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Thread: Ralph Gibson

  1. #1

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    Any recommendations for a good publication showcasing Ralph Gisbon's work?

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    clay's Avatar
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    Deus ex Machina is a book he published that basically has his whole photographic career compiled into one volume. It has some never published stuff including a few hard core porn-like images that you should be aware of if you have young ones around. It's a great compilation of a very interesting photographer and his vision.

  3. #3
    lee
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    I was fortunate to attend a one week seminar with Ralph at the college I attended back years ago. He had just published Semblance (sp?)and was generally very full on himself. After about the 3rd day of no one but him talking, he got mad and challenged all of us to tell him what we thought. I told him that I was embarrassed because I was not perceptive enough to realise he actually wanted us to participate and interact with him. I thought he just liked to hear himself talk. I was ready to walk out of the seminar at that point but he smiled and from then on, he and I got along.

    lee\c

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    juan's Avatar
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    This thread prompted me to google up this interview with Ralph

    http://bermangraphics.com/press/ralphgibson.htm

    and his reply to the question "Have you ever used digital?"

    Ralph: I have I have a wonderful relationship with Leica and they send me things to experiment with. Iíve used the large S1, that big studio camera, and Iíve used the little Digilux. I have four Macintosh computers in my studio as we speak right now. Digital photography is about another kind of information. Digital photography seems to excel in all those areas that Iím not interested in. Iím interested in the alchemy of light on film and chemistry and silver. When Iím taking a photograph I imagine the light rays passing through my lens and penetrating the emulsion of my film. And when Iím developing my film I imagine the emulsion swelling and softening and the little particles of silver tarnishing.

    Chris/Larry: So youíre not just previsualizing the image, youíre visualizing the process?

    Ralph: Iím communicating with my materials. Itís different than previsualizing. If you talk to a sculptor about how he looks at his rock or wood, you realize that he has a special relationship to his materials. In music itís called attack. A concert violinist once told me that if Rubinstein came in and hit concert A, it would sound different than if Horiwitz came in and hit the same note. And a good musician will recognize which one was playing based on the performerís attack. When you look at de Kooningís brush stroke you can see the energy of the bristles of the brush right in the stroke of the paint. This is another example of attack. So Iíve applied some of these principals to my relationship to my materials and I think of them with great respect. I think film has more intelligence than I have. I could not make a roll of film. I learned this when I was an assistant to Dorothea Lange, this incredible respect for materials, almost homage. But anyway, the big emphasis in digital photography is how many more million pixels this new model has than the competitorís model. Itís about resolution, resolution, resolution, as though that were going to provide us with a picture that harbored more content, more emotional power. Well in fact. Itís very good for a certain kind of graphic thing in color but I donít necessarily do that kind of photograph. So when it comes to digital, I have to say that digital just doesnít look the way photography looks, it looks like digital. However, I strongly suspect some kid is going to come along with a Photoshop filter called Tri-X, and you just load that, and youíve got your self something that looks like Photography (laughs). Itís about the same relationship that videotape has to cinema. Digital imaging and photography share similar symbiosis. I think itís a mutual coexistence situation. I donít think they even compare.

    Read the whole interview.
    juan

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    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan
    This is a *wonderful* web site!! I've admired Ralph Gibson for a long time.


    I skimmed ... and I *love* the quote from the interview with Jay Meisel:

    Chris/Larry: I've read that you have a fully equipped studio as well? Do you have digital backs for all your equipment?

    Jay: No. Don't believe everything you read. I don't really work that much in big format. And when I do it would be film.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

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    bjorke's Avatar
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    lee, the book is "the somnambulist"

    kb

    btw, yes, gibson uses rodinal

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KB ē PhotoRant ē PhotoPermit ē APUG flickr Robot

  7. #7
    Eric Rose's Avatar
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    The part I like is:

    Ralph: I had the incredible opportunity to apprentice to Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank. Although I learned a lot from both of them, one thing that rides above it all, they both told me, they stressed uniqueness. You really really have to be unique. You have to come up with your own visual signature. And itís not a question of style. Our unique way of perceiving our own personal reality which is inherent within all of us. And it takes a while to get that harmony with your camera. But thatís where photography really begins for me and for some of the photographers Iíve admired through my lifetime. For example, you donít have to look at the signature to tell that itís a Cartier Bresson, you can see it from across the parking lot. And it has to do with the way he puts the image together. And itís something thatís carefully thought out, researched at great personal expense. Otherwise photography is very simple. They have all these PHD cameras now. That means just push here dummy (laughs). So, anybody can take that kind of picture.

    End of quote.

    I'm so sick and tired of "me too" pics. Doing something original or seeing it is what gets my juices going.
    www.ericrose.com
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    "civility is not a sign of weakness" JFK

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  8. #8
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricR
    The part I like is:

    ...Although I learned a lot from both of them, one thing that rides above it all, they both told me, they stressed uniqueness. You really really have to be unique. You have to come up with your own visual signature. And itís not a question of style. Our unique way of perceiving our own personal reality which is inherent within all of us. And it takes a while to get that harmony with your camera.
    End of quote.

    I'm so sick and tired of "me too" pics. Doing something original or seeing it is what gets my juices going.
    *Very good* advice from a **Master**. I'm also tired ..."Ennui-ed out" by so much of the "follow the lead Lemming", in contemporary art, too.

    Only one thing puzzles me ... the difference between "signature" and "style". To me, they are synonymous ... but I guess Gibson makes some distinction between them.

    I've got to take time to read the whole interview.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  9. #9
    bjorke's Avatar
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    I'd hazard that he means "style" as a deliberate mannerism, while what he's talking about is "phenomenological extension" -- a feeling that the machine and process have become part of the physical body (a simple illustration of the process -- imagine how you "feel"the road when driving).

    Lack of this connection is, imo, the biggest problem with the modern generations of electronic cameras. It disconnects your hand from the physical process.

    Mechanical cameras like the Leica are just the opposite, very tuned to the hand. Gibson's physical/mental process, however he imagines it, is probably pretty transparent to him -- the hands know where to go and what to do and the entire process gives him the result he expects -- he doesn't worry about anything to get that imagined pic onto the film. This is different from "style" and not unlike Miles Davis's explanation about some of his music (quoting from memory here): "I'll play it, and then you let me know what to call it."

    "What Would Zeus Do?"
    KB ē PhotoRant ē PhotoPermit ē APUG flickr Robot

  10. #10
    Jeremy's Avatar
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    if anyone is interested in further study of phenomology as it applies to the arts I suggest Jose Ortega Y Gasset's book: The Dehumanization of Art. A wonderful collection of essays discussing art and the art world in general (revised editoin written in the late 1960's).

    Phenomenology is a philosophy wherein reality consists of objects and events as humans perceive and understand them--reality is not independent form human conciousness. In my opinion this is the view held (in a primitive form) by Edward Weston of the arts. When taken to a logical (to my eyes) conclusion you end up with a very Whiteheadian view of the arts . . . blah, blah, blah. I like to ramble
    Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!

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