The La Brea Matrix

Stephen Shore, Beverly Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California, June 21 1975

The Le Brea Matrix is a project based on Stephen Shore’s great photograph of Los Angeles. The image was one of Shore’s clearest achievements in establishing a way of using colour objectively, in the context of the so-called New Colour Photography movement of the 1970s and 80s. It’s nonchalance of viewpoint – seemingly a glance up a suburban street, plus the banality of the subject matter, disguise a tight and sophisticated composition.

A group of German photographers are paying hommage to this image through the La Brea Matrix, an exhibition, book and website project. Each of the six photographers has photographed in L.A. interpreting the messages contained in Shore’s 1975 image. The photographers are Jens Liebchen, Oliver Sieber, Olaf Unverzart, Robert Voit, Janko Woltersmann and Max Regenberg

Olaf Unverzart

Janko Waltersmann

Robert Voit

Jens Liebchen

First photo

It’s not a great image, is it? Cheesy in a suburban hen’s night way. But according to it has a place in history as the first photograph ever to be sent over the World Wide Web.

The image depicts a comedy singing group based at CERN, the atomic particle research facility in Switzerland that has recently found the Higgs Boson particle. An employee there and co-creator of the WWW, Tim Berners-Lee, wanted to test its capacity for sending photographs rather than just vector diagrams. Basically, he just grabbed the nearest thing to hand, a photo taken by CERN IT developer, Silvano de Gennaro, who also managed the group. He had it as a .gif in his Macintosh, in Photoshop version one!

 The Web in 1992 was still mainly used by physicists, but sending out a sexy image was a new step, broadening the content and the appeal. It’s uncanny that this was only twenty years ago. In fact the anniversary is next Wednesday, July 18.

“It’s interesting to realize that this technology, which still feels so new, already has its own kind of archaeology now.”

Read the details, and more importantly see video of Les Horribles Cernettes, at