Friday, January 30, 2009

Love It the Most to Say the Least...

It's not that I don't particularly like this tribute to Muntadhar al-Zeidi in Iraq, it's just that I can't help thinking what the American version in the National Mall would look like...

UpDate: Alas, the shoe no longer is...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Expiration Notice...

Submissions for 1st Edition of Expiration Notice ends 1/31. We are most happy to report that we have received many fine submissions to date, translation- looks like we won't be a one trick pony after all! Current winners notified next week. And if you didn't get in this time, it doesn't necessarily mean you're down and out. Meanwhile, keep submissions coming!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Last Days of W...

Enough praise has already been given Alec Soth's work, and his latest offering The Last Days of W fairs no differently. No problem here- I'm a fan too. So why did I leave feeling somewhat let down after finally getting to see actual prints live and in person at The Stephen Wirtz Gallery- after all, the difference between the latter and his recent newspaper quality booklet are not unlike comparing theater quality surround sound to that of a transistor radio? The answer I realized is that I couldn't "bond" with said images- their very size forbade me and kept me at distance. I had to choose between detail and overall image, the former allows only the curiosity of close up inspection, but with the latter I lost much of the sense of intimacy that makes the photographic viewing experience a joy.

Mind you, it's not exactly the first time I've seen large prints, and I've certainly seen larger. Perhaps, with books and monitor screen taking primary lead of late, I've simply grown unaccustomed to the experience. Perhaps the large cavernous room they were exhibited in, with more than ample room between images contributed to the sense of isolation, detachment, and ultimately, distraction. I don't know. But I very much wanted to leave with a well reproduced book in my arms to really get to know these images.

I didn't get that feeling with Avedon's wall sized portraits, perhaps it's just the more primal nature of faces against backdrops developed from infancy that allows one to process them as a whole more readily. Nor did I get that sense when I saw Todd Hido's large minimalist landscapes in the same venue. Soth's landscapes however, lend themselves to a variety of details throughout the picture area that work both in the small hidden corners, as well as in the large expanses that dominate. The magic comes in viewing them as they work together as one organic whole. As John Szarkowski reminds us, the surface of the photographic print is but a mirror, we don't have the texture of a painting's canvas to help mediate and transform the experience for us.

With so much attention given to the process of making photographic books of late, I think we may need to pay a bit more attention to how photographs are displayed in their ultimate and presumably most potent form of presentation.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mea Culpa!

Well, I haven't made a royal arse of myself in quite some time, so guess I was due- and it was a beaut! And even though my misplaced comment was meant as a casual aside without any real malice, I feel particularly bad because The Exposure Project post was meant to celebrate a very worthwhile achievement which I would never try to undermine. The fact is, it's a damn shame that something the likes of The Collector's Guide to Emerging Art Photography has taken so long to be published, and those behind it (and in it) deserve all the credit possible!

Monday, January 26, 2009

El Camino del Rey

I recently posted on what a grand adventure doing Bolivia's Road of Death would be- but this is one I have no such "romance" for whatsoever. Why the former and not the latter? Besides the more obvious, in your face confrontation with acrophobia that the latter provides, it also presents one with little more photographic opportunity than some apprehensive point of view shots, and a few picture postcard scenics. The ends just don't justify the means in my book...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things You Wouldn't Know If We Didn't Blog It

TYWKIWDBI is one of the rare ones that you can spend many an hour or rainy/snowy afternoon on (and actually not feel that guilty about). Plenty o' stuff and more to make one laugh, think and just have fun reading and looking at. If I ever have a blog...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Any Ideas?

Not very impressive in this still shot on Inauguration Day- but do watch the video; this thing really moves (and on higher def version can be seen behind the trees on left)! Of course, I have no idea regarding the authenticity of this footage, but one would think if an obvious forgery, CNN would have immediately moved to emphatically declare it as such (first with outright indignation, then with a few laughs thrown in)- and not just quietly remove it from their site. Hopefully, more later...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

FWIW: My Top 30 Photo Books

What isn't a surprise here is how many truly great books are left out. What was the most admittedly subjective criteria used? Well, the most obvious- I had to own said book, and it had to inspire and be accessible on a multitude of levels, actively serving to place you in the world it seeks to portray or recreate, thus causing one to return again, and again, and again... Frequently, the love that went into the making of the photographs also extended into the making of the book itself, so that content and presentation complement each other to create one uniquely endearing work of art.

So... in no particular order:

1) In The American West -- Richard Avedon; one of portraiture's giants at his peak.

2) Ambiguous Ambassador- Tseng Kwong Chi; from humorous to majestic, all great photographs that happen to be self portraits.

3) Uncommon Places- Stephen Shore; the common made uncommon in color.

4) Madness- Claudio Edinger; beautiful images straight from hell.

5) Glory- Robert D'allessandro; the epitome of early seventies, wide angle, Tri-X documentary.

6) The Killing Fields; "art" by genocide...

7) The Inner City- Joseph Mills; street photography in dream time.

8) American Prospects- Joel Sternfeld; Americana redefined.

9) The Silence -- Gilles Peress; genocide and poetry in Africa.

10) Farewell To Bosnia-- Gilles Peress; genocide and poetry in Europe.

11) The Lost Border- Brian Rose; lyrical ghost imagery of bygone era.

12) Coney Island- Bruce Gilden; mid seventies NY at its grainy, idiosyncratic best.

13) Seydou Keita- Scalo (publ); the king of "outsider" portraiture, whether in his village in Africa or on opening night at the Gagosian in NYC on 10/23/97.

14) Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue- Eugene Richards; beauty in the depths of the human condition.

15) Inferno - James Nachtwey; high intensity, world wide drama crammed into 1 x 1 1/2.

16) Rich & Poor- Jim Goldberg; an intimate look into rich v poor. Guess who comes out looking worse...

17) Diane Arbus- Aperture (publ); the queen of portraiture.

18) William Eggleston's Guide- The Revolutionary Handbook.

19) The Last Resort- Martin Parr; stories within stories, live and in color.

20) Troubled Land- Paul Graham; tension and forboding in the land of beauty.

21) A Green And Pleasant Land- John Davies; landscapes past, present and forever.

22) Central Park -- Bruce Davidson; wonder and discovery in the manmade microcosm.

23) Sticks And Stones- Lee Friedlander: the swan song of swan songs.

24) Along the Ohio- Andrew Borowiec; middle America made familiar and magical.

25) The Black Triangle- Joseph Koudelka; a land laid waste in all its epic grandeur.

26) The Oxford Project- Peter Feldstein; the most simple of projects, the most brilliant of presentations.

27) Found in Brooklyn- Thomas Roma; neighborhood wonderland.

28) The Innocents- Taryn Simon; American tragedy as real as it gets.

29) At Dusk and By The Ground- by Boris Mihailov; two hard cover volumes of the most depressing panoramics imaginable sold in one package, haphazardly printed and toned into... true works of art.

30) The Americans -- Robert Frank; The New Testament.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009



Don't get me wrong, I'm not delusional. He is not the messiah and he cannot lead us into utopia. But for eight long years I prayed for the day I would finally awaken from a nightmare the likes of which had previously inhabited only the very worst of TV plot lines. HOPE is more than I dared dream those long, lost years... And this song keeps ringing in my head!

In the meantime...

And how long before they believe This Madness?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gary McKinnon

Remember how NASA and the USA were going to make such a take no prisoners example of Gary McKinnon for hacking into NASA files concerning UFOs- well, maybe not so much anymore. Interesting...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Portraits and Fractions

If you haven't caught these yet, then by all means do so... First, there's the very handsome 5th edition of Fraction magazine with lots of great stuff to look at, and then there's this series of portraits by Nadav Kander that range from the droll (consider the subject matter) to the truly exceptional, most of them fortunately leaning towards the latter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Alternate Realities...

It is with considerable guilt, considerable, that I am afforded the luxury of escape from my comparably hum drum world, unlike others who are (quite literally) trapped within the physical confines of their daily horror. A half hour bike ride grants me access to my personal fortress of solitude and favorite pet cemetery, which this very short and amateur footage of the Presidio Pet Cemetery portrays courtesy of the wife's walking feet. The sounds you hear overhead are not the death sirens of incoming artillery shells or Apache attack helicopters, but of everyday commuters hustling the on ramp of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Is What BULLSHIT Looks Like, This Is What BULLSHIT Smells Like...

And we (that is, every single, goddamn fool) who voted for this rich, sick, son of a bitch for not just four (how long does it take an adult to realize someone's pissing in their face?)- but eight long years of ritual abuse and neglect, willingly gave them license to rub it in our face over, and over, and over again...

And this is what we got- we'd best remember, and learn.

Ask Your Average American...

Who broke the the Israeli/Hamas cease fire? Answer- here.

So why exactly are Palestinian women and children being slaughtered by the hundreds again?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Hey! Submissions continue to come in for the first edition, and we're rather pleased the way things are shaping up! That said, all the more reason for you to submit. We're currently considering expanding our original parameters in order to show more work, and at the very least- there's always the next issue! In the meantime-

Please Note:

A number of people have been inquiring as to what actually constitutes gallery representation (unlike what constitutes being 35 & over), and after considerable debate and discussion, we've decided to forego gallery representation as a deal breaker. We're going to assume that photographers the likes of an Annie Liebowitz or Jeff Wall are not going to submit to Expiration Notice for the much needed added exposure. So for everyone else thirty five and over (except maybe Terry Richardson and Cindy Sherman), the water's fine...

Gallery representation does not figure into judging- it's about the work!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hank Willis Thomas- Pitch Blackness

The variety of imagery, manipulated or "straight," found in Pitch Blackness by Hank Willis Thomas all comment on the enduring and intertwining legacy of slavery, racism and capitalism in these United States. His astute parodies of commercial product imagery serve brilliantly in chronicling the evolving history between a black minority that has always proved a valuable commodity from the earliest days of bondage to the modern day reality of multimillion dollar endorsements. The rules have also evolved, but the power structure remains steadfast. And in the background, the documentation of his own family members serve to remind us of the real flesh and blood survivors who have sacrificed, endured and in some measure prospered despite this tenuous, not so ambiguous relationship.

Pity we don't have more great art that examines its relationship with money, rather than art created solely to make it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Back to the Future...

Unless I win the lottery (which from what I hear is hard enough to do even if you do actually play), I'll be working till the day I drop (as will countless other fellow citizens, worldwide). But if I do have a couple of dollars come "retirement age," I'm gonna sell my present camera equipment (sell- ha; more like... retire) and pick me up one of these Bessa beauties along with a 21, 28, and 35mm. Small, chic and retro, it's no way as versatile as a digital or even film SLR, so I wouldn't be able to take all the shots I regularly take, but the whole kit will probably weigh less than my current F100 sans lens, and by that age I won't be scampering about for that "lifetime" shot any more, anyway.

Then again, by that time I just might not be able to part with my stripped down Nikon full frame D1500 body that I picked up brand new for ohh... say... $1,250- or a perfected micro 4/3 equivalent for $500. Or maybe, maybe I'll finally get all out lucky and pick up a mint cond Plaubel Makina 67 w/55mm WA Nikkor for $300 at a garage sale just across the street! I guess this is what ya call California dreamin'...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vintage Friedlander?

Hardly! Rex Heflin was a California highway inspector who shot an interesting series of photos in 1965 with his job related Polaroid. Computer analysis of the original prints have detected no apparent forgery or manipulation of any kind, and match perfectly with Mr. Heflin's account of relative size and distance of said object. Three shots within twenty seconds, a feat easily recreated by a former Polaroid executive.

Now here's the question even I could figure out. A fourth picture he took just minutes later, of the "smoke ring" it left behind when he emerged from his pick up, revealed a highly detailed, cloudy sky very much different from the first three. Easily explainable, or proof of hoax?
Technical data: Polaroid Model 101,114 mm focal length, variable aperture, built-in light meter, automatic settings; Type 107 black & white film, ASA 3000.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Robert Fisk- The Man In The Know

Robert Fisk is a journalist who has lived in the Middle East for years, and who has repeatedly risked his life in every major battle zone there (incl Iraq), while other journalists stay confined in their hotels where they do their "reporting." See him speak, here...

Yes, Israelis deserve security. Twenty Israelis dead in 10 years around Gaza is a grim figure indeed. But 600 Palestinians dead in just over a week, thousands over the years since 1948 – when the Israeli massacre at Deir Yassin helped to kick-start the flight of Palestinians from that part of Palestine that was to become Israel – is on a quite different scale.
Photo: Steve Payne

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Zoe Strauss

You gotta give it to Zoe Strauss for her uniquely sharing relationship with her community, and her art... And her book America (which I just saw) shoulda been on my top '08 book list!

Pirates and Furniture

So I get this email yesterday asking if I would "review" their Asian styled furniture on Reciprocity Failure- a task for which I would be handsomely paid. I wish I had a punch line for this, but really, this one's good as is, and maybe even better than the nice Nigerian fellows who all want to make me rich once I send them money.

Ah yes, the pirates! As I was reading (and rereading) said email, Thom Hartmann informed us on his radio show that those infamous Somali pirates who have been so in the news of late have quite the tale of origin... Somalia being the basically lawless state that it is, seems that Italian organized crime took to dumping all sorts of chemical and nuclear waste on their northern coastline, resulting in hundreds of Somalis dying of radiation poisoning! In addition, several countries sent their massive fishing trawlers to rape their coastlines clean of fish. So what else do fisherman do in a country awash in weapons and deprived of its one and only viable industry? Interesting, huh?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Why does AT&T and Verizon now make you pay for Flikr Pro?

AT&T and Verizon Internet Services have reworked their broadband packages and will no longer be offering Flickr pro to subscribers after January 31, 2009.

Ohhh!!! They reworked their broadband package- that certainly describes it to my satisfaction. If they hadn't reworked it, and say... left it well enough alone- it would still be free. If they hadn't bought it up and absorbed it into their conglomerate financial monstrosity, it would still be free. If they hadn't seen an easy way to make a shitload of money on one of the last free things in life- it would still be free!

Monday, January 5, 2009

So Long Suckas...

From the 1/04/09 Frank Rich NY Times op-ed:

This document is the literary correlative to “Mission Accomplished.” Bush kept America safe (provided his presidency began Sept. 12, 2001). He gave America record economic growth (provided his presidency ended December 2007). He vanquished all the leading Qaeda terrorists (if you don’t count the leaders bin Laden and al-Zawahri). He gave Afghanistan a thriving “market economy” (if you count its skyrocketing opium trade) and a “democratically elected president” (presiding over one of the world’s most corrupt governments). He supported elections in Pakistan (after propping up Pervez Musharraf past the point of no return). He “led the world in providing food aid and natural disaster relief” (if you leave out Brownie and Katrina).

And perhaps more importantly- thanks for the memories... (in word)

And in image!!!

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters

Was gonna post something photo related I had already written up, but it just seemed so damned obscene when half a world away our military proxy is proactively expanding its slaughter of women and children in a conveniently walled up ghetto (funny how we humans learn)- and who are we to criticize after our own little foray into en masse civilian slaughter the last five years...

For those I offended with said statement and will therefore feel obliged to respond with their righteous indignation, justifications, or outright insults- both sides are every bit the mad dog left standing in the desert sun for centuries on end. They both deserve to rot in hell together for the outright barbarism they delight on inflicting upon each other. And I'd leave it at that if it wasn't for the the children they insist on bringing into this world and then poisoning with their putrid, fanatical hatred. Again, for how many centuries?

But write and shout they will, of who are the more civilized, the more justified, the more moral and righteous and benevolent- even as their very children die for their everlasting blood lust. Accountability and responsibility forever the fault of the other...

Images from the video footage of 12-year-old Muhammad al-Durrah being shot dead in the Gaza Strip. Click on photos for respective links & more photos...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Expiration Notice- Accepting Submissions...

It's on! Stan B. of Reciprocity Failure and Mark Page of Manchester Photography will be accepting submissions on an ongoing basis, for Expiration Notice- the online gallery for photographers thirty five and over, who have no gallery representation, and have long had that outstanding body of work or recent project that just shouldn't be denied.

If you rule on Flickr, you've already found your niche; if you've struggled in relative anonymity, producing and persevering through life thus far- this may well be your venue. You have till 1/31 for the first run on 2/09- details here... Represent, and lets fill these pages with work overlooked yet worthy of any gallery wall or printed page!

Help us make this worth your effort!