martedì 14 marzo 2017

Who is the artist. The opinion of Fabio Castelli

"Art is research, those who do not research are not artist." Anonymous

At the opening for the press of the MIA Photo Fair I immediately wanted to hear the opinion of the Director Fabio Castelli on a topic which I believe is of interest to all the readers of "ORPHO".
Soon, I will return to talk of the authors who participated at the most important Italian photographic fair held in Milano between March 10th to 13th, 2017.

Fabio Castelli
Fabio Castelli, Creator and Artistic Director of the MIA Photo Fair.

Tony Graffio: Director, I would like to ask you a single question, but very difficult. What does distinguish a photographer from an artist?

Fabio Castelli: Well, this is one of the fundamental themes of this dichotomy between the world of art and the world of photography. Many artists are offended when they are called photographers and many photographers feel offended when they are called artists.

TG: Really?

FC: Absolutely. I give you an example. If a war photographer is called artist this is like questioning his ability to describe reality. Actually, maybe he was able to show reality at the risk of his own life, so it is understandable his aversion to the idea of ​​being called artist. More and more classic photographers, maybe a little old fashioned, do not want to accept photography as a contemporary art language. It's easy to recognize them because they are people who are very attached to the mediums by which they have lived since they were very young. For them it is very difficult to change this approach, but it is clear that over the years also photography will be recognized by everybody as a language of the contemporary art.

TG: The problem for a photographer is always to be recognized as an artist ...

FC: This is a problem that affects all the arts: the painter, the sculptor, who makes performances or who draws collides against this difficulty. Regardless of how we express ourselves, it is difficult to be recognized as artists. Probably, time is the only major means able to show whether an author is an artist, in any way he expresses himself.

TG: Thank you very much.

mercoledì 15 febbraio 2017

Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie: two pioneers of the Super8 Renaissence

Unzalab: on the Left Dianna Barrie, in the centre Richard Tuohy, on the right, with the colourful shirt, Francesco Tartaglia.

Hand and Machine
Cinema was the first inescapably mechanical art, but in this post-mechanical age, the traditional apparatus of cinema has all to rapidly been deemed obsolete and primitive. 
Yet the handing over of industrial machinery to anti-industrial users represents one of the prime creative opportunities for re-appraising and re-interpreting the nature of ourselves as transformed by the age of machines.
Post-mechanical age, the humaness of the machine can be made evident. Post mechanical age, machine craft is the new hand craft. In the evening of june, 30th 2016, 7 recent film works from australian DIY cine experimentalists Richard Tuohy and Diana Barrie were presented to the audience.
These films were exploring the primitive apparatus of cinema and the relation between hand and machine.



Crossing 2016, 21 minutes, 16mm, R.T.
Across the sea. Across the street. Cross processed Super8 footage of fraught neighbours Korea and Japan in grain focussed enlargement.

Blue Line Chicago

Blue Line Chicago 2014, 10 minutes, 16mm R.T. & D.B.
Architectural distortions of the secon city.

Last Train 2016, 12 minutes, 16mm R.T. & D.B.
Found in the (now lost) archive of Lab Laba Laba, footage from a trailer for the Indonesian film "Kereta Api Terakhir" (The Last Train) melts into a suoup of chemigrammed perforations. 
A film madre in seven cities and none.

Etienne's Hand 2011, 13 minutes, 16mm, R.T.
A movement study of a restless hand. Made from one five second shot. Sound constructed from an old French folk tune played on a hand cranked music box.

Ginza Strip

Ginza Strip 2014, 9 minutes 16mm R.T. & D.B.
The Ginza of fable and memory. This is the first film the australian duo have finished using the "Chromaflex" technique that they developed. This is a very  much hands on colour developing procedure that allows selected areas of the film to be colour positive, colour negative or black and white.

Dot Matrix

Dot Matrix 2013, 16 minutes 2X16mm R.T.
Dot Matrix is a dual 16mm film involving two almost completely overlapping projected images. The "dots" were produced by photogramming sheets of dotty paper used for Manga illustrations directly onto raw 16mm film stock. These dots were then contacted printed with "flicker" (alternating black frames)creating strobing "interruptions" to the dots. The drama of the film emerges in the overlap of the two projected images of dots. The product they make is greater than the parts. The sounds heard are those that the dots themselves produce as they pass the optical sound head of the 16 mm projector.

Richard Tuohy, 47 y.o., experimental cinematographer.

Tony Graffio: Please, Richard tell me something about you and your activity in the Super8 film production and processing.

Richard Tuohy: Ok Tony. I'm 46 (At the time of the interview. He was born on 12/8/1969) years old, I'm from Melbourne, Australia, but I live in the country, in a town called Daylesford wich is one hour and half away from Melbourne. In Daylsford, Dianna Barrie and I have our own lab, Nanolab which is partly a commercial lab for Super 8 processing, but Nanolab is also a big lab space with several darkrooms. There, we work and other people can come, staying for a while and work with us having a sort of artist residency for making a film or whatever. 

A frame from Ginza Strip a Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie experimental film.

We also run a lab in Melbourne called Artist Film Workshop which is a community lab like this (referring to Unzalab), a membership lab. Both of these films labs are listed on the website, but they are quite different. My background is in philosphy, but I was making films before I started studying philosophy. I had a break while I was studying. I started making flms in the middle eightys, but they were a different kind of films to those I make now. In those days there was not internet, of course and there was a great scene in Melbourne for Super8 films. It was very, very vibrant. It was a very productive time. We had meetings once a month and there were always new films to show. In that context the enviroment of new films was very productive for me. None of us got to see films from anybody else. We saw only our own films. We were like this, just looking at ourselves, we didn't have an archive to look at, or a collections of films to look at. It was kind of good because we didn't worry about the canons. We didn't worry about the big figures of experimental films. We were just worried about ourselves. It was a good way to make work. In those days I was making narrative Super8 films, but I was watching experimental films made in the group. I was trying to make Ozu films!

A frame from Ginza Strip a Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie experimental film.

I came back to making films early in 2000 because we moved to a small town in the country and someone said: "You should come to the Super8 screening tonight". I thought: "What? A Super8 screening in Daylsford?". In those days Super8 was finished. I was sure it was finished. Ok, come on and make a film! So I thought I would make one last Super8 film, just for the old days. Then I went crazy and I made forty Super8 films. Working with Super8 was a very productive way to develop, because you could move quickly. I didn't have to process it, I could sent it to Kodak and edit it and then it was done. And then you could make something else. So you were able to develop your skills and ideas, themes, devices very quickly.
Quite quickly we got on developing our own films and started the lab. We still develop films by hand in spirals. I do have processing machines, but generally I prefere develope by hand. What is special is having printing machines.

A frame from Ginza Strip a Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie experimental film. Here you can see the "Chromaflex" a processing technique developed by the Australian artist.

TG: Have you got a Truka or an optical printer?

RT: What's the first one, the Truka?

TG: A sort of animation stand used for precision camera movement...

RT: Yes we have, but I haven't actually set it up. We have an optical printer, a very simple one, a JK, but the most useful thing was our first contact printer. We have now 5 or 6 contact printer because they are too valuable to let them go, you know... I do different things and I get different results from the different machines. I think contact printers are very important. They allow you to go very quickly, at least at a practical level, from making one print to multiple prints. They can really improve the quality of the finished films because you don't have to handle the negative so much, or your original so much. Getting our first optical printer was a liberation because we had to make it work and we had to pull it apart, clean it up and put it back together, but in studying how it worked we could "bend" how to use it, we could make changes from what it was meant to do and play games with it. Personally, I think being able to spend time with the equipment is a very important in being able to explore and then understanding and exploit what the media is.

A frame from Crossing, a Richard Tuohy's experimental film.

TG: Is it easy finding Super8 films in Australia?

RT: I Import it. I get it from Kodak Australia. They bring it in. If you ring Kodak Australia and you press the right button you end up in China. They send me their film and sometimes films from Wittner in Germany, or from Spectra in the USA.  Other than us there are also a couple of shops that buy films sometimes from us, sometimes from Kodak, but mostly we are the sellers of super 8 film nowadays. It didn't use to be like that. It used to be our film stock sales was just a small thing because there were other shops. When there was reversal film there were a lot of shops that sold it, but now there is mostly negative film with Super8.

The reel of Crossing, a Film by Richard Tuohy

TG: Do you work also for professional cinematographers?

RT: As costumers of the lab? Yes.

TG: And do you process Super16?

RT: No, we don't do that commercially, we only work with Super8. Sometimes, if they do a flashback, a dream sequence or something like that, if they use Super8 they deal with us, but I don't want to work with 16mm commercially. For me, the commercial side of the business is only a way of supporting our own film work and I don'want to make a big empire. I just want to keep it going, we can process Super8 very efficiently and we can't do 16mm efficiently. I can process 30 Super 8 in about one hour and half, while I could maybe process two 16mm films in the same amount of time. So it just doesn't make economic sense. I don't need to do it.

Two frames overlapped on the same screen of Dot Matrix, a Richard Tuohy's experimental film.

TG: Dot Matrix, the last film you projected tonight, do you think we could say it is optical art?

RT: I hope so. Yes, I think it is an adequate description. I like that. Certainly, I think it's more about optics than cinema, but in a certain way it's trying to take something apart regarding the cinema mechanism. One of the things that I find fascinating is the fundamental transformation that happens in the film projector - the transformation from a long continuous strip of film into little discrete pictures that end up generating the appearance of movement on the screen. When you work with rayograms, which are like photograms, that transition from continuous strip to discrete images is really brought to the front. You experience just what the projector is doing to the continuous strip by arbitrarily making this division into frames. The game with rayograms, for me, is to do something that plays with this fundamental transformation at the heart of cinema from continuous strip to discrete pictures that does something interesting on the screen. Often when people do rayograms it just goes quick, quick, quick and it doesn't seem to be working with the mechanism. The game for me is to find something that work with the mechanism of the 24 frames per second.

Richard Tuohy at the projectors during the projections of Dot Matrix

TG: Are these films the unique copies you own?

RT: No, I can make more. They are prints. However, by cleaning the projectors I can project the films a great many times without particularly damaging the copies. We have made 70 projections from the two films of Dot Matrix. Film is tough as long as you know how to use the projector.

TG: Sure. Have you ever thought to make also digital video art?

RT: Yes, but I'm not fascinated by digital and it would be like asking a trumpeter if he has ever thought to play with strings. He could, but it would be a completely new thing to learn, so I don't have the need to, because I have my film equipment and I feel they (digital and film) are like quite different instruments. It is difficult to asses the different aesthetic properties (of digital and film). Yes, they do do something that is the same. You can record people moving and see the appearance of movement; you can record colours and see the colours and see that they are similar in both cases, but in other ways they are very different.

TG: Do you think it would be possible to make the same colours of film digitally?

RT: No, you make different colours. If one day digital gets closer to film, there will still be differences in the way one goes about making films (moving pictures) digitally and on film and therefore in the results you get. Different media generate different works. I think if we lost films all together we will be losing a set of possibilities that can't be replaced by digital. If Citizen Kane was made on video it would be a different work and could be equally good or bad or whatever. Even in a Hollywood film like that, I still think there are differences and there would be a loss if we lose film. A lot of people challenge me by saying I could make this or I could make that one in digital. Perhaps you could make something which is close, but I think you could never make something which is the same and what's more, you wouldn't, this is the other thing. For example, Dianna's film with the drifting perforations (Last Train, seen in the program) is pure chemistry. There is only a small amount of filming using a camera in it. In the rest of it the perforations you see are  'printed' in the image area of the film just by using chemistry and by spiraling the film into a coil and putting it in one bath, in another bath and back in the first one and stretching it and whatever. It's an entirely physical thing that you wouldn't do digitally, you would do something else.

TG: Do you sell your films as art?

RT: I don't know how to do it. I have sold some to universities, but not for a large amount of money. Video art galleries seem to have buyers, but for experimental films I don't know where to find buyers.

TG: Maybe in a contemporary art gallery. What are you going to do in Nantes? Are you going to show there the movies we saw here tonight?

RT: Some of them yes, but not all of them. In Nantes there will be a big event and we can show there only 3 films. Apparently we are going to do a round table. Other than that I would like to do practical things. I want to help to organize the whole labs in the world to be able to make the cost of working with film cheaper. That's a big priority for me. So, this means organizing them to work; buy at the cheapest prices and also making sure that everyone knows what is available to buy and how to buy it. Sometimes, something comes only in a big pile, like you have to buy this much, but if we can communicate about that better with each other it's helpful. These are the things I find most important about meetings like these.

Dianna Barrie
Dianna Barrie makes her own films; Richard and Dianna makes films together and Richard makes his own films, but they put each other names on the films because the other person is always there and he or she gives advices, it is helping or do the sound, the music or whatever. Dianna made the music for many Richard Tuohy's films.

TG: Is technique important for your art?

RT: I think technique is important in art and I think that film has its own set. Technique has to be learnt. Sometimes people think film is too hard, but I don't think film it is any harder than anything else. It's just that people don't have these skills anymore. When you look at the way people used to be able to shoot home movies back in the '50s or '40s or whatever they could get beautiful results because they were familiar with film. They were familiar with aperture, exposure and focus. It's the same with painting. If you want to be a fine painter, you have to know your stuff, you have to know to clean your brushes properly or mixing colours. I think there is a lot of learning in most practical arts, so when people suggest film is hard, I think it's not inherently hard, it's just people don't know the technology now like they used to.

TG: At the  REMI, in Nantes, who will you be happy to meet? 
RT: So many people are going to be in Nantes. Put it in this way, I like a lot the films by Esther Urlus from Rotterdam; Roger Beebe from Ohio, but Esther is a very much lab person, while Roger Beebe is a straight filmmaker. Juan and Anja from  LaborBerlin - they are great; there are a lot of great filmakers from  L'Abominable; also some friends from the USA,  Robert Schaller , he makes very nice pinhole films using two of the little black boxes that 16mm film comes in.  He has the film supply in one of the boxes and the film take-up in the other and the pinhole in between. They are very beautiful films. The big change about this meeting in Nantes is that there will be so many people from North America and that's partly a product of the half lab meeting we had 3 or 4 years ago in Colorado, where there were quite a few people from Europe at a Festival called TIE. It was a whole festival about film, not video. A lot of american people who run labs there and were at TIE will come along to the meeting in Nantes. So I think that's a benefit to build these connections, but there will be also some people coming from Asia and I think this is a really good thing too. A couple of people from the Philippines, they have got a small lab there and there is a person coming from a very exciting lab in Indonesia - Lab Laba Laba - which means Spider lab. It's great to see people from my region basically who are getting into this kind of filmmaking activity.
TG: Thank you very much Richard.

Richard Tuohy explains his films

Here you can read the article in italian about Richard Tuohy and Dianna Barrie at the Unzalab

All the rights are reserved

domenica 15 gennaio 2017

Mimosa Photo Papier: a collectible item found in a flea market in Milan

Last summer, before to leave for the vacation, I visited a flea market in the quarter where I live in Milan and I found an interesting framed item. It was a picture with inside two packs of Mimosa barita photographic paper and a typewritten sheet of paper.
Unfortunately, the written was not readable and I kept the curiosity to know why somebody decided to frame the two packs of old photo paper.
Both the packs, made in Kiel, were new and contained 10 sheets of 5X7 inches of Mimosa photo sensitive paper. 
One pack had inside Rapido Bromosa SP12 (Special extra white) contrast grade 2, emulsion number 910808; the other was marked RP SP11 (Special white), contrast grade 2, emulsion number 920802.

 Two packs of Mimosa Rapido Bromosa SP11 and SP12 Made in West Germany framed with a unreadable sheet.

I was in a hurry and I didn't want to carry the picture with me, so I didn't buy it. It costed something like 20 or 30 euros: I thought to come back to the second hand storehouse after the summer, but I forgot to do it, so I have no idea if somebody else bought this item. Probably yes.
I also thought to open the glass, open the packs and use the paper to print some old picture, but obviously I couldn't do this because I don't have the paper.
I imagine the written faded away because the picture was exposed to the daylight, so probably also the sensitive paper could be quite old and unusable.
Italy in the past produced very good photographic papers, so it was strange for me founding a german sensitive paper that probably was not even so easy to buy here in Milan.

My friend Adrian shows the misterious picture of Mimosa photo paper.

domenica 8 gennaio 2017

Why I don't like Polaroid

 Polaroid 600 SuperColors

Recently a friend gave me a nice yellow Polaroid 600 Supercolors, so I bought an Impossible colour film pack and I tried it.
This was not the first time I took pictures with a Polaroid camera, but I never owned a Polaroid 600 before because I never had a good feeling with this kind of instant film camera.
Still now, I can't share the enthusiasm many people have for this kind of photography.
I like the idea of having in my hands a colour or a black and white photo after a few minutes I took the picture, but with the Impossible colour film time dilates out of proportion and you have to wait more than 30 minutes for a colour print photo. More than 10 for a B/W photo. Definitely too much for an " instant" photo.
The photo camera is made of plastic; if you like plastic you will enjoy it, but if you love chemical photography especially for the possibility to use strong metal camera, Polaroids will seem to be what they are: just toys.
Like every toy, Polaroid camera design and colours are very nice, in fact I suspect that people enjoy Polaroid more for the appearance than for the effective results this camera provides.

I shot this picture in the evening after the sunset, when the sky is still bright. It's possible to see the lights on the platforms, but evidently it's already too dark for the Impossible film. Despite its 640 Iso the camera required the help of the incorporated flash light to take this urban panorama. I don't like flash lights and I don't like a camera that pratically always requires the use of the flash light.
Polaroid cameras are very simple, but when something is too simple or too automated it's difficult to obtain a good result.
It's impossible to obtain photos completely clean.
If you don't count them it's impossible to know how many photos have left inside the camera because there has not a counter for this funtion.
The format of the photographs is too small and too square for my taste.
Impossible film quality is poor and not constant. Buying a film pack is always a surprise, also because the film shoud be kept in the fridge before the use and it's impossible to know how the seller retained the film.
The price of the film pack is excessive, the activity of playing should be cheaper for children and adults.

The Polaroid 600 closed in its plastic shell is protected quite well from dust and shocks.

Conclusions: not every vintage photo camera is good just because it is old and shoots on film. Impossible film has this name because it's absurd to think to get good results from it.

sabato 24 dicembre 2016

August Muth and the pure form of the analogical holography

"Holography is the demonstration that when a technique is performed in a perfect manner, the result that is obtained is artistic." TG

August Muth

Last april at the MIA of Milan I met August Muth the best holographer in the world. Holography is a real 3D kind of photography more practiced in the '80s that in the years later. This technique desappeared because holography films were discontinued. This is the interview I recorded with  Mr. August Muth that explains how he has been able to bypass this problem.

Tony Graffio: Is this the indipendent stand of an indipendent artist, isn't it?

August Muth: Yes, we are very indipendent (he laughs).

TG: So, at first I would like to understand why holography is here in a photography art exhibition?

AM: Well, as we utilize a photo sensitive emulsion formula that was developed in the early 1840's; before the current emulsions had been not even discovered. It goes back for a very long time, it was one of the very first sensitive liquid emulsion and has a different type of light recording than a phtograph.

TG: Does people know holography?

AM: In general no, it's something very new to them, but in terms of the world knowing holography there are many things in nature that they are basically holograms. Like the colours in bird feathers or in butterflies wings; they all use similar structures how holograms break light up to the colours.

TG: Holography was quite popular in the '80s, also myself I learnt how to make an hologram with a laser and simple instruments. What has changed in these last 30 years?

AM: Technologically the latest development in holography had to do with digital holography, where they take digital files and convert them in holograms. I'm not very interested in it because I really believe in a pure form where you utilising just the laser light itself to make the hologram. And they are extremely high resolution, much higher then any resolution of any other media that exist on the planet at this time. Something like 10 billions pixels per inch. When we make a hologram it records the molecular structure of the material that the hologram subject is made of.

TG: Does exist also a way to make video holography?

AM: Yes, there is something that people are calling holograms in video, but what they are is different. There are video displays systems. I see these more and more now on the web, people talking how they are making digital holograms, but in truth they are not making holograms at all. They are just paper ghosts.

TG: Would you like to talk a little bit about your education and your career please?

AM: I grow up in New Mexico wich is very much about light. Many artist from over the world travel to New Mexico because of the light. In the early age I was very interested in working with light and working in the realm of the photon. As I discovered holography I made a self training with this discipline beacause there is no educational system out there to train with holography. There are just a few people who do it. You have to learn from those people and then you go off and really self-train and discover how to improve the matter. And that's a lot of what I've done. I have developed a method where I'm making larger holograms with this emulsion in anyboby in the world. Soon I will do holograms much larger, so I 'm going to rebuild my studio to make 1,5 meter X 1,3 meter. When I will return to New Mexico that's what I do.

TG: Is anybody collaboratig with you?

AM: Yes, Dora Tass came in my studio and we worked together to produce the typewriter series. She had the contacts in Italy, so we have been invited here to the show in this fair. I've never been to Italy before, so I decided to come here with my works.

TG: You don't work with films anymore?

AM: No, holographic films don't exist anymore, we work only with gelatine emulsions, a very old process, and we coated in this way the glass plates. It's very much like in the very first photographs. We make the hologram on the gelatine and then we laminated another piece on glass on top to the gelatine to protect it from the enviroment. Essentially from scratches and things like that. 

TG: What's the difference in working with film and with gelatine emulsion?

AM: The emulsion I use doesn't really has grain at all. The structure is very fine so you can obtain a extremely high resolution, but very few people work with this emulsion because you have to coat it quicky because it only has two weeks lifetime after you make the emulsion on the glass. Then it's dead and it's not good anymore.

TG: Do you prepare the emulsion by yourself?

AM: Yes, and I make my own formula; it's like I make my own paint, because the formula as to do with what colours you research. Results depends by different formulas I mix and how old emulsion is. If it is fresh you get ones and if it has aged you obtain a different palette. So, it's very alchemical and I don't follow the same palette all the times. I'm very loose with my technology. Producing holograms is an experience more then obtaining the exact results I want.

TG: Does this involve a lot of experimentation?

AM A lot of experimentation, yes. To see what would works and what it wouldn't work.

TG: Are you able to obtain the holograms immediately or you need to try more times before to have a good result?

AM: Sometimes it takes many, many tries to get the result because the emulsion I use is very unsensitive to light so the exposure time is seven minutes. If anything move more than 1/10'000'000'000 of a meter in 7 minutes you don't get the hologram because the laser light ought has a phase with itself, so there is nothing in there. Everything has to be very still for a long time, but occasionally things move and you have something that is not there at all. Sometime I move a piece a little bit and sometime they are totally still, so they are very clear and bright. It's all part of the creative process of what I do. Everything is very experiential.

TG: Is your art appreciated in USA?

AM: It's well received, yes. I have many galleries there where I sell working, but at the same time it's something very new. People are not really used to this type of work and I'm really knowing that there is not much of this work in the United States, so there is nothing for people to compare it to. So, this is always a problem that I had. I'm very unique and individual in terms of this work, but at this point I've been doing it for 30 years and this is all I do. I don't do anything else.

TG: Does people understand the difficulties of your technique?

AM: No, not at degree at all.

TG: It's crazy!

AM: I've made many many things in my life: sculptur, photographer, for a while, when I was in college in my early days. This is by far the most difficult thing I've made in my life. In some parts of it, you must be very precise, very controlled and very scientific. In other parts of it I have to let it go and let nature be my partner in the creation of the holograms.

TG: Have you anything to do with the Multiplex?

AM: No. Those are not real holograms because they are the rays of two dimensionals film source, so it's not really a three dimensional source. I really like making true holograms, in the sense to have a real light information storage device, if you want to be scientific about it. They are real. Most people come to see my work and they say: "Ah this is a great illusion!".  No. They are real. What we see is the illusion, we see the light in a eye transfer to electro to chemical impulse, back to electro impulse to the brain. In our perceptions this is reality, or what we think reality is. Hologram is reality, just it has no mass. Because it doesn't need any mass.

TG: How much do you sell your works?

AM: In the USA usually, in my galleries, my pieces go for $ 18'000 to $ 22'000.

TG: How much time do you need to make a piece?

AM: Between 40 and 80 hours from start to finish a piece. There are many many steps, from coat the emulsion on the glass to make the exposure of the hologram. Then I have to process, to laminated and to finish the glass and creating a framing system for. There are many processes in what I do. 

TG: Do you make these processes uninterruptedly?

AM: Oh yes, it takes days doing these things, because when I coat the emulsion I have only one week of time or two days in summertime when the days are warm and humid. In wintertime when the weather is cold and dry I have to wait 4-5 days before the plates dry up. Sometimes, just the heat from my hands would go into the glass and bend the glass and so you have to wait from overheat until the glass relax again, so the glass is not bending during the exposure time. So basically everything is nearly seattled. I load a plate one day and next night I make the hologram. I load a plate next day and the nex night I make the hologram.

TG: Are you the only one to work in this way?

AM: Yes, I would say yes. There may be a few people hobbyist who do it, but I am the only one who is doing this at professional levels. And Dora. Dora comes to my studio and collaborates. I consider her as my partner. I have facilities like no other in the world, so the only way other people could produce is collaborating with me. Some people collaborating with me to produce my works and I'm able to collaborate to produce their. It's a very fluid collaboration we have (I heard from other source, a gallerist, that also James Turrell holograms are produced by August Muth).

TG: Every piece is one of the kind?

AM: Yes. I don't use masters. I want each piece is individual light recording. It's the recording of half the light interacted with the subject one year ago or six months ago. As if you look at the stars  you look at the light emitted by the stars millions years ago, but you look at the present. When you look at a hologram you look how the light reacted with the subject matter one year ago, also in the present. There is an analogy with the stars and what I do. There is a communality also in photography and what I do because I'm parcially using really old photographic techniques. Platinum photography is much more sensitive than dichromate gelatine, what I do is dichromate, and it is 4 or 5 times less sensitive than silver halides emulsions.

All rights reserved

August Muth was born in 1955 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, now his studio is based in Santa Fe. New Mexico, USA.

domenica 13 novembre 2016

Old lens big emotions: Kern-Paillard Switar 1:1,8 f 5,5mm D mount

Stazione Garibaldi Milano. Pentax Q + Switar 5,5mm f 1,8 400 Iso 1/80 sec. f 5,6

My experience with the 8mm go back at the sixties, when I was a very little child and my uncle gave me his Eumig for shooting a scene at the seaside. We were fully in the Kodacolor years. 
Last time I projected the footage I shot, around 10 years ago, I still was very surprised of my early ability in filming and of the brilliance of the colours.
Recently, we are re-discovering many things about our past and of the old tecnologies we used to film, to photograph or to listen to the music and we understand how much love the producers put in building films, lens and all the mechanical gear we used.
Nearly everything was hand made or required hand mounting, hand finishing and human competence.
Now, we are living in the plastic age, the robots are the new workers and when something breaks, it's not possible to repair it.
Thanks to a very cheap chinese D mount adapter I could give a new life, on a digital photo camera, at a precious wide angle lens unused for too much time.

My Pentax Q with a Switar  5,5 mm f 1,8  (serial number 827243) and the D mount P/Q adapter

The Pentax Q has a sensor of mm 6,16 X, 4,6
The 8 mm cine standard frame is mm 4,5 X 3,3

Digital sensor comparison. The Pentax Q has a sensor of 1/2,3″ inch.

8mm cine formats comparison

This means that there is a little difference between the two formats, also if the 8mm was born around 80 years before the digital Pentax Q. And it could be possible to cover the new format with the old lens, also if it is possible having some problems with the wide angles.
I estimate that a focal lenght of 5,5mm on a Pentax Q format should correspond at a 28mm on a 24X36 mm frame.
Usually, this is not an extreme wide angle lens, but on a very little format it's quite difficult to make o to find a wider lens. The Kern-Switar 5,5mm f 1,8 was one of the best wide angle for filming in 8mm.
It's also true that using an old lens to shoot on digital it's always a difficult compromise because films and electronic sensors  work in a very different manner.

Before the Sunrise. Milan, via Farini. November 13th 2016. Pentax Q + Switar 5,5mm f 18 Iso 125; 1/25 sec. f 4.

Same shot in a different version (B/N)

The lens
The lens is gorgeous, is made with aluminium and brass and has the optical coating. The iris is continuos and has 8 blades. The minimum focus distance is very short: cm 11, so we nearly could call this Kern: Macro Switar. The focusing ring, as the iris ring is very smooth and precise. In this way if we need to open the iris, make the focus and close again the iris, it's possible to make this operation without to change the focusing distance by mistake. But we still need to make attention because the dimensions of the 5,5mm are quite small. Made in Switzerland at the end of the 50's.

I've been able to use the Switar 5,5mm on my camera without change the distance at the infinity focus, but the distance reported on the ring didn't correspond at a real value, so I could focus only watching the display of my Pentax Q.
The lens came from a Bolex Paillard DL8. I tested other lens coming from other cameras, as some Claston and others Kern coming from a Bolex Paillard B8. I found that the lens coming from the B8 were the only lens usable on my Pentax Q without perform a new collimation.
Optical collimation is a corretion made with some thin rings to put on the back of the attacmente of the lens so that infinity focus coincides exactly on the focal plan, where the sensor or the film is. 

Vignetting & Co.
Because the Pentax Q format is larger than the standard 8mm there is a strong vignetting on the corners of the images. Distorsion is weak, but visible. Chromatic distortion is also visible because the colours focus on different plans on film and on CMOS.

Final Judgement
Working with a full manual lens on a automatic focus digital camera is never funny, you lose time and you need to make additional clicks to be sure to be on focus: also because it's possible to move the focus ring by mistake when you close down the iris after you focused the subject at the iris wide open. Kern-Paillard are the best optics you can find, not only for 8mm, but also for other formats, like 35mm, but using them on a digital camera could be done only to find vintage atmospheres, having an alternative to change lens, for fun, for trying something new, or because these lens are very, very fast. They are not so suggested for a use in colour photography: I think it has more sense use them for black and white photography or for videomaking. Best again for filmaking, also beacause you can still order your 8mm (double 8mm, if you prefere), Super8 or 16mm at TG