I was following the Meriel thread on photonet for awhile. It started to make me think about how easy it is as a phtographer to fall into the habit of looking at work from a technical standpoint and not an artistic one. After looking at the portfolio I don't believe his printing is sloppy or poorly executed.
I think the particular burning and dodging has been done for effect. He probably assumes the most of the audience will not be technically savy photographers but only people wanting to see art. He uses printing to add emphasis to his work. A non-photographer does not care, they are only interested in the image presents. A LF printer might cringe, someone going to a gallery might see magic.
Personally I could not draw any real opiniion on the printing unless I saw the work in person.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
It looked to me like the sort of thing that really needs to be judged from the prints. It's very easy for things to get heavier in print (I felt, for instance, that this happened with my own recent photograph in _B&W_), even though the reproduction quality of LW is quite good, and it's very hard to judge the effect of an 11x14" contact print when it's been reduced that much for publication.
Well, after not getting my issue after a certain date, they sent me a new one, and now I have it.
The Mériel prints grabbed me the most on the initial quick flip through. I dig the way he burned the shadow details to the point of just being pure black. I haven't read the other threads at photo.net on it yet, but I can imagine some folks getting their feathers ruffled that he gets exposure in a high prestige magazine by breaking the rules of what is a perfect print. I say good job. I wouldn't doubt that he had some massive dodge/burn records for the prints that would make Ansel Adams weep. So what if didn't stop with just enough to keep the detail in the shadows.