Ralph Gibson's Interchange
August 25, 2002 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Ralph Gibson's Interchange allows us to create pairs of his dark, lyrical photographs by selecting them from two different stacks. The results are starkly beautiful yet surprisingly coherent. Gibson is often criticized as cold, brainy and aestheticizing, but fans like me love his photography all the more for it. His website isn't nearly as smooth and collected, but it contains a generous helping of recent work. The ex libris and l'histoire de france series are also outstanding: rich and luscious surfaces and fetishes, obsessively stared at and almost erotically immobilized. The gotham chronicles photographs look like a new departure, if perhaps just a tad too recherché.[Those who'd prefer to navigate the site from scratch should go straight to the front page, of course.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (15 comments total)
erotically immobilized
i'm truly afraid to click this link.
posted by quonsar at 8:56 PM on August 25, 2002

They're just as safe for work as your parents' wedding photographs...oh wait, it's quonsar...much, much safer for work, then. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:59 PM on August 25, 2002

Interchange is nicely done - could be the first time I've seen frames used well. His images are neat too: they've got a high contrast, retro feel.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:14 PM on August 25, 2002

Very cool, Miguel. I've been happily juxtapositioning until I'm now almost certain to miss deadline. Excellent. Thanks! (I think)
posted by umberto at 9:25 PM on August 25, 2002

"a tad too recherche?"

Great link, Miguel, but come on now. I realize we're all intelligentsia here, but a man must have his limits. Still, if the proper English idiom lacks a certain je ne sais quois, then ca ne fait rien. Ah well, que sera sera.
posted by jonson at 10:24 PM on August 25, 2002

Oh alright, jonson, over-laboured then. Though recherché is a far better term and is used by English speakers because it describes the act of looking (chercher) too hard for something, so that the final find/result clearly shows the excessive effort to be original that went into it, rather than being allowed to stand on its own. It screams "look how difficult this was to come up with" instead of just saying (as it should) "look at me".

Re-chercher is actually to re-search, with the emphasis on repetitive searching, for something that should best be allowed to speak for itself. If I wanted to be willingly obscure I'd have used the Portuguese rebuscado or the Spanish gongorico. Recherché is fair game - at least as much as negligée, teehee.

Besides, no language is complete and there's nothing wrong in using foreign terms when they're more expressive than the nearest equivalents in one's own tongue(s). So get off my case, willya? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:43 PM on August 25, 2002

Absolutely gorgeous, Miguel.

Interesting that this page seems to address several of our current threads (libraries, real and imagined; ancient tomes). Coincidence? Also, a nice interview with Gibson here.
posted by taz at 11:01 PM on August 25, 2002

Thanks for that wonderful interview, taz. I came very late to the M6 world and have not quite got over all my SLR vices (though twenty years working with a Polaroid SX70 helped, as it requires viewfinder framing too) but what Gibson says about the advantages of rangefinders just about says it all:

"I have spent forty years working with the Leica rangefinder. The rangefinder enables one to see what’s outside of the frame as well as what’s inside of the frame. You make a decision predicated on the presence and/or the absence of various aspects of the subject. With a reflex, the camera determines what is seen, and half the time it's out of focus. One could follow a reflex around the world and focus it from time to time until it came across a picture. With a rangefinder you see something, you make the exposure and you continue to look at what you’re seeing. The rangefinder is ideally matched to the perceptive act, the personal act of perception. I only use a reflex for extreme close-ups."

It's a pity most people still use reflex, thinking it's truer. But with a good rangefinder camera you see. You're more there. The new M7 might take a lot of the riskiness and guesswork out (the thinking that sometimes makes a rangefinder slow) but I have my doubts. Ralph Gibson, like Cartier-Bresson, shows how unimportant recent camera technology is.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:21 PM on August 25, 2002

Miguel, the M7 is what, 2,700 $, 3,000$? And there's no market for buying used since it's so new.
That's a lot of money for taking "the riskiness and guesswork" out. If you shoot b/w, there are basically no exposure problems -- unless you're a (rich) chrome shooter, I don't see the reason for spending that kind of money on a M7 (it buys 2 used M6 plus a lot of film, or a used M6 and a used 35 Summicron ASPH).
You know, M2's and M3's can do the trick for a much cheaper price, just buy a handheld light meter if you're scared

And, the Leica price range makes it by def an elite, luxury product. And I don't see many people buying cheaper Hexars. Most people use now reflex because it's quicker (autofocus, program exp) and easier if you don't have a lot of technical skills and also cheaper. The rangefinder market can not possibly get bigger.

The irony is, in 10 years, when film will be basically extinct, those clunky film-based plastic-made Japanese SLR's will die, leaving only cheaper and easier and same-quality digital SLR's. And film will remain a fine-art, expensive and irrational and not cost effective mostly b/w phenomenon -- perfect for fine-art expensive irrational not cost-effective Leicas, and for the people who love to use them (I'm also one, yes)
posted by matteo at 2:25 AM on August 26, 2002

I liked the exhibit. I do have a soft spot for B&W. FWIW, I noticed that the main page causes a script error. (I'm using IE6.)

I don't seem to have enough mojo yet to post a link on the front page, but here's a collection I also like: Individual Colors.
posted by tbc at 7:46 AM on August 26, 2002

Hee hee, tbc, you really like that collection, don't you? Either that or you've found an original way of totting up comments to get that mojo working. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2002

I say, that was a masterpiece of avant-garde, dadaesque post-post-structuralism!
posted by caustic at 10:39 AM on August 26, 2002

beautiful pictures--not a great set up. i hate having to scroll up & down to hit next. it makes the whole process very cumbersome.

hey miguel! lay off the SLR users! some of us actually like our little canons.
posted by witchstone at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2002

some of us actually like our little canons

posted by matteo at 3:22 AM on August 27, 2002

well, compared to a 5x7 view camera.
posted by witchstone at 7:55 AM on August 27, 2002

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