July 3, 2007
July 5, 2007
I remember a 4th of July somewhere in the middle of Texas out near the hills of Burnet. Bug trucks were running slowly up the lake spraying a fine chemical mist into the air. Sixteen and without wheels my friend Jack, his girlfriend Helen, and I ran alongside the truck jumping up behind the tanks covering our faces for the 10 minute ride up the hill to the dam. Helen kept pointing up at the petroleum rainbow created by the spray and laughing. She was already a little tipsy having had two peach wine coolers down at the lake.
At the top of the hill we hopped off and followed a dirt road up to where all the pickups were parked. Jack and Helen didn't waste any time and told me to go ahead as they climbed into the back of a random pickup truck and started laying out blankets from their backpacks. I headed over the fence and up the path to the clearing where the other kids were hanging out on the rocks overlooking the dam and the two lakes below. Someone put a beer in my hand, but not having much experience with beer I mainly held it, fiddling with the label and trying to look like I belonged.
I didn't know anyone so I sat on some rocks off to the side and watched the sky turn dark and the lightning come up in the clouds and all the kids shooting off bottle rockets and running around with sparklers. I sat there for a very long time thinking about the shape of things until I noticed Helen standing with her arms crossed nearby. "Hey," I said.
"Hey" she said.
"Where's Jack?" I asked.
"I hate Jack," she mumbled.
Then she came over and sat down right up next to me and I held her hand and listened to her cry. "I smell like gasoline," she told me.
"I do too," I replied and we left it at that.
July 7, 2007
In response to my previous post a friend sent along a link for Rachel Hope Feierman's site with the promising beginnings of a project on kids hanging out in parking lots. As someone who grew up in a small town where this was the only form of entertainment on a Friday night, I instantly connected with these images. I also like the way the photographs have been laid out on the page. The juxtapositions lend a cinematic quality the images might not have had on there own. Somehow though the project as presented feels incomplete to me, I hope there is more to come.
Feierman is recent SVA MFA graduate from an impressive class.
July 10, 2007
Virtually all the photography blogs I read, have paused to note the passing of legendary curator John Szarkowski who played a major role in establishing a place for photography in the art world. I reread The Photographer's Eye last night (you can find the opening essay on the web as both pdf and html...) and was struck by this paragraph...
But it was not only the way that photography described things that was new; it was also the things it chose to describe. Photographers shot "…objects of all sorts, sizes and shapes… without ever pausing to ask themselves, is this or that artistic?" Painting was difficult, expensive, and precious, and it recorded what was known to be important. Photography was easy, cheap and ubiquitous, and it recorded anything: shop windows and sod houses and family pets and steam engines and unimportant people. And once made objective and permanent, immortalized in a picture, these trivial things took on importance.
By the end of the century, for the first time in history, even the poor man knew what his ancestors had looked like.
This same paragraph could be applied today to digital image making versus film photography as film becomes increasingly "difficult, expensive, and precious" when compared to "easy, cheap, and ubiquitous" digital images...
Earlier on in the essay Szarkowski noted
The invention of photography provided a radically new picture-making process—a process based not on synthesis but on selection. The difference was a basic one. Paintings were made—constructed from a storehouse of traditional schemes and skills and attitudes—but photographs, as the man on the street put it, were taken.
This also made me think of digital imagery and the ease in which is manipulated of synthesized... I wonder what Szarkowski would have made of today's digital image making that is rapidly turning film photographers into curious and arty anachronisms. Would it matter to him or would he dismiss the entire digital vs film debate that rages so fervently amongst photographers today as irrelevant? He seemed to value image itself as opposed to the mechanics of making it so my guess is he wouldn't have paid the debate much heed. His view was always expansive:
The history of photography has been less a journey than a growth. Its movement has not been linear and consecutive but centrifugal. Photography, and our understanding of it, has spread from a center; it has, by infusion, penetrated our consciousness. Like an organism, photography was born whole. It is in our progressive discovery of it that its history lies.
July 10, 2007
July 12, 2007
We are lying on a bed in a field. I turn and say, "Well, what do you want to do now?"
You say, "Lets throw rocks." I laugh and say ok.
We climb down a tall white cliff to the ocean, but I don't see any rocks. Sensing my confusion you motion for me to wait. A few moments later a wave pulls back to reveal a ribbon of smooth stones and pebbles that stretches to the horizon. We both begin picking up pebbles and throwing them as far as possible into the sea. We do this for a long time.
Eventually I hear something and look over and see that you are crying. "What's wrong?" I ask.
"My heart," you say placing my hand on it. "You're breaking it." And indeed I can feel it breaking in half. Frightened, I ask what I can do--something, anything--but you say, "I’m sorry. There isn’t anything to be done. Nothing." You continue throwing stones and out of desperation I do too. We do this for a long time.
I don’t look over now because I can't endure your tears. The rocks we throw begin to form an island and then a tall castle. I feel myself age and grow small and weak. We continue across the months and years until the beach is sandy and white. As I struggle pick up the last pebble I am impossibly ancient and tired--my hands are shriveled beyond recognition. But I can’t bear not to look any more and I turn to you. So many years have passed… I am scared that I have forgotten your face, but you are still as beautiful as the moment we first met. My wrinkled flesh embarrasses me.
"What now?" I ask.
You says nothing, but reach into your chest and remove a broken stone where your heart once was. You drop it on the sand, slip into the waves, and swim away.
The waves break around my feet and I stand there full of longing, but to old to swim, looking at the castle. I do this for a long time.
I walk through a dark night until I feel stones beneath my feet and hear the sea. I hear someone following me.
The moon rises and in the moonlight I see a girl beside me. She is sitting on a rock and I can’t see her face but I know we’ve met before.
"Hey," I say but the girl turns away. "Is anything wrong?" I ask.
The girl throws rocks into the water and having nothing better to do, I do too.
Eventually, an island forms, so I throw more rocks as fast as I can.
"You don’t have to do this," the girl says.
"Just let me finish," I say. So I keep throwing. Hills form and then a mountain.
"Let’s swim now." I say, but the girl is gone and I’m left alone in the moonlight.
July 13, 2007
This entry might be subtitled 'fun with coverflow':
July 14, 2007
I generally refuse to browse photography sites with hover based navigation because I find that convention so darned annoying, but I really like Katie Murray's photography so I suffered through her site... I especially like her series on Queens which I've always found to be New York's most impenetrable borough... A few more images can be found on Jen Bekman's site.
July 17, 2007
Peter Henry Emerson was one of the first vocal proponents of "naturalistic" art photography (photography done out in the field) at a time when most art photographers worked exclusively in the studio.
I've heard rumors that a museum in England is going to publish a catalog of Emerson's works for an upcoming show, but I'm not seeing anything on google. Do any readers out there know anything about this?
By the end of his life, Emerson completely reversed himself and published a pamphlet titled 'The Death of Naturalistic Photography'. A quote: "I have...I regret it deeply, compared photographs to great works of art, and photographers to great artists. It was rash and thoughtless, and my punishment is having to acknowledge it now... In short, I throw my lot in with those who say that Photography is a very limited art. I deeply regret that I have come to this conclusion..."
July 18, 2007
This image is from Jean-Christian Bourcart's Stardust project which he describes this way, "In my neighborhood, just behind the void of the World Trade Center, there is a multiplex theater where I go early in the morning. There, in the empty screening rooms, I photograph the little window that separates the projection cabin from the public space; or more precisely, I photograph the image that appears when the film passes through the window."
Bourcart's website showcases a wide range of projects in a variety of styles, but all have a trademark detached voyeuristic/cinematic quality about them. The artist comes off as having loads of confidence (maybe even arrogance), but not in a way that is off-putting..it just feels.. very... um... very French.
Note the text area of the site includes some interesting reads including an essay on Bourcart by Nan Goldin.
July 19, 2007
I've written little snippets here and there about my high school in East Texas... it's hard for my friends here in New York to wrap their minds around East Texas so I thought I'd provide a bit of illustration. The myspace profile photos above are all of guys who attended my high school while I was there. Can you match their photos to their profile blurbs?
"I am a 41 yr. old man that likes to hunt and fish. I am married to a beautiful wife for nine years. I have always wanted to be with two women....and I guess that it help to have a wife that is bi." also "I would love to be able to meet Linda Carter..."
"................... I like boating , fishing , the beach, camping , i am a member of the Moose and the Moose Legion , i like bikes and to ride , i like loseing money in the slots. I have two chihuhuas (akc) Bandit & Gidget... I am a painter (sucks) I live with the love of my life going on 10 years now, Vickie... I have two kids that i dont get to see, there mother is hideing them from me, but they dont the truth, leslie 16 and greg 15 , i really miss them and love them more than they will ever know..."
"Enjoy hunting,fishing,bowfishing,riding my waverunner,and pretty much all outdoors type activities. I am 39, single for several years and enjoying the simple life for a while. I also like watching nascar, hanging out with friends, and going to church as much as possible."
"Who I'd like to meet:
Jesus,Robert Plant, Ozzy, George W Bush, Some gal that'll be good to me, and I guess, sadly, I'm still looking."
"ll .. i'm mostly a hermit .. sorta anti social .. has alot to do with my youth.. long story .. ask if you really want to. most of the contact i have with people are on line from games ..i'm a home body .. don't go out much. I stay home .. watch tv , a movie , or play a game on the come, or mess with my wife . I'm not a drinker .. but once in a great while will drink one beer or a glass of boones farms wine .. snow berry creek, fuzzy navel, or the melon one. never smoked... fairly easy going .. even though I sometimes have problems with males .. funny i know, knowing i'm a male .. I just hate some of the things they do, or ways they act. i'll normally talk to anyone on line .. exspecially about games or computers or pets. i'm an irish desent born under aries. I like the colors black , red , green. anything else .. ask ..."
July 20, 2007
A blog reader from Vancouver named Jarret asks if any of the places I've traveled haunt me.
I am not so much haunted by the places I've stopped along the way, but rather the ones passed by, the places seen through dirty bus windows for only a few moments before turning the bend: the mountain village not found on maps, the lone figure in the empty landscape, the destroyed house reeking of death. Part of it is knowing the stories are unknowable. Part of it is knowing you will never return. Part of it is the regret for not stopping to find out more. Those are the places that come to me at odd hours of the night.
July 20, 2007
My main impression of looking through the book was adolescence. These are young photographers indeed, and the photos contain a heavy mix of the sort of self-obsessed, crude, and banal that you might expect from a similar collection anywhere in the rich world. That is, these young photographers are being normal. This bodes well for the future of China even if it does not suggest much for the future of photography.I would agree with the first conclusion that it bodes well for the future of China, but would disagree with the second that it "does not suggest much for the future of [Chinese] photography." Even 15 years ago this kind of book would have been impossible. This is the first generation of kids allowed to be self indulgent, allowed to pick up cameras and call themselves artists. And is not self indulgence a necessary step towards maturity? And the reviewer doesn't seem to pick up on the humor and sense of freedom the book showcases. Also, of course, this is just one survey even from the opposite site of the world it would not be difficult to put together another set of 30 young photographers with a somewhat different editorial outlook so let's not condemn the future of Chinese photography just yet.
Amazon: 3030 New Photography In China
Many of the photographers in the book have blogs: 223 Birdhead Peng & Chen Alex So Ou Ning Yao Yi Chun Xu Zi Yu Liu Ding Cao Fei Zhou Yau yiki liu Zheng Zhiyuan Liu Ren Tang Yi Si Wei BNE K1973 Ziboy Cai Wei Dong Lu Yang Peng
And more emerging Chinese photographers in an exhibition called Chinese Neo by the OPPS felting gallery.
July 20, 2007
July 20, 2007
From my baby book:
July 20, 1969 - Today Raulito is 2 1/2 years old and Neil Armstrong and Col. Ed Aldrin landed on the moon. Raulito fell asleep while Daddy, Mommy, and Titita all watched on color TV. We woke Raulito up to see the live transmission but he wanted to look at the moon outside so we walked into the lawn in our bedclothes. The street was silent save for the crickets. Everyone was inside and all the TVs were on in the windows. Raulito looked at the moon and asked 'I go up there?' and stared for a long time while I held him. He was fast asleep in no time.
related: Remembering the Moon Landing, The Search for the original footage
July 24, 2007
About 2 years ago I linked to an exhibition of early color photography by the Russian Photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Now a Belgian researcher, Frank Dellaert, at Carnegie Mellon has converted thousands more of the Prokudin-Gorskii images (the restored color was produced by a technique called Digichromatography which digitally combines the 3 black and white glass plate originals shot with blue, green, or red filters).
Alex Gridenko has also converted more of the images... There are only 60 images on his page, but he did nice large versions and his conversions were obviously carefully done by hand.
Well worth the clicks...
I remember seeing some early color photography from the same era of New York City in a book somewhere, but I can't find it online. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?
July 27, 2007
...until Monday with a truly terrible internet connection so why not check out some of the links in the sidebar...
or if your in a non-verbal mood why not browse around some of the fun stuff on flickr...
July 30, 2007
July 31, 2007
My wife had a birthday this weekend. This was the card from her mom:
God loves you and God is blessing you all.
Pray things. You are always in my heart.
This cat reminded to me of you when you were 3 years old. Childhood.
You were so quiet and clever, smart! Happy Birthday!
July 31, 2007
I first heard about Denis Dailleux from an Egyptian friend who said the photographer 'gets' Cairo like no other photographer she knows. Later I found a few of his images in the Aperture book Nazar: Photographs from the Arab World (more info on the Nazar show on the 2005 Fotofest site). Now I've finally found a few of his images online. While he has several portfolios of other subjects, Cairo seems to be where his heart lies.
July 31, 2007
It is rarely tragic when old men die, especially when those men have lived rich and varied lives and yet the deaths of Bergman and Antonioni within hours of each other have a poetic touch of tragedy about them — it is the quiet departure of a generation. In their time both men were wildly popular figures in Europe and, if not wildly popular in the United States, respected and adored by serious film goers. My dad, a lifelong film buff, remembers it took a week to get tickets to an Antonioni film at The Thalia here in New York back in the 60's. A family friend remembers that even in Houston a new Bergman movie was a big deal. "Suddenly there would be all these people gathered together that you would never expect to see in Houston and everyone was turned on. And I mean TURNED ON. Do you know what I mean? They were excited about these films in a way you can't even imagine. They seemed to be revolutionary and new, dangerous and beautiful, sophisticated and sad all at once and you felt lucky to be watching." The passing of these men reminds us how hollow our prevailing culture has become. The tragedy for me is that they, perhaps, did not inspire enough, or maybe we didn't pay enough attention. Where are our Antonioni's and Bergmans? I don't see them out there.