Monday, January 28, 2013

Every Photographer Wants To Be Bruce Davidson

Photographer Kurt Jordan bought this vintage 1996 TA photograph from an Ebay seller specializing in mexican cultural artifacts. See my post on this sale HERE.

So curious and wonderful to see the image hanging in his home, below, under a print by Danny Lyon. I had to dig out my print, scan it and post it.

There is a time when every photographer thinks he or she is Bruce Davidson, Danny Lyon, maybe even Robert Frank. ( These days, substitute Cindy Sherman?) For me, this was that time. Eventually I grew out of it and found my own voice. But at the time, 1996, this photograph was a crowd pleaser of sorts: everyone loved it, and I liked it too.

So thankful that Kurt was caring enough to snap a photograph and bring this all full circle. Great experience for me, and I hope he enjoys the print just as much.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Well of course I had to ask.

Artists need to be fawned upon...especially by other artists.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dali Wasn't Hard To Find, Was He?

I was real excited to work on the recent Rick Smolan / Jennifer Erwitt project The Human Face Of Big Data. Editor Mark Rykoff had a great vision for the project and seemed to trust the photographers to address the myriad of subjects however they wished. Total freedom, really. My spread of the company Code For America is above- shot as a 9 image composite.

I was happily surprised to find out the cover was created by fellow Tidepool Reps artist Michael Tompert of Raygun Studio. Michael and I found ourselves across the table at dinner last month.

At dinner we were talking about Salvador Dali- his work, his persona, his theatricality. I took the stance that I thought Dali's work really held it's own. I thought it was great, it deserved to be part of history as it is, and that his theatricality was unneccesary. Tompert paused, thought about that, and responded: 

Don't you think there were other surrealist painters working at the time? They probably were just as good or better but you wouldn't know where to find them. Now Dali, he wasn't hard to find at all, was he? And he was not someone you were going to forget.

Why is that relevant to this book? It isn't. But it was such a dead on universal quote, it has been in my head for months now. And now I'm sharing it with you.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today's Location / Gift From God

Some days you simply show up.

The prize is handed to you.

You simply need to receive it.

And take note.

And then there are the other 364 days.

Today I just closed my eyes and received it.

Thank you.

I needed easy.

New Scientist 1/12/2013

Interesting essay on the Uncanny Valley by author Joe Kloc in New Scientist this week with an inspired edit from my Robots Are Real series by photo editor Kirstin Jennings.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Ebay Economy or The Arc of a Photograph

This was a suprise to find on Ebay. A collector of Hispanic ephemera is selling one of my photographs from 1995. Bad news / good news it is 50% off! Here is how the seller, username "Nachomamma" defines the photograph:



Get it, see it, buy it for $100 HERE.


UPDATE as of 1/21/2013: The photograph was purchased by L.A. based photographer Kurt Jordan for his personal collection. It ended with an auction price of $200.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


photograph by cynthia wood
Well...hard to complain when you are assigned to shoot in Muttville.
And really, there is not much more to say.

Friday, January 11, 2013

In Your Snail Mail Box

Direct mail piece launching today from our shoot last year with the serious folk at Duncan Channing Advertising.

For the time capsule!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Rough Science

MIT Technology Review sent us to the labs of Tactus Technology for what really was a pure science story. Design director Eric Mongeon clearly spelled out the approach for the story by explaining that the science was more important than the portraits here.
Trying to let him know I understood, I think I spelled it back out to him as such:
If this was a play, the science would be the star, the protagonist.
The people, the portraits, they would be the supporting characters.
Would that be a fair way to describe the approach?

I forget the actual response, but I believe it was affirmative.

But here we are in the fascinating world of microfluidic science. If you just show up with your camera, you really can't photograph's all too small. But bring along a macro anything, and the world of microfluidics opens up. Tiny canals of fluid filling thin plastic sheets and disappearing as fast as they appear. Perfectly engineered bubbles forming like reverse lunar craters, and then fading away with precision. Hard to photograph the wonder that we all felt while we saw this science in practice. But...we tried.



Sunday, January 6, 2013

Live Thru This Indeed

Tony Fouhse's first book Live Through This showed up on a Monday. Sitting there in the mailbox amidst junk mail and credit card statements, a package from Canada.

Oh, wow, it's really here.
I guess it's done.
Can't be more done than this.

Strange the way this hit me. It was almost sad. Kind of like something was over. I had watched this thing evolve...but at an internet distance/closeness. Gone are the days of a project being worked on in silence, then being sprung on an unsuspecting audience seeing it fully formed. Looking back, I can't believe anyone ever cared when things where done the old way.

Why did he call this project Live Thru This?

When I first heard the title, I assumed it was a reference to Hole's 1994 album of the same name. Then of course there was the idea that Stephanie McDonald literally did live through this. She didn't die, she survived, he life continues after the book is long gone and the project is done. Staring at the book in my mailbox and and calculating when I was going to look at it, I realized what the title really meant.

We the viewers got to see the project begin, fumble, get serious, get solid, grow and get intertwined with Fouhse's life on his regular updates on his blog Drool. Honest about his intentions and honest about the challenges before him, Fouhse and McDonald openly shared the this thing for all to see. We had the blog, a fundraising video on Rockethub, a video commercial, and somehow at some pivitol juncture of the project I found myself friend requesting Stephanie McDonald on Facebook. Here I could see into her life without Fouhse's lens getting in the way, or cleaning things up, or however you'd like to phrase it.

The next step was Fouhse creating Straylight Press, an indy press publishing the book version of Live Through This, as well as various publications large and small of other artists he feels an affinity for. For anyone following the project as I have, the last few months have been focused on sharing with the readers the process of the completing the book and certainly singing the song of and spreading the word of Straylight Press.

Witnessing all of this, from the beginning of a small series of portraits to a life engagement to the creation of this publishing company....well, I think that was the project for me. That was the thing that I got emotionally involved in and got the various payoffs from, visual rewards and storytelling rewards from. All of those good things, well I think I may have already gotten them. Did I need to look at the book? Didn't I already Live Through This?


Live Through This is beautifully produced with a booklet at the final page giving the last word to Stephanie to tell the story, in her words. Subtle and quiet with a blank white cover , it's hard to see who the author of this book really is. No one is grandstanding, no one is slumming it, Stephanie McDonald kind of comes to life and the relationship of she and Tony brings this human element to the harsh reality inherent in any junkie story. The human story sticks with you and is what you remember when you let go of the book.

And the title? To me it refers to you, me, the universal reader. If you bought this book, you most likely already have lived through this, in some small way.

Buy Live Throught This HERE.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ian Aleksander Adams / Happy New Year

I wanted to start the year off with something we all could just think about. Something that would sit in our heads for a while as we began the year ahead.

Ian Aleksander Adams posted this written word as his status update on December 25, at 10:29 pm.

And as is the nature of the internet, the dialogue that follows is worthy of consideration as well. See that HERE.

Dig in:


in the mid-2000s i was in a meeting with a new york art dealer. we were discussing my possible show at his venue.

"your work reminds me a lot of [young prominent gay extremely sexualized artist]." he said

my work was nothing like this artist, though we share many physical similarities and a medium.

"you should send me some polaroids i can curate from, for the show"

i didn't shoot polaroids. young prominent gay extremely sexualized artist was supposedly discovered by this man, and i was, at the time, interested in being young and prominent.

"i should send you some polaroids? i don't really shoot polaroids."

"yeah, send me about.. a shoebox full. send me some nudes and i'll curate a show from them, it will be a great collaboration."

"nudes?" i rarely shot nudes, feeling it was too easy to get a response from an audience and i was obsessed with the idea of subtlty at the time

"yes, some self portraits. i think they'll turn out great."

i didn't really get back to him.

i'm not angry at the american arts industry. im just sad.

it's not the institutionalized racism, sexism, harassment and careerism that upsets me. it's the lameness. maybe it's all of those things that make it lame, but it's probably all of those things and more.

recently i got in trouble for calling out an editor of art forum (unknowingly) in a thread about 'vandalizing' art. the bait was someone saying 'is there ever a good reason to [defile art history]?" my initial comment was "how exactly does one defile art history?" it was deleted before any other responses were made. i was told in chat that the thread was for yale phds only. i explained what i was getting at and told i could post. i did.

the nyu professor critiqued my writing style, "i'm sure rendered in a somewhat different prose style they would be pellucid."

i said "i had a pellucid, but after i swalloed the pell i didn't feel any more lucid [sic]"

then i got serious. i explained my view, a couple points were traded, then the conversation was called useless, historical names were dropped, and i was called an idiot. several people messaged me wondering what this guy's problem was. by internet terms, i was being very polite in my arguments, though also typing very quickly.

the core of the issue was that the gentleman was not used to being critiqued in any real manner. i was told in chat that i should respect him, and out of a desire to be the friend of the person worried the interaction, i tried to make nice. the thread was deleted.

recently i've been told that i have to do projects in order to be taken seriously. i've been told that i need to focus. i've been told that social media can be fun, but i need to do work. i need to get another gallery show. i need to respect those who have degrees and who run institutions.

apparently, also, i need to do a background check on every random commenter to see if their snobbery and predictable arguments come from a place of sage wisdom and lengthy career.

there are issues in the art world.

also recently, a young internet dude well known to most of you has talked about how he intentionally destroys his credibility with writing style so his ideas might be the only thing to cling to. another trouble maker has gone to extremes to try and make trolling his practice. there are interesting things going on. chances are, if you're reading this, you're part of what i whole-heatedly admire.

but the vast majority of the creative system has its head up its ass, it's straight fucked.

but you know what i've heard the most grumbling about over the past 8 years of being 'professionally involved'? the fucking tech industry.

what? yeah. 'that fucking techie gentrification.' 'stealing the rights to our images.' 'making it so anyone thinks they're an artist.' 'raising the cost on cs2.'


also recently, i was at the internet archive. some of the greatest thinkers i've ever had the chance to meet perked up as soon as engaged them, trading stories and ideas back and forth as if we were college freshmen. these people invented and are saving the most creatively liberating medium i've ever seen - and they couldn't have given a rats ass about if i had a degree, my experience, my cv, anything. they got me involved, handed me a project, and showed me around their lair.


have i ever been in any arts space, from the most woo woo co-op to the swankiest gallery and felt as welcome? heck no guys, heck no.

is the net art a step in a good direction? you know, i'd like to say it is, but i'm super uncomfortable even calling myself a part of it... and that strikes me as a fair reminder that elitism exists among 'rebels'

if i have to show someone a three page resume [or my dick] before they will listen to an idea i have instead of telling me 'if you want people to take you seriously you need to make actual projects' then there is a major problem with how we are communicating to each other as individuals, let alone as part of the arts industrial complex or as representatives of our 'personal brands'

{apologies for using some of you as examples in this - i believe that points are often best made on the back of actual experience - take it as (ideally) constructive critique.}


Screenshot top:
Screenshot bottom:
Follow Ian Aleksander Adams on Facebook HERE.
Learn more about Ian Aleksander Adams HERE.