Sunday, August 26, 2007

Interview ( with myself )

So, what is with the scanner?

TA: I guess I'm trying to find a way to show the stuff of my life in the most un emotional, objective, clean documentative way that I can. I want to be able to look at this stuff, with one less decision in the mix. Do you like it?

Hmmm, well, it gets a bit tiresome, it starts to look like a gimmick, but I'll accept it, see where it goes.

TA: Cool. Then, this other thing is that all my friends are telling me I should be shooting this on film. I was all into going in that direction...I wanted these things to look beautiful as well, thus film, but then someone came over my place the other day and she showed me this project by Ari Marcopoulos, and she said that his whole thing was not elitist: he wanted to only make images that could be processed by Walgreens or something like that. His project was his family, his 2 boys, so now...I'm back to embracing the digital, the scanner, stickers, lick-on-tattoos, etc.

I see. Talking yourself into the lazy way out, huh?

TA: Yeah, totally.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Niagara Undertones

I had so much fun on Monday afternoon as a guest lecturer at San Francisco Art Institutes' "Finding Your Subject" photo class. I was asked to put together a slide show on the projects that preceded "Sex Machines", so I had to dig thru a bunch of early work and try to find the link between all of these projects. Worked on it Sunday, nervously went over it on Monday morning and then hustled over to the SFAI to deal with the talk . I was a bit suspicious: the entire speaking gig had been arranged via blackberry emails while I was chasing my kids around at the park on Saturday morning: "Please show up at noon, room 16a. No need to call, just come by"

Sunday night it struck me. This was possibly a set up. A large scale practical joke arranged by lord knows who, devised to punish and humiliate me for lord knows what...maybe for taking myself too seriously."Hahahaha...Sex Machine guy....hahaha...yeah, please come and discuss the depth of your work....hahahaha....." But it was too late: I already told all my friends I was doing this talk.

We find room 16a up a narrow stairway. We knock on the door, the room is dark. I dunno...this can't be the place. A friendly looking guy approaches. Who is that guy in the feed cap? Looks kinda like the guy working the beer concession at the ball park., I'll have two more please. Oh, it's Magnum photographer, Sleeping By The Mississippi and Niagara author Alec Soth! He's running the class five days a week, 9 am to 4 pm, for two weeks. The students come in and come out two weeks later, enlightened. Sounds like boot camp, basic training, and Minor White all wrapped up in one.

Just to get to the heart of the matter over lunch, I blurt out the question that his been on my mind for months now: " What is up with those naked people in Niagara?"

And there, with a bite of tuna sandwich on his plate, a bowl of macaroni and cheese between us, he addresses it as if I was asking him if I could borrow his lawnmower. Straight up, no apologies, I got my answer. Niagara was about love: the honeymoon at Niagara Falls, the hotel rooms, the love letters, the wedding rings...and then these undertones of sexuality, specifically relating to the penis. Every naked couple in the book...the man is exposed, the woman is tastefully covered. Soth photographs himself awkwardly in the mirror of a hotel room, tilting his body and exposing himself, reflected in the hotel bathroom mirror. " sounds like Viagra, then the falls are this rushing explosion of water, a fluid, a force", he straightforwardly explains.

I drove home and looked thru the book. The theory holds up. Like listening to Dark Side of The Moon and watching Wizard of Oz simultaneously, you just gotta go home and try it. You'll never look at the book the same way again.

alec soth ( center) and sfai class

top photo of falls by alec soth, excerpted from Niagra

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Photographer : Roger Minick

Photographer Roger Minick made the world safe for photographers like Martin Parr and Bill Owens to do their thing: be weird and funny and honest behind the camera, and let the world appreciate it. No apologies, no explanations needed. I came across this old invitation today tucked in a book from a Roger Minick exhibit in 1997. The beloved Yosemite shot, shown, was shot in 1980. Click on the shot to see it in all it's splendor. If Martin Parr has not admitted to studying that photograph to memorize its inner workings, he certainly should.

Below are two other shots from Minick from 2005. Enjoy.

all photographs by Roger Minick

Friday, August 17, 2007

Broken Eyeglasses 8/17/07

Purchased in June 2000, these eyeglasses broke in half tonite. I went to rescan the twig that my son had so eloquently bent into a perfect square a few weeks back, and of course it had been broken as well. See below:

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pictures From Home

So what is with all these weird images of my kid?

I'm not sure myself. I do feel like I'm trying to create, with photographs, a map, a diagram, a sentence that somehow communicates all the stuff that arises when dealing with my 5 year old boy. Wonder, discovery, emotional chaos, and a feral sense of physical randomness are the words I use when trying to describe the project to myself or others. The pictures may be communicating something else...I just don't know yet.

Raising kids, for me, is intense. Always a struggle. Totally fascinating and rewarding, but the rewards don't come easy. I've always been confused by photographers who depict the whole child experience with Hallmark Card emotions. I think it shortchanges both the kids and the parents: it doesn't allow the children the complexity of emotions that they have, and it doesn't really touch on the whole flesh and blood, for-better-and-for-worse qualities of the experience.

Yes, I so love it when my kids are giggling and running down the beach. But these other emotions are just a bit more interesting to try to touch on and explore. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My Friend's Kid

A popular source book came in the mail yesterday. It looked like a relic from Hiroshima: twisted and bent into a mass of paper, glue and photography. My wife's mom was over and showed me this tragically mangled book. She asked me if I had a photo in it. I did and it looked kind of interesting in its altered state, but not as curious as the cover which featured a photo of my friend's kid:

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Susana Raab Sets The Record Straight

photograph by susana raab

Got this note from Susana Raab about the post on her work earlier in the week. You think this is boring? Keep in mind, readers, this is the history of photography you are witnessing:

About the allegedly eaten print, this is the sitch: said dog, one Teddy Roosevelt, was being watched by one Kenneth Harper, web guru emeritus, in Athens, Ohio, whilst owner was making foray into wilds of West Virginia. Said dog, Teddy Roosevelt, spied one Timothy Archibald original print, black and white FIBER no less, of a ventriloquist and his dummy, either propped insouciant and unframed against a wall or lying on the floor.

photograph by timothy archibald

Teddy Roosevelt has a habit garnered from God knows where of burrowing like a little hamster into a pile of newspaper on the floor, and delicious as said print is, T. Ro saw this opportunity as a chance to create a little silver gelatin nest of his own. Owner returned from West Virginia and when confronted with the horrible shreds of truth lying on the floor by angry Kenneth Harper, tried, without success due to apathy of one artiste (initials T.A.), to make amends by purchasing a duplicate of the print. Alas, with the publication of Sex Machines, I'm sure his print prices have skyrocketed, but perhaps for a lesser known work we can work out a deal. At least now Ken can now the truth, that God help me I tried to make it right, I really did.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Photographer : Susana Raab

Susana Raab's dog ate one of my prints. I got a note from her probably 100 years ago ...most likely in 1999, though it seems like forever ago. She was living in Kentucky or someplace like that, house sitting for someone who had a print of mine. Her dog ate the print and she was writing to see if she could buy a new print for the guy from me. Of course, I kind of ignored the note and the whole process of selling the print to the just seemed too messy. I wanted to stay out of it.

Last year I got to see her work at Review Santa Fe and it was the first work I saw for the length of the workshop that really made me laugh out loud. Amidst photographers' serious large format images of empty parking lots, construction sites, things that look like art but don't really move you, Raab's odd fascination with ugly American culture just seemed hysterical.

"Consumed" is the project here. Raab's obsessions: Ronald McDonald, fast food, marketing overload, testasterone driven guys and commercially sexualized women all roll together in this project. She introduces the work with a quote from the bible:

"a hungry man dreameth, and, behold he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty"
-Isaiah, 29:8

and follows it up with a more in depth artist's statement. In the end, the project needs little explaining. Raab could have let the project fall into some type of political propaganda, but it never really ends up in that direction. It walks the fine line and hits the tone just right.

For me, I couldn't shake that cycle of serendipity: the project is called "Consumed", it is about Americans and what they eat, Raab's dog ate my photograph, and on and on....

See Consumed and Raab's other projects HERE.
Read her at times very funny blog titled "Look Underfoot" HERE.