Category:
Photography and Photographers

The $4 million Photo

It actually sold for more than $4 million — $4,338,500, to be exact. It was taken by Andreas Gursky who titled it “Rhine II” because it shows a scene along the Rhine River. Its sale in 2011 made it (at the time) the most expensive photo in the world.

The pricetag astounded many people, since it kinda looks like a photo any amateur could and would take. Florence Waters, art critic for the Daily Telegraph, offered this defense of it:

For all its apparent simplicity, the photograph is a statement of dedication to its craft. The late 1980s, when Gursky shot to attention, was a time when photography was first entering gallery spaces, and photographs were taking their place alongside paintings. Photography “as art”, at the time, was still brave and new, and the simplicity of this image shows a great deal of confidence in its effectiveness and potential for creating atmospheric, hyper-real scenarios that in turn teach us to see - and read - the world around us anew. The scale, attention to colour and form of his photography can be read as a deliberate challenge to painting's status as a higher art form. On top of that, Gursky’s images are extraordinary technical accomplishments, which take months to set up in advance, and require a lot of digital doctoring to get just right.


Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 03, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Overpriced Merchandise, Photography and Photographers

The Photography of Bill Wood

Note: It was recently brought to our attention, by a kind and attentive reader, that in our original post (way back in 2008) we referred to the photographer as Bill Woods. His actual name was Bill Wood.

Bill Wood was a commercial photographer in Fort Worth, Texas. He worked from 1937 to the early 1970s. Apparently, he was a no-nonsense photographer. He didn't intend to produce weird images, but his subject matter — middle-class America — meant that many of his images do have a surreal quality to them, like something out of a David Lynch movie.

The New York Times notes: "What is captivating and often funny is the gap between what he evidently meant to do and what he did. It appears that he meant to create reassuring images for his customers, pictures that affirmed their identities, values and world. Today, however, it looks more as if he captured feelings of absurdity, unease, alienation and grief."

His pictures include a bizarre car promotion, promising a year's supply of Kleenex with every purchase of a 1959 Pontiac. Would this have been a tempting deal, even back in 1959? How much Kleenex could a person possibly use?



...a man standing outside a store with an open sign. But what does it sell? There don't seem to be any products inside.



...and the fashionable members of the Lions Club basketball team.



The International Center of Photography, which recently hosted an exhibition of his work, has more of his images on their site. There's also a book of his photographs.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 23, 2019 - Comments (7)
Category: Photography and Photographers

Anti-Selfies

Artist Stephanie Leigh takes “anti-selfies.” This involves pretending to be dead in front of tourist attractions around the world. She posts the resulting photos on Instagram, under the username STEFDIES. She explains:

"A selfie has controlled conditions, specific lighting, makeup/hair/wardrobe, an agenda, and is focused on the individual personality — it is a contrived and manipulated image distorted to achieve a desired result. STEFDIES is the polar opposite — I get one chance to get the shot, if it doesn't happen, c'est la vie."

More info: thisisinsider.com









Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 30, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Photography and Photographers

Ted Serios and his Thoughtographs



Theodore Judd Serios (1918-2006), a bellhop from Chicago who appeared to possess a genuinely uncanny ability. By holding a Polaroid camera and focusing on the lens very intently, he was able to produce dreamlike pictures of his thoughts on the film; he referred to these images as "thoughtographs..."


Full article here.

Collection of thoughtographs here.

Wikipedia page here.


Posted By: Paul - Wed Feb 28, 2018 - Comments (4)
Category: Eccentrics, Freaks, Oddities, Quirks of Nature, Photography and Photographers, Unsolved Mysteries, 1960s

Messy Girls Gift Book





With Xmas just around the bend, the search for presents intensifies. Who wouldn't like a book of photos of women covered in foodstuffs?

More pix here at eBay for as long as the auction is up.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Nov 21, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Food, Hygiene, Misbehavior, Rebellion, Acting-out and General Naughtiness, Photography and Photographers, Fetishes, Women, Body Painting

Photographer Leslie Jones

Leslie Jones (1886-1967) seems to have had a quirky sense of humor. I like his series of shots titled "Odd Fences."

You can see more at this link.





Posted By: Paul - Fri Nov 10, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Architecture, Eccentrics, Photography and Photographers, Regionalism, Twentieth Century

The Art of Hayley Newman

Below are some of the captioned images that artist Hayley Newman displayed at her first solo show, "Connotations - Performance Images 1994-98".

Lock-jaw Lecture Series (1997/1998)
"Over the period of a year I was invited to give a series of lectures on my work. Before each lecture I visited a local dentist and had my mouth anaesthetised. With my mouth made immobile, I gave my feeblest apologies to the students and staff before attempting to talk on my work."



B(in) (1996)
"Sitting in a bin bag waiting for bin men to pick me up in New York. When the bin men arrived at 4pm, I jumped out of the bag and ran home."



Crying Glasses (An Aid to Melancholia) - (1995)
"Over a year I wore the crying glasses while travelling on public transport in all the cities I visited. The glasses functioned using a pump system which, hidden inside my jacket allowed me to pump water up out of the glasses and produced a trickle of tears down my cheeks. The glasses were conceived as a tool to enable the representation of feelings in public spaces. Over the months of wearing the glasses they became an external mechanism which enabled the manifestation of internal and unidentifiable emotions."



Spirit (1995)
"Soho, London: Dressed as a ghost for Halloween I ran into various pubs in London's Soho, stole a drink and then left."



Here's the punchline, which Newman revealed if you read the fine print in the exhibit guide:

The photographs in the series were staged and performed by myself with most of the images being taken by the photographer Casey Orr over a week in the summer of 1998. The dates, locations, photographers and contexts for the performances cited in the text panels are fictional. In all instances the action had to be performed for the photograph but did not take place within the circumstances or places outlined in the supporting text.


Image sources: Lock-jaw, Crying Glasses, B(in), Spirit

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 09, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Photography and Photographers, 1990s

Miss Photoflash

The first foto below is of the 1945 contest. Given that it was the "First Revue" of the sponsoring group, we can tentatively date it as the first such contest.



Original foto here.

The next foto is from 1968, and definitively labels the contest as being in its 24th year. Did it end then, amidst the tumult of the era?



Original foto here.

Here are the 1945 contestants again.



Posted By: Paul - Thu Feb 16, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Photography and Photographers, Regionalism, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s

Photographing a mule at the instant its head is blown off by dynamite

Advances in photographic technology that occurred in the 1860s and 70s led to the invention of plates that had exposure times of a fraction of a second. This allowed for "instantaneous photography," as it was called at the time. Moving objects could be frozen in time by the camera.

Researchers immediately used this technology to study bodies in motion. Most famously, Eadweard Muybridge in 1878 took a series of images to study the galloping of a horse. Similarly, neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot used instantaneous photography to study the muscular movements of his human patients.

A more unusual application of the technology took place on June 6, 1881, when Mr. Van Sothen, photographer in charge at the United States School of Submarine Engineers in Willett's Point, New York, took an instantaneous photograph of a mule having its head blown off by dynamite. The mule was apparently old and was going to be put down anyway, so it was decided to "sacrifice the animal upon the altar of science."

The resulting photo


Eugene Griffin, First Lieutenant of Engineers, described the details of the experiment in a letter to Lieut. Col. H.L. Abbot:

On the 6th of June, 1881, an instantaneous view was taken, by your direction, of the execution of a condemned mule belonging to the Engineer Department. A small bag containing 6 ounces of dynamite and a fuse was fastened on the mule's forehead, the wires from the fuse connecting with a magneto-electric machine. The camera was placed at a distance of about 47 feet from the mule and properly focussed; the drop shutter was held up by a string, fastened to another fuse, which was placed in the same circuit with the first, so that both were fired simultaneously and the shutter allowed to drop. The result was a negative showing the mule in an upright position, but with his head blown off. This photograph has excited much interest and comment in the scientific world. A very narrow slit was used in the shutter, and as nearly as can be estimated the time of exposure was about 1/250 of a second. A 10 by 12 gelatino-bromide instantaneous Eastman dry plate was used, with a 4 D Dallmeyer lens, using the full opening.

Several months later Scientific American published an account of the experiment, including several engravings showing before and after scenes:

Scientific American - Sep 24, 1881

Posted By: Alex - Fri Sep 02, 2016 - Comments (0)
Category: Mad Scientists, Evil Geniuses, Insane Villains, Photography and Photographers, Science, Experiments, Nineteenth Century

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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