Zeroing In On Adolescent Girlhood, Petra Collins Shoots From the Hip

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Photo by Maro Hagopian
Petra Collins
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Photo by Petra Collins
Petra Collins is a wreck. She's calling from upstate New York, and the first thing she says is that she's had a sinus infection for weeks and the previous day dislocated her knee. "I was doing this shoot and dancing, and it just popped out," she tells the Voice. "But I guess it happened at a good time." A few days before, Collins opened her first solo exhibition — on view at Capricious 88 — and though the event is behind her, she's curating a group show the following weekend, just signed a book deal, is planning a move to NYC, and shows no signs of slowing down. For the present moment, however, she's on pause, fielding texts from friends while she prepares for her next step. Her enthusiasm is enough to make a jaded arts writer feel old, and some of her works are bound to make a gallery-goer older than 30 feel dated. Collins's exhibition features neon text works, two of which include the abbreviation "rn." What does that mean? "Right now!" she says, laughing. "It's something that's so of our generation that we just get it."

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Maybe Facebook Would Let Photographer Spencer Tunick Post Naked Pics If He Worked for Sports Illustrated

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Photo by Spencer Tunick
"Dead Sea 3," 2011
Last month, we told you about photographer Spencer Tunick's ongoing struggles with Facebook : Tunick takes non-sexual, not particularly explicit photos of nude people, typically large groups of them. Then Facebook takes some of those photos down, freezes his account, and occasionally threatens him with the deletion of his page . It's a vicious cycle, and not fun for anybody, particularly Spencer Tunick.

A spokesperson from Facebook told us at the time that with few exceptions, the company doesn't just pull photos down of their own volition. (Those exceptions, he said, involved extreme and graphic images involving things like child pornography.) First, someone has to flag the photo as objectionable; if a content monitor employed by Facebook agrees, the photo comes down. And Chris Park, a representative from the company, told Tunick that if he had any questions about whether a specific photo might violate Facebook's nudity guidelines, he could email said photo to Park, and he'd let him know where it stood.

Tunick was slightly uncomfortable with that plan, telling us he was ambivalent about the idea that "someone in an office in the middle of wherever - Nebraska, San Francisco - that one person decides what's OK or not when it comes to the body in art." But he was game to give it a try. On Valentine's Day, Tunick sent over six photos, which Park told him he'd forwarded to the company's "policy folks." Four days later, Tunick got his answer.

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Q&A: Michael Ernest Sweet Discusses The Human Fragment and What He Hates About Digital Photography

Categories: Photography
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Michael Ernest Sweet
If you've ever been photographed by Michael Ernest Sweet, there's a good chance you wouldn't know it. With his pocket-size Ricoh GR in one hand, he scans the streets for a target, snaps his photo without using the viewfinder, and moves on in the blink of an eye. "It's like I'm a ninja," he told us via phone from Montreal, where he works during the school year as a teacher at an alternative school for troubled children. The lovely results of his stealthy method can be seen in his new monograph, The Human Fragment (Brooklyn Arts Press), with a foreword by Michael Musto, out December 15. Collected here are black-and-white photos he shot during his trips to New York City over two years, and if you don't look carefully, you'll miss the little details -- sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking -- that make his work terrifically rich.

Primarily self-taught, Sweet was introduced to photography as a teenager by his aunt, a professional photographer, who allowed him to use her cameras and darkroom. A recipient of both a Prime Minister's Award and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in Canada for "significant contributions to his country in the fields of education and the arts," he spoke to us about why New Yorkers make great subjects, what he dislikes about much of today's street photography, and the trouble with digital cameras.

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The BuzzFeed Lawsuit, or, What the Hell Are We Gonna Do With Pictures in the Digital Age?

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In the Age of Too Much Information, an infinite stream of photos floods the blogs, the news sites, the Facebooks, the meme world, Google Image Search, and whatever other nook of the Interwebs. Sometimes they are credited, and sometimes they are not; the whole mantra "give credit where credit is due" is a nonissue in online communities, where the universality of everything online trumps the degree of transparency. 

We saw this issue arise in the Shepard Fairey case -- the Associated Press sued the street artist for millions for taking the famous shot of Obama and turning it into the even-more-famous "Hope" poster. In the end, Fairey received 300 hours of community service for his "wrongdoing."

And we're seeing it once again in a lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed. Florida-based photo agency Marvix is suing the media organization for taking nine celebrity photos of Katy Perry and others. In the case, Marvix v. BuzzFeed, the agency accuses the Web giant for not attributing where the photos came from. The Floridians want $1.3 million paid back in damages because, in copyright law, a stolen picture is worth $150,000. Multiply that number by the nine in question, and, voila, you have yourself a hefty sum.

But case aside, the question here is not the integrity of BuzzFeed or this "copyright trolling" photo agency. No, the matter is something much more larger and prevalent in the rapidly connecting way we receive our news: What the hell are we gonna do with photos in the modern age?

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The Anti-Facebook: Photos Unveiled One Year Later in Washington Heights Art Project

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Mike Fitelson
Part of "Message Delayed"
Washington Heights photographer Mike Fitelson is taking Facebook status updates and instant photo sharing and turning them upside down.

That is, he is taking the process of sharing thoughts and photos online and slowing it down and simplifying it dramatically -- and bringing the whole thing off line. It's part of a year-long project he is unveiling tomorrow at a street festival in his neighborhood.

The effort began last June at the Carnaval del Boulevard festival uptown. Fitelson, previously an associate publisher at northern Manhattan's community newspaper, the Manhattan Times, stopped neighborhood residents passing by, took portrait shots of them, and asked them each a simple question: "What's on your mind?"

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Instagram NYC Hosts First-Ever Exhibition in Times Square

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@cxcart
When Facebook bought Instagram, the photo app that makes images look vintage yet picture perfect, for $1 billion, the tech world was stunned. Not because Instagram is a two-year-old startup, but because no one realized that this young app—which simply consists of taking pictures and that surely anyone with a smartphone has downloaded—had that much power.

Now, the W Times Square, in partnership with Instagram NYC, will exhibit images from some of the most talented Instagram photographers in the first-ever Instagram photo exhibition, which opens tomorrow. We couldn't help but wonder whether an Instagram image qualifies as art. But we caught up with Brian DiFeo, curator and founder of Instagram NYC, who hand-selected photographers ranging from professionals to multimedia artists and asked him what an Instagram exhibition actually entails. He says artists were asked to capture New York's most fascinating structures and urban creativity. From what we've seen, the images themselves are pretty remarkable, considering they were taken with a phone. No wonder Kodak went bankrupt.

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Hundreds of Years of New York City History Now Online in Massive Photo Archive

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Eugene de Salignac, Department of Bridges/Plant & Structures
From October 7, 1914. Brooklyn Bridge showing painters on suspenders.
Hundreds of thousands of photos that offer snapshots of more than a century of New York City history are now publicly available online for the first time ever.

Together, they offer a close-up, gritty picture of the city's history and development, from detective photos of gruesome crime scenes to Depression-era shots of everyday life to the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Kevin Amato, Bronx Photographer, On His Show "F*ck the Golden Years"

During Armory Arts Week, Casa De Costa gallery in the Financial District is kicking off Bronx based photographer Kevin Amato's show "F*ck the Golden Years" with an opening reception this evening. We caught up with Amato last month, a friend and sometime collaborator on stories we've reported together, at his gallery for a preview of the show. Watch the above video to hear us chat with Amato about a few of his works, the unlikely source for the title phrase of his show, and his take on portraiture, photography, and life shooting in the city.

@steven_thrasher | sthrasher@villagevoice.com

Ahead of its Exhibition in Soho: The Origin of the Holga Camera

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Photos with the vignetting effect, a signature of the Holga camera

It is ironic, considering today's technological advancements, that sharing faded photos with saturated colors, known as vignetting in technical photography term, has become something of a trend--browse through your Facebook or Twitter feed and you're bound to come across a photo that's been altered to look like a vintage, low-fidelity photo taken in the 70s.

Most of these photos achieve its looks through iPhone filter apps such as Instagram or Lomography. But others are taken by this cheap ($15-$30), plastic camera named the Holga. Much like an audiophile's claims that vinyl sound better than digital music, there's a group of photography enthusiasts who insist these clunky, toy-like cameras capture superior photos.


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The Story Behind Last Night's Verizon Building 99% Projections

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For many Occupy Wall Street Day of Action participants, the highlight of the evening was a series of "bat signal" pro-OWS messages projected on a building bearing Verizon's name.

Yesterday, the Voice's Steven Thrasher wrote about the series of Occupy Wall Street related messages on a building bearing Verizon's name after our own Nick Pinto tweeted about the sighting near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Projected messages included "99%" "Mic Check," "Occupy Earth" and "Love."

While some have speculated that Communications Workers of America were behind the projections on the building, located at 375 Pearl St., a group of visual artists affiliated with OWS are the creators. And while many New Yorkers refer to the structure as "the Verizon Building," it is not owned by the large communications company, but rather to a company called Sabey Data Centers, John Bonomo, director of media relations at Verizon told us in an e-mailed statement today.

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