We Talked Delayed Gratification with Photographer Eric Kim
Eric Kim is one of the most popular street photographers the internet has produced. His shots dominate Instagram and Tumblr, and his Youtube videos have lead to a dedicated following of fans. He’s a tech-head’s tech-head, one who also manages to take interesting, thoughtful street photos that are thankfully not of graffiti walls. He was recently in Australia presenting a series of workshops, so we thought we’d interview him and scam some free advice.
VICE: This is your first time in Australia. Have you seen anything local photographers might underappreciate?
Eric Kim: Australia has the best light in the world for photography—number two is Istanbul. I don’t know if it’s because you guys have a wild ozone system… I think it’s because of the longitude and latitude. The angle the light hits, it’s really edgy—and the lights, the shadows, are absolutely incredible. Look at the work by Trent Parke. The light here is just phenomenal. You can’t get this anywhere else in the world.
So you mostly shoot film—is it practical, or are you a bit sentimental?
I started shooting film because I visited friends in Tokyo and everyone there shoots film. At first I’m like, “You’re all just a bunch of hipsters; why are you shooting film?!” I had my Leica M9 and thought I could shoot digital, use post-processing software, and make my shots look like film. It just seemed pointless to me. They’re like, “Nah, Eric, you gotta try it out.”
Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook Shut Down an Entire City Block
A week ago, on a balmy Sunday evening in downtown Manhattan, a photography show shut down an entire city block. It was the New York edition of Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook
installation at Team Gallery, where vivid and hedonistic portraits of beautiful youngsters have been wallpapered to every surface in the gallery. I saw a similar exhibition
of McGinley’s Yearbook
pictures in San Francisco last fall, but this new show takes the installation to an even more elaborate and all-encompassing level, coating every surface of the gallery in glossy, chromatic youth-beauty, so that not an inch of white wall remains. The photos, shot over the last 5 years in McGinley’s Chinatown studio, picture sweethearts of the downtown art scene, and everyone looks like they’re having fun. The air is getting colder, so back-to-school vibes are strong, and this seems like the perfect time to be looking at photos called Yearbook. VICE asked Ryan a few questions to find out more.
VICE: How many photos are in the exhibition?
Ryan McGinley: The show has over 700 photographs stuck on the walls. Most people have two different photos from their studio shoot.
How many years did it take you to shoot all the portraits for Yearbook?
The project has taken 5 years. I’ve shot peoples portraits ever month for it in my Chinatown studio in NYC since 2009.
Where did the idea to totally cover the gallery walls come from?
I’ve always loved how street advertisements in NYC are wheat pasted on top of each other. I talked with a guy late one night who was doing it and he explained the process to me.
Who are the people in the photographs?
Everyone I shoot is part of downtown’s creative community. Painters, Musicians, Dancers, Writers, Sculptors or Photographers. Those are the people that understand what I do and are excited to pose nude for me.
What’s a typical studio shoot like?
I really love to have people lay on the floor and slowly move around, there is something so intimate about being on the ground together. Then we pick up the pace and the model gets to choose three songs they love to jam out to and we dance. Sometimes we break out the mini trampoline and jump around in circles on it. I’ve also got a treadmill that we’ve cut the guardrails off of and people run on that. I love collecting old beat up chairs that get thrown out from the streets of Chinatown. I’ve got a collection of them that models sit on, they’ve got character.
I Attended a Pug Pool Party in Staten Island
Every year, the Staten Island Pug Meetup hosts a pug pool party where pug lovers can watch pug swimming races and eat pug lollipops. Luckily for everyone who missed the event, Amy Lombard took these pictures.
Cry-Baby of the Week
This week: A kid got arrested for pretending to have sex with a statue of Jesus and a guy threw eggs at his neighbors’ cars because they parked on the street.
The Golden Zone: Hunting a Hit Man in Mexico
We were hunting a man who got paid to kill people. He was bisexual, and his preferred weapon was an Uzi submachine gun that left its victims nearly unidentifiable. He was employed by a powerful organization with a lot of money to spend and even more to lose.
Jason Polan Is Trying/Failing to Draw Every Person in New York City
Artist Jason Polan
is trying to draw every person in New York City, and he’s failing.
Over six years ago, the idea formed in his head, and when it existed in the laboratory that sits between his ears, the concept was so simple, so clean, so utterly perfect in the way a circle drawn by some theoretical supercomputer is perfect. A) There is New York. B) There are people in New York. So, C) There could exist a total, whole and complete document of Every Person in New York
But then, just after conception, the idea left his head and entered the world—as any art that ends up actually existing does—and became subject to the brutal elements of this sloppy place where drawing a perfect circle is, it turns out, inherently impossible. Suddenly, “Every Person in New York” was flawed, messy, ugly even.
Jason wouldn’t know if he was drawing residents, tourists or those just passing through. He could go door-to-door with piles of census data, but there’d still be plenty of people who existed off the grid, or people who moved here since the last data collection, or babies being born, or people dying, or some other factor that made New York a subject that just wouldn’t sit still. Any way he approached it, there would be countless tiny gaps in a portrait of the city, holes that would render the thing fatally incomplete. And even if Polan somehow disentangled this logistical puzzle, there was still the most glaring problem of all: He would have to draw something like 14 people an hour for 70 years to include “every person.”
Bobby Viteri photographed the West Indian Day Parade, one of New York City’s last great street festivals.
Los Angeles: Come to the 2014 VICE Photo Show
Remember how much you loved the art in this year’s photo issue? Did you rip out pages of the magazine and plaster them on your wall because you just loved them so much you wanted to gaze at them longingly while you lay awake at night?
Now you can experience those photographs all over again… but bigger, not affixed to the wall with duct tape, and not for you to delicately caress after being emotionally overwhelmed by their artistic power (seriously, don’t touch them! They’re expensive!). Tomorrow night, we’re throwing a party to celebrate our 2014 photo issue—and lucky you, you’re invited (yes, you).
Join us at the Superchief Gallery in downtown Los Angeles, where you can experience the art all over again. Check out photos by the likes of Cindy Sherman, Richard Kern, Jaimie Warren,Laurie Simmons, and a lot of other great photographers. Entry is free, and 21-and-over.
Thomas Morton (one of our hosts from VICE on HBO) and Fidlar will be DJing. Oh, and did we mention that the drinks are free?
Want to join the party? RSVP here.
We interviewed Werner Herzog about films, football, WrestleMania, and the loathsome trend of children’s yoga classes.