Friday, October 29, 2010

Felicia Batzloff,Untitled, 2010

at seventeen they
did not know
and I could not say
seeing it
now from hour
to hours end
dreams of a ghost
sunrise to sunset too

Felicia Batzloff, Untitled #1 of 13, Twelve Hour Project, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My walls of fire and my walls of water are, together with my roofs of air, the materials for the construction of a new architecture. With the three classic elements of fire, air, and water, tomorrow's city will be built and will at last be flexible, spiritual, and immaterial.

To feel the soul without explaining it, without vocabulary, and to represent this sensation. the midst of creating something, alone the main thing for them is to know in the end that truth does not exist, only honesty exists, it is always in bad taste, since after all honesty, in so far as it's human, is only a set of learned optical laws, etc. etc. But it becomes life, life itself, power this strange force of life which belongs to neither you nor I nor anyone, life is life...

Enlightenment, it's thought plus something else, plus the visit of the spirit, that strange spirit, you can't say it doesn't exist, after all that spirit even if you're a materialist, it exists.

A new world calls for a new man.
- Yves Klein

An amazing exhibition at the Walker Art Center:

Half shaman, half showman, Yves Klein took the European art scene by storm in a career that lasted just eight years, from 1954 to 1962. An innovator who embraced painting, sculpture, performance, photography, music, theater, film, architecture, and theoretical writing, Klein was a precursor of many movements of the postwar avant-garde, including minimal art, conceptual art, land art, and performance art. He self-identified as “the painter of space,” seeking to achieve immaterial spirituality through pure color—primarily an ultramarine blue of his own invention, International Klein Blue. Through these and other experiments Klein aimed to reach “beyond the problematic in art” and rethink the world in spiritual and aesthetic terms, creating a pivotal transition between modern art’s concern with material objects and contemporary notions about the conceptual nature of art.

...try to dream, continue dreaming while speaking...listening...try to capture this atmosphere of the mind.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Nathan Lewis, After Kahn After Muybridge, 2010

Inside movement there is one moment in which the elements are in balance. Photography must seize the importance of this moment and hold immobile the equilibrium of it.

-Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We found a very interesting photograph yesterday at the MN Antique Show at the State Fairgrounds.

As you can imagine, what initially drew me to it was the Post-Mortem subject matter. Though the more I looked, the more I discovered some incredibly unique features.

Off the bat the Pallbearers were not in the scene with the actual casket, instead they seemed to be pasted on top of the image. Although in actuality it was done in the darkroom as the final image was just one photograph.

Even more interesting is that the cut marks on the pallbearer's images seemed to mirrored, so with little effort I was able to attach them and see that they were standing shoulder to shoulder in reality.

More notable features of the image are these scratches or smudges hanging in the air.

In itself the marks are probably innocuous, but there is something so sculpted about them that points toward them being deliberate. Now it should be noted that this image is most likely an albumen print, meaning it's a contact print on paper using a glass collodion negative. It's well known how easily collodion can be scratched off the glass surface, especially when dried and with age. But these marks don't look like they were made when the plate was dry, or else they would look like these damaged E.J. Bellocq images:

Because again these were contact prints, it's unlikely that the marks appeared after the fact, they had to be on the glass plate. Surely such a fine photographer would not overlook a damaged plate, so there had to be a reason. Could these scratches have been the beginnings of a drawing of a spirit or ectoplasm within the image? It was definitely not uncommon for praticitioners to mix illustration with Photography, especially when it came to spirit photography.

William H. Mumler, Moses A. Dow, 1871

Mrs. Thorn, Date Unknown

Even the inclusion of floating ectoplasm was common practice, though admittedly Our example is much rougher...maybe it was an idea abandoned half way through?

Now for the most fascinating feature beyond the Post-mortem, beyond the addition of bearers, and beyond the ectoplasm is the presence of a fourth figure. In the middle of the image stands a transparent man holding the coffin lid.

This eerie character's identity is a mystery indeed. At first I thought it was the left bearer, but when I scanned it, it became clear the face and mustache were different. So who could it be? The Mortician? Or perhaps even more amazing, could it be the man in the coffin?

When you place the faces side by side, the "ghost" figure and the deceased share similar characteristics.

Left bearer, Man in back, Man in the Casket, Right Bearer

In the end there are definitely more questions that answers. At minimum this a unique example of Post-mortem photography. Not only does it serve its purpose as a memorial image, but it also attempts to commemorate those who were in attendance at the services. Could the bearers be the deceased's brothers, maybe the younger was his son?

Lets also dissect the apparition behind the coffin. Could it be the departed? Perhaps the photographer usurped an image of him, then included it to show his ever living soul? But then what the chances that the man had a picture taken of himself with such a macabre item as a coffin lid? One can see the transparent man is holding a sold Coffin Lid, whereas the casket is equipped with an open faced one.

Could it maybe be the Mortician displaying his artistry? Maybe the whole image is an artistic display of the Photographer's talents, showing potential clients all the features he could include in one image?

Maybe it was a staged fine art photograph.

Maybe it was a series of flukes and mistakes.

Maybe it was a ghost.