M O S S L E S S – I S S U E – 3 : T H E – U N I T E D – S T A T E S
Internet Famous, friends of Tammy Mercure and how I ended up in Vice, a review of Mossless Issue 3 The United States (2003-2013) – Carl Gunhouse.
Mossless Issue #3 is a body of work that does a pretty good job of showing what the last decade of American culture has looked like. At the same time, it showcases the strength of the once ghettoized artistic sub-genre of straight photography and crafts it into something that conveys a personal meaning while continuing to bear witness to the world. But then again, I do have a number of pictures in the issue, so it stands to reason it would be good. So this might not be the most impartial of reviews.
I no longer remember how I ended up in Mossless #3 or how I got to know Romke and Grace aka Mossless. I had been a fan of them on Tumblr for sometime, and I assume that I submitted work to them. But my ego is healthy enough to believe that they may have asked me to be in Mossless because they knew my work. Because over the last year or so, I feel I have had my first taste of fame as an artist, or, to be exact, as a photographer who has done a bunch of work online. And to be clear, I mean fame in that more than once in the last couple of months, I had people introduce themselves to me and say they were fans, of my work, which is endlessly flattering. Each time, I find myself retelling the story for a week or so to my friends and family.
I think in many ways it started with becoming internet friends with Tammy Mercure. If you are looking at photography online, you might know Tammy as being in everything. I was a fan of her pictures because they were good, and we shared some similar subject matter. I am not sure who contacted who, but once I started following her on Tumblr, which is something I do nowadays, I saw that, hot damn, she was turning up in a lot of cool things online. As someone who made work that was in a similar vein, and again with a healthy enough ego, I thought my work was as good as Tammy’s and felt that I would like to be in some cool things online. So when I saw Tammy was in something, I looked it up, and if there were an option to submit, I would send along a portfolio. And to feed my growing self-worth, I too got into some cool things online. And this led to following the cool places that were nice enough to post my pictures. I also followed the other photographer posted in these cool places, and like a pre-internet punk kid, I scoured the other places that people were in and started submitting to those places too. And wham, ended up in a lot of other things. To the point that I occasionally forget how I ended up in things or how I first met people or even how I know them.
So out of this wave of submitting work and doing my best to follow other photographers I like and had a similar standing in the world were doing, I found myself in an upcoming issue of Mossless. And without warning had my pictures featured on the photography blog that Mossless runs on Vice. And I can tell you, undergrads sure do follow Vice, because I went a good week where I had kids from semesters ago come up to me in the hall, a little dumfounded that I was on Vice. My standing response was, “and they didn’t even make me wear tight pants.” Which I think may have undermined any cool points I might have earned from being on Vice. But it felt good to impress my students and even older people, who seemed to be even more impressed though I suspect don’t really follow Vice at all. Needless to say I was very grateful to Romke and Grace for being so supportive.
When the crowd-funded, inch-thick issue #3 finally came out, I volunteered to save them the shipping and swing by their place to get my copy. So I got my first peek at the magazine / book while sitting on their couch. I spent most of the time going, “oh shit they’re in it too, oh rad I know them from… “ The whole thing felt like a yearbook of current photographers who I know mostly in passing via the internet, or meeting at an opening, through a friend of a friend, or just as a straight-up fan of their work. So I am pretty honored to be seen, at least by Mossless, as on the same playing field with lots of people I genuinely admire. I am not talking about the heavyweights in the book, like Trevor Paglen, Daniel Shea, Lisa Kereszi, or Paul D’Amato, all people who are museum-level Chelsea-showing types. Not even people like Angela Strassheim or Anna Collette, who I went to grad school with, or personal friends like Matthew Schenning (I still have your copy of Mossless #3 for you), and Jason John Würm.
What I was really psyched about was the large swath of people whose work I knew from the internet, some who live far from major art hubs like New York and Los Angeles, some of whom didn’t necessarily have an MFA but due to the internet had, like me, ended up in this rather well put together collection of pictures. People like Timothy Briner, Thomas Gardiner, Sean Stewart, Nelson Chan, Juan Madrid, Justin James Reed, Curran Hatleberg, Bryan Schutmaat, Ilona Szwarc, Thomas Prior, Keith Yahrling, Santiago Mostyn, Morgan Ashcom and the rest of the rad 131-some photographers in the magazine / book.
Which leads to my only two criticisms. First off, Mossless #3 is more than 500 pictures, which is a lot. I’ve owned the book for months now, and I am still not sure I’ve found the photographs by Trevor Paglen. No doubt, the issue is a wonderful exposition of a time in America’s history, but the individual pictures do get lost at times, and it can be a little overwhelming to try to get through the whole thing in a sitting. But curating a group of work into a new idea that becomes a thing unto itself is a valid, if not preferable, way of curating. It is still just a lot of pictures.
Which makes my second complaint all the more confusing. Now, the internet can have a way of bending itself to your own view of the world, but, man, how is Tammy Mercure who is in everything on the internet, not in this magazine / book? Her work is certainly on par and covering a lot of the same terrain as others who are included. It just seems like such a natural fit. I started writing this almost under the assumption that she was in the issue. Even so, I can highly recommend Mossless #3. It is the equivalent of a year of cruising the internet for art photographs in one publication.
– Carl Gunhouse.