Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Stereograms of T.Enami, Japanese Photographer

Photographs of Japan from the Meiji and Taisho Periods (1868-1926) have captivated viewers around the world since they were first circulated. Until very recently, though, his name was virtually unknown. Now we know that the prolific photographer’s name was T. Enami – or rather, that was his trade name. He was born Enami Nobukuni, and his work made a deep and far-reaching impact on photography.

traveler in woods stereoview

Some of T. Enami’s most popular and memorable works were his stereograms: two nearly-identical 2D images taken from slightly different angles that, when viewed together through a stereograph, appear three-dimensional. If Blogger accepted these types of images (which, unfortunately, it does not...) you would see these pictures flickering back and forth to show the full effect. Even so, they are compelling without that feature.

Enami started his career as a traditional photographer, but later embraced the more “modern” stereoviews and lantern slides. Judging from his carefully staged stereograms, he approached his work with a great deal of attention to detail. The colors on these stereograms were all hand-painted, and the resulting product was sold around the world. Today, collectors treasure these exquisitely detailed antique images.

T. Enami ran a photography studio in Yokohama until his death in 1926. His work spanned a multitude of areas, including postcards, large-format prints, private portraits, glass transparencies, photo processing and print-making, and numerous commercial photography projects. His photographs have appeared several times in the pages of National Geographic, a true honor for any photographer. One of his half-stereoview images was even used on the cover of their 100th-anniversary book Odyssey: The Art of Photography at National Geographic.

Despite his monumental contributions to early Japanese photography, T. Enami’s identity was not widely known outside of Japan until around 2006, when his descendants shared information about him with biographers and collectors. He was the only photographer of his era known to work in all contemporary commercial and artistic formats, and it can be said that his work has been seen by more people than that of the more established “masters” of his time.

The appropriate credit is now being given to thousands of Enami photographs that were previously unattributed or simply attributed to the wrong photographer. Enami is now, finally, in his rightful place among the most influential early Japanese photographers. A detailed biography of T. Enami can be found at, and even more of his animated stereograms can be found at Pink Tentacle.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Penny Siopsis - South African/Greek Artist

Artist's statement:

" In my recent work I use 'found' objects including found film. I am particularly interested in the things people leave behind by force of circumstance; things which embody very specific memories and experiences, yet have wider social and cultural resonance. These objects are complex subjective traces of emotional investment not always easily expressed. Being 'found' and often made and treasured for intimate and private reasons, these objects are emblematic of a merging of private and public worlds. "

The images are powerfully loaded: while the deep shades of red draw one in, the content repulses and disturbs. The simple titles of the prints belie the tragedy of the images. The content of the “Shame” series deals with rape, the abuse of power, psychological trauma, damage, torture and agony. The viewer is confronted with images of gross violation and devastating injustice, which evoke strong emotive responses of desperation and outrage.

The girl-child who is ‘shamed’, ‘humiliated’, ‘disgraced’ and ‘embarrassed’ illustrates what the artist refers to as the “poetics of vulnerability”. In the print Sorry the child is naked but for a thin blood-stained cloth draped over her back and is bending down in an incredibly vulnerable and compromising position.

In Three Trees, a naked woman sits against a tree, her legs splayed and tied with rope to two other trees. Two figures kneel over her, pushing her legs farther apart. The image is rendered in sensual pours of deep reds, pinks, grays and purples that form a lacquered, visceral sheen. The sharp tug between seductive surface and troubling content is the core of the Johannesburg-based artist’s work, which for years has employed erotic and violent allegorical images of women culled from such sources as Japanese woodblock prints, news stories and ancient myths.

For her latest body of work, made in 2008-09, the artist used only glue and ink on canvas, producing liquid, luminous swaths of color. Siopis’s wet reds and pinks vividly conjure meaty images of blood and flesh.

In Anonymous, which depicts an androgynous seated figure holding a flower, glossy saturated crimsons evoke the dense red of a blood clot, and the figure looks skinless. A tiny baby is barely visible in Miracle, falling through an almost entirely abstract composition of swirled and splashed color that resembles celestial gases; in this painting, Siopis uses gold, cream, mahogany and a splatter of dark brown the color of dried blood.

A well-established artist and noted academic, Penny Siopis is particularly interested in the ways that national history and personal memory intersect in visual narratives of the South African social climate. She is a South African of Greek descent., who was born in 1953 in the semi-desert town of vryburg in the northern Cape. She now resides in Johannesburg where she works as an artist and lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand. She studied fine arts at Rhodes University, Grahamstown. She was awarded a British Council scholarship and continued her studies in the United Kingdom. Her work has been shown in many international biennales including the Venice Biennale (1993), the Johannesburg Biennales (1995, 1997), the Kwangju Biennale (1995) and the Havana Biennales (1994, 1997). She has also participated in a many international exhibitions

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Injustice Surrounding artist John T. Unger

This is an outrageous story about an artist I already featured here on my blog awhile back. I encourage everyone who reads this story to please forward it to your friends.


Artist John T Unger, Creator of Artisanal Firebowls, Sued in Federal Court by Imitator, Seeks Help Raising Legal Defense Funds

Artist John T. Unger is getting an unwanted education in copyright law. He appeals to the online community to help him raise funds to win a federal court case that could have far-reaching intellectual property implications for artists and entrepreneurs.

10.26.2009 – When it comes to copyrighted work, how similar is too similar in design, content, or name when someone else creates a product like an existing one?

Intellectual property issues have the potential to affect artists, bloggers, journalists, freelancers, designers and others who make their living through creative, original work, especially if they primarily do so online. Not only money, but also reputation, and customer satisfaction are at stake.

Unger is fighting a Federal lawsuit by, whose owner, Rick Wittrig, is seeking to have the copyrights for Unger's original artwork over-turned so Wittrig can continue to manufacture and sell lower-priced products of extremely similar name and design.

When John write to me today, he said this:

"I'm also working on setting up a not for profit foundation to help other artists raise legal fees in defense of their art in the future. It's at although I haven't had time to flesh it out yet. By the end of the week there should be more there."

Click HERE to see John's web site.

Stacy Alexander