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discursive promiscuity #1-3 ~ starting the build

# 1 ~ • click to embiggen
# 2 ~ • click to embiggen
# 3 ~ • click to embiggen

I have begun to make finished assemblies for my discursive promiscuity project. The finished composite image files are built to 48'×48' @350dpi which allows them to be printed up to 6'×6' or down to any size but, most likely, 3'×3'.

Without a doubt in my head, I believe these images must be printed large in order to be effective. I believe that to be so because a large print allows a viewer to, from a stepped-back viewing distance, to get the visual impression of a lot of visual information and, at a closer viewing distance, to see the individual picture detail. Sort of like a visual double-whammy for the eye and sensibilities.

In any event, I have found a source for 48'×48' printing and mounting and will be sending off my first file as soon as I am back home. I am currently in Montreal for a 4-day / 3-day stay.

Interestingly and advantageously, relative to the currency exchange rate, everything in Canada is 30% off ... even more if you buy stuff that is on sale. So, the wife is out buying some lawyer-style office clothing and I'll be out to buy some only-available-in-Canada bourbon/ single malt / Irish whiskies.

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 12:40PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | Comments1 Comment

SAMPLER ~ it all hangs together

Bodies of Work - A Sampler book spread ~ • click to embiggen

In a recent entry on LENSCRATCH - 2105 - In the Rear View Mirror, Aline Smithson wrote:

I’m beginning to think there has to be a big seismic shift in how we make and present work. Most photographers have been working in the 20+-image project template, which ultimately constrains creativity. I certainly understand how the process of revisiting an idea over time in a specific way makes for a meaningful body of work, but now it’s become the norm, and to be honest, it’s gotten a bit stale. It’s important to consider creativity and these templates don’t always allow for it. In my opinion, that may be one reason why the photo book has become so important as it allows for new ways of considering photographic art. I’ve looked at hundreds of portfolios this year, between various reviews, Lenscratch, and jurying Critical Mass and I think it’s time to step away from the well-worn path to success.

The more I work on organizing my pictures for making POD books - specifically 2015 ~ The Year In Review and Bodies of Work ~ A Sampler - in which I mix pictures from my separate bodies of work - the more I am inclined to agree with Aline Smithson's idea.

Not that I haven't previously thought about the idea - if you jump into The Landscapist Way-Back Machine and dial in 11:28 AM, January 11, 2008, you will find an entry titled Discursive Promiscuity. If you look at the picture which accompanies the entry and then look at the intro page to Bodies of Work ~ A Sampler, you most likely can deduce the direction I am headed toward in the presentation of my pictures.

The difference between the Bodies of Work ~ A Sampler and the The Adirondacks in the Age of Discursive Promiscuity presentations is that the former consists of 15 pictures with diverse referents pulled from separate bodies of work while the latter consists of pictures with the same thematic referent. Both presentations work for me inasmuch as either one works quite well under the idea of Discursive Promiscuity. Although, the BoW sampler is such more discursive than the Adks itAoDP.

In yesterday's entry, I wrote about what I thought might provide a reasonable answer to the question of what happens to my pictures after I have gone on to that big photography club in the sky. While I believe the idea of leaving behind 20+/- POD books of my various bodies of work is a good idea, legacy wise, the more I think about leaving behind a series of large Discursive Promiscuity prints I am coming to believe that presentation would truly represent my picturing M.O. or, as some might called it, my vision.

The simple fact of the matter is that my vision is truly discursive and incredibly promiscuous. While I have many separate and disparate bodies of work, with only a couple of exceptions those bodies of work were created as after-the-fact exercises by the mining of related-referent pictures from the large and getting larger collection/results of my discursively promiscuous picturing predilections.

After decades of making pictures, while I still believe that thematic bodies of work are all well and good, I have finally come to the conclusion that making pictures which digress from referent to referent (aka: discursive) and which seem to demonstrate an undiscriminating or unselective (aka: promiscuous) approach to picture making is what I do.
Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 10:49AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis | CommentsPost a Comment

2015 ~ The Year in Review - an old sorry tale but more true than ever

2105 year in review book covers ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Long ago a picture must have been an event. Capturing a living image has become too ordinary a miracle, perhaps. They go about their automatic-drive Nikons and OM-2's and their Leicaflexes, and put their finger on the button, and the hand-held machinery makes a noise like a big toy cricket. Reep, reep, reep, reep. A billon billion slides, projected once, labeled, and filed forever. Windrows of empty yellow boxes blow across the Gobi., the Peruvian highlands, the temple steps at Chichicasenango. The clicking and whirring and clacking is the background sound at the Acropolis, at the beach at Cannes, on the slopes at Villefranche. All the bright people, stopped in the midst of life, looking with forced smile into the lenses, then to be filed away, their colors fading as the years pass, caught there in slide trays, stack loads, view cubes, until one day the camera person dies and the grandchild says, "Mom, I don't know any of these people. Or where these we're even taken. There are jillions of them in this big box and more in the closet. What will I do with them anyway?"

"Throw them out, dear."

thoughts in the head of the fictitious character Travis McGee

This excerpt from the John MacDonald book, The Empty Cooper Sea (published in 1978), is a very prescient sentiment about the current picture making world. Substitute a few digital era words for the antiquated analog era words - while there most certainly are still Nikons, OMs and Leicas, the modern day reality regarding slide trays (et al) and the big storage box is the computer. With that word substitution, the passage could have been written last week.

While reading the aforementioned MacDonald book, this passage spoke to me and smacked me upside the head. Especially so inasmuch as I have been working on putting together my 2016 ~ The Year in Review book. A book with 50+ picture pages - one picture per page - with all manner of pictured referents, as opposed to a single themed body of work. An coincidentally, the wife and I had a recent conversation instigated by her question to me,"What's going to happen to your pictures after you die?"

It was and is very good question and one for which I do not have a completely adequate answer.

That written, I do have 16 POD books consisting of books which illustrate different bodies of work. Approximately 700 of 7,100+/- of my pictures are presented in those books. There are most likely 300-400 pictures yet to mined from my "finished" library and placed in other POD books.

So, as long as I live for another month or so - as far as I know my life is not threatened in any manner - I should have approximately 1/7 of my pictures in print form of one kind or and other. That number of pictures would be more than adequate to create a reasonable legacy / example of my work.

Of course, the "boxes", aka: external hard drives - one primary, one backup, in which all of work is stored would be left behind albeit not in a closet (I hope).

How about you? Are you doing anything about preserving your pictures? Do you even care?

PS - even though my visit numbers and page views here on the Landscapist are holding at a satisfactory level, comments are way down. This blog use to be a pretty lively place, comment wise. Comments which addressed not my pictures but rather thoughts and ideas a bout the medium of photography and its apparatus. It's starting to become a bit on the boring side for me.

Posted on Monday, January 11, 2016 at 01:04PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

civilized ku # 3034-36 ~ it is what it is

2 chairs ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
light on / in a bowl ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
poolside puddle ~ Potsdam, NY • click to embiggen

In an essay (under the title A Photographic Call to Arms) in ToneLit, First Anniversary Edition, Jason Hobbs included this quote:

' for and of itself - photographs taken from the world as it is - are misunderstood as a collection of random observations and lucky moments, or muddled up with photojournalism, or tarred with a semi-derogatory 'documentary' tag.' (Graham, Paul: The Unreasonable Apple, 2010).

This sentiment followed a section of the essay which addressed "Artists who use photography" in which he wrote:

The 'real artists' feel the need to explain their photographic endeavors with this tag presumably because they are unable to lower themselves to the level of a mere photographer. The artist who uses photography has to explain that they are doing something really creative...that they aren't one of the fluky chancers who get lucky every few thousand clicks of the shutter.

What Hobbs is referring to are those artists who use photography for whom concept is everything. Or, in my words, the academically trained lunatic fringe.

Nevertheless, Hobbs believes that "photography that illustrates a concept is fine, but photography in an of itself in the eyes of the art world is the junior partner but only thrown a few scarps and then patted on the head and told to let the big boys get on with it."

All of Hobbs' opinions as expressed in the essay are smack-dab in the middle of my wheelhouse. However, that written, where Hobbs' thoughts get really interesting, iMo, is to be found in the remainder of the essay wherein he writes about photographers allowing themselves "to be held up to 'traditional visual arts' as a measuring stick". One which he believes "is not really the most suitable for photography to be measured against".

He believes this to be so because that measuring stick tends to pigeonhole artists into "...schools, movement or worse...". The effect of which is to "shrink the opportunity to be free to create as we wish to." To cause photographers to agonize "over their 'style' - wondering if it 'fresh' or has 'been seen before' or if in fact they have one at all."

As Hobbs sees it:

... if a photographer is happy to work in the same way over the course of their career then I'm really happy for them. Really I am. But I think there should be room for those of us that don't"...[W]e need to assert our independence and establish our own rules and labels, or as I would prefer our own lack of them, after all chaos is good for creation!

Stayed tomorrow when I will address how Hobbs' ideas might impact the 'traditional visual arts' measuring stick of thematic bodies of work which evidence a common referent and consistent manner of picturing it.
Posted on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 09:38AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

ku # 1370-73 ( with hints of civilized ku)~ Pete's Steakhouse window views

view from Pete's Steakhouse window # 1 ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
view from Pete's Steakhouse window # 2 ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
view from Pete's Steakhouse window # 3 ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
view from Pete's Steakhouse window # 4 ~ Lake Placid, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 09:42AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

civilized ku # 3033 ~ a totally unexpected surprise

roosters ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

A little known part of my persona is my fascination with and desire to acquire some chickens. Not just any chickens but rather exotic chickens.

I am not sure of the reasons for this proclivity other than exotic chickens seem to speak to me of a Supreme Being (of some sort) - perhaps the Creation Department Director in charge of Poultry Evolution - who gathered together an assembly of graphic designers and gave them each the task of designing a chicken. The results were creative, plentiful and, iMo, quite spectacular and that is the reason why our house is replete with many chicken / rooster effigies. Objects which represent how, at this time, I am dealing with my chicken obsession.

In any event, it came to my notice, in a recent edition of our online local community newsletter, that a local farm was making a number of laying hens available because their flock was overextending their poultry housing facility. While I am not particularly interested in chickens for their laying ability (nevertheless, a nice ancillary activity), I clicked on the link to the farm website to see what might be what.

The unexpected surprise that greeted me on the Blue Pepper Farm website was not that of chickens but rather that of some absolutely delightful photography. Pictures which are presented not as addendum's to text but rather pictures which are presented in a photography blog / site format, seemingly for the pure joy of picture making.

Most, if not all, of pictures seem to be of cell phone origin, most with some sort of photography app effects applied. However, whatever the methodology, the pictures speak with an unmistakably enthusiastic and affectionate voice regarding a love for farm life and all it entails. Wading through the hundreds of pictures reveals a large number of wonderful picturing gems.

If ever there was a "hidden" treasure of undiscovered pictures which cry out to be seen in a gallery exhibition (with an accompanying exhibition catalog), this is a prime example thereof.

Spend some time viewing the pictures. I don't think you will be disappointed.

civilized ku # 3032 / diptych # 2003 ~ what he said

wind turbine ~ , NY • click to embiggen
meters ~ Pittsburgh, PA / Saratoga Springs, NY • click to embiggen

It was Garry Winogrand who said:

I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed.

And, for good measure, he also mentioned that "Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed .... by me."

I mention these Winogrand quotes as an intro to some thoughts on the notion presented on the refrigerator magnet as seen in yesterday's entry:


On that entry, Jim Roelofs wrote, ".... my take is that there's a lot of beauty in this world ... and then there's stuff like warfare." Relative to part of the comment, re: "then there's stuff like warfare" - and without too much parsing of the word "thing" in the Confucius quote - my reading of the quote is that thing refers to tangible / tactile physical objects, not to human events, occurrences or conditions.

Whether or not that's how Confucius meant it - I'll leave that to philosophers, scholars, and language experts to theorize and argue over - that is how I will address it in this entry.

In my picture making I am all about how a thing looks photographed and I picture things as a literal description or the illusion of literal description of the thing pictured. I do so because I belief that there is beauty all around us as can be witnessed in the predominately commonplace / quotidian world that we inhabit. HOWEVER ...

.... as my awareness of what the hell I am doing, picture making wise, I have come to understand that there is no intrinsic beauty, at least not in the conventional sense of beauty, in many (or most) of the referents I picture. I mean, as just one example, most people and quite a few picture makers probably wonder about what it is I see in a kitchen sink drain stopper with green bean, mushroom slice, noodle and oatmeal flakes.

Nevertheless, I am drawn to picturing things for more reasons other than what the referent is. My eye and sensibilities are attracted to the possibilities of making something beautiful - the resulting print, in and of itself as a thing, of my picturing encounters with all kinds of referents. In a sense, that is to write, quotidian referents are just a readily available excuse to make pictures.

The pictures I make, if they are successful in meeting my expectations - as Winogrand said, "The photograph should be more interesting or more beautiful than what was photographed" - they do so because of the Form (on the 2D surface of the print) within the Frame that I have seen, captured and subsequently presented to those who view my pictures. Form wise, that is to write, the visual energy which results from the organization of shapes, colors, lines, tones (aka: highlight and shadow values), and the like within the Frame that I have chosen to contain / restrain the arrangement of such visual elements which make up the Form in my pictures.

To my eye and sensibilities, the fulfillment of those expectations, independent of the depicted referent, is what constitutes a good picture.

FYI, the complete Confucius quote is:

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

Perhaps that is why those who see only the referent in my pictures, but not the Form, are disappointed in what they see.
Posted on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 10:16AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment

kitchen life # 78 / civilized ku # 3030-31 ~ every thing

refrigerator magnet ~ Pittsburgh, PA • click to embiggen
sink stopper with refuse ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
directional / rusted hulk ~ near Keeseville, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

Every thing has beauty. Maybe. Maybe not. More on this idea coming soon.

Posted on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 at 03:01PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments1 Comment