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Archive for September 2015

PUMPING-UP the VOLUME on PHOTOBOOKS

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Screen dump on Volume site

Screen dump on Volume site

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I attended Volume: Another Art Book Fair in Sydney on the weekend of September 11+13, 2015. The event was a collaboration between Artspace, Perimeter Books and the American artists’ book not-for-profit book shop Printed Matter. Packed into the Artspace building in Woolloomooloo were around 100 ‘Art Book’ makers, publishers and sellers all vying for the attention of potential purchasers. The table holders had spread before them all things book – let’s not try and get into discussions around what an ‘art book’ is, but rather celebrate the range of published products from thin stapled zines and comics, to self-pub photobooks, artists’ books and gallery catalogues, and further to trade-styled ‘fine art’ books and livre d’artiste productions.

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Some of the Volume Art Book Fair table participants included:

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Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter

Printed Matter

 

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

Cameron Cope

 

The Perimeter Books table

The Perimeter Books table

Perimeter Books

 

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

Bloom Publishing: Lloyd Stubbers + Jay Dymock

 

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Richard Tipping and Max Ernst (David Dellafiora)

Thorny Devil Press: Richard Tipping

 

George Voulgaropoulos

George Voulgaropoulos

Pneuma Publishing: George Voulgaropoulos

 

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

Deanna Hitti

 

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

Libby Jefferies MomentoPro after a long day on Sunday

MomentoPro: Libby Jefferies

 

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha Remote Photobooks NZ

Anita Totha: Remote Books

 

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

Kate Golding

 

Stephen Dupont

 

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

John Ogden Cyclops Press

 

Helen Frajman - m.33

Helen Frajman – m.33

M.33: Helen Frajman

 

Chloe Ferres

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Selling books to interested collectors and lovers of books is one thing but as is the case with the emergent trend in self-pub everyone wants to have their own book. To cater to this growing group of keen makers the program included many free forums, workshops and lectures by a variety of key makers and commentators on various aspects of the disciplines of writing and self-publishing (self-pub).

 

Why Publish panel

Why Publish panel

 

As my interest is in topics related to photobooks I attended two sessions: Why Publish and Designing Photobooks. The why-pub panel consisted of Helen Frajman (m.33), Daniel Boetker-Smith (Asia-Pacific Photobook Library), Brad Haylock, Jack Harries and Geordie Cargill and Shannon Michael Cane from Printed Matter. Attendees, of which there were around 30, heard discussions relating to the usual issues of publishing, getting a designer, edition numbers, marketing, selling and getting your work into the right hands including the international market. Brad Haylock suggested the key themes for photobooks were:

  • Technologies and organizational forms
  • Social relations
  • Institutional and administrative arrangements
  • Production and labor processes
  • Relations to nature
  • The reproduction of daily life and the species
  • Mental conceptions of the world

Ultimately the overall message seemed to be ‘Give it a go’!

 

Designing for Photo Books panel

The Designing for Photo Books panel

 

Associate Professor Christopher Stewart from University of Technology Sydney chaired the Designing for Photobook panel. Each speaker showed examples of their work and discussed design concerns associated with their books. Heidi Romano from Unlessyouwill spoke of her history in design, her passion for the photobook and her experience of the international world of book design. She cited her interest in advancing Australian photobook design as being a driver for her establishment of Photobook Melbourne. Esther Teichmann, and artist from the UK discussed her exhibition work and the challenge of bringing wall-work into the space of the book as well as her experiences, not always pleasant ones, with book designers. Tom Evangeledis, Black Eye Gallery  described his interest in encouraging exhibitors at his gallery to consider a book to support the exhibition but also to enhance the opportunity for the artist’s work to be extended beyond the exhibition dates. Chloe Ferres, probably kept the most on track with the topic of book design by presenting a range of works that in some ways subvert the idea of the book being a vessel to hold photographs that express a narrative – she considers the book structure as also important to the narrative and uses a range of design interventions to disrupt the preciousness that many photographers seem to consider important when they make books.

Christopher Stewart posed questions to the panelists to draw out aspects of the topic but when asked if there were questions from the floor Daniel Boetker-Smith asked about how we can make photobooks that are more about the ‘fetish’ of the book – ‘some books all look the same – I’m interested in all kinds of books. A young photographer in Myanmar stapling a bunch of photographs together to make a book is just as important to me as some “coffee table tome”!’ An attendee agreed and responded that books often look the same as they as designed from a dummy where all decisions about the book are considered at the beginning and immutable – whereas another less formal method is the development of a book in a process where opportunities for review and discovery are made along the way allowing the book to be like a collaborator with the artist…

 

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Bella Capezio making Insta Photobooks for APPA

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

Make your own Photobook with Garry Trinh

 

While some attendees attended these lecture sessions others were busy making books. The print-on-demand company BLURB offered bookmaking workshops over the weekend led by photobook self-publisher Garry Trinh. Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive presented a selection of their books at the event and founder Daniel Boetker-Smith and Bella Capezio led photobook-making sessions as well.

 

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

Victoria Cooper and Ruyin Yang

 

The biggest book-making venture over the weekend was a special project coordinated by Onestar Press who, with Artspace and other supporters including Surry Hills Print & Design Konica-Minolta, design students from University of New South Wales – Art &Design. The project, entitled ‘Book Machine’, brought together a designer with a ‘content provider’ (artist or photographer), and over the course of 3.5 hours the two work together to design a book. Overnight the book was printed and made available to its collaborative participants.

 

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

Alexie Glass-Kantor – introduces the Book Machine commentators

 

Late on Sunday afternoon the Artspace coordinators drew together a distinguished panel of erudite book critics and commentators including Brianna Munting – NAVA, Simon Barney Artist, Alexie Glass-Kantor – Executive Director Artspace, Maddalena Quarta – One Star Press, Bella Capezio – Asia-Pacific Photobook Archive, Philip Keir – publisher and artists’ book collector and Nicholas Tsoutas – Curator and Art management executive. A crowd gathered to hear this discussion and celebrate this unusual project.

 

Book Machine

Book Machine

 

Towards the end of the day on Sunday I rushed around to catch up with people that I still hadn’t spoken with and books not yet seen. I felt something of the heightened energy levels with which these table holders had been operating in the preceding days. Did they sell enough books…? Did they make contacts with people who will do future business with them or provide content for future books…? Did they get a chance to check out what everyone else was doing…? Did they get to do a Book Machine project…? Buy a pie at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels or take-in the harbor, the Finger Wharf and the view of naval ships at Garden Island.

 

Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

 

Volume: Another Art Book Fair was a major undertaking for the visionaries who conceived it and then brought it into fruition. There were so many activities, add-on events, presentations and booksellers and books available for artbookophiles in which to luxuriate. There was a real sense of community created in this art book fair that can only advance the disciplines associated with it. One thing is for certain, at least for me, is that I know I have just attended one of the most significant art book fairs to be held in this country to date. When, and where the next one will be is something we’ll await with much anticipation…

 

Doug Spowart

14 September 2015

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PHOTOBOOK ANXIETY – A paper by Doug Spowart

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What follows is a transcript of the paper presented at the ‘Borderless Futures: Reimaging the Citizen’ Symposium as part of the 2015 Ballarat International Foto Biennale. Selected images from the presentation accompany the text to illustrate concepts raised. The text is relatively conversational as it was ‘performed’ rather than read to the audience.

 

 

Photobook Anxiety graphic

PHOTOBOOK ANXIETY… a paper by Dr Doug Spowart

 

I doubt that Henry Fox Talbot or Anna Atkins realised in the 1840s what an impact that the photobook would have in the 21st century and the role it plays in the self-publishing revolution that we are witnessing today. The old publishing and bookselling paradigm is now redefining itself and trying to maintain its composure and power over their once lucrative territory. Now every photographer wants and can make their own books – but they need the inspiration found in the latest photobooks and they need to be kept informed by the movers and shakers of the discipline as to what is happening now, and what are the future trends and opportunities.

As a result there is a heightened anxiety for constant and direct personal connection with the pulse of this worldwide phenomena. Social media is the communication vehicle of choice and participants in the photobook network are driven to frenetically seek updates, reviews, new releases, posts about their books and the latest gossip through social media channels.

The anxiety surrounding this activity is palpable and the frisson of social media, particularly Facebook, is the powerful tool for this necessary communication as well as for community building in the burgeoning indie publishing photobooks movement.

 

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Welcome to ‘Photobook Anxiety’ otherwise known by its clinical title PBX. It is driven by the sufferer having an uncontrollable desire to be a part of everything photobook happening in the world. It is characterised by the sufferer constantly checking social media –

What are the signs that of those suffering from this malady?

 

Wishing I could be there…

There are so many events that happen worldwide it’s impossible to get to all of them let alone one. In a recent Facebook newsfeed the frustrated respondent posted ‘Oh I would freaking kill to be there…”

A sampling of the year’s calendar includes these events:

  • Photobook Melbourne February
  • Art Book Melbourne – May
  • Photo London – May
  • Auckland Festival of Photography (Photobook Symposium) – May
  • Kassel Foto Book Festival – June
  • Obscura Festival of Photography (Photobook Day) – August
  • Perimeter book sale last weekend
  • Book Case Study in the Netherlands – September
  • Aperture at Photo Paris – November

 

I should have bought a copy of…. Out-of-print/Limited editions/pre-orders

 

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Trent Parke’s Dream Life, probably Australia’s greatest ever photobook, is an excellent example of a rare and out-of-print photobook. Originally selling for around $60 in 2001 it is now is impossible to get for prices less that 25 times that amount.

One was listed on Amazon recently for 1550 Pounds?

Earlier this year one was offered in a Photoeye’s Auction – with a day to go it was $ 895 I did not see the final hammer price…

Last year Abebooks listed one for $1084 in this very town (Ballarat) – I’ve just checked and the Known World Bookshop down the street and they have sold the book.

 

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Limited Editions and Pre-Ordering

Adding to this PMX is the trend particularly among American photobook suppliers like Photo-Eye to advertise limited supplies of signed books which can be ‘pre-ordered’ with specific cut-off times and dates. Even these can be out-sold before you hear about the offer being available as in the case recently with Sally Mann’s Hold Still.

Recently Australian Bloom Publishing offered little badges with the text ‘Print Forever’ as white text on a black background. These were ‘snapped-up’ and a following post Bloom advised that the badges were ‘all gone’! But advised FB Friends to ‘Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks’. PMX now demands that Bloom is followed closely so you won’t miss out on the following offers….

 

You anxiously await the posts and stories of people you follow…

Who hasn’t been following the exploits of photobook officiando Sam Harris and his latest book The Middle of Somewhere. Sam’s posts have taken us a long on the journey illustrated by images that could well form the basis of a new book. As FB friends we saw the posted images of the design stages and felt his excitement at seeing the book on bookshelves at major European shows and being on a table at Arles with the book. The anguish of the missing visa to re-enter Australia and the joy of being back in Australia and the Balingup sunset at home… Oh! And the set up for his exhibition and book launch by Alasdair Foster at BIFB…

 

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You anxiously await the posts about new stuff…

FB Friends – People who you respect and believe know what’s going on offer advice on books to look at, and get before they are sold out. Adding to PBX phrases like ‘Look what I got today from Photoeye, Alejandro Cartagena’s latest book. It will be gone before you know it’ and ‘Holy moly!!! If you can get your hands on a copy of Mariela Sancari’s brilliant ‘Moises’, do it now. Only 500 copies.’

A couple of days ago Anita Totha from the Photobook Club Auckland posted that Broomberg+Chanarin’s latest book was available: ‘Better get your hands on this now…’. Even Bloom has a new pin — gotta get that! And what about Martin Parr badged clothing and accessories … could that be going a bit far…?

 

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You lament the gaps you’ve identified in your collection!

PBX will cause ‘sufferers’ go to extraordinary lengths to try and fill them… An ‘Ask Meta Filter poster exclaims ‘Help me get my hands on Trent Parke. I mean, his books. It’s driving me mental. I must get Trent Parke’s “Dream Life” and “Seventh Wave” … Replies state the value of the book with responses like ‘Ouch’, ‘And no Dream/Life to be found. Snif’

In another post on ‘The Online Blog’ Kelvin, a respondent from Melbourne, brags about ‘poking his head’ into a second hand bookshop on the way to buying some biscuits from his local Subway store and asked if they had a copy of Dream Life ––– they did, and sold it to him for $70

 

So busy trying to be ‘in it’ you have no time for your own work

Doug Stockdale of The Photobook blog recently posted ‘a change to my photobook commentaries’. He’s overwhelmed by the ‘dizzying rate’ of new photobooks and the quality and creativity of these books. Stockdale comments that they need ‘a shout out to the photographic community at large to increase awareness’ and that is what his blog attempts to do. However he’s finding that there’s not enough time for his own projects so he announced a a more ‘concise’ Facebook format for the blog in future posts…

 

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Just how pervasive is PBX?

 

Using SM for personal communications

A few days before Mothers Day this year a Brisbane acquaintance received notification that Ciaran Og Arnold’s ‘I went to the worst of bars…’ book was available in a bookshop in Amsterdam – She posted ‘I want this for Mother’s Day’ Her partner responded in less than an hour – ‘You got it’. Weeks later she triumphantly able to post that the book has arrived.

 

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That you know the picture backgrounds for each photobook commentator’s blogs…

Every photobook supplier, commentator, collector or archive has a standard background that is used for his or her social media presence:

Perimeter Books in Melbourne has the shop-view, sometimes with a table of books with Justine or Emma’s hand.

The Indie Photobook Library is the tabletop and a MAC laptop computer keyboard

Asia Pacific Photobook Archive used a knotted wood plank background for quite a while then, the floor of their old space and then confused us all by using every background imaginable.

 

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Can’t walk past a second-hand bookshop – or bookshop markdown table without feeling a twinge to look inside

The anticipation of being rewarded with wondrous things is such a strong motivator

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Spending more than you can afford building your library

The anxiety of photobook collectors was certainly shaken by a FB post from the State Library of Victoria about Karl Largerfield’s personal library. I suppose it comes down to getting one’s priorities right when it comes to collecting and personal finances.

 

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Gotta make sure I’ve got the dates of the next Art Book Fair locked-in to my diary

Were you one of the 16,000 who went to the Melbourne Art Book Fair? If you weren’t there you probably heard and read about how amazing it was. Now you don’t want to miss out on the next one… Well, the ‘Sydney Volume 2015 – Another Art Book Fair’ is on in 2 weeks…

 

Lifeline book sales are marked on your calendar

 

The Benjamin Effect!!

Photobook collectors will feel a connection with Walter Benjamin and his essay on ‘I’m unpacking my library’. In it he states ‘Of the customary modes of acquisition, one of the most appropriate to a collector would be the borrowing of a book with its attendant non-returning.’[i]

But there are ways more desperate than that – stealing books. A significant photobook identity recently admitted that his last resort to save his favourite book from being held in library limbo by committing an act of ‘Bibliokleptomania’.

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Benjamin also has something that any PBX sufferer can take heed of and that is: ‘Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method.’[ii] And that must inspire those inflicted with PBX to go and make a book of their own…

 

Antidotes / To Feed or Cure

  • Reviewing your social media strategy – set your FB preferences to ensure you get ‘Notifications’ and that your selected ‘Friends’ are listed as ‘Family’;
  • De-friend people who post what they ate for breakfast or pics of their cat – unless the cat is reading a book!   (FB Friend Judy Barass posted this as a response to this point);
  • Find new FB Friends – sources of quality information – like Harvey Benge, Stockdale’s The Photobook Blog, Foam, Dazedigital.com, Selfpublishbehappy.com, and Remote Photobooks for what’s happening in New Zealand;
  • Develop equity in social media: Giving = Getting. That is ‘Like’ things that you like, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’ things adding your own comment to make it interesting for you FB Friends;
  • Don’t just ‘lurk’ on FB otherwise things that you may be interested in will disappear from your Newsfeed as FB may think that you to not engage with the content;
  • Looking at allied book disciplines like artists’ books and zines;
  • Sharing your books – I’ll give you mine if you give me yours. I’ll buy yours if you buy mine;
  • Donate and contribute to photobook archives like the Indie Photobook Archive and the Asia Pacific Photobook Archive;
  • Grow your local – connect with events and people doing things in your region;
  • Lobby art institutions, libraries and criticism networks for more photobook content; and
  • Become an active advocate for photobooks.

 

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In conclusion

Ultimately it’s hopeless and PBX sufferer must give in to their base desires and needs and participate with energy, vigour and indifference to other aspects of your life….

 

Finally: A thought from John Waters…..

 

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Thank You – And – SEE YOU ONLINE….

 

BIFB PSC Symposium logo

 

Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting.” Translated by Harry Zohn. In Illuminations, 69-82. New York: Schocken Books, 2007. Reprint, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1968.

[i] Benjamin, Walter. “Unpacking My Library: A Talk About Book Collecting.” Translated by Harry Zohn. In Illuminations, 69-82. New York: Schocken Books, 2007. Reprint, Harcourt, Brace & World, New York, 1968. P62

[ii] ibid p61

 

 

PHOTO EXHIBITIONS @ The Ballarat Int’l Foto Biennale

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Doug Spowart foto ©2015

Looking at Andrew Campbell’s astro worlds

 

When visiting the Ballarat International Foto Biennale you very quickly find out that photography is a diverse and amazing communicative medium for storytelling, information transfer and as interior decoration. The 100 or more exhibitions cover walls in and around Ballarat in places as austere as the Ballarat Art Gallery, to classic Victorian halls and buildings and boutique coffee shops. Most exhibition spaces are within walking distance of the centre of town so the visitor becomes a foto flaneur…

 

This was out 3rd BIFB, in 2009 we were part of the Core Program with our Borderlines exhibition at the Post Office Gallery, so it was easy for us to slip into the exhibition walking process. I might say, it rained – or drizzled, as usual. It was cold, as usual. But people encountered along the way – old friends, new acquaintances were past of the ‘as usual’ BIFB experience.

Presented below are some images from the streets of Ballarat. What follows are some images of exhibitions seen. Occasional and brief comments about the shows, (some from the program), will be given as well as a link to the BIFB Program. Get there if you can —- there’s still weeks to go with workshops, talks and tours to add to the exhibitions.

A wrap-up report posted by the BIFB Committee is available HERE

 

CHECK OUT THE PROGRAM BIFB Program

 

BALLARAT: the view from the street

 

Doug Spowart photo ©2015Doug Spowart foto ©2015Doug Spowart foto ©2015Doug Spowart foto ©2015Doug Spowart foto ©2015Doug Spowart foto ©2015

 

We began @ Sam Harris’ exhibition – The Middle of Somewhere

 

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Sam HArris' 'The Middle of Somewhere' Post office Gallery

Sam Harris’ ‘The Middle of Somewhere’ Post Office Gallery

It was interesting to see the translation of book images into the space of the white walled gallery.

 

The Mining Exchange exhibition area - @ a very quiet time...

The Mining Exchange exhibition area – @ a very quiet time…

 

Part of David Williams' exhibition alcoves

Part of David Williams’ exhibition alcoves

A portrait of me made by David in the 1990s as 'The Cardinal'

A portrait of me made by David in the 1990s as ‘The Cardinal’

Some great conceptual portrait work by a true master of portraits – David Williams

 

Alejandro Chaskielberg's 'La Creciente'

Alejandro Chaskielberg’s ‘La Creciente’

Alejandro Chaskielberg's 'La Creciente'

Alejandro Chaskielberg’s ‘La Creciente’

A paraguayan immigrant travels together with an argentinian islander, who is his employer. They are loading 3 tons of Willows, taking them to the principal port of the Delta in order to sell the wood.

A Paraguayan immigrant travels together with an Argentinian islander, who is his employer. They are loading 3 tons of Willows, taking them to the principal port of the Delta in order to sell the wood.

An amazing exhibition of large format photography with images taken under moonlight conditions. Although the photographer claims that no flash or other lighting is used in his work …

 

Stephen Dupont's Piksa Niugini : Portraits and Diaries

Stephen Dupont’s ‘Piksa Niugini : Portraits and Diaries’

Dupont covers the walls of the gallery with a panoramic portrait of New Gineau tribes men and women. His ‘hold up the sheet’ separates the subject from the background which would imply a purely ethnographic recording. Now the subjects become art…

 

Leon Bird 'Mrs Patronis Guest House'

Leon Bird ‘Mrs Patronis Guest House’

Leon Bird

Leon Bird

Jane Long's 'Dancing With Costica'

Jane Long’s
‘Dancing With Costica’

The Dancing with Costica series initially came about when I decided to brush up on my retouching skills. After finding the Costica Acsinte Archive on Flickr I became fascinated with the images and their subjects. I wanted to bring them to life. But more than that I wanted to give them a story (from the catalogue).

AN amazing exhibition of not just Photoshop technique but more importantly the conceptual construction of narratives and haunting places for these subjects to inhabit and live on…

 

Silvi Glattauer holding a gravure plate of an image from ‘Organic Balance’

Silvi Glattauer holding a gravure plate of an image from ‘Organic Balance’

One of Silvi's gravures

One of Silvi’s gravures

Some beautiful images enhanced by the best way to make photographic images – Gravure…!

BLURB's 'One for the book' Photobook Award display in Trades Hall

BLURB’s ‘One for the book’ Photobook Award display in Trades Hall

20 Books from around the world were selected as finalists for this award – some interesting works including one of my own…  It’s a public vote to select a winner —Vote for mine!!!

 

The St Patricks exhibition hall

The St Patricks exhibition hall

Boryana Katsorova's 'Freezing'

Boryana Katsorova’s
‘Freezing’

The exceptionally cold weather and snowstorms that hit Europe in February 2012, caused traffic chaos, road closures, straining emergency services, grounding flights and pushing the death toll past 300 people and left entire villages cut off. I have documented this event in my series ‘Freezing’ capturing the distant stares of passengers (from the catalogue).

 

Michelle Vannier's 'Car Graveyard'

Michelle Vannier’s
‘Car Graveyard’

 

Thomas Kellner 'Genius Loci – Two German Gentlemen of Siegen in the Land of the Tsars'

Thomas Kellner
‘Genius Loci – Two German Gentlemen of Siegen in the Land of the Tsars’

Film-based mosaics – each full width of the subject being a 24 exposure film. Individual frames are ‘wiggled’ to deconstruct the real subject. A detailled plan of each image’s deconstruction is shown alongside the finished work.

 

Amber McCraig's 'Americana Now'

Amber McCraig’s ‘Americana Now’

Astronomical Society of Victoria's ‘Wonders of the Universe Exposed’

Astronomical Society of Victoria’s
‘Wonders of the Universe Exposed’

A stellar exhibition by the astronomers with cameras – Include work by our telescope here Andrew Campbell.

 

Marie Watt ‘After the Rush’

Marie Watt ‘After the Rush’

Marie Watt’s series After the Rush uses infrared photography to emphasise the atmospheric solitude of the lesser known gold rush sites – in a bid to remind us of a wider vibrant, though harsher, past (from the catalogue).

 

An exhibition in a coffee shop...

An exhibition in a coffee shop…

 

OH!! It was such a busy couple of days…

 

 

 

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