Photo by Catherine Leutenegger, 2007.
I do think this is an interesting topic to photograph. I am missing, however, the connections between the photographs themselves. Are the pictures making a statement about decline in established industrial cities? Are the photographs making a statement about the people who live in such cities? Are the photographs making a statement about composition and design using the Kodak building itself as the motif? I don't really see any of these ideas pushed far enough to group together as a collection. The photographer mentions Edward Hopper, Rothko, and the Cohen Brothers as influences. While the subjects themselves may draw parallels to the creative work of these artists; the actual composition of the photographs themselvesalso needs to be pushed further to a more focused vision.
While I certainly do not think these photos are bad in any way, I also do not think that they are great. I would go so far as to say a couple of them are very nice.
Never heard of geometry, shapes and composition guys ?These pictures are really good.
Acting like these photos are akin to some brilliantly composed modernest painting; think cubist Picasso or geometric Mondrian--there are other examples like Man Ray photos--is silly.
Acting like there wasn't any thought to their composition would be equally silly. Some of them are rather good, albeit not what I would call brilliant.
Um, the photos lack engagement for the viewer.
A disengaged Kodak, I guess that works, but suspect that's not the general point.
I agree with most of what you all, except starwolfy, said about these, as my post above reflects.
Some of you may be more interested in Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb's view on Rochester. http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/24/in-kodak-alex-webb-rochester-rebecca-norris-webb-photos-memory
I think these unremarkable pictures could gain greatly from a short story about the depiction under each.
She isn't the first to document this subject. I have a book by Robert Burley, "The disappearance of darkness", that covers the same subject. He started photographing the Kodak factories and labs somewhere in 2001, when digital became a massproduct.
I'm the sort of person who actually likes photos with a kind of "snapshot aesthetic." I also don't mind photos that are have an everyday/banal quality to them as these ones do for me. Still, even with all of that I'm just not that impressed by this series. I feel like there's a far more compelling series to be made with the same theme...
There were two things that bothered me about the project. One, Rochester isn't even located correctly in the running story: "the city of Rochester - also known as Kodak City - in northeastern New York State". This will probably get changed later in the story, but Rochester is in Western New York, something residents tend to be proud of. Its location is connected to its sense of identity.
Also, Rochester's problems are deeper than Kodak. Yes, it was a major manufacturer in the area. But Rochester has had additional problems. Years ago it was the headquarters of Gannett media, until it moved in 1986. Xerox moved out in 1969. A handful of companies moved to the suburbs. I wish there was a deeper understanding of the greater Rochester area, however. Those former Kodak employees weren't living only in Rochester--they also lived in suburbs and even more distant rural areas.
You are absolutely correct in every thing you mentioned. As a native of New York state, I can tell everyone that it's true; people of western NY are proud of that Identity and will often describe themselves as living in Western NY.I wish there was a way to send your comment to that Photographer because you Hit the nail on the head.
I bet photos made of the region by RIT photo students over the decades would probably encompass an interesting documentary collection.
That's actually an idea that I have had. A great friend of mine is a former RIT student; Industrial Design major. We tried to get something like that started but its not easy collecting photographs from former students.
Also keep in mind how many serious amateur photographers lived in Rochester all of those years. Including former Kodak employees. They must have documented the heck out of that city and facility.
Sorry, not too moved by these photos.
I hope its the fact that they're on the web and not in person.
I think it's a Fact from the photographer that took them. I mean what do you expect when she doesn't even get the location right when she describes where Rochester is. If she really wanted to show a connection with the subject matter she would have ether spent more time there or collaborated with someone who had a strong connection with the area.
Left in 72...never went back.
Still more interesting than BIF pics.
Hire MBAs as your management - suffer the consequences.
I spent some time in Rochester around 2000 and perceived it as a good value proposition to move to (from Boston) but stayed put. Sorry it's on hard times and hope it doesn't become a little Detroit. I hope RIT (great school) can help buoy the city's fortunes. BTW I'm in Maine now which IS a good value proposition!
I attended RIT from 70-74. Keep in mind that RIT is in South Henrietta and not really in Rochester. So if anything, it draws people and businesses away from the city. I believe the University of Rochester is the area's largest employer.
Leutenegger mentions "Turner" (amongst others) as someone who inspired her. Does she speak of the painter William Turner or the photographer Pete Turner? In any case both of them might inspire with their distinctive approach to colors. However is there any impact of "Turner" in Leutenegger's photos? May I use this opportunity and point especially to Turner's water colors to all of you who rejoice in color composings? (You can find a lot of them in the internet. And Pete Turner might be interesting because of his striking usage of color film)
As to Leuteneggers photos: Maybe her book can transport her works better than this website can do. You could also think that one day people will be celebrating her photos as great evidence of a world long ago as has happened here quite recently with "1939: England in Color".
Cal.... think about this.
Some old photos are prized just for their historical value. They have documented places and events that are long gone, and the number of photos made was relatively small.
But today everyone with a cell phone is a photographer. We have billions of photos taken every day. Whenever a fight breaks out on a subway or a fast food restaurant, you see four different versions of it posted on YouTube within hours.
There are something like less than 200 known photos of Abraham Lincoln that still exist today. We probably could find billions of photos of Barack Obama if we tried to catalog them all.
Future historians will have quite a job on their hands sifting through all the clutter. It will all be there, but it will be very difficult to find exactly what you are looking for without looking through them all.
Maybe she's reserving the better stuff for purchase via her book.
Marty: I agree with you! One day historians will face a flood of images that began in our time. This flood has an impact on our perception of photos. You can say, when images are rare they are more meaningful. It's the same with texts: In former cultures when magical thinking ruled and there was no printing of books and no reproducing of photos, images and texts were very meaningful to the people, had often magical significance and were refering to higher powers. The major religions we know of nowadays are based on old Scriptures, the words of which are given magical significance by the faithful.
In their early days books and photos had still great importance but the more they were reproduced the more they were trivialized. Therefore we can say, the demystification of the world is typical for our time. When we praise old photos for their historical value and because they are relatively rare, it's our attitude that dominates our perception. The quality we see comes out of our mind.
Actually, I'd argue there's a good chance that future historians will find tragically few photos (or documents of any kind) to learn from, since so much media exists solely digitally these days. A book or album of printed photos can last forever; an uncurated, unmaintained hard-drive eventually becomes corrupted, damaged, or unreadable as technology progresses.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY had a well-curated exhibit not long ago of the random, everyday photos an avid collector had been buying by the box at flea markets for 50 years. It was so powerful and evocative and just plain fun. With so few pictures printed and circulating these days, it's hard to imagine a similar experience in 2064. Which strikes me as sad.
I think that the digital data stored today will be around for a good, long time. Far fewer images will be lost to data degradation than prints to burning, land-filling, or just plain old disintegration. A hard drive buried in dirt will likely hold its data in a retrievable form longer than a paper print will last in the same conditions, if that is the standard we want to go by.
If the world ends, as in, our civilization comes crashing down, the digital data will keep kicking for much longer than we'd like it to. Unpowered drives can hold data for 5-100 years, if properly stored, as in all those data warehouses storing nearly every bit of information transmitted through the internet in concrete bunkers. Just because the power shuts off, doesn't mean the data disappears. And digital language doesn't change.
What percentage of photos taken(and actually printed) 50 years ago have survived? Do you think a lower percentage of the digital images taken today will be around in 50 years?
PeaceKeeper, I completely agree.
There has never been a digital format that cannot be converted to a newer format when a newer format comes along. And everything that has value will be converted. And everything that has no value won't be converted, and might be lost.
Is it a problem if billions of snapshots are never converted to a new format? I really don't think so. Virtually ANYTHING with even the remotest historical significance will be available for future generations to see.
And this is probably a good thing. Because it cuts down the clutter for future historians. They will have a complete digital record of wars, famous people, and significant historical events... but will not have my vacation photos and backyard snapshots.
straleno: You might be right inasmuch as a lot of digital data will likely be lost (maybe mainly for technical reasons: corrupted hard-drives, new digital formats ..). But even if more than 95% of the vast amount of data should have disappeared in let's say 50 vears, there will still be a mass of data and by far more than any epoch in the predigital past has provided.
Something else should be worrying us more, in my view: Remember "The Name Of The Rose"? It's more than just a crime film (or novel) playing in a time long ago. The author tells us of those in power (the Church) and their dealing with knowledge: They use it as a means to control the thinking of people by preserving and supplying knowledge or holding it back. The modern world is full of digital data, and those in power are keen on them. They want to storage, use, misuse or even falsify them. Controlling the data is controlling the world. We have to stop the trend, lest digital data will prove a bane to all of us.
I like the picture of the traffic signals hanging on the wire.
i grew up in Rochester and still live within 60 miles. These pictures capture the difficult light of an often cloudy place due to proximity to Lake Ontario. Sections of the downtown that Kodak is located are bleak. As for Leutenegger's photographs, I like them and that style; I know that they would be far more interesting seen printed even if only in the book size. I always thought Piet Mondrian's paintings were boring until I saw the actual paintings.
ive seen some as well. they are still boring
Some of the comments on here are overly harsh or overly bragadocious (no, none of your 6 thousand photos of your cat or of a bird on a stick are better than these). But I will say that none of these shots are particularly interesting. It sort of illustrates what I dislike most about 'art' photography. The apparent disregard for technical proficiency and aesthetics. Having an idea for a series does not make visually boring photos suddenly interesting. You need both the ability to say something and the ability to execute a visually proficient photograph
I'm really sorry, Kodak was great company but Catherine Leutenegger like photographer not so....
Damn, that house is cheap af!
No, just advertizing. Note the price said "starting at". The house shown is probably 2x that price.
Yes, but even if it was double it would still be cheap! I'm assuming the location isn't so convenient... but even so, still cheap.
No Simon, Mitch's thinking is correct. I can attest that houses here in upstate NY are crazy cheep lately. Even new construction similar to whats pictured on that billboard is selling for less than 200K.
I will start by saying that Leutenegger has produced other series that are compelling, work that demonstrates a breadth of influence.
Unfortunately, Kodak City is not as successful. This seems a result of what Leutenegger alludes to: a certain lack of access, caused by Kodak public perception concerns; therefore, the project redirects its interest to facades, suggested economic impacts on the community - these images in contrast to the more interesting and telling interior environments - and the latter approach appears inadequately fleshed out in the finished series. To my eye it does not match the scope of rhetoric explaining the series.
That said, again I think Leutenegger has produced some interesting photography outside this project, and would encourage members here to check it out.
It's sad for me as a native Rochestarian. Both of my parents worked their entire careers there, I worked three summers repairing cameras (between college semesters) and my first job out of school was working in their IC lab building the very first digital camera sensors. So many nights spent in the employee darkrooms there developing and printing with unlimited chemicals and paper. It's truly what got me started with photography.
It's a shame that Kodak missed the digital boat entirely.
I can't help but think he started to document this too late. Would have wen interesting to see pictures from kodak ars its best and now.
Obviously what I am asking is very hard, but nonetheless it jus feels that way.
Yes, I know it's she. Bad fast typing :-)
I liked shots I saw by an amateur of the old Victoreen Company headquarters. Victoreen made all those old yellow radiation measuring devices used in civil defense in the Cold War. The desolation of north-eastern U.S. cities may signal the eventual end of the empire, but they do make interesting photo-documentary subjects.
The first photo led me to believe that more historic photos from inside the buildings would follow - I didn't see that though.
Maybe the biggest company to fail in history? ( i have no idea thats why im asking)...can someone point others? one of the best marketing phrases in history (IMO): you press the button, we do the rest...
Here's the first set of the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average:
Central Pacific Railroad * Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Northern Pacific Railway (Preferred)Central Railroad of New Jersey * Lake Shore Railway Pacific Mail SteamshipChicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad * Louisville & Nashville Railroad Union Pacific RailroadChicago & North Western Railway Missouri Pacific Railroad Western UnionDelaware & Hudson Canal * New York Central Railroad
Most prominent "recent" example that comes to mind would be the Radio Corporation of America, aka RCA.
RCA - the jack guys, right?
Thanks Alex!!! but i guess kodak , globally, is the most well knowed...?...
WANG Laboratories sure was ahead of it's time. Gone!
Hmmmm ... I do not get the feeling of a lost era and something magnificent gone by the pictures. Actually they do not give me anything. Maybe they are better viewed in some other media than the small images at DPReview or maybe there are more images that together gives a better picture.
I've taken better photos through my car window.
I like the room image with the elephant. It is nice and also have some meaning.
Why, of course you have! I'm sure you've done lots of other great things too, in your mind.
As we can tell with your superb image gallery...oh you have no image gallery...
I hate to say it, but there is NOTHING special about that shot - it is the grand hall from George Eastman's personal home, now a museum. Take the tour and you, too, can take a photo just like it
@dinoSnake - then I rest my case of trying to find something interesting in the photos.
because you were at the bikini carwash?
The bikini car was is a myth. But ... there is quite good videos at youtube.
"PLease don't take my Kodachrome way", goodbye.
Was this shot on film or digital?
Below photo #3:
"I shoot with a medium format Mamiya RZ and 65mm, 90mm and 127mm lenses. I also use a Nikon D800 with 24-70mm, 80mm and 150mm lenses."
Then Mamiya and Nikon should sue her.
Those photos look like they were taken with a Vivitar compact P&S camera.
I suppose this settles the question, and proves the old saying "It's not the camera, it's the photographer."
See CaseyComo below.
Looking at the images, and reading about her medium format Mamiya, I cannot help thinking that the lady spent too much money on her gear. And it didn't help.
I raise my old P880 and V570 to you, Kodak. Great cameras.
So she's another of the ones who bought into the whole "esthetic is artifice" thing? It's a fine subject, but these shots are _completely_ uninspired.
I once had a job developing and printing for a building inspection company (yeah, I'm kinda old). These are the kinds of shots that our inspectors, mostly retired firemen and insurance agents, would take.
Let me say it again...there's nothing wrong with lighting, color, and composition. Refusing to take an interesting photo is not the same as depicting reality objectively.
Thank you, I'm finished for the moment.
...and to think they INVENTED digital photography. A Vision, missed by top management.
And RCA invented the LCD screen--and realized it could be used in the future for flat screen TVs.
I think the first CCDs were actually ATT Bell Labs, I guess putting it together into a camera a person would use is Kodak.
Go to Google earth then to streetview. There are miles of empty parking lots in the northeast side of the river. The downtown and suburbs look fine. These shots do not convey much of anything but I suppose the book does.Kodak had nearly 100 years with one basic product. They were the largest manufacturing company in the fortune 500 that did not make cars or oil.
At one time, they were also the largest chemical company, as well.
Another photographer with a morbid fixation on depressing subjects.She could've balanced out a visit to the graveyard that is 'Kodak city' with a visit to Irvine for the fertile fields of 'RED city'.It's tumultuous, but the USA remains the undisputed leader in innovation.
I would rather say that she has fixation for boring subjects.
Abandoned shops and streets and you still have to put money in a parking meter...
The streets are still in use. Are you suggesting that the City of Rochester not keep up the streets and sidewalks?
They sholuld make parking free...
Why? Those monies pay for things.
So, in the City of Rochester, what service would you give up?
Or what other tax, or fee, would you raise?
Yes, they go to the pockets of rich and wealthy...not too much goes to any services, you can believe whatever you want. The end!
That wasn't my question: What city of Rochester services would you give up? Or what fees or taxes would you increase?
If you want to claim that parking meter fees are being diverted to some other party in Rochester, NY, back that claim up, instead of trying to avoid answering a basic question.
Things like parking fees indeed pay for various things in cities (Chicago excepted).