TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

borut peterlin, slovenia, ambrotype, Portrait photography, Wet Plate Collodion, Analog Film photography

Posts Tagged ‘Arts and Entertainment

Was ist Kunst? (inspired by Robert M. Pirsig)

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Was ist Kunst?* or What is art is the question that was not invented together with with the art itself but it was invented in Ancient Greece and in this blog post I’m settling the score once it for all and give answer what art is. I warn you though, you might not like it :-)

As followers of my blog know, for my 40th birthday I’ve bought a Land Rover 109 old-timer car that is even older then me, it’s 43 years and for last fifteen years it was standing in a garage. You can imagine that once I’ve started driving it, an avalanche of malfunctions blasted on my shoulders. It’s almost two months since it’s standing on my courtyard and I can’t move it to a mechanic and since it’s freezing winter a mechanic don’t want to come and take a look. It got a nickname The Real Estate! The good thing is that I’ve spent last three years learning collodion photography from scratch, so I have a stamina an patience to sort things out, so I used the expression from Jeremy Clarkson: How hard can it be? and decided to fix the car on my own.

For inspiration I’ve read for the third time the book Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and I confess, only this time I can say I’ve understood the message of the book. No wonder this book is in Guinness book of world records as the bestseller that was rejected by 121 publishers before 122nd actually published it and soon became a bestseller, with over five million copies sold.

OK, you may ask what does that has to do with the bombastic introduction in my post? Everything. This book made me realise what art is and changed my life profoundly. The line of thoughts that will follow is very influenced by the book and before you will condemn me, I publicly admit that I will misquote and misinterpret the book, so I strongly recommend that you read it by your own pace. (It’s even in Slovenian for my Slovenian following presidents!)

So, what Art is???

On the Internet there are many articles on what art is, but let me highlight a very simplistic, populistic easy reading article 27 Responses to the Question “What is Art?”.

But that very simplistic article will give you just as much valid answer as any art historian would. Let me say it more correctly. Any art historian will give you just as false answer as any article. (yes, including this one) :-)

The original sin of an attempt to define what art is, is that people are aiming in the wrong direction! We are looking at things in gallery and question if this should be there, if this is art. We expect that an object would have some sort of ingredient that would define it as art, some sort of objectiveness. In ancient times that ingredient was gold, whatever object contained gold and other expensive materials, it was glorified as art. Then it was the craft! Obviously some painters can draw with breathtaking accuracy and expressing themselves with huge skill. Then came avant-garde and scandalous Duchamp’s signed urinal entitled Fountain is still a case of questioning if that is art. And so on, and so on…

Any attempt to define what art is, is like standing in a river, facing downstream, observing what river flow is bringing and evaluating. You could devote your life doing that, but you could not foretell the future. Every mathematical equation works both way. 1+1=2 and so it is 2=1+1. Art is not mathematic and there isn’t a person in the world who could not tell you what you need to do to create art.

To be honest there are few super-stars curators that do speculate and take a role of weather forecasters and decide what contemporary art is. But those people are not to be mistaken for art-historians, although they might have an education in art-history, they are creators, they curate exhibitions, they decide who will win what award, they are more contemporary artists then art historians. But even so they can not come up with an answer what art is.

In today’s times we divide between art and craft, but that wasn’t so in the ancient times. Aristotle’s cosmological work On The Heavens is the most influential treatise of its kind in the history of humanity and as I’ve learned he started the concept of subjective and objective, the foundation of western civilisation.

In the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig talks about Quality, Ancient Greeks named that principle Arete and I’ve recognised the roots of the Art. Arete = Art

Wikipedia:
Arete (/ˈærətiː/; Greek: ἀρετή), in its basic sense, means “excellence of any kind”.[1] The term may also mean “moral virtue”.[1] In its earliest appearance in Greek, this notion of excellence was ultimately bound up with the notion of the fulfillment of purpose or function: the act of living up to one’s full potential.

I think ancient Greeks got it right, we missed it completely. Art is a process of creation and although it does leave traces behind, those traces aren’t ART itself, they are footprints left behind by artists. Those foot prints can be objective as a painting in a gallery or subjective as a dance in a theatre. Those foot prints are worthless if they aren’t made by art in action, if they aren’t done as Arete! And if we see the footsteps, we might imagine the line of thought the line of creation the line of craft that the artist was taking while creating the art piece. Our creativity fuels with inspiration.

Let me be more precise, the Art is not the Mona Lisa in Louvre, or Duchamp’s Fountain or a leap of dance of a dancer. The Art is an event that happened and after the event a trace is left behind. Let me say it with other words. Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo Da Vinci is just as much art as are the ruins of Pompeii the city of Pompeii! The road sign Rome is not the city of Rome, nor is a souvenir or any building or a person living in the city!

That revelation opened my eyes and from now on I see the world differently. Last two days I was fixing my Land Rover. I approached the work with the arete attitude as I’m making the most important exhibition in my life. I suspected that the cause of my problems is the fuel pump. Two weeks ago I didn’t know what a mechanical a fuel pump is, but I’ve focused on the problem, dismantled it, changed all the valves, diaphragm, seals and put it back. Now works perfectly and it will continue so for the next ten years. Unfortunately, I realised that the cause of my car’s malfunction is not the fuel pump, but it’s distributor. I ordered new parts. Nevertheless the fuel pump, poor girl, needed the restoration.

Let me finish with paraphrasing Pirsig with the case of my Land Rover.
Objects are just atoms and molecules. They do not have a moral or a feeling for what is right and what is wrong. They are what they are because somebody rearrange materials in the way they are. The malfunction does not exist in a car, it exist solely in the viewer’s mind. The car is a direct reflection of it’s viewer’s interpretation.

The car that is standing still for two months in my courtyard represent disharmony in me and I’ve decided to regain the peace by fixing the car. I am using wrenches, bolts, spanners but my most important tool is ARETE, the will to do whatever is needed to do, so the car will fit my interpretation of how it should be. I use arete to regain the internal peace and that will happen only when my concept of a car will be aligned with my senses.

This process is the feeling that every artist know. It’s a feeling when you are alive, when your hands are golden, hands are moving and miracle is emerging right in front of your eyes! An artist is not separated from the the object until the object is aligned with artist’s interpretation how it should be and it brings peace to the artist. When the artist finishes working on it, from this moment on, art (arete) seize to be and the artist and the art object become two separate entities.

Do you see, people are looking at an object and questioning if this is art, but they are aiming it at the wrong direction. Art is an event, not an object!!!

Written by Borut Peterlin

18 February, 2015 at 13:35

Exhibition of Wet Plate collodion landscapes

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In September 2014 I had an exhibition in Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana. I’ve enjoyed that period of life a lot, taking wet plate negatives, photographing river, defeating summer heat by a swim in a river together with my kids. What a privilege to be alive! I’ve recorded a lot a videos to pass on the knowledge I’ve generously received from Mark Osterman and the Collodion community. I’ve enjoyed the work so much I never found time to edit the video material and unfortunately the material just piled up. In the last few months I haven’t record any videos, because I knew I must edit the old material first and yesterday I’ve started at 9pm, finished at 3am and 12 hours later it’s live on youtube. I hope you will find some useful information and some inspiration in it.

The exhibition represents a path that I walked through in the last two years, while learning the process. But the exhibition started with the tintype of frozen river Krka, that I’ve made two months after I’ve started to do wet plate collodion at the temperature of -17C. HERE is the post from February 2012.

The exhibition is devoted to a painter Božidar Jakac and the concept is inspired by words of a poet Tone Pavček, engraved in his gravestone:

You’ve remained part of the landscape, its pain and its beauties.

And this concept is mirrored in the images, I wanted that in every of image there would be a presence of beauty and pain. I’ve designed the exhibition to be dynamic. I’ve exhibited original tintypes, ambrotype glass plates, toned albumen prints, salt prints, carbon prints, toned cyanotypes and also some toned silver-gelatine enlargements and ink-jets from wet plate collodion negatives.

The most important result from the two years walk, it can not be shown directly, but it’s the most important result. I’ve learned the process, I have no open questions and I can make a good image in (almost) any conditions. I’ve learned many different processes and those tools will play a crucial role in my future art career.

Last but not least, if you want to learn some of that hands-on photography processes, I warmly recommend workshops in George Eastman House with Mark Osterman. It’s one thing to learn the process, but it’s something different to get an access to one of the most interesting and rich collection of photography and feel that you are a part of it.

I can not offer that, but I do offer individual workshops, so if you’re interested in buying a print from me or a workshop, please send me an email to borutpeterlin@gmail.com

Corn fields of my childhood (wet plate collodion, carbon print process)

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I grew up in this valley and every September I loved to photograph corn fields. It’s something elegant and tranquil in a field of corn. It was a sunny afternoon and I had three plates ready and subbed with albumen, so I give it a go. The negative was done in the first attempt and although the density was not as thick as it could be, due to loosing quite a lot of developer (containing silver), but that was easily compensated by the second development after fixing, the redevelopment. I just had to redevelop longer, increasing the layer of silver and busting the contrast.

Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.34.49Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.36.12Here are two beautiful prints, I hope you will like them and as it is a tradition on this blog, I’m putting these two prints on ebay auction, starting from 0,99 US$. The auction will end in three days, because I’ve learned that my customers are readers of this blog and it doesn’t matter if the auction is listed for a week or only for few days. As a professional artist (and a father of two daughters) I need to sell my work or get a “proper” job, so thus the aggressive promotion. Things are going good, great, much better than I’ve expected.

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This week Art Photo Budapest fair is happening and this fair is the only international fair in Eastern Europe dedicated to art photography. Gallery Photon is presenting me in a very generous way. I’ve been told that this event is a milestone in my career. Tomorrow at 3pm I was invited in the panel to discuss art market in East Europe. As one of my presented cases it will be also this blog and my experience with ebay auctions.

I have this feeling that I’m on the right track and although I know I will not do these ebay auctions forever, it’s a brilliant marketing tool!

733_01_borut_peterlinMartin Parr gave me the best advice ever! Do whatever you do and keep on doing it until people could not afford to ignore you any longer!
…COULD NOT IGNORE YOU ANY LONGER!

Isn’t that a brilliant advice? We artists have a very long history of being ignored and some of us even cut their ear off! Well I’m not cutting my ear or getting a “real job”. I enjoy what I do and thank you for all the attention. It truly helps to know that people have a harder and harder times to keep on ignoring me!

PS: My email box if stacked with questions about the processes I’m doing. I’ve answered some, but most of them I just can’t. SORRY! Please write the question here, as a comment and I will do much better job clarifying some details of the process. You can write a question anonymously, no problem.

A carbon print , format 10x12" (25x30cm) in a mat, size 40x50cm (16"x20"). Edition 1/12.

A carbon print , format 10×12″ (25x30cm) in a mat, size 40x50cm (16″x20″). Edition 1/12.

An albumen print toned with gold, format 10x12" (25x30cm) in a mat format 40x50cm (16"x20"). Edition 2/12.

An albumen print toned with gold, format 10×12″ (25x30cm) in a mat format 40x50cm (16″x20″). Edition 2/12.


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Screenshot 2014-10-10 10.20.39

A presentation of an ambrotype for an art fair

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An ambrotype packed in a box for Art Photo Budapest. The plates is from my project The Great Depression. The plates will be represented by Photon Gallery. Hopefully they will be sold.

An ambrotype packed in a box for Art Photo Budapest. The plates is from my project The Great Depression. The plates will be represented by Photon Gallery. Hopefully they will be sold.

Next week there will be an art fair in Budapest and my work will be presented by Gallery Photon. I was thinking how should I present my ambrotypes in a way that could be purchased. So here it is. The box is from Hahnemuhle acid free material. On 11th of October 2014 I will be a guest of a discussion panel how to survive as an artist. Guess what will I talk about? YOU! My topshit followers that is bidding on my ebay auctions. See you in Budapest on Saturday at 3pm!

Video about split toning with sulfide and selenium toner

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Ciao tutti,
As I’ve announced last week, I’m going to publish more videos about my workflow and list more prints on ebay. It takes so much work to do a video, make a print, edit the video and everything that comes along. It took me the whole week to do this video and that’s why I’m listing three prints. Perhaps the price will not reach as high as it would if I would sell only one print, but I am a professional collodion artist and I will try to make a living out of this! Plus my storage room has about half a ton of prints in boxes. I know, because I was moving it recently and it was too heavy for a car transport. I’m printing since age 11, so in 29 years you can imagine how many boxes piled up.

Anyway, here are new prints. I’ve explained everything on video. I want to add that this split toning technique I’ve learned from Mark Osterman and he is the best address if you want to dive into alternative photography. And oh, you must check this out, George Eastman House published their program of workshops for year 2015! I’m going to take at least two of them!

One last, but very important note. I’ve you’ve seen this video after the auction is finished and you would want to buy a print from me, check my EBAY SHOP or if you want to buy that exact print, copy number 5, you certainly can, just send me an email. As a professional collodion artist I have a motto:

EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE, EXCEPT MY KIDNEY!
(officially)

Ebay listings:
Edition 2/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion

Edition 3/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative

Edition 4/12, a silver gelatin photograph, from a wet plate collodion negative
Ebay Shop / Borut Peterlin

The Great Depression, a wet plate collodion documentary project by Borut Peterlin

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I’m inviting you to the opening of my exhibition The Great Depression. The opening will happen on 4th of October 2013 in Gallery Photon in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

With the project I’m trying to document the state of bankrupt companies with emphasis on the things that workers left behind. I’m known as a portrait photographer and although this time there are no people on my images, the human presence is very evident. I hope you will enjoy the video and hope to see you at the opening!

Dearest readers, one more thing. This is the 1000th blog post on my blog! I’ve been blogging since September 2006 and here we are at the 1000th post! A lot of things changed in this time and I’m happy I was blogging about it. I was thinking hard how to mark this anniversary. Due to the occasion, let’s call this week an artist to artist week. If you send me something that you’ve done I’ll send you back something that I’ve done. It’ll probably be a gelatin print, but who knows… If you make a good marmalade, I’ll exchange a print for a jar of marmalade. Or for whatever, just please keep in mind that the offer stands only for a week, so if you are really up for “Creation 4 Creation” deal, please send me before 7th of October 2013 on the address Cviblje 40, 8350 Dolenjske Toplice, Slovenia, EU. And don’t forget to write your address ;-)

Monetizing wet plate collodion process

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A toned salt print from a wet plate collodion negative.

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As you can imagine this wet plate process is not cheap and as a professional photographer I need and want to make a living with wet plate collodion process. I’m presenting two commercial projects in which I find great potential and as always want to share with you.

In collaboration with Gallery Fotografija from Ljubljana I was assigned to make a business gift for Riko company. I photographed Škrabčeva domačija museum in wet plate collodion glass negative and made salt print, toned with gold chloride. It is awesome and I’ve sold it to Riko. From the print we’ve made an edition of 300 inkjet prints on hahnemuele photorag paper and presented in a folder as you see it. The inkjet printing, the presentation and the folder was designed and made by Luminus company.

20130509-hisa-puharjeva

Second assignment came from a known Slovenian curator. She hired me to photograph the house of her father in law. I’ve made 5×7″ wet plate collodion ambrotype. An interesting detail is that the house stands in the Puhar street in Ljubljana. Janez Puhar was an inventor who invented photography on glass in year 1843. Unfortunately nobody replicated the porcess after his death. Anyway the gift was a total success.

If you want to hire me to make on-location photograph of you or your house or do whatever in wet plate collodion process, I charge 150 EUR for the first plate and next plates are 30 EUR each. Email me for inquiry.

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