Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Prison Break!

If you've never checked out Pete Brook's Prison Photography because of its first name, you've really shortchanged yourself when it comes to the latter- as can be clearly seen in just these two recent posts. He now plans to take his show on the road- that is, perform the necessary footwork to give us a more accurate representation of what occurs behind prison walls, how that information is collected, interpreted and presented, and how it ultimately affects... us. And even if you don't have the slightest interest in such issues- you damn well should, simply because it affects all our lives, personally and collectively, whether you wish to acknowledge it, or not.

Ultimately, most of those incarcerated will be back within society- that being fact, isn't it in everyone's best (ie- own, selfish, self) interest, that we do at least the minimum of what's necessary to have them help themselves transition back into society? Forget moral considerations- it strikes me as pure common sense, if not outright self preservation.

I won't attempt to highlight and describe all that Mr. Brook will be attempting to achieve in this most ambitious of Kickstarter projects- please, take the time to have him explain it himself. It's a project very much steeped in photographic tradition and possibility that stands to reap an impressive bounty of work and information (visual and otherwise) that can help make we the public that much more aware of a purposely hidden world whose gravity so greatly affects our own.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Blatant (Selves) Promotion

If A Vandal And A Slut Is All I Can Afford To Be Right Now, I'm Fine With That.

Jesus Fuckn Christ Wuz Here '05

HWY 99 Car Wash

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The WhistleBlower

It's certainly not the best made film in the world, and as far from a feel good, date movie as one can possibly ever get- which is why it's a tribute to the ability of Rachel Weisz to keep you focused and involved in subject matter the likes of the human trafficking of underage women, subject matter that makes one want to deny even the slightest relation or association with anything related to humanity. 

I've heard people refer to the human race as a "weed species." After seeing this movie you leave full well realizing just how much of a step up that would be. The WhistleBlower depicts just one area and period of time that encapsulates an ongoing pandemic, one fueled by equal parts misogyny, privatization, and globalization. But however way you choose to describe or rationalize such behavior, you cannot escape the feeling, the reality that it is part of an inherent evil that is so very much of our collective (human) being.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Past Present!

My main joy with analog, which this tribute (good as it is) overlooks, is not only after the fact, but during, when you get to handle and interact with a precision piece of refined metal and machinery that has been crafted and perfected (as much as humanly possible) to its assigned task. A lot more fun than a plastic box with a plastic view screen. (Thank you, Photokaboom)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Generations From Now..."

"...we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment the rise of the oceans began to slow." -- Barack Obama (upon winning the Democratic nomination)

Of course, that will be a long time after they rise faster and farther once he signs the tar sands pipeline deal- a very long time well after he's President. Meanwhile, we don't have to look too far in the present to witness his most recent cave, when he nodded his approval of deep sixing Eric Schneiderman, the rare investigator/prosecutor anxious to nail the big banks who have become addicted to nailing common citizenry to the wall.

President Obama can slam dunk any Republican rival when it comes to intelligence or oratory- and yet we have to pray and close our eyes that he completes so much as a simple lay up come game time. Generations from now will ask why the President elected to do so many of the things the world so desperately needed, allowed their world to degrade yet further into its death throes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home...

I'll be going home to New York come the beginning of September to visit the folks, and in particular, to be there for the 9/11 ten year anniversary  (unbelievably, 1st responders are not invited to the ceremony). I'll have much more to say concerning this anniversary come the 9/11 weekend (so please tune in then), otherwise the blog will be slow (as in very) for the first half or so of that month since I'll be away in the media capital of the world w/o so much as a computer (save for the rental at the frozen yogurt store across the street from my folks- if still there).

I look forward to seeing the new 9/11 WTC Memorial, although I wish the vast majority of my remembrances of and since that fateful day could all be magically wiped clean- along with the various criminals, liars and crazies that have managed to drive this country down to its very rims as we spark on down that long back road into fiscal, religious and civic insanity.

Actually, regular citizens will not be able to enter the memorial site itself until after 9/ll (it can fit only so many people due to ongoing construction)- and then only with a reservation, which I luckily just found out about through the site above (the museum will not open until 2012).

PS- Anyone wishing to join up for a beer in NYC, do let me know (along with the requisite: pierogies, pizza, bagels, blintzes, potato latkes, cuchifritos, egg creams, etc, etc).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beyond Photography's Concern- Stephen Shames

Photo: Stephen Shames

It's forever debated just how much effect "concerned photography" can have on it's subject matter. And it's usually regurgitated with the same arguments, indeed, the same fervor- and the same (non)conclusions. Meanwhile, we all get to go home feeling as if we all accomplished as much as humanly possible under the circumstances, full well knowing all we did was once again absolve ourselves of all possible guilt and responsibility.

This photographer was not satisfied with rationalizations, and realized the need to take it to the next logical, obvious step that is the very purpose of concerned photography, namely- direct involvement. This is a photographer who lived the debate and followed its natural conclusion to achieve what the camera and endless masturbatory chatter alone cannot. Stephen Shames finally realized that at some point he had to put down the camera to personally help those he had so emphatically shown needed it most.

You can read about how he eventually did just that towards the end of this most enlightening interview, and how he came to develop the ability to enter (and eventually touch) the lives of those so outwardly different, who only echoed his own yet to be discovered self.

Friday, August 19, 2011

10/06/11 (ie- 06/10/11)

Maybe if I lead a chaste and productive remainder of my life I'll be reincarnated as Chris Hedges (yeah, I doubt it too). In the meantime, please, sign the petition to stop the Verizon bastards who profited by the Billion$ this year, and as a result are rewarding their workers with cuts to their pensions, health benefits and wages, in addition to firing those on strike... Capitalism- making America strong!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Will Steacy- Helluva Balancing Act

Sometimes my mind blocks things out automatically for me, I guess to protect me- otherwise I'd rapidly overload from the perpetual insanity this world delivers on a daily basis from every source and orifice imaginable. Occasionally however, it means I don't get to notice, reflect and possibly even savor that bit of insanity that went by so under appreciated. Such was the case with Will Steacy's essay on old paper money- which my eyes' saw, but my mind immediately negated... until Noah Beil thankfully brought it to my attention once again. Only then did the neurons properly commence into its full reality mode of disbelief. How did something of such outright negligible aesthetics get featured in both a leading art photo blog and NPR? I remember seeing better macro lens test shots of paper money in Pop Photo during the seventies! The mind reeled- I could clearly see why it had gone into rapid defense disposal mode.

Photo: Will Steacy

So I looked into this Will Steacy character to see what manner of images this man had created up until this visual travesty, and they were... very good ones! And so the neurons misfired anew, as I viewed various essays containing top notch, quality photography: portraits, landscapes, still lifes. I guess just as every dog may have its day, every pedigree can lay down its own true stinker. Granted, that doesn't particularly explain why some would actually reward the latter...

Photo: Will Steacy

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Live And Learn (More or Less)...

I recently posted a question on Flickr (first time) concerning "street photography" that I originally posted here. It concerned photographs not unlike the one above that are very much of the street, but not particularly of the style or subject matter most commonly associated with "traditional" street photography. Things got off to a rather rocky start to say the least before (fortunately) settling down into a more productive, positive space. I'm not going to reiterate all that transpired, but you can check it out (or not) if interested...

Meanwhile, I developed a roll in which I witnessed an image that was truly magical upon first sight. It was from a distance, but miraculous all the same. And then (could it be?), fate was to smile down upon me and have it actually reoccur when I was within shooting range? I just had time enough to focus, compose... and time it perfectly! Did I just bottle that lightning- or what!? It was the second or third frame of the roll- so I had time aplenty to savor the mind's eye image, imagine the grandeur, sweat the unknowing uncertainty.*

Alas, it was nevertheless, not meant to be. The kid got played. The photo gods were just not going to grace me with fruition this time around- in fact, they were quite content to engage me in their rather cruel hoax of allowing me that rare and privileged second chance at glory, full well knowing that it was only to result in the permanent degradation of my once miraculously visionary moment into that of a well done, everyday snapshot. Very cruel, and at the least, unnecessary punishment.

Strangely enough however, they were not beyond throwing me some small bone of consolation deep within the recesses of same said roll, a throw away shot (so I presumed) of some throw away shoes discovered on my way to grab a cup o' Joe during lunch one workday. There's a lesson there somewhere...

*OK, OK- it was a shot of three, thirteen or so budding ballerinas posing for their strategically placed point and shoot, as they struck a pose with their best ballerina high kick (I'm sure there must be a name for it) with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. I failed to capture the magic (was it even there the 2nd time around?)- but it could have been worse... as soon as I pressed the shutter I immediately expected a big beefy hand to twirl me around by the scruff of the neck, as a red faced, bulging eyed maniac demanded to know what the hell a pervert like me thought he was doing to those young girls. Perhaps the photo gods weren't quite as pernicious as they well could have.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Cure For Cancer!

I started the week with Lee Camp, and I sure as hell can't think of a better way to end it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Are You A "Street Photographer?"

Photo: Stan Banos

Is street photography making a comeback? Don't rightly know. At least ninety per cent of what I shoot is taken on the street, although that doesn't particularly qualify me as an official "street photographer." That term's specifically reserved for the work of those who shoot people in quick, often quirky, off kilter compositions with ironic juxtapositions that incorporate some visual sense of irony, humor or serendipity. Or something like that...

I love "traditional" street photography as much as the next guy, I just don't do the shoot from the hip people thing, that often, that well. Mine usually come off as 2nd rate imitations- as do most other peoples. Better off to simply try and find that little niche you best serve on whatever corner of life it may be.

I'm tempted to call certain kinds of street photography urban landscapes, but that conjures up city skylines with pretty sunsets, or urban still lifes (lives?)- all equally absurd misnomers... The next two guys also shoot primarily in the street, their work every bit wonderful to say the very least- and yet, neither would be considered street photographers in the traditional sense.

Photo: Brian Rose

Brian Rose traced something once called the Berlin Wall all over the streets of East and West Berlin and beyond in one of my favorite books called The Lost Border. He also shoots the streets where he lives in New York. The wonderful photo above is a simple miracle of beauty and magic. Simple as a snapshot, miraculous because I know just how hard and rare it is to catch something so innocent and wondrous on the streets of NYC.

Photo: Alan George

Alan George covers the grit and beauty of the streets of San Francisco. This guy gets around, although you won't see many, if any, people in his work. I think he's one of the more talented and underrated street photographers working the streets of any town today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It All Started 30 Long Years Ago...

America's downward slide into the current cesspool of incessant lies and economic enslavement started on August 5th, 1981-  and Michael Moore does an excellent job tracing its origin...

Let's Do It!

Makes for a good one-two combination in conjunction with yesterday's video. Besides, he just happens to be 100% right- despite the very (very) hesitant looks on his guests' faces...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pick Your Poison...

Can't speak for anyoneone else, but I find staring at these endlessly more fascinating than looking at any LCD screen on the back of any camera...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Liars Come In Every Color

An American is attempting to sue the lying, torturing, son of a bitch called Donald Rumsfeld as none other than Obama's Justice Dept desperately struggles to get the whole damn ugly mess thrown out of court... the same administration that has made an open mockery of their "dedication" to something called "transparency."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Disciples- James Mollison

Photo: James Mollison- The Disciples

I recently caught James Mollison's book The Disciples and was reminded of the work of two other photographers: one was Richard Avedon and his group portrait of The Chicago Seven, the other, David Yellen and his Too Fast For Love heavy metal portraits. The latter covers similar material and is a revealing essay of music fans and groupies done on location. The Chicago Seven portrait (along with several other Avedon's B&W group portraits) is a more formally lit studio production. 

Photo: James Mollison- The Disciples

James Mollison's The Disciples mirror and combine the aforementioned work while providing several distinct differences. First off, like so many of Yellen's, they're funny as hell- ever the moreso. Mollison's individual portraits are seemingly taken at different intervals and locales, only to be stitched together in post processing into panoramic "group" portraits- unlike Avedon's iconic photo where the group was photographed in three adjoining photos taken in one session. Mollison's color photos lack the scholarly studio gravitas of Avedon's B&W portraits; the use of color along with the often garish costumes are almost cartoonish, and more naturally lend themselves to humor- the stitched portraits even tend to read like like cartoon strips.

Photo: David Yellen- Too Fast For Love

At first this somewhat turned me off; by mashing them together thus, he was weakening and sublimating the power of each individual portrait- and there's many a strong and powerful portrait to be found amongst them. Perhaps if he shot in B&W, it would have lent the work that certain aura of gravitas that would have made them go beyond the cartoon and into the realm of "serious" portraiture. He would have then had the best of both worlds together in every shot. Yellen's location portraits, humorous as they may be, still retain a documentary edge that proclaims- yeah, they're funny but it's serious shit all the same. 

But a curious thing happened. Instead of dismissing them in rapid fire fashion as the mere cartoon strips they first appear to be, I found myself looking more and more at them- comparing, contrasting, noting individual differences and similarities. In short, I was spending quite a bit more time on them than I ever thought necessary. After I let go my self imposed "artistic" limitations and preconceptions, I began to enjoy them even more. Maybe this particular coffee table presentation is exactly what this subject matter demands! It certainly caught my attention then, and continues to do so now.*

Photo: Richard Avedon: The Chicago Seven

PS- You can purchase James Mollison's The Disciples in two distinct sizes- and the smaller is a bargain! I just recently broke down and bought Destroy This Memory by Richard Misrach- not because I had lingering doubts as to how good it was, but because it was simply so damn big and ungainly. I had been hoping that Mr. Misrach would release it in a new, smaller size- but after hearing him speak on video about that project, I realized he was very set and particular about how his work was to be viewed and distributed, and that sadly, along with wall sized prints, the overly large photo book is here to stay.

PPS- Mollison's Where Children Sleep is another fascinating essay/book well worth a look...

*Besides, what the hell do I freakin' know? I've been trying to balance equal and varying amounts of humor and "gravitas" in my own work for decades, and what do I have to show for it- a lifetime contract with Blurb.

Monday, August 1, 2011

If You Can't Take The Heat...

Where are all the Republican Senators that were seen throwing snowballs last winter in front of the US Capitol Building in DC to "disprove" global warming?