Meriel, LensWork 56

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MurrayMinchin

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The work of Olivier Meriel was in LensWork #56. This is the first time I saw his images. I was wondering if anybody else had a reaction to his printing? I found it ponderous! Detail was obliterated with the heaviest edge and sky burns I think I've ever seen...then again maybe that's what he's going for..."a luxuriant and peaceful landscape" enveloped by the specter of war and death?

I know art doesn't have to be pretty. An artist can shock, disturb, or use any manner of socially uncomfortable means to express their art...what does Meriels work do to you?

Murray
 

Troy Hamon

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My first reaction was that his images were very powerful and moody. My second reaction was that he had really heavily burned in on many of them. The equilibration process was slow after that, but in the end the more I looked at them, the more impressed I was that he had really brought out strong feelings in the images, though in a way that I would never have been comfortable doing myself. There's a fairly long thread on this over at that other photo site. It is under B&W Printing and was posted on 1/8/05.
 

Ole

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Meriel's burning in is far heavier than what I usually do, but very similar in nature. The only possible "incompetence" I could see is that he might have slightly uneven negative development, it looks as if all the edges are overdeveloped. But that in turn makes it impossible to decide what is intentional burning in, and what is uneven development. I'm certain of SOME burning, and quite uncertain of lots of other cases.

But considered as pictures ("artwork"), his were the most interesting images in the magazine...
 

esearing

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Not to knock Brooks or diminish the quality of Lenswork in anyway, but I had a conversation with a photographer in a recent LW edition who stated that some of the images were not identical to his work as published in another book. He showed me the same images in his book vs Lenswork and there was a noticable difference. {I actually preferred the LW images but didn't say that to the artist.}

It may be that in publication or scanning, subtleties were lost or exagerated. If the artists sent published works vs artists proof prints there maybe a dual scan loss or exageration.

I felt the same way when I viewed an AA print in person and compared it to a mass produced calendar print. The original print had more subtle grain, warmer tones, and softer local contrast than did the prints in the calendar. I liked the contrast in the calendar better, but now understood the differences between mass printing and hand printing a fiber paper.
 

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esearing said:
Not to knock Brooks or diminish the quality of Lenswork in anyway, but I had a conversation with a photographer in a recent LW edition who stated that some of the images were not identical to his work as published in another book. He showed me the same images in his book vs Lenswork and there was a noticable difference. {I actually preferred the LW images but didn't say that to the artist.}

It may be that in publication or scanning, subtleties were lost or exagerated. If the artists sent published works vs artists proof prints there maybe a dual scan loss or exageration.

I felt the same way when I viewed an AA print in person and compared it to a mass produced calendar print. The original print had more subtle grain, warmer tones, and softer local contrast than did the prints in the calendar. I liked the contrast in the calendar better, but now understood the differences between mass printing and hand printing a fiber paper.

You make a fair point re original images losing quality when reproduced but Meriel's printing is IMO overdone and in some images downright sloppy: for example, the image on page 48 has a goodintepreation of light in the foreground yet he has chosen to burn in what are white fluffy clouds to a muddy grey. I have no problems with heavy prints with lots of burning in, I do an enormous amount on some of my own images, but I think these are way too heavy.
 

Joe Lipka

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After looking at Meriel's prints in LW, my comment is that it appears that in most of the images the upper left quadrant of each image is burned down. (Burned? How about incinerated?) Anyway, if that's what Meriel wanted, then by gosh and golly that's what he achieved.

I can guarantee that what you see in LensWork is exactly what was submitted for publication. A great deal of effort work by Brooks insures that what is submitted is reproduced exactly in LensWork.
 

Jim Chinn

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I don't think his audience was other photographers. If other photographers like or dislike the images is irrelevant. He has gotten them into a major publication and probbably has gallery representation and sales of the work. As I pointed out in another thread the buying public for the most part does not give a hoot about the technical aspects of an image. If they like the work they will buy it. If a gallery owner thinks it will sell or bring people in he will show it.

In a a previous issue of Lenswork, Brooks Jensen wrote an essay where he discussed how photographers and non-photographers had a totally different way of seeing his work. He felt if you cannot get a gallery owner to see your work have a non-photograper review it critique it.

I think it is way to easy to fall into the trap of judging work based on the our own prejudices and preferences with regards to our methods, equipment and skill level.

I can see how he has tried to use burning and dodging to add emphasis to the work. By placing those areas dramatically darker or lighter I think he is trying to convey a spiritual prescence of sorts animating the scene. Do I think it works? I don't know. I would have to see full size prints to get a real feeling. The subject matter in of itself is really nothing that gets me excited.
 

jovo

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I, too, was startled at the heavyhandedness of Meriel's work. But then I'm also often surprised at the degree of overburning in the work of Clyde Butcher that seems to be more an act of carelessness than of artistic decision. That Brooks chose to look past what we (and certainly he), who can identify flaws as damning, and yet publish work that he found meritorius is courageous. In this case I wasn't impressed with his decision.
 
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Jorge

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There is a similar discussion in the LF forum. My opinion is that I have no problem with a heavy dramatic interpretation of a subject, to each his or her own. But I found the Meriel prints, or what I saw in the LW preview to be sloppily done. They remind me of the first time I tried to do burning, got the exact same results. Thank God I did not know then that was "artistic" or I would still be printing that way.. :smile:

We dont have to go too far to see a good heavy dramatic interpretation. I remember a few months back Les posted a picture that was heavily burned and dodged, but it was gorgeous. I cannot say the same of Meriel's work. I understand his audience might not be photographers, but then again it might be. If I had gone to a gallery and seen this work I would probably have asked the owner if he was kidding.

I think there is a line between artisitic license and out right bad prints, IMO this work crossed that line, even if it was published in a good magazine.
 

esearing

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Joe Lipka said:
I can guarantee that what you see in LensWork is exactly what was submitted for publication. A great deal of effort work by Brooks insures that what is submitted is reproduced exactly in LensWork.
I'll agree LW takes considerable care to reproduce the artists intent for contrast and style. Yet every image in LW is made up of two inks, black and warm grey on a relatively glossy paper. This is not consistent with the way every artists images appear in real life. Additionally the scanning process and plate making processes have limitations and can not exactly reproduce every nuance in an original print, so "exactness" is not even possible.

The main argument for most others here is about the artists use of burning and dodging. I merely wanted to suggest the possibility of tones being exagerated in the reproduction process. One would need to see an original print to judge for sure.

As an example see this link below. Notice there are two versions of two of the images.
Dead Link Removed
 
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