July 28, 2003
All Personalities Are Multiple Personalities

It's a little late for a far-reaching post, but there's a story and it's a story about pictures, and if you told it in names only, these particular ones would be german. It would start with August Sander, and then it would continue with, e.g., Bernd and Hilla Becher, who taught Andreas Gursky and Thomases Ruff and Struth in Dusseldorf. Got that? Can the Tate make it clearer? More cruel? More tender? Does Gerhard Richter's Atlas make order or reveal it? (In my picture atlas...I can only get a handle on the flood of pictures by creating order since there are no individual pictures at all anymore.)

Anyway, the only point to telling that whole story would be to continue it with Exactitudes, which is (like endcommercial), a periodic table of the western world. If August Sander approached it like a butterfly collector of sorts, caught up in amber, silver and ground German optics, then Exactitudes is born of the googleplex, the spider, the bot. Database and ground control.

Ain't nothing new, not in the west, not in the west of the west, and I don't know if it's comfort or terror, I don't know whether you find yourself in everyone else or everyone else inside you, but I like these, that's all. I like that in the future, atlases and exactitudes will be generated by google, not artists. I like the idea of the earth as capable of order and grid, as surely as I know it's got none of either.

Posted by kevin slavin at July 28, 2003 03:50 AM

exactitudes, as seen on saturation in April. (sorry kevin)

let's not forget other forebears: Tibor's 42nd street portraits. Judy Fiskin and Ed Ruscha working the Los Angeles vernacular architecture tip. (via the book Typologies)

Before that, Atget. But also, the whole stereoscopic wave, led by Underwood & Underwood, which was less self-conscious in its approach but no less comprehensive.

But still: August Sander.

Posted by: dbrown on July 28, 2003 10:42 AM

oh, and ol' Ed Curtis, too.

Posted by: dbrown on July 28, 2003 10:43 AM
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