Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bernd and Hilla Becher, from Typologies, 1989

Several days later Murray asked me about a tourist attraction known as the most photographed barn in America. We drove 22 miles into the country around Farmington. There were meadows and apple orchards. White fences trailed through the rolling fields. Soon the signs started appearing. THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED BARN IN AMERICA. We counted five signs before we reached the site. There were 40 cars and a tour bus in the makeshift lot. We walked along a cowpath to the slightly elevated spot set aside for viewing and photographing. All the people had cameras; some had tripods, telephoto lenses, filter kits. A man in a booth sold postcards and slides -- pictures of the barn taken from the elevated spot. We stood near a grove of trees and watched the photographers. Murray maintained a prolonged silence, occasionally scrawling some notes in a little book. 

"No one sees the barn," he said finally. 

A long silence followed. 

"Once you've seen the signs about the barn, it becomes impossible to see the barn."

He fell silent once more. People with cameras left the elevated site, replaced by others.

We're not here to capture an image, we're here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies."

There was an extended silence. The man in the booth sold postcards and slides.

"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

Another silence ensued.

"They are taking pictures of taking pictures," he said.

He did not speak for a while. We listened to the incessant clicking of shutter release buttons, the rustling crank of levers that advanced the film.

"What was the barn like before it was photographed?"

-- Excerpt from White Noise by Don DeLillo

Idris Kahn, Every...Bernd and Hilla Becher Gabel Sided Houses, 2004

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Good news! Two exhibitions this weekend, it'll be a great double header.

The first opened last night at the Minneapolis Photo Center and the show was "Black & White: Black, White, and All Points In Between."

Whether images were arrived at by digital capture or by film exposure was a moot point; all I looked at, all I made decisions on, were end products of creative processes, which are as varied as the number of pieces on the wall. In the final analysis, all I could go on were my impressions of images on a screen—all emanations of light, all about the same size, some giving an indication of toning (the colors of black-and-white—shades of gray, brown, purple, green—are always remarkably diverse—the prints on exhibit will bear this out). My interest was piqued when I encountered evidence of invention, some sense that black-and-white was being applied in new ways, rather than in iterations of earlier work. My congratulations and encouragement to all who are advancing the capacities of this quintessential mode of photographic practice.

—George Slade, Boston, August 5, 2010

The show is fantastic, It was an international call curated by George Slade. Without a doubt the most exciting collection of contemporary black and white photographs I've seen. It had everything from Tin types to Inkjet prints, and as the title says, all things in between. I will absolutely be returning again and again to appreciate it.

It was a really well curated, featuring a ton of fantastic artists, one of which was Suzanne Opton, whose work I've always admired! Very seldom do I like and faun over the majority of work in ANY show, but this exhibit had me engaged the whole time.

I was fortunate enough to get this piece in:

Nathan Lewis, Untitled (Ectoplasm Escaping Ms. Johnson,) Silver Gelatin Fiber Print

There is a catalog available from the exhibit, which I think is well worth it!

Here are a couple installation shots. I was very happy to find my piece on the wall right when you entered.

Wow unbeknownst to me, I caught the fantastic photographer David Bowman in this shot. He also had a piece in the show, see below:

David Bowman, Dingo Traps, NSW Australia, 1994

THEN! To my disbelieve, I was also fortunate to get 3 pieces in the Stevens Square Center for the Arts exhibition About Face: An Exploration of Identity and the Human Experience.

The show is a really exciting and eclectic mix of sculpture, painting, print making, drawing, and I believe I'm the only photographer.

The human face is so central to how we view other people, whether meeting someone for the first time or scrutinizing an old friend’s reaction, that imagining a world without addressing the familiar set of features on the front of our head seems unthinkable. The mood, confidence, innocence, beauty, honesty, brutality and sadness of a person are so often indicated (sometimes falsely) by their face. Even as social media evolves to replace encounters with clicks, replication and broadcast of faces remains essential to the way we want to connect with others.

It is with these considerations in mind that ABOUT FACE at SSCA Gallery features artists
employing traditional and experimental means in communicating their own unique expressions of the human face, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture and mixed media.

Nathan Lewis, Untitled (Transformation), Silver Gelatin Fiber Print

Nathan Lewis, Untitled (Consumption), Silver Gelatin Fiber Print

Nathan Lewis, Untitled (Basement Window), Silver Gelatin Fiber Print

At the SSCA reception, you can sort of see the pictures to the side...I should've taken more images.

There is no question that these photographs are several years old. But, I am particularly excited because none of this work had been shown before. It has really inspired me to continue on with unfinished ideas and projects I started but then abandoned for my more straight documentary work. I know that I will be onto fantastic when I can combine the aesthetic quality of the older work with the content of the newer.

If only I could figure out how!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

John Beatie, 1872

...What if our own human perception of ghosts was a force that somehow influenced their manifestation? If the appearance of an apparition stemmed from events that occurred on a quantum level, for instance, there may be scientific justification for things we do influencing a projected impression from the past in hindsight.

Strange though this may sound, my colleague Amelia Crater, writing for Mysterious Universe, included a similar angle in one of her recent assessments:

In 2007, the journal Science published a paper on particle physics describing an experiment on the subatomic level where quantum rules apply, a researcher found he could influence whether a photon collapsed into wave or particle by flipping a switch after the fact, which I don’t understand well enough to explain adequately. In short, he could change the photon’s history. Or as physicist John Wheeler extrapolated, “We are participators in bringing about something of the universe in the distant past.

Though only vaguely at present, this might have some bearing on why part of the physical manifestations of ghosts themselves include the appearance of things like clothing. In essence, the manifestation of a “ghost” in any capacity could be influenced by the perception and actions of the witness, and on a quantum level, the fabric between space, time, human thought, and what we perceive as “reality” are all tangent, and more similar than anyone ever realized. To borrow the same Faulkner quote Amelia uses at her article’s outset, “The past is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past.” Considering that, on a quantum level, ghostly apparitions could be an extension of something else which, strangely, humans maintain some level of influence over, perhaps no words could better describe this unique relationship mankind harnesses occasionally with what we perceive to be “the spirit world.”

-- Micah A. Hanks

William H. Mumler, 1870s

Monday, September 6, 2010

Paul Sano, Double Portrait of Mrs. Corbet, 1912 -- Autochrome

Calvin: Dad, how come old photographs are always black and white? Didn't they have color film back then?

Dad: Sure they did. In fact, those old photographs are in color. It's just the
world was black and white then.

Calvin: Really?

Dad: Yep. The world didn't turn color until sometime in the 1930s, and it was pretty grainy color for a while, too.

Calvin: That's really weird.

Dad: Well, truth is stranger than fiction.

Calvin: But then why are old paintings in color?! If their world was black and white, wouldn't artists have painted it that way?

Heinrich Kuhn, 1906 (est.) -- Gum print

Dad: Not necessarily. A lot of great artists were insane.

Calvin: But... but how could they have painted in color anyway? Wouldn't their paints have been shades of gray back then?

Dad: Of course, but they turned colors like everything else did in the '30s.

Calvin: So why didn't old black and white photos turn color too?

Dad: Because they were color pictures of black and white, remember?

Paul Sano, Lady and Fruit Dish, 1920 -- Autochrome

A wonderful conversations by the infamous Calvin and his father.