Friday, June 24, 2011


I'm dropping out for a few days to float the Deschutes. It should be just a big lounge scene, nature without man, with possible spillage from large pool-drop rapids. Courage. Oh well, maybe partying will help.

So anyway the blog will be quiet for a while. Nothing indeed.

Another two dropouts recently reeled in

Thursday, June 23, 2011


If you haven't yet been able to visit San Francisco's Pier 24, don't fret. Joe Reifer has posted a short time-lapse tour this morning on YouTube, so now you can visit from your desktop.

It's hard to believe it's only been a year since the place opened as the biggest photo exhibit on the planet. Judging by the current "Home" exhibit it has quickly morphed into one of the best, if not the best.

Bloggers were the first to sound the call about Pier 24, with posts here, here, and here, not to mention right here. Recently the mainstream photo world has picked up the drumbeat, with a nice feature in Aperture #203.

As of now it's still possible to book a visit on short notice, but I think it's only a matter of time before Pier 24 is swamped with photo tourists and visits will become a hassle. If so, Joe's video arrives at an opportune moment.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Politics of Time

Was 1960s Ed Ruscha a time traveller sent from the future? You decide.

He anticipated Google Street View. In 1966, Ruscha mounted a camera with motor drive to the roof of his car, drove down Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and systematically photographed every building on both sides of the street in sequence. He published his findings as two facing strips of buildings carefully labeled with addresses for easy navigation.

He anticipated New Topographics. Ruscha's photographic style which came to maturity in the early-60s was a dry deadpan aesthetic cataloguing exteriors in the Western U.S. It wasn't until 1975 that New Topographics crystalized the style in a show, buzzword, and movement that continues to have reverberations in documentary photography today.

6565 Fountain Ave., 1965, from Some Los Angeles Apartments

He anticipated today's photobook boom. Between 1962 and 1972 Ruscha self published 15 photography books, a rate of over one per year. This was four decades before Blurb.

He anticipated meta-photography. In 1967, Ruscha hired a professional photographer to shoot his Los Angeles parking lot project. Without picking up a camera, he made another person's photos his own through the power of production, editing, and publication. The examination and appropriation of outside work was explored by Heinecken and Sultan/Mandel, but it wasn't until the current era that it's really taken off with numerous Google Street View edits and other online photo mining. In the future no one will use a camera. We'll simply sift through what's already out there.

from Thirty-Four Parking Lots, 1967
Photograph by Art Alanis / Ed Ruscha

He anticipated Los Angeles. Ruscha moved to LA in 1956. At the time it wasn't exactly the center of the art universe.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

History Lesson - Part II

In the backrooms of the photography world there had long been a simmering debate about Garry Winogrand. Some argued that he kept at least one hand on his camera at all times while photographing. Others argued just as vociferously that there was a brief moment in his stride during which both hands were out of camera contact.

Because Winogrand moved so quickly, neither position could be proven definitively. No one had ever seen him not touching his camera, but that didn't preclude its possibility.

Debate was heated. Finally Leland Hurley, a business tycoon and antique camera collector, decided to settle the issue once and for all. He offered $25,000 to photographer Edward Boon if he could photograph Winogrand in a way that offered proof for either side of the argument.

Boon's method was ingenious. He set up a series of twenty-four cameras near Winogrand as he was photographing. The cameras were laid out in such a way that each time Winogrand moved he tripped a string connected to camera shutters in sequence.

Taken together the resulting images clearly show Winogrand removing both hands from his camera at one brief moment in his stride. Finally the matter was settled. Boon collected his money from Hurley, and his place in history was secure.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Theatre Is The Life Of You

Various found marquee poems:

Broadway Theatre, Portland, 2011

Bijou Theatre, Eugene, 2010

Mission Theatre, Portland, 2010

Bijou Theatre, Eugene, 2010

St. Johns Theatre, Portland, 2010

Broadway Theatre, Portland, 2009

Cinemagic Theatre, Portland, 2009

Cineplex, Portland, ME, 2005

Cinemagic Theatre, Portland, 2005

Joy Theatre, Tigard, OR, 2003

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bass King

Some photos of my dad from an old slide show:

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It's common folklore that dogs tend to look like their owners, and perhaps there is some truth to that.

Bulldogs, New York, 1988, Elliott Erwitt

But what about photographers? Judging by the pictures in George Barr's recently published book Why Photographs Work a case could be made that, at least in some circles, photographs often resemble their makers. For example compare Louie Palu's photograph in the book:

Front Toward's Enemy, 2008, Louie Palu

With his portrait:

Louie Palu

Or look at Craig Richards and his photo:

Vincente, Nebaj El Quiche, 1990, Craig Richards

Craig Richards

The book features the examples above along with 50 other pairs, with short writeups on the photos and the photographers.

For me the artist portraits are the most interesting material in the book. I can find fine art photographs in many places, sometimes accompanied by words describing why they work. But it's not often that I get to see what the people behind the images look like. Many are quite revealing. I'm telling you, people look like their photos.

I admit the photos above are acute examples. In most cases the resemblance is less literal. It's more of a feeling shared by both photograph and image. For example doesn't this picture,

Franciscan Church Vilnius 2001, Roman Loranc

look it might be made by this photographer?

Roman Loranc

I don't know much about Mr. Loranc but his portrait tells me that he takes his art seriously, and that he takes seriously the art of being taken seriously. So it's no surprise that his chapel photo demands to be taken seriously too.

This self-conscious seriousness seems to be the book's unifying theme. No snapshots or silliness allowed. Despite that limitation I think there is enough variety to identify particular styles with particular portraits.

To test that theory I've designed a quiz. Below are 9 portraits of photographers in the book side by side with 9 of their photographs displayed in random order. Your task is to match letters and numbers (Command-minus to fit them all on a page, or click through images to see them enlarged). Answers below.


1 (C).Lawrence Christmas, Cape Breton Miners, 2004; 2 (I). George Jerkovitch, Sunflower Coal, 2002; 3 (H). Milan Hristev, The Temple of Godless Aphaia, 2004; 4 (G). Sven Fennema, Sleeping Halls, 2009; 5 (F). Dennis Mecham, Dancer, 2005; 6 (E). Susan Burnstine, Bridge to Nowhere, 2006; 7 (B). Joe Cornish, Traigh Eais Barra, 2004; 8 (A). Mitch Dobrowner, Shiprock Storm, 2007; 9 (D). Michael Levin, Code, 2009