I visited Pier 24 today to see the current exhibition "A Sense of Place."
As always with any photo exhibition there was a lot of work I didn't care for, but there was in this case more I did like than not.
I found even the work of Robert Adams on view interesting. Usually I consider Robert Adams' work pointless, but the images at Pier 24 represent earlier work, from the 1960s, and demonstrates a substance and sense of composition that doesn't exist in his better known work of a New Topographics style.
There is one room, gallery #15, devoted to Lee Friedlander's series "America By Car." This was my first time seeing so many of these images together in one space and I have to say this presentation is quite impressive. It's in this context of viewing a significant number of the images as a series that the project makes sense. Friedlander's vision, complex sense of composition and always present sense of humor comes through clearly in this well curated exhibit.
In contrast was the work of Stephen Shore in gallery #20. Here three photographs stand out as having meaningful content among a random arrangement of sterile, mundane, color snapshots. With the exception of those three images gallery #20 is visually numbing, the vernacular taken to the point of agonizing boredom.
The other grouping worth noting is the selection of photographs from the Sack Photographic Trust. It includes many 19th century travel images of the classic sort plus a variety of images spanning the 20th Century some of which are stunningly poignant.
The exhibitions at Pier 24 are never disappointing and "A Sense of Place" is no exception. It's on view through May 1, 2014. The catalog has yet to be printed, but is expected to to be available with in a month and should sell for around $10.00.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with a variety of image making apps on my iPod Touch.
The presets, filters and effects available in the apps are quite amazing and have opened up a door to low-res, spontaneous creativity I hadn’t considered before.
Of course I can take and post a heavily tweaked image on the fly while walking through the Financial District, but there is so much more potential here. I can take any photo I’ve ever made, create a jpeg file, email it to myself, pick it up on the iPod Touch, run it through various filters and presets in one or more of these apps, then email the new version to myself, open it on my desk top computer, re-size it and make a pretty nice print.
These are wonderful little tools that have allowed me to go beyond my straight forward approach to making photographs and into another world of “image” making. The new versions of my photos become impressions and expressions of a feeling or sense of the moment that is often totally unrelated to the actual moment the original photo was made. They become illustrations of something completely different.
(I’m currently working with EyeEm, Instagram, Starmatic, FxCamera for stills and Fast Camera and 8mm for video. All these apps are free and can be downloaded from the iTunes store in minutes.)
I was in the basement a couple days ago, digging onto the file cabinet that houses all my transparencies from the '80s and '90s, when I came across an exposed roll of Tri-x labeled 2/6/97. It was the last few feet of a 100 foot reel I had bulk loaded back when I was working at a lab downtown.
I quit working at the lab before having that last roll processed and I just never got around to doing anything with it, until this week. I had no idea what, if any, images would be on the film. So with nothing to lose I souped it in Diafine and was more than surprised with the results. Not only were there images, but the density of the negs was right on the money, with good contrast too.
The really funny thing is that about a week ago I had been thinking of some images I shot in the West Portal MUNI station way back when. I was in the station recently and noticed it hadn't changed much at all since I shot those pictures.
You can imagine my surprise when I pulled that roll of 16 year old film out of the tank to see those very images. There they were as if I had shot them yesterday.
It's interesting how memory works, or doesn't work. For some reason I remembered these images all these years without ever seeing prints or even the negatives. I just remembered making them and what I was looking at as I pressed the shutter. There are images I have made just earlier this year that I look at and have to ask my self, "Where the hell was I when I shot that?"
In 1988 David moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to begin his career in photography, taking a job as a photo researcher at Mountain Light Photography. Since then, in addition to freelancing, he has worked as a studio/darkroom assistant, print finisher and in the late 1990s was Picture Editor at StageImage. For the past several years he has focused on personal projects documenting the social context of the urban environment. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the painter, Anna Conti.