'Broken' by Jon Frank

Stu Nettle
The Depth Test

One of the old truisms that the internet age has laid to rest is this: the cream always rises to the top.

Some of it may, but only when the artist has got talent and social media play. Because without an extrovert's sense of promotion, art, regardless of its quality, will be lost amongst the ceaseless static of the internet. And if you're not on the internet you may as well be invisible, right?

...almost.

Jon Frank probably wont mind when I say he's got no social media play. Oh he's there on the internet alright, but subtlety, as an old friend used to say, sleeps alone, so Franky's work simply doesn't get the online love it deserves.

Which brings me to his book, Broken, (Volume 1). The title of which could refer to the disruption of his art but he assures us that it simply refers to the fact that waves break. If so, it's the most literal thing in the whole 150 pages.

The foreword is written by Andrew Kidman who supplies the historical context, and it's only fitting 'cos through the early-90s Kidman and Frank had a Marr/Morrissey thing happening. At Waves magazine, photographer Frank laid the colour to complement Kidman's reflective lyrics. Fellas were a formidable double act.

And even though this is a photographic book the text doesn't end there. What many don't know is that Frank himself can write. That he's a master at the oblique, beat-style vignette, the observation that sort of applies to the photo at hand but not in a way that you were expecting

"They're not so much captions," Franky says of his own musings, "but anchors to try and slow the page-turning down a tad." It's an explanation that reeks of yet more self-deprecation, though his written interludes have the desired effect.

Slow down the page-turning and what you see is ocean art that'd make a #nofilter Instagrammer weep. The hash tag enforced by technology, or a lack of it when Franky was nurturing his talent: no auto focus, digital ISO, or post processing to make the photos pop. Not even a jet ski to whisk him out of harm's way - see photo below for instance.

And this is why context is so important. What are the circumstances behind an image? In a world where everything can be faked, authenticity becomes a value add to the experience.

As Kidman says, "Jon Frank's pictures have always felt like his struggle to attain them. Perhaps that is why today they continue to make us feel something deeper." And it's also why Broken feels like an inversion of Instagram, a place where restraint and subtlety are valued, words work like roundabouts, and where dark humour feels right at home.

Frank dishes out the latter, mostly on himself, especially in an extended interview with Sean Doherty that completes the book.

'Broken' is available now through Jon Frank's website

Comments

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 2:00pm

Very nice write up Stu.

Book sounds Interesting .

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 3:39pm

Looking forward to this one.

And you're right, Blowin; that was a good piece.

MickS's picture
MickS's picture
MickS commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 3:42pm

Behind that cherubic face is an artist, athlete (believe me if you've swum with him shooting you'll get that) and national treasure. Love the guy. And Jonny I haven't lost the number.

MickS

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 4:14pm

wow how moody is that first photo.....awesome shot,might have to get me a xmas pressy.

simba

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 5:28pm

that second pic - the darkness, the size, the beating that's on the way... and that faraway white blue in the sky punctuated by the darkening grey cloud. In the foreground maybe the last of the afternoon's light trying to reflect orange white off the foam?

Feels quite lonely and very typical of those shitscared days in the southern ocean's path (it could be anywhere really)

Schreinermeister's picture
Schreinermeister's picture
Schreinermeister commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 6:10pm

Does anyone remember a piece Jon wrote in a surf mag/website/some other forum a few years back about sailing at night down the east coast and into Port Phillip bay? It was such a radical read I’d love to read it again.

MickS's picture
MickS's picture
MickS commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 8:03pm

Schreinermeister, that piece, unless I'm utterly mistaken, was for the first edition of Great Ocean Quarterly. Called The Rip, Jon shot it, and it was written by Mark Willett. Can sort a copy if you're interested.

MickS

Schreinermeister's picture
Schreinermeister's picture
Schreinermeister commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 8:41pm

Nailed it MickS, nice one. Thanks very much for jogging my memory. I'll have a hunt and hit you up if I come empty handed.

MickS's picture
MickS's picture
MickS commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 9:59am

No worries matey. Sing out if you need.

MickS

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 7:58pm

I'll just tell the missus I've found my chrissy present...

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 12:50am

Jon Frank is good at horses. I remember a classic shot on the old website Kurungabba. It must have been Hawaiian,Hawaiian Horses.
I was so excited when I saw it, Man! Do you see the horses?

The last shot I saw was more effective because there was this guy sitting on a rock jetty. I was that guy.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 12:53am

I don't like the dark shot, it is to foreboding.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 12:56am

It looks like a lot of Guinea Pigs. We have Guinea Pigs, they at in chorus, We Are Hungry!

A Guinea Pig Wave.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:04am

Guinea Pigs with hair dos, I am studying.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:06am

It could be a couple of Wolves with the English army backing up, or a whole bunch of dudes on fire, their escaping.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:09am

Phantoms wanting spirits, they are hungry, that is my best guess.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:25am

It is like the End of the World, it is upsetting, or aother planet. Ok, I will go there if you pay the fare.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:28am

Reminds me of Licorice.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 1:59am

Sorry, as an afterthought oil, it really is terrible.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 6:35pm

medication worn off mort?

simba

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Thursday, 14 Dec 2017 at 11:57pm

No, just run out.