Mimmo Jodice

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I posted the following inquiry a month ago on Medium Format Digest, but I received no answers. The photographs in question relate to large-format photography, though I believe that Jodice uses a Hasselblad. Jodice's work is distinctive, and I have no desire to copy his technique. Still, no one seems to understand how his images are realized. Any help will be appreciated. Here is my inquiry:

I've been looking at a book of Mimmo Jodice's medium format photographs, entitled Mediterranean, published by Aperture in 1995. Jodice uses several techniques for achieving unusual images. I see that some photographs are double exposures, but others have a distortion coming from the center of the image. Other images have a similar distortion at the bottom third of the image. It's not a shallow depth of field or camera shake (portions of the image are clear and in focus), but it looks like a kind of motion. (It is hard to describe Jodice's images accurately.) And it is the kind of thing that could easily degenerate into a trick, though Jodice does seem to be working as an engaged mature artist. Anyway, it really bothers me that I cannot understand the technique, and I would appreciate ideas from anyone who is familar with Mimmo Jodice's work.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), December 15, 2001


I have seen this work in a museum. I am not sure, but he may have moved the enlarger up or down during the exposure.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), December 15, 2001.

He might had tilt the lens just as to shift the depth of field a bit. One can do this by a Hasselblad Flex or Arc body. Kit

-- Ng Sai Kit (etckit@ust.hk), December 17, 2001.

Ng Sai Kit, thank you for your response, though I do not think the technique involves a tilted lens, which is what Keith Carter apparently does for selective focus.

Sandy, thank you also. I had not thought so much about the printmaking stage. I suppose you could control enlarger movement consistently enough to make multiple prints that have the same characteristics. I'm going to try this out to see what happens, though I am not interested in using this idea in my own work. Mimmo's imagery and technique seem unaffected and deeply individual--not to be copied by anyone. Having seen the work, I think you can understand why I've been puzzled by the technique of his photographs. Thank you again.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), December 17, 2001.

Michael, Yes, it's beautiful work. I saw the show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (when the monograph was published), and actually wrote an essay about it for the Photo Review. The motion inherent in the prints is a little vertigo-inducing after awhile, though.

Let us know if your experiments with the enlarger yield those motion lines.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), December 17, 2001.

Sandy, Last night I experimented with my enlarger to produce something like Mimmo Jodice's motion lines. What I did was very crude, but I think it is the kind of technique that Jodice uses. My enlarger is a Beseler MX that moves at an angle, so the motion lines are weighted in one direction. With an enlarger that moves straight up and down the lines would spread from the center more evenly. I did not try moving the lens stage without moving the whole carriage (to achieve a more even spread), but that would probably work well also, with further elaborations of the technique clearly possible. One could also quite easily keep records of what was done, so the technique is readily duplicated. Anyway, that uncanny blurred look fits Jodice's photography but does not fit mine, so I am very satisfied to just know something about his basic method. Someday I may have an image that would find completion with a little built-in movement, but so far everything I do seems to need as much crispness as I can muster. Sandy, thank you again for solving this mystery.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), December 19, 2001.

You're welcome! Glad my theory was correct. I was wondering about that myself, so it's good to have it confirmed.

Cheers, Sandy

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), December 19, 2001.

I have a copy of "Mediterranea" by Mimo Jodice and I have been fascinated by the tone of his prints and the novel use suggesting movement. The tonality of the images suggests medium format.

However, not all his images appear to have been created with the same technique. Some have a halo like in "Sculpture of the imperial nymph" (pp 78) and others appear to explode from some part of the image like "La via Colonnata" (pp 26). The former suggests to me a long exposure possibly with the use of a flash, while the latter suggest the use of an square gelatine effect filter, I hazard a guess, during the taking stage. This might explain why the zoom effect is not always at the centre of the image which would have been if the enlarger head was swiftly moved vertically.

-- Mako (info@mako-photography.de), December 23, 2001.

Mako, Thank you for your suggestions. I asked the original question because I really am not sure how Jodice's prints are made. As noted above, when I tried moving my enlarger head, it did not move from the center of the image. I have a 4x5 enlarger, so one could control the image-movement through the careful placement of the medium-format negative in the negative carrier (I haven't had time to try out this idea yet, but I plan to at least experiement with it soon). Still, you may be right that Jodice does what he does in camera. In any case, this investigation is leading me into some new pictorial terrain, quite different from my usual very straight-forward approach. Thanks again.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), December 24, 2001.

I bought Mediterranean several years ago and tried to achieve the unusual image effect that you have tried to describe as "a kind of motion" coming from the center of the image. I know exactly what you mean, but I don't have a magic pen and can't describe it well in words. If I had to say it in a word, I would call it "zooming" because it looks like what one gets by racking a zoom lens out during a time exposure. (I never tried it, but have seen it in some of the more popular consumer photo magazines.) I assumed that Jodice was using medium or large format and achieved his effect during enlarging by either "zooming" the lens out for part of the exposure or perhaps just changing the focus during the exposure. So I tried this with my Durst medium format enlarger: First, I made a clearly focused exposure for part of the exposure (perhaps it was 1/4 to 1/2 of the total time); then I made the rest of the enlargment while slowly changing the focus. My results were similar to Jodice's.

-- John Boeckeler (boeck@midcoast.com), December 24, 2001.

John, thank you for your response. My experience was quite similar to yours. I tried moving the carriage of my enlarger throughout the exposure, which of course leads to a less defined image. Your method is probably closer to Jodice's, and more easily fine-tuned. Thanks again for your generosity.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), December 26, 2001.


-- salvino campos (salvinocampos@hotmail.com), June 26, 2002.

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