Archive for November 2007
Cleaning out the computer and archiving a bzillion files over the last few days and I fell across this picture of my very groovy little nephew – one of my early images taken with a digital camera.
Liam Jude (the Dude) Ashleigh aka the real Batman
I shot quite a few rolls of B&W film over the weekend which is a bit of a change for me. Funny really since I used to shoot nothing but, and now it’s colour, colour, colour! Anyway, I processed some of them this morning and quite fancy the portrait below of my lovely niece and nephews (I just love their postures):
Liam, Molly and Rory, from the ‘Siblings’ series
Must’ve been the inspired reaction from looking at Diane Arbus‘ work! I miss the monochrome – it’s simpler somehow, less complicated and I suppose a touch nostalgic. Colour for me makes the image more real, hyper-real even. I do love this aspect of colour photography though. I mean really, life is kinda odd when you think about it for a bit, so colour – well used – reflects this well. For example, take a look at the grand master, William Eggleston, the man who legitimatized colour photography with pictures of subjects that he claims are the very stuff of life. Banal for some, extraordinary for others (including me).
Woman on a swing. Photo by William Eggleston
In the book, “William Eggleston” published by Scalo , Gunilla Knape, director of the Hasselblad Center, wrote: “Eggleston introduced a new aesthetic, a new ‘democratic’ way of seeing through which the ordinary and banal became extraordinary and engrossing.”
Surely then, the punctum in Eggleston’s work is the colour? Then again, as Charlotte Cotton pointed out recently on her now defunct site Tip of the Tongue, could B&W photography be the new colour? (I have attached a PDF of this article on my Academic Stuff page if you’re interested). Take a look at this marvelous image from New York photographer Alison Grippo (yep, another NY wunderkind!) and I think it might answer her question:
Anyway, suffice to say that I love both. They are certainly two very different artforms, a little like comparing digital to film or apples to oranges….. You get the gist.
In keeping with the new political mood of the country, I have changed my blog theme to something a little….. lighter.
Yay, summer has also arrived (well, sort of) and the anxiety that many of us experienced has – at least for now – calmed a little in anticipation of a brighter future. Xmas is close and the festive season is beginning to catch on. I really do love this time of year and as daggy and materialistic as it can be, I love the whole Xmas decorating/festooning/celebratory nature of the occasion. It seems to me to be the only time of year that people frenzy before they really and truly relax en masse. I’m hoping that our neighbours down the road will complete their renovations in time for their fabulously over the top Xmas show. The house is literally covered top to bottom in fantastic Xmas fairy lights and strange – rather freaky – Xmas characters. Here are some pics from last year:
Glow-in-the-dark plastic Santa
The Xmas Fairy… (so I’m told)
Iris in Santa’s Waiting Room
The above photograph was taken at the oldie’s home in Ainslie. I’m due to go back to visit this month which should be interesting (renovations are almost complete). I haven’t been since last Xmas – I have to admit it’s a hard place to go, a bit like visiting inmates in jail, though this particular home is probably one of the nicer retirement villages around. I’m hoping to finish off this series this coming year. Difficut to know when to stop but I figure that it’s time to put some of my work to bed and make space for new stories.
Anyway, stay tuned for more Xmassy things in the weeks to come…. including – with any luck – the annual Santa pub crawl……..
My doorbell rang at some ungodly hour the other morning and naturally Zeke our chocolate pooador went beserk. So I hauled myself out of bed to receive not a person but a gorgeous parcel all the way from USandA! My first Amazon purchase had arrived at last! Diane Arbus – Revelations, the accompanying book authorised by her estate (aka, her very protective daughter, Doon), to the 2005 SFMoMA travelling retrospective of her work. Of course, the exhibition didn’t make it down under, which is disappointing though not surprising (I think we still miss out a lot in this regard).
Book Cover of Diane Arbus – Revelations (courtesy of Amazon)
Anyway I finally got to take a bit of a look this morning while a gaggle of children started Xmassing the house. And I can honestly say that I’m in love. Arbus’ work is sheer genius… Turning the pages to see work that I’ve never seen was about as close to a religious experience that I’ve ever had. Reading about her ‘workflow‘ for want of a better word, or perhaps better, her methodology was really eye-opening. Copious notes and glad to see that like myself, she was a compulsive diary keeper with appointments and rendez-vous all over the place with some extra/ordinary people in the truest sense of the word.
What I found really curious were her proof sheets and the images which she had selected for printing – usually marked by a circle or reference number on the proof itself. Interestingly I found some of her unchosen images more interesting than the ones selected. Despite this however there is little doubt that she was an excellent editor of her own work. A task that all photographers must critically face at some point in their artistic journeys…. It certainly isn’t an easy thing to do though my way of dealing with this is to be as intuitive as possible.
Also revealing were some of the themes that she worked on which are not necessarily well known. Some of these were surprisingly similar to my own which was a little concerning for me (eg. marriage, children, rites of passage, performers etc…). There is no denying that I count Arbus as one of my biggest influences but her method and approach – from what I have read in this book – were bizzarely like mine. I wonder then, if being a woman (ergo wife and mother) forms the basis of such an approach? Where one is so intrinsically caught up in the family momentum that personal well-being gets forgotten and once remembered is poured heart and soul into the pursuit of regaining that lost world of the past. Photography is a cathartic thing in this sense – an almost compulsive obsessive habit of re-ordering and re-imagining one’s life….. Well, for me anyway.
No doubt I will continue to pore over this beatific tome in the days to come.
5 stars from me.
I’ve been trying my hardest to take it easy, which at this time of year is difficult for even the most laid-back person. Even the Dude couldn’t handle the lead up to, not only Xmas, but also a federal election!! I tell you,it’s trying times here in Australia, none more so than in the nation’s capital where everyone seems to be in the grips of the political werewolves! Why I live here, I still don’t know……..
Despite the madness, I’ve been managing to make more work. I even handed in my first official annual report and a sub-thesis (aka dissertation) outline. Yay for me! No mean feat given my earlier bout of writer’s block and subsequent anxiety about my actual topic! It’s all good though now and I’m feeling ok about it all…. which simply means I can keep making even more work!
I also did some training with Les Walkling over the weekend at PhotoAccess. Beyond Basics in PhotoShop…. I am really not great with technology but I think I walked away with some new knowledge, the trick now being to apply it! What I did walk away with was daydreams of a super-Mac (specked out G5 of course) with a swish 24″ Eizo screen, drum scanner and wet darkroom in a gorgeous studio looking over the sea!! Well…. maybe one day… gotta have goals right?!
Anyway, here’s a treat to leave you with. I’m off to watch that girl in Alias kick some butt!
Jess and TJ