Terri Weifenbach, Cloud Physics – Collector Daily

JTF (only facts): Published in 2021 by The Ice Plant (here) and Atelier EXB (here). Hardcover, 8.25 x 11 inches, 215 pages, 117 colors and 7 black and white photographs. Includes Los Liparte article. Design by Terri Weifenbach and Coline Aguettaz. (Cover and post the shots below.)

Comments/Context: American photographer Terry Weifenbach is 65 years old and lives in Paris. Over the course of her long career, which now spans four decades, three continents and twenty studies, she has honed a distinctive visual style. Her photographs typically feature natural scenes in bright summer lighting, taken in open apertures with a compressed depth of field. The concentrated material stands out prominently, while the backgrounds are muddy to turn into wide colours. This technology presented logistical challenges in the era of film. So far, thanks to digital tools, it’s still a little unusual. With a series of books including In your dreamsAnd Lana, And Between maple and chestnutWeifenbach claimed this little corner of the photoland as her personal fiefdom. It may appear stylized, or even deceptive. But no one can deny that she has developed a powerful visual sound, and her images are easily recognizable amidst a sea of ​​other contemporary works.

her last study Cloud Physics is located in the figure. Turn any many pages and leave no doubt: these naturalistic abstractions are undoubtedly from Weifenbach’s book. But with this book, she gave her work a new twist, a scientific idea alluded to in the title. Most of the images here fit in with the previous books. But the “normal” pictures are interspersed with pictures of gauges. Each instrument is depicted in its familiar style, with a narrow level of focus, and each one is accompanied on the previous page by a graph depicting data collected by that instrument in June 2014. This was the period of Weifenbach’s photographed visit to the Southern Great Plains Atmospheric Observatory (SGP). ), which is part of the Atmospheric Radiometry (ARM) facility in central Oklahoma.

SGP is the world’s premier climate research site, with countless tools to measure all aspects of the atmosphere. There is a measure of solar radiation, a measure of precipitation, another for documenting cloud density, and so on. Weifenbach pictures six of these machines for Cloud Physics. Captured at surface level in photographic form, they take on deceptive shapes. They are Susa constructions with bodily quirks mysterious to ordinary people. A man here, a crane there, strange screws installed there, etc. Even tool nicknames are jargon. One is called a ceiling gauge. Another is called Cimel Sun Photometer. There is a solar array spectrometer pointing to Zenith. Weifenbach’s trademark abstraction is a good match for their mystical qualities. The color charts they produce are equally bizarre, with lines and numbers denoting information. Everything is explained at the end in an easy to use backend pointer. But when we initially notice in the main stream of images, the effect is itchy. In this way it fits in well with the visual mood of the book, and it is also somewhat edgy and cunning. Surely there is a horse in that cloud above? Another viewer might be sure it’s an elephant.

These robotic devices are completely specialized, and their processes and outputs can only be accessed by trained scientists. It is not easy to wonder how Weifenbach’s photographic process compares. Are her photos aimed at a very narrow audience? Does it require some advanced training to digest? Although cameras have become ubiquitous in modern society—much more than atmospheric gauges—a camera in pure function is not much different from any other complex measuring instrument. It records the light hitting its sensor over a certain period of time, then spits out a “scheme” that documents the results. Back in the 1840s, the camera body might hit ordinary people as weird and mysterious. Fast forward to the present, and the modern viewer may find some aesthetic beauty in the raw data of a solar energy gauge or rain gauge. Are these charts art? Are pictures science? Cloud Physics It seems destined to raise such questions among readers, and to blur the boundaries of truth and beauty, just as any wide aperture blurs a subject.

However, machines are a relatively minor player here. Only a small part of Cloud Physics Dedicated to them, and most of the photos are not captured in SGP. Instead, they were collected by Weifenbach over the course of recent wanderings. Between 2014 and 2019 I traveled to Japan, Montana, Georgia, DC, California, and Wyoming, not to mention the suburbs of Paris I adopted. Judging from the photos collected here, she was shooting freely during most of her travels, and was well-adjusted for differences in temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind. “In nature every day is different,” she said in a recent interview. “The light, the way the water responds to the wind, the sky, the birds, the decay, they are all constant changes in the landscape.” A lot of the magic in these pictures comes from being totally joyful about being out in the world, observing its cycles and patterns. In a recent short review –Cloud Physics It was his favorite picture book of 2021 – John Gossig was profligate. “A book of pictures that navigate where you are, what you feel and what you know,” he wrote. “Terri’s most complex book with the most pictures, and the greatest ambition to get everything right while still always pretty. Fun.”

Regardless of the joy at the moment, the details of the place are somewhat lost in the shuffle Cloud Physics. The locations are given in a back index, but without this information it’s hard to pin down many slang details amid the weather mix. If this is Tuesday, it could be Japan, or maybe Wyoming. Wherever it is, Weifenbach sticks mostly to plants, clouds, water and wildlife. Humans swimming are shown in a few photos, along with some cultural artifacts. Hands are shown holding a snake and a scary point. One shot of the urban fabric, a dense overview of Tokyo appears towards the end, feeling somewhat lost and out of place, as it sometimes does to travelers in Japan. But for the most part, these are visual studies of cloud physics. Or, as Lucy Liebert later described them, “these color drawings represent a visual poem.”

This is Weifenbach’s first book with The Ice Plant. With the support of Guggenheim and several years of continuous work, she has produced her most important book to date, with over a hundred photographs. The sheer volume is aided by some thoughtful sequencing, in which groups of images are grouped roughly by tonality or subject matter. Section breaks are marked with double pages of charts/tools. If their niche functionality matches the overall atmosphere of the department’s photos, the connection is poor. Remember that these tools are bizarre, too bizarre to give them much aesthetic weight, and their output is ambiguous. In any case, the opening corridor feels its way through a dark forest, from which a mist falls, sometimes a downpour in frank rain. The photos eventually found a free space, with many photos of floral studies and bright spots. The book is veering towards the sky for a short time to reveal clouds, birds, fog, and a weather balloon. Then he returns to the wet forest, this time with a wonderful twilight. We see wood, fire, earth motifs and elements. Wildlife abounds. If not for the occasional ultramodern tool, it would all be primitive.

This isn’t an overtly political book, but it’s hard not to think about climate change when browsing funeral backgrounds in the context of exotic paraphernalia. All of these devices were set up in one of the Oklahoma fields, for the flow of information. They should pour out rock-hard evidence that the atmosphere is changing. I suspect this fact was at least partly motivated by the project, although it was never mentioned. The process may be slow, and the frog in the boiling pot is almost unnoticed, but it is relentless. Fortunately, this wonderful planet still has many places that feel relatively intact. Several of them appear here, and it looks very attractive. But change is coming, a simple case of cloud physics, X leads to Y. At some point in the not-too-distant future, this book might sound like a time capsule.

The caption list at the end is worth mentioning. It is a perfect and unique stadium. Under the simple heading “Data”, the images are listed in sequential order with place and date. This is a lot more standard, but the information extends further, listing temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, and barometric pressure for each shot. It’s not clear if Weifenbach took very good notes during the show or if she looked up the information later. Anyway, it’s a clever design touch, subtly reflecting the scientific idea in a fair way. The book tells you the facts. Indisputable. Make them whatever you like.

POV collector: Terri Weifenbach does not appear to have a consistent exhibition representation at this time. As a result, interested collectors will likely follow up directly with the artist via her website (linked in the sidebar).

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