Industrial grunge as art

Tom Teutenberg
Tom Teutenberg
Tom Teutenberg
Tom Teutenberg

INDUSTRIAL grunge comes to mind when viewing Gisborne photographer Tom Teutenberg’s black and white pictures.

Among them are images of urban hardware such as a a traffic light next to the train tracks; cable guy-lines in cracked plastic insulation, or a a buckled gate.

The pictures also bring to mind early modernist Marcel Duchamp’s fascination with existential ennui, entropy and the non-aesthetic.

Taking the same 10 minute route to work gives Teutenberg the opportunity to observe closely and to find something to photograph most of us would walk past. The use of old school, black and white film draws Teutenberg to observe texture and tone rather than colour effects seen in sunsets.

“Photographs of sunsets don’t interest me,” he says.

“I like the gritty stuff no one looks at. A lot of it is random, every day stuff.

“I’m not shooting for anyone. I’m going out to see what I see. I’m not concerned with how people see them. I’ve had comments like ‘I’ve walked past that a hundred times and have never seen it’.

“It’s nice to help people see things.”

In Man Ray’s 1920 gelatin silver print, Dust Breeding, a wire diagram in Duchamp’s masterpiece The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, is coated with dust. Over time the dust has attracted more of itself to itself. Man Ray’s picture of an artwork that deals with the entropic and accidental is an artwork itself.

Is random stuff in a frame art?

When random, every day, entropic, stuff is put into a frame does it become art?

“Probably,” says Teutenberg.

He has no conscious philosophy about a way of seeing he wants to pursue in his photography, he says.

“That’s yet to develop.”

To coin a phrase.

Teutenberg is also attracted to the New Zealandness of Ans Westra’s black and white pictures and uses the same type of camera, a box-like Yashica Mat-125 TLR (twin lens reflex).

The camera uses rolls of medium format, 12 frame film. It has one lens for looking at the subject and another lens to shoot the picture. The photographer views the image by flipping up the lid of the camera and looking down into the “box”.

“People don’t think you’re looking at them. In Ans Westra’s shots people are often unselfconscious. If I take shots of people I try to stay invisible.”

In the digital age where pictures can be printed at a Warehouse Stationary machine, Teutenberg’s darkroom in which he develops negatives and prints the old-fashioned way is heartening. Social media though provides an instant platform. Teutenberg scans his pictures and posts them on Instagram @thomasteutenberg. They are then posted on Facebook where they can be viewed at tinyurl.com/yaeaanue.

Teutenberg doesn’t live far from where he works so he tries to “see things” with his photographer’s eye as he walks to into town.

“Because I’ve come back to my hometown everything could be a bit boring so I’m trying to see things again. You notice details you never stopped to take in. A lot of it is forgotten or ignored.”

INDUSTRIAL grunge comes to mind when viewing Gisborne photographer Tom Teutenberg’s black and white pictures.

Among them are images of urban hardware such as a a traffic light next to the train tracks; cable guy-lines in cracked plastic insulation, or a a buckled gate.

The pictures also bring to mind early modernist Marcel Duchamp’s fascination with existential ennui, entropy and the non-aesthetic.

Taking the same 10 minute route to work gives Teutenberg the opportunity to observe closely and to find something to photograph most of us would walk past. The use of old school, black and white film draws Teutenberg to observe texture and tone rather than colour effects seen in sunsets.

“Photographs of sunsets don’t interest me,” he says.

“I like the gritty stuff no one looks at. A lot of it is random, every day stuff.

“I’m not shooting for anyone. I’m going out to see what I see. I’m not concerned with how people see them. I’ve had comments like ‘I’ve walked past that a hundred times and have never seen it’.

“It’s nice to help people see things.”

In Man Ray’s 1920 gelatin silver print, Dust Breeding, a wire diagram in Duchamp’s masterpiece The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, is coated with dust. Over time the dust has attracted more of itself to itself. Man Ray’s picture of an artwork that deals with the entropic and accidental is an artwork itself.

Is random stuff in a frame art?

When random, every day, entropic, stuff is put into a frame does it become art?

“Probably,” says Teutenberg.

He has no conscious philosophy about a way of seeing he wants to pursue in his photography, he says.

“That’s yet to develop.”

To coin a phrase.

Teutenberg is also attracted to the New Zealandness of Ans Westra’s black and white pictures and uses the same type of camera, a box-like Yashica Mat-125 TLR (twin lens reflex).

The camera uses rolls of medium format, 12 frame film. It has one lens for looking at the subject and another lens to shoot the picture. The photographer views the image by flipping up the lid of the camera and looking down into the “box”.

“People don’t think you’re looking at them. In Ans Westra’s shots people are often unselfconscious. If I take shots of people I try to stay invisible.”

In the digital age where pictures can be printed at a Warehouse Stationary machine, Teutenberg’s darkroom in which he develops negatives and prints the old-fashioned way is heartening. Social media though provides an instant platform. Teutenberg scans his pictures and posts them on Instagram @thomasteutenberg. They are then posted on Facebook where they can be viewed at tinyurl.com/yaeaanue.

Teutenberg doesn’t live far from where he works so he tries to “see things” with his photographer’s eye as he walks to into town.

“Because I’ve come back to my hometown everything could be a bit boring so I’m trying to see things again. You notice details you never stopped to take in. A lot of it is forgotten or ignored.”

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