Odyssey: Photographs by Linda Connor

Overview

Linda Connor's world-renowned photographs are global and sublime. For thirty years she has created distinctively glowing, contemplative images of nature and religious sites around the world using a large-format camera and glass-plate negatives. This career-spanning retrospective collects Connor's haunting photos, including her renowned prints from century-old glass-plate astronomical negatives from Lick Observatory, contextualized by an unprecedented three-way conversation between Linda and two modern luminaries,...

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Overview

Linda Connor's world-renowned photographs are global and sublime. For thirty years she has created distinctively glowing, contemplative images of nature and religious sites around the world using a large-format camera and glass-plate negatives. This career-spanning retrospective collects Connor's haunting photos, including her renowned prints from century-old glass-plate astronomical negatives from Lick Observatory, contextualized by an unprecedented three-way conversation between Linda and two modern luminaries, Robert Adams and Emmet Gowin. Published to coincide with a major touring exhibition, Odyssey is a long overdue celebration of a modern photographic master.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

For more than 30 years, Connor has traveled the world and photographed surreal landscapes and exotic structures in India, Indonesia, Turkey, Cambodia, Egypt, Tibet, and the American Southwest. More than 140 of these images are included in this oversized picture book, which accompanies a touring exhibition. Made with a large-format camera and vintage printing techniques, Connor's work evokes an ethereal, spiritual quality. The power and complexity of her images are the topic of a transcribed conversation with legendary Emmet Gowin, Robert Adams, and Connor herself. This conversation is a valuable collection of insights about Connor's influences as well as her place within the larger canon of fine art photography. Presently, Connor is professor of art at the San Francisco Art Institute. For part of her long career, Connor worked extensively with printing antique astronomical photographs as noted in the featured critical essay by William L. Fox. Her earlier works include On the Music of the Spheres: Photographs by Linda Connor, Poems by Charles Simic(1996) and Solos: Photographs by Linda Connor(1979). Recommended for all collections.
—Shauna Frischkorn

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811865012
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 10/29/2008
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2009

    striking photographs from North Africa to southeast Asia

    Linda Connor perfected her method of developing photographs from glass negatives and contact print from her connection with the Lick Observatory in California through the photographer Jerry Burchand, her instructor when she was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute in the late 1960s. This was the way the Observatory developed its photographs--astrophotographs--of stars and other celestial phenomena when it went into operation upon its completion in 1888. Both the celestial, cosmological, subject matter and also the way the older type of photography captured the light of the heavens attracted Connor to this method. Starting in 1980 and through to today, she has used the method she perfected for her own unique photographs from travels in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

    The 142 photographs are not travel photography despite the obvious foreignness of their content. The content of a Connor photograph is not a subject per se. The content is instead an occasion, so to speak, for the actual subject Connor is aiming for--which is light, the light cast through the universe, the light of the stars and the galaxies, and the light falling on the content of the photographs, which is the same light always and everywhere.

    "What links Chartres cathedral to the bedrock chapels of Cappadocia in Turkey to the neolithic caves in New Mexico...[is] how light is received from the heavens," William Fox writes in his essay "In Fields of Light" preceding the two interviews. He ends the essay with the note that light as captured in Connor's photographs is "an elegant manifestation of how humans construct the sacred."

    Connor's photographs go beyond religion to the sacred so that terms such as spirituality seem only so much fluff and faith or belief seem afterthoughts. The large majority of the photographs show Buddhas, parts of mosques, shaven-headed monks, sculptures, veiled Islamic women, the banks of the Ganges, a scared cow, and the like which are associated with Asian religions and spirituality; and which have been pictured before by mostly Western travelers and photographers to record their spiritual quest or as something like spiritual proselytization. Connor's photographs are distinctive from such common ones, however, for the austere, eternal light in them. To turn to Fox's essay again for apropos remarks, "[T]here are doorways and windows and occuli through which light from above is brought into a sacred interior...as it was when pre-technological peoples calibrated where sunlight would fall on the solstice when they were laying out a stone ring."

    There's a touch which connotes that the photographs are not of subjects as this is ordinarily understood: They have no captions with them; the captions, or titles, are in a list at the back of the book. As Connor discusses in one of the interviews, captions would interfere with the intent of the photographs; which is mainly bringing the viewer into contact with the sacred. Connor intends for viewers to "suspend their analytic logic [to] shift to a visual realm" so they can experience the "indescribable," the essence of the sacred. This is like vision where as Paul Valery put it, "To see is to forget the name of the thing one sees."

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    Posted April 20, 2009

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