Twice a year Shutterclank! magazine hits the presses to support traditional photographers and stir up discussion. Founded by photographers Kate Contakos, Chris Schuster, and Jake Reinhart, the hope is that the magazine will further the community of lens artists, spurring them to interact and collaborate as a result of Shutterclank!’s pages and related exhibitions. On December 3, New York City is going to get smacked upside the eyeballs, courtesy of the ‘Clank! crew.
On that day, at the Brooklyn Artists Gym, Shutterclank! will unveil Innocence Lost, an exhibition portraying the subversive conflict and shattered ideals of modern-day America. Featuring six artists in the gallery space, the exhibit will feature work from Joe Gerhard, Melitte Buchman, Jesse Untracht-Oakner, in addition to the magazine’s three founders. Each of these artists has used their camera to capture the underlying unrest that has sunk into the foundation of this nation and turned it into a seething, shifting kaleidoscope of mismatched morals and dangerous, disguised disquiet. Each of the six photographers, while all very different, approach this subject matter in different ways, and the exhibition has allowed the grassroots magazine of Shutterclank! to expand beyond print and pixels.
Joe Gerhard focuses on nostalgia with his large format camera, ensnaring the fallen legacy of great cities that have been spat out, ignored and left to recede into disrepair and neglect, while Melitte Buchman’s work portrays this wistfulness in a completely different manner. Using the uncommon wet-plate collodion technique that was popular in the nineteenth century, she creates images that are simultaneously sentimental and haunting. Her work is shrouded in an obscurity reminiscent of the time when this method was at the forefront of photography. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Jesse Untracht-Oakner, who works in the myopic, gaudy realm of fashion. His recreational photography is a playground where he can explore non-commercial images and poignant Americana outside of the shallow, consumer-fed couture world. His nuanced and expressive photography transcends film; the delicacy of what he captures through his lens is powerful enough to reduce a runway to splinters.
With textures and patterns so dense that they challenge the viewer to look away, Chris Schuster commands attention. Anything but a traditionalist, his conceptual style communicates with the world with a relentless and needling emotional resonance. His approach might not be sterile, but that doesn’t have an impact on the clear obsession he has with his craft. Chris, who is one of the original three founders of Shutterclank!, recalls a few key “teachable moments” that led him to this point.
“I started shooting 35mm on the Leica M6 after falling into the Pacific Ocean with a Canon 1v,” he says. “I sent the Canon to get a CLA [cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted] after inadvertently submerging myself with the camera in tow. They called me up to laugh and tell me to go buy a new camera.”
Other than nearly drowning both himself and his camera, Chris has been taught by a few patient experts.
“I once forgot how to use my light meter for about three months until a great friend and mentor, Ed Coyle from Charleston, SC, told me I was doing it wrong. First he laughed, then he showed me how to use it again,” he says.
Other than taking pictures, Chris practices pottery and has a comprehensive understanding of electrical engineering in school. It’s these outside influences that allow his perspective of photography to be heavily influenced by curiosity and awareness of the world beyond his aperture.
“I think that photography is the best combination of chemistry and art,” Chris says. “Technology and art, too. And it also scares me. I’m literally capturing photos of light that bounce off of things and turn them into a 2D silver masterpiece.”
This premier New York exhibition in New York will allow him to shock the eyeballs of Williamsburg hipsters and seasoned art world veterans alike. Chris, along with the rest of Shutterclank!’s band of merry mischief-makers, is looking forward to taking the island by storm. He’s just thankful it’s not a desert island.
“If I was stuck on a deserted island and I could only bring one camera, it would be my Leica M4 with a 50mm summicron aspherical lens,” he says. “Also, if I was stuck on a deserted island, I would eat the Swedish Fish out of a Kool-Aid stream.”
And then he’d photograph it and Shutterclank! would put it in their magazine.
Jake Reinhart grew up in the same neighborhood as Chris; in fact, Jake remembers that Chris lived above an ice cream shop as a teenager. “He’s probably the smartest person I know,” Jake adds. “He’s my homie.”
Jake’s photography is rife with motion and visual gravel, with common subjects being basement punk shows, unconventional (and unconventionally hot) models, and Pittsburgh’s broken and character-filled streets.
Kate Contakos, the final prong in Shutterclank!’s founding pitchfork, is not only a photographer, but an active champion of paper and film. “I preserve paper and I believe in film,” she says. “It’s tangible, tactile. It will live on long after the moment.”
Capturing time seems to be a theme in Kate’s work, as her images often portray decremented, nearly barren landscapes and hypnagogic portraits that border on the surreal. She’s inspired by movies as well as her environment, and loves working on a larger scale.
“I like big negatives and printing big,” she explains. “Of late, I’m enjoying medium format over 35mm. But I’m moody, and it depends on what feels good that particular day. My first camera was a Pentax, but I have no real camera loyalty. I love my Nikon as much as my Leica and as much as my Mamiya, and I don’t really find one superior to the other.”
As for Shutterclank!, she believes its magnetism goes well beyond the fact that they’re seeking to preserve the history and tradition of film within the medium of photography.
“Shutterclank is not unique because we are photographers,” Kate says. “We’re unique because of our synergy. We’re photographers, film photographers, and we are publishers. We publish other photographers, which fosters relationships and furthers the traditional art of analog photography.”
Between the three of them, they’ve definitely figured out a formula that works in a short amount of time. Kate handles the writing, editing, and PR side of Shutterclank!, while Jake masters the design and layout, and Chris’ technical background and familiarity with programming allows for the magazine to effortlessly enter the realm of the Internet while preserving the trio’s spirit and vision.
“When we three get together to brainstorm and think up ideas and titles and plans, it comes together like magic,” Kate concludes.
And now the Brooklyn Artists Gym is further uniting Shutterclank! with its 2-D roots through the Innocence Lost exhibition. If you’re in the New York area, feed your eyes, and if you’re entranced by photography, click over to Shutterclank! and see what digital’s been missing.
Photographic Exhibition and Magazine Release for Shutterclank! – Innocence Lost
The Brooklyn Artists Gym
168 7th Street
Saturday December 03, 2011 from 7:30-11PM