Monday, March 31, 2008

The Hot Seat

I have been attempting to shoot some still lives recently which I have to say, doesn't come naturally or easily to me. Playing around with a chair and some inanimate subjects I came up with these...

Low quality scan from contact sheet-will try to update with a better scan!

I then came across these images by Albert Chong which I found intriguing as the chair is treated like an altar or a throne. There is a palpable depth and richness to his images that I find extremely difficult to evoke through objects alone.

Ultimately I am almost always drawn back to a human subject; I find this is where I am able to find the meaning and self expression I seek. So, while I had fun with the chair and the inanimate objects, I think I am beginning to dig a little deeper in this image...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Castlewood Ave.

I have recently been thinking more about the time we were so fortunate to have in Ireland this summer. It was a difficult summer emotionally after the events of the spring at Tech, but Ian and I are both so glad we decided to go ahead with our plans. In some ways they were hardly plans at all. We found out a short 2 months or so before our estimated day of departure that Ian had received the research position. We left with no real prospect of living accommodations, we just had an address where we could leave our bags in Dublin while we backpacked through Germany. We returned to Dublin and stayed in a hostel while desperately searching for long term accommodations. We even had a visitor arrive while we were still living the hostel, but it all worked out as we found an apartment the day after he arrived. That brings us to what became our home in Dublin; 8 Castlewood Ave. As I was sorting through some papers from the summer to make a collage with, I came across an envelope addressed to me at this address. It seemed so long ago, and yet it was less than a year. Strange how time both creeps and whizzes by simultaneously. Our electricity there was coin fed. We would sometimes be sitting on the couch reading, the lights would turn off and we would scramble in the dark to find a €2 coin. It was an old building filled with strange odds and ends of furniture, but it was home to us through some painful times. I wish I had taken more photographs, but here are a few from Castlewood Ave.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Simple Backdrop

Olga with birdcage by Jan Saudek 1978

Music by Jan Saudek 1980

As I struggle to find a way to bring The Green Wall series to an end amidst self imposed pressures and expectations, I took a moment tonight to look at the work of an artist I very much admire. Jan Saudek is a Czech photographer who shoots black and white film and hand paints his prints. The two images above are among my favorites. I love the subtle colors, the wall, the subjects and the odd assortment of objects. He has used this same wall over and over again in his photographs through the years, always bringing something new to it. I am however partial to these earlier works which are far more quiet and beautiful than his recent, grotesque and sexual images. While perhaps my green wall is not quite so textured and bleak a backdrop, Saudek inspires me to keep pushing myself forward.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

B&W Dreams

I have been working mostly with color film the past several years and as I have been looking through my books I have been once again reminded of the simple beauty of black and white photography. A glimpse of the world in shades of gray suspends reality to allow the viewer to see spirit captured on film. I often feel black and white photographs require a deeper commitment; a unique combination of time, patience and inspiration. I am feeling pulled toward that way of working again.

Last night I came across a book called The Somnambulist by Ralph Gibson. It is a series of photographs in which it seems the line between waking and sleeping realities are blurred, in which all reality takes on a dream-like state. The images have a narrative quality that brings them together into a non-linear yet engaging story. I especially enjoyed the mood and quality of light in the two photographs below.

Photos by Ralph Gibson
from The Somnambulist

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Smooth as a cat's tongue

February has not been a month where things just seem to fall into place and work out. It has been a rather arduous and difficult time in which I have had to push myself to slowly inch forward. I shot quite a few rolls of film with the intent of working to bring closure to The Wall series. After many hours and 10 rolls of film I came away with nothing worth printing which is immensely frustrating. Most of the shots felt forced; they lacked the ease and spontaneity which makes my better photos work. I think the choice to actively pursue photography has resulted in a challenging transition period. This subtle change in perspective has shifted the way I look at my work and I think it has blocked me from my usual way of working. I spent this evening looking at photo books and thinking about why I do what I do. I realized that I need to spend some time tapping into what inspires me which in many ways seems like the perfect focus for a blog, don't it? And so, I think I need to commit a bit more time to ye, my blog. No more weeks at a time without a peep from me!

In going through my books, I came across an Imogen Cunningham book After Ninety which is a series of portraits she took mostly after she turned 90 of other people in, close to or beyond their 90's. It is an interesting and intimate glimpse into old age. In many ways though, I was more stuck by the little thumbnail portrait of Cunningham herself on the book sleeve.

Imogen Cunningham by Tom Eckstrom

I often wonder how our everyday attitudes will play themselves out in the arc of a lifetime. In many ways this photograph captures what I want to be like when I am old...playful, alive, inspired, still searching and still working. It makes me happy to look at it (and it also makes me think perhaps I should get that Rolleiflex I have been thinking about). It inspires me to keep moving forward as all blocks pass and I know new work will emerge soon. But, perhaps more importantly it reminds me of the importance and great challenge of living a life that is true to oneself day by day.