New vision for TPA

Articles

New vision for TPA

Author: Maude Arsenault

Maude Arsenault is a Canadian photographer, artist and curator who first had an international career in fashion. In recent days her work has been particularly invested in the representation of young woman in the context of domesticity and intimacy. She is interested in the notion of identity and the place of women and youth in our changing society. In 2013, she founded the online collective and gallery The Print Atelier.


If there is one thing that has been of particular concern to me for some time, as an artist and citizen of this changing world, it is the influence of social medias and technologies in our lives and how they distort our relation to reality and time.

Whether as a message, in its form, dissemination or reach, we live in an age where our communications are increasingly fast, fabricated and tampered with.

Our relationships with others are undeniably tinged and altered by all the images and messages we receive every day on our devices. Our gestures on the web are dissected, categorized and sometimes judged. We often find ourselves almost sequestered by algorithms in an imposed and non-objective projection of reality. It seems like we are seeing things more and more collectively.

Even we, as individuals, are transforming ourselves into potential images, fine-tuning our appearance and poses in a world where homogeneity is taking over and the notion of intimacy and originality is slowly disappearing. As Fred Ritchin mentions it in his book Beyond Photography: “With the screens, our homes are no longer private retreats, but they have become the limits of the webcam.” The way we represent ourselves has become a form of continuous slideshow on a lit screen.

This new virtual reality makes life more intangible then ever and here at ThePrintAtelier, we have been wondering how we can make a deeper connection with our audience…Even though the number of images circulating in cyberspace can seem alarming we believe that photography can be the starting point to leading meaningful conversations…

At ThePrintAtelier we are proud to have embraced, early on, the web as a new form of diffusion for art, but now in 2019, we feel it’s time to do more!

As the founder and curator, I believe ThePrintAtelier can be more invested in the purposeful role of photography. We want the work we present to be rooted in a contextual format and more stimulating for our collectors and visitors.

Images online are viewed through the power of the eye, Aristote would say, shouldn’t we try to have more power over the way we see them?

From now on we will be more proactive…and we will give matter to the voices rather than just showing images, to make sure that the context makes its way to you, our community.

As of today, TPA won’t only be a portal to acquire and browse through amazing photographs but it will become a place to share ideas, read critical essays and articles, stimulating interviews and get the latest news in photography.

Follow us closely as this new adventure will most certainly be quite a photo enriching ride!!!

 

Maude Arsenault
Founder of ThePrintAtelier

**The incredible roster of artists represented on this platform all work in the perspective of helping us understand the world in a better way. They all have a practice that documents life in the aim to illustrate the complexity of our relationship to reality or again they create a commentary on the staged state of modern life.


Pulling Our Heads out of the Water

Articles

Pulling Our Heads out of the Water

Author: Eve Laliberté

Eve Laliberté holds a BFA in Art History and is currently undertaking graduate studies in Edition. Since more than five years, she has been involved in the redaction, edition, and curation of several artistic projects. Through her researches, she is mainly interested in the notion of the situated body and the concepts of the immaterial, ephemeral and imaginary. Her texts have notably been published in Pica Mag, Échelles, Anniversary Magazine and some of her poems have also been published in the art book ‘‘rien d’ordinaire’’ by doux-soft club art collective.


Yesterday I came across this black and white photograph of two young lovers kissing in a park. During the 3.46 seconds in which my eyes were focused on the image, the sharp contrast and the cinematographic setting seemed familiar. I guess it was one of those iconic images I had encountered thousands of times, or a copy of it. But I still can’t recall where it came from or who was the author.

Most images stay in our mind like a vague memory. They flow into the depth of our psyche and sometimes just become a mere list of information and characteristics. We classify images like Facebook’s AI; we list the figures, the settings and the objects present in the frame. Maybe we need to do this to better understand what we see, but does it really help? Has our appreciation of images become algorithmic?

These drawers of memories and visions are so full that almost nothing seems distinctive anymore. The real question is; how can we see if our eyes are numbed by hours of scrolling through hi-resolution targeted content?

In his book Optics. Compression. Propaganda, American artist Sean Snyder wrote that « despite the ever-increasing amount of images we are exposed to, it could be conjectured that we see less. We see less of the image itself, overpowered by the meaning imposed by the discursive context in which it appears. »

If what Snyder proposes is true; we have to ask ourselves what happens if this context is the same for the thousands of images we consume every day. How can images produce a meaning that goes beyond their capitalist framework if they are only consumed through a small screen in an app interface thought for overconsumption and marketing ?

We have to think about how images happen to strike us in the physical world. For my part, most of the images I can clearly remember are those I encountered when I did not expect it. In real life — whatever that means — we are often caught off guard. We wander, physically or mentally, and eventually are surprised, either by a scenic moment taking place in the street or by a print, meticulously placed in the window of the subway. Even an incredibly small piece of paper laying on the pavement can freeze time long enough to change the course of our day. We see more of the things that are not predictable.

For images to impact us, we have to be receptive and, to be receptive, I guess that we sometimes have to allow ourselves to be surprised. But the internet as a space doesn’t always seem fit for these kinds of impromptus and meaningful encounters — and this is even truer if we consider the influence of algorithms on the homogeneity of what we see.

Basing her research on theories by Bruno Latour and Lev Manovich, among others, Suzanne Paquet refers to cyberspace as being a hyperreal environment seemingly closer to water than to earth. This comparison seems undoubtedly appropriate, especially when we can’t shake the feeling of anxiety caused by the impression that we are drowning in images. I think that the quality of a photograph often lies in the details, in the unseen, in the context, the sense it produces and the ideas it refers to. But to come to term with any of these specificities, we need time, calmness and openness. It is normal not to understand in 3.46 seconds, it is normal not to fall in love through a single glance, and it is also normal to forget the significant part of what we see. The most powerful love stories don’t always reveal themselves at first sight.

Maybe we have to instigate a new sense of calmness in this maze that is the internet to allow for better reception of the images. But how do we do that?

I guess everything starts by pulling our head out of the water for a day or two.


Andrea Modica : The Mindfulness of Analog Photography

Articles

Andrea Modica : The Mindfulness of Analog Photography

Author: Eve Laliberté

Eve Laliberté holds a BFA in Art History and is currently undertaking graduate studies in Edition. Since more than five years, she has been involved in the redaction, edition, and curation of several artistic projects. Through her researches, she is mainly interested in the notion of the situated body and the concepts of the immaterial, ephemeral and imaginary. Her texts have notably been published in Pica Mag, Échelles, Anniversary Magazine and some of her poems have also been published in the art book ‘‘rien d’ordinaire’’ by doux-soft club art collective.


In a recent episode of the podcast A Small Voice, Ben Smith met with American photographer Andrea Modica and discussed the potential of portrait photography to be a bridge of communication with her subject. We might not always have the key to know the exact parameters of the production context of an image, but sometimes — even in non-documentary photography — the strength of the work relies on the story and in the process that led to it rather than just the result.

Considering the photographic production as being conceptual is interesting when thinking about the context of the capture of the image, but it takes another dimension when we extend our idea of the creation process to the photo printing. For people of my generation, who have not lived through the rise and fall of analog techniques, it is not instinctive to include the materialization of the photo in the reflexion. But Andrea Modica, as well as a growing number of contemporary artists, continues to use traditional photographic techniques in her work, and this aspect is of interest if we want to understand the underlying forces of her practice.

Modica works with a large-format 8×10’’ camera, uses Kodak Tri-x film, and the final prints are platinum-palladium. Developed by William Willis at the end of the 19th century, the platinumpalladium process was used primarily by The Pictorialists, a group of photographers defending the artistic value and the emotional potential of photographs. Partly led by Alfred Stieglitz, the group left an essential heritage to photographic history that can shed light on some of the reasons why many contemporary photographers decide to work with analog techniques in their work,
even if there is a much simpler and faster way to develop pictures.

Of course, platinum-palladium offers a particular finish that can motivate the choice of some artists. Its delicate tones range from warm black, to reddish brown, to expanded mid-tone grays. Platinum-palladium is also known as being one of the most durable of all photographic processes. But for some artists, this choice goes beyond mere aesthetic taste and durability.

The physical aspect of the work can be attractive because of its degree of reality. As Modica stated in the podcast, there is a right and a wrong in the process of platinum printing and going through with it requires time, attention and care. In this kind of process, the role of the photographer is thus staggered over time, and the influence of its subjectivity can be exponential.

In the past years, the photographic process has almost become entirely intangible. For people working with digital, the only physical act in the process is the capture of the image and for some artists, this act can even itself be part of an intangible procedure. Artists of the post-photographic condition — Jon Rafman and his 9-eyes series, for instance — can reduce photographic creation to a completely digital process. While this is certainly interesting and opens the way to thousands of questions, some of which are brilliantly explored in the texts of Joan Fontcuberta, it draws a line for artists like Modica, who like to have their hands in the clay.

Putting so much effort in a photograph might be a way to reclaim authorship against machines which are dematerializing the whole photographic process and allowing for infinite reproductions. In The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, an eminent visionary 1935 text by Walter Benjamin, the author addressed the loss of aura of the mechanically produced copies. Even if the text initially considered analog photography as being part of the
criticized mediums, we could now argue that in the 21st century, this technique stands for similar ideas than those defended by Benjamin.

Analog and self-developed photography today is one of the rare processes that still, in some way, resist the shift of mass production and reproducibility allowed by digital mediums. By perpetuating part of the Pictorialist tradition, techniques like platinum-palladium leave significant margins for artists to explore their subjectivity through a process that is spread over time rather than immediacy.