This year well over one million people will visit Iceland in search of wonder, tranquility and the promise of experiencing pristine untouched wilderness. As much as this helps Iceland’s economy, Icelanders are worried about the implications tourism is having on their country.
I returned this year to Iceland and experienced the wonder, strangeness, and growth of interest in this beautiful country. These photographs convey an austere gorgeousness and an almost amusement park energy felt by the people who come to see it. It is hard to believe this place really exists – and in the back of our minds we wonder how long it will last.
In two trips to Iceland I have seen the wonder, strangeness and growth of interest of this beautiful country. In these photographs one can sense this austere gorgeousness and the almost amusement park energy it brings to the people who come to see it.
This work originally was originally published in The Photographic Journal.
I think Iceland is tucked away in a corner of the world to remind us how the earth came to be. Every bend is something startling and new. It’s exactly what you asked for. And nothing you’d thought it would be. It’s the perfect place to go if you are ready to contemplate everything you’ve done, up until being in Iceland. It's that good.
Even the people born here don’t take it for granted. And they are most interested in your take and patiently sit through the exalted diatribes and descriptions of day hikes. They file it all away. You can see it in their eyes.
The capitol is wrapped up in a parka, smokes a cigarette a minute and only smiles when asked. But I asked. And at night it’s a happy, smiling adventure. People are open books as long as you go beyond the first chapters.
When you push out of the only city, you are the blue Opel rental car in an absurd landscape. You go from Mars to the Grand Canyon in a single morning. Without trees. More sheep and horses than cars or people. Lone houses dart the landscape every so often. But not often. Desolation or tranquility? Confidence or naivety? Who knows. But Jim Reeves is on the radio and we are in a movie that you can't script.
I'm grateful because I know why I'm here after I didn't want to be here. With a camera you get a free pass into people's lives. And sometimes a simple gas fill up turns into a two hour lunch with a new friend whose stories of ghosts, allergies and retiring early seem perfectly logical, while eating a cheeseburger, in Iceland.
Life often turns out differently than you thought it would. You aren’t where you thought you would be, doing what you thought you would do, with the people you thought you would be with. Some days you realize you are outside, surrounded by people, and you are the odd one out. These images highlight and normalize a universal feeling of displacement. Sometimes we just are. And that’s ok.
About this series.
The complete series is comprised of 29 images. All images are available in limited edition archival prints. Inquire about fine prints.
An oversized limited edition zine is available here as well. Order it here.
We live in a state of rituals, shared and personal expectations and personal beliefs. They are burdens and they are hopes we place upon ourselves. We can’t walk in each other’s shoes but we all share happiness, pain and humility.
These images deal with those internal dialogues. Seen consistently across the facade of a church, narratives unfold across the varied postures and expressions of these Cuban people. Like a play, like a stage and like life, the images remind us that we maybe lonely, content, in love, lost or found, saved or spent but in all of that we are connected.
Cuba is vibrant, warm and rich beyond all preconceptions. The extremes unfold before us looking at once like welcoming smiles and decaying infrastructure. With pesos in my pocket and the blessings of many I put myself into the rich world that lies only ninety miles from the coast of Florida. I was rewarded in the vulnerability, trust and love of the human spirit that surrounded me. I will never forget how it felt to connect and integrate into a culture that was so foreign to me.
A step outside the normal routine and a macro viewpoint affords us new conclusions. These photographs enable us to see that even under the guise of a typical day, we can find an appreciation of the vastness of our lives. Taking for granted what we are afforded day in and day out is replaced with the notion of how far we have come and how much there is left to do.
In 2015 I released my second record "Nowadays". It was warmly received as a continuation of what I started with "44" with better delivery and execution. Clumsy blog said: "Before you know it, just five or six songs in, you’ve wandered through the best Side A of any record from a Cincinnati-based band since The Afghan Whigs' 1998 masterwork Gentlemen." As well Citybeat claimed: "Mike Tittel's New Sincerity Works is poised for enshrinement in the pantheon of Cincinnati pop."
The songs were written during the winter of 2015. Within a month I had written about 24 songs. We proceeded to record them during that very cold winter at Fruit Hill Ohio. Mixed by Jon Landis the album is rich, heavy and not without a bittersweetness. The fantastic album cover was borrowed with permission from the outstanding photographer, Simon Kossoff who is the son of the late-great Paul Kossoff.
Musicians that contributed were Roger Klug, Bob Nyswonger, Mike Landis, Pat O'Callaghan, Jon Roket, Scott Covrette and Tom White. Jon wrote the inside cover poem and the lyric mashup for the inside poster. The package design was by me for Butter Design.
The song Nowadays is the title cut from the second release of my band New Sincerity Works.
We can only look backwards to understand today. The present is one thing but nowadays is the gift of knowing where you've been and with some luck, gives you the push to go somewhere new. This song and video explore that idea.
This video was filmed in West Iceland and Over the Rhine in Cincinnati Ohio. It was filmed by Mike Tittel and Mike Landis. Footage was captured using a Canon 5D and a 50mm lens. I edited and did the color grading in Premier after a quick tutorial from the excellent film maker Michael Holder.
The video features Mike Tittel and Mike Landis from NSW. Mia, Brian and Coran from Multimagic. And Disney from Coconut Milk.
Nowadays was released November 10, 2015. You can get the record at iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon and from the New Sincerity Works site.
One of the most accessible feelings we hold is how we think of and relate to the place that we called or call “home.” Our earliest association of home can be formative, supercharging our life with positive energy, or it can be potentially destructive, forcing us to overcome and go beyond its limiting nature.
In the past decade, I have relocated my home several times, ending up in new and old places, including a yearlong stay with my parents and the further disorientation of traveling the world on behalf of my career. It was during this shifting of locations that I became keenly aware of how much need and emphasis we put on making every corner of our world home-like. We buy, rent and sell. We move and then stay. Life becomes a sequence of discovering new places, yet connecting new places with old references.
This work is about what really defines the intimacy of being home versus what is merely the façade and decoration of something that is supposed to be home, but never will be.
Making these “overly familiar” photographs creates a consistency of place across varied global environments. I try to render disparate scenes from all over the world in a consistent and relatable way. I’m most interested in how sameness and normalcy can create a stage for opportunity. These singular views are waiting to be activated by human presence. As we await the actors and their actions, these spaces of emptiness and monotony create the anticipation of a forthcoming moment, where anything might happen but has yet to be revealed. They are universally about where you are and not knowing what is next.
Minerals race through our veins. We are attracted and repulsed. We are magnets.
In the spring of 2014 I wrote a bunch of new songs. They were all related in theme and sound. I invited a few amazing musicians to contribute their talents, once I had recorded all of the basic tracks. I enjoyed the process so much that I then put a band together to play the songs.
I had many contributors to both the record, the design and the creation of all aspects of this work. Bradley Skaught, Bob Nyswonger, Roger Klug, Sally and Pat O'Callaghan, Mike Michel and Mike Landis all helped with the music. The wonderful cover photograph of the two girls in San Francisco was done by Jack Simon. Jonah Otchy did the color band photography using vintage cameras and Kodak film. Michael Holder did the wonderful documentary "Nowhere Ohio" which can be seen on the band web site. Erin Pinkley did the design of the album and helped art direct the web site all under the theme of austere simplicity and boldness.
Making music has changed so much since I owned my recording studio. I takeaway a renewed love for creating music and the declarative stance that accessibility to putting out music is reason enough to do it.
The band has been playing live in Ohio and by all accounts is pretty good. I know we are having a lot of fun doing it. Tom White, Mike Landis, Greg Tudor, Bob Nyswonger and Roger Klug have all been a part of it.
For more information and music go to: www.newsincerityworks.com
or Facebook: www.facebook.com/newsincerityworks
It is all so delicate. And we never really realize it until something breaks.
A series of posters that celebrate the wide diversity of personality types amongst gyro teams. Developed in Europe the SDI (Strength Deployment Inventory) is used by leading creative school, HyperIsland, to develop collaboration and conflict skills. The posters simply communicate the nature of each personality type: assertive (red), nurturing (blue) and analytical (green). These posters decorate a conference room titled RGB. For obvious reasons.
Created for a book project at gyro. The collages were simply a means to demonstrate how ordinary imagery and typography used in magazines that were at hand could be transformed into forms that implied new meaning.
This handheld creative workbook espouses the beliefs and creative philosophies I have come to practice through collaboration and mentorship from many wonderful people. The workbooks was an attempt to inspire and level set the gyro creative department and ground everyone in personal creative transformation goals to elevate individuals and the agency's work. Photography, collages and even the workbook itself were conceptual metaphors for transformation: a Moleskine turned into a workbook, magazine pages turned into collages and every day office artifacts turned into dramatic images.
These explorations used stencils commonly used to apply vinyl lettering to marine vehicles.
The formal attention shown toward machines and objects no longer in use is a way to celebrate the human ingenuity and passion that created and once used these artifacts. There is no era portrayed in these images. Function and original meaning are gone, with their literal meaning replaced by implied integrity, abstracted form and adoration of textures. The lack of a dominant subject, confusion between foreground and background, and the soft nature of the light establish an interwoven union between nature and man as they devolve into each other. But what is most interesting to me about this decay isn’t the process of death. It is how the medium’s ability to render beauty becomes a perfect tribute to what we have done collectively to make this world our own.
As a musician in the Roger Klug Power Trio, I am most often the art director tasked to create some kind of advertisements for our shows. This activity is usually too late in the pre-awareness marketing phase of the gig to be of much effect. However, better late than ever is what I say. To meet this demand I have developed a quick and rapid design methodology known as the "five minute flyer process". It starts with a simple ignition point or theme, moves into rapid ideation and creation or procurement of visual interests. It always results in a met deadline. It is proof that it is never too late to bring a design smile to your face.
More about Roger Klug can be found at his Web site www.rogerklug.com
I had the good fortune of collaborating on the sequencing and writing the forward for Markus Lehr's wonderful photobook "Fairytales and Nightingales". Here is an excerpt:
“Welcome to a place where there is no night and no day. Where there is no rendering of era or time. Here is the accrual of generations in one view, the past, present and future. These are photographs about all of us without showing any of us. They are disorienting in their strange familiarity, but elusive in their description of place. They are about the ambiguity and uncertainty of life, shown in a way that is subtle, elegant and dream-like.Through this work we can realize the transformative energy of place, time and the beauty of unrecognizable light.”
Mike Tittel, Summer 2013, Cincinnati, Ohio
More information on this work can be found here: www.markuslehr.com
Created as a direct need to ignite gyro office space with an organic, warm and functional seating solution. The project took on a new dimension as the wood was procured from felled Ash trees that had been blighted with the Ash Borer insect. These rough cut, hand filed and varnished logs serve as stools and storage/display devices throughout the gyro office.