Critical Mass 2015 – A Broad Catagorization of Content!

Our diligent Critical Mass 2015 pre-screeners have completed their jurying, and the 200 finalists will be announced shortly! In the meantime, we would like to attempt to loosely categorize the work that was submitted to Critical Mass this year – photographers from 30+ countries participated.

What matters to photographic artists today? What new angles are being explored by using this medium? What familiar topics are being looked at in the same way? Differently? Are people embracing technological advances? Embracing historical processes in new ways?

Below is a loose recording of image content, methodologies, and artistic influences that I jotted down during my own pre-screening experience. This is not an all-inclusive list, and no topic has more weight than any other. The point of this is to give a broad look at what photographers find important enough to create work about.

Creative Influences/Inspirations: Jerry Uelsmann, Maxfield Parrish, Wes Anderson, Abstract Expressionism, Toni Morrison, Robert Frank, Milton Rogovin, W. Eugene Smith, Hokusai’s woodblock prints, Brancusi, Margaret Bourke-White, Chinese Zen paintings, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky, 17th century Vanitas paintings, Woody Guthrie, Auguste Rodin, Wendell Berry, Edward Hopper, Eugene Atget, Diane Arbus, E. J. Bellocq, Sharon Olds, W. Eugene Smith, Walker Evans, Paul Klee, Old Masters paintings, Baldessari, Keats, Federico Fellini, Anaïs Nin, Proust, Pablo Picasso, Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Hiroshi Sugimoto, William Turner, Daido Moriyama, Jungian archetypes, Edward Muybridge, Walt Whitman, Raymond Carver, Jackson Pollock, Norman Rockwell, Mark Rothko, Rebecca Solnit

Geographical Places:
Delhi, Rocky Mountains, Turkey, Palm Springs, Southside Chicago, Hong Kong, Washington DC, the Carolinas, Russia, Seoul, Ecuador, East Berlin, Las Vegas, Route 66, New York City, Cypress, Southern Ethiopia, Florida’s wetlands, Detroit, Oregon, Hudson Valley, Beijing, Afghanistan, Japan post-tsunami, Paris night streets, coastal Maine, Louisiana swamplands, Yosemite National Park, rural Appalachia, Central Asia, Tibet, Yangtze River, Italian beaches, Phnom Penh, South-Central Alaska, Tokyo, US Gulf Coast, Guatemala, the wilds of central Florida, Jerusalem

Psychological Elements: Depression, intimacy, suppressed homosexuality, shame, healing, childhood dreams, postpartum, faith, memory, reverse aging procedures for women, transition between boyhood and adulthood, self-identity, aging, mental illness, spirituality, marking one’s existence, experience of loss, cultural identity, obesity as metaphor, insomnia, places to hide, observation of inner self, photographically documenting the process of breathing, dreamscapes, loss, nostalgia, fondness, love, reconciliation, anxiety, uncertainty, low frequency fear, species extinction, people appear emotionally isolated despite physical proximity, feelings of emotional dislocation, questioning of normalcy, questioning of religion, hopes for a new Renaissance, male touch isolation in American society, our longing for the sublime from within the notion of the wild, the concentrated moment of rapture, the relationship between nature and artifice, the effect of media and technology upon human desire, decay, human negligence, the loss of love and connection, migraine attacks, intersection of the past and memory, body language, voyeurism, psychology of uniforms, migration, cultural history, family lore, fallacy of perfection, longing, abandoned dreams, the psychology of camouflage, finding individuality in one’s house, feelings of fragmentation, transcendentalism, the passing of time, connection maintained with the temporary

Landscapes/Nature: Water, monoliths, grass, autumn in coastal Maine, night skies, bats at night, seeds, flowers, rock cairns, high desert, trees, decaying flowers, how genes are expressed, seascapes, the tide, passage of the moon through the night sky above Manhattan, Olympic National Park, forests, ocean waves, drought, hills, botanical collections in National Parks, the threat of climate change, the water’s edge, snowscapes, relationships with agriculture, moon trees, emptiness in relation to landscapes, farming in Great Plains region, the moon, bushes, industrial landscapes, bird nests, animal bones and remains, selective-color landscapes, forests at night

Family: Motherhood, single motherhood, death of a parent, parent with Alzheimer’s, parent with head injury, second marriages, idea of home, sister’s descent into mental illness, scrapbooks of mother as a teen, family heirlooms presented metaphorically, loss of parents in short amount of time, loss of a family member to disease, straddling different cultures, child battling anxiety, loss of one’s child, mothers and daughters, portraits of families recovering from grief, finding identity through family history, a grandmother and her twin

Socio-Documentary Themes: Civil War re-enactors, rodeo culture, schoolchildren of the South African townships, people on the streets of old San Francisco, Japanese valley where cancer patients gather, Louisiana fishing communities, the Day of the Dead, French flea markets, retail landscapes, the “new topography,” defunct summer resorts in the Catskills, closed cities in Russia, intersection between animals and humans, duck blinds in Louisiana, the American Dream, Black Lives Matter marches, urban marginalization, African-American communities in San Francisco, skateboard culture, waiting rooms, history museums, prisoner correspondence, black culture stereotypes, post-Industrial Romania, child with Asperger’s syndrome, race, class, aluminum foundries, steel recycling facilities, Cuban immigrants, streets of San Francisco, Chinese propaganda, military installations, traditional healers in South Africa, drought in California, Wodaabe & Tuareg tribal life, the Underground Railroad, abandoned war fortifications, portraits of people on buses, images of Afghanistan while in military, indie wrestling, textile mills in US, energy development, suppression in Swazi culture, personal effects and belongings of people apprehended in the desert by U.S. Border Patrol, gentrification, American identity, Muslim identity, surf culture, earthquake in Nepal, the suburbs, homelessness, urban blight, overpopulation, tradition, road trips documenting regional culture, cultural artifacts of the American concept/representation of race, Japanese salary men, future of Burma/portraits of former political prisoners, Welch community in Russia, mass extinction events, perception of California as a state of perfection, urban turbines in New England, repurposed NASA images, alien contact, people in Memphis, beauty pageants, timed exposures of crowds, a Catholic community in Florida, children with guns, explorations of the mundane/banal, borders

Issues of Sexuality/Human Bodies:
 Nudes of women, historical look at vibrators, gender identity, homosexuality in the church, experimenting with drag visuals, male identity, scrapyards and the female body, claustrophobia of relationships, intimacy and human relationships that exist within conflict, coming to terms with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, growing older in a youth-obsessed society, healing from breast cancer, semen and breast milk as signifiers of life, transitioning transgendered men and women, human remains, long exposures of people having sex, a man acting like a baby, surviving a brain tumor, portraits taken 30 years apart

Specific Topics: Vintage books, broken dolls, taxidermy animals, vending machines in Fukushima, roses symbolizing aging beauty, Israeli bomb shelters, roadside marquee signs, public telephones, Christmas yard decorations, road signs, estate sale finds, weapons, comfort objects, dancers, dressage, migration, competitive facial hair, film sets, Santa Anita horse track, dive bars, street kids, Facebook identities, over-photographed tourist sites of the world, modern interpretations of Rorschach inkblot test, African-American cowboys, reflections on windows, tools, hunting, thread, single malt scotch, hot springs, portraits of artists, views of L.A. from a taxi, magic tricks, high school seniors, speeding trains, covered cars, neon signs, retired nuns, morgues and funerals, people waiting in line, doorways, deceased people, portraits of Koreans during monsoon season, cherry blossoms, darkroom equipment, medical exam rooms, children swimming, children’s books, objects being weighed on a scale, bubbles, abandoned buildings, estate sales, boys, candy, people wearing masks, plastic bottles littering the landscape, housewives, light through glass, fencing, expired library books, kitchen utensils, space shuttles, tide pools, female body builders

Cameras Used: 8 x 10, 4 x 5, 35mm, Holgas, Lomos, large format Polaroids, digital, wooden pinhole, smartphones

Print Mediums: C prints, chemigrams, wet plate collodion, platinum/palladium prints, photogravures, cyanotypes, encaustic over prints, daguerreotypes, emulsion on aluminum, expired photo paper, photograms/lumens, cyanotypes, tintypes, digital collage, photo paper collage, sewn images, manipulated vintage images, ruined photo emulsion, chin collé

General price range of prints: $75 to $8,000

Stay tuned! Critical Mass 2015 Finalist names will be published here on the blog next week!