While William Eggleston’s off-kilter photographic compositions and revolutionary use of color have been discussed for decades, for many fans his piano compositions will be a revelation. In this issue investigating photography and sound, writer John Jeremiah Sullivan recounts a recent visit to Memphis to meet with the photographer, during which Eggleston serenaded Sullivan and spoke about his passion for classical music (Bach in particular) and his interest in audio recording.
This photograph was my profile picture on Facebook for quite a few months, during a period when I went through a strange obsession with Grace Jones. I discovered the picture while browsing her images on the Internet, and it really spoke to me.
His subjects are judges, men who train hyenas, Liberian Boy Scouts, Ghanaian trash collectors, denizens of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and himself. With unsparing detail, Pieter Hugo—who was born in Johannesburg and graduated from high school in 1994, the year of South Africa’s first democratic presidential election—has pushed photojournalism into the realm of trenchant social critique.
Ed van der Elsken was a master of subtle paradoxes. His debut photo-novel, Love on the Left Bank (1956), about the nightly escapades of Parisian bohemians, earned him instant fame—and status as an enfant terrible of Dutch photography. A lesser-known fact is that Love on the Left Bank also stars his first wife, Ata Kandó, with whom he lived in Sèvres at the time.
On the rooftops of Egypt’s capital, photographers reclaim the urban landscape
Setting: A rooftop that looks like a spacecraft. A glowing staircase with orange light. A repository of clutter. A jungle of satellite dishes. Figures appear. Women dressed in black pose within scenes of their own creation. They are the Cairo Bats, a collective of female artists who gather to create staged photographs.
In this regular column, Dyer considers how a range of figures have been photographed. Here, he reflects on Roy DeCarava's photographs of the jazz musician Elvin Jones.
There are two well-known photographs by Roy DeCarava featuring drummer Elvin Jones. As in any duet or diptych each is subtly altered and enhanced by the other. The first, taken in 1960, is primarily a picture of John Coltrane. The saxophonist’s familiarly impassive face is in profile, clearly focused but perhaps not fixed quite as sharply as the harsh, metallic intricacies of the horn.
I remember the first William Eggleston photograph I ever saw, or the first that I knew was his, that it had been made by someone called “William Eggleston”—his images have percolated up into the culture so thoroughly, I guess it’s no longer possible to be an American without experiencing a few of them, if only as album covers (Big Star’s 1974 Radio City, most notably, but there are many), and certainly for anyone with the smallest interest in American art, it’s hard to avoid the name of a man whose work most credit with having legitimized color photography as an art form.
Michael Schmelling grew up in River Forest, a near suburb of Chicago. But his first concert, in 1985, was across the state line in Merrillville, Indiana, at the Holiday Star Theatre. His older sister took him to see Corey Hart, the Canadian heartthrob known for "Sunglasses at Night.”
From Thomas Edison to Christian Marclay, two modes of hearing images and visualizing sound.
Of our five senses, we’ve only worked out how to record two: sight and sound. In the span of half a century, a pair of inventions generated the first durable, reproducible impressions of visible and audible perceptions. The reverberations of their original names—photograph, phonograph—remind us of their parallel ambitions: to write with light, to write with sound.
In recent years, the reputation of Katsumi Watanabe as an important Japanese street photographer who intimately captured Tokyo’s seedy underground culture of yakuza and prostitutes has been revived. Born in the city of Morioka, in Iwate Prefecture, in 1941, Watanabe discovered photography working by day at a local newspaper while finishing high school by night.
For three decades, Stan Douglas has probed cultural and historical moments with exceptional specificity and lush atmosphere. Working in large-scale photography, video, and installation, the Vancouver-based artist wields a strong directorial hand to reanimate and reimagine the past, while maintaining remarkable fidelity through costuming, scene setting, and production design.
When I moved west on Twelfth Street, from two rooms off Avenue A to seven on Second Avenue, I had more vinyl records than anything else. I brought two beds, a round pedestal table, a few chairs, and a lot of pictures and books and magazines, but records going back to my childhood were what took up most of the space in the U-Haul a friend hired.
In search of the late Malick Sidibé and the rhythmic roots of his legendary photographs.
A. Chab Touré
I knew that Malick Sidibé was unwell. An interview seemed out of the question; I couldn’t bear the idea of dragging the great photographer on a long and exhausting journey down memory lane through his work and life. Not now that the illness was transforming his body and mind progressively every day.
When the Iranian photographer Newsha Tavakolian opened her first solo exhibition in her hometown of Tehran, she had a surprise in store for the six women who are the subjects of her portrait series Listen (2010). All of them are professional singers.
Vinca Petersen didn’t set out to be a photographer. Her pictures began as a visual diary, documenting her leaving home at the age of seventeen, moving into a London squat, and becoming involved in the free party scene that blossomed across Europe in the 1990s.
"Sometime around midday, a shrill whistle sounded,” the anthropologist Deborah James writes of the rousing of a Pedi dance performance in Songs of the Women Migrants (1999), her study on this endangered yet continuously evolving South African tradition.
What does a photograph sound like? In this sonic sequence, a group of leading curators, writers, and historians reflect on images that won’t stay quiet.
Light shining in black on a white ground; black circles, which leave a white trace on paper— transformations that Zamecznik developed to create a visual equivalent of contemporary music. Two great passions of this architect and graphic designer meet: music and photography, which, in dialogue with graphic design, became his trademark.
Lucy Raven wanted to get wired. Searching for the networks of power that hold up global communications and commerce, she traveled from a pit mine in Nevada to a smelter in China to trace the transformation of raw ore into copper wire, the conduit for transmitting energy.
Strange things happen in the sound studio. A leather belt makes the pop! of a champagne cork. A roll of tinfoil simulates a crackling fire. The unspooled tape of a cassette creates the sound of leaves shifting in the breeze. In Jonna Kina’s deadpan typology Foley Objects (2013), twenty-eight otherwise secret tools of a cinematic trade take center stage, activated by their own imagined sound effects.