TOPSHIT PHOTOGRAPHY blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Arts

Analog manipulation of photography by Borut Peterlin

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Excellent news, I’m going to Rochester, USA, again, to make a pilgrimage to George Eastman House and have a workshop with none other then Mark Osterman! This time I will learn from the master how to retouch glass negatives. Concerning expenses, the time in not right, but I just have to go to this workshop, because I was always interested in alternating a photograph by hand. Ironically I’ve completely stopped with my photomontages when I did digital photography, although I master Photoshop just as well. Photoshop, Instagram, Photomatix and other digital effects are so generic I don’t like it at all. I can’t explain why I love analog manipulation so much. I really can’t, I know it’s basically the same as digital manipulation, but my feelings are very different.

I’ve looked back 23 years and made a collection of my analog manipulated images. I’ve forgot to mention in the video the project The Tales of Gorjanci Hills, published by Založba Goga ten years ago.

Ebay auction of my print starting from 0.99$

Ebay auction of my print starting from 0.99$

So you understand, I have to go to Rochester for this workshop, I have no choice. The only problem is money, of course. As a professional artist, living in Slovenia, the country where art market does not exist, I’m forced for guerrilla sale tactics. I know nobody is selling their art prints on ebay as an auction from 0,99$, but I’ve had some great success, so I decided to resort myself again to this tactic.

Hey, if I started with 23 year old photographs, let me tell you about the dream I had in my teenage years! All I wanted is to make a living out of photography and the only people I knew at the time that were making a living out of photography were people who had a printing lab and making portraits for ID cards. And believe it or not, that was my dream at the time, to work in a printing lab and do ID portraits! And look at me now, I have no fear of putting a print of mine on ebay as an auction from 0,99$ and with it (partly) finance the trip to the workshop at Rochester!

The auction will be for just three days and then perhaps I will put a new print on auction.

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

A monster tree with a swing! Photographed in wet plate collodion and printed in carbon print and albumen print

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With my daughters at ArtMarket Budapest with my photographs in the back.

With my daughters at ArtMarket Budapest with my photographs in the back.

Here is a new video. It’s pretty long, 10 minutes, I went through few times and edited out as much as I could to make it shorter, but there is quite a lot of information included, so I hope you will find it worthy of your time.  The prints I’ve made I’m not putting them on ebay auction, since last two auctions didn’t went that well, to be honest. Plus last week my work was being presented at ArtMarket Budapest, an international art fair, by Photon Gallery. I am on the right path, my work received good attention, I’ve met some very important curators and collectors and I’ve realized that all I need at this time is just a little more patience and I reckon one more year to catch up with boys & girls from the first art league. I know I will get there, but I’m not there quite yet. I will stop with Ebay auctions for now. The prints are still on sale, of course just send me an email of inquiry CLICK.
Music by Robert Jukič

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!

Sunday is a good and dry collodion day

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A scan of a dry collodion negative. Exposure 25 minutes at f/5.6.  (I could make it faster by 1.5 f stop)

A scan of a dry collodion negative. Exposure 25 minutes at f/5.6.
(I could make it faster by 1.5 f stop)

Today it was Sunday. It still is, but concerning the the speed of my writing it will take me two hours and it will be past midnight. Again… So where to start. Basically I’m using this free time that I have during holidays for researching processes, equipment and aesthetic. Very soon I’m planning to go to Bosnia for a test shoot on a new project I’m preparing. In 2015 there will be 20th anniversary of the end of the war in Bosnia and I want to prepare an exhibition on the topic.

OK, let’s start with the new member of my family. Please read captions of my images, this post will be more in telegraphic style.

Charconnet Petzval:
I bought a petzval lens! Gasc & Charconnet Paris Vintage lens is less known and less expensive than Dallmeyer or Hermagis but it’s in the same quality range. Made in years around 1860’s. So now I’m playing around, see what the baby have to offer. Please read the captions and you’ll see what images are done with the lens. Most of them.

Carbon Printing
I’m so much in love with carbon prints! it’s amazing! I love it.

Dry Preserved Collodion Negatives
As much as I love the idea of not carrying all the chemistry and a darkroom around, the dry collodion is not a shortcut. You spend ten times as much time to process one plate. Just developing of a single plate that I’ve shot today it took me literally an hour! That being said, it’s very useful tool to have in my assortiment of expression.

PS: That chopped down tree was cut by a beaver. It’s amazing, that this animals that are almost extinct are living literally in downtown of Dolenjske Toplice! Look carefully the last image, you’ll see that the beaver chewed whole trunk! So cool!

A photography project on fears and delights being a parent

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Dear topshit readers,
I’m awfully proud on the following book I’ve made. I’ve joined an excellent workshop with Klavdij Sluban. Klavdij Sluban is an extraordinary photographer and won so many prestigious photography awards. One of the most important award was certainly European Publishers Award 2009 and this year he was one of the juror for Leica Award 2013. It’s fortunate for us that his parents were Slovenians and although he was born in Paris, he spend his childhood in Slovenia, so he speaks fluently Slovenian (among other half a dozen languages). He made a generous offer to make a whole year lasting workshop and we would meet six weekends across the whole year. His only condition was not to advertise the workshop internationally, but invite only Slovenian photographers. Last week we had an opening of exhibition as the final stage of our workshop.

The presentation of my art zine and a single photograph at Gallery Simulaker, Novo mesto, Slovenia

The presentation of my art zine and a single photograph at Gallery Simulaker, Novo mesto, Slovenia

The book I’m presenting is a fruit of collaboration at the workshop. I’ve learned hugely by just watching Klavdij going through images, picking one, the other, changing the order, putting it back on the pile and so on. We called it Sluban’s magic, because although sometimes images that were on the table were not impressive at all, but his selection of just say 8 images and juxtapositioning them in certain order, did made a huge difference. You can not understand if you don’t witness it. I’ve been at workshops with many many famous photographers, from Martin Parr, Duane Michals, Joel Peter Witkin and many others, but I haven’t seen anything like it. I knew from our first meeting that all I need to learn at the workshop is to tap on his frequency of thinking and the result is evident here in this book. Mark Osterman gave me a great comment. He loved that I used different camera formats (6×6, 4×5″, 8×10″) and also different processes (b&w film, wet plate collodion – ambrotype and wet plate negative) and I blended them all together in a book almost seamlessly. That’s Sluban’s magic, I tell you!

As I’m describing in the video I was aware that the story about the most beautiful children in the world is not enough. I shaped my concept around my fears and delights of being a parent. When I was a child, ten years old, I burned myself with a gasoline and almost died. When I became a parent I experienced fears for my children and one day I was strucked by a thought, what my parents had to go through at the time of my accident!

The book is on ebay (LINK) if you want a copy. If you want a print as well, I’ve just put two prints on ebay and link is listed below.

A link to the gallery of images on my website.

The book on ebay.

The print no.1 listed on ebay.

Print no.6 listed on ebay.

B5 tour de Switzerland & Deutschland

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Last week it was a topshit week. Sasha Huber and Petri Saarikko are my dear friends from Fabrica / Benetton times. Sasha was invited to prepare an exhibition in Eisenwerk – Frauenfeld. I’ll talk more about the exhibition after the opening, but I can say that an important part of the exhibition will include also ambrotypes. Sasha commissioned me to make ambrotype portraits illustrating a certain aspect of her work. We were really working hard and I think we’ve done great work. Here are few plates that I’ve done as a test.

The theme for this post is actually how inspired I got in those short days that we worked together and we lived art. We discussed so many projects. Petri, for instance, founded Kallio Kunsthalle, gallery of contemporary art in Helsinki. He presented me all the exhibitions he curated, concepts, views, tools, impressions, etc… We shared our views on art that we do, that others do, contemporary art that inspire us, old projects, trends, currents and our plans for the future. Oh, very sprackling conversation/s…

On Sunday we went to Fotomuseum Winterthur where we saw an exhibition by Lewis Hine. I’ve met there with a fellow wetplater Peter Michels and on Moday I drove also to Nurnberg to visit another wetplater Peter Kunz. It was really cool to see his amazing studio! And you know where’s located? In former facility of Quelle factory. I promised to come back and do some plates for my exhibition Great Depression 1912-13. Peter has really amazing studio with topshit equipment. I’m attaching some behind the scene images.

On the way back I left Switzerland at 10am came to Nurnberg at 15.00 hang around with peter for couple of hours and at 19.00 I took my drive back home (690km) and arrived at 6:30 am. Altogether there and back I drove 1950 km. I drove whole night back inspired of all the art I consumed, shared and created…

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