Spent the last few days chasing the light around the inside of my house. Although, to be honest and as I have previously written, the light was chasing me. I just happened to be in the right place at an opportune time.
A busy week. Took my grandson, Hugo, to Pittsburgh, PA. for a day long visit to a prep school.
The visit included a practice skate with the school's top prep hockey team. Hugo put on enough of a show that the coach offered him a spot in the top team prep hockey program. Consequently, I may be traveling to Pittsburgh more frequently.
On the picture making front, I managed to make an addition to my single women body of work which you can view on my site front page via the WORK link above.
I have always had a fascination with visual complexity. In fact, it is quite accurate to write that that fascination lead directly to my career as a professional commercial photographer.
Stepping into the Way Back Machine to 1966, while I was living in Japan (in the military), I acquired my first camera. This acquisition was notable inasmuch as, while I was living Rochester, NY-home of the Big Yellow Box aka: KODAK-I never (with one exception) made a photograph. My artistic activities were devoted to creating drawings and illustrations for which I was well known.
That written, with that first camera I took to picture making like the proverbial duck to water.
Within a few months, I had won 3 1st place military photo competitions-3 different categories-at each of 3 different levels - base, Far East and Pacific tiers. A few months after that, I became a military photographer. Eventually, I became the personal photographer to a Commanding General.
In a very real sense, I had become a professional photographer inasmuch as I was earning my military pay by making pictures. That,dispite the fact that I had zero photo education or training ... as I wrote, like a duck to water.
Upon my discharge, I returned to Rochester-loaded up with 2 Nikons and 5 NIkkor lenses-and enrolled in a 4 year photography program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I dropped out after 2 months due the fact that the school would not give me any credits for my prior photographic experience which resulted in my being placed inclasses with rank begginers and the attendant courses of study. It didn't seem worth the money.
I then got a job as an assitant to a commercial photographer where I worked for 3 years. I left that job and opened my first commercial studio.
And the rest was, as they say, history.
Does anyone out there ever incorporate humor into your picture making? You know, just for the fun of it. Or, do you only make "serious" pictures?
Re; the urinal picture in our 1st floor powder room*. I placed it there as a somewhat disharmonious act intended to give visitors to our home either a chuckle or a groan. In either case, those who know me will know that the image and the placement are an expressionof my sometimes quirky sense of humor.
That written, an unintended consequence, for me, of the placement of the picture has resulted in a weirdly disorienting feeling when looking at it while urinating. It sends an instantaneous-almost pavlovian-request to my brain to look down to make certain I am hitting the target. Truly weird.
*I have recently caught a bit of flack, anachronism wise, from multiple sources regarding the use of the phrase "powder room." Apparently the "proper" nomenclature for a bathroom with just a sink and toilet is "half bath." Using the "powder room" nomenclature is cause for the utterence of snarky retorts such as, "Is that the closet-size room where you powder your wig?" (or, in some cases, "your nose"?.)
I received an email from a follower who requested the meaning / definition of the phrase civilized ku....
....Approximately 15 years ago, I began using the naming conventions of ku and civilized ku to differentiate between my "pure" natural world pictures and those which include evidence of humankind. However, in both labels, the operative word is "ku".
As I understand it, the Japanese (I lived in Japan for 2 years) word "ku" has several dependent-upon-use meanings, such as - sky, empty, space. I appropriated the word for use in my picture naming convention for several reasons:
1. "EMPTY". When I make pictures I do so with an "empty" mind. That is, I rarely seek out something to picture. Rather, in most picture making cases, a referent pricks my eye and sensibilities-in a sense, a referent has found me. It feels rather like a referent is seeking me and I am able to see/hear it because no other thoughts get in the way.
In addition, when a referent pricks my eye and sensibilities, my mind is always empty of technical / technique picture making thoughts - it's a simple act of; see the referent, camera (95% of the time, same camera, same lens) to eye, frame the referent (guided by what feels "right") and make the picture.
FYI, I view pictures, mine and those made by others, with an equally empty mind.
2. Long after adopting my ku naming convention, I came across an excerpt from an academic paper, Engaging with Ku˜: from abstraction to meaning through the practice of noticing, by Yoko Akama which stated:
This paper presents a design project that explored the practice of “noticing”. Noticing is a way in and through which we are able to understand and create our relationship to space and place. The practice of noticing can facilitate awareness, reflection, learning and transformation. Noticing is a practice that enables us to engage with the concept of Ku˜, meaning “space”, in Japanese. In this project context, Ku˜ is interpreted as a space of potentiality rather than emptiness or nothingness. Engaging with Ku˜ through the practice of noticing can enable a transition from abstraction to meaning. Ku˜ can also be an expression of the ambiguous potential of design investigations (ed: I will substitute "picturing making" for "design" throughout the rest of this excerpt) : including knowing and the unknown, the limitations and the challenges. To practice picture making in this way is to step outside of the confines of certainty and embark on an exploratory path of discovery. Just as picture making is a way of engaging with space – to enunciate the unknown, to create meaning from the abstract – so too is noticing as a temporal practice of discovery and place making. Through the act of noticing the ambiguous openness of space is transformed into the connectedness of place.
If I had encountered Yoko Akama's excerpt prior to adopting ku as my naming convention, I might have adopted the word noticing in its place inasmuch as, re: reason #1 above, my empty mind-"to step outside of the confines of certainty (ed: picture making wise) and embark on an exploratory path of discovery-allows me to "notice" things which incite me to make pictures. That is, things (aka: referents) I might not have noticed if my picture making mind was focused (pun?) on other things.
All of that written, an artist-statement-like explanation regarding my picture making intentions might simply read as:
With an empty state of mind, ku, I am able to experience the act of noticing the ambiguous openness of space and transforming it into a connectedness of place.
I have often descibed my picture making as an act of picturing the quotidian or what others might label as everyday or commonplace things / events / places. In doing so, I am especially fascinated by "life" of things which, either by nature or the hand of humankind (consciously or unthinking), have evinced a fleeting-my idea of a decisive moment-evidence of an artful arrangement.
Some of those things may be considered to be pleasing / beautiful in and of itself while others may incite a reaction of unpleasantness or even disgust. In either case, those things, when pictured in the appropriate manner and presented on the 2D plane of a print, are capable of evincing interesting / visually pleasing arrangements of shapes, lines, tones and colors which are independent of the depicted referents (things).
My intent in making such pictures is to create beautiful prints. That is, a print as an object of beauty no matter the actuality of the thing(s) depicted.
There was a time when I believed I was making pictures of the beauty to be found in commonplace things when, in fact, I have since come to realize that I am making decisive moment pictures which depict fortuitous events (arrangements) in the life of things. To my eye and sensibilities, the resultant printed pictures are transformative inasmuch as the things depicted when viewed for their inherent visual qualities, that is as carriers / conveyors of visual data (line, shape, tone, color), are transformed into / become "mere" visual vehicles-their commonly accepted identity is sublimated-in the service of the creation of a beautiful object.
Yesterday's snow storm brought 18 inches of snow. Today's weather brings temperatures of -5˚F and -20˚F wind chill.
In the past such weather was cause for me to pack up my winter backpacking gear and head out into the High Peaks for 3-4 days of wilderness backpacking. However, at this point in time, such weather is cause for me to wish I could pack up my winter backpacking gear and head out into the High Peaks for 3-4 days of wilderness backpacking.
That written, the plain fact of the matter is that, my being in my 7th decade on the planet, I have a condition which makes winter backcounty camping a problem. While I am phyically able to undertake winter backpacking (albeit over gentle terrain), my bladder is not ...
... nearly every night, I need to make at least 1 visit to the toilet. Some nights more. That being a fact of life (for me), the thought of crawling out of a toasty warm down sleeping bag (in-a-protected-from-the-weather winter tent) to pee in the snow is not high on my list of things to do. And, it should be noted that winter backpacking camping requires the consumption of lots of warm liquids which could only make the situation worse.
That written, hope springs eternal, re: maybe it's time to give it a try.
An event happened while I was going through my wake up regime and I used it in a formative manner.