Anodyne
Thursday, February 23, 2017
 

"Around seventy activists attend a news conference to protest against the gentrification of Boyle Heights outside the Nicodim Gallery on November 5, 2016."

Regular readers will recognize this distinctive Los Angeles building from my Fortified Door sequence, and the New Pornographers video it's based upon.

Photo: LA Times
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
 

Milton Avery, Fantail Pigeon, 1953
 

You Don't Stand a Chance Against My Love

New photographs at the printer's.

(Image credit: H. Zille, 1898)
Friday, February 17, 2017
 

A divorcing couple splitting up their Beanie Babies in court in 1999
 
"From all the dead people, we can learn a lot, and they’re very convenient to reach. There’re no problems with transportation to visit with the dead. We make friends with eminent dead, and it is enormously helpful. Some of you wouldn’t have helped me, but Adam Smith did."  (Charlie Munger)
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
 

Or Out The Door Entirely

"Augaitis wanted to acknowledge all the great opportunities she’s had with mentoring younger staff. She said someone called it ‘Daina’s School of Curatorial Hard Knocks.’

'There have been lots of curatorial assistants who have often moved up to assistant curators,' she said."
 
Fisticuffs @ PFB, spring 2017 edition: CJB v. Thrasymachus, out on the street.  Swinging a bike lock at one of my friends while screaming and swearing at him turns out to not be such a good idea after all.
Monday, February 13, 2017
 
"Rob's funeral is at Sacred Heart RC Parish at 4040 Nelthrope in Saanich on Vancouver Island. It is on Feb 14th at 2 followed by a reception at Paul Plimley's parents' home at 1065 Gatewood Court also in Saanich off of Royal Oak. Not everyone can just drop and go but we could all sing a love song to him on Valentine's Day."
Sunday, February 12, 2017
 

Saturday, February 11, 2017
 

 

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, View from the Window at Le Gras, c. 1826

Draft of the first page of a hopefully book-length manuscript on photography.  In memoriam Robert Linsley, and for Jamie, Beck and Helga, who asked.

1.

First, an anecdote:

In 1999, just prior to opening the bookstore, I went on a trip to the US Southwest that involved driving around in a rental car, buying every saleable thrift-store book I could find, and UPS-ing them all home to Vancouver.  Most US thrift stores were closed on Sundays, so Sunday became a travel day.  One Sunday found me driving down a stretch of former highway in Colorado Springs.  Motels; taverns; payday lending; hair salons.  Up ahead, a big, attractively weathered sign on a pole advertised somebody's garage or autobody shop.  I braked hard; I'd like to think Stephen Shore, Walker Evans, or Stuart Davis would have braked, too.  Someone honked behind me: no stopping, even on Sunday.  I drove down another block, parked, and walked back with one of the disposable plastic cameras I'd bought to document my trip.  I stood in the business' driveway and focused on the sign, squinting through the camera's cheap plastic viewfinder.  Soon a pissed-off woman came out of the building and down the driveway toward me.

-Can I help you?

-I'm good, thanks, I said, not taking my eye from the viewfinder.

-What the hell are you doing?

-I'm photographing.

-I'm calling the fucking cops!

-Kthxbai.

I walked -- jogged, really -- back to the car and split.

What bugged me back then -- what still bugs me today, if I'm honest -- is that I could not have given a more cogent answer if I tried, not to her and certainly not to the cops.

What are you doing?

Photographing.

Doing what, exactly?

In 1999 I didn't know, and in 2017, definitions don't help much.  "To practice photography."  (dictionary.com).  "The art of capturing the beauty of life, the act of appreciating 'the moment.'" (urbandictionary.com). Or (via merriam-webster.com): "The art, process, or job of taking pictures with a camera" (DEFINITION FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS); "The making of pictures by means of a camera that directs the image of an object onto a surface that is sensitive to light" (DEFINITION FOR STUDENTS); and, finally, "The art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or an optical sensor)."  I like that last definition best; I think it is almost truthful.  The STUDENTS and ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS definitions are too awed by equipment; their thudding insistence on the camera as the thing-that-does-photography ignores Corot's cliché verres (c. 1850), Man Ray's photograms (c. 1920), Pierre Cordier's chemigrams (1956-present), and hundreds of other counter-examples.  Does a simpler definition exist? Throw out cameras, and film, and anything else extraneous, and you eventually end up with just two limiting conditions: light and a support.  Light understood as an electromagnetic spectrum running all the way from infrared to gamma radiation; support meaning a surface (paper; panel) or plane (projection screen; cellphone screen; computer monitor; camera sensor).  Merriam-Webster's insistence on a sensitive surface is too specific; right away it eliminates James Nizam's room-size camera obscuras, whose images appear on the upright interiors of derelict Vancouver houses that haven't been prepared in any way, and Abelardo Morell's temporary marriages of internal and external architectural space.
 

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Drew Brayshaw, Ice Storm Glazed Tree, 2017
 

Robert Linsley:

"Not all artists are noted for their humor, lightness, gaiety and wit. In all the years I knew Jeff Wall I only heard him crack one joke, but it was a pretty good one. I came late to the Bodega, where we used to drink, and he was with Rodney and a couple of other people having a great time making up their own epitaphs. Jeff’s was 'His First Sculpture.' Of course, the secret of art is that one can die and keep on living. Furthermore, the death of the artist is what enables an artwork to become a 'character.'"

(Image credit: RL, Headstone Island, 1999)

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