Dazed Digital


Ken Miller's PICTURES

November 21, 2011

The celebrated curator and editor presents his latest abstract photography exhibition in Tokyo

  • Text by Satellite Voices

Guest Feature by Naoki Kotaka

The New Yorker Ken Miller's illustrious career in publishing and photography encompasses a body a work that includes being the editor-in-chief of Tokion magazine and the curator of the Creativity Now conference, author and curator of the SHOOT photography book published by Rizzoli and the Tokion art book, Revisionaries. After leaving Tokion he now writes for Interview, V and W magazines alongside The New York Times. His latest exhibition in Tokyo is entitled "PICTURES", an insight into abstract photography featuring Marcelo Gomes, Mariah Robertson, Sam Falls and Taisuke Koyama. 

Satellite Voices: Tell us about the concept of the "PICTURES" exhibition?
Ken Miller: The idea for “PICTURES” goes back to 2009, when I did the “SHOOT – Photography of the Moment” exhibition at Parco gallery in Tokyo. We were paying a great deal of money to have a photo print shipped from Europe to Tokyo, and I realised I had a hi-res file of that exact same image. So basically, we were paying thousands of dollars to ship an image that I could print out for next to nothing. The only difference was the signature. 

This made me think a lot about photography in the digital era. We are constantly surrounded by images - by PICTURES - but are they really photographs? We can shoot a photo with our cell phone, we can change it in Photoshop, we can email it, Tumblr it, whatever. So is the old fashioned idea of a photograph even relevant anymore? Basically, an abstract photo is the most extreme form of this evolution. Not all pictures are photographs, but all photographs are "PICTURES".

SV: How did you select participating artists?
Ken Miller: What's most important is that they are all really, really terrific artists! Also, each plays with the image in a different way. Taisuke Koyama shoots photos that are so detailed that they become abstract. Marcelo Gomes uses the camera like a painter. Mariah Robertson layers images when printing to create abstract collages. And Sam Falls paints on his photo prints. So each changes the image at a different point.

SV: Can you give us a description of each artist's work in a single word?
Ken Miller: Taisuke - focused. Marcelo - painting. Mariah - saturated. Sam - playful.

SV: Since you curated “SHOOT – Photography of the Moment” in 2009, how do you think your fascination with photography has developed?
Ken Miller: It's changed a lot! I always like to have relationships with photographers and artists, and to me, I can no longer say they are separate. I am excited by the creative experiments that I see happening, which are evolving the nature of these pictures. 

SV: How do you see creative culture in Japan?
Ken Miller: Being in Tokyo this time feels great, it's quiet but there is more community activity. People are looking at things with a new perspective. I think we'll see a new wave of really interesting Japanese artists in the next couple of years.   

SV: What is your next project?
Ken Miller: I am doing a fashion book for Rizzoli publishers, which will come out next year. It is still not confirmed, but hopefully I will also have a photo project in 2012 that will bring me back!

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