Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Voyeur by Hans-Peter Feldmann



In response to the recent dust-up over Joachim Schmid's book When Boredom Strikes I thought I'd mention Hans-Peter Feldmann's book Voyeur which has been released in a fourth edition by Walther Konig in Cologne.

Voyeur is approximately 250 pages of appropriated photos, some famous and some unknown, presented as a mass of images - a chaotic view of history and human existence. Each page, which may be illustrated with half a dozen images or more is a tangle of context. The blurring of history creates a surreal vision of society and the world that is both familiar and strange.

Movie stills, porn mags, photojournalism, advertising, amateur photos, art, and scientific images are recontextualized apart from their authors (no individual credit is given) and organized onto the page where hierarchy is left only to their sizing.

I have seen a third edition of this same book but the double page spreads are in a different order. The same photographs are presented but the sequence is different leading me to conclude that the content is dealt with by the author as a never-ending stream that can shift and change without altering the overall effect.

I find this book interesting for another reason - information overload. Partly due to its intentional small size and with the reproductions in all black and white the individual power of each image gives way to a general tenor of complacency. Photos of vast suffering sitting next to bright smiles somehow find a common denominator in this "world of paper."

In relation to Schmid, this work is a conceptual reordering of representation and authorship. Those whose knees were jerking to hang Schmid from his thumbs over copyright might find another artist to tar and feather here. Or maybe they would be satisfied by the fact that on the colophon page, Feldmann thanks "all the photographers whose pictures have been used for this work."

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really? You can't question the legitimacy or ethics of something here without being classified as some "reactionary knee-jerker" who doesn't get "post-modernism?" Serioulsy? Wow.

jeff ladd said...

I have raised Feldmann's name several times and no one seems to have a problem with him even though Schmid and he are in the same conceptual boat.

As far as "legitimacy" goes, that sad argument has been batted about since the beginnings of "art." Generally it has been argued unevenly according to taste.

I find it telling that this post has generated all of one comment where as Schmid had a record number. maybe you are all the same person.

Anonymous said...

howdy.
Jeff I would like to know when was the 1st published and also if you have an idea of the price between the 1st and 4th edition. also do you know where one could purchase this book?
for me personally Feldmann and Ruff are in their own class. every time I look and contemplate their works I get a feeling that there's no use for me to take and make photographs. a positive feeling of "why bother?", but of course i continue to try as i can't think a better way to tell something about us.
personally i wouldn't put Hans-Peter Feldmann and Joachim Schmid into same category as in the case of Schmid i get a feeling that he is more about playing visual games accompanied with explanatory text, than telling something profound about us and this world. even if the working methods are the same i don't consider the results to be in the same category or "class", but of course this is just my opinion.

Double E said...

i think DAP is distrubiting this edition.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Well that's great Jeff, ...so I'm a reactionary "knee jerker" who bats around "sad arguments" because I question the authorship of someone presents other photos as his own.

I find your linguistic attacks here parallel to the absurdity of Carter calling Joe Wilson a racist. It's 1+2=5 here. Don't discuss the issue, just make claims against the person making them.

Maybe there aren't 100 comments here like on Schmids post because there is a different air to the authorship and presentation.

So is there really no difference between this and Schmid? Or perhaps Steichen's "Family of Man" and this or Schmid? Really? Wow.