donderdag 12 maart 2015

Window dressing IV

Complicating the image and the relation with my sculptures of the past.

The last developments in these series are a mix of multiple reflections complicating the image in such a way that the viewer gets even more mixed up in what is real and what is reflection.
In many cases the reflections are, even fo myself, coming from untraceable sources. It is only looking at them behind the computer at 100% where I find those surprising reflections. And so in these photographs the puzzle really gets complicated but at the same time it shows a new unforeseen structural order.
It is like creating a new order in the chaotic urban environment which did not seem to be there before, only when you look for it. 

Some examples of the confusion and disarray in these images.

Here we see mirrored and non mirrored text on the facades.

Showroom or carcrash?

Street interior in New York.

Clouds inside?

It is at this point were I find the relation between my sculptural work and
these photographic series.
It is where my steel and glass sculptures for a part delt with; reflection and
transparancy and thereby creating a new structure in space.
It is often only in retrospect that one finds the common grounds of interests
and inspiration.
A step in the creative development might look rigorous at that moment but 
falls into place and fits into one's scheme in retrospect.

" Part " 1989  deals with reflection and transparancy in the shape of a part of a 
Doric column on one side infected by erosion in the shape of crystal/mineral forms.

" A Piece " 1989  With a foot inspired by shapes of " The Amsterdam School "
architecture and a reference to the  famous American designer Raymond Loewy.

Another similarity with my older work is my inteerst for architecture and 
construction which is also visible in some of the photographs in this series.
Constructions which were often mirrored. My whole sreie of works about 
the mathematics of chrystals and minerals showed the symmetry of structures
in nature. A reflection in structure.

" Lazulit " 1989

In "Lazulit "I literaly started to explore the natural beauty of methamatical 
basic shapes of chrystals and how also in these natural shapes all the surfaces 
seemed to be mirrored as well. Afterwards I started to develop my own
mirrored structures in glass and steel as seen before in some older sculptures 
of mine. In a way a lifetime theme.

" Ecriture en mirroir " 2001

" Window dressing # 207 "

" Window dressing # 309 " 

Sometimes one has to look back to be able to look ahead.

Michiel Schierbeek 12-3-2015

zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Window dressing III

Saul Leiter

Some years ago on my way working on this project, I found this book with the interesting photographs by Saul Leiter. Not much later I was glad he had an exhibition here in Amsterdam in The Jewish Museum.

The indirect way of photographing, his espionage way shooting style using reflections, mirrors, shopwindows appealed to me very much because it was so close to what I was doing and wanted to do. In many cases his work feels like looking through a keyhole.

He was a pioneer in colour street photography. Later, working for as a fashion photographer for Harpers Bazaar, he knew how to incorporate this keyhole photography by dissembling his models or place them in partly covered situations.

Saul Leiter
Although Edward Steichen exhibited some of Saul Leiter’s color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953, for forty years afterwards they remained virtually unknown to the art world. Leiter moved to New York in 1946 intending to be a painter and through his friendship with the abstract expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart he quickly recognized the creative potential of photography. Though he continued to paint, exhibiting alongside Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning, Leiter’s camera became — like an extension of his arm and mind — an ever-present interpreter of life in the metropolis.
The semi-mythical notion of the ‘New York street photographer’ was born at the same time, in the late-1940s. But Leiter’s sensibility — comparable to the European intimism of Bonnard, a painter he greatly admires — placed him outside the visceral confrontations with urban anxiety associated with photographers such as Robert Frank or William Klein. Instead, for him the camera provided an alternative way of seeing, of framing events and interpreting reality. He sought out moments of quiet humanity in the Manhattan maelstrom, forging a unique urban pastoral from the most unlikely of circumstances.
None of Leiter’s contemporaries, with the single and partial exception of Helen Levitt, assembled a comparable body of work in color. The lyricism and intensity of his vision come into fullest play in his eloquent handling of color: to the rapid recording of the spontaneous unfolding of life on the street, Leiter adds an unconventional sense of form and a brilliantly improvisational, and frequently almost abstract, use of found colors and tones. Leiter’s visual language of fragmentation, ambiguity and contingency is evoked in Saul Leiter: Early Color by one hundred subtle, painterly images that stretched the boundaries of photography in the second half of the twentieth-century.

( source : steidl )

And from the New Yorker written after his death on the 26th of November 2013 at 89.

The content of Saul Leiter’s photographs arrives on a sort of delay: it takes a moment after the first glance to know what the picture is about. You don’t so much see the image as let it dissolve into your consciousness, like a tablet in a glass of water. One of the difficulties of photography is that it is much better at being explicit than at being reticent. Precisely how the hypnotic and dreamlike feeling is achieved in Leiter’s work is a mystery, even to their creator. As he said in “In No Great Hurry,” laughing, “If I’d only known which ones would be very good and liked, I wouldn’t have had to do all the thousands of others.” ( source : New Yorker )

I hope I can add something new to this indirect style of photography. Actually it is
subordinate to my theme on windows and facades. In some of the photographs of the Window dressing series there is similitude to his photographs, others are more straight forward and a direct registration of things. They mean to tell another story.
I too like to wonder around and use my intuition, although within the bounderys of the plan, which might be streched on the spot as things happen. 
Preferably with the right light!
Some examples which seem to fit in the way Saul Leiter looked at reality to which he knew how to add mystery so well.

The last one is actually more like a picture rhyme within the photograph and starts to fall in another catagory.
May be something for the next blog. Stay tuned!

dinsdag 21 januari 2014

Window dressing # II

My long time interest in architecture and especially the architecture here in Amsterdam, like for example “The Amsterdam School” architecture with its eccentric brick-and woodwork and beautiful stained glass, made me start to photograph facades. 
“The Amsterdam School” architecture has been a long time inspiration for my sculptures as well.

At first I was interested in the architecture itself and wanted to registrate the different facades to see what I could find. From there on I started to focus on the facades of shop windows.
Then by accident you walk into photographs like below; a facade and a stained glass window designed for a bakery and now turned into a quality dry cleaner selling all kind of stuff on the side. It demonstrated the architectural discrepancys between the actual user and the original design. One can see these discrepancys in every town, its were the needs of today have to cope with the designs of yesterday.

What happens then is that while shooting those facades people start to walk into the frame, so in many cases that was added as a virtue. Instead of the pure registration of the facade, you start to anticipate on this and a new sub theme is added in your project. The funny thing is people don’t notice you to much because you are photographing that facade and the only thing you have to do is click the button as they walk into the frame.

Next blog will be about looking through corners and reflections mixing with displays.
Stay tuned!

donderdag 16 januari 2014

Window dressing # I

For a few years now, I have been working on a book called Window dressing.

Windowdressing is a journal of images of shop windows, most of them in Amsterdam and a few in France, Belgium and Germany. 
In shop windows people present their products and businesses to other people. 
In many cases, the products are matched with architecture that was not designed for such products.  I find these marriages interesting. 
The changing of the facades, the artistry of display, the unexpected people walking into the image, the different reflections on the glass and the ever changing light all have my attention.

As a sculptor, I am used to looking intensively at my surroundings. Photography complements that interest.
When I began my career as a sculptor I took many photographs - and I picked up this habit again in a serious way some eight years ago.
Photography forced me to choose subjects and to define my preferences and learn how to securely frame an image, cropping as little as possible. 

A sculptor needs to be a handyman and maybe that is why I am drawn to things made by man: architecture, products, and even landscapes, since they too are in large part created by people, especially in the Netherlands, where almost every square centimeter has been touched.

It seems the process of creating a sculpture evolves in a very indirect way, with many stages of thinking and making along the route. It is a longer and more mysterious road than taking a photograph. One needs one’s subconscious and intuition during the process and it is only afterwards that one can truly point to the source.
What I lik about photography is its directness and how the first impulse and exposure is often the best. Yet, I see similarities with the first intuitive drawing for a sculpture, which is also often the best one.

There is a whole lot more to photography then pushing the button and the technical side of it.
Questions like: what does one photograph? I like to work with themes because they define my interests and focus for the day. One always discovers new themes or a theme within the theme.

One of those themes within this book is a certain street in Amsterdam, with mainly antique shops were I made some of my best photographs, I think. Here I am concentrating on reflections, the light is often  very good in this street. Some streets are better then others in that respect.
The funny thing is; this street is called Spiegelstraat which means Mirrorstreet.
These photographs are all shot in that same street and are an extract of the book.

The one person you did not see in the mirror or reflected is me!
Next time I will shine the light on the often to be seen discrepancy between the old signs and architecture and the current user.

Stay tuned!