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Archive for October, 2012

Naoya Hatakeyama: Natural Stories

Lime Hills by Naoya Hatakeyama

In a comment on my last post, James mentioned Edward Burtynsky’s quarry photos which are really striking and highly recommended for anyone who hasn’t seen them. Coincidentally, SF MOMA currently has an exhibit of photos by a Japanese photographer, Naoya Hatakeyama, who works in the same vein as Burtynsky, photographing large scale human impacts on the landscape, including quarries. His Lime Hills (Quarry Series) has images where the quarries are horrible scars, but also ones where they seem quite sculptural and aesthetic.

Naoya Hatakeyama, Lime Hills (Quarry Series)

Naoya Hatakeyama, A Bird/Blast

Along with the photos, at the museum there is also a very cool video (titled Twenty-Four Blasts) of quarry blasting. If you sit up close to the screen, the explosions fill your vision. The video doesn’t seem to be online, but SF MOMA posted a slideshow of stills from the best sequence.

Naoya Hatakeyama, Still from Twenty-Four Blasts

I went to the exhibit to see the quarry series, but probably the most powerful images — especially in light of the superstorm blasting the east coast right now — are of his hometown in Japan, Rikuzentakata, which was destroyed by last year’s tsunami. It was impressive to see such carefully composed photos, knowing that this was his hometown and that his mother died in the event. He talks about it in a video at Wired.

Naoya Hatakeyama

There was also a slideshow of his photos of the town before the tsunami, and though the exhibitors chose not to present the before and after photos as literal side by side comparisons, there was an eerie similarity to some of the compositions. I tried drawing thumbnails at the speed of the slideshow — twenty seconds per image — and then later colored them at about the same pace. It’s rather off-topic for this blog, but completely current with all of the images of flooding on the east coast, so I included them below the fold. (more…)

STONE Project

Peenya Granite Quarry, India | Stonebreaker from STONE project on Vimeo.

A recent book about stonework, Stone: A Legacy and Inspiration for Art, caught my eye with its focus on the raw material and craft of stonework rather than the finished product that seems to fill most of the stone books out there. Turns out the book has a companion website, STONE Project, with a lot of great content as well, including photos, a stone glossary, and tons of videos, including the rather striking one above showing one of the more un-OSHA-compliant workers I’ve ever seen. Sandals, a sari, and a big sledge, gotta love it. The videos are rather raw and cinema verite, and overall the website is probably more for the serious stone lovers out there, but then personally I’m convinced that everyone in the world is a stone lover, so there you go. Good stuff, definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the process of stonework. From their Introduction page:

STONE Project aims:

to collect information about stone through the eyes of artists, masons, quarry workers, anthropologists, and cultural and literary thinkers.
to discover differences in how stone is understood and worked throughout the world.
to understand both the ‘physical processes’ and the ‘thinking approaches’ when working with stone.
to show these modes of understanding in ways that are broadly applicable and transferable.
At the heart of STONE Project is the shared belief that research on stone can also contribute to a further understanding of:

hands, tools and material –
tactility/senses –
tacit skills –
reductive thinking –

STONE Project’s ultimate aim is to:

… assemble all research and achievements in an archive for the use of current and future generations, a tool which anyone can use.

Hear, hear.

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