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civilized ku # 3057-59 ~ recently seen and duly noted

hotel room / reflection on tv screen ~ Potsdam, NY • click to embiggen
cell phone against white ~ Brasher Falls, NY • click to embiggen
American Legion / Post 939 ~ Brushton, NY • click to embiggen

While attending a hockey tournament and moving about the extreme northern tier of New York State - the St. Lawrence River valley along the Canadian border - a few things pricked my eye and sensibilities.
Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 11:54AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

diptych # 203 / civilized ku # 3054-55 ~ late winter inside color

flowers and stuff ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen
flowers ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

I am working on my next entry, re: punctum baby ~ personal meaning which "escapes" language part II. Hope to complete it tomorrow afternoon while in a hotel killing time between hockey games.

As an aid to help clarify my approach to finding the words which come close to defining / explaining my reaction, personal meaning wise, to the punctum baby picture, I am re-reading the book ,READING PHOTOGRAPHS ~ UNDERSTANDING THE AESTHETICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY which was published in 1978 and which I read for the first time a long time ago.

FYI, the book is a collection of 9 essays (on average, only 2 pages each) covering 9 topics - such as, Time, Organization of space, Symbol and Light - all illustrated with a number of pictures relative to the topic. The book is an easy and somewhat informative read.

However, as I read it I am starting to think that I what I really need to do is to re-read a few chapters in Susan Sontag's book, On Photography. So, I guess I'll throw that book into my suitcase.
Posted on Friday, February 19, 2016 at 11:21AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | CommentsPost a Comment

punctum baby ~ personal meaning which "escapes" language / part I

A number of years past I acquired a book, The Art of the American Snapshot ~ 1888-1978. The book is a catalog of a 2007 exhibition of the same name at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I missed the exhibition which dearly wanted to see.

In any event, the book itself is quite interesting and impressive. In the description of the book (found on the inside fold of the dust cover), with which I emphatically concur, it is written that:

The publication shows that among the countless snapshots taken by American amateurs, some works, through intention or accident, continue to resonate long after their intimate context and original meaning have been lost.

To my eye and sensibilities, one such snapshot which resonates with me, long after its intimate context and original meaning has been lost to the ages, is the baby in a highchair snapshot which accompanies this entry. It so resonates with me that I consider it to be one of the most beautiful and intriguing / involving pictures I have ever seen.

This picture is a found picture. Several years ago, I acquired it in a small second-hand store in a central Pennsylvania town where the wife and I had stopped for lunch during a drive from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. It was buried in a shoebox of old snapshots and, when I saw it, I was stopped dead in my tracks. To this day I can not adequately explain in words its hold on me and my thoughts.

I know on one level, that of the picture making craftsman in me, I find the picture to be quite beautiful. The rich-in-detail dark tones contrasted against the luminous light on the baby and upper highchair is simply gorgeous. The quality of the slanting light - most likely late day, is one reason why I react to the picture as very "warm". However, the absolutely wonderful distinct shadows of the highchair, of the porch pillar and fretwork, the foliage as well as the rather indistinct shadows in the lower third of the picture, all combine to create a somewhat "cool", ominous and mysterious feeling which stands in contrast to the "warmth" of the late day light.

And, with the primary referent, that of the baby in his highchair, nearly centered within the frame, all of the aforementioned seem to swirl around the balance of the frame so that it all works together to create a well ordered and harmonious pictorial space.

And, it is the well ordered and harmonious pictorial space in addition to the light and dark play of light that causes me to wonder about the maker (was it a man or woman?) of this picture. iMo, the picture evidences either the result of a of a "lucky" snapshot, or, that of a picture maker with an awareness of good framing and the interplay of highlight and shadow. I lean toward the notion of a picture maker with awareness inasmuch as ...

... the picture maker seems to have selected a POV which not only includes, one might even say features, the play and quality of the light but which also stands in contrast to what a very casual snap shooter might do - move in closer in order to fill the frame with the baby. I think it also safe to write that a casual shape shooter would barely, if at all, noticed or cared about the surrounding environment / background.

All-in-all, to my eye and sensibilities, the picture evidences a rather sophisticated awareness on the part of the picture maker to visual matters other than the baby. Then again, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then.

While I can go on and on describing why the picture appeals to my craft sensibilities - what Roland Barthes might label, at least in part, as studium ... the fact that the image is a unified and self-contained whole whose generalized meaning can be taken in at a glance - it is when I get to the punctum - the wounding, personally touching detail which establishes an intensely private / personal meaning which "escapes" language - that I get rather tongue-tied (or, if you prefer, typing-tied).

In part II of this topic I will try my best to put into words that which "escapes" language. That is, to elucidate my reaction to the personally touching detail which establishes the intensely private / personal meaning that I experience with this picture.
Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 01:09PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | CommentsPost a Comment

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.
Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 09:45AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , , | CommentsPost a Comment

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
Posted on Monday, February 15, 2016 at 12:51PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | CommentsPost a Comment

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.
Posted on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 09:26AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , , | Comments2 Comments

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.
Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2016 at 09:11AM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in | Comments1 Comment

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.

Posted on Monday, February 8, 2016 at 01:38PM by Registered Commentergravitas et nugalis in , | Comments2 Comments