Jim Cooke

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Jorge

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Ok, a guy at the LF forum was asking which camera would be best to take pictures like this guy (field or view camera) and he provided this link.

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Now, aside from the fact that these seem to be really big prints, I would like to know what is so special about them? My first thought was, why would anybody want to make pics like this?

Take for instance the office building in Lausanne, the damm thing is crooked! I would have thought that if you are going to take the trouble to use color and an 8x10 camera, that this kind of mistake would be avoided at all costs. Look at the photograph titled "field, Portugal"..the horizon right smack the middle of the pic! what the heck is this?!?...can somebody please enlighten me!!
 

Sean

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A bit off topic, but I notice they are big "C-Prints". Does this mean they are lightjet prints? Not many people print color this size anymore. I wonder... are digital photographers no longer using the term 'lightjet' and just saying "c-print"? Or maybe I am just being my paranoid self...
 

Sean

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Ah, I see he offers them in 40x50inch, surely this is lightjet. So now we no longer have a distinction between lightjet and traditional color prints. Since it is a digital print on photo paper, it is now a traditional print :sad:
 

David A. Goldfarb

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It looks like other recent work in the style of Bernd and Hilla Becher. I think the project here is to de-romanticize the landscape, so putting the horizon in the middle has that kind of neutralizing effect, in the way that the Bechers avoided dramatic lighting or clouds, for instance.

The tanks, for instance, seem fairly clear homages to the Bechers, but I think the Bechers did something more interesting with them--photographing many and juxtaposing these flat, neutral images to reveal something about variety and innovation in industrial design. Here's a good example:

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Tom Duffy

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I think the pictures are technically excellent in a wideanglely sort of way. They wouldn't be my slice of life but they seem a bit like Gursky's work, only less so. I like Gursky's use of people as important elements in his photos.

I often wonder if I'm missing something with most of this sort of work. I can't honestly gush over it and say, "now this is the kind of art I wish I could create!" but on the other hand, the guy sure knows how to handle a big camera...
 

Eric Rose

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I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't get it when it comes to Cooke's pictures. It seems to me I've chucked out 100's of pics like his thinking they were boring and asking myself why the heck I took it in the first place.

I wish someone could explain to me what it is I'm missing. I still may not enjoy them, but at least I could understand them beyond the surface reaction.
 

Sean

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Personally I like photographs that appear to be of hidden or mysterious places. Images that make people say, "wow, where is that? I've never seen anything like that before". If someone photographs everyday objects in a unique way, that is also cool. But photographing everyday objects in a straight fashion doesn't do it for me and I also do not get it. Maybe I'm not searching deep enough and examining line, form, texture, etc. Sometimes a picture of a building is just a picture of a building. The overall collection of work then ends up resembling -driving a few blocks setting up camera, snap, driving a few more blocks, setting up camera, snap, etc, etc. I am not saying the images are bad, they just don't sing to me. If they sing for others then that is great for them.
 
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Jorge

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David, given that the water towers are made in B&W that in itself is a departure from reality. There are very mundane B&W photographs that rely in the tonality and its variations to make them extraordinary. This is why I think color photography is much harder, if it is going to be done well. In fact perhaps color photography is better suited for smaller formats, look at the work by Jay Masiel, he uses 35mm, yet his pics are some of the most impresive I have ever seen.

I have always thought that Color is the main attribute of color phtography, thst is why IMO it is so hard to do. Yet in this photographs the colors are drab, and the subject matter is at best ordinary if not boring.

Tom, I am afraid I disagree with your assesment that he is a good LF practicioner. Any 8x10 shot made with a 240 to 300 mm lens will look like those he made, and any body that has a building leaning is either careless or not that good using a view camera. Perhaps this is one of those "braking the rules" instances, but to me...a crooked building is distracting.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Well, think about what Lausanne meant to the Romantic poets. This was a place to escape the crowded and dirty cities of Europe and to believe one was in contact with nature, "nature" itself being a kind of constructed space. Now these broad and pristine landscapes are somewhere off in the haze behind this boring office building.

By itself, this Lausanne photo doesn't do much for me in an immediate way either, and I don't know why he decided the horizon should tilt (if it was in fact a decision), but as a project or a theme, it's kind of interesting. Maybe it would have more impact as part of a show together with related texts by Shelley, Byron, or the Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, and perhaps some early 19th century paintings of Swiss landscapes.
 
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Jorge

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Ah..I see what you are saying David, you mean as a counterpoint to "what was then." I could go along with this, even thought the intent would have to be explained. Not all of us are as cultured as you are, and without someone telling me what you just said it would have never passed through my mind.

This teaches me that perhaps I should look at photographs and try to "discover" the intention of the photographer, but then, what if I am unable to make a "connection"? Shouldnt the phtographs have some elements that command your attention, just in case an infidel like me comes across and wonders what the heck is going on?

You make a very good point, but without context this phtographs are boring IMO.
 

dr bob

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Jorge said:
This teaches me that perhaps I should look at photographs and try to "discover" the intention of the photographer, but then, what if I am unable to make a "connection"?

No, I don't think an observer should have to research the motives of an artist to appreciate his work. There should be some immediately emotional impact whether it was the intended emotion the artist wished to impart or a completely different one. I am afraid the subject's work displayed in the link did nothing for me either.

Why should it be necessary for a person to study the artist to appreciate the art? I hate it when music appreciation pseudo-intellects say that one must work hard to appreciate music - any music. I am an operatic tenor, but I love the Beatles and ZZ-Top as well as Mozart and Puccini. It is interesting to know the background of a composition and its composer, but it is not necessary for pure enjoyment – if the composition and performance excel.

As to the subject’s work, it gives me little emotion of any kind and I wont go out of my way to observe any more – sorry.
 
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David, As an artist it's very frustrating to see work taking wall space, magazine space or simply recieving accolades for immediate gratification art. In theory it's an artists responsibility to have instinks for a subject above and beyond the norm, something that seduces a veiwer to hang out and explore the concept. As visual artists we don't have the luxury of a prolog. In my mind this person has a mental block for creativity and has not done the work necessary to break through with a voice that combines tecknical competance and independant thought. Had I seen this on a wall Or published somewhere I would have walked right past it.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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I agree that the attraction of this sort of thing is more conceptual than visual. It's art that's about art, and that's a fair amount of what's on the contemporary scene. As such it requires knowledge of a certain amount of context to appreciate, limiting its real audience. I'm not that enthusiastic, really, about this work in particular (mainly because I think it isn't really that original, even if one is well disposed toward it), but I can see where it's coming from, and there is a place for it.

I also don't think this work is terribly effective in a solo show. Unless it is exhibited next to the works it may be responding to--say as part of a show on the history of landscape--it is hard to see why it is so challenging. One often reads on internet discussion lists that people are tired of St. Ansel and his imitators. Well, this is the response, and I wouldn't be surprised if it sent a few of Adams' detractors running back to Half Dome.

All art requires some effort on the part of the viewer to appreciate it fully, and I think there's something to be gained, as Jorge said, in trying to figure out why something I don't necessarily like has a certain kind of appeal to others.
 

ian_greant

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Well, I'll check in on this.

I hadn't heard of Mr. Cooke till today and traditionally his photography isn't what I prefer. However looking over the selection of his work I found a lot to like.

(With a couple exceptions)

Good large scale composition
Good sense of rythm and counterpoint.
I really like the way you roam around one of his photos. The unorthodox composition may make it seem almost like a snapshot but careful assesment of the photos reveals (at least to me) a pretty careful mind at work.

However, I can't see having one on my wall :smile:


Cheers,
Ian
 

dr bob

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Nothing new - sorry
 

philldresser

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After I looked at his site I found myself asking, along the same vien as Jorge "why!" . The pictures have no impact , no emotion. I can honestly say that I did not get an ounce of inspiration from any of the pictures and thought that this was dull work done well. No impact, no emotion .....No Sale!

Phill
 

lee

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Sean said:
A bit off topic, but I notice they are big "C-Prints". Does this mean they are lightjet prints? Not many people print color this size anymore. I wonder... are digital photographers no longer using the term 'lightjet' and just saying "c-print"? Or maybe I am just being my paranoid self...

Sean,
If they were lightjet type prints I think they would be chromagenic prints.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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C-prints are chromogenic prints, and LightJets are C-prints. I'd like to see them identified as "digital C-prints," but I don't regard "C-print" as misleading, because LightJet prints are chemically and physically no different from conventional enlargements. It's the same Crystal Archive RA-4 paper whether it is exposed in an enlarger or by a laser.
 
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