Max Colson: Tales

Photojournalism MA student at the LCC

Posts Tagged ‘media

Thomas Struth and Awesomeness

leave a comment »

I just checked out the Thomas Struth exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London: what an immensely brilliant experience.

To be quite honest I didn’t know a lot about the artist before I went to the exhibition but I can say that the retrospective really gives you a serious insight into the obsessions of this exceptional photographer. This guy is seriously ON IT. My favourite part of the exhibition deals with his investigation of things that we see to be worth looking at and not worth looking at.

The first floor of the exhibition is exclusively dedicated to the artist’s photographs of awesome constructions. These images are split into two parts: ones that depict the things that people queue up to wonder at, and the ones that show the things which don’t attract attention. Noticeably it is always the technological machinery that isn’t being looked at by anyone, whilst the the works of art and religious buildings are the objects that attract our most awestruck gazes. Here are some examples of what I mean:

1. Religious and artistic constructions:

Pantheon, Rome Thomas Struth

Pantheon, Rome (by Thomas Struth)

Thomas Struth San Zaccaria, Venice

San Zaccaria, Venice (by Thomas Struth)

Audience 7, Florence, 2004 Thomas Struth

Audience 7, Florence (by Thomas Struth)

2. Technological constructions:

Thomas Struth, Semi Submersible Rig, DSME Shipyard, Geoje Island, South Korea, 2007

Semi Submersible Rig, DSME Shipyard, Geoje Island, South Korea (by Thomas Struth)

Times Square, New York, Thomas Struth

Times Square, New York (by Thomas Struth)

Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald, Thomas Struth

Stellarator Wendelstein 7-X Detail, Max Planck IPP, Greifswald (by Thomas Struth)

As you can see, all of Struth’s photographs are incredibly framed. It’s really cool that the artist captures the technological constructions in a way that shows that they are as immense as the religious sites (just look at the image of the oil rig in South Korea!)

Yet Struth has also chosen to photograph these particular tech constructions mainly because no one is looking at them. As we can see in the oil rig image, there is no one queuing and both dock workers are fairly busy with other things.

Essentially Struth’s images show us power and the way it works in society by asking the simple question: why is it that we consider some things to be awesome and other things to be not? Or to put it more bluntly: these technological constructions are the ones that have been built by the powers that control our modern age (e.g. science, commercialisation and communications); why aren’t we looking at these at all?

Awesomeness. It’s a bit frightening isn’t it?

Advertisements

Sepp Blatter doesn’t win Fifa Presidency…LoL JOKE!!!

leave a comment »

Fifa Vote Sepp Blatter

The full candidate list for the Fifa Presidency. AFP/Getty or summink

Great photograph.

Some quotes from the man himself from the Sepp Blatter Quotes site:

“What I am most proud of is the legacy of hope that FIFA and football leaves around the world. It makes all of the efforts and energy I pour into this job worth it.”

“Fifa cannot sit by and see greed rule the football world. Nor shall we.”

“FIFA’s goal of making the world a better place through football cannot be achieved through our efforts alone – equally important is the power which every fan of the beautiful game has at their disposal.”

There are some more examples of his amazing rhetoric in his shambles press conference from a couple of days ago too. I personally enjoy his use of the word ‘family’ and his fantastic reasoning that because he is The President of Fifa he is not able to answer any questions regarding accusations against him and other members within the Fifa body. Wowee.

Written by Max Colson

June 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Diary – Tim Hetherington

with one comment

I’ve watched Tim Hetherington’s Diary a couple of times now and it’s really made me aware of what a loss his death was. There are obviously many war reporters on the front line and in the thick of things, but it’s rare to find a reporter who felt that it was worth making a statement about their subjectivity by publicly questioning their own practice. His sensibility is a massive loss.

Tim Hetherington – Diary

Written by Max Colson

May 2, 2011 at 9:44 am

Enjoy Poverty – Renzo Martens

with 6 comments

A man goes into the Congo and makes a documentary that attacks aid organisations, photojournalists, and politicians for making money out of the suffering of the poor. What’s hard to chew is that he intentionally uses the poor to make this point. The eventually culminates in Martens getting a village to construct his ‘Enjoy Poverty’ neon light display, so he can video tape the event for his documentary. Making your skin crawl yet?

It’s uncomfortable viewing to say the least, but everytime I watch Martens’ Episode III: Enjoy Poverty feel that there is little else out there that is challenging the genre of reportage in this way.

Written by Max Colson

February 4, 2011 at 10:14 am

When I was young, I wanted to be a rapper actually…

with one comment

Promo photo for my old rap group 'Dark Trade'. Yes I know, the name makes no sense

I’ve always been a fairly creative person, but I’ve certainly never wanted to be a photographer all my life. I didn’t even own a camera until 22 (25 now) and to be honest I really wasn’t interested even then, I always wanted to be a rapper anyway. I was quite serious about it: I went to open mic nights in London, I freestyled in the street ciphers with other London emcees, rapped about being much better than all of the other rappers, and all the rest of stuff that you would normally expect. I even recorded a 5 track EP ‘Something I Made Earlier’ which still lies on my hard drive, completely unreleased  (however two of the tracks on there can be listened to on my old Myspace page. NB: be warned they are fairly cringe, but they’re still kinda funny to listen to now).

My point is is that although I didn’t start photography until much later than most people, I’ve always been trying things out, adapting to different practices, and seeing what works best for myself. I think this experience of trying different things out and being ready to adapt is really key to my practice as a photographer today, and will be even more important in the future. We just don’t know what’s coming next in terms of storytelling technology. Look at transmedia for example, I mean wow, that’s a real opportunity to explore.

Taxi Cab, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 15.03.08

The Babysitter, San Antonio de Arreco, Argentina, 24.03.08

But anyway, back to me. I started taking pictures after buying my first proper camera (a Canon point and shoot) in early 2008 to document my back packing travels in South America and the USA. Needless to say I really enjoyed it, and when I got back I wanted to find something that would keep me going and help me focus on one subject. I would never have predicted that I would literally stumble across a cage-fighting gym near where I live, but obviously I was rather transfixed and started my first project on the UK full contact fighting scene then and there (that was in late 2008 – it’s still ongoing now). I’ve now worked on two proper long term story projects, the latter I’ve just mentioned, and then there’s also one on the UK rap scene and the lives of the artists behind it such as Melanin 9, Chrome, and the members of Triple Darkness. I’m also trying to cover the actions of the anti cuts movement in the UK, which I’m finding quite difficult to do objectively, as I’m a supporter yet have been involved in taking pictures which don’t always tell the whole story about the protests that I’ve attended (obviously this is one of the occupational hazards for any reporter, and I will do my best to dedicate a blog post on it at a later date).

Police wait for more orders in the midst of the 'kettle' on Whitehall, during the protests against the rises in tuition fees, 24.11.10

In terms of my practice up until late last year, I’ve always been focusing on telling quite literal stories: ‘x’ is what happened, ‘y’ is a main character in this story, ‘y’ is related to ‘m’ and they are both heavily involved in ‘n’, which eventually led to ‘x’ happening. Stuff like that. Although that’s important to editorial photography, I would like to try methods of storytelling that aren’t quite so linear in the future and this is something that I’m hoping that I can get started on MAPJD course. Having the privilege of being lectured by such visual and conceptual greats as Peter Fraser is a brilliant way to start. The work of Taryn Simon and Sophie Calle is of influence here too. Due to these photographers I’m quite interested in making work which comments on why and how the photograph is used, particularly in a commercial news context, because I think that is a story that’s seriously worth telling. I’ve made my first baby steps in this area by producing and shooting a short 5 minute film with the rapper Melanin 9, which is a comment on how rappers are represented in media. You can see that here.

PS: My last thing to say is that I’m very lucky that the digital age came along. Digital is intrinsically sympathetic to anyone who doesn’t quite get how the camera works, and I am still embarrassed to say that she has been very sympathetic with me. Technically I am an awful photographer, and have nothing more than a rudimentary sense of how the camera works. Thankfully photojournalism isn’t all about one’s technical ability with the camera, but obviously it’s fundamental to being a professional. It’s safe to say that my technical knowledge of the camera is an area of my practice that I clearly need to attend to. I need to be able to understand all of the possibilities available to be when I hold the camera in my hand, and that’s certainly something I also want to be forced to teach myself on the LCC MA course.

But that’s enough for now. More on me and what I do later….