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 Backstage iPad Perspective of Hood By Air’s Latest Fashion Week Show
Taking photos at fashion week sucks. From an objective standpoint, it’s pretty formulaic: you take your fancy DSLR, head to the show early, crouch in the photo pit, and take head-on, head-to-toe portraits of various weenies wearing things. All the while, the guy next to you who works for some other magazine/media company/blog essentially takes the same photo.
So, in the spirit of youthful rebellion (and continuity) we sent out-of-bounds photographer Nick Sethi to document backstage at Hood By Air’s latest showing. And since HBA is known for sending pipe-laden jackets, snowboard boots, and crutches down the runway, he figured it’d be cool if he left his DSLR at home and take his iPad instead. We didn’t disagree.
MOSSLESS: Your images have a transient quality, do you travel a lot for your work?
Suzanna Zak: Taking photos isn’t my main objective for traveling, but the two go hand in hand, like they do for most people. That being said, having a camera in hand has brought me to certain spots that I don’t think I would have had the initiative to end up in otherwise. I guess what I’m mostly talking about here is minor trespassing.
You can read a recent interview between myself and Mossless on the VICE website here.
Jason Polan Is Trying/Failing to Draw Every Person in New York City
Contemporary Art Doesn’t Have to Be Pretentious and Confusing
Ossian Ward is one of Britain’s leading art critics. His new book, Ways of Looking, sounded a little patronizing from the title, given that anyone with eyes should probably have that down already. But reading through, it does provide a very helpful guide to the understanding of contemporary art, which—to me, at least—often seems as aimless as someone standing in a gallery repeatedly turning the lights on and off.
Ossian advises against pretentious art jargon, suggesting the only way to approach contemporary art is with a clear, open mind. Since he seemed so nice and obliging, I decided to ask him some of the embarrassing questions that pop into my mind when I’m in a contemporary art gallery (other than, ‘Where’s the café?’ and, ‘I wonder how much Marina Abramović is going to make from sitting in that chair.’)
VICE: Hi Ossian. So is contemporary art just having the balls to do something either so outrageous that it’s shocking or so banal that it’s shocking?
Contemporary art is not yet a verb, nor does it have balls per se—though I’m sure Tracey Emin would take exception to that—but it does occasionally shout at you from across the room and it can be provocative, challenging and even scary. I have found myself in rooms kitted out to look like murder scenes, brothels, or a terrorist’s stronghold.
I have also tiptoed past various spring-loaded man-traps, risked severe burns at a gallery where I was greeted by a flame from the opposite wall, told not to drink from a fountain supposedly laced with LSD, warned that the tiny globe before me contained a bomb that would explode a hundred years from now… I could go on. Confrontational art is certainly one of the ways that artists aim to grab our attentions nowadays.
Do you ever think that Tate and MoMA are a bit like the Westfields of art galleries, as in there’s just too much stuff?
If only the works were on sale at knock-down prices, with special bargain bins for obscure works of Surrealism. I would like that. But yes, our large art institutions can be bewildering places full of mysterious and exotic objects, which is essentially why I wrote my book.
We shouldn’t fear the complexity, abstraction, or randomness of contemporary art, but embrace them as reflections of our culture. I often invoke Hollywood blockbuster films, theme-park rides and other forms of entertainment as reference points, rather than art historical movements or philosophical theories, as frankly not everyone has that level of interest or experience.