Archive for Photography

Behind the looking glass

Old image, partially exposed

It is fun living in an older house. I have been painting the downstairs rooms over the last 2 weeks or so. We inherited a large mirror that was hung in our front entryway. When I removed it to paint the space the above photo fell to the floor. It is interesting to think about how long it has been there, who put it there and why. I think it is a picture from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. taken by a child with a parents camera. Every house has a history, and it is fun when little clues like this surface.

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Ruscha in real life

Stack of books printed by Ed Ruscha

I have been a fan of the work of Ed Ruscha from the first time I saw his work. I was trying to pin point that time but have been unable to do that. I know it was when I returned to SIU to finish my BFA, so around 2001. And I am pretty sure it was in my wanderings in the library. Needless to say I have really enjoyed his work for some time and was really excited to learn that our library had copies of some of his book work, so I checked them out.

The first thing that I found interesting about these books is that they were in the general population, not in special collections. This is a small stack of books that at auction could fetch thousands of dollars. Granted, they are not all in pristeen shape, but five of them are first editions, two of which have their original covers. These are rare books.

The second thing I noticed was the re-binding of a few of them. I guess that is standard procedure for most soft cover books at a university library so they last longer. One interesting thing is the removal of the soft covers so they can be glued to the hard cover as seen in the image below.

Various Small Fires by Ed Ruscha, 1964

It is interesting to interact with something that you have only ever seen reproduced in two dimensions. I have seen a lot of these books reproduced in various catalogs and books, including the blank pages. You don’t get a feel for the pacing until you are holding it in your hands and are flipping through all of those blank pages. It is a surprise when you finally arrive at an image. Had these books been full of images, or all of the images at the front, blank pages at the back, the element of surprise would be lost. And they are much smaller that I would have thought. Only 5.5 x 6.75 inches. Scale is lost in reproductions.

I appreciate this work much more now that I have held it in my hands and looked through them. Amazing little books. I also made a great discovery one day while wandering around the library. We have an original Ed Ruscha lithograph hanging in a study area. Again, reproductions do not do justice to the pattern and texture he creates. So I guess the moral to this story is two fold. First, look at original art whenever and where ever you get the chance. It is NEVER the same in reproductions. And second, spend more time wandering around in the library. You can find amazing things.

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In the Air

Madelyn and I (mostly me) were bored the other day and I had a great idea of trying to take pictures of each other while in the air. It took a while to get the pictures, but it was fun trying. I think we will start a tradition of catching each other in the air when ever we visit an interesting place.

Madelyn floating

Me in the air.

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Camel Market Panorama

Panoramic image of a camel market in Abu Dhabi

The girls had a half day of School on Wednesday so we decided to go watch some camel races. It was a good (but hot and dusty) time. On the way out I was struck by the size of the camel market and wanted to take a picture. Inspired by the beautiful panorama photographs of the Great Salt Lake by Michael Slade and the ease of stitching together photos in CS3 I snapped some pics and stitched them together. I think the overall image is not bad. Click here to get a larger version and see some of the details better.

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Image as Journey

There was a post on Coudal Partners Fresh Signals yesterday that got me thinking about images and journeys.

Folks were pointed to a project by Bob Kessler about Western Avenue in Chicago. Western Avenue is the longest street in Chicago, some say the world but those Canadians would beg to differ, and is steeped in more than a century of history. It is the history of the street that attracted Kessler to both the street and the project. It is an amazing project and the images he has posted online lead me to believe that when all 80 images are exhibited in the same place it would be quite amazing.

Like I said, his website got me thinking about images and how people use them to represent a specific journey. Or how contemporary images are used to show how much things have changed but still stay the same. I was immediately reminded of two projects by other artists and one of my own from the summer of 2001.

The first project that came to mind was the book Cucamonga by Rudy Vanderlans. The second book of a trilogy, Cucamonga traces the paths and habitations of Captain Beefhart and the Magic Band. The goal was to show through images and sound (there is a CD included with the book) what has changed and how much might still be the same from the places that lead to the creation of such amazing music. The viewer is both happy to see houses still standing and saddend to see old haunts replaced by generic low-rise office complexes.

The second project was the US Highway 89 project by a photographer named Brian. His goal is to photograph the entire length of the original US highway 89 from the US/Candian crossing in Montana to the US/Mexican crossing in Arizona one mile marker at a time. An ambitious project to say the least. I am sure that this project is propeled by some story that connects his story of the story of his family to the story of the road, the same way that Kessler is connected to Western Avenue and I am connected to the subject of my project.

Time = Decay was a final project for ART 332 the summer of 2001. I needed a subject to build a website around and I had always been intrigued by the empty buildings around my parents home town, West Frankfort Illinois. I photographed the old school (now a museum) and the empty warehouses, gas stations, homes and corner grocery stores that dot the town. I remember stories of how large and lively West Frankfort used to be and tried to reconcile those stories with what I saw happening to the buildings and the town. I wanted to take a journey to a place that I had never been, so I took photos of the way things were and imagined.

I guess that is the power of this type of photography. It allows you to put yourself in a place you could never be and imagine the stories and the things that must have been.

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