Worth a watch: Vice News’ Selfie Soldiers – Russia checks into Ukraine

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Bellingcat’s efforts to learn more about wars through social media images, satellite imagery, and other sources. Now, Vice News have just released a 23-minute piece (embedded above) by Simon Ostrovsky tracking down a single Russian soldier through some of his social media posts from Ukraine. This provides evidence that Russian soldiers have been fighting in Ukraine, especially in the critical Battle of Debaltseve in January and February of this year.

Ostrovsky finds geo-tagged images from a man in a Russian soldier’s uniform who posted pictures in Ukraine and untangles his social media posts, eventually leading him to Ulan Ude in central Russia where he meets the man’s wife and eventually speaks to him on the phone, asking about whether or not he was in Ukraine. Ostrovsky’s journalism in this piece is wonderful. He finds the exact locations of countless photos from the soldier’s social media profiles, both in Ukraine and Russia, and recreates the photos himself. He confronts European observers with some of this evidence and challenges them as to why they won’t definitively say that Russia troops are in Ukraine. Watch until the end when Ostrovsky shows his matching photos to the soldier he tracked down.

If you haven’t been watching Simon Ostrovsky’s Russian Roulette series on the conflict in Crimea and Ukraine, by the way, you’re missing out. It is some of the best television journalism I’ve ever seen, and as of this writing there are 108 videos in the series. The pieces get in deep, have a bit of humor, and really personalize both sides of the conflict. Vice’s HBO news show is good, but Russian Roulette is on another level.

“Welcome to the Winogrand Circus” – Gary Winogrand speaks to students at Rice University

In the video (embedded above), Gary Winogrand speaks to Rice University students for nearly two hours in Geoff Winningham‘s class. Winningham still teaches at Rice.

It’s Winningham who introduces Winogrand, saying “Welcome to the Winogrand circus,” and then Winogrand asks for questions from the students. He talks about how he works, his approach to different subjects, and the work of other photographers (Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Bruce Davidson–at 21:44: “[East 100th Street] is sickening…morally, it’s sickening, and photographically it’s just a goddamned bore,” and others). It’s a wide-ranging and very informal talk, but offers a fascinating perspective from Winogrand about his own work and others’.

If you don’t have two hours to spare right now, check out the 16-minute highlight reel (which doesn’t have any footage of Winogrand himself) at the National Gallery of Art.

And searching for this video today, I ran across this question and answer session at MIT with Winogrand in 1974. It starts with a short lecture by Tod Papageorge. There’s a transcript in an old post at 2point8 or on Google Docs. Winogrand’s often a bit enigmatic. Asked about whether he still likes some of his older pictures, he responds, “The one’s I’m interested in, I’m interested in. That’s all I can say.” Some of the audience members aren’t too happy with the vague responses and ask him why he’s answering questions the way he does. It’s a fun listen.

Of course, there’s also this short piece from the 1982 documentary Contemporary Photography in the USA showing Winogrand at work.

I’ve been meaning to share this video of Winogrand since I saw it first early last year. It made the rounds a bit, but it’s worth revisiting. A post on metafilter today reminded me of it.

Worth a look: Book trailer for Gus Powell’s “The Lonely Ones”

Book trailers are a trend that’s here to stay, but I haven’t seen many for photobooks. Ying Ang had a beautiful Lynchian trailer for her book Gold Coast. And Stanley Greene’s Black Passport had an incredibly intense trailer that’s well worth a watch. The trailer for Gus Powell‘s “The Lonely Ones,” embedded above, is something altogether different.

The trailer is playful, irreverent, and wistful. It uses the audio (and some visuals) from the well-known trailer for Jean-Luc Goddard’s film Contempt, though the translations in Powell’s don’t exactly match what is being said.

The book, by the way, looks great. Images are hidden behind fold-outs that have short phrases, a nod to William Steig‘s book “The Lonely Ones,” which matched his drawings with short sentences. You can order the book at J&L Books’s website and see some of the work at Powell’s website.

And on the the subject of book trailers, check out the trailer produced for Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. The reclusive writer apparently narrated it himself, and it captures the feel of the book perfectly.