Scion/VIce Magazine Photo Annual opening for 2010

Photographer John Eder files this report from the field:

Scion, the car company, sponsors a gallery space here in L.A. They are slavishly trendy in their curating, and there is nothing trendier than Vice Magazine. The magazine is actually very well written and very funny, and I look forward to each issue, for real – for the writing. Their photography aesthetic, though, is squarely in the Terry Richardson/Ryan McGinley camp.

The show was curated by Jonnie Craig, a 20 something UK skateboard guy who has become majorly successful by more or less aping Ryan McGinley. In fact, Ryan McGinley is a champion of his work. So, this whole show was very homogeneous in the look, even tho it was 20 or so photographers, it ALL looked like it could have been shot by Ryan McGinley. It’s kind of like a math equation, where Johnnie Craig=Ryan McGlinley=Wolfgang Tillmans+Terry Richardson minus sex plus skateboards, kittens, cats, horses, tourist attractions, cigars and scabs (from skateboarding – there were two or three gnarly closeups of abscessed wounds, from different photographers), all of whose root number is Wm. Eggleston. More math in this equation is if you take 1000 pictures with your point and shoot of your friends or your cat, eventually you will get a few compelling frames.livingproofmag

It was good for people watching – loads of 19 year old girls tottering around in stripper shoes and the androgynous L.A. man-children who love them. The guys were actually far more the fashion show here, with a weird, femmy hipster vibe in full, uh, flower – lots of eyeliner, formal shoes with knee-socks and culottes or capri pants, old man glasses and silly mustaches, ironic t-shirts, wallet chains and plaid jackets that are two sizes too small.

Despite all this fashion rebellion on the part of the youth, virtually every conversation I blundered into was about branding and marketing. What was really funny was having this conversation in a group where one kid was so lit on acid and his pupils so dilated that I thought they were going to blow right out of his head. He said he was “tripping balls.” And yet, still, we were talking about branding and how genius Scion is at trend monitoring and appealing to the youth.

Anyway, that’s the report from the front lines of culture and photography here in Los Angeles.

There Are 46 Comments On This Article.

  1. Funny, I am only 29, but despite being closer to that demographic, I had basically the same impression. That was the most useless work ever, filled with the most ridiculous over-hipsterized crowd!

  2. Thank you for making me feel so old… I can see myself at the party now… “can someone turn down that music?!?!?”

    My favorite line:
    More math in this equation is if you take 1000 pictures with your point and shoot of your friends or your cat, eventually you will get a few compelling frames.

    • c.d.embrey

      @Jeff Singer, the same can be said about 1,000 snaps with your Nikon D3x or Canon 1Ds III. About 333 with a Sinar 4×5, ’cause you can’t spray & pray with sheet film 8-D

  3. Just reading this review made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. That whole scene is crap..crap..crap.

  4. At first glance I agreed with this review, then I looked at John Eder’s website and found a horrid love affair with photoshop and realized that I just agreed with his assessment of the audience. Might I be so bold as to defend the aesthetic?

    I feel like Vice’s photography aesthetics fits very well in it’s editorial context (ie: we don’t give a shit about production value). It’s too bad this review is 3/4’s about the people who read Vice religiously and attend trendy LA events and 1/4th about the actual work on the wall, though I’m sure much of it was ‘useless.’ But what do you expect from kids? Photo’s from Darfur?

    Perhaps the weakness of the show should be placed on the curators head, whose work I haven’t been a fan of either. However, people like Asger Carlsen, Peter Sutherland, and even Patrick O’Dell (esp musicians portraits) deserve a second look.

    What I find ironic is the invocation of Wm Eggleston followed by the assertion that those in that style shoot a TON and print a few. Ironic because Eggleston prints EVERYTHING he shoots. Didn’t John Szarkowski settle this whole ‘snapshot’ thing 40 years ago?

    And what’s wrong with Tillmans anyways?

  5. Oh! Thank God for this posting! I have LOL so much. I have to say, this line is a classic, “It’s kind of like a math equation, where Johnnie Craig=Ryan McGlinley=Wolfgang Tillmans+Terry Richardson minus sex plus skateboards, kittens, cats, horses, tourist attractions, cigars and scabs (from skateboarding – there were two or three gnarly closeups of abscessed wounds, from different photographers), all of whose root number is Wm. Eggleston.”
    I’m not tripping balls, though…sigh…

  6. I attended the show… The beer was free. That helped a little! This review couldn’t be more on. Love it.

  7. @chris d thompson, So, so so tortured!

    Look, you can hate on my work till the cows come home, and I will lose sleep over it and want you to love me, I’ve huge self esteem issues like that. But my feeling on this point and shoot aesthetic remains: it’s way easy to do. But it’s not easy to do well or in an interesting way. If the situations or people create drama and wonder in the pictures, things that it would be hard for just any old body to do: great, I’m totally into it. See, for example, McGinley’s fireworks pictures, that was a great idea, done in no-production-value, lo-fi style.

    But there are many pictures in his work that are not like that and ALL the work in this show was not like that. There was an emperor’s new clothes, my kid could do that vibe to it, as there is, to me, in most work in this vein.

  8. I’m not trying to belittle anyone – just making the point that Ryan McGinley probably doesn’t like David LaChappelle’s work very much, and visa versa. So their criticisms of each other would be tilted towards their own work. You do what works for you. Nuff said on that.

    I wasn’t there. I didn’t see what Jonnie Craig slapped on the wall and called a show. Glad I missed the scenesters. But I do know the work of the photographers I mentioned, and I know that they do more than “skateboards, kittens, cats, horses, tourist attractions, cigars and scabs.” If that’s all that was on the wall, I blame Mr. Curator, Jonnie Craig. See article posted.

    There is a film titled “My Kid Could Paint That, ” perhaps you are familiar with it. Why do we keep having these old conversations about craft? There are photographers included in that show that do make consistently good photographs without “tripping balls.”

    • @chris d thompson, Because craft imparts value. In photography, craft often equals budget, so I can understand why Vice and many other modern lifestyle and fashion mags lean toward the snapshot vibe (Nylon, for ex.), they just don’t have the bucks Conde Nast does. But it’s not always fun to look at, and it often tends to look alike.

    • c.d.embrey

      @chris d thompson, I don’t like either McGinley or LaChappelle, but if I were forced to pick one it would be McGinley.

      Lots of shooters (good, bad and indifferent) out there to H8t, so just pick one! Did I just type H8t, nah, musta been someone else 8-D

  9. chris d thompson

    “Craft” and Production value impart the appearance of a lot of money spent, not actual value. Creativity and interesting work isn’t dependent on either of the two.

  10. chris d thompson

    and PS: Not to get into one of those branding/marketing conversations, but Condé Nast is sucking wind, while Vice is getting some serious dollars from advertisers.

    • @chris d thompson, True about Conde Nast, altho the new Vanity Fair is decent, has Nick Knight, who I always like, shooting Gaga, but really is all about the nifty wardrobe. Which is sort of the flip flop of the bucks does not always mean creativity problem, often bucks means that by the time your supermodel is kitted out in fantastic clothes, at magic hour, in front of some exquisite backdrop, coiffed and made up to perfection, my Mom could take the picture and it would still look great!

  11. I thought this review was a bit pathetic.. I don’t see how the pictures look like they could have been taken by ryan mcginley… so easy and stupid to just hate on stuff… incredibly obvious and boring. yawn review on the whole.

  12. Personally I thought the comments were pretty d*#& funny. The review not quite so. Christopher and John keep it up, the week has been atrocious and I am tired of bashing politicians, so I need some more laughs.

    I did find it quasi interesting that the attendees described still haven’t found their self identity. The attire speaks volumes. Which actually could make for an interesting event. I am sorry I missed it.

    I think it would have been really interesting since I am well over two decades past the 20 somethings there. Just wondering was Ausin Powres there?

  13. Kevin York

    Everybody is a critic about everything.” Tripping balls” don’t knock it till ya try it ! As for the photos my two cents is yea there’s alot of rip-off of style going on. I can’t tell who shot what? But These dudes are in an art galley . How many critics got their stuff hanging? I like this style alot but just like everything you see it once you’ve seen it a thousand times.
    Photography is art how it makes you feel is what counts not how you got there.
    Keep on trippin’!

  14. I could be entirely wrong about this, but the insanity of the photo/art world is precisely what makes it interesting and oddly valuable.
    Why are so many fashion/editorial/PJ/Commercial photographers racing toward the fine-art world as we speak?
    Why?
    Fine-art is open. In many cases it isn’t about the work, it’s about who you can get to say something about it. It’s a game, sure a sometimes vapid, inexplicable game, but again, that is why we kinda need it.
    So many genres today seem like they are on life support, and it doesn’t look like they are coming back anytime soon.
    So, we head toward fine-art, condemning it but at the same time wondering, “Hmm, how do I get a show at the Scion Gallery or the Getty?”
    Last week I had a museum employee explain to me why they had a certain show. I stood there, stoic, nodding occasionally, my right had stroking my chin as if I was in deep thought, all the while I was thinking, “YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING ME.” It had NOTHING to do with the work.
    In retaliation I hit the free bar like I was on weekend furlough.
    But, as I staggered home I realized, “You know, I think I kinda get it.” It’s not that I agree with it, but what other genre of photography is so unpredictable, so maddening and so laced with people who ARE really doing incredible work. I think the punishment we must endure is wading through the masses of pretenders, copy-artists, clearly derivative folks, so that when we finally see something of unique origins…we can finally stop, tip our hats and admire.

    • @Daniel Milnor, You wrote a well worded review of the show.

      It is good, it is bad, it is a survey of voices of a group at a moment in time.

      What you don’t always get with a paragraph or two review, is the many sides of a debate.

      John you deserve a show at the Scion gallery.

  15. Well haggart, your Photography is shit anyway. The stuff in this show shits all over your boring ass wank.

  16. A concerned reader

    What a retarded response (see below)

    How can you say that photography only has worth or craft if there is budget?? Or if it costs a lot to make? It’s a shame people like you get the chance to write for things like this.

    Photography is a communication and a language, you don’t have to have a lot of money to say a great deal with a photograph…

    John Eder Reply:
    August 18th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    @chris d thompson, Because craft imparts value. In photography, craft often equals budget, so I can understand why Vice and many other modern lifestyle and fashion mags lean toward the snapshot vibe (Nylon, for ex.), they just don’t have the bucks Conde Nast does. But it’s not always fun to look at, and it often tends to look alike.

    [Reply]

  17. Please pour me another round of satire. It was savory.

    I feel like if more photographer’s had a bit of Eder’s sardonic wit, the world would be a better place.

  18. Its pretty sad this is the kind of work the kids, IE people in my age bracket want. Granted Im no L.A hipstr by any stretchbut come on as the wrighter says grab a point and shoot and after a month you to can have a body of work like this.

    It not like its even provoking a conversation about the stagnating mediocrity of the western world.

  19. I got the Vice photo issue the other day . Its pretty zany .
    I can never decide if I want to do hipster photography or the non-hipster kind .
    Who’s this Eggelston guy you’re all talking about ?