Monday, May 4, 2015

Bill Owens: A Master of the Mundane ! ! !

Bill Owens is really cool. He was a newspaper photographer for a while and used that job to get access to a lot of people that he photographed for his own personal use after taking the required one to be in the paper. De Certeau talks about "materializing today the utopia that yesterday was only painted" which I think Bill understood in his life in the suburbs. He made a series called "Suburbia" in which he took photos of his friends and neighbors in this utopian community.

We are really happy, 1972
from "Suburbia"
I think the series is conscious of "the strangeness that doesn't surface" in everyday life and the weird idea of having a perfect utopia. At the same time, it acts as a catalog of the intricate perfections of everyday life. His recent pictures though, I find more interesting. He has several slideshow-like videos of pictures he's taken with a really simple digital camera or his iPhone which he now exclusively uses.

This process of constant and overwhelming documentary photography is great. The images are unedited, [seemingly] unconsciously framed, and un-"your-idea-of-art"-ed. They are simply Bill's life as he lives and views it.


  1. I definitely sense that Bill Owens had an unique take on mundane, domestic life in the past, but like I may have brought up before I felt like maybe he began to lose interest in making well-shot documentations of such and instead decided to do loose records of what he did in his life, especially with his one episode of leaving his wife, which I thought was kind of selfish of him without contextualization as to the reason why he did it, and I question whether he would still be considered an artist or just a con-man

  2. I say that with the driest sense of humor, by the way

  3. This artist was really.... weird haha. I totally loved his photography and the sort of hidden utopia you pointed out. But his videos didn't impress me and I'm not entirely sure if he took them seriously or not. If he didn't, then I can appreciate it.