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Vanity Fair’s Todd Eberle: Liveblog

October 21st, 2011

Starting at noon today, Vanity Fair’s photographer-at-large Todd Eberle will be giving a talk about his new book, Empire of Space. If you couldn’t make it out to hear him speak, you can follow along on our Liveblog right here instead! You can find out more about Todd at
Holly, Internet & Social Media Content Coordinator

12.02 Weston Family Learning Centre seminar room 3 is packed to the rafters. Clearly lots of anticipation for this talk!

12.05 Todd Eberle is here, looking dapper in trademark hat and scarf.

12.05 Program Coordintor Gilian McIntyre is introducing TE. “Eberle is best known for his interpretative photographs of iconic subject matter.”

12.07 TE is on stage talking about his new book, released back in April. ‘It represents a 30 year span of time and took me three years to compile.’

‘I photograph a number of disparate subjects which is unusual… People rarely go beyond their boundaries. Taking a photograph of something immortalises, elevates it and I get to photograph a lot of iconic things.’

‘Walker Evans had a book where every spread was a pair of images with some relationship to each other. This idea inspired me – you can riff on this pairing idea.’

12.11 TE is going to show us some spreads from his book. The first shows a pair of pictures which reference Chanel.

‘Once I started to pursue the idea of pairs I began to think very abstractly.’

12.14 TE is talking about his obsession with high modernism.

Next shot: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water
I took 5 shots of this building as a teenager – it’s the oldest picture in the book.

‘I’m formally untrained and completely self-taught. I understood that there’s a relationship between art and architecture which is often overlooked.’

12.17 Next shot: Hilary Clinton/Florence Noel
‘I get to meet alot of interesting people… This was the first attempt to soften Hilary’s image which wasn’t completely successful. I knew she was self-conscious about her calves so I made an attempt to hide it.’

‘Florence in this picture – celebration of the last of the living modernists – she became v private and only agreed to be photographed because a friend agreed to participate in this series.’

12.21 ‘There are a number of people in my book who are no longer livi. I’m happy they get to be memorialised in a nice way.’

12.23 ‘I started to see in pairs – like the rotunda of Thomas Jefferson’s house and CERN’s hadron collider.’ (Two striking circular images – HK)

12.25 Shot: Photograph from the roof of the Whitehouse on a day Clinton had gone to Kosovo – there was a marine helicopter practice/ the same Whitehouse lawn during the Obama inauguration.

12.28 TE is talking about the challenges and pressures he faced in shooting/documenting the Oval Office. ‘I photographed the President’s POV of the office.’

12.30 Shot: Bedroom in the nose of Airforce One (during Clinton’s presidency)/TE’s Grandparents’ House
Harrison Ford was allowed on board to take notes prior to filming the movie.

12.33 Shot: Sunset in Conneticut/Sunset in a Frederick Church painting
‘I started to see the world in a different light as a result of the book.’

12.37 Shot: A pair of garden paths – TE’s grandmother redrafted her garden – this is her garden prior to a visit from Martha Stewart, and again years later when she had lost her sight.’ (Very neat to overgrown – HK)

‘The book became about time, memory, history, loss, destruction, age.’

12.43 ‘My boyfriend sequenced the shots in such a way that it became a narrative, a biography.’

12.45 TE is showing a series of pairings between drag queens and Rorsach-esque flowers, a homage to Andy Warhol.

12.48 Shot: Iggy Pop portrait/ a distressed black sofa (the cover of the book). ‘A fetishished detail of a destroyed Barcelona chair.’

12.50 Floor is now open for questions.

Q Do you use photoshop?
A I use it in a subtle way. I tweak little things but you could hardly see the difference. I heighten the colour occasionally.

Q Has the book changed how you think about the world?
A I see in pairs now – it’s bizarre

‘I don’t know why people would bother with film.’

Todd will be signing copies of his book in ShopAGO for the next hour. We hope you’ve enjoyed tuning in to this live blog session.

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