“We know photographers make frames, but we deeply believe they can also create frameworks,” guest editor Susan Meiselas remarks in this issue, while discussing with Chris Boot, Aperture’s executive director, how documentary photographers might adapt to a field that has been transformed over the last decade by radical technological advances.
Lewis Hine, the documentary photographer known for his early twentieth-century portraits of immigrants at Ellis Island, child laborers, and heroic industrial workers, has finally triumphed over a career marked by bad luck and near misses.
In the late 1960s the first low-cost electronic components were integrated into cameras. Exposure meters and autofocus sensors became part and parcel of the camera body, and the calculations of image exposure moved from the photographer into the camera.
This building might or might not contain this image. It is a data center, located in Ashburn, Virginia, surrounded by other data centers. Google, Amazon, Flickr, and many other companies are residents here, sharing hard-drive space on racks of machines managed by companies like Equinix, DuPont Fabros, and Digital Realty Trust.
Thanks to recent advancements in software and processing power, the field of aerial robotics is flourishing. Lower costs mean that anyone can own a flying robot, from remotely piloted microcopters to inexpensive toy drones available at shopping malls.
2. Portrait of the Young Artist (and More Letters)
3. Critical Essays
6. Poets in Their Youth (P.I.T.Y.)
7. Beyond Words
What follows is a collection of thoughts on writings, grouped under general headings, which have inspired and taught me. I first read most of them as a young man; therefore, consider them passionately offered recommendations to young artists.
To read early twentieth-century photography criticism, from the distance of a hundred or more years of mind-boggling development and tumult in the medium, is to encounter both raw extrapolation and remarkable prescience, all in the context of what might today seem quaintly impassioned debates about photography’s value as art.
After sliding open the heavy metal door to Barbara Kasten's studio, we step into a large, white-walled, high-ceilinged room. Walking through the gallery space and through the work area, we pass familiar-looking sculptural props and large framed works by Kasten until we arrive at a meeting room and office lined with windows opening onto a stunning view of the downtown Chicago skyline.
Guest editor Susan Meiselas discusses how documentary photographers can respond to a transformed media environment by utilizing the new tools and opportunities for connection offered by digital platforms. Throughout her career, Susan Meiselas has combined her work as a photographer with an interrogation, from both philosophical and practical perspectives, of the terms of documentary and journalistic practice.
Stephen Mayes, former director of VII Photo, has supported the careers of many celebrated documentary photographers. Here, he reflects on the field's radically shifting terrain. In twenty years of working with artists, commercial photographers, fashion photographers, and most recently with photojournalists at VII Photo (Agency), I've been privileged to witness transformative moments in photographers' careers, and, very occasionally, a transformative moment in the medium of photography.
Today, events are more likely to be captured by amateurs than by professional documentarians. Ethan Zuckerman considers the formidable challenges facing editors and curators as they wade through a deluge of images to create a balanced portrayal of what's happening in the world.
As war photography trades neutral observation for the participant's point of view, Fred Ritchin considers the implications for photojournalists. War photography, at least the imagery that has been made for public consumption, has long distinguished itself, as has much of journalism, by focusing on "them" instead of a more familial "us."
Can the billions of images uploaded to digital platforms be put to work? Lev Manovich discusses the emerging field of social-media visualization. Last summer the Museum of Modern Art in New York asked the Software Studies Initiative, a program I started in 2007, to explore how visualization could be used as a research tool, for possible methods of presenting their photography collection in a novel way.
Nato Thompson, Creative Time's chief curator, talks to theorist Ariella Azoulay about citizen journalism, the artist as newsmaker, and how we might rethink the role of collaboration in photography. Over the past decade Ariella Azoulay has emerged as one of the most rigorous commentators on the political dimensions of photography.
Theorist Thomas Keenan and artist Hito Steyerl maintain an ongoing dialogue about the fraught relationships between politics, evidence, and images, central concerns of their respective practices. In the following email exchange, they continue that conversation and trace the etymology of the commonly used but contested word document back to its original meaning, "to teach." This early association provides a useful key for unlocking the shifting role of documents and evidence in our rapidly evolving media environment.
Photojournalist Thomas Dworzak has hitchhiked around Chechnya to cover conflict there, waded through a devastated New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, and embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. But to make his new series of self-published books, he stayed home.
Its nicknames are "Chocolate City" and "Little Africa." Located in Guangzhou, China's third largest city and a major industrial hub attracting workers from across China and the world, the Xiaobeilu neighborhood reflects China's recent investment in the African continent— it is now home to thousands of African tradesmen and salesmen.
If I were to tell you to forget everything you have been taught since birth, wouldn't there be something missing from your life? — Benedict (Kauitentakust) Michel In 1969, the Innu people became the last indigenous group in Canada to gain the right to vote.
In 2011, I received a grant from the Magnum Foundation Emergency Fund to produce a photography project about limited access to healthy, affordable food on Chicago's South Side. Though my story reached the public through mainstream media, I was frustrated by my limited ability to counter the systemic neglect of Chicago’s Black neighborhoods.
How to visualize a nearly invisible war? British artist James Bridle has engaged this question over the past few years, in an effort to make drone warfare campaigns waged by the U.S. government in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia visible to the public.
"There ain't no answer. There ain't gonna be any answer. There never has been an answer. That's the answer." So proclaimed Gertrude Stein, the often-equivocal American writer and art collector. The Russian artist Mari Bastashevski's project State Business alludes to this Steinian quest for answers.
In 2010, after many years of covering the war in Afghanistan, freelance photojournalist Teru Kuwayama received an invitation to embed with the First Battalion of the Eighth Marine Regiment in Helmand Province. Although it was only the start of the counterinsurgency campaign, it was the tenth year of a long and costly war that carried on at a far remove of the daily lives of Americans in the United States.
Today we take instantaneous image transmission for granted, but it was once hard work to send photographs to and fro. Shipping prints or undeveloped rolls of film to publications used to take days. Not surprisingly, the desire to disseminate pictures quickly goes back pretty far.