constructed # 5 / ku # 1404-06 ~ stormy weather





As I continue to create constructed pictures for submission to the B&W exhibition, I have given pause to think about why all of my constructed pictures are very nior-ish. After a moderate amount of consideration, I have been unable to come up with any deductions or understanding of why this is so.

Although, since my intent for the constructed pictures is to create a sense of mystery / surrealism / strangeness, it stands to reason that things hidden in / emerging from / masked by the dark are a time-tested way of creating the feelings I am striving for. After all, the dark is something that humans have been fearful of since the dawn of life on planet earth. So, maybe the answer to my question is as simple as that and there is no need to schedule an appointment with a pyschotherapist.

FYI, whle searching through my picture library for pictures with elements that would work for my constructed pictures, I have found quite a number of storm pictures in which dark ominous clouds are very predominant and which work well for my intent. After opening the files and picking them apart for elements to include in my constructions, I have been also been converting the pictures into the B&W photography world and I really like the results.

Perhaps it is time to create a B&W stormy weather body of work.

constructed # 1-4 ~ acts of the imagination

I received a call for entries for an exhibition with the theme Balck & White. Upon checking out the call, I found this:

For this exhibition we are looking for work that tells a story, recites a poem, or simply gives beauty to the viewer, without significant use of the color spectrum.

While I have number of B&W pictures which I believe qualify, re: simply gives beauty to the viewer, the fact is, in my picture making I do not try to tell a story or recite a poem. However, while I could submit those gives-beauty pictures, I discovered upon further investigation that the juror is a very committed devote of constructed B&W pictures.

Consequently, I am working on creating a number of constructed pictures which address the juror's picture making prejudice. And truth be told, I enjoy creating such pictures. Not only is there the technical challenge of seamlessly putting together the bits and pieces sourced from various pictures, there is also the challenge of creating pictures which convey a sense of mystery, sureality and strangeness.

Do such pictures tell a story? No, I don't believe a picture can tell a story or have a narrative of any kind. That written, I do believe a photograph can be an instigating source of endless speculation and conjecture. That a photograph can evince a mood or a feeling that can have an affect on a viewer which leads him/her to create their own story or narrative. Think of a photograph as a rorschach test of sorts.

In any event, these pictures are a work in progress. They may be altered and there may more pictures. I have nearly 3 weeks before the submission deadline.

FYI, I do not consider these pictures to be photographs. They are illustrations / works made using the tools of the medium of photography and its apparatus.

kitchen sink # 40 ~ buku bokeh

Relative to yesterday's entry, re: Mike Johnston's crochity old man moment, I thought I would post this picture because I believe that I got the correct plane of focus, the right DOF and therefore did the right thing for this picture.

ku # 1401-03 ~ fuddy duddy

Yesterday on the TOP site, the intrepid Mike Johnston had, iMo, a sorta old coot / fuddy-duddy / crotchety old man moment when he went off (ever so politely) on the bokeh "craze" whereof he wrote:

"I'm thoroughly, permanently sick of seeing endless photographs in which "lots of bokeh" is equated with "good bokeh," such that parts of the main subject which conventionally should be in focus are not ... a very basic part of being a photographer is nailing the correct plane of focus and getting the depth-of-field right."

PS: It should be noted that Johnston tempered that statement with the caveat that stated, "Everybody owns their own photography and they can do anything they want with it..."

That coveat proffered, I still can't not fathom the meaning of the "correct" plane of focus or the "right" DOF. I didn't know and am not aware of the fact that there exists a "correct" plane of focus or the "right" DOF other than the plane of focus and the DOF as determined by a picture maker.

Johnston went on to write that "...the picture comes first, doesn't it?" (iMo, yes it does) therefore the picture maker should "Do what's right for the picture." "right"? If a picture maker has accomplished, for her/his objectives alone, what he/she set out to express for his/her self, then, iMo, independent of whether I like the picture or not, the picture maker has done the "right" thing(s).

All of that written, here's my CAVEAT: as much as I know and can surmise from Mike Johnston's writing on his site, he seems to be an avid "amateur" scholar (I mean that in good way), re: the medium of photography and its apparatus, and a gentleman. Consequently, I do not think that he was being didactic or dismissive in his comments regarding the bokeh "craze". However, his use of words such "correct" and "right" and "right thing", dispite his later caveat, tend to imply, intended or not, that a picture who makes pictures that he does not like is doing something that is wrong. Nevertheless, I forgive Mike his uncharatistic old coot / fuddy-duddy / crotchety old man moment

civilized ku # 5057-59 ~ a little of this, a little of that

hotel room window ~ Norwood, MA. (embiggenable)

ice rink ~ SUNY Canton (embiggenable)

dated orange juice ~ (embiggenable)

While sitting on our new back porch and having a post work-day libation, the wife and I were discussing that day's entry, FORM / CONTENT • CANARD / FEINT, on my blog. Long story short, when I expressed to the wife that all of my pictures were "about" FORM, she replied, "Then why do you put your pictures into separate bodies of work?" - good question.

The easy answer to that question was that it's the traditional way of doing it. Gallery exhibitions, picture monologue books and the like are almost exclusuvely, retrospects excluded, presented as unified thematic bodies of work. It would be fair to write that the Art World demands an artist's commitment to a unified body of work as one of the prices to pay for admittance to that world. So, since it is my intention to get as many of my pictures as possible in front of the public eye, I readily conform to that practice.

However, over the past few years I have made annual Year in Review books. Those books are comprised of what I consider to be the best of my pictures made within each calendar year regardless of the pictured referents. iMo and to my eye and sensibilities, the books hold together very well as bodies of unified pictures. That written it leads me to recount the following anecdote ...

A number of years ago it was my practice to almost aways have a folio box of +/- 20 prints of my pictures in my car. The point being that, if in my travels I passed by a gallery, I could pop in and (hopefully) visit with the gallery director and present my work. That M.O. was based on 2 reasons: 1) be prepared, and, 2) you never get what you don't ask for.

In any event, at that time my folio of prints was not representative of an individual body of work inasmuch as I hadn't reach the critical density of mass of pictures needed to create a unified thematic collection. The folio contained a very mixed message, re: pictured referents wise.

During one drive-by folio presentation, the gallery director was nearly done viewing the folio when he stopped and asked, "Are you a graphic designer?" "Yes I am", I answered. His response was, "I guessed as much because all of these pictures are of a unified vision / style / design (I don't remember his exact word - my word would be "FORM"). There is no doubt that the pictures were made by the same person."

(Of course) I took that as a high compliment and as evidence that I had achieved a recognizable manner of seeing which was not linked to a specific referent but rather discernable across a wide range of referents. Without a doubt, the vignetted corners and black border are an integral part of each of my pictures and constitute a repetitious component of my signature look. However, that was most definitely not what the gallery director was referring to. Rather, he took time to point out that he was commenting regarding the consistent look and resultant feel evinced by the pictures' visual structure / organization and visual energy. END OF STORY

Fast forward to the present. I have become somewhat obsessed with presenting mixed-message, referent wise, exhibitions of my pictures. I was very recently offered to do an exhibition in a regional gallery. The director had seen my Life Without the APA exhibit and suggested that I exhibit that work. I responded that I would but I would rather include it in a exhibition of 12 prints - 1 from each of 12 different bodies of my work - with each print to be accompanied by a book stand with a book of each body of work's other pictures

He like the idea so I'm off and running with that concept. Which only serves to validate the aforementioned reason #2 - you never get waht you don't ask for.

ku # 1399-1400 ~ form / content • canard / feint




Some definitions:

FORM - the visible shape or configuration of something … bring together parts or combine to create (something) … make or fashion into a certain shape or form.
CONTENT - The material dealt with in a speech, literary work, etc. as distinct from its form or style ... significance or profundity; meaning ... substantive information or creative material viewed in contrast to its actual or potential manner of presentation

In her essay, Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag opined that "In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art". She advanced the idea that approaching a work of art as that which contains meaning / content which needs to be intrepreted (hermeneutics) intrinsically gets in the way of an unmediated or aesthetically pure experience (erotics) of the form of a work of art. All of which led her to the conclusion / postulation that "... interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art".

Sontag believed that a work of art should be experienced and appreciated based on its form. To see the art object for what it is, not for what it might or might not mean. That art should be appreciated for its sensual appeal rather than its appeal to the intellect. Fyi, I couldn't agree more.

For years I struggled with the idea of meaning to be had in a work of art, specifically in a photograph and even more specifically in my pictures. I was troubled, to a certain extent, that, try as I might, I really couldn't find any deep meaning in my pictures.

Why was I troubled? As I came to realize - thank you Susan Sontag (and others) - my troubled state was the result of an an art world canard, a feint which benefited both the academician and critic alike in their "esteemed" roles as interpretors extraordinaire. That is, that art must have meaning to be considered as valuable. Eventually, it dawned on me that in the making of my pictures there was not a single shread of intent to try to put any meaning in my pictures. That what my pictures were "about" was their form.

Consequently, I became very comfortable with the idea that, if a viewer of my pictures wanted to "understand" and/or appreciate them, they would have to come to deal with the luminousness of the thing itself (the print), of that thing being what it is, that it is what it is. If a viewer came looking for meaning, deep or otherwise, in my pictures, he/she would most likely be disappointed.

Nevertheless, I do believe that my pictures do, by means of my intent, have some content / meaning however faint. Content that falls within the idea advanced by William De Kooning:

Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It's very tiny - very tiny, content.

I have a very simple content objective with my pictures - the idea that beauty and coherence can be found in the most innocuous everyday things and events.

Tiny content, indeed.

ku # 1398 / civilized ku # 5054-56 ~ a pre-intellectual, intuitive mode of encounter

roadside drainage ditch ~ (embiggenable)

drink it your way ~ (embiggenable)

hotel room corner ~ (embiggenable)

Rodman Ice Arena ~ (embiggenable)

One of my former assistants introduced me to one of his grandmother's pearls of wisdom ... "For every pot there's a lid". That pithy expression - coming from a time when a woman's place was in the home (more often than not, in the kitchen) - is essentially a re-working of the adage that there is something for everyone.

That written, there can be no question, pots & lids / something for everyone wise, that truer words were never spoken / written about the medium of photography and its apparatus.

Some are in it for the love of gear - lenses, cameras, sensors, et al, some for the love of technique - shooting, processing, printing, and other minutia (resolution, dynamic range, sharpness, bokeh, et al). Some live by the picture making "rules", some make pictures using an inuituve seat-of-the-pants methodology. Some never saw a referent they couldn't make better than real life, some just picture it like it is. I could go on and on citing a nearly endless examples of what the medium and its apparatus means to many other personal proclivities. But, I think you get the point so why go on beating a dead horse.

iMo, here's the thing about the pot & lid adage ... I have written about it before but I will write it again, picture makers most often are the absolute worse audience on the planet, re: looking at pictures. As Bruce Davidson once proclaimed:

I am not interested in showing my work to photographers any more, but to people outside the photo-clique.

What would cause Davidson to state such a thing? iMo,it's the same reasoning that drives my belief, re: picture makers looking pictures .... most picture makers' first glance at a picture - their own and those made by others - with their own picture making proclivities at the fore. An act which throws up a barrier to experiencing a picture in an intuitive manner. That is, perceiving directly by intuition without rational thought.

iMo, the best manner in which to experience a piece of art is to bring to the viewing a Zen/empty mind-like state - which, btw, is also, iMo, best way to make art. To repeat a quote from a recent entry:

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ~ Albert Einstein

or, as Susan Sontag wrote:

"Picture-taking has been interpreted in two entirely different ways: either as a lucid and precise act of knowing, of conscious intelligence, or as a pre-intellectual, intuitive mode of encounter."

For me, I am all in with the "pre-intellectual, intuitive mode of encounter", whether it be in the act of picture making or the act of picture viewing. Why? Because I don't want "conscious intelligence" of tools, technique, gear et al, or, as Sontag wrote: "the hypertrophy of the intellect" to get in the way of the "energy and sensual capability" to be experienced in the expression of an artist's work.

In other words, when it comes to picture making and viewing, feel it, don't think it.

trees ~ for juried exhibition

autumn / cherries ~ instagram filter

spring saplings / bog ~(embiggenable)

city evening / full moon ~ (embiggenable)

Picture submissions for juried exhibition. The exhibition title is Honoring Trees and I have submitted 6 pictures - presented here as diptychs but submitted as individual pictures.

iMo, I don't believe that, in making photographs, one "honors" trees by using them as fodder for applied effects. For my eye and sensibilities, doing so denigrates trees - I mean, what? ... trees as they appear in the natural world aren't good enough to be honored? They need to be tarted up in order to be considered worthy of "honor"?

That wriiten, I have hedged my bet with my submissions by submitting 2 straight color pictures, 2 straight B&W pictures and 2 pictures proceeded with my proprietary instagram filter.

I have submitted the "instagram-ed" pictures for 2 reasons; 1) as previously mentioned, I want to test the juried waters, re: pictures with applied effects, which seems to be currently all the rage for jurors, and, 2) the single picture displayed in the call for entries for this exhibition was, you guessed it, a picture of a tree with effects applied.

I have done so by conveniently ignoring the wife's opnion that I am "selling out". That I am "pandering to the juror's (apparent) picture making prejudice". Points taken, but what the hell? .... every once in a while a little rationalization helps gone get through the day.