Friday, January 1, 2010

I'm hanging up this blog, to start the new year off. Posting here without Traci would be like flying in a circle, and here we all are, mid-hurtle toward new starts, all wide awake and excited. We're both still around, and hope to see you. And thanks.

Someone said my name in the garden,

while I grew smaller
in the spreading shadow of the peonies,

grew larger by my absence to another,
grew older among the ants, ancient

under the opening heads of the flowers,
new to myself, and stranger.

When I heard my name again, it sounded far,
like the name of the child next door,
or a favorite cousin visiting for the summer,

while the quiet seemed my true name,
a near and inaudible singing
born of hidden ground.

Quiet to quiet, I called back.
And the birds declared my whereabouts all morning.

-Li-Young Lee

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My (Probably) Last Post

I have decided to stop blogging here.

I have enjoyed it, and it has been fulfilling. But I'm ready for a change.

But I would be lying if I said I knew what the change(s) would be.
For now all I know is that, most importantly, Smashley and I will continue to work together.
I'm more interested (at the moment) in our collaboration being private.
It's been in the works for a while. We've been making things that are hand-held, and I like that.

I still make photos, and nothing could stop me.

Smashley and I both blog separately, which we'll continue to do.
Here's where you can find:

We'll be updating the website soon, among other things.

I'm also giving up our shared site on flickr.

I don't know if I'll come back to it or if we will come back to it. I have no idea at all.
That's as honest as I can be.

But don't be sad or think we're sad about it.
This is the next necessary step for us to make more and better work, every day, every frame.
Personally, I'm excited and relieved by it.

And when there are new changes, we will let you know. Shows, books, etc.
They're in the works.

Email us, either of us, if you want. Please.

This has been wonderful. The parts for me, the parts for Smashley, the parts for you -- all of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I've been blue.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Emiliano Zapata

"Zapata was loaded onto a mule, taken to Cuautla, and dumped on the pavement. Flashlights were shone in his face and photographs were taken in an effort to destroy his myth. Zapata was dead. But the people of the valley refused to believe it. Zapata could not die. He was far too smart to be killed in an ambush. And hadn't his white horse been spotted waiting for him on top of the mountain?"

-Carlos Fuentes

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In cognitive testing, the Kpelle people perform differently than Westerners on sorting tasks. While Westerners tend to take a taxonomic approach, the Kpelle take a more functional approach. For example, instead of grouping food and tools into separate categories, a Kpelle participant stated "the knife goes with the orange because it cuts it."
Kpelle of Liberia

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Positive Space / Negative Space

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The White Azaleas, 1910
Romaine Brooks

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Renty and Delia

Renty, African-born slave. March, 1850.

Delia, American-born slave. Daughter of Renty. March, 1850.

Found in Harvard's online collection of daguerreotypes and now housed at the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Here's the only available background on the making of these images, from the website I found them at:
"Louis Agassiz [a 'natural historian'] ... commissioned J. T. Zealy to photograph at least five slaves from different regions of Africa and two of their American-born children, who lived on plantations outside of Columbia, South Carolina."
In separate notes Renty is referred to as "Renty Congo," which is likely where he came from.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The first photo is by Robert Frank and initially appeared in his book The Americans fifty years ago.
The second photo is an updated recreation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Matisse by Cartier-Bresson

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Am Thankful For Lost Film

After Hurricane Ike the city of Houston lost power for two weeks (13 days in our neighborhood). Somehow everyone went to work, and the days were only slightly weird. But at night. At night it was suddenly and deathly quiet, as if we all lived together in one creaking house. There was not even the hum of electricity around, and only a police car every hour or so driving by. Walking home, I knew my neighbors were home because I could hear the baby fuss from the sidewalk, the sound of the cooler opening, the sound of suckling. I slept with every window open, escaping the heat and enjoying the silence. (All this until the heat got worse and everyone got generators.) These are from that first week, film found yesterday while cleaning my car, in the glovebox.

I took photos by moonlight, candlelight, and flashlight: lights made for illuminating bodies much more than space. All the people like eggyolks in their dark houses.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Excerpt of a Conversation with Nettie Featherston.

I was reading about the FSA photographers and ran into this wonderful website. Included on it are a lot of great interview clips with people pictured in many of the most famous 'Face of the Depression' era images.

Unfortunately, I can't embed the video, but there's a link to her specific conversation: here

And below, a transcript from the interview, but please, her voice, go listen:

"Oh, it was terrible. And when you didn't have hardly nothing to eat, and your kids would cry for something to eat and you couldn't give it. We was living in a little old two-room house. And we cooked with black-eyed peas until I never wanted to ever see another black-eyed pea. I just prayed and prayed and prayed all the time that God would take care of us and not let my children starve…

"I must have said, 'Well, if we're dead, we're just dead.' That's all I can remember because I don't remember talking to her [the photographer Dorothea Lange]…

"I never once thought about living this long [81 years in 1979]. Well, I just didn't think we'd survive. You want to know something we're not living much better than we did, as high as everything is, than we did then…

"Seems like I'm not satisfied. I have too much on my mind. It seems like I have more temptations put on me than anyone. Course, that's what the Bible said, that's the way we'd be tried out. And every time I ask God to remove this awful burden off of my heart, he does."

The entire website: here

Update: Oh, I'm so behind. Apparently, you can find these interviews practically everywhere. But that's where I found them, if you're curious.

Adriaen van der Spelt and Frans van Mieris, Flower Piece with Curtain, 1658.

A Greek story about dueling painters: Zeuxis and Parrhasios are rival artists in the late fifth century BCE who enter into competition with one another. First Zeuxis paints bunches of grapes so exactly, so accurately, that birds fly down to peck at them. Parrhasios takes his turn now, and Zeuxis asks him to remove the curtain hanging over his picture. Parrhasios happily points out that the curtain is his painting.

Even Zeuxis agrees that he's lost the competition, considering himself superior to birds, and harder to fool.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dolores Del Rio floating in a swimming pool in Acapulco, 1952.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728-1799) was a visionary architect who produced large scale drawings of buildings and monuments. These imaginary buildings were not commissioned or ever realized, in almost every case. He made the meter-wide drawings of his own accord and used them as teaching aids. They're all remarkable, for how they capture real environments, real weather and shadow, despite never existing.

In 1784 Boullée designed an incredible thing: his Project for a Cenotaph for Newton. (A cenotaph is a symbolic tomb, a kind of monument, to someone deceased. It comes from the Greek kenos "empty", and taphos, "tomb.")

Newton's cenotaph was designed to isolate, to reinvent, the huge movement of time and celestial phenomena. Inside, the viewer is isolated too, on a small viewing platform. Along the top half of the sphere's edges, apertures in the stone allow light in, in pins, creating starlight when there is daylight. During the night a huge and otherworldly light hangs, flooding the sphere, as sunlight. During the day, the "night effect." During the night, day.

In words to Newton, Boullée said "[I am] surrounding you by your discovery." But everything is inverted, contained, and disorienting. So, overwhelming, sublime.

There are enough truths: radiating light, enveloping darkness, the sphere, the truth that environment is whatever you can't see out of, but each of the truths is subverted here, enough to produce some terror, a sense of the temporary. It moves you (me), it's exciting, and beautiful, and takes your breath. Even though it's just paper; even if it were impossible to actually realize, which it isn't now.

Some more on Boullée.
Eliasson, Room for All Colors, 2002.
(The internet does nothing justice that is supposed to envelop your body completely, but imagine it for fun.)
Richard Serra, for more modern truths, disturbed.

(Newton's actual cenotaph was designed by someone named Kent and it looks much more like a tombstone. It isn't much bigger than a person, it wears leaves made of marble, and an idealized version of Newton himself sits on top of it, reclining, as if on a chaise.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Be still my beating heart.

Two lines from someone else's poetry in my writing workshop yesterday:

There are three things angels living on earth can never know:
how to really fuck, the beauty of Chagall, and... I forget the third.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Give away all that thou hast, then shalt thou receive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Earlier this year, we were featured in a documentary. When no one was filming us, we tended to shoot better photos. Of course.

The Way Things Go, by Peter Fischli and David Weiss

This is a less-than-five-minute version of the half-hour project.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Egon Schiele