Fred Lyon’s photography of mid-20th Century San Francisco

From Boing Boing:

In the 1940s and 1950s, photographer Fred Lyon, now 89, magnificently captured the enticing noir decadence of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast and the majesty of the rest of the city. Known as “San Francisco’s Brassai,” Lyon’s work can be seen on his site and in a new monograph, San Francisco, Portrait of a City: 1940-1960.

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Fred Lyon’s photography of mid-20th Century San Francisco

Peter Steinhauer’s photos of Hong Kong high-rises in cocoons of bamboo

Another brilliant photo series featured in Wired:

If you wander through the streets of Hong Kong, you’ll notice something odd about some of the buildings.

It’s hard to miss. These buildings, which soar dozens of stories into the sky, are sheathed in a bright, primary-colored nylon mesh material. It looks like a large-scale art project, but it actually has a purely practical application: Shielding construction sites and their debris from Hong Kong’s densely-packed streets.

American photographer Peter Steinhauer, has worked as an artist in Asia since the early ‘90s (he currently lives in San Francisco). In his Cocoon series, he documents the surprising beauty of Hong Kong’s in-progress construction.

Steinhauer recalls the first time he ever saw a wrapped building back in the ’90s. “I saw a giant, 40-story package in the middle of this dense city,” he says. “It was just oddly beautiful to me; it captured my imagination immediately.”

Peter Steinhauer’s photos of Hong Kong high-rises in cocoons of bamboo

Samantha VanDeman’s photos of abandoned hotels

From Wired:

Samantha VanDeman‘s No Vacancy series might look like ruin porn, a genre of photography heavily criticized for how it fetishizes destruction and poverty. But instead of making kitschy art from what’s left, she tries to bring life to abandoned spaces.

She has long found her way into abandoned motels to photograph what remains. Her photography concentrates on the objects she finds inside; she hopes seeing them helps viewers understand that real people experiencing real things occupied those long-forgotten rooms.

“I know this sounds silly, but in some ways I feel like I’m rescuing the objects or spaces,” she says.

The project started in 2009 when VanDeman drove by the boarded up Purple Hotel near her home in Chicago and decided on a whim to explore it. The hotel, built in 1960, was Hyatt’s first in the Midwest and its Chicago flagship for many years. It closed in 2007 and was in complete disrepair when VanDeman found her way in.

Samantha VanDeman’s photos of abandoned hotels

Corridors of Power – Luca Zanier’s photography of places where history is made

UN Room XIX – Geneva 2013

From Wired:

Corridors of Power,” a series of photographs by Swiss photographer Luca Zanier, is a striking look at important places entirely devoid of the important people who usually inhabit them. The tour takes us through board rooms, assembly halls, parliaments, and more than one room in the United Nations. These are the cavernous spaces where history is shaped.

The series began several years ago when Zanier visited the French Communist Party headquarters, in Paris, designed by modernist master Oscar Niemeyer. The room Zanier chose to shoot, with its strangely textured mauve walls, makes it feel a little bit like you’re a cellular-sized version of yourself trapped inside a human organ. The UN Security Council room in New York is as colorful as a pack of Starburst, while the FIFA executive boardroom, in Zurich, is pretty much exactly the War Room from Dr. Strangelove, for whatever that’s worth.

Each interior has its own unique character, but there’s clearly a shared language among them. It’s hard not to notice the startling symmetry, the simple geometries rendered at imposing scale.

PCF French Communist Party – Paris 2010
The New School – New York 2008
UN General Assembly – New York 2008
Corridors of Power – Luca Zanier’s photography of places where history is made

American prison lights

camden

From the Atlantic Cities:

Like many towns around the country facing economic hardship, a string of job losses in the 1980s and ’90s led Galesburg, Illinois, to embrace the construction of a prison on what was previously nearby prairie land. Galesburg is where Boston-based photographer Stephen Tourlentes grew up, and on a visit back there nearly two decades ago, he became fascinated by the new prison facility and the way it lit up his old hometown at night.

Tourlentes photographed the local state prison on that trip, and the more he thought about what he’d seen, the more he wanted to know. After his father, a former state psychiatric hospital director, mentioned that some of his old patients had ended up in the new prison, the photographer began a journey that has since taken him to penitentiaries all over the country.

He’s not done yet, but 17 years worth of the resulting photographs can be seen in Of Length and MeasuresTourlentes’ haunting collection of the U.S. prisons he’s shot at night, usually from afar. While the photographs are visually interesting on their own, Tourlentes says he now knows that these facilities, often built on the periphery of small towns with weak economies, say something much deeper about the odd relationship between economic development and the judicial system in the United States.

 

American prison lights

Finding Vivien Maier

I can’t wait to watch Finding Vivien Maier. From the New York Times:

An exciting electric current of discovery runs through “Finding Vivian Maier,” a documentary about a street photographer who never exhibited her work. She scarcely shared it even with those who knew her. Then again, many of her acquaintances when she was taking some of her remarkable images, particularly in and around Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s, were the children she cared for while working as a nanny. Later in her life, some of those children took care of her in turn, first by moving her into an apartment and then the nursing home where she died in 2009. What rotten timing: She was on the verge of being discovered, first as a curiosity and then as a social-media sensation and a mystery.

It’s no surprise that Maier is now the subject of a documentary, given the quality of her work, the nominal exoticism of her life and the secrets that still drift around her. She’s a terrific story — part Mary Poppins, part Weegee — who was at once emancipated and in service. She was introduced to the world, as it were, by John Maloof, one of this movie’s directors, who bought a box of her negatives at a Chicago auction in 2007 for about $400. The auction house, he explains, told him the work was by Maier, but he found nothing about her on Google. He had purchased the negatives for a book he was working on, but after deciding that they were of no use, he stashed the box away.

And then he took it out again, scanned some images and put them up on Flickr.

Finding Vivien Maier