Assignment 1- Literature Review

Koop, Stuart. (1993). Adam Fuss. Art + Test, pg 44



Adam fuss, 1992. Untitled [Colour cibachrome photography] Robert Miller Gallery, New York.


The text describes Adam Fuss’s use of the process using photograms* in relation to the modern means of photo making. Specifically it discusses Fuss’s five large scale images in an exhibition held in Australia in 1992. Often Fuss’s images are in a single hue of colour, resulting in a minimalistic image on Cibachrome positive paper. Fuss works may not mean a lot of people with out an explanation, a conundrum I am often left dealing with and something that came up a lot in the past seminar, how much information to explain and how much to leave to the imagination. However as Koop explains, it is Fuss’s view on technology, history and experimentation that really interests me. Discussed are the limits of photography due to expectations on photography today and how technology does not necessarily enhance your work but in Fuss’s view, limits it. Koop talks about how Fuss pushes the photograms against photographs to re-discover the original potential found with in photography. In January seminar we talked a lot about in regards to my presentation how the subject matter is important and why, to which I responded, in either a very smart or a very very naive way (I’m unsure which one it is, but it made Noel laugh!) ” you have to shoot something”. Which of course it is more than that, but I think what I was getting at is this push against photography as photography as we know it. To be experimental and not necessarily representational. It is not my goal to present a narrative of what is happening in the photograph but more a narrative of what photography can be. Fuss says ” even when I use a 35mm camera, I’d abuse it”. And that is what I love. To not use a camera or light sensitive paper in the way they are intended I think is the best way to keep referencing the history of photography.
The potential in photography is what Fuss is re-visiting, similar to Henry Fox Talbot was doing in the nineteenth century when he first started  his”photogenic drawings”. Potential is unmeditated  as are the effects of light. This is what I am interested in and exploring in my practice.


*The photogramis a picture made on light sensitive materials (such as photo paper) but without using a camera.



Crimp, Douglas. (2013). Letting time takes its course. Carré d’art- Musée d’art contemporain, Nîmes, France. (on Vera Lutter)


Vera Lutter, 2011. One Day [Video and sound instillation]

One Day  is a video work with sound, made by the artist Vera Lutter in 2011, that is discussed here in relation to her other work using a camera obscura. One Day is 24 hours long and has a tight camera crop of a landscape that is inhabited by nightingale birds.

In a sense the length of the work forces the viewer to slow down and become attuned to this slow pace and minimalist view, to draw perspective in a quiet and patient manner. “One Day brings that sort of trouble-free, contemplative activity to mind. In it, time drifts by; the image doesn’t change, except as a function of light”. Something that may not happen in your day to day life. Like Tacita Dean’s work Green Ray 2001, we watch with anticipation of what is going to happen next. Whilst Dean’s work has a count down to the sun disappearing and we have expectations of what might happen, we are still transformed into that mediative state that Lutter’s works sets up for us. Due to the simplicity in Lutter’s work we start to notice the small movements,  and any movements- tree’s in the wind become important.
Crimp asks in relation to her camera obscura works, is this: ” Lutter’s attempt to capture for her viewers something of that experience?” I understand this, as I have spent hours in single exposures looking at the same subject and it is the tree’s or any movement out side that gives you a divine feeling inside as you watch. But this makes me question, is it important as a camera obscura artist that we express the emotion in more ways than the images we capture? To break it down- what can video and/or sound works add to my practice as it has to Lutters. Duration is an obvious one. Here Lutter takes the span of a day, an amount of time that most will not watch in entirety. A single frame, shares the perspective of looking at image from with in a Camera Obscura, as you can not move your view around once you are exposing, how ever it is also upside down and reversed. It shares a path of light specific to that day. In that moment, the experience is always in the past. A lot of things may of happened on that day and during that time. We watch the image, imagining our own truth. I think it is this dream like place for the viewer, a place to imagine and fantasise for themselves, to escape representation and enjoy a made up translation of information.


Rallis, G, (2011). Contact 3- Wolfgang Tillman. [Video File]. Retrieved from

Wolfgang Tillman’s practice encompasses a large body of work; Tillman produces and produces. He started with photocopying photographs and asking “why and how does meaning get into this paper?” and found the degradation of the photocopying more interesting than the technical process of using digital camera’s or making a perfect photo. Tillman’s purpose with photography is to show an alternate view- through pure formal visual elements and through social impact. He considers when shooting that it is important for the photographer to share and give as much as the sitter. By share he means to see facility, strength and beauty in the final image. But what I found most interesting about the way Tillman works was in his Abstract Pictures, the images that contain no human. In these works Tillman “uses the viewers insistence that it must be something” and because of peoples desires the works that do not have figurative image’s then become figurative. The works are very large in scale so they become a full body experience. He looks at these works as doing exactly what photography is designed to do, “collect light”, and he continues his investigation of light in night clubs where he makes films of the moving lights, like little robots. The works are about the social, the body, drinking, sex but he says ” at the heart pure abstract light”
With all this in mind I think it is a very lovely and simple way of approaching light and photography. Tillman is using the very simple language of photography to observe and transform information of the world. Its our world, my world and your world. Light is treated in a playful manner and there is no concern for the natural or the artificial. He uses what strengthens his abstraction of light. The social aspect in the work is open and inviting. This is something I need to reconsider or maybe let loose and allow a more free viewing within my own work.


Bomb. (2009). Walead Besthy and Eileen Quinlan. Retrieved from

This text is a conversation between Walead Besthy and Eileen Quinlan. Both artists work in a similar form and they discuss the “initial inclination to label their photographs ‘abstract’ based on their look”. They agree in this conversation how this labelling is based off the categorising from painting and how there is not necessarily a direct translation to photography. Moreover they talk about repetition or the edition as a tool to “encourage people to focus less on the image and more on the distribution form itself”. They are looking at photography as being something other than “just taking pictures” and to concentrate more on the object and considering the nostalgic problems around abstraction. Besthy describes the relation between photography, painting and history with in abstraction;





Walead Beshty, 2008. Six Color Curl [Fuji crystal archive, 50 x 94 inches.                                                                                                                                           Eileen Quinlan, 2007. Satin Star [color polaroid]. Courtesy of the artist and Gaerie Buchholz


“Abstraction is always something that stands apart or aside from what it means and what it represents. Abstraction as a category seems to be a problem for painting, too, but at least in painting there’s a string of historical movements associated with the term. Describing a photograph as abstract usually implies a simulation of those painterly  movements.”

I agree with this in relation to the works I am making with the red negative. I believe that it is my way of trying to transcribe a relationship in my work that talks about light and material. To deepen the thinking past what is in the image and steer the thinking towards how it is made. What are the social motifs sharing as subject but more importantly as object. I was also interested into their ideas around repetition and how it can enhance these themes.


Famighetti, Michael. (2013).  Thomas Ruff: Photography for the New Age. Aperture, pg 82-9

Tomas Ruff talks with Micheal Famigetti about his photography and how he explains that he is making a new age kind of photogram. Over time Ruff has looked into the “grammer and structures of photography”, with exploration into the jpeg and the found image. The two have a discussion over his new body of work and what makes him interested in working this way. Ruff uses his experience in working with 3D printer to formulate a new way of producing a digital photogram. I find it interesting when Ruff starts to talk about colour with in the images. He says “Soon I realized that if I use too much colour, it doesn’t look like a photogram, it just looks strange and abstract”. In my opinion I find this sentence along so interesting because traditionally when you look at where the photogram started with the likes of Man Ray and the Rayogram first, they were mono-toned and object based, where as Ruff is talking directly to his decisions around colour and how he can digitally choose what is going into the image. Sure when a more traditional photogram is made you can decide how much light you let through to the paper and what objects you use but there is still another physical element at work in the making, light plays a major part. While you control the light, if you don’t know what you are doing it has the power to change everything. And in that there is an element chance. I think that is what is interesting in Ruffs work, he has complete control and in a sense the physical element is taken and the digital takes over. While the final out come is abstract and there is a lot happening in the image of interest, it makes me question what doing this as a digital photogram can actually bring to photography?
Ruff states that his ” goal was really to make a kind of ‘new generation’ of the photogram”, which I agree with on one hand that it is a wonder component of photography to stay experimental but on the other hand I disagree that it should be called a photogram. However I am a fan of the non conventional and the experimental and I think the the perception of what these images are in relation to the “grammer and structure of photography” is a conversation worth continuing on.



Thomas Ruff, 2012. phg.02 [photographic print] Courtesy David Zwirner Gallery, New York and London.



Fuss, A. (1992) Untitled [Image] Art + Test, pg 44.

Lutter, V. (2011). One Day [Video and Sound] Retrieved from

Beshty, W. (2008).  CMMYYCC: Irine [Image] Retireved from

Quinlan, E. (2007). Satin Star [Image] Retrieved from







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