acehotel
acehotel:

Philadelphia, PA
The sea has long been a source of poetic and artistic creation, of both solitude and coming together. Long after he renounced his US Citizenship, T.S. Eliot spoke to journalists in 1952, quipping, ”No one has ever truly fallen in love unless they have cruised the open ocean.” Wise words, old bard. For much of human history, culture moved by ship. 
Starting in 2015, Ace Hotel is moving by ship, too. 
We have purchased the historic SS United States, the world’s fastest ocean-liner, and the last US-flagged trans-Atlantic super liner for refurbishing and conversion into our newest venture: Ace Hotel Ocean.
The United States, languishing in our nation’s first capital city since 1996, was put up for sale. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) assumed ownership of the 990-foot ship in 2003 and announced its intention of refurbishing the vessel and returning her to service. Restoring the ship is, for anyone, an ambitious goal, but one deemed both worthy and feasible. That idea was floated in 2008, well before our current economic crisis. Recently, however, Star Cruises (NCL’s parent company) determined that this sort of undertaking was beyond their budget and they decided to sell the ship. We fell in love with the United States, and stepped in to save her. The rest, as they say, is history. 
Or the future.

acehotel:

Philadelphia, PA

The sea has long been a source of poetic and artistic creation, of both solitude and coming together. Long after he renounced his US Citizenship, T.S. Eliot spoke to journalists in 1952, quipping, No one has ever truly fallen in love unless they have cruised the open ocean.” Wise words, old bard. For much of human history, culture moved by ship. 

Starting in 2015, Ace Hotel is moving by ship, too. 

We have purchased the historic SS United States, the world’s fastest ocean-liner, and the last US-flagged trans-Atlantic super liner for refurbishing and conversion into our newest venture: Ace Hotel Ocean.

The United States, languishing in our nation’s first capital city since 1996, was put up for sale. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) assumed ownership of the 990-foot ship in 2003 and announced its intention of refurbishing the vessel and returning her to service. Restoring the ship is, for anyone, an ambitious goal, but one deemed both worthy and feasible. That idea was floated in 2008, well before our current economic crisis. Recently, however, Star Cruises (NCL’s parent company) determined that this sort of undertaking was beyond their budget and they decided to sell the ship. We fell in love with the United States, and stepped in to save her. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Or the future.

greatleapsideways

greatleapsideways:

I admire beauty, but as an aesthetic position I will leave that for others who are better equipped than I am to work in that way. (…) For me, a work of art is something that’s interesting to think about, more than something that’s interesting to look at." — Lewis Baltz.

Lewis Baltz, part of the TateShots video interview series of interviews with leading artists (stolen from the blog of Try Hard magazine).

greatleapsideways

For the serious photographer with a confirmed belief in the artistic worth of ‘straight’ photography – the so-called ‘poetic documentary’ mode – these are trying times. More than ever, most of the world seems to think that the simple photograph is not enough. The photographic artist who still stubbornly works within the broad tradition of Atget or Weston, even Frank or Friedlander, is deemed wilfully anachronistic, a member of a mutated, almost extinct species.

The straight photographer certainly is an endangered species. Reviled either openly or covertly, and frequently passed over in favour of those utilising the medium for conspicuously more grandiose ends. These days, the straight photographer’s nominally modest, ‘unambitious’ [works] tend to be swamped by the serried ranks of vainglorious photofabrications and moronic pieces of minimalist conceptualism masquerading as the ‘real thing.’ (…)

Of course, I am deliberately oversimplifying the issue. I also wish that it were unnecessary to take such a reactionary tack, but I feel that a little revisionism is in order. An artist’s medium should not be the ground for value judgements and ideological conflict. The art, yes – the medium itself, no. Yet that is precisely what has happened, and what is happening with photography. Certain ideological applications of photographic processes, namely, where the primacy of the photograph is denigrated and challenged, are held to be superior to the documentary utilisation of the medium. The photo-hybrid – photopainting, photosculpture, the ubiquitous conceptual photo ‘piece’ – is seen as the only valid notional approach. There are signs of active discrimination against the straight photograph and the plainly veristic practice from both within and without the photographic enclave.

Yet, so many of those seeking to ‘extend the boundaries of the medium’, and refute the ‘hegemony of the documentary’, are fooling themselves. Whether deliberately or unknowingly (often the latter I suspect), they would seek to deny photography’s salient strengths and replace them with a diluted academicism. Much of what they trot forth as shining examples of the medium’s cutting edge are simply tired old ideas (intellectually kosher ideas, to be sure) wrapped in glossy new packages and bound with accompanying rhetoric. Invariably – lots of rhetoric.

Excerpted from Another Brick in the Wall – Michael Schmidt’s Waffenruhe by Gerry Badger, (1987, Creative Camera magazine).

The foregoing argument from Gerry Badger, which dates back to a profoundly turbulent moment of political and economic strife in 1987, struck me recently as being both relevant and accurate in terms of many aspects of the contemporary state of fine art photography. In many ways history, on a political and economic level, has repeated itself in the intervening thirty years. So too it seems —  perhaps predictably — has the history of contemporary art.

To be clear, the issue is plainly not a zero sum game, which is to say as the literary critic Lorna Sage did: “[t]here is room to live intellectually, in other words, without having to compete over who’s more marginal than whom." That said, it seems a certain persistent mistrust, or a certain disdain of the virtues of ‘straight’ photography remains characteristic of the uneven terrain of critical discussion about the medium more generally. There are greater comforts to be found in the armature of conceptualised abstraction than in the complex ambiguities of the documentary image.

Badger’s avowedly extreme characterisation of experimental approaches to the photographic image also brought to mind an argument from Hal Foster’s 1984 essay Against Pluralism (quoted before here):

Modern art engaged historical forms, often in order to deconstruct them. Our new art tends to assume historical forms — out of context and reified. Parodic or straight, these quotations plead for the importance, even the traditional status, of the new art. In certain quarters this is seen as a “return to history”; but it is in fact a profoundly ahistorical enterprise, and the result is often “aesthetic pleasure as false consciousness, or vice versa.

If the prevailing sense is that ours is a society rife with images, none of which accord with a credible notion of reality (much less a stable convention of realism), then the ‘straight’ photograph is eminently suspect and of debatable value. Certainly our sense of the stability and authority of modernist conventions of photographic realism has been comprehensively undermined. The critic, historian and photographer David Campany discussed this notion recently when he said:

In modernity realism is a moving target. Maybe photography, or those with vested interests in it, thought they could freeze realism the way the shutter freezes action. The hegemony of the mass media magazines did that for a while. But their stranglehold on the conventions for realism is over. This makes form much more of a live issue than it once was.  Realism does not have a form that can be taken for granted. We must fight for it in the midst of things.

But the notion that the spectacular nature of reality is all pervasive nevertheless presumes an inevitable authority of spectacle over substance, and moreover presumes that no image is capable of contravening or subverting these prevailing conventions. If ‘reality’ is taken to be equivalent to spectacle, then the sort of ahistorical conventions of its appropriation that Foster points toward are likely to be the most persuasive strategies with which to address it. There can be greater comfort in reformulating the status quo than in resisting its logic of distraction and dissimulation.

And yet people in their millions continue to find a means by way of images to resist the tyranny of distraction and spectacle - to resist the model of time that underpins it. If the conventional aspirations of our image-saturated culture are for a sense of accelerated time, constant stimulation, perpetual distraction and a socially-networked solipsism, then the capacity of an image to engender some sense of the timeless is surely to be all the more highly prized. The form that such an image might take is not the ultimate issue. However, in view of the cyclical nature of our recent history there are grave wounds to be tended on many levels (and in many registers).

In 1984 John Berger wrote of how “hundreds of millions of photographs, fragile images, often carried next to the heart or placed by the side of the bed, are used to refer to that which historical time has no right to destroy. (…) The private photograph is treated and valued today as if it were the materialisation of that glimpse through the window which looked across history towards that which was outside time." A little earlier in that same essay, he described the genesis of this peculiarly modern complaint:

Today what surrounds the individual life can change more quickly than the brief sequences of that life itself. The timeless has been abolished, and history itself has become ephemerality. History no longer pays its respects to the dead: the dead are simply what is has passed through. (…) There is no longer any generally acknowledged value longer than that of a life, and most are shorter. The worldwide phenomenon of inflation is symptomatic in this respect: an unprecedented modern form of economic transience.

What is so remarkably powerful about Michael Schmidt’s Waffenruhe, and what for me remains so unalterably important about the book is the profoundly atypical sense of time that it engenders — the steady cumulative intensity with which it invokes a vast span of history, and renders it in an embodied, individuated and visceral sense. The work is avowedly documentary, and offers a progressive adaptation of a documentary tradition Badger eloquently describes in his essay. But it is also, as Badger goes on to say, fundamentally subjective - which for me means that it bridges the apparent oppositions of subject and object, abstract and concrete, aesthetic and political.

the pain and sense of loss running through the whole book like a subliminal subtext would seem to be as much personal as historical, as eschatological as phenomenal, as much diary as report. Waffenruhe is a subjective, deeply felt work, elegiac and bitter by turns.

from Another Brick in the Wall – Michael Schmidt’s Waffenruhe by Gerry Badger.

(via greatleapsideways)
greatleapsideways

greatleapsideways:

"I share with the Surrealists a fascination for the uncanny dimension of ordinary vernacular photographs, in other words, ones designated to some instrumental function. I am not so interested in the aesthetic uses of photography, especially the self-conscious ‘art photography’ of the Surrealists. What Dalí seems to be interested in when he speaks of photography’s automatism was its unconsciousness or its unselfsconsciousness. I suspect this was also their fascination with film stills. However, this is where I differ fundamentally from the Surrealist’s dedication to the unconscious and to their investment in ‘excessive gestures and repressed desires’. The film still for me seems to work in a reverse way — the making unconscious of cultural experience, which in my view is dominantly consumed unconsciously. The Surrealists wanted to immerse the subject in the unconscious, though whether or not that is what they were doing is another matter. I feel closer to Walter Benjamin in wanting to give to the spectral dream world of everyday life, and especially cinematic consumption, a self-conscious awareness.

A more overtly critical project?

Yes. In other words, to make the unconscious conscious rather than the other way around. Though of course I am prepared to admit that my work may be doing something quite different from what I am aiming for. Indeed, what interests me in what happens in the work is what appears in spite of my intentionality. If a work proceeds without digression from intention to realization, I am deeply suspicious of it. Perhaps one can only hope for a dialectical tension between what one calls conscious control and awareness and a submission to the unknowable dimension of the image. Certainly though, I am interested in the capacity of the film still to reveal what is hidden from conscious apprehension in ordinary cinematic consumption. For me, this is the twist that Situationism gave to Surrealism in the late 1960s.”

— John Stezaker in Seams & Interruptions: a conversation with David Campany, Frieze Masters, 2 (Oct, 2013)