Tuesday, September 29, 2009

These Americans; Trajan Drive Collection: 1953 - 1956

These Americans is a new website that features collections vernacular photographs from the fine folks at American Suburb X.

Why are anonymous snapshots so interesting? Is it because of the fragmentary histories they offer of other's lives? What can we learn from these staccato glimpses? We can dip into the lives of others without the messiness of physical proximity and within the safety that distance of history provides.

Is it the seemingly endless varieties of new visual languages that seem to be invented by those unencumbered by convention, theory, and the discourse of photography? I think it is this reprieve from context that intrigues me most. No matter what box you rifle through at the flea market, you are virtually guaranteed to find something surprising, and uncommonly beautiful even amongst the most seemingly pedestrian of collections. I also love the plethora of subjects and random juxtapositions one creates as we pull photographs one by one from an old dusty box of prints or slides. In the future will subsequent generations be culling photographs from grandma's dusty hard drive? I hope that they will be able to open those antiquated files.

When looking at collections of vernacular images at the flea market or garage sales, one sees images largely unedited. This was special gift of traditional drug store prints, one would print the entire roll, and usually keep all the images. The images that didn't make it into the album are filed away in the box, and here to the connoisseur is where the real gems reside. These images where accidents and awkward poses mirror languages explored by contemporary practitioners. At These Americans.com we see a curated look at those images that did not necessarily make into the family album. Despite their intention (or lack there of), these photographs exhibit a resonance with contemporary practices. Whose history then are we then witnessing? Is it a glimpse into American Family life or a series of aesthetic coincidences assembled by someone will versed and rehearsed in pictorial convention, theory, and photographic discourse? Does curation make the images more interesting or kill it for you?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekly Picture 164

Climbing Wall, Cape Charles, VA 8.13.2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Crop History

"The advent of digital photography and the proliferation of instant images have dulled the power of historical photos against the steady and relentless 24-hour drumbeat of the “breaking story” syndrome, which holds publications and networks hostage to the relentless demands of feeding the News Monster. It doesn’t help to have the photos misrepresented on top of that"

David Hume Kennerly is pissed that Newsweek cropped his photo.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dan Boehl's Review of the Close show in Austin

But A Couple Ways of Doing Something contains that rarest thing: the single amazing work of art.

In ...might be good.

On Why Chuck Close is Famous and Mug Shots

From: Navigating the Self
Chuck Close discusses portraiture and the topography of the face
Chuck Close/Siri Engberg/Madeleine Grynsztejn
July 2005

Chuck Close: From the very beginning, what I wanted to do was mitigate against the standard hierarchy of the portrait. It goes back to the Walker’s self-portrait. . . . If you think about the late 1960s, painting was dead, sculpture ruled. Painting seemed like a senseless activity. If you were dumb enough to make a painting, it had better be abstract. It was even dumber to make a representational image. Then the dumbest, most moribund, out-of-date, and shopworn of all possible things you could do was make a portrait. I remember Clement Greenberg said to [Willem] de Kooning that the only thing you can’t do in art anymore is make a portrait. I thought, well, if Greenberg thinks he can’t do it, then I am going to have a lot of operating room all to myself. But of course, he didn’t consider Warhol a painter. [He] had been making portraits and was essentially a portrait painter, if you think about it. He made his in one quick squeegee stroke and I made mine piece by piece over a long period of time, so the approach and the attitude and everything was very different. And I didn’t want to do celebrities; he owned movie stars and all that stuff. I wanted Everyman and Everywoman, just regular folks, most of whom went ahead and got famous on me. I thought absolutely about the mug shot as a way around commissioned portraiture.

I thought the most important thing about postwar American painting—the overriding issue—was a sense of “alloverness.” Whether it was Pollock’s skeinlike ribbons of paint in which there really was no difference from the left edge to the right edge . . . [or] Stella’s black stripe paintings that just kept going. If you were an ant crawling across it, there were no areas that were thicker, thinner, whatever—this commitment to the whole rectangle. Now, I wanted to overlay on top of the portrait that commitment to the whole, to the rectangle, and make every piece as important as every other piece. Then I thought, well, the police have a reason they make a mug shot. It gives you the most information about that subject that you can have. They want to find them and arrest them. And they get them straight on, and they get a profile. All of my early portraits are dead-straight on.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chuck Close Film Screening in Austin

Film: Chuck Close
AMOA Downtown

Portrait of Close’s Creative Circle
Artist Chuck Close redefined contemporary portraiture. In her film Chuck Close (2007) director Marion Cajori examines the appeal of the human face by interviewing the artist and his circle of creative friends, including Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kiki Smith, for over a decade. Film introduction by Austin photographer George Krause.

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2009
Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

This event does not require an RSVP.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Elevator Girl Sees Herself in Picture

One of photographer Robert Frank's most famous images aroused a particular interest from his friend, beat writer Jack Kerouac.

In his introduction to Frank's book of photos The Americans, Kerouac writes, "That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what's her name & address?"

Now we know.

More from NPR.

via Andrew Simone.

Weekly Picture 163

Glitter Shoes, Children's Museum, Austin, TX, 7.30.2009

In Mountains in Stars Song and Images

In Mountains In Stars - Hazards Of Loving Creatures from Phil Bebbington on Vimeo.

Hazards of Loving Creatures:

Hush my darling lie still and slumber
Holy Angels call your name
Heavenly blessings without number
Gently fall on my head

The air is so thin
Ground my skin to the bone
in the warbling wind, grace
Not for me, but for her

Prospect of Heaven makes death easy
Darker doubt yet lingers for the rest of us
Heavenly Blessings without number
Gently fall on my Head

The air is so thin
Ground my skin to the bone
in the warbling wind, grace
Not for me, but for her

This video was put together by the very capable and generous, Phil Bebbington.
See more of his video interpretations here. Here is his blog.