The collages of Kensuke Koike have been one of the purest forms of visual pleasure over the last two years. Videos of his working process on his Instagram account show him making miraculous reinventions of images with a single rip (his smoking woman), with a pasta machine (his dog), and with three-dimensional transformations (his sinking boat). It’s work that attracts because it seems so simple.
Take an old portrait of a loving couple, cut their eyes out, switch them around and the relationship takes a new direction. Cut a circle around the middle of a face, offset it a couple of inches, and you’re left with a pathway to that person’s interior. These are pictures that seem simple, but link up to ideas of image compression, ways of seeing, facial recognition and visual agnosias. It’s The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat in photographic form.
Koike’s work has attracted a loyal following, inspired countless copycat activities at photography workshops around the world, and invited collaborations from parties ranging from Gucci to Thomas Sauvin of Beijing Silvermine. It’s the Sauvin collaboration that resulted in Koike’s latest work, a book launched in November. Titled No More No Less, the publication came about after Koike was invited to work with Sauvin’s archive of old images that he recovered from Beijing silver-recycling centres.
“Your memory isn’t like a file in your hard-drive that stays the same every time you revisit it. It actively changes,” says John Houck, whose images, just like our memories, can be deceptive. His pieces are made cyclically, by photographing and rephotographing objects, paintings, and sheets of folded paper, adding and removing elements with each iteration. “It’s a way to get at the way in which memory is an imaginative act,” he says.
BJP’s annual Cool + Noteworthy issue is back, presenting the people, places and projects that have caught our eye over the past year.
Among this year’s noteworthies is the photographer behind our cover story, Tyler Mitchell, who became the first black cover photographer of American Vogue when he shot Beyoncé for the September 2018 issue. He tells the BJP about his new-found mission since returning home after living in London: “I realised I have a responsibility to be, specifically, a black American photographer and filmmaker.”
We also spotlight Kensuke Koike, a Japanese collagist who gives new life to old photo albums. Koike has attracted a loyal following on Instagram with his savvy cut-and-move videos, making his latest book one of the most anticipated on 2018. Feng Li is another newcomer who has made waves in fashion photography over the past year. This issue we feature Li’s playful fashion shoot in his native Chengdu, a creative city on the rise in China.
“I’m always picking things up and taking them home with me,” says Matthew Craven. “Just general knick knacks.” His finds include succulents, unusual rocks, and little bits of pottery that he displays in his home inTopanga Canyon, Los Angeles. But out of all of the things he collects, which also includes records and vintage NBA t-shirts, perhaps his strangest and largest collection is of school textbooks. The books usually date back to the 1950s or 60s, but “the older the better” says Craven. After finding a copy he likes in a second-hand book store, he’ll trawl through the internet, contacting sellers that may have many more in storage – usually schools or libraries. “Personally, it satisfies me to be able to find these old materials and preserve them in some little way possible,” he says. He then uses these books as source material for intricate collages, in which every element – from the images themselves to the paper they’re stuck on – are made out of found materials. Part of what satisfies him about this work …
Before becoming a photographer, Sean Hillen was a tinkerer. As a young teenager, one of his favourite pastimes was to take apart his grandfather’s old cameras and then piece them back together again. It wasn’t long before he discovered that with a bit of tweaking he could fix a brand new 120 roll of film into an outmoded 620 camera. “I did that, I got them developed, and I was immediately addicted to photography”.
Hillen grew up through the Troubles in Newry, Northern Ireland, close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. “It was utter chaos,” he says. “I knew people who got killed, and I knew people who killed other people”. Hillen and his four siblings would lie awake in bed at night listening to gun battles, which were so frequent that they were able to distinguish between the sounds of different weapons.
In 1997, a document titled A Study of Assassination was released by the CIA as part of the Freedom of Information Act. It is believed to have been created in 1953 with the purpose of instructing agents on how to kill, and was released with a collection of files relating to the 1954 CIA-backed overthrow of the-then newly-elected leader of Guatemala, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The operation in Guatemala was lobbied for by United Fruit Company, an American corporation that traded in tropical fruit, mainly bananas, and which wielded huge power in Central America at the time.
When he found out about these documents, George Selley was instantly captivated, and his new project, A Study of Assassination, combines pages from the manual with archival press images, banana advertisements and Cold War propaganda. BJP caught up with the recent London College of Communication MA graduate to find out more about this project and his approach to images.
“The Beatles were inspired by different things on that album: it was created out of everyday things and everyday notions, even though people view it as a psychedelic masterpiece,” says Dean Chalkley ahead of a new exhibition launching in Shoreditch this week. His collection, Reverberation, takes its inspiration from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 50 years on from its release. Just like the original album, Reverberation is set to take people on a treasure hunt to find hidden meanings out of everyday realities.
Inspired by artists such as David Hockney, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Robert Delaunay, Argentinian graduate Daniel M Cisilino fell in love with collage while studying at the National College of Art & Design (NCAD) in Dublin. He describes the experience of learning about Hockney’s collages – or joiners as the Yorkshireman calls them – as akin to opening a Pandora’s Box. “I began to see photography in a completely different way. Hockney created photographic works by arranging multiple images in a similar way to a painter who uses brush strokes to create his work. They were not just photographs, they were more encompassing than that. This fascinated me, and I got hooked.” Cisilino, who completed a certificate in photography and digital imaging at NCAD, set about photographing scenes close to home – his back garden, a bathroom, household paraphernalia – creating hundreds of images he could stitch together digitally. The idea, he explains, was to do away with a single viewpoint in favour of multiple perspectives. His method involved photographing each scene …
In his series Photophobia, Madrid-based photographer Miguel Ángel Tornero draws a parallel between the photographic process and the photosynthesis of plants – both rely on light for their development, he points out, and both will eventually degrade and decompose. In this project photography is a “living being” for the 35-year-old, who incorporates faded found images, often from magazines, in his work. “I have always been attracted to these decadent images – damaged, poorly maintained and faded by the passage of time – that are usually found in hair salons, haberdasheries, bazaars and old businesses,” he explains. “The first works I did were collages featuring these images grouped around the patches of colour created by exposed photo paper – a material that is constantly changing and therefore alludes to the passing of time and the transience of life. The collages naturally had a three-dimensional shape so I’ve added other photosensitive and reflective materials to create photographic installations.” Taking these faded images and repurposing them, Tornero gives new life to what he calls a “contemporary aesthetic of …