The Int(stant)ernet

January 23, 2008

photo of I'm Not There.,  Heath Ledger

If ever there needed to be an example of the speed of information via the Internet, one needs look no further than the sad death of Heath Ledger. According to Crikey’s timeline he was found dead at 7.30am Melbourne time, TMZ reported it at 8.15 and his Wikipedia entry was changed at 8.40. Oh and the conventional news media reported his death at 8.15 – quarter of an hour later than TMZ.

Creatorless content

January 11, 2008

 

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As is often noted, the Internet is a great place to lose control of your creative endeavours. Someone wrote that joke you are circulating, someone composed that music. Though much of the time you’d never know who. I know, I do it myself. Many of the posts on this site are accompanied by photographs taken from other places and my only contribution in acknowledging them is to link the pictures back to the page from whence I found them. Unfortunately, that may not be back to the original source as I may have found them on a site that has lifted them from elsewhere.

A case in point is the picture above. It is one of many whimsical illustrations from a website that I recently stumbled upon. The pictures are accompanied by over 100 comments about the artistic quality of the illustrations and yet hardly anyone seems concerned by the fact that there is no mention of the artist.  

Like them or not, the creator deserves acknowledgement.

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Fortunately some people did recognise the artist and have named him in the comments. He is Rob Gonsalves, a Canadian magic realist painter. Pity it took a reader to identify him rather than the person who posted the pictures in the first place.

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The Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently showing a large retrospective exhibition of the work of Sidney Nolan, whose long career encompassed many styles and techniques and produced a great deal more than his best-known Ned Kelly painting. The exhibition does not disappoint, but for me it was overshadowed by another smaller, less well-publicised exhibition – that of German photographer August Sander on loan from the J Paul Getty Museum, entitled Extraordinary Images of Ordinary People.

August Sander was one of a number of photographers in the early 20th century who used the camera to record the diversity of human life. As he wrote “We know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled,”

For about 25 years, Sander photographed the people living in and around the area of Cologne where he lived. His aim was to document the physiognomy and body-language of all walks of life, in a monumental series entitled – People of the Twentieth Century. From 1909 until 1934 when the Nazis banned his portraits and he moved to taking architectural and nature pictures, he took many thousands of photographs of farmers, workers, officials and families. The genius of Sander was his ability to allow his subjects to speak for themselves. His photograph of a man in Nazi uniform can sit side by side with a portrait of a Socialist leader Paul Frölich with little indication of Sander’s own political view.

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Sanders photographs were published in various books including Face of Our Time and his work appeared in The Family of Man.

Although the Nazis and later a fire destroyed many of his negatives and photographic plates, many thousands of his pictures survive. The major collection of his work can be found at the August Sander Archiv in the Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung, Cologne.