A few weeks ago Grace and I were interviewed by Matthew Leifheit for Art Fag City. We’ve been hard at work on our third issue for a few months now and we decided to share some information about it with them, here’s an excerpt:
So the magazine will be photographs of genre scenes connected by roads?
Romke: Right. So for instance, we have a section [on] rural buildings and houses that contains a number of different photographers. We pick our favourite photos from everyone we could find online shooting photographs of America in a documentary style. We want to make a huge mix tape of our favourite works of the last ten years.
We work with photographers by going from website to website, from linked page to linked page. There are a lot of people who shoot a series of something very specific; we wanted to bring all of those instances together.
If we go into profit, we can pay photographers royalties. 25% of our profits can go to them. That’s something that’s really important to us. Because as far as I’m aware, most magazines compensate photographers by the exposure it brings to their work. [Though] in the past we haven’t made money off our books so we haven’t been able to pay photographers.
How did you begin the third issue?
Romke: I have been seeing photographers become successful in their editorial work, but their personal work doesn’t get published. Work is blogged around, then it doesn’t get seen anymore. It’s hard to point people to their personal websites when there’s no book reviews of websites, there’s not a place where you can go to see it condensed.
What made me want to do it is that we saw all this work that was, to be honest, ripe for the taking. I feel like I’ll never have an opportunity like this again, where there’s so much work to see online that is so powerful. I believe this work is as powerful as Walker Evans and James Agee.
Read the rest over at Art Fag City.
Terry Evans, Oil pads and prairie potholes northeast of McGregor, May 2012
Soon the owner of the camp came running from his office, berating us for trespassing. He more or less forced us back to the main road. “I could call the police,” he threatened. “You have no idea how devastated these people are. You didn’t see smiles, did you? Banks won’t let them in the back door. Husbands are here without wives. There are fights in bars. I won’t allow you to photograph the misery of people in this camp.” And then: “This isn’t a boom. It’s an industry. They’re putting in $50 million office buildings. This is going to be Anchorage, Alaska, right here.”
They’ve just relaunched their site and it is fantastic. Give it a good browse, you can even make your own tables. It’s really fun, their catalog is now really approachable.
Hi there. Over the past 5 years I’ve made high six figures creating reality television. There is one big problem with this article:
It isn’t about reality television.
It pretends to be about the people who want to be on Reality Television, but is actually about journalists pretending they want to be on Reality Television so that they can write scholarly, posturing articles about Reality Television. Wanna see the most honest quote in the whole thing? Here it is:
In the audition room there are eight couples sitting around a conference table. The casting producer, a surprisingly normal-looking woman named Donna, tells us that the show will be a cross between Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Hunger Games. “Minus the whole killing each other part,” I joke. Donna does not laugh. No one laughs, except me. I laugh at all of my own jokes for the next hour.
Donna has heard this joke approximately seven times an hour for four days. She made it herself when one of her colleagues called her up to see if she was interested in casting a new show. The makeup of the show was not the first question asked; it probably wasn’t even the fifth. The first question was the production company (because we all have stories), the next question was the timeframe (because we all have lives), the next question was the locations (because we all hate travel) and the next question was the rate (because we do not do this out of love).
The other seven couples did not laugh, either, because they were not being ironic. They know they aren’t killing people. They also know (actually, perceive, and that incorrectly) that this is their one shot at greatness, that what happens next will define the rest of their lives, that this is their chance to be snatched out of ignominy into a glorious world where people will fawn over them for everything they do.
Donna is not at all interested in disavowing them of this notion because what they need more than anything is genuine human behavior. Little secret about reality television - everyone behind the camera is absolutely as 100% pro as if they were shooting a Pacino film. The difference is the chuckleheads in front of the camera. If you need scripted, hire actors. They’re less trouble and by the time you’re rolling something like this, the cost is a wash.
It’s easy to say that “Reality TV is fake” but it’s also easy to say “wedding videos are fake.” Did what you see on screen happen? Yes. Did the person saying those lines actually say those lines? Yes. Is there other context? Of course. Did other things happen? Absolutely. But we’re not shooting a documentary. You know that. We know that. We’re here to assemble 41 minutes of “greatest hits” out of a week’s worth of footage. And the more fake you play, the less of that footage we can use.
Because really, we are shooting a documentary, it just happens to be a documentary on something that isn’t interesting without a whole lot of post-production finesse. Would we rather be shooting amur leopards? Fuck yeah. But not enough people watch that to keep us all in our mortgages. Honey Boo Boo?
The ugly reality of creating reality television is that the people you see are product. They are chosen for their innate ability to entertain idiots. I had a show once where I was covering three people talking about Kant and existentialism. We were waved off to go do something else. I mentioned to the story producer that we were actually covering something interesting. He replied “we’re covering something completely over the head of 99% of the population of the Midwest.”
He was right, of course. That episode, minus its philosophical discussion, was watched by more people than live in New Zealand.
When you sign up to be in front of the camera in reality TV, you are saying “I surrender my image to people who wish to monetize it in exchange for passing fame.” If you find something troubling or ironic about that, you are not for us. Much like the author of this article.
We had a conversation once between two of our victims in which one person commiserated with another because she was not being given real food, she was being required to suffer physical degradation, and was experiencing some pretty dire social stigma at the same time. The other person said
"Are you kidding me? This is the highlight of my life! As soon as I’m done here I go back to where I was, and no one will remember me. I am absolutely on top of the world right now."
It’s a hell of a mindset. But the more you believe it, the more true it becomes.
"Sadly, I think that in our post-modern, theory-inflected climate, the very notion that self-representation can be authentic and sincere—can in fact be an essential goal of poetry—seems to a lot of people a little passé. I find it maddening when students in graduate workshops write obscurely not for any abiding aesthetic reason, but for mere self-protection. The workshop never gets beyond the rather pointless exercise of trying to figure out the poem’s dramatic situation, and when you finally ask the poet to say something about her work, the answer goes something like, “Well, I didn’t want to tell it like it actually happened because that would seem too ‘confessional.’” And so “confessional” has become an unjustly pejorative word like “liberal” or “community organizer,” so vastly out of fashion that it seems like it’s never going to rise again." —David Wojahn
The talented Ryan Pfluger posted a portrait of the talented Eric Helgas yesterday. Eric assisted me once and then the New Yorker started hiring him to take photographs, and that was the end of his modeling career. While it is exciting to see him get published, we will never forget how nicely his skin reflects light.
Journeys Into the Outside with Jarvis Cocker, an excellent BBC documentary on why people are driven to make art, 1999. Not the usual Outsider Art suspects, it’s well worth watching.
I shoot all day everyday. It’s not really a calculated thing so much as an illness. I’m just obsessed. Before I quit my job I’d shoot meetings, lunch lines, my commute, everything. Now that I’m in a less structured world, I spend most days walking, not necessarily for the sake of photography or even with a goal in mind, but just getting deep enough in my head that I can come out the other side and see things a little differently, like they’re new. Carrying a camera makes all that wandering feel productive.
Interview with Daniel Arnold by ALLDAYEVERYDAY
HOT BED @ TGIF Gallery, Brooklyn
That’s Nathan Cyprys there on that flyer! That work was in our second issue. There’s a number of Mossless pals involved with this show at TGIF. See you next Saturday!