This is the place I'd like to present some more or less obvious, obscure, strange, funny connections I have to think of while exploring Viggo's art. Input from readers is more than welcome.

LOMOGRAPHY (added on 10. Dec. 06)

Confronted with Viggo's photography for the first time, especially "live" at the Ephemeris exhibition in Odense, I immediately recalled LOMOGRAPHY, a movement in photography I heard about for a first time from TV few months earlier.

The name comes from LOMO, a Russian factory producing a variety of optical devices. Among them was Lomo Kompakt Automat camera, a compact, sturdy and cheap camera which lens produced some... let's call it "effects", especially when fed with colour films.

In 1993 the camera was discovered by two students in Vienna. They started a movement that quickly became popular in the world. The main idea is to produce pictures that are deliberately low tech, ommiting rules of composition etc., spontanity being the main and only motto. I can imagine that this kind of artistic expression attracts people who felt held back by many technical requirements of (especially analog) "classical" photography.

From Wikipedia: Lomography emphasizes casual, snapshot photography. Accidents such as over-saturated colors, lens artifacts, and exposure defects are rehabilitated to produce swirly, abstract effects — a trait emphasized by practitioners. Others use the technique to document everyday life, because the small camera size and ability to shoot in low light encourages candid photography, photo reportage and photo vérité.

Now comes what makes me cringe everytime an underground movement goes commercial: Not only Lomography became a registered trademark, but there are cameras and equipment produced especially for this kind of photography.

I didn't know anything about Viggo's approach back then, what I know now is not really much more, but looking at some of his pictures makes me think about at least some of 10 Rules of Lomography:

1. Take your LOMO everywhere you go & whenever you go.
2. Use it anytime — day or night.
3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of it.
4. Shoot from the hip.
5. Approach the objects of your lomographic desire as close as possible.
6. Don't think.
7. Be fast.
8. You don't have to know beforehand what you've captured on film.
9. You don't have to know afterwards, either.
10. Don't worry about the rules.

Links with further information:

KINETIC PHOTOGRAPHY (added on 10. Dec. 06)

I spent hours trying to find photographers making "light paintings" the way Viggo does and found nothing. I never saw anything similar before, but I was also quite sure that the idea cannot be completely new.

The success by searching the net is mostly dependent on the right combination of terms you feed Google with, and in that case it was "kinetic photography". Suddenly there was plenty of hits, but what I found was not what I expected. Against my expectations it seems that indeed the technique is new. In August 2005 Ryan Gallagher frustrated about his cheap digital camera threw it into air and got an interesting image. He refined the technique he called Camera Toss and presented his photos in the internet. Soon he found followers and now there is a quite well established community in the web. In february 2006 Ryan had his first exhibition in Hamburg, Germany (which I sadly missed), another exhibitions take place in Los Angeles and Florence (May 2007)

Again, here comes the commerce: as soon as in September 2006 there was the first camera designed for tossing, SatuGo. I don't know how you feel, but for me, alone the existence of such designer product takes away some of the "underground" feeling to the whole movement. There is even more -- Adobe used some of the images shot by members of Camera Toss community for packages of new products.

Personally, after discovering this, I felt deprived of something precious. Viggo's first light paintings seem to be two Fototeca pictures exhibited in Odense, and they are dated 2003. Viggo doesn't throw his camera, but the idea behind the pictures and often the effects are quite similar. As soon as someone found out how it works, Viggo's followers from many communities tried similar technique mostly calling the pics Viggographies. I really love the pictures of Camera Tossers, but... well, they weren't first. The only consolation I have is the fact, that unlike Viggo, Ryan Gallagher and Camera Toss still have no entry in Wikipedia. ;-)

I still haven't found any information if anyone tried kinetic photography before Viggo and Ryan. Which is really hard to believe.

Links with further information:

CIRCULAR FRAME (added on 4. Jan. 07)

Although we know that the circular pictures made by Viggo are caused by a broken lens (see Special(D)Effects), and their edges are covered by the lense's tubus, actually any image taken with any lens is circular. Because the quality of the picture gets worse towards edges, what we usually get on film is a smaller rectangular cutout of its center.

At the beginnings of photography round shaped pictures were common though. Also pictures made with pinhole cameras (a camera with a very small hole instead of a lense) can be round. You can get round pictures with a fisheye lens as well, but unlike the other methods, fisheye pictures show strongly altered perspective with straight lines becoming curved, objects near the camera are strongly magnified etc.

There are plenty of fisheye images and pinhole pictures showing vignettes (that's how the black unexposed edges are called), but it was surprisingly hard to find modern photographers using the old technique and utilizing the whole image from a lense. One I found is Kerik Kouklis.

The black frame from Viggo's pictures works better for me than a white mask used for the old photograps (and by Kouklis), but it is a matter of taste. Surrounded by darkness the images feel to me like looking through a keyhole, or a long-glass, or a microscope, or like a tunnel vision. Which gives them a special dreamy touch. I tried to make round pictures too and found them quite interesting compared with the same motive shot in the usual way, although some people I asked for opinion didn't like them. And no, I don't use Photoshop, but a black plastic tube that matches the lense's diameter. If you are faking Viggo you better do it right :-)

Links with further information:


First I have to express my gratefullnes to Naja from FOP for finding the multiple connection between Viggo and the work of American anthropologist James Mooney.

From Naja's post: Now, I'm sure I'm not the only one to notice the striking similarity to Viggo's pictures, especially the "Hindsight" ones, although with him, the effect was caused by something entirely different (the housing of his lense became loose).
Please note: These pictures are not generally known, they are NOT in the published book, only in the national Anthropological Archives, it's not impossible Viggo saw them, but not very likely he did
I'd say it was a very weird coincidence, only I don't believe in coincidence! What then, an echo of history? A parallel universe? Anyway, I find it very exciting!

Mooney went to the Indian Territory to do his research on Cherokee tribe for the Bureau of Ethnology, when Ghost Dance began to spread among native Americans, so he asked for permission to investigate that subject. He documented (and also been allowed to tak part in) the ceremony during 1890 and 1891.

The (probably painted) pictures based on the photographs were published in 1896 in Mooney's book "The Ghost-Dance Religion and the Sioux Outbreak of 1890" and may be well known, especially for someone researching the matter, as Viggo's surely done preparing for Hidalgo. Mooney is both quoted and thanked in Miyelo, but the question is if Viggo had seen the original pictures, made with one of the two cameras used by Mooney, a Kodak No.2.

The photographs can be seen in an article Imaging and Imagining the Ghost Dance: James Mooney's Illustrations and Photographs, 1891-1893 by Thomas W. Kavanagh

I can only councur Naja's opinion that similarity between them and some of Viggo's pictures taken during Hidalgo shooting is striking. There is the theme: Mooney depicted the life of the tribes and also the Wounded Knee Massacre in his book, as Viggo did in Miyelo. Both were accepted by the Native Americans and allowed to take part in their rituals: Mooney in the Dance itself, Viggo in the reenacting of it and in the Big Foot Ride. There is the circular frame of the pictures (even showing some inrregularities like reflections of light in the lens). There is the shadow of photographers (Mooney and his assistent) on the ground looking like those from Ride 21,22 and Ride 53-54. There are also some blurrs in Mooney's pictures caused by long exposure (which was quite common in that time). Even the Miyelo series have something in common with the circular pictures made by Mooney, despite them being two extremes of shape. Both series were made with one roll of film!

Links with further information:

FRANK GRISDALE (added on 25. Jun. 07)

"When working on my images I often think about the root meaning for the word Photography, which is Drawing with Light "

I found Frank Grisdale while searching for photographers using long expositions to get deliberately blurred images. Although his images are very different from Viggo's work, I think they are really interesting and above all really beautiful.

BILL ARMSTRONG (added on 25. Jun. 07)

Actually I found him while looking for the meaning of "Armstrong" (Viggo's painting) for the Glossary. Another interesting way of making photos

From an exhibition note at De Santos Gallery:

In art doing what you are not supposed to do, occasionally bears interesting results. (...) Bill Armstrong's poetics defies traditional photographic practice in two ways. First, he does not photograph objects in the world, but rather objects that already are incipient representations –namely, collages he himself produces with different color papers. Secondly, he photographs these collages not focusing on them but on whatever lies beyond them at an infinite focal distance. This subversive photographic tandem generates a vast array of images with blurred edges and arresting colors.