I am honored to announce the winner of the 2017 Dotphotozine Award for Excellence in Photography is Lars Anderson. The runners up to the award are Tami Bahat and Jessica Caitlin. Their work is published in the physical magazine, a link to which is available on our homepage.
I am also pleased to present a few images by the finalists for the prize. As you will see, their images represent a wide range of styles, content and ideas as diverse as the artists themselves. I urge you to visit their websites and to see more of their fine work and to contact them for your next projects and publications.
Editor in Chief
(Featured image above Copyright Yu-Chen Chiu)
A Land Between’ explores the edge space of the San Francisco Bay; a space of conflict between humans and nature, the past and future, and the things that often go unseen.
Through my urban sprawl series, I want to photograph the in-between state found in the American landscape. So I capture places of transition, borders, passages from one world to another: am I leaving a city or entering a new environment?
“There are several common threads woven throughout Emmanuel’s photography. First, he only uses square frames to create a strong focus on the subject, and second, his photos always contain manmade structures or objects, but never any actual people. These two elements combine to cause viewers to perceive a deep void in the photos; an almost post-apocalyptic sense of isolation. By displaying structures humans built to serve their own needs, but in a rare state of absolute idleness, Emmanuel creates an eerily disconcerting environment. Looking at the photos, you can almost hear the chilly silence that’d accompany them.”
In my artwork there is no judgment, no denunciation, only the picture itself. If I could sum up the common theme of my photos, it would be about emptiness, about silence. My pictures try to extract from the mundane urban landscape a form of estheticism. Where most people only pass through, I stop and look for some form of poetic beauty. I like repetition, I like series, and I like driving around.
The work, Industrial Blues, is not about a state of mind but rather it is a visual statement about photographic color and form.
Using the man-made environment and its resultant visual cacophony, Cartwright seeks out spaces and structures that one sees everyday, but perhaps does not record.
“The power lines, communication towers, fences and industrial structures are a part of my daily visual experience. They are not visual detritus. I see them as elements of the landscape. They are there and they make their visual “sound” and “motion”. I am not interested in the picturesque but rather the formal arrangements of elements and color within the manmade landscape.”
By their framing, juxtaposition, and use of color, the resultant images are bright, bold transformations of what was in front of the camera. The images are often surreal and have a distorted sense of scale. With the strong use of color and an often close vantage point, Cartwright is able to bring interest and even beauty to the apparent chaos.
— Alexandra Noble, Director,
The Photographers’ Gallery, London, England
The annihilation of space and time through the advent of photography in the
mid nineteenth century transformed American life. We are in the midst of a
furthering of that annihilation. Through photomontage I am exploring the
narrative that emerges between subject, space and time. The work reflects
various photographs that I have taken merged with others from my family’s
albums. I find myself inspired by the stories that come in to focus when we
collocate the medium of photography with 21st century technological
practices, the cultural influence of our country’s migration west, and the
personal history of family. Each blended piece possesses its own original
story, in addition to insights about photography, representation, fabrication,
and visual language.
In creating this project while looking through the lens of my family’s histories
and biases I have found that these stories extend beyond my own journey.
They exist throughout the west into our country’s cultural identity. They are
stories of perseverance, pride, struggle, life and death. They are human
stories intertwined in a majestic landscape.
Poet Mary Oliver stated, “I think when we lose the connection with the natural world, we tend to forget that we’re animals, that we need the Earth. And that can be devastating.” My work is set in the swamps and woods of Mississippi and Louisiana, natural places where one confronts life and death, growth and decay. Taking on the character of a feral woman, I collect the bones, branches, and flora and tread with the animals, both living and dead.My portrayal of the wild woman counteracts stereotypical depictions of the feminine as fragile and weak, revealing a strong woman navigating the treacherous landscape around her. Gathering nature’s fragments to preserve them from the danger of being lost to the world, I reflect upon the forms, the impermanence, and the interconnectedness of natural life.
The photographs are printed using the historic cyanotype process, which shifts focus from potentially colorful landscapes and figures to patterns, textures, and the relationships of forms within the images. Tea-staining the prints dulls the blue and adds warmth, mimicking the earth tones I encounter in the wilderness. Printing on thin Japanese paper adds translucence and gives the prints a feeling of fragility. My photography work offers the viewer a shared experience and connection with nature, during times in which society is becoming removed from the natural world.
Family Matters incorporates memory, metaphor and allegory to express the challenges, burdens and joys of my role as daughter, and now caretaker, of my elderly parents. My mother and father recently faced a daunting move into assisted living; they are struggling after a series of strokes, memory loss and the decline of their cognitive abilities. This series uses objects gathered from the family home to tell the story of my role within this family.
After moving my 86 year-old father and my 91 year-old mother into an assisted living apartment, I began organizing the contents of their home. When they left, they walked out the front door of their home of 36 years, with barely a glance behind them, leaving unopened mail on the table, and me behind, to sort through the chaos. Over the months, I returned to make the final selection of which treasures I would keep, and to tie up all the loose ends before putting the home on the market.
Family Matters uses objects from their home, and my childhood, staged as still lifes, to illustrate the story of our relationship. Using childhood possessions, and simple items that have been in the family for years, I create tableaus that hint at complicated family dynamics. The presentation of these objects is not merely a catalog of possessions, but a catalog of feelings; of pain and disappointment, hope, loss and burden.
The challenge of assisting parents who live 1000 miles away has changed my life drastically. Working through these feelings in this project has helped me unravel, and resolve, many issues that I was unable to confront about our past. Though seeing my parents age and decline is difficult, I feel I have been given a gift to be able to be a significant part of this transition.
Jennifer Garza Cuen
‘Detroit’ is part of a larger project entitled ‘Wandering In Place’, which depicts a series of locations in the United States as a residue of my cultural memory, an inheritance. It is a metaphorical memoir, a narrative re-telling of facts and fictions and it is also my discovery of the dreamland that still is America.
A distant niece to one of Detroit’s premier Architectural Engineers, Jennifer often spent winters with her uncle. The frigid weather keeping them mostly indoors she occupied herself for days on end wandering the abandoned ruins of the aged high-rises her uncle was paid to restore.
Occasionally, they took long winter walks, along the river and through the neighborhoods. They encountered strangers on the streets and behind previously unopened doors, and mapped an imagined city of former grandeur. As if she had been born in a home for the elderly, her experience of the city was forever tied to its eventual demise.
When her uncle’s building, The Book Tower, itself was abandoned due to a mix up with the power company, Jennifer returned to Detroit for one last winter.
I used to ride my bike past a skate park on my way to work. I wanted to photograph the skaters who hung out there –they looked so connected and like they were having so much fun. I thought of skateboarders as a rebellious crowd and I wanted to be a part of that, but I didn’t know how to enter their world. Years later, I learned the wet plate collodion process to make tintypes and eventually built a portable darkroom. For the obligatory testing of my new darkroom, I subconsciously headed to the Berkeley skate park. The wet plate collodion process consequently became my reason and excuse to finally go to the skate park and photograph.
When I made my first skater tintype in 2010, I was immediately struck by the beauty and bond of merging a contemporary culture with a 160 year-old photographic process. As I observed and interacted with skaters from varying communities, I quickly identified a depth to this culture that had been lurking just under the surface, which inspired me to keep making these photographs.
Going to skate parks, meeting skaters and making tintypes is intimidating and exhilarating. Approaching a group of strangers who are intent on doing their thing, skeptical at times of onlookers, puts me outside of my comfort zone. There are easier days and harder days. People notice me, but they don’t necessarily approach me, nor I them: I don’t want to break their momentum or interrupt their focus; I must overcome my inhibition. I have to get their permission as well as give myself permission to interact. When this boundary is broken, the reciprocal interest is clear and I often learn they have been as curious about me as I them.
Many of the skaters I’ve met have never seen anything but a digital camera. When I make their portraits, they watch as their ghostly faces magically appear on the metal plate, the blue cast of silver cyanide dissipating in the fixer. They call my equipment “old school;” the plates I make, “sick.”
Employing a large format camera in combination with the wet plate collodion photographic process demands a prolonged stationary subject. The sitter must remain motionless for over 30 seconds –easier said than done and easier still without smiling. Most people’s learned reflex when sitting in front of a camera is to smile, portraying some sort of artificial moment of photographic happiness. When I ask my subjects to not smile, there is often a sense of surprise and relief –even the from the most subversive skater. Beyond this request, the choice of pose is theirs. The resulting tintype portraits radiate a unique honesty not often found in modern, faster processes, offering a glimpse beyond their image and possibly into character: pensive, tough, innocent, anxious, distracted, playful.
Over the decades, skaters have been viewed by many as a rebellious group. Their dress; the noise they make rolling down the streets; their use of buildings, benches, walls and rails as their playfield. All of this has somehow been exemplary of non-conformist behavior. However, as I have progressed through this body of work, I have been moved and inspired by these skaters’ unflinching determination. They fall, they get up, they fall again, and again and again. There is a lot of pain. Skate or die. And there is endless camaraderie, openness, creativity and support. Is this “rebellion?”
This behavior –this rebelliousness is what I craved when I was young. What I have come to realize as I watch skaters now, is that I still crave this. But what “this” is, is an obsession, a determination. I admire this quality. Perhaps I have it, too, rebelling against the status quo of digital photography. Instead of moving to binary code from a fast, hand-held film camera, I made a u-turn to the past, to a photographic process that requires a tripod, a lengthy set up and a car full of equipment; mixing raw ingredients to create chemistry that can change its mood depending on the direction of the wind. Perhaps wet plate collodion is my rebellious, non-conformist sport, my skateboarding.
I left my family in Taiwan and came to the United States fifteen years ago to follow my dream for studying in the States. Since then I have been photographing the country through daily commute and road trips cross country as a documentation of collective memory, and personal diaries.
The photo series “The New American Scenes” is the metaphorical representation of divided emotions of people in the United States after the 2016 Presidential Election.
All photos taken in the United State between 2013 and 2017. These images depict the anger, frustration, rejection, at the same time looking for hope, identity and new direction.