Greg Wayn at Amcor

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Greg Wayn, Amcor Factory – Last Phase (August) 2015

The demolition of the Amcor paper factory in Alphington is looking like a war zone. The destruction of this site is making way for a housing development but in the meantime it’s making some great subject matter for photographers.

Greg Wayn has been photographing there periodically and his panoramas capture the epic scale of this site. You can see more work posted on his Photoworks blog.

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Greg Wayn, Amcor Factory – July Panorama, 2015

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Greg Wayn, Amcor Factory – Last Phase (August) 2015

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After Words is coming

Greg Neville After Words DL copy

This is the invitation card for my new exhibition, opening next Wednesday, August 12. After Words is a group exhibition, the fourth annual show with five of my former students. Each year during meetings we pitch titles to the group until we all agree, then that becomes the theme for the next show.

After Words is a good title as it’s broad enough and narrow enough to allow for individual interpretation. My work is a series of close ups of a decayed prayer book found decades ago in a tip. The words in the text are broken up making a sort of landscape of paper and word fragments.

I’ve used a 10×8 camera, the largest film format, and made scans of the details within the negatives. Greg Wayn has given me technical assistance, notably in capturing the colour toning used by photographer Olivia Parker in her Signs of Life project.

After Words is opening at Tacit Contemporary Art on August 12 at 6.30pm, 312 Johnston St, Abbotsford.

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Greg Wayn at Amcor

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Greg Wayn has been photographing the Amcor demolition site, a subject made to order for his talents.

Amcor, the former paper mills next to the Yarra river, is a enormous industrial site now being demolished to create another disappointing suburban development. In the meantime, Greg has been busy recording it on its way down. It looks like a war zone.

He has used Amcor as subject matter for different photographic approaches. What you see below are single images from separate projects, each made with a different technical or visual strategy. Click on the links below to see the complete series on his Photoworks blog.

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Greg Wayn, Disappearing,’The Amcor Factory is now in the final stages of ‘disappearing’ and I have been trying out some new ways of interpreting this stage… the following ‘fluid landscapes’ are an attempt to create a more dreamlike series of images…

 

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Greg Wayn, WallsThere are very few walls left at all at the Amcor factory site and the final stage of demolition is at hand, so I felt obliged to record what was left…

 

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Greg Wayn, B&W Images

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Greg Wayn, Last Days‘Freeform’ panoramas taken in what remains of the Amcor Factory site. It has been hard to make these work as successfully as I has wanted, but I think it is still worth making images for something that is disappearing so quickly and it has been such a dominant part of Alphington’s history…

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Darkroom Chance

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Greg Neville, untitled, 2013

I’m working on an exhibition with Greg Wayn to open in mid-February at Edmund Pearce gallery.

The exhibition is called Chemistry of Chance and will be an exercise in Concrete photography, (subject of an earlier post). ‘Concrete’ is distinguished here from ‘abstract’. Concrete means real or actual, a thing that is itself and nothing more. Abstract is used for works that may appear non-representational but are derived – abstracted – from representational imagery or things in the world.

This work is non-representational, it has no referent in the world outside of itself. The images were generated by the chance interactions of developer chemicals, water and air, in the waste bins of college darkrooms. Impatient students, seeing disappointing results appearing in the developer, throw the dripping prints into the bins where they change in the darkness in alchemical ways.

The artist here is blind chance, no human intention is involved not even by the student. The weird and beautiful patterns that occur are only discovered at the end of the day when the weary teacher tidies the darkroom. By that time the print has dried, rendering any image permanent, I have some that are thirty years old.

The images are selected by the normal criteria of visual art, form, colour, balance etc. They are scanned and Photoshopped to bring out what was perceived in the original print. They are not cropped.

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My Life in Cameras no.17

17. HOLGA

The Holga was created in 1981 by a Mr.T.M.Lee as a cheap family camera for the Chinese market, a sort of modern Box Brownie. It wasn’t exactly a “toy” camera as it’s sometimes labelled now. When 35mm caught on there and the market dried up, it started to catch on among experimental users in the West. Like its soulmate the Diana, it is now a phenomenon with competitions, flickr groups and elaborate new models aggressively marketed by its current owner Lomo.

The Holga is a hardy camera but it has its handicaps: a slightly soft focus lens which doesn’t quite cover the 6×6 negative causing dark corners or vignetting. It leaks light sometimes and the back constantly falls off. It has the bare minimum of adjustments, two apertures and one shutter speed, which means that if your subject is outside of 1/100 of a second at f8 or f11 you’ll be in trouble. It does focus, but only using symbols. Wikipedia calls this a “low fidelity aesthetic.”

Part of the secret is the 60mm focal length lens, a moderate wide-angle which particularly suits the architectural subjects I shoot. The camera changes from square format to 6×4.5 rectangular format with the insertion of the plastic plate, but this loses the vignetting which is part of the camera’s inherent look.

I bought my Holga at the International Centre of Photography in New York and took photographs of skyscrapers, see the first image below. These were shown in an exhibition called Vertigo, with Greg Wayn in 2004. This led to a much larger Holga project called The Modern Idea, about modernist architecture around the world  (other images below). You can see Vertigo and The Modern Idea on my website Modernismus.

When photographing in New York, an African man came up to me and asked what camera I was using. “It’s called a Holga.” “Why, that is that name of my sister!”

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Greg Neville, Flatiron Building, New York, 2003

Greg Neville, Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, 2010

Greg Neville, Seagram Building New York, 2009

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My Life in Cameras, no.22

22. ERCONA II

Looking back at all the cameras I’ve had, I counted twenty two that have meant something to me, or that I used in some significant way. Photographers love cameras, I mean they’re in love with them, it’s a feeling that non-photographers don’t understand. So I decided to research these twenty two, to find out what it was all about, starting with the most recent one.

The Ercona is a 1950s fold-up bellows camera which weighs two pounds (765 grams) and takes a 6×9 cm negative. The lens is an f4.5 110mm Novonar. It has a Tempor shutter with all speeds up to 1/250th. There is no lightmeter and no rangefinder, focussing is by educated guess.

The 6×9 cm format is the sweet spot in roll film photography. Ideal for landscape and urban subjects, you don’t need to crop down from a square negative thus losing the advantage of its size. It has the same shape as 35mm – 1:1.5  – so it feels familiar when composing. And the negative is large enough that you don’t really need to enlarge, a contact print can look very fine – see below.

According to a post on apug.org “the Ercona is pretty much a post-war Ikonta 6X9 of immediate pre-war design under a different name, when Zeiss Ikon Dresden found itself on the wrong side of the political railroad track.” In other words, it’s East German and has the allure of history.

Zeiss was part of the East German conglomerate Pentacon that made the very successful Praktica SLRs. Wikipedia has a sad tale that would have been repeated all over the former GDR in the 1990s …

After German reunification in 1990 Pentacon, as with most East German companies, came to be possessed by the Treuhandanstalt (the federal board concerned with the privatisation of East German companies) and was selected for closure instead of complete sale.

It was deemed that the company was grossly inefficient, employing six thousand staff when it could have sufficed with one thousand, and selling its cameras at a loss. Liquidation began on October 2, 1990 (one day before official reunification), and production ceased on June 30, 1991. By then it had shed nearly three thousand employees to retain a total of 3331 – the next day all but 232 were laid off.

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Greg Neville, Glenlyon Reserve, Victoria, 2010

This photograph, made with the Ercona, is a handcoloured black & white darkroom contact print, ie the image area is 6×9 cm. The camera is from the collection of my friend and colleague Greg Wayn.