, at home in Putney, October 1980.
 
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Simeon and Simeon, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Charmine and Janice, at the Orchard Youth Club, Slough, March 1981.
 
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Rockabilly girls, at Shades, Manor House, February 1981.
 
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Titch and Sylvia at home in Sudbury, March 1981.
 
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At the Marquee club, December 1980.
 
With thanks to Elizabeth Veldon, via Buzzfeed.
 
More of Anita Corbin’s ‘Visible Girls,’ after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Unsettling photo series of animals in their pointedly artificial zoo habitats
11.03.2014
05:43 am

Topics:
Animals
Art

Tags:
photography
capitivity
zoo


 
Zoos are a sort of moral conundrum in the animal rights debates. Some zoos rehabilitate or rescue animals unable to survive in the wild, and nearly any larger zoo is active in conservation efforts. At the same time, there are some sad zoos out there, where whatever pleasure you might derive from the observation of a wild and beautiful beast is mitigated by the distinct impression that this animal looks… depressed?

For his series, In Situ, the Latin for “in its original place,” Parisian photographer Eric Pillot shoots animals in the bleakest of zoo habitats; the effect is incredibly disquieting. From his website, a (rough) translation:

The animals placed in these indoor runs seem to represent something of the “animal in us,” in all their diversity: ones we can cuddle, pamper, fear… those from tales and myths. Colorful, geometric or “pictorial,” it finally seemed that the facilities that I have endeavored to represent, that have been carefully designed to allow us to see the animals they house, could be a reflection of man himself.

The series is certainly unnerving—isolated creatures in poor facsimiles of their native lands—but without expertise on the animals themselves, we’re left in the dark, wondering how happy or sad they really are in such a subective context.
 

 

 

 

 
After the jump, more of these powerful images….

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Dead Creepy: Family portraits with deceased relatives

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Whenever a relative died when I was a child, we would gather around their body, sometimes laid out on a table, a coffin or slowly cooling under the bed sheets, and say five decades of the rosary for the repose of their soul. I attended at least half a dozen funerals before I was twelve: my father’s side of the family were descended from fertile Irish-Scottish Catholics. The dead always looked more peaceful before they were wheeled off to a funeral home, where make-up was applied, cheeks rouged and lipstick smoothed around mouth. These applications usually gave the deceased the appearance of an eerie ventriloquist’s doll, waiting to yap their mouths and roll their eyes. Death was just a common part of life. But now the relationship between the living and the dying and the dead has become once removed, with the undertakers and funeral homes taking control of those once natural rituals that connected us all together.

In Victorian times, it was common for grieving families to be photographed with the deceased. It was a way of commemorating the dead loved one. With high child mortality rates, most of these portraits were of parents and children. The images are often moving, even heartbreaking, and there are some that may seem bizarre to modern tastes.
 
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More portraits of the living and the dead, after the jump….
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Russian Revolution in color
10.27.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
History
Politics

Tags:
photography
Lenin
Russian Revolution

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Lenin was a headbanger, quite literally. As a baby he would bang his head repeatedly on the floor. His parents thought little Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov might injure himself or that his actions suggested something wrong. According to his biographer Robert Service, Lenin was a troublesome child—needy, demanding attention and resentful of his family and other children. He always wanted to be the center of attention and this he later achieved on a grand scale when he turned the events of the Russian Revolution to his advantage, and became head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Lenin had campaigned and encouraged the revolution from afar, from his base in Switzerland, where he spent his days writing manifestoes and political pamphlets and his evenings watching DADAist performances offending the audience at the club Cabaret Voltaire, which left Lenin pondering who was the more revolutionary DADA or himself? The events of 1917 were to answer that.

These color images were uncovered by Russian-born photographer Anton Orlov when he was asked to clear out storage crates in the basement of a home in California. In amongst the personal items and assorted junk were hundreds of hand-colored glass slides taken by an American pastor named John Wells Rahill during the Russian Revolution of 1917.
 
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Pastor John Wells Rahill with three young boys at a Russian village.
 
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Members of the YMCA entertain a crowd at a train station.
 
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Soldiers at Omsk train station.
 
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Damaged buildings in the center of Moscow.
 
More color photos plus ‘The Russian Revolution in Color’ documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Cathy’: Kate Bush as a young girl
10.27.2014
10:32 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
photography
Kate Bush
John Carder Bush

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A rare book of photographs of Kate Bush as a young girl entitled Cathy is to be re-published next month. The book contains an incredible selection of beautiful black & white images of Kate taken by her brother the poet and photographer John Carder Bush.

Cathy was first published in a limited edition of 500 copies in 1986 and is now to be re-published with new previously unpublished photographs and additional text. Copies of Cathy can be ordered here.

The following images come from the original 1986 publication of Cathy via the site Cat Party.
 
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More pics of young Kate, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
American Grotesque: William Mortensen, Photographer as ‘Antichrist’


 
This is a guest post from Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey regarding two fascinating new books related to photographer William Mortensen.

Now that smartphones have become the camera of choice, it seems strange that photographers once belonged to divergent schools that battled one another, and sometimes quite viciously at that. The style that integrated painterly techniques with film technology was called Pictorialism. The “modernists” who dismissed complex photo techniques called themselves Group f/64 before they enlarged their influence, ultimately becoming known as “Purists.” For the Purists, sharp focus was the only natural way to photograph an image, and nature itself was the preferred subject.

Purists like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston did brilliant work in their careers, but it seemed important to them to remove Pictorialism from textbooks, galleries and museums. Their bête noire was none other than William Mortensen, who had for decades published many instructional manuals and reproduced his work in major photo magazines of the time, most notably Camera Craft. Mortensen specialized in a style that emphasized a grotesque look, which tended to feature many nudes. Compared to the trees and mountainsides that Ansel Adams shot, Mortensen’s work was accused of being exploitative and distasteful.

Purist hate was so intense that Adams even referred to Mortensen as “the antichrist.”

I had first heard of Mortensen from Anton LaVey, who had a photograph called “Fear” hanging in his Black House kitchen. In this photo a distressed woman is enveloped by a black-cloaked demonic entity. Anton acknowledged that Mortensen’s book The Command to Look: A Master Photographer’s Method for Controlling the Human Gaze changed his life, teaching him the basics of what he called “Lesser Magic.” LaVey also co-dedicated The Satanic Bible to Mortensen.

When Photoshop techniques and manipulated digital photography took hold in recent decades, the Pictorialist style once again became quite prominent though by then the Purists had long ago successfully bounced Mortensen out of public recognition. This was the reason I found it important to publish both Mortensen’s The Command To Look, which also includes Michael Moynihan’s article on Mortensen’s influence on occult researcher Manly Palmer Hall and Anton LaVey. We have also published a Mortensen monograph called American Grotesque: The Life and Art of William Mortensen, that includes an illuminating biography by Larry Lytle, a great deal of heretofore unpublished images and Mortensen’s textual battles with Purists from photo magazines. We hope that this evidence of William Mortensen’s brilliance once again revives his reputation and cements his rightful place in the history of the Photographic Arts.

—Adam Parfrey.

Here are some examples of William Mortensen’s work from American Grotesque
 

“Fear” aka “Obsession”
 

“A Family Xmas, 1914” 1932
 

“The Strapado”
 

“Belphagor”
 
More Mortensen after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Can you spot all of the Star Wars icons discreetly tucked away in these photographs?
10.21.2014
07:38 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Star Wars
photography


 
Photographer Thomas Dagg created his “Star Wars” series as a sort of homage to his childhood, a time when the films pervaded his imagination on a daily basis. As a kid, he would draw space ships onto magazine photography; this work is merely a more sophisticated version of that same sort of superimposition. It’s the subtlety of the shots that really make the pictures interesting, as if the characters and vehicles are unremarkable details in a mundane setting. Some of them you have to strain to find.

Most of the scenes feature Dagg’s own childhood toys and action figures, only two use shots from the movies. (Careful buddy, that’s the kind of thing that will get you sued!) Honestly, even before noticing the ewoks and AT-ATs, the pictures themselves are beautiful, with a use of light and contrast that creates a quiet intimacy.
 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Artist paints generic ghosts over found photographs to haunting and nostalgic effect
10.13.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
Art

Tags:
photography
ghosts


Spin Me Round
 
Artist Angela Deane’s ghost photography complicates nostalgia with a very simple technique: she drapes the subjects of found snapshots in a “sheet” of white paint, dotting on two little eyes where appropriate. My first impulse was to see if Deane actually takes commissions (you know, for when you want the memory of the company, but not to gaze on your own misguided hairstyle or horrifying fashion sense), and it appears she does, counting Amy Sedaris among her clients. The motivation behind Deane’s work however, is one of anonymity as much as it is of recognition and belonging. Deane says:

These ghosts are the ghosts of moments, of days, of experiences.  With the specifics of identity obscured by paint I like to imagine it’s as if you and I can partake in the memory, share in the experience, allow the snapshot to seem familiar. Let’s share some memories, shall we?

Deane’s ghosts are actually quite cute—reminiscent of a classic Halloween from yesteryear, but there is also a haunting quality to her work (pun only half-intended). Humans are no longer the primary indicator of the time period, so we scan the film quality and details from the setting or landscape to tell when the picture was taken; viewers wander the space of the picture, regardless of its inhabitants’ identity, as if the present is now haunting the past. Nonetheless, the ghostly figures feel familiar, as if scratching off the paint would reveal a favorite uncle, your mother’s best friend from high school, or even your own younger face.
 

Beneath the Palms
 

Untitled
 

All For You
 

Reach for Me Across the Flowers
 

Together For Soup
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Check out these marbles: Photographer captures the sculptured testicles of antiquity
10.09.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
photography
sculpture
Greek
testicles


 
Gaze upon the balls of the ancients! Observe their delicate rend’ring from such an indelicate medium! Note the attention to detail! The texture! The asymmetry! The… weightiness?

These photos are from Ingrid Berthon-Moine’s cleverly titled series, “Marbles,” which compiles shots of testicles from classical Greek sculpture—only marble marbles will do. Berthon-Moine did a lot of research on Greek sexuality for the project, and actually answered one of my long-standing questions on ancient art—were the models for these sculptures… really cold? Oddly enough, some counterintuitive idealization of the human form may be the culprit.  Berthon-Moine says:

This interest in ancient classical Greek statuary was prompted by the accuracy of its anatomy, the realism of its stance and the influence it still has on the shape of the male body.

Ancient Greece was a highly masculinist culture. They favoured ‘small and taut’ genitals, as opposed to big sex organs, to show male self-control in matters of sexuality. Today, the modern users as in commerce, cinema, and advertising converted it into a mass commodity telling us about domination and desirability, size matters and the bigger, the better.

Small junk was “in”—how about that? You’ll notice no real shaft in any of the pictures (a few you can even see were even broken off), but you’d like to err on the side of NSFW (or if testes make you testy), I respect that—but if you’re working at a place that would punish you for looking at crops of ancient Greek statues, I suggest you do your damndest to make a career change—someplace that won’t bust your balls, you know?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Hyperallergic

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Flaming Creatures: Icon of perversion Jack Smith’s fabulous photographs
09.26.2014
10:53 am

Topics:
Art
Sex

Tags:
photography
Jack Smith

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Jack Smith was a visionary performance artist and underground filmmaker who produced and directed a series of no-budget films during the 1950s and 1960s, the most famous being Flaming Creatures and Normal Love both from 1963. Smith peopled his camp B-movie melodramas with friends, and often shot them on out-of-date film stock. As a filmmaker he seemed often careless about the fate of his movies, but their success and influence was far greater than the size of the audience that saw them. John Waters hailed Smith as “the only true underground filmmaker.” Susan Sontag described the controversial and allegedly pornographic Flaming Creatures as “a rare modern work of art; about joy and innocence.” While Andy Warhol said Smith was the only filmmaker he would steal from.

Smith was also a photographer whose beautiful prints have rarely been seen outside of a gallery exhibition. Many of his images capture moments from his films, or portraits of the cast and friends.  They vary from the haunting and dreamlike to the comically irreverent—yet all are fabulously beautiful.
 
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Three self-portraits:
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It used to be that screenings of Jack Smith’s films were raided by New York’s vice squad and they were all but impossible to see for many years. Not anymore. To demonstrate just how far the culture war goalposts have moved since the early 1960s, what was once considered utterly depraved is now on YouTube getting piped right into your home or handset.

Below, the longer edit of Smith’s Normal Love:
 

 
H/T The Heavy Mental and Photo 2a.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Miniature marvels: Welcome to the fabulous world of Subatomic Tourism

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Entourage.
 
Subatomic Tourism is the fantastic miniature world created by “bequiffed” Edinburgh-based visual art Mirren Audax. As he describes it on his site:

Subatomic Tourism is an ongoing project to big up the small with a hint of Irwin Allen and Richard Feynman, along with a touch of Marcel Duchamp and Ray Harryhausen; to bring by way of Joseph Cornell and Gerry Anderson a celebration of the wonderful world-sized diorama we find ourselves living in.

Audax photographs scenes created with toy figures placed in urban settings that resemble stills from classic TV series, science fiction films, pop culture and surreal portraiture. With references to Doctor Who, Star Trek, H. P. Lovecraft and American road movies, Audux’ fabulous images allow the viewer to invent their own narrative for each image.

See more Lilliputian worlds here, and you can follow the Museum of Subatomic Tourism on Facebook and Twitter.
 
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Migration Tracking.
 
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Lost In The Supermarket.
 
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Silver Foil Nemesis.
 
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The Saucer.
 
More miniature marvels after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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