"Photography was once an act of intent, the pushing of a button to record a moment. But photography is becoming an accident, the curatorial attention given to captured images."
Ahmad el Abed, a tailor. Saida, Lebanon, 1948-53. by Hashem el Madani. Collection: AIF/ Hashem el Madani. Copyright © Arab Image Foundation.
No product of human industry is infinite, but photography comes close. In 1976, John Szarkowski, the longtime curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, announced, somewhat gnomically, that "the world now contains more photographs than bricks." As a metaphor of plenitude, Szarkowski’s phrase is wonderfully material, suggesting that photographs are just another object in the world, at once essential and interchangeable. As an estimate of quantity though, it now seems impossibly low. If digital photographs count (as by now they must), then the real figure [...]
The first in a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.
In March, I quit my job in advertising to pursue a career in photography. With no money coming in and gas prices at an all-time high, I decided the timing was perfect for a soul-searching cross-country road trip. For three months I traveled in my FJ Cruiser (a great rig for all the elements, not so great for gas mileage). After a trip to Austin to cover SXSW, my route became a nonsensical zigzag pattern around the western half of the country, the points based on wherever I had a friend to stay with, [...]
“The so-called 'tasteful' Playboy pics will be… a classic tribute inspired by original Tom Kelly nude pictorials of Marilyn Monroe…. According to sources, Playboy began taking Lindsay Lohan photos last week, while she was juggling other duties like ordering cupcakes to the morgue.” —The Hollywood Gossip, 11/8/11, 10/25/11.
He told her that she was moving too much, that she had to stay stiller, the camera was finicky, the exposures depended on no motion, like just stop breathing, he said looking at the playback, just stop breathing, okay. Lindsay thought it was a joke and laughed but he said it was serious, this was going to be [...]
Johnny Depp took his reputation for eccentricity a little too far last week. Interviewed in the November issue of Vanity Fair, the actor appeared to let his guard down when discussing photo shoots with writer Nick Tosches, a long-time friend and a godparent to one of Depp’s kids. “Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow,” the actor said. “Raped. The whole thing. It feels like a kind of weird—just weird, man. Weird. Like you meet people and they say, 'Can I have a picture with you!' And that's great. That's fine. That's not a problem. But whenever you have a photo shoot or something like that, it’s [...]
Early this year, John Patrick Leary, a professor of American literature at Wayne State University, published a story in Guernica called "Detroitism" about, primarily, the two competing journalistic and artistic narratives about the Motor City.
There’s the Detroit Lament, which he describes as an examination of the city’s decline that is mostly told through the examination of physical spaces. You may have heard it referred to as "ruin porn." And there’s the Detroit Utopia, stories which purport to show a new way forward for the city, be it through urban farming, $100 homes or bicycling. (Utopian depictions of Detroit, Leary noted, tend to involve young creative white people.)
In case you missed it, "spiritual explorer, experiential photographer" Jesh de Rox—also a "multi-award-winning Canadian wedding photographer"—blew up the normally quiet photo world online, merely by offering a one-day, one-on-one session of tutelage. For $20,000. Discounted to $16,500! The fall-out is fun. More fun: his website is my nominee for the most astounding flash website of all [...]
Garry Winogrand used to say that he took photographs of things to see what they would look like as photographs. He took a lot of them. He photographed relentlessly: crowds, zoos, dogs, cars, parties, sidewalks, train stations and women, always more women. He'd describe a good night as "thirty-five rolls." A good year might involve a thousand. He was always slow about editing. He had a rule that he wouldn't even look at an exposure for a year, so that emotion wouldn't cloud his judgment, but towards the end of his life he wasn't even doing that anymore. He just let his rolls pile up in trash cans and [...]
"We can see different physical properties of different bonds, and that's really exciting." —Dr. Leo Gross, an IBM scientist in Zurich, talks about why he likes Daniel Craig even more than Sean Connery. No. He's really talking about the fact that he and his colleagues recently published "single-molecule images so detailed that the type of atomic bonds between their atoms can be discerned." The pictures are amazing. The 13 atoms in this one molecule called a "fullerene" arrange themselves in a hexagonal shape that looks like a turtle (so, I guess that would be Timothy Dalton. Just kidding!) Or, if you're a religious person of the Jewish persuasion, [...]
Antarctic Beech Fairy Ring #1211-P1020362 (12,000 years old, Queensland, Australia)
For the past six years, Rachel Sussman, 37, has devoted her life to chronicling the oldest living things in the world before they disappear. A photographer by training and hedge scientist by necessity, her photos are a mix of Annie Liebovitz and Ansel Adams: portraits whose subjects happen not to be human. Sussman has chased down nearly three dozen different organisms, a 400,000-6000,000 year-old bacteria in Siberia, a 2,000-plus year-old olive tree in Crete, and some 3,000 year-old lichen in Greenland, to name a few. She spent February and March chasing down 5,000-year-old moss in Antarctica. [...]
1. “THE CASE IS CLOSED”
“For general use the single-tone [black-and-white] pictures will enormously prevail." — Rupert Hughes, screenwriter, 1923
“[Sound film] is an exhausted toy, ready to be cast aside.”—David Belasco, playwright, 1930
“Television won't last. It's a flash in the pan.”—Mary Somerville, radio broadcaster, 1948
Roger Ebert knows that 3D movies just don’t work—and they never will. This past January, he wrote: “The notion that we are asked to pay a premium to witness an inferior and inherently brain-confusing image is outrageous. The case is closed.”
As Exhibit A in support of this verdict, Ebert furnished a letter from Walter Murch, the acclaimed editor of The [...]
In the October Vanity Fair—the one with Angelina Jolie’s most recent spin on the cover, this time in an ultra-zoomed-in portrait leaving her looking like a close-up-ready revision of Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein—Joan Didion was depicted in her biennial being-thin tour, occasioned by the upcoming release of her memoir Blue Nights. The picture, taken by Annie Leibovitz, depicts a gaunt and dimly lit Joan, her hair overtaken by wispy flyways and even a small sweater piling upon itself on her frame. Some meager light plays across her face. The photo, in uncopyrighted reproduction, has 625 notes right now on Tumblr, and the actress Zooey Deschanel [...]
This photograph was taken back in early June. DO YOU THINK THEY'RE STILL TOGETHER? Do you think she still smokes? Do you think he later took a Gotham Writers' Workshop class? Do you think they'll let me be their houseboy? WHERE ARE THEY RIGHT NOW? I'm guessing either at work or maybe just now leaving for the weekend with their respective spouses.
If I had $29 million, I would fly to London and go to next week's Sotheby's auction and buy Picasso's "La Lecture," the 1932 painting that first depicted the face of his young muse Marie-Therese Walter, and take it home and hang it on the wall and just stare at it and stare at it until it struck me that I could make something so beautiful, too, and I would. And if I was in London already, I would go to the place and just snap a quick pic with my cellphone and do it that way.
Looking at Editta Sherman's celebrity portraits, you wonder: Who will be this era's Tyrone Power? Which current movie star will be the one hardly anyone recalls seventy years from now? Bale? Brody? Bloom? Whose name will draw blank stares from the Class of 2082? If you saw the documentary Bill Cunningham New York, you certainly remember Sherman, the vivacious nonagenarian photographer who was Cunningham's Carnegie Hall neighbor and the muse for his shamefully out-of-print book Facades. Since 1949, she lived and worked in the artist studios above Carnegie Hall. She also raised five children there. In 2010, she, Cunningham, and the other remaining tenants were moved out so the [...]
Here are some libraries on Pinterest: leather couches, wraparound staircases, hidden doors within the shelves. And then here is my personal library: crammed into and around a small bookshelf. My 20-month-old son regularly pulls books off the shelves and buries them beneath the couch, like a particularly nerdish squirrel. I'd like a hidden door also, but this is my library and this is my life.
Here are some thoughts on the consecutive rise of two Ryans. Ryan McGinley is the young superstar photographer who became famous in the early 00s. Ryan Trecartin, four years younger, began getting attention in 2006 and became art-world famous circa 2009. In their ways and work, the Ryans represent two adjacent micro-generations of gays. Christopher Glazek writes: "McGinley helped to elevate a necrophiliac vision of mute youth into the universal condition of downtown existence…. Now the new Ryan has negated McGinley’s negation, superseding the gym bunny-heroin corpse dialectic entrenched since the 1980s." In light of Trecartin's videos—which are girly, brash, multi-ethnic, screechy and hilarious—McGinley's snapshot-stylized pale [...]
Um, this is pretty cool: "This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide. Spain´s highest mountain @(3715m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories. The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide." (Learn more here, and see an interview with photographer Terje Sorgjerd here.