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This blog is intended to showcase my pictures or those of other photographers who have moved beyond the pretty picture and for whom photography is more than entertainment - photography that aims at being true, not at being beautiful because what is true is most often beautiful..

>>>> Comments, commentary and lively discussions, re: my writings or any topic germane to the medium and its apparatus, are vigorously encouraged.

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Entries in civilized ku, manmade landscape (1472)


diptych # 202 / civilized ku # 3053 ~ the destroyer of worlds, art-wise

sweepings ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
sweepings / sweeper ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I continue to struggle - write, re-write, edit, re-edit, think, re-think - with the entry, re: the most beautiful and intriguing picture I have ever seen, so I have decided to break it into 2 parts.

Part I will deal with the craft to be seen in the print, itself. Craft, whether intention or the result of dumb unthinking luck, which is rather striking. Addressing this aspect of the picture has not been particularly difficult. Although, in fact, the craft does play a significant part in how the picture affects me.

Part II will deal with the picture's emotional / mental impact and affect on my feelings and sensibilities. My understanding of that impact - both how and the why - is where I struggle. That is to write, having the ability to connect to (understand) and to put into words what could be described as my complete fascination with the picture and why I consider it to be the most beautiful and intriguing picture I have ever seen. Or least, one of the most beautiful and intriguing pictures I have ever seen.

civilized ku # 3052 ~ having a good time

aftermath - surgical tape and gauze ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Sometimes you eat the b'ar, sometimes the b'ar eats you - an expression describing the bipolar nature of life, the universe and everything.


Sometimes you're the dog, sometimes you're the tree

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug

On the other hand, if you don't believe in dualism, the other side of the coin, win some / lose some or the like, you can always say...

Fuck it, man. Let's go bowling.

or, Hop in the Cordoba, baby, we're going bowling.

fyi, some of the above is harvested from the Lebowski Lexicon and Mike Lange-ism

iPhone pictures (civilized ku # 3049-51) ~ never let a picture making opportunity pass you by

pandas ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen
panda game / urinal and feet ~ Plattsburgh, NY • click to embiggen

Went on a dinner and a movie date with the wife yesterday evening. Good dinner. Good movie. Good wife. All in all, a good date.

After the movie and while still at the theater, I encountered 2 picture making opportunities but was dismayed that I did not have a camera with me - I never bring a camera into a theater so they were all out in the car.

While standing at the first picturing possibility and lamenting the no-camera situation, I realized that I did have a picture making device on my person - my new iPhone 6s Plus. Since I hadn't really had a "serious" picture making opportunity with the device, I figured this was a good time to give it a go.

The results are quite good. Good enough that, in a pinch and with the right circumstance (decent light being the prime requirement), the device is capable of making very serviceable image files. So, while I primarily limited my picture making self, with my antiquated iPhone 4, to making pictures which would be manipulated with a photo app, this device will suffice in those rare situations when I am without a camera.

That written, I will be using the device for picture making while in Ireland and Scotland. Not as my primary picture maker but for a very specific self-assigned picture making project - that is, a series of selfies (selfie stick and all) made at various locations and situations on the trip. FYI, I am still pondering a number of ideas which will add a twist to the "traditional" selfie picture genre.

civilized ku # 3048 ~ good clean fun

glass top porch table ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

In a comment on the entry preceding this one, John Linn seemed to express a bit of a rebuke, albeit quite civil / gentle, to my parody / lampooning of the artsy-fartsy artspeak artist statement crowd. I have no problem whatsoever with John's comment. In fact, under the operational procedure of what's good for goose is good for the gander, I appreciate it and encourage other comments like it.

That written, I must admit that I find it difficult to not lampoon the artsy-fartsy artspeak artist statement crowd inasmuch they provide so much fodder for parody. As a recent example, consider this statement from Kevin Abosch - the picture maker who just sold a picture of a potato for $1,000,000.00+USD - wherein he stated that he uses the potato...

“ a proxy for the ontological study of the human experience ... I see commonalities between humans and potatoes that speak to our relationship as individuals within a collective species ... Generally, the life of a harvested potato is violent and taken for granted.”

OK. Sure. Whatever. But I just can't get by the notion that this statement reads like a script from a Saturday Night skit or a line from a Coen brothers' movie or even a bit from a Monty Python skit. Hell, it might even been an inspiration for a Bob and Ray bit.

And, it's hard to ignore that, for me, there is more than a wee amount of irony, even humor, in the fact that a picture titled Potato # 345 was made by an Irishman.

Consequently, I feel that, on occasion, I must step up to the plate and take the bull by the horns and have at 'em. And, of course, it's meant to be all in good clean fun.

FYI, I am working on an entry which is quite possibly the most difficult entry I have ever attempted inasmuch as I am attempting to explain - for myself and anyone else who might be interested - why I have designated a particular picture (not one of mine) as, perhaps, the most beautiful and intriguing picture I have ever seen.

Stay tuned.

civilized ku # 3043 / squares² # 14 (civilized ku # 3044-47) ~ we're all investigators now

lying in bed on Saturday AM ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
recently seen ~ here and there • click to embiggen

It has been stated that we are all photographers now. That notions derives from the fact that, everyday, a zillion (or some other really big number) pictures are made albeit most of them are made using a "device" that is not a dedicated camera. And, the overwhelming bulk of those pictures are made with intent of being nothing more than a simple snapshot.

That written, what has become very obvious to me is that, if one is making pictures and aspiring to create something other than simple snapshots, it is no longer fashionable to be a picture maker, aka: a photographer. No, one must be an artist who uses photography to investigate some idea or another. Or, alternately, one must explore a concept and navigate the boundaries between one thing and another.

Just consider the following phrases which were excerpted from various artist statements (names redacted to protect the innocent):

...she observes and investigates her environment

...through photography, _______ investigates the boundaries of art and science

...explores the interface between art and science

...I investigate a zone bordered by aesthetics and ethics

...the subjects negotiate the shifting boundaries between mother and child

...uses photography to explore themes of memory, relationship, and identity

..._______ creates images that explore the skin as a document of human experience

These artspeak excerpts are drawn from the artist statements of those who reside in the BFA/MFA milieu. And it seems quite obvious to me that these "artists" must have spent a lot of their time while in academia investigating the zone wherein the shifting boundaries of language and bullshit intersect.

Quite possibly that investigative time was accompanied by additional time duct taped in a chair, asked to talk about their art making and, every time they used the word "photographer" or the phrase "I make pictures", they received an electrical shock to some very sensitive part of their body where it would really hurt the most.

So just remember, the next time you might be talking about your pictures with your friends and neighbors, don't ever use the word "photographer" or "picture". Keep only a few key words in mind and you'll be able to impress and perhaps confuse whomever it is with whom you are conversing. And, it will be conversing, not communicating because they won't know what the bloody hell you're talking about.


civilized ku # 3042 ~ a futile attempt or smart strategy?

99¢ seats ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
The Gut ~ Burlington, NY • click to embiggen

I truly believe that the proprietor / manager of the Palace Theater in Lake Placid is quite aware that even offering free seats to the movies would be a futile attempt to lure football fans away from viewing the Super Bowl. So my guess is that this offer is merely an attempt to fill up the theater with those who are already inclined to do something other than fall prey to Superbowl Madness Syndrome.

Me? I not going to a movie and I will most likely watch some of the Superbowl but, like in days of yore when some claimed to purchase Playboy Magazine so they could read just the interviews and articles, I will lay claim to the rationalization of watching the Superbowl to view only the commercials.

That written, it should not be understand that I do not suffer from my own sports oriented syndrome, primarily centered around hockey. That is why, on Friday past, I drove the 120 mile round trip to Vermont via a slow 2 mile ferry ride across Lake Champlain in order to attend a hockey game at The Gut (Gutterson Fieldhouse) on the campus of the Universitas Viridis Montis, aka: University of the Green Mountains, more commonly known as UVM.

I am not a UVM hockey fan. Rather, I and my hockey grandson Hugo are University of Notre Dame hockey fans and ND was UVM rival on Friday and Saturday night. I am delighted to report that ND swept both games. Wins which kept them in the top 10 NCAA Division 1 hockey rankings - go Irish.

Hugo and his dad, The Cinemascapist, really enjoyed the game. Especially Hugo who has played at the Gut and will be attending a very elite hockey camp - hundreds apply, only 30 accepted - at UND this coming May - go Hugo.

kitchen life # 81-83 ~ good read / great pictures

asparagus, rubber bands, noodles ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
a second look ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I am currently working my way through a very interesting book, Photography Today. The book is (publisher's description):

The major new survey of contemporary photography considers the work of 80–100 photographers through eleven thematic chapters on subjects such as street photography, portraiture, landscape photography and documentary. It traces the development of photography as an art form in each of these genres individually and also looks at the ties and links between them. What is revealed is a complex story with numerous tangents. Mark Durden's narrative, combined with rich illustrative content and an easily accessible design, guides a clear path through this story, showcasing the work of great individual photographers while also being able to place this into the larger narrative of the medium's development.

The book has 464 pages with 500 illustrations, aka: photographs. The author, Mark Durden, has chosen 163 living (and dead) photographers from more than 25 countries who are influencing practice around the world. 500-1,000 words accompanied by 1-9 photographs are given to each picture maker. And, despite the fact that the book was written and curated by an academic - Durden is Professor of Photography at the University of South Wales, UK - the book is, for the most part, eminently readable. No artspeak dictionary needed.

In an essay / review about the book, Jörg M. Colberg wrote:

Writing a book about contemporary photography is a bit of a thankless task since the moment it’s published, there already is something else that is not included in the book. But completeness cannot be the goal of such books. Inevitably, something will be missing, for whatever reason. There will probably also be categories, resulting in debates whether artist XYZ should not have in fact been placed elsewhere, or whether some category might be missing.

The task thus is to present photography in such a way that any reader will be able to move forward after having engaged with the book. S/he might disagree with some of the choices, but s/he will know why, and – crucially – s/he will have a much easier time engaging with the medium on her or his own. Photography Today succeeds brilliantly doing just that.

I have a virtual small-town library of books on photography - monographs, theory and practice, photo strategies and the like (not 1 how-to books amongst them) - and this book is one of the best on the theory, practice, photo strategies side of things. In our dining room, I have the book set up on a homemade book stand, open to my current place in the book, as a constant visual reminder to keep at it - the book is engaging and can suck one into extended contemplation, re: the medium and its apparatus*, making it a book which, for me, can only be read / handled in relatively small doses.

In any event, this book is highly recommended for anyone who has a more than a casual relationship with picture making / the medium and its apparatus. I picked my copy up during my recent visit to Montreal. The book can be had in the $40-50.00USD range. A veritable bargain when judged against the $59.00USD cost of the lens shade for my recently acquired 12mm Zuiko lens.

*the word "apparatus" in this context should understood to mean "photo strategies", not gear / equipment.

civilized ku # 3039-41 / kitchen life # 79 / in situ - life goes on ~ little of this, a little of that

alley with tire tracks and green dumpster ~ Downtown Montreal, QC., CA • click to embiggen
stuff on Japanese tray ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
a fine particulate snowfall ~ vieux port / Old Montreal / Montreal, QC., CA. • click to embiggen

I am hard at work making a book - Shutterfly has a up to 50% off sale with an extra 20% discount - for my street photography / people work. I have whittled the work down to 36 pictures (from well over 100). There may be some additional paring down but I am essentially where I want to be, number of pictures wise.

I also believe that I am where I want to be, title wise. As mentioned in yesterdays's entry, I wasn't exactly sure that the pictures fit into a convenient genre descriptor so I wasn't comfortable incorporating the word "street" or "people" photography in a title - by no means were all of the pictures made "on the street" and, while people are featured in every picture, the pictures are more than just about people.

So, my title has evolved to be IN SUTI ~ life goes on.

All of those issues solved, I'll move on to the next one ...

one of these things is not sorta like the other

... traditionally, most, but certainly not all, picturing in the decisive moment / street photography genre is made in B/W. While it's not exactly a comprehensive survey, nevertheless, a Google search using the phrase street photography and then clicking on Images for street photography will demonstrate my point.

However, on the image page you will find a sub-category link for color work which demonstrates that the B/W tradition is no longer sacrosanct. It's worth noting that the BW barrier in Fine Art photography was blown all to hell and back with Eggleston's 1976 MOMA exhibition.

It is also worth noting that prior to that paradigm shifting event, there were a few picture makers (very, very few) who worked in the street photography genre with the use of color film. Most notable was Saul Leiter whose 1950-60s NYC street photography work has only recently been accepted into the pantheon of all-time great street photography practitioners.

In any event, I have given some thought to converting my work to monochrome. Not very likely ... probably ... but I have thought about it.
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