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Concrete Porn ~ Q&A with Ted VanCleave

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Ted VanCleave is fascinated by concrete. The internationally renowned visual artist uses photography to explore the size, shape, texture, and overall grandiosity of concrete in his new photo series titled Concrete Porn ~ Buildings & Bridges. As most of it was shot in Los Angeles, we were very interested to ask VanCleave about the pornography of concrete, and where he gets his tacos. A gallery of his images is presented at the end, along with a reader contest...

What are the essential elements of a beautiful concrete structure?  
For me, it's all about texture. Whatever materials are used to make the concrete forms, the molds, they are permanently impressed into the dry concrete. And concrete is one of the few exterior building materials that don't require painting, so you see the actual building materials exposed. I'm all about texture.

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What are your favorite pieces of concrete in Los Angeles?
I consider The Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena to be the Mona Lisa of concrete structures. It is beautifully graceful in its symmetry with perfectly understated ornamentation. It was built in 1913 when individual boards were used to make the concrete forms for building the bridge, so you can see every line of every board permanently embedded in the bridge. That texture is special. You rarely see it anymore. Now plywood sheets and other materials are used to make construction forms.  Other favs are the Griffith Observatory and the Theme Building in the middle of LAX International Airport. It looks like a giant spider climbing up from the center of the airport terminals.

The historical lineage of concrete begins in Rome and continues in LA. Any other connections you've found between those two cities? 
I'm not sure of further connections between the cities but here's an interesting concrete tidbit... after the fall of the Roman Empire, the art of building with concrete was lost to civilization until around 1750.  No concrete buildings were constructed for more than 550 years. It's been discovered twice.

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Why "Porn"?
Why not?

If you could give builders and architects any advice about concrete, what would it be?
I'm a visual artist so I prefer to simply appreciate what they create.

Technically speaking, what are the challenges in shooting concrete?
For this photo series I tweaked the photos with filters to bring out the texture of the concrete. Plus I bumped up the contrast. Then it's striking a balance between exposing the texture without being too dark.

Do you have a lucky number?
A bit cliche but it's 7. And this is lucky question number seven.

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What's your favorite place in LA to get a taco?
Cactus Taqueria #1, Hollywood, without a doubt. Close your eyes, open your mouth, insert taco and you would swear you are in Rosarito. For dessert, beer.

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Visit TedVanCleave.com for more information and other works by the artists. 
 

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