The Collector's Guide to Blockchain Photography
Working Hands, by Mili Shivjiani Puri
Who We Are 200: The PhotoBook
Iconic photographs, by Midjourney
Mili Shivjiani Puri
Working Hands, shot and minted in 2022, is a street photography collection of 9 pieces by Mili Shivjiani Puri, depicting the craftsmen of the streets of Mumbai, focused exclusively on the hands, instead of the showing the people or their workplaces.
Each frame presents us a pair of hands, a few tools and constant work. Cutting fish, fixing watches, carving wood, greasing shoes, always in a detailed close up of the act itself, strong vignette and a shallow depth of field. Mili excludes everything else from the scene and delivers just the necessary for us to understand the vocation. With few exceptions, the hands aren’t gendered or dated. Mili wasn’t shooting people: she shot workers.
The macroscopic view lets us linger over the details of each hand, and its craft. Bruises, wrinkles, dirt, blood: the evidence of hard work can’t be dismissed in the deeply intimate images Mili presents. In No Beef, the cut on the side of the hand and the hatchet on the other portrays sacrifice made in the line of duty. With a sharpness characteristic of the butcher’s knife, the focus keeps the eye glued on the hand, the scars, and the illusion of movement. We’re held in suspense while the knife makes clean work out of the chicken.
Working Hands was conceived in a conversation between Mili and her mother. When Mili one day recommended a few creams for her mom’s rough and wrinkled hands, the photographer’s mother replied with a profound statement: “Mili, these are working hands.”
Two months later and to the disbelief of her mother, Mili assembled an intimate body of work centred on the hard blue collar work that makes society tick. The collection features barbers, mechanics, butchers, and carpenters, titling images after icons of western culture. With names like Nut Cracker, Edward Scissorhands, and Taylor Swift, Mili highlights the disparity between her collector’s roles as consumers of culture, and the stark reality of her subjects, all with a humorous touch.
Working Hands, turns intensely lived realities into a mesmerizing collection of photographs. In wandering the streets of Mumbai, infiltrating the world of manual labor, and bearing witness to the stories of the workers by looking and listening, Mili invites us into a realm where hands like ours — soft, as opposed to weary — are alien. The resulting portrait tells the story of life and work on the streets of Mumbai, where individual identities take a back seat to skill, craft, and utility. Mili celebrates her subjects for the visceral beauty of their work.
Alongside the images, Mili filled the descriptions with short memoirs of the owner of each pair of hands. The last piece in the series is available for auction here.
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Who We Are 200: A PhotoBook
Who We Are 200 was the first collection produced as a community project by Obscura, with funding from PaisanDAO. The ambitious endeavour commissioned 100 photographers to make a collective portrait of the Web3 community, granting each artist $1000 to plan and execute the shots. The resulting collection, a diverse and touching depiction of blockchain photography’s early roots, has been turned into a photobook by Obscura and Setanta Books.
You can view the whole collection here. The book is available for purchase via the link below.
AI mimicking famous photographers
Visual artist Andrei Kovalev compiled a list of Midjourney’s favourite photographers. For the uninitiated, Midjourney is a generative algorithm trained to produce photorealistic images — now in the style of 86 world-revered photographers. As big proponents of the F*ck Around and Find Out philosophy, we at PhotoVerso had to give it a spin.
We asked Midjourney to show us a photograph of a man lighting a cigarette, as shot by Eugene Atget, Dorothea Lange, David LaChapelle and Sebastião Salgado.
Here are the results:
Though Midjourney obviously needs a deeper study of anatomy, the results are shockingly compelling. Midjourney seems to be opinionated on the matter of artistic imprint, and interprets particularly the black and white styles with uncanny grace.
Whether the prospect fills you with excitement or a sense of moral hazard, it’s certainly an exciting part of the broader conversation happening in photography and AI today. If you have thoughts, we’d love to hear them in the comments!