Monday, April 02, 2007

Justin James Reed


Nice stuff... pictures from New Cities. I think it's actually quite hard to make something worth looking at when photographing the sort of generic urban architecture that increasingly surrounds us and Reed succeeds admirably.




I know some people are of the opinion "why photograph all this mundane stuff". But in N. America at least (and I'd say large parts of Europe now as well), unless you are one of the minority who lives in some quaint little village somewhere, this is actually the world that surrounds us. Are we so much in denial about how it really looks that we don't think it's worth photographing? I also think it's incredibly difficult to do this kind of new colour/new topographics (maybe it's old colour/old topographics now?) style of work and not come off as doing just the same as everyone else, but also avoid the trap of novelty.


I've always liked this passage about DeLillo's Underworld:

DeLillo is smart enough to avoid stating the obvious, that after losing his real father, Nick is sent to a school run by multiple "fathers". One of the priests asks him to describe a shoe. "A front and a top", he answers. "You make me want to weep", the priest says, proceeding to name all the parts of a shoe including the flap under the lace, the tongue. "I knew the name", Nick says, "I just didn't see the thing".

"You didn't see the thing because you don't know how to look", says the priest. Because "everyday things lie hidden", he adds; "everyday things represent the most overlooked knowledge". These are "quotidian" things - "an extraordinary word that suggests the depth and reach of the commonplace". This may be DeLillo's way of explaining how to read "Underworld", but he's also telling us how to live.


6 comments:

stanco said...

Old, new, or mundane- they're pretty damn dramatic if you ask me.

chuck said...

It's the mundane everyday reality like this that we seem not to see that takes on meaning in our futures. Maybe works like this will open a few eyes here and there to the forced asthetics we live with but do not see.

John Ellis said...

I know what you're saying about mundane, but these are not the mundane: the mundane is usually (by accepted convention) unphotographed.

tim atherton said...

well john, I'm not quite sure about that - I think it's a sort of chicken and or or tree falling in the forest sort of thing.

If it's mundane, ordinary, quotidian but someone notices what's there and photographs it, does that change it - perhaps when anyone else walking by the same things wouldn't notice it?

Or those things only classified as mundane because not enough people notice them?

tim atherton said...

I've always liked this passage about DeLillo's Underworld:

DeLillo is smart enough to avoid stating the obvious, that after losing his real father, Nick is sent to a school run by multiple "fathers". One of the priests asks him to describe a shoe. "A front and a top", he answers. "You make me want to weep", the priest says, proceeding to name all the parts of a shoe including the flap under the lace, the tongue. "I knew the name", Nick says, "I just didn't see the thing".

"You didn't see the thing because you don't know how to look", says the priest. Because "everyday things lie hidden", he adds; "everyday things represent the most overlooked knowledge". These are "quotidian" things - "an extraordinary word that suggests the depth and reach of the commonplace". This may be DeLillo's way of explaining how to read "Underworld", but he's also telling us how to live.

Menlo Bob said...

Yawn.