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Eric Kunsman
Eric Kunsman
Eric Kunsman

Eric Kunsman

Country: United States
Birth: 1975

Eric T. Kunsman (b. 1975) was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While in high school, he was heavily influenced by the death of the steel industry and its place in American history. The exposure to the work of Walker Evans during this time hooked Eric onto photography. Eric had the privilege to study under Lou Draper, who became Eric's most formative mentor. He credits Lou with influencing his approach as an educator, photographer, and contributing human being.

Eric holds his MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and holds an MS in Electronic Publishing/Graphic Arts Media, BS in Biomedical Photography, BFA in Fine Art photography all from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Currently, he is a photographer and book artist based out of Rochester, New York. Eric works at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as a Lecturer for the Visual Communications Studies Department at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and is an adjunct professor for the School of Photographic Arts & Sciences.

In addition to lectures, he provides workshops on topics including his artistic practice, digital printing, and digital workflow processes. He also provides industry seminars for the highly regarded Printing Applications Lab at RIT. His photographs and books are exhibited internationally and are in several collections. He currently owns Booksmart Studio, which is a fine art digital printing studio, specializing in numerous techniques and services for photographers and book artists on a collaborative basis.

Eric's work has been exhibited in over 35 solo exhibitions at such venues as Nicolaysen Art Museum, Hoyt Institute of Fine Art, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, and numerous university galleries. His work has also been a part of over 150 group exhibitions over the past 4 four years including exhibitions at the Center for Photography, A. Smith Gallery, SPIVA, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, Spartanburg Museum of Art, Atlanta Photography Group, CEPA Gallery, Site:Brooklyn, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and many more.

Eric was named one of 10 B&W photographers to watch of 2018 by BWGallerist, B&W Best Photographers of the Year 2019 by Dodho Magazine, and won the Association of Photography (UK) Gold Award for Open Series in 2019, Finalist, Top 200 Critical Mass 2019, Top 15 Photographers for the Rust Belt Biennial. His Project Felicific Calculus was also awarded a Warhol Foundations Grant through CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, NY. Eric's work has also been published in magazines such as; LensWork, Dodho, B&W Photography along with online articles by Analog Forever Magazine, Catalyst: Interview, Texas Photo Society, and others. He is currently represented by HOTE Gallery in Los Angeles, CA and Malamegi in San Daniele del Friuli (Udine), Italy.

There's no "given," formula for what demands Eric's focus as a photographer. Eric is as drawn to the landscapes and neglected towns of the American southwest as he is to the tensions of struggling rustbelt cities in the U.S. northeast. Eric is attracted to objects left behind, especially those that hint at a unique human narrative, a story waiting to be told. Eric's current work explores one of those relics: working payphones hidden in plain sight throughout the neighborhood near his studio in Rochester, NY. Associates suggested they signified a high crime area. This project's shown Eric something very different.

Statement
Felicific Calculus: Technology as a Social Marker of Class, Race, & Economics in Rochester, NY

The felicific calculus is an algorithm formulated by jurist and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) for calculating the moral rightness of an action by balancing the probable pleasures and pains that it would produce. Bentham, a utilitarian philosopher, believed this calculus could, in principle, help determine the moral status of any considered act.

In 2017, I relocated my studio to a different part of Rochester, NY. Colleagues immediately started making comments along the lines of: "...that area's a war zone." My experience with the new neighborhood was positive, so I wanted to discover what visual cues others might be seeing as indicators of a dangerous environment. Several people had mentioned the number of payphones in the area, inferring that only criminals use payphones these days.

There really were a lot of payphones in my neighborhood. I began documenting them, and quickly saw that far from being used by criminals, these phones served as a lifeline for some of the poorest residents in the area. Looking deeper, I found the story behind Rochester's payphones reflected an unusually altruistic ‘felicific calculus' by Frontier Communications. Instead of focusing on profits, they had decided to maintain the payphones in poorer neighborhoods for the good of the community.

Many policymakers have opted to view payphones as a social indicator of crime, unfortunately leading to ignorant or even dangerous decisions.

In Detroit, Michigan, politicians had all public payphones removed without studying or surveying their actual use.They simply assumed the criminal connection. This decision was based on a further assumption that everyone today must own a mobile phone. Decision-makers lacking facts or any real understanding of issues facing citizens from a different economic class just acted on a misperception.

Witnessing that type of reflexive judgement from my colleagues drove me to educate myself. I photographed payphones and mapped their locations, then overlaid them with census maps showing economic status, ethnicity, age and sex, and the city crime map. There was an immediate, direct correlation between the poverty level and location of the payphones. Areas with the most payphones coincided with Rochester neighborhoods where the average family incomes are lower than $20,000 annually. There was also no correlation with high crime neighborhoods.

Through Felicific Calculus I hope to challenge negative perceptions of social markers that conflate poverty with crime. Though they are relics to most of us, payphones remain important for residents trapped in lower economic circumstances.
 

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2001
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Robert finds that split second of humor or truth telling and that instant of social documentation or absurdity that makes us not only laugh at ourselves, but also laugh and feel embarrassed all at the same time. Or should I say, at The Right Time." (Aline Smithson, from the foreword to the book „Right Time Right Place“) “Right Time Right Place” was awarded the Special Prize of the Czech Center of Photography at the Photo Annual Awards 2012. A photo from the series won the New York Photo Award 2012 in the category Fine Art. Exclusive Interview with Robert Rutöd:AAP: When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?At a certain point I can't remember. I guess, at the moment when I was pleased with my photographs.AAP: Where did you study photography?I'm self-taught...AAP: How long have you been a photographer?In total, maybe twenty years, with shorter and a long breaks and also a hiatus for more than ten years.AAP: Do you remember your first shot? 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Camera, lens, digital, film?One digital camera, one good lens.AAP: What or who inspires you?Since my work is not staged, I'm only inspired when the photographic event unfolds before my eyes, a reverse brainstorming so to speak.AAP: Do you spend a lot of time editing your images?Yes, to edit my own photographs is sometimes a lengthy process. The pictures have to go through some tests to be integrated into an ongoing project. This decision-making is sometimes damn hard to reach; it helps to let a few weeks or even months pass.AAP: What advice would you give a young photographer?Not to listen to any advice...AAP: What mistake should a young photographer avoid?None! 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Now the good: I'm very happy about the positive echo that my series "Right Time Right Place" caused since its release about a year ago, including my participation in festivals in Los Angeles, Copenhagen, Delhi, or recently at the Miami Street Photography Festival. In January 2014, my project will be a solo exhibition to be seen. “eigensinnig“ (stubborn) is the name of the new gallery in Vienna, whose founder Toni Tramezzini, is aiming to show something that is rarely seen in this city: something that's not serial, not conceptual, not staged photography.
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Schizothymic baby-boomer, at the age of 12 Francis takes refuge in computer science and excels in this field despite social and academic failure. In 1996, as he becomes an engineer, he meets the need to preserve memories of the Moment and tries photography. Gradually, this utopia fades to give way to the sensitivity he has so long repressed. 20 years later, he is an accomplished self-taught artist through the study of technique and the masters who inspire him such as Raymond Depardon, Rafael Minkkinen and Daido Moriyama. Key encounters have formed his photographic approach to bring him to social contact and staging. He then abandons computer sciences to exploit his bubbling creativity, full of sensitivity. The human being is then at the center of his work, after the fashion of the "Self" (Freud), which lies between unconscious desires and moral standards. Affected by the death of a friend, he undertakes a strong introspection that will highlight neuroses that he crystallizes through nude photography. In 2011, he begins the "IN SITU" project about mental escape, a phenomenon that concerns him. In 2014, he develops a shooting process to build the "AQUATIC" series. In 2017, the images encounter a great success, are published and exhibited at the FEPN in Arles, namely with the festival bill. With his installation in the heart of the Saint Anne chapel, Francis goes beyond photography to offer a contemporary art installation which sublimates female energy. Artist Statement The human element is a fantastic material. I like observing bodies, their movements and expressions, sometimes with the idea of appropriating them. The part that fascinates me the most, because almost inaccessible, is the soul, at the head of the personality with its tastes, emotions and especially its history. Then comes the complex relationship to society, which evolves with environment and time. I approach the person naturally with openness and sensitivity, on the lookout for singularities that may resonate in me. From object, "the other" becomes a proper individual, whose distinguishable particles and sub-particles I highlight. The main theme of the work I am presenting is that of the relation to reality : whereas the physical body is submitted to the present, imagination is free to roam without constraint in time and space. The ambiguity of this permanent oscillation between rational and irrational, resignation and escape, motivates me in my research where letting go is the motto. The plurality of my projects illustrates the richness of mental spaces that I have visited. Whether dreamlike or real, I put limits only in the possible interpretation of the codes that I use.
John Rankin
United Kingdom
1966
Synonymous with compelling portraiture, Rankin's lens captures, creates and unveils icons. Rankin made his name in publishing, founding the seminal monthly magazine Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack in 1992. It provided a platform for innovation for emerging stylists, designers, photographers and writers. The magazine went on to forge a distinctive mark in the arts and publishing spheres, and developed a cult status forming and moulding trends, and bringing some of the brightest lights in fashion to the foreground. Rankin has created landmark editorial and advertising campaigns. His body of work features some of the most celebrated publications, biggest brands and pioneering charities, including Nike, Swatch, Dove, Pantene, Diageo, Women's Aid, and Breakthrough Breast Cancer. He has shot covers for Elle, German Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and Wonderland. His work has always endeavoured to question social norms and ideas of beauty and, in late 2000, Rankin published the heteroclite quarterly Rank, an experimental anti-fashion magazine celebrating the unconventional. In 2001, Jefferson and Rankin launched AnOther Magazine. With a focus on fashion, originality, and distinction. In response to the expanding menswear market, in 2005 AnOther Man was introduced, combining intelligent editorial with groundbreaking design and style. More recently, the Dazed Group has established itself as an online authority, via AnOthermag.com, Dazeddigital.com and Dazedtv.com. Rankin celebrated Dazed & Confused's 20th anniversary, shooting 20 front covers of Dazed favourites and 20 inside covers of the next generation of talent, for the December 2011 issue. Tapping into the consciousness of the 90s and 00s with his intimate approach and playful sense of humour, Rankin became known for his portraiture of bands, artists, supermodels and politicians. Having photographed everyone from the Queen of England to the Queen of Pop, Rankin is often seen as a celebrity photographer. However, his plethora of campaigns and projects featuring 'real women' marked him out as a genuinely passionate portrait photographer, no matter who the subject. Always pursuing personal projects which push his limits, high impact charity projects, and groundbreaking commercial campaigns, Rankin has stood out for his creative fearlessness. His first major worldwide and award-winning campaign - Dove's 'Real Women' - epitomised his approach: to reveal the honesty of the connection and collaborative process between photographer and subject. Personal or commercial, Rankin's images have become part of contemporary iconography, evidence of his frankness and passion for all aspects of modern culture, and its representation in the photographed image. Rankin has published over 30 books, is regularly exhibited in galleries around the world, as well as his own London gallery. His museum-scale exhibition 'Show Off' opened at NRW Dusseldorf in September 2012, pulling in over 30,000 visitors in 3 months. In the last few years, he has frequently turned his hand to studies of photography through TV presenting. Working with the BBC, he has featured in a number of seminal documentaries - 'The Seven Photographs that Changed Fashion', 'South Africa in Pictures', 'Shooting the Stars', 'The Life Magazine Photographers' and most recently, an in-depth documentary into the modern approach to death in, 'Alive: In the Face of Death'. His affiliation with charities has seen Rankin travel the world, creating powerful campaigns both as a photographer and a director. With Oxfam, he visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya, and in 2011 hosted an Oxglam exhibition, featuring work from some of the world's most talented emerging young photographers, and raising money for the charity. 2013 sees a planned trip to Jordan and Lebanon with Oxfam. In 2009, Rankin undertook the biggest project of his career - Rankin Live, a mammoth, interactive spectacle and exhibition. Always interested in the democratisation of the image, and also a keen advocate of the amazing digital advances of the photographic industry, Rankin Live was the culmination of the accessibility and speed of modern photography. Rankin proved that everyone can look like a magazine cover star as, for 7 straight weeks, he photographed people off the street, one every 15 minutes - retouching, printing and hanging the image within half an hour of the shutter being fired. Rankin photographed over 1600 Londoners, before then taking Rankin Live on tour in Mexico and New York. In 2011, Rankin Film Productions was born. Rankin developed a taste for film directing music videos, commercials, and short films with co-director Chris Cottam between 2002 and 2009, including their debut feature film, The Lives of Saints. Written by Toni Grisoni (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), it won the grand jury prize at the Salento International Film Festival. Since 2009, Rankin has continued to direct independently on both commercial and personal projects. Taking on the new role of Executive Producer, Rankin recently founded Collabor8te, in association with The Bureau and Dazed TV. Collabor8te calls on scriptwriters and directors to submit their ideas for narrative film, promising to turn a selection of these dreams into a reality, producing them, featuring them on Dazed TV, and running them on the international film festival circuit. In November 2011, Rankin returned to magazine publishing with a fresh offering - The Hunger. A biannual fashion, culture and lifestyle magazine, The Hunger and its associated Hunger TV website - a video-based digital platform featuring in-depth interviews, fashion films, blogs, updates, and previews - marked Rankin's return to the fashion world with an understanding that the future is not only printed but digital too. Rankin lives in London with his wife, Tuuli, and son, Lyle.
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