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Archive for the ‘Speaking on Photography’ Category

FOUND: A camera obscura in a storage shed box

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An image is found in a packing box

An image is found in a packing box

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So today we were planning a day of shedding in our storage shed. We donned our dust masks and glasses, and cut through the five years of dust on many boxes and began to move our precious things into protective packing boxes.

Just as we were getting into the rhythm of this challenging chore we found something amazing in one of the empty boxes…

From that moment we stopped all work…

What follows is an impromptu document of performance we made in this remarkable image discovery. Found within an ordinary box ­– in a dusty storage shed – somewhere in the rows of storage sheds where we and others store our forgotten treasures…

 

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A video featuring the performance …

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Here are some images and a video on the refinement of the image by using other boxes and a pair of gloves to mask-out the light admitting aperture to around 3cm square.

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A video revealing the storage shed packing box set-up …

 

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OTHER COOPER+SPOWART CAMERA OBSCURA POSTS:

 

A collection of camera obscura works

https://wotwedid.com/2013/10/26/camera-obscura-2000-2020-in-hotels-and-other-places/

 

A porthole camera obscura on the Spirit of Tasmania

https://wotwedid.com/2019/01/11/2018-field-studies-camera-obscura-spirit-of-tasmania-porthole/

 

A gallery camera obscura

https://wotwedid.com/2016/11/14/maud-gallery-camera-obscura-for-one-day-only/

 

Our Tarago CarCamera Obscura

https://wotwedid.com/2016/05/13/ode-to-tarago-carcamera-obscura/

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Until the next obscura reveals itself …

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ARTISTS BOOKS+AUSTRALIA: Comment for CODEX Journal

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CODEX X Papers – Journal Cover+Text Page

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Early in 2019 Vicky and I received an email from Monica Oppen and Caren Florance inviting our contribution to a report commenting on news and updates on book arts activity in the Antipodes that they were preparing for the Codex Foundation‘s new journal The Codex Papers. They mentioned that they were asking for those involved with projects, conferences, workshops, collections and awards to send through their comments and plans so the local scene could be collated into the report.

Monica and Caren added that, Your commitment to the photo books and also to documenting events for the past years (or is it decades now?!) has lead us to decide that we must ask you what you see as the trends and key events of the past couple of years. Any feedback (your personal view) on the state of the book arts in Australia at the moment would also be of interest.

We were particularly excited to have been invited to contribute and over the days following the request we collaborated on a document that outlined our view of the scene. Photo documents that we had made were reviewed and prepared and forwarded, along with our text to Monica and Caren. The task of collating and blending the individual responses into a single report was completed and forwarded to the Codex Foundation.

Early this year the report was published and we received a contributor’s copy. We were impressed with the journal and the many interesting commentaries on the book arts from around the world. It was interesting to see the complete report and to read the individual contributor’s comments.

Published below is our text and some of the photographs we contributed in response to Monica and Caren’s invitation.

 

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Notes on the Antipodean book arts in the Antipodes for Caren + Monica

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Noreen Grahame in the exhibition Lessons in History Vol. II – Democracy 2012

 

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the world of the artists’ book in Australia was an exciting place. In Brisbane Noreen Grahame, through her Grahame Gallery, Numero Uno Publications, Editions and the Centre of the Artists’ Book championed the Australian artists’ book discipline. Grahame efforts were directed towards artists’ book exhibitions which started in 1991, art book fairs the first of which was held in 1994 and special invitation themed artists’ book exhibitions featuring clique of prominent national book makers.

Artspace Mackay under the directorship of Robert Heather hosted the first of 5 Focus on Artists’ Book (FOAB) Conferences in 2004. Over the years FOAB brought to Australia some of the world’s noteworthy practitioners and commentators on the discipline including Marshall Weber, Keith A Smith and Scott McCarney and juxtaposed them with local key practitioners. For the next 6 years those interested in artists’ books gathered to participate in lectures, workshops, fairs and a solid community of practice developed. In 2006 Artspace Mackay added the Libris Awards: The Australian Artists’ Book Prize that, with a few breaks, continues to be the premier curated artists’ book exhibition and award in Australia.

 

Noosa 08 Artists’ Book exhibition – Noosa Regional Gallery

Queensland also had 10 years of artists’ book exhibitions and 5 years of conferences from 1999-2008 at Noosa Regional Art Gallery. In many ways Queensland was the place to be if you were into artists’ books.

 

Southern Cross Artists’ Book Award 2007

In this period a few other artists’ book awards took place including the Southern Cross University’s Acquisitive Artists’ Book Award from 2005-2011.

 

Throughout the 1990s and until fairly recent times State Libraries and the National Library of Australia actively collected and built significant artists’ book collections. These included many forms of the artists’ book including: private press publications, significant book works by recognised international and Australian practitioners, books as object/sculpture, zines and the emergent photobook.

 

Now around the country major libraries are feeling the push by managers to move access to the library’s resources online thus the importance of the physical object and the tactile connection with items such as artists’ books is now not considered part of the service that the institution needs to provide. For example, the State Library of Queensland’s Australian Library of Art, which houses one of the largest artists’ book collections in the country, is now without a dedicated librarian. Research fellowships and seminars that were once administered by the Library and supported the Siganto Foundation are no longer available. Information and advice about the collection and other exhibitions or group viewings of artists’ books from their extensive collection have been significantly affected.

 

In recent years two Artists Book Brisbane Events coordinated by Dr Tim Mosely at Griffith University has facilitated a significant connection between the American and European scenes with guest speakers like Brad Freeman (Columbia University – Journal of Artists Books), Sarah Bodman (Centre for Fine Print Research – The University of the West of England), Ulrike Stoltz and Uta Schneider (USUS). The conferences also have included a place for discussion and review of the discipline by academics and emergent artist practitioners from Masters and Doctoral programs. These two ABBE conferences have provided a platform for academic discourse.

The artists’ book medium has been principally the realm of the printmaker as their artform easily enabled the production of printed multiples. Digital technologies, new double-sided inkjet papers as well as print-on-demand technologies have enabled the emergence of a range of new self-publishers – particularly photographers.

In 2011 I completed my PhD the title of which was Self-publishing in the digital age: the hybrid photobook. From my experiences in the artists’ book field as a practitioner and commentator and my lifelong activities in photography I saw a future for the photobook which could be informed by the freedoms and the possibilities for the presentation of narratives. While some aspects of this prophecy have been the case with some photographers, particularly those involved in academic study, the main thrust for the contemporary photobook has been towards the collaboration with graphic designers. These books take on various design and structure enhancements including special bindings, foldouts, mixed papers, page sizes, inclusions and loose components that can, at times, dilute the potential power of the simple photographic narrative sequence. The contemporary photobook has developed into its own discipline and through the universal communication possibilities of social media, conferences and awards a new tribe has emerged quite separate from and unaffected by the artists’ book community.

 

NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair 2017

Over the last 5 years the National Gallery of Victoria has presented the Melbourne Art Book Fair. In keeping with the art book fair worldwide movement participants man tables selling their publications. These can range from Institutional/gallery catalogues, trade art publications and monographs, artists’ books, photobooks and zines. The umbrella-like term and the spectacle of the ‘Art Book Fair’ as an event to witness and participate in has captured the individual disciplines and united the various tribes into one, not so homogeneous – community.

 

A quick review of the 2019 Melbourne Art Book Fair’s 86 table-holders there were only a handful of artists’ book-makers, perhaps a similar number of photobook publishers and a large contingent of zinesters and self-published magazines. The bulk of the tables were held by book distributors, bookshops, arts organisations, educational institutions and art galleries. The discipline of artists’ books was not significantly represented in this space. Was that due to the National Gallery of Victoria’s selection of table-holders or was it to do with artists’ book practitioners not considering the event as a relevant opportunity to show and sell their works?

 

Ultimately the question is – what is the status of the artists’ book in Australia at this time? My impression is that one of artists’ books key strengths was its closeness to the printmaking discipline and the cohesive bond of makers, critics and commentators, educators, journals, collectors and patrons. As many of these are connected to the tertiary academic environment and collecting libraries, both of which are fighting for their relevance in a changing education and library world, could it be considered that this is a defining moment in the history and the future of the artists’ book in this country?

 

Doug Spowart co-written with Victoria Cooper

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All photographs ©Doug Spowart

 

 

 

TWENTY-Documentary photography in Queensland

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SLQ TWENTY Webstie header

 

We are excited to announce that a selection of our Nocturne photographs of Queensland are featured in the new State Library of Queensland exhibition TWENTY: Two decades of Queensland Photography

 

 

ABOUT COOPER+SPOWART: Nocturne Imaging Projects

Victoria Cooper+Doug Spowart making Nocturne images

Photography is integral to the way we capture, interpret and share our experiences and deeply considered views of our world.

For around ten years we have been photographing the visual transformation of small towns and suburban places in those last moments of daylight and into night. Our intent is to capture this transient magical atmosphere of twilight where the afterglow of sunset combines with the illumination of streetlights and the room lights from inside houses that say someone is home. Additionally as some photographs created at this time require long camera exposures, the image captured shows the ghostly, blurred movement of people and car headlight trails.

The experience of nocturnal light is seductive yet uncanny. It connects us to the sustained beautiful melancholy felt when listening to Debussy’s Clair de lune while simultaneously evoking the unsettling, dark moments of a film noir movie.

Over the last seven years we have significantly documented as artists in residencies and personal projects communities including Muswellbrook, Grafton, Armidale, Bundaberg, Toowoomba, Miles, Cygnet, Wooli, Castlemaine, Murwillumbah, Bribie Island and numerous central NSW and Victorian regional towns.

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SEE MORE OF OUR NOCTURNE IMAGES FROM EAST COAT AUSTRALIA

@ www.nocturnelink.com

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TWENTY: THE CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

FROM THE SLQ Website: The 56 photographers featured in TWENTY represent the incredible diversity of Queensland’s documentary photography community. Some are well-known, some are emerging, some have been practising their craft for years relatively unknown. Some studied photography, some are self-taught. They are all dedicated to documenting Queensland and their work has allowed State Library to develop an astonishing visual archive of our state in the contemporary era.

Michael Aird
David Allen
Anthony Anderton
Patricia Baillie
Stephen Booth
Hamish Cairns
Brian Cassey
Darren Clark
Suzanna Clarke
Jacqueline Curley
Rodney Dekker
Heidi Den Ronden
Jo-Anne Driessens
Justin Edwards
Leif Ekstrom
Liss Fenwick
Peter Fischmann
Amanda Gearing

Juno Gemes
Craig Golding
John Gollings
Troy Hansen
Josie Huang
Kelly Hussey-Smith and Alan Hill
John Immig
Reina Irmer
Daryl Jones
Cassandra Kirk
Marko Laine
Cameron Laird
Madeleine Marx-Bentley
Dominique Normand
Glen O’Malley
Chris Osborne
Renee Eloise Raymond
Mick Richards

Hannah Roche
Troy Rodgers
Brian Rogers
Dean Saffron
Jeremy Santolin
Cathy Schusler
Sarah Scragg
Arthur Liberty Seekee
Clare Sheldon
Doug Spowart and Victoria Cooper
Reuben Stafford
Brodie Standen
Jason Starr
Richard Stringer
Garry Taylor
Shehab Uddin
Alf Wilson
Marc Wright

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100 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHERS: Loud+Luminous-2020

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LOUD & LUMINOUS – 100 Australian Women Photographers 

The backstory from the L&L Founders, Hilary Wardhaugh & Melissa Anderson

The Loud & Luminous mission is to recognise and celebrate the contribution of contemporary women in the photographic arts in Australia. We believe this project is unique and important in recognising the extensive cultural contribution women photographic artists and photographers have made in this country.

This project is designed to empower the girls and women of today and tomorrow to chase in their dreams. This will always be a timely project and one that hopes will help educate and inspire many women of all ages.

​The 2020 theme of ‘EQUALITY’ echoes the United Nations sustainable development goals of ‘gender equality’, and we very much look forward to seeing work that reflects that goal and our theme.

 

Late in 2019 a call went out to female photographers of any age throughout Australia to submit an image for consideration to be selected for the 3rd LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibition at Sydney’s CONTACT SHEET GALLERY and book. The photographers whose images were successful were:

L&L Selected photographers 2020

Loud & Luminous selected photographers 2020

 

Due to COVID-19 the exhibition at Contact Sheet Gallery has been postponed. However over the next 3 months they will post works on the gallery’s online blog. ‘CLICK’ HERE!

 

Once again we were excited that images by both Victoria and Ruby were successful…

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER

Victoria Cooper: Portrait…..PHOTO:Doug Spowart

Victoria’s Artist’s Statement: All things have significance

All things have significance … sentient or not … organic or inorganic… a rich environment of diversity, differentiation and divergence.

The inspiration, like a ray of light through dark clouds, to create this image arises from the women that have, at great personal cost through leadership in research, writing and sheer passion, fought discrimination, voicelessness and political power structures to make a difference in the ongoing quest to create a sustainable and healthy planet. Among these women are: American Rachel Carson, Australian Mary E. White and Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg.

 

All things have significance ….. PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

 

 

RUBY SPOWART

Ruby Spowart …. Photographer unkown

Ruby’s Artist’s Statement …. EQUALITY: Beauty in Aging

Some may say that only in youth there is beauty – as I witness in the unfolding of a fresh new orchid flower. But as I watched the flower each day, its beautiful strong colourful presence began to loose its vigour and the colours began to slowly fade. In the last stages of its life it turned a deep reddish tan almost gold.

Its youthful form no longer evident but now wrinkled and withered it has a different kind of elegance – an equality of beauty…

 

Ruby’s EQUALITY: Beauty in Aging

 

 

 

Hilary Wardhaugh & Melissa Anderson wish to acknowledge.

Hilary Wardhaugh + Mel Anderson

Hilary Wardhough + Melissa Anderson

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In 2018 our wonderfully supportive sponsors included: Fujifilm Australia, Kayell Australia, Momento Pro, Victorian Women’s Trust, Creative Women’s Circle and Damian Caniglia Photography and Video. In 2019 we again secured Fujifilm Australia, Kayell Australia, Momento Pro, and Damian Caniglia Photography/Video. We also added Print2Metal and Amanda Summons (book designer) as sponsors.

In 2020 we added PPIB Photographers Insurance as a new sponsor. We were also very fortunate to have Paul McDonald at CONTACT SHEET Gallery as our Exhibition partner, too.

The 2019 and 2020 we held International Women’s Day Symposia in Canberra that were both sold out and received extremely well. We are also proud to say that the 2018 and 2019 Loud & Luminous books have been accepted into the National Library of Australia’s collection.

In 2020 we also saw the results of the stipend raised by the IWD 2019 ticket sales in a group exhibition with Suellen Cook, Tamara Whyte, Helga Salwe, Tricia King and Elise Searson at Photoaccess in Canberra.

 

 

The 2020 L&L book

BUY A COPY OF THE 2020 L&L book HERE

(Order before 30 June 2020)

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Both Victoria and Ruby have been selected in earlier LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibitions

Victoria Cooper (left) ………………………………………………………………………………Ruby Spowart (right)

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IN 2019  – ‘Click’ link to see the post

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Victoria Cooper  L&L entry 2018

In 2018  – ‘Click’ link to see the post

 

 

 

 

Looking forward to the next LOUD & LUMINOUS exhibition in 2021 …

 

 

Written by Cooper+Spowart

May 16, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Exhibitions, Speaking on Photography, Victoria Cooper

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2020 WORLDWIDE PINHOLE DAY 26 April – Our images

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WPPD2020 – LOGO

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Around the [w]hole world on Sunday April 26, 2020 pinholers were out having fun – Making their images for the 2020 Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day.

This year we are hunkered down during the Pandemic in Toowoomba, Queensland Australia. Once again, far away from the darkroom, we’ve fitted a piece of aluminium with a light admitting pin-prick to the body cap of our Olympus Pen camera and braved the parkland at the end of our street. The next day we uploaded our images with a detailed caption to the WPPD website to add to the contributions from Australian pinholers and many more from around the world.

This is the 15th year we have supported the WPD project!

 

WHAT IS WORLDWIDE PINHOLE DAY ALL ABOUT?

From the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day website introduction

All the photographs in this extraordinary collection share two common characteristics: (1) they are lensless photographs (2) they were all made on April 26, 2020.

They also share an additional and less formal characteristic: the sincere enthusiasm of their creators who, by participating in this collective event, shared individual visions and techniques. Hence the amazing diversity of subjects, cameras, techniques and photographic materials combined in this exhibit!

 

Australian WWPD submission @ May3

 

VICTORIA’s PINHOLE IMAGE

Out walking the dog during COVID Isolation PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

ABOUT VICKY’S PINHOLE IMAGE:

Walking in the park as it turns to Autumn … Many people are exercising: walking, running, cycling during our period of isolation for COVID-19. I am grateful that during this terrible time, we are able to slow down and reconnect with what is important in our lives.”

 

 

DOUG’s PINHOLE IMAGE

Doug Spowart’s Stay Home-WPPD-2020

ABOUT DOUG’S PINHOLE IMAGE:

With the world-wide pandemic Covid-19 changing everything signs appear everywhere to remind us to stay vigilant in our resolve to limit community infection. Our local real estate agent has replaced photos of houses for sale with the letters S-T-A-Y H-O-M-E / S-T-A-Y W-E-L-L. Stay healthy everyone…”

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OUR Digi-PINHOLE CAMERA

The Cooper+Spowart digi OLYMPUS PEN with pinhole ...

The Cooper+Spowart digi OLYMPUS PEN with pinhole …

This is a converted digital Olympus Pen, shared with my partner Doug Spowart. The pinhole is a pin pierced hole in aluminium which is inserted into a hole drilled into a body cap. It is a hand held exposure of 1/20th second at ISO 800.”

Our digi-pinhole camera is an OLYMPUS Pen digital. The body cover has been drilled-out and a aluminium foil sheet with pin prick acts as the light emitting ‘hole’. Hand-held exposure 1/20th of a second ISO 800″

 

 

The 2020 WPPD GALLERY DEDICATION:

to Eric Renner who passed away in the USA last month

Self Portrait: Sweatshirt pinhole camera, Arles, 1996, pinhole photograph

Self Portrait: Sweatshirt pinhole camera, Arles, 1996, pinhole photograph, 14″x11″   SOURCE: https://ericrennerphoto.com

 

WPPD 2020 Eric Renner Dedication

WPPD 2020 Eric Renner Dedication

 

VALE ERIC RENNER: Our connection with Eric and partner Nancy Spencer

Eric’s Pinhole Photography book

From early in 1990 Vicky had connected with Eric Renner, partner Nancy Spencer and their Pinhole Resource. We exchanged communications and images showing the work that we were doing in Australia. Eric and Nancy, through their inclusive and generous efforts created a world-wide movement in pinhole photography that continues to grow.

Eric published a body a colour pinhole and zoneplate images from the exhibition Natural Encounter by Vicky in the pinhole journal. Later a collection of Doug’s 4×5 Zoneplate images were also published in the journal.

Over the years we continued to connect and share ideas and some of our work was included in the Focal Press book Pinhole Photography rediscovering a historic technique.  Our work was also included in the Pinhole Resource collection, Poetics of Light exhibition and the accompanying Poetics of Light book at the New Mexico Museum of History.

Pinhole photography is a vibrant and exciting world-wide pinhole community and we are grateful for this legacy that Eric, with Nancy nurtured.

 

There’s a Blog post about the Poetics of Light book and our work in it HERE

 

 

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Other images we made on the day…

 

Visit the WWPD Site for details of other submissions:  http://pinholeday.org/

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Our Past WWPD images:

2019 Doug+Vicky https://wotwedid.com/2019/04/29/2019-worldwide-pinhole-day-28-april-our-images/

2018 Doug+Vicky https://wotwedid.com/2018/04/29/2018-worldwide-pinhole-day-29-april-our-images/

2016 Doug: http://www.pinholeday.org/index.php?id=1235

2016 Vicky: http://www.pinholeday.org/index.php?id=1540

2015  https://wotwedid.com/2015/05/04/april-26-worldwide-pinhole-day-our-contributions-for-2015/

2014  Vicky’s http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2014/index.php?id=1810&City=Toowoomba

2014  Doug’s http://pinholeday.org/gallery/2014/index.php?id=1811&City=Toowoomba

2013   https://wotwedid.com/2013/04/29/world-pinhole-photography-day-our-contribution/

2012   http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2012/index.php?id=1937&searchStr=spowart

2011    http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2011/index.php?id=924

HERE IS THE LINK to the 2011 pinhole video   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk4vnbzTqOU

2010   http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2010/index.php?id=2464&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2006  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2006/index.php?id=1636&Country=Australia&searchStr=cooper

2004 Vicky  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2004/index.php?id=1553&Country=Australia&searchStr=cooper

2004 Doug  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2004/index.php?id=1552&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2003  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2003/index.php?id=615&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

2002  http://www.pinholeday.org/gallery/2002/index.php?id=826&Country=Australia&searchStr=spowart

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 ©2020 Doug Spowart+Victoria Cooper
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Our photographs and words are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/..

The photobook event that THE VIRUS TOOK AWAY

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Some Antipodean Photobooks from the Tate project PHOTOCOLLAGE: Doug Spowart

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On the weekend of May 2-3 2020 there was a weekend of major photobook activities planned for the PHOTO 2020 International Photo Festival in Melbourne.

 

A significant component of the event: A seminal selection of 52 Australian and New Zealand Photobooks* from the State Library of Victoria’s collection was to be made available for public viewing.

On Sunday May 3 international photobook guru Martin Parr was to team up with local photobook aficionado Doug Spowart in a public Q&A session. Of particular interest were their methodologies and considerations for reviewing photobooks. Among other questions it was proposed that they respond to the contentious issues of ‘What validates a book for it to be considered eligible to be included in a canon of photobooks?’ and ‘How such curated selections can energise the recognition for photobooks?’

It was planned that the panel interviewers and contributors to the discussion would be renown writer and Photojournalism Now publisher Alison Stieven-Taylor and would also include the celebrated New Zealand photobook maker and Massey University lecturer David Cook.

An additional event to add to the PHOTO 2020 Photobook Weekend was a major Photobook Fair that would include major publishers, significant photobook makers, a showing of the ANZ Photobook Awards, photobook manufacturers and POD suppliers, workshops and info sessions.

 

However the COVID-19 pandemic was to change all that …

 

 

March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page

March 15, 2020 post on the PHOTO 2020 Facebook page

 

The PHOTO2020 event, retitled as PHOTO2021 is being rescheduled with the new dates of 18 February – 7 March 2021.

Thank you to founder and Artistic Director Elias Redstone and Producer Rachel Ciesla from the PHOTO 2020 team and Des Cowley from the State Library of Victoria for their efforts to bring this project into fruition. And we look forward to being part of the programme on the rescheduled dates…

 

Keep up to date with PHOTO 2021

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/photofestivalau/

WEBSITE: https://photo.org.au/

 The PHOTO 2021 team have been posting video interviews with a diverse group of international photographers and artists – Check them out…

 

FACEBOOK: Photo 2021-Photo Live

 

 

 

*52 Antipodean Photobooks: A beginning for a canon of the ANZ photobook

In 2019 the Tate Library received a selection of 52 photographically illustrated books from the Australian and New Zealand region. The books were curated by Australian photobook aficionado Dr Doug Spowart and were specially chosen to extend the Antipodean photobook presence within Martin Parr’s 12.5K photobook donation to the Tate in 2017.

Doug Spowart’s Tate commission came as a result of his meeting with Martin Parr at the 2017 Vienna Photobook Festival. Parr attended Spowart’s lecture on the Antipodean photobook at the Festival and saw examples of the 2016 ANZ Photobook of the Year Awards.

Martin Parr and Doug Spowart reviewing ANZ photobooks at the SLV for consideration to be included in the Tate submission. January 2018. ….. PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

In early 2018 Spowart met with Parr at the State Library of Victoria and shared with him a selection of the photobooks that had been curated for proposed Tate purchase.

While interest in the photobook has resulted in publications and scholarship from every major country in the world the same has not been the case for the Antipodean photobooks. Spowart sees the PHOTO 2020/2021 event as being an opportunity to celebrate ANZ photobooks and bring recognition to the local contemporary and historical publications. To this end Doug Spowart has published a blog entitled The Antipodean Photobook and a FACEBOOK page The Photobook in Australia and New Zealand (under construction @ May 2020).

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Looking forward to PHOTO2021: 18 February – 7 March 2021

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LOOKING AT PHOTOs IN THE GALLERY: a talk by Doug Spowart

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Doug Spowart in The Museum Project exhibition at Lismore Regional Gallery .…..PHOTO: Victoria Cooper

 

I’ve a lifetime of connection with art galleries from exhibitor to director and curator to reviewer. I’ve often pondered on how the gallery space connects with those who visit it and what insights they may take-away from that interaction.

Viewing an exhibition can be a very superficial activity or it can be one that can create the opportunity for a meaningful and personal experience.

I have often been interested in observing people in the gallery space and wondered whether they were: (1) an interested and attentive participant, (2) using the space for social interaction – with friends/partners/children, (3) there as a flâneur to be seen in the gallery or possibly (4) a person accompanying 1, 2 or 3.

Floor talks are a necessary part of the educative process carried out in an art gallery. It can transform the way art is introduced to a new audience and enlighten those wanting to know more.

 

At the end of last year I was invited to present a floor talk about an exhibition of photography at the Lismore Regional Gallery in northern NSW. The talk was to coincide with the gallery’s showing of The Museum Project a collection of American photography work from the 1970-2010. The project represents a selection of works from 7 photographers that cover a diverse range of approaches to photography. The photographers, and genre of their works are:

 

The Museum Project at the Lismore Regional Gallery

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I considered the invitation and proposed that the talk would be based upon the idea of ‘Looking at photos in the gallery’. Rather than a direct translation of curator’s didactics I decided that I would use my gallery and photography experiences to suggest a number of steps and questions for the visitor in their engagement in the gallery space so they may derive more from the experience. I also acknowledged that attendees would be interested in a commentary about interesting aspects of the works including the conceptual and technical approaches taken by the photographers. The works presented an excellent opportunity to also talk about different approaches to photography as a visual art form.

In my preparation for the talk I visited the gallery and made notes on the works as well as carried out online research about the photographer’s backgrounds, manifestos and techniques.

I thought further about the proposition of looking at photographs in the gallery and prepared a script for the talk. To make the talk more interactive and personal, I decided to hand make a little booklet for each attendee to refer to during the talk and as take-home information source. In the 2015 Artists’ Book Brisbane Event, I did a similar process where I made a booklet of my talk for each of the 60 attendees of the conference and rather than an electronic presentation, I performed the book …

The gallery staff member assisting me for the day, Claudie Frock, had printed up 25 A3 sheets of my 8-page fold booklet the evening before so that Joanna Kambourian, Vicky and I could make up the books.

 

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

The Looking at Photos in the Gallery booklet

 

Overnight before the talk Lismore, and South-East Queensland and North-East New South Wales were drenched with flash-flooding rains so I was pleasantly surprised in the morning when 25 people came along to the talk. There was also a small group of deaf people attending the talk and I was supported in my presentation by AUSLAN interpreter Bronwyn. After the acknowledgement of country and an introduction by Claudie we began the talk.

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Participant involvement is a necessary part of my presentation style and the question/answer format gave ample opportunities for attendees to interact in the talk. One of the gallery’s curators that attended, Fiona, added special insights about gallery installation, copyright and image conservation. The booklet process worked well and we managed to cover a diverse range of topics within the 1-hour time allotted.

 

You can download a PDF of the little A5 booklet LRG-Booklet

 

Vicky and I stayed on after the talk to connect with attendees who wanted to chat further and also to re-connect with two local photographers Jacklyn Wagner and Peter Derrett OAM who were associated with workshops that we had presented in Lismore at the Gasworks Art Centre and the Southern Cross University in the early 1990s. They presented us with a copy of the catalogue for a documentary project called Heart & Soul that featured people from around the region.

On leaving the gallery the rain had cleared to a sunny day…

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Vicky + Doug with the catalogue for the Heart&Soul exhibition by Jacklyn and Peter PHOTO: Peter Derret

Vicky + Doug with the catalogue for the Heart&Soul exhibition by Jacklyn and Peter PHOTO: Peter Derrett OAM

 

Doug with Jacklyn Wagner + Peter Derrett PHOTO: Dr Ros Derrett OAM

 

 

 

Please note the Booklet and the lecture are a work in progress to be added to in future versions – and it’s ©2020 Doug Spowart.

 

 

VICTORIA COOPER: Scroll works 1998-2003

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Victoria Cooper: Portrait

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Victoria Cooper talks about her early montage works in the form of 10 scrolls made in the period 1998-2003

The text below begins with a discussion about the first five scrolls, three from Mt Buffalo and two of Phillip Island clouds. This is the first public viewing of these early scroll works.

Following this is a short statement about the next five scrolls, The Five Stories of the Gorge. There is a separate blog post about these scrolls that presents more details and exhibition history along with an image of each scroll.  HERE

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For those who can see, existence takes place in an unfurling scroll of pictures captured by sight enhanced or tempered by other senses . . . Building up a language made of pictures translated into words and words translated into pictures, through which we try to grasp and understand our very existence. (Manguel, 2001, p.7)

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Montage and digital narratives

Timothy Druckrey (1994) discusses the montage early in digital era: One of the central considerations in the emergence of electronic montage is the redefinition of narrative and the single image is not sufficient to serve as a record of an event but, rather, that events are themselves complex configurations of experience, intention, and interpretation. Nearly 30 years of the digital evolution, the montage and the collage in all its forms both traditional and analogue continues to shape perception and narrative of the human condition.

 

About my digital montage scroll works

My first major digital body of work in the late 1990’s was a series constructed visual narratives from photo-documentation in sites significant in my development as an environmental visual poet. In the digital medium, I then cut and blended my collected data/ resource of photographic elements into the multiple perspectives that visually tell my story through the form of rice paper scrolls. The sites were Mt Buffalo, coastal Victoria, and a small area of original forest near Toowoomba.

When I first encountered the landscape at Mount Buffalo, I was filled with a sense of awe. The most significant memories that remain with me are of the journeys from the valley to the summit. Over the years I have undertaken many walks that meander through or climb impressive granite landforms and rich stands of native flora. The Buffalo Scrolls were constructed from many individual elements of the analogue photographic material gathered on site and woven together in the computer later. Although initially informed by the tradition of Chinese and Japanese scroll making, I could not conform to the strict rituals of Asian art school but rather was guided in the production of these works by material thinking and the reflective/reflexive response to memory and corporeal experience.

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, Waterfall,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes,
Image: 107×27.5 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm.

 

The digital environment provided me with a psychological space in which images could be combined, manipulated and layered in the shaping of my story. I utilised image manipulation software to ‘grow’ and distort the landscape. Through this process I found that I was directed to imaginative places beyond any original intent or pre-visualization. Although the work originates in my direct recordings of place, the fluidity of digital space allowed for experimentation and new work to transform and evolve any fixed idea I may have had. So in creating The Waterfall scroll, a large boulder became a precipitous mountain to emphasis the terrain encountered. The trail up to the waterfalls was a seemingly endless rock-formed staircase that proved to be a challenging path.

 

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Cathedral,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×27.5 cm,
Scroll: 250×30 cm. Collection of the artist.

 

The Cathedral scroll journey across a watery marsh dotted with fragile alpine daisies is at times a precarious rock hop. Taking care not to step onto the vegetation beneath. In another of the Buffalo scrolls the ominous granite corridor of The Pinnacle defines the way through expanses of rock to the summit of the mountain in the distance.

 

 

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Pinnacle, inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107x27.5 cm, Scroll: 250x30 cm. Collection of the artist.

Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Buffalo Scrolls, The Pinnacle, inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×27.5 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm. Collection of the artist.

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Victoria Cooper (August, 1999), Phillip Island Storm Cloud, left and right views,
inkjet on rice paper in acrylic boxes, Image: 107×24 cm, Scroll: 250×30 cm.
Collection of the artist.

 

My work with digital scrolls continued with the production of the diptych, Phillip Island Storm Cloud. These two images relate to the sense of anticipation felt when observing an approaching storm.

At Mount Buffalo and Phillip Island, I wrestled with both a fear of taking risks when encountering new and difficult terrain and a strong curiosity to explore the unknown. The scrolls reflect the memories of conflict and fear together with a sense of wonder I experienced within this sublime landscape and, in some ways more broadly, my life.

 

 

Installation of Victoria Cooper's Five Stories of the Gorge
Installation of Victoria Cooper’s Five Stories of the Gorge

The virtual to the physical

The digital montages can only be seen in the electronic medium through the action of ‘scrolling’. Therefore, as some of my early inspiration came from the Asian form of presenting narratives, I utilised the rice paper scroll transformed the virtual to physical, tactile form. The scrolls are displayed in the vertical format and unravelled from their acrylic container to reveal the entire image. The viewer can enter the scroll at any point as with the initial perusal of a written story and, if engaged fully, can follow the narrative through from beginning to end.

 

The Five Stories from the Gorge Scrolls

Following this initial work I became more interested with the concept of small and intimate spaces found in everyday life. Five stories from the Gorge, presents a more intimate connection with the environment than the Buffalo series. Instead of trekking up precipitous climbs of distant mountain regions, I followed forgotten pathways and looked into the small, enclosed spaces of this gorge environment near where I lived. I made many journeys into the gorge and on each occasion I took time to absorb many sensory impressions as well as creating a digital photographic record.

As with the Buffalo work, I found that the single viewpoint photographic image did not give me the dynamic reading I sought. So again I created a series of montage scroll works synthesised from my collected visual recordings and sense-memory.

The physical environment of the gorge presented me with some complexities when blending the changes of photographic perspective into a seamless passage through the landscape. Central to this work was to attempt, by the use of scale and viewpoint changes, to reconstruct how the eye scans a scene. As the eye of the observer focuses on single viewpoints then moves to another it not possible to take in an entire scene with a single perspective. With this characteristic of visual perception in mind, I set out to recreate the landscape visually from multiple viewpoints. So in this body of work I seamlessly combined disjointed and sometimes perceptively conflicting views to form images that go beyond the static visual document.

During my visits to photograph the gorge, I also collected objects from the site. For me, the found elements provided a different narrative opportunity. In the scrolls Chaos and Order I investigated these natural elements presented in groupings as a kind of language. These pictographs form poems made up from a natural vocabulary associated with the visual form of the written word.

Each element was scanned into the computer to obtain a replica of their likeness, the objects themselves were later returned to the site to continue their natural cycle. The scroll, Order, begins the dialogue by suggesting the elements of a genetic code. The arrangements of the seeds and leaves and other fragments are seemingly organised and uniform but, on closer observation, there are subtle differences to the repeated segments.

Chaos came as an answer to the cyclic relentless processes that continually ebb and flow through time in nature. It is the interruptions, upheavals and the process of change that nurture and ensure survival. Though these scrolls are without the scenic detail, they are the essence of the region, a distilled manuscript of the cycles and disruptive events in nature over time.

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

The Chaos and Order scrolls alongside the Hillside scroll

 

Five Stories from the Gorge, investigates the idea of wilderness and nature that exists in or on the edges of these human inhabited spaces.

 

The Gorge – from the series Five Stories from the Gorge 2001

 

Throughout the process of image collection and construction I was informed by the influences of visual poetry, environmental art and my scientific background. The landscape paintings of William Robinson and Lin Onus have both innately influenced the way I see and work over my career. These reconstructed spaces are as fictional as a Tolkien novel but at the same time provide the evidence of existence as if collected in a Darwinian exploration.

 

Victoria Cooper

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SEE A BLOG POST ABOUT The Five Stories of the Gorge: HERE

Bibliography
Timothy Druckrey (1994). ‘From Dada to Digital, Montage in the twentieth century’, Metamorphoses: Photography in the Electronic Age, Aperture, 136, Summer, pp 4-7.
Timothy Druckery (1996) editor. Electronic Culture, Technology and Visual Representation, New York, Aperture Foundation Inc.
Alberto Manguel (1996). A History of Reading, London, Harper Collins Publishers.
Alberto Manguel (2001). Reading Pictures, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WOTweTHINK: Joe Ruckli’s ‘LIGHTNING WITHOUT FLASH’

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Walking into Joe Ruckli’s exhibition Lightning Without Flash at the Queensland College of Art’s Web Gallery was a little like entering into the subject of his documentary work.

The white walls of the gallery evoke the opal miner’s white clay tunnels of Lightning Ridge in northern NSW. Here and there the glimmer of what opal miners call ‘colour’ appear in the form of photographs arranged in rows and in one random gallery hang.

In the center of the room on plinths sit piles of ‘potch’ – miners slang for junk opal in the form of Keno tickets, fractured clay clods, crumpled beverage cans, machinery debris and a ‘roly-poly’(tumble weed).

 

Lightning Without Flash QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… Installation QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Gallery visitors at the exhibition opening ... PHOTO: Doug Spowart

Gallery visitors at the exhibition openingPHOTO: Doug Spowart

 

In traditional documentary style Ruckli’s ‘miner’s tunnel’ presents visual material that tells or invokes stories about place.

Ruckli’s human inhabitants live hard lives working in difficult conditions.

  • A hand holds a wallet in which a well-handled 1960s b&w portrait of lady looks out of the frame – the thumbnail of the hand is damaged and cracked and a fly sits on the knuckle…
  • A 50s+ lady stares challengingly at the camera, hand on hip the other resting on the doorway to her ‘home’ – behind her head a circular dark shape, perhaps a window, acts like a halo. There are layers of meaning here…
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 

The human occupied space where people live and work is depicted as a run-down, rough and inhospitable place.

  • A caravan surrounded by assorted re-purposed corrugated iron sheeting hides within a barren withered land.
  • A ‘room’ of walls made of bits of bags, iron sheets, wood and bush poles seems like an abandoned hermit’s lair laid dormant for a century.
  • A shop in the street ‘Peter’s Opals’ presents a stark elevation despite the beauty of the stones inside for sale.
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 

The natural space is tough enough for plants and animals without it being overlaid by the detritus of human habitation and exploitation.

  • Bushland slashed by the track of grader blades, scattered bleached kangaroo bones and shrubbery covered by powdered bulldust giving the appearance of a snow scene.
  • A kangaroo skeleton lies in profile, its running pose is gradually being smothered by wind-blown dust to perhaps one day to be found as a fossil of this time…
Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

 Lightning Without Flash...... QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

Lightning Without Flash…… QCA Webb Gallery PHOTO: Joe Ruckli

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Ruckli has selectively, through his image and ephemera collecting, presented us with a first-hand experience of Lightning Ridge. It’s an alien space that few of us will ever encounter. But for one moment, in this white ‘tunnel’, we came to experience something of what lies behind the opal’s seduction. So powerful that it drives human endeavour to live, work and endure the hardships to strike the illusive and lucky find.

And we wonder about the gem – once extracted from its hiding in the claystones and then polished – destined for another place to adorn, as a jeweled accessory, the lifestyles of another world …

 

Doug Spowart with editorial support by Victoria Cooper

13 Jan 2020

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What is WOTweTHINK?

We attend many exhibitions and lament that these shows rarely have personal or reflective commentaries published about them. Our concept is to condense our thoughts into an Instagram-like short/sharp rought draft post. We hope that WOTweTHINK may encourage a broader discussion …

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A SELECTION OF OTHER IMAGES FROM THE EXHIBITION

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BIFB: PHOTOBOOK WEEKEND – A Report

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BIFB Webpage Header

 

WORLD PHOTOBOOK WEEKEND

 

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale was proud to host the World Photobook Day during the festival between Saturday 12 October and Monday 14 October. The call-out was to Celebrate World Photobook Day with other photography enthusiasts by attending 4 photobook events over the weekend.

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Doug meeting with Aaron Bradbrook

Doug meeting with Aaron Bradbrook

The back story for the BIFB’s World Photobook Weekend is that in March Vicky and I visited the BIFB in its home the National Centre of Photography. In a conversation with Associate Curator Aaron Bradbrook we pitched the idea of a photobook event to coincide with World Photobook Day.

In followup conversations with the BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet a series of four events became part of the program. The events were: a keynote talk, a forum, a photobook fair and a birthday celebration.

 

With BIFB Creative Director Fiona Sweet

In the months that followed we worked with Fiona, refined the event focus and the people who could be involved. We then followed through with our side of the necessary preparations and promotion of the event.

This series of Blog posts provides a report on the four events as well as an opportunity to present a commentary on the Australian and New Zealand photobooks that was the topic of the talk I presented on the first day of the weekend.

To navigate through the events just ‘CLICK’ on the title tab. At the end of each post there’s a ‘RETURN to the HOMEPAGE’ link.

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SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER

Doug Spowart + ANZ Photobooks


TALK BY DOUG SPOWART

Many Tribes: The Australian And New Zealand Photobook

Click LINK

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SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER

Book Fair participants


PHOTOBOOK FAIR

Click LINK

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Forum Panelists

 

FORUM: Photobooks – Getting Published & Getting Collected 

with Patrick Pound, Sarah Walker, Heidi Romano and David Wadelton. Moderated by Doug Spowart

Click LINK

 

MONDAY 14 OCTOBER

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World Photobook Day Birthday Celebration


HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARTY
!   Celebrating 176 years of photobooks

Click LINK

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