Category Archives: Photography

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus

Konichiwa fellow students! For this post, I’ll be reviewing the movie Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus.

If you don’t know who Diane Arbus is, then let’s start with that. Diane Arbus is a photographer who was known for her black and white portraits. The subject of those portraits? Dwarfs, giants, transgender people, nudists, and circus performers. She was simply known as “the photographer of freaks”.  Despite being unconventional, Diane is one of America’s most famous photographers. However, she tragically committed suicide in 1971. But her legacy lives on in galleries around the world, and in the film Fur.

The movie itself is a fictional depiction of Diane’s life as a wife and as a photographer. In the film, she is joined by Robert Downey Jr., who plays one of her photographic subjects. Their relationship is strange, but also very fascinating. She also acts alongside Ty Burrell, who is famous for his starring role in the popular TV show Modern Family. Both men play a crucial part in Diane’s work, and conflict her emotions in both good and bad ways.

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus at times was incredibly confusing, but it kept my attention and made an impression on me. As a photographer, I found the movie to be visually captivating, and I would recommend it to anyone who has a curiosity for all things offbeat.

I give Fur 4 out of 5 stars.

Yum-Yum Bento Box

Konichiwa, fellow students! I want to introduce you to the first book that I ever looked at when becoming a member of the library staff.

Now, I’m not a culinary student. I can’t even cook or bake very well. But this book caught my eye immediately. Not just because it’s adorable and colorful. And not just because it made me incredibly hungry, but because it made me feel nostalgic.

Yum-Yum Bento Box is a recipe book, to put it simply. These neatly made boxes are commonly found in Japan. In 2010 and then again in 2011, I was lucky enough to visit the country myself. It was a wonderful and eye opening experience, to say the least. But one of my fondest memories from my journey to the Land of the Rising Sun was the food, and more specifically, the bento boxes. They are truly a work of art.

If you’re someone, like myself, who is drawn to food shaped like penguins and teddy bears… then I would definitely recommend this book.

Remember the Olympics?

The 2012 London Olympics wrapped up last week.  While most casual sports fans have already recovered from their small case of Olympic fever, hardcore sports fanatics may still be nursing their Olympics hangover.  Don’t despair — as usual, the library has you covered.  These Olympics-related books and DVDs should help you feel better in no time.

Otl Aicher was an influential German designer, as this collection of his work shows.  The book includes a fascinating chapter on Aicher’s groundbreaking design work for the ill-fated 1972 Munich Olympics.  From posters to signage to color schemes, Aicher’s designs  complement each other and create an overall visual identity.  The pictograms he created to represent events would later become the basis of commonly-used symbols, such as male/female restrooms, “no swimming”, etc.

A single photograph can truly do wonders to capture the pure emotions of the Olympic Games.  Andy Steel’s collection of sports and action photography is excellent.  It includes a short bio and interview with each photographer as well as full-page color images.  While all of the shots in this book are stunning, check out the work of Ezra Shaw and Tom Jenkins to see great Olympic images from recent years.

Admittedly, some of us were watching the London Olympics in hopes of catching a glimpse of Britain’s biggest fashion celebrities in the stands.  For those fans, Anglomania is a great book.  It’s a collection of photos from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that takes a creative approach to showing how British fashion has changed over the past few centuries.  Modern fashion pieces are displayed in time period-themed rooms, marking the similarities and differences in culture and fashion.  It’s a must for any fan of British fashion.

At its core, the Olympics are a display of the marvelous feats the human body is capable of performing.  The National Geographic special Incredible Human Machine explores the science of how an athlete’s body is able to accomplish what they do, as well as the amazing things our bodies do for us regular folks on a daily basis.  As it turns out, the act of breathing is just as fascinating as running a triathalon, and way less tiring.

Librarian’s Picks: Photography

The AiMD library has a nice selection of photography books.  In addition to books on the technique, history, and theory behind photography, not to mention our collection of books on individual photographers, there are a few other unique books in this area that might otherwise get overlooked.

Fans of fantasy or antique photography will be intrigued by Suburban Knights: A Return to the Middle Ages, a collection of images from the Society for Creative Anachronism.  Using antique camera equipment and development techniques, Elizabeth Kitchen photographs the members as they prepare to create a mock medieval battle.  It’s a fascinating look at how photographic techniques can be used to warp our perceptions of past and present.

The Oxford Project gives fans of portrait photography a slightly different take on the relationship between photography and time.  In April 1984, Peter Feldstein took a simple picture of each resident of his small Iowa town.  Twenty five years later, Feldstein returned and repeated the process.  The result is an amazing look at the effect time has on individuals, and how much (or how little) the residents of Oxford have changed over the years.

For fans of photojournalism, you can’t go wrong with Howard L. Bingham’s Black Panthers 1968.  Bingham, a Life Magazine photographer, spent several tumultuous months with the revolutionary group.  Although the pictures he captured were breathtaking, they were never published due to disagreements between Bingham and his editor.  The photographs give a voice not only to the passion and fire of the group, but also portray quieter moments that put a human face to this often controversial group.

Extreme sports photography is an increasingly popular topic for photography students and fans.  One recent title that might interest fans of this sport is Full Bleed: New York City Skateboard Photography.  The photos included span the past thirty years, and include a variety of well-known skate photographers.  Nothing captures the spirit of in-the-moment photography like this book’s pictures of bruised and battered guys seemingly hovering above their skateboards.

If you’re looking for something completely different, look no further than Nick Veasey’s book X-Ray.  Veasey uses x-rays of people, animals, nature, and everyday objects to give the reader a “behind the scenes” look at reality.  Of particular interest are a pair of women’s shoes (who knew we were walking on nails?) and a Boeing 777 jet, the world’s largest x-ray.  By using this unusual form of photography, Veasey points out how much of our world goes unseen. ask me anything

Art and Architecture, Detroit-Style

A fantastic National Geographic Traveler article about Detroit has been making the social media rounds this week.  The article tells of the city’s budding renaissance, while pointing out to the reader the many artistic and architectural jewels of the city.  If you haven’t read this article yet, then what are you waiting for?  If you have read the article and want to know more about our fair city, look no further than your AiMD library!

One thing the author stresses in his article is the incredible architectural heritage of Detroit.  For example, the article mentions Mies Van Der Rohe’s involvement in the creation of Lafayette Park, as well as the abundance of 1920s and Art Deco architecture.  The author also shares his first impression upon walking into the lobby of the famous Guardian Building.  You can go further than the lobby in the book The Guardian Building: Cathedral of Finance.  Discover even more about the history of Detroit’s architecture with American City: Detroit Architecture, 1845-2005.  If, after all this reading, you’re finally ready to get out and see these spectacular buildings yourself, bring along our copy of The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.  It’s an invaluable field guide to the architectural gems of Detroit.

Speaking of old buildings, a controversial topic mentioned by the article is the current trend of so-called “ruin porn”.  Critics say that photographers visiting Detroit to capture images of abandoned buildings are exploiting a city that is already down on its luck.  Others say that these artists give us a realistic, albeit ghostly reminder of the city’s history while pushing people to think differently about these “ruins”.  Judge for yourself by checking out Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s book The Ruins of Detroit, or Andrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled.

A unique aspect of The Motor City that the article lightly touches on is its abundance of outdoor public art.  Since the winter weather has been so mild, why not treat yourself to a walking tour of Detroit’s more famous outdoor art?  Be sure to bring along Art in Detroit Public Places so you don’t miss a thing!  If you take the People Mover to get between some of your destinations, you can also see some of the works included in Art in the Stations: The Detroit People Mover.  Make sure you don’t miss one of Detroit’s most famous outdoor art installations, The Heidelberg Project.  Read more about the colorful history of this piece of Detroit’s cultural heritage in Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project.

Feel like taking in some art indoors?  You can take your pick of art galleries in Detroit.  The article’s author observes that while “[Henry] Ford may have been a wealthy industrialist, he hired a Mexican Communist to paint his workers.”  The Mexican Communist in question was Diego Rivera, who forever memorialized Ford’s workers in his mural at the Detroit Institute of Arts.  For more information about this masterpiece, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs and stories, check out Linda Bank Downs’ book Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals. If you’re looking to get inspired by something a little more modern, take a look at the catalog from Rei Kawakubo’s exhibition at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit).  The exhibit, “ReFusing Fashion: Rei Kawakubo”, is an intriguing blend of fashion and art.  Both artists and fashion fans alike will enjoy reading about Kawakubo’s work, as well as the effort that went into creating this exhibit at one of Detroit’s most exciting galleries for contemporary art.