A Photographer Confronts His World
This may possibly be my strangest presentation yet, but one I am incredibly excited about. I have been invited to speak at the Ocean Parkway Jewish Center at their Thursday night event called ‘Chulent’. Chulent refers to the Saturday food of the Jews – a stew packed with beans and meat and a favorite at Sabbath lunch because it can be cooked before sundown on Friday and kept simmering for hours on end. Chulent the party however is a gathering of the eclectic, the once purely orthodox but now willing to explore the world of ideas and spirituality and more outside of the confines of the strictly pure. Details »
Our final presentation is now online thanks to the remarkable Develop Photo and the always interesting Erica McDonald. You can click on the image below or here and go to the Develop Photo site to see a video. With only 24 hours to put things together into a coherent idea we obviously had to leave many a detail aside. There were also some interface design concerns and we were unable to work through the specific details of how it should look in its final form. Kati much preferred a more intense, in-your-face style, while I was more drawn to a subtler and quieter design to highlight the image epicenters. However, we arrived at a compromise and left it at that, concentrating instead on presenting the broader concept and approach. Details »
I am participating in a three day experimental workshop with a technologist to test some new concepts and story-telling techniques. I am paired with the amazing designer Kati London and I hope that she can bring the powerful technical brilliance to take my basic ideas and transform them into something fabulous.
You can attend the final day of the events and see what we came up with – see below:Welcome!
I just forgot. Last some weeks, I just forgot that I have been trying to write these short pieces. Apologies, but lets begin without much further ado.
Somalies on ice. We love these kinds of stories – remember the Jamaican bobsled team, because they very subtly carry an element of the unbelievable, unusual, and unexpected. And so once again, in time for the corporate production that is something called The Olympics, comes another story of black / brown people valiantly behaving like our imagined idea of ‘us’. Lets also be honest, such ‘feel good’ stories also carry within them that racist prejudice that believes that black / brown people are generally too backward to indulge in what are clearly rich people activities. We are surprised and amused at their temerity, and their desire to belong to our world. Much of our bigoted amusement comes from the way these stories are produced and presented because they exploit the element of ‘shock’ and ‘surprise’ at their efforts. So the Swedes are at it too these days it seems. Details »
I saw the image above – from Alec Soth’s Instagram feed, and said to myself: I hope Alec will read John Szarkowski’s introductory essay to his son. I have never completely agreed with Szarkowski but that hasn’t meant that I am dismissive of him as a critic, and a thinker when it comes to the art of photography. The essay he wrote to introduce the book that Alec’s son is holding in the picture above – William Eggleston’s Guide is actually a rather prescient and insightful one. There are two points in particular that Szarkowski makes that I believe remain relevant to our imagined ‘heady’ times as far as photographer is concerned. Details »
Last summer we made our way to Bosnia and Serbia, ostensibly to, as I then described, explore:
…how people create history through memory, myths, bedtime tales, family stories, personal anecdotes, official commemorations and collective rumors. The idea is to understand how histories are created, memories perpetuated, myths passed on, and animosities maintained. About how if you refuse to speak and confront modern history, you leave an entire world open to mythology, rumor, fabrication, and perhaps most dangerously, personal injustices, and visions of revenge. That where there is no reconciliation, confrontation, accommodation, and acknowledgment, there will always remain a sense of being wronged, and denied.
It wasn’t the most successful of trips, despite the fact that we found most of what we were looking for. What we did not find was a clear and precise narrative structure that would allow us to pull this together into a coherent piece of work. What we did find were layers and layers of overlapping, and often contradictory histories, each vying for authenticity, and each backed by ‘hard’ facts. Details »
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