Erin Elizabeth KellyUntitled (2017)

It’s perhaps apocryphal, but on several occasions hardcore Aimee Mann fans (& in fairness: is it possible to be a Mann fan without being a hardcore fan?) have shared her apparent admission that for every 1 song her audiences hears, there were 99 songs that ended up in the trash.

Whether or not she ever actually claimed this, I savor her framing of the matter. Partly because it speaks to the importance of doing the work, of laboring; while also reminding us that Art is extravagant AF.

The other part which fascinates me is the question of how you know which 99 efforts to scrap and what 1 to keep. There’s the notion that you keep on the best and brightest. (This is something I have a tendency to do in my own work.)

However, I think some of the most interesting work that any creative person is ever likely to do (both for themselves and in terms of their audience) tends to be returning over and over to work that doesn’t squarely fit in either the 1% or the 99%.

That’s my feeling on the above image. It’s a bit cliché–nude standing against the wall with back turned to camera. The original exposure was entirely too dark. Yet… there is something about the sense of the moment capture that is not easily shaken off.

Thus the question becomes how do you take something that has inherent merit but doesn’t really fire on all cylinders.

In the case of this image: Kelly introduces a RBG offset to the monochrome. The effect is understated psychedelia–just subtle enough to contribute a supple softness as well as an enigmatic tinge. And an image that doesn’t or shouldn’t work does–maybe not in and of itself but through contemplative highlighting of what about it the viewer is supposed to attend.

The other thing that interests me with this pertains to my own work. I’ve learned that although I categorically prefer analog B&W to any other medium, working in analog color is a bit like a whetstone to the blade of B&W. In other words: I’m more likely to notice improvements in my B&W work as a result of things I learn working with color. (There’s the added benefit that it also works the other way around: improvements made working B&W also filter over into color stuff.)

Alas, in the art world, especially in fine art photography–there is a tendency to segregate B&W and color work. I remember seeing the Leica anniversary exhibit at C|O Berlin several years back. It was fascinating because while the exhibit was entirely too crowded, viewers spent more time with the color images even if over all the merit of that part of the exhibit was less consequential than the rest. (It’s similar here on Tumblr and social media–work in color gets roughly 3x the attention that B&W/monochrome work does. And as far as my own work: it’s closer to a factor of seven to one (color to B&W).

Something I’ve been considering is since I work roughly 50/50 between B&W and color these days, how the hell am I ever going to be able to have my work all sit comfortably together. (Interestingly B&W and Color will sit side by side in a photo monograph–it’s the only means of exhibition that allows for it, to my knowledge. But I’m not as interested in the artists’ books trajectory.)

The idea that hit me recently–which this image has reinforced–is that finding a way to create photographs that are black and white and a single third color or B&W with a sort of dreary fog bleached landscape mess of muddy hues instead of any true white. (My feeling is this is actually probably a pretty good way of reconciling B&W and color across a single body of work in a gallery installation context.)

The effect of the work above wouldn’t fit my own work but I am very curious about the process that went into making it. If there are any Photoshop Wizards reading this who have an idea, I’d be interested in the process that went into making this so that I could reverse engineer it for analog application.

Lin Jinfu – Night (2014)

From an art historical perspective, there is a desperate need for someone who has a working knowledge of emerging work in China and southeast Asia.

Lin’s work is excellent but there is precious little written about him in English, e.g. I spent 30 minutes digging through Google results and was only able to discover that roughly a third of the English posts on his work believe that he’s Japanese or ‘Oriental’ :::shudders:::

He’s actually Chinese and lives/works in Beijing.

Other preposterous assertions made by idiots about his work: due to the influence of Baroque and Neoclassicism on his work along with–apparently the difficulty Westerners have in pronouncing his name– he’s referred to as Caravaggio. (This makes zero sense as he actually goes by the anglicized Jeff Lin; also: I know there’s a tendency to assume repressive regimes keep their people from engaging with more modern art–but I would bet a private cam session that he’s thoroughly familiar with the work of Lucian Freud–the more photographic rendering of light is an absolute dead ringer between the two.)

Lastly, folks make preposterous assumptions about Lin’s engagement with the male nude and gay eroticism–and how unconventional that is in China. Okay, got it–perhaps in painting that’s true but what about Ren Hang? (I know there are at least two others I’ve posted but since I can’t use Google to search my archive anymore… there’s no way I’ll ever find what I’m thinking of…)

But really, Lin’s paintings are excellent. I wish I had a single site to refer you to but you’ll just have to apply a little bit of elbow grease. (The effort is worth it, I promise.)

Georges Thiry – Title unknown (195X)

Thiry was Belgian and worked with a 6×6 Rolleiflex.

He demurred that his photography was little more than a lifelong hobby–yet there aren’t many hobbyist photographers who managed to make portraits of the likes of René Magritte.

The image above was part of a long running series where Thiry took photos of sex workers. He was not in the least bit shy about availing himself of their services–yet his photos focused less on their status as sex workers and instead presented them more in their own element–preferring to depict the women in their various domiciles.

Dejan Dizdar AKA CDAstudioD0215 (2013)

If
not exactly a good image, it does feature several noteworthy facets: it
bears the blanket blessing bestowed by dwindling golden hour light, the
pose imposes an intriguing sculptural form against the sand, sky and I
suppose you’d term that grassy mass ‘a tuffet’.

What is extremely
cool is that the camera is essentially pointed up hill–giving a view of
both the ground sloping upward as well as the clouds strewn all about
overhead.

However, unless I’m mistaken, part of what makes this work is a feature of optical distortion–specifically what’s
termed barrel distortion; basically, horizontal and vertical lines only
run truly side to side or up and down, respectively, at the center of
the frame. The further you are from center frame the more they bulge
outward. Like so:

Not how this visual aberration creates and illusion of bringing the model closer while pushing the sky further back:

Source unclear – Title unknown (201X)

So one of the things I absolutely adore about Tumblr is the way so many blogs use a less passive form of curation than this one. In most cases, it’s a binary of does this arouse me?

What I find so gratifying about that is when I see gay content slip into otherwise hetero exclusive blogs or hetero stuff slipping into otherwise immaculately maintained gay blogs.

I have no idea from whence this image originates. It’s definitely been desaturated from the original. Google seems to think it’s related to the MTV Teen Wolf show–I tend to think that’s inaccurate, fwiw.

But the fact that this image has been showcased on both gay, lesbian and straight exclusive blogs is something I find super interested–especially in the context of the Nashville Statement released by Evangelical Xtians last week.

I wanted to only subject myself to this BS once, so I made a point of annotating my reactions upon that first read-through.

“Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves…”
-Psalm 100:3

I’m not super up-to-date on this sort of thing but as I recall Psalm 100 is essentially liturgical as far as context goes. Thus, one consideration would be that it’s pretty brash to start of a supposedly moralist treatise with lyrics from a song. But that’s actually not that strong of an argument as I frequently attempt the same sort of thing myself—except I’m more likely to use Velvet Underground lyrics. What is problematic about using this particular quote as justification for what follows is that it’s axiomatic. Strictly speaking, no one made themselves. Our parents fucked or two cells joined in a test tube, whatever. We didn’t get a say in any of that. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHAWkpGCP7A) The assumption is that this doesn’t just refer to our birth; that some cosmic asshole intends every action of our lived experience. There are a number of problems with this assumption. First, to claim it without also explaining how that jives with the nature of the Xtian God as being faithful, true and loving while also being vengeful/wrathful, vindictive, and petty. Second, To insist on this point from the outset is to undermine the actual argument posited—essentially, if the lord is lord and he did make you and intend your every action—then the action of being a LGBTQ person must necessarily fit into his plan. This is arguing that us LGBTQ folks are going against God’s will and plan and that makes God sad and Xtians sad. They can’t actually have it both ways—that lived experience (all of it, even the stuff you don’t necessarily agree with—not that it’s any of your fucking business..) fits within god’s plan. Only in the case that it doesn’t would there need to be earthlings propping up the intentions of a deity with garbage moralizing. Lastly, the thing that bothers me the most about this is that both these statements are grammatical—‘the Lord himself is God’ is nothing more than an explanation of a concept, as is ‘He made us, and now we ourselves’. That’s a huge philosophical fallacy—treating the grammatical as if it is, in fact, empirical. Thus, we are already off on a really slippery footing.

Preamble

Evangelical Christians at the dawn of the twenty-first century find themselves living in a period of historic transition. As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian[…]

This is emblematic of far-right Xtians playing fast and loose with the facts; according to a 2014 Pew Research Study, more than 70% of the US Population claims to be Christian. Now, Evangelicals are likely to embrace that pat well-they-aren’t-Xtians-like-we’re-Xtians BS, but the fact of the matter is to be self-identified as a Christian in Western culture is to be decidedly within the majority. What you’re seeing here is the pervasive notion among far-right Evangelicals that they are truly the persecuted ones—aligning them ideological with white supremacists, Islamophobes and MRAs; this is not a coincidence.

it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.

This is factually inaccurate and enormously disingenuous. The dominant role that Xtianity has played in shaping so-called Western culture is so-well documented that I don’t feel I even need to source this. If you’ve studied history at all you know this. But it’s interesting to me that people who have made a habit of decimating other cultures and dictate social values and mores for vast swaths of the globe, that the push-back against that which has been a long time in coming, is necessarily framed as dangerous deviation from established fact instead of departure from officially endorsed fiction.

By and large the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life. Many deny that God created human beings for his glory, and that his good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female. It is common to think that human identity as male and female is not part of God’s beautiful plan, but is, rather, an expression of an individual’s autonomous preferences.

‘It is common to think’, uh, I’m a goddamn demi-girl and I can tell you that it’s not actually common to think of the gender binary as part of God’s beautiful plan or an expression of autonomous personal preference—this is setting up the writers perspective against a straw man. What I feel might be more accurate to say is that there is pervasive misunderstanding and misinformation about what gender entails. There’s also varying degrees of tolerance for understanding w/r/t gender dysphoria. Also, it’s good to note the purposeful misunderstanding of the word ‘preference’. You always need to pay attention to how words are used. I regularly tell myself I would prefer not to go to work. Yes, I would prefer not to go to work. But that’s wishful thinking and short of sick days to burn, it’s not something that I can do. I prefer the aisle seat on a flight to a window seat. That’s a conditional statement. I usually book my flights far enough in advance that I don’t can choose my seat months in advance which makes this not a big deal. It would be different if I got bumped to another flight and was like I either take a middle seat or get on an even later flight and it takes me even longer to get home—note that here the question of what I prefer is diminished in favor of what I can tolerate. It’s also different if I introduce myself to someone as Esmé and that person asks if I prefer Esmé or Esmerelda. That last example is the closest the term ‘preference’ gets to the experience of gender dysphoria. And I think where this is coming from is the notion of pronoun preferences—something that extends well beyond trans identities, these days. To refer back to my Esmé vs Esmerelda example though, someone arguing with your pronouns is not at all different than telling someone you prefer a nickname to a proper name and them continue to refer to you by the proper name. In other words, it’s a dick move.

The pathway to full and lasting joy through God’s good design for his creatures is thus replaced by the path of shortsighted alternatives that, sooner or later, ruin human life and dishonor God.

I really can’t believe that this statement was released while the goddamn sky was falling in Houston. It seems as if Climate Change is ruining far more lives right now. Also, the genteel bigotry of this statement empowers the asshats who are chiming in attributing this disaster to punishment against the US for allowing ‘the gays’ to marry. Also, it should be noted the paternalistic tone is indefensible. To be 100% clear, if you’re an Xtian—I support your right to believe however you want to believe. I don’t have to agree with you to be civil towards you. However, your position is increasingly that you’re right and others are wrong and not only is your decency not something I can expect, you insist that I must agree with you that your opinion is the one truth and that I must renounce my sinful ways and join you in crushing those like me. Bullshit.

This secular spirit […]

If they’d opted for ‘influence’ instead of ‘spirit’ I’d have nothing to whine about here; however, ‘spirit’ implies that the side standing against the perspective espoused by this group are actually aligned with Satan and therefore Evangelicals feel that they are morally obligated to wage spiritual war against those powers

[…]of our age presents a great challenge to the Christian church. Will the church of the Lord Jesus Christ lose her biblical conviction, clarity, and courage, and blend into the spirit of the age? Or will she hold fast to the word of life, draw courage from Jesus, and unashamedly proclaim his way as the way of life? Will she maintain her clear, counter-cultural witness to a world that seems bent on ruin?

We are persuaded that faithfulness in our generation means declaring once again the true story of the world and of our place in it—particularly as male and female.

Anyone else noting the gender dichotomy bias and anti-trans thrust of this yet? Just me?

Christian Scripture teaches that there is but one God who alone is Creator and Lord of all.

I’ve always interpreted The Book of Jeremiah as an example of the dangers of viewing a deity as constant and unchanging; my reading is that Jeremiah is actually taking the Children of Israel to task for their idolatry but also for the idolatry of transferring the concept of YHWH into an idol that is only lacking a graven image, i.e. something of a kind with the Sufi notion that time is the breath of Allah and that Allah exhales the world into being and inhales the previous world as he does so; the old world is destroyed and replaced with the new one. This goes on until the end of time. That is why you shouldn’t visually depict Allah or Muhammad—because it attributes to them a permanence that they do not, in fact, possess. Also, this would be a thread linking Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. 

To him alone, every person owes glad-hearted thanksgiving, heart-felt praise, and total allegiance. This is the path not only of glorifying God, but of knowing ourselves. To forget our Creator is to forget who we are, for he made us for himself. And we cannot know ourselves truly without truly knowing him who made us. We did not make ourselves. We are not our own. Our true identity, as male and female persons, is given by God. It is not only foolish […]

Remember Matt 5:22, maybe? God, these it’s like these fucks don’t even read the book the claim as the basis of their belief…

[…]but hopeless, to try to make ourselves what God did not create us to be. We believe that God’s design for his creation and his way of salvation serve to bring him the greatest glory and bring us the greatest good. God’s good plan provides us with the greatest freedom. Jesus said he came that we might have life and have it in overflowing measure. He is for us and not against us. Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we
offer the following affirmations and denials.

Article 1
WE AFFIRM that God has designed marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union of one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and is meant to signify the covenant love between Christ and his bride the church.

‘Procreative’? What about folks who can’t reproduce? I guess they aren’t really married in your definition. Might want to fix that. (Xtians are goddamn assholes. They would rather prop up a bogus assertion about birth control being against God’s will than to be inclusive.

WE DENY that God has designed marriage to be a homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous relationship. We also deny that marriage is a mere human contract rather than a covenant made
before God.

Gonna just quote Dan Savage here: “The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood also wants you to know
that God didn’t “design marriage” to be polygamous or polyamorous…
which will be news to Esau (two wives), Moses (three wives), King David
(eight wives), Solomon (300 wives), and scores of other biblical action
figures. It’ll also come as news to whoever wrote the books of Exodus,
Leviticus and Deuteronomy, all of which acknowledge and affirm polygamy
and include short lists of polygamous best practices.“

Article 2
WE AFFIRM that God’s revealed will for all people is chastity outside of marriage and fidelity
within marriage.
WE DENY that any affections, desires, or commitments ever justify sexual intercourse before or
outside marriage; nor do they justify any form of sexual immorality.

Article 3
WE AFFIRM that God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, in his own image, equal
before God as persons, and distinct as male and female.
WE DENY that the divinely ordained differences between male and female render them unequal in dignity or worth.

Interesting that of the initial signatories of this statement, approximately 15 out of 151 are women. Xtianity is misogynistic as fuck on a good day but part of the reason that this is the case is generally Evangelicals are very against woman participating at any level higher than associate pastorships. If this Article were true, then I would expect any of the men who signed this to—when asked—express support for women serving as full/primary pastors. In point of fact, you will find the exact opposite.

Article 4
WE AFFIRM that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
WE DENY that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.

Wait, what? Oh, so you’re being like God’s original plan of which The Fall was and wasn’t depending upon which is more convenient for whatever argument they are presently attempting to support.

Article 5
WE AFFIRM that the differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for self-conception as male or female.
WE DENY that physical anomalies or psychological conditions nullify the God-appointed link between biological sex and self-conception as male or female.

As far as the Xtian party line w/r/t gender this is pretty straightforward stuff. Except, it’s actually maybe one of the most pernicious facets of this statement. It say that biological gender is dualistic and based upon reproductive structure. That’s not even scientifically sound.

Honestly that’s one of my biggest quarrels with Xtians—If you are super committed to this premise of belief in your Holy Book then maybe I don’t know give it some credit. Psalm 19:1 seems to suggest that nature should be able to evidence the creation of God. This renders you dubious to science as science presently doesn’t really point to their being a God the way you think there’s a God, so you overlook this verse and insist that science is rubbish. Nice.

Article 6

In which the eminently tolerant religious right refers to intersex folk as eunuchs and reminds them that god still has a plan for them as long as they play nice and opt for which ever gender with which their genitals most accurately align.

WE AFFIRM that those born with a physical disorder of sex development are created in the image of God and have dignity and worth equal to all other image-bearers. They are acknowledged by our Lord Jesus in his words about “eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb.” With all others they are welcome as faithful followers of Jesus Christ and should embrace their biological sex insofar as it may be known.
WE DENY that ambiguities related to a person’s biological sex render one incapable of living a fruitful life in joyful obedience to Christ.

Article 7
WE AFFIRM that self-conception as male or female should be defined by God’s holy purposes
in creation and redemption as revealed in Scripture.
WE DENY that adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception is consistent with God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption.

I’m gonna give waaaaay more credit than I should but this first notion takes a lot of preconditions to arrive at: I have to accept that there’s a God and that it’s your God and that your holy book is his inspired word. I—for my part—have a really hard time with that. Let’s take two examples: the entire story of Job involves God making a bet with Satan where he’s like hey this guy really loves me, I bet I can treat him like absolute shit and he’s still gonna love me. Job’s life implodes and then when Job refuses to condemn God but asks questions of God, God gets all pissy and is like who are you to accuse moi? Also, remember how the only good man in Sodom and Gomorra was like, oh, hey, I won’t throw these angels out for you to bugger, but you can totally rape my daughters? Yeah, great guy. I have to believe that God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for my signs, accept that gift freely given and then dedicate the rest of my life to serving him. So I have to agree with you 100% on all those points to get to the point where your assertion even makes sense. Then you refer to homosexual or transgender self-conception, like any self-understanding outside of God’s will is inherently some sort of insidious mind-crime? You realize how crazy that is, right?

Article 8
WE AFFIRM that people who experience sexual attraction for the same sex may live a rich and fruitful life pleasing to God through faith in Jesus Christ, as they, like all Christians, walk in purity of life.
WE DENY that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation, or that it puts a person outside the hope of the gospel.

I was talking with someone who is extremely religious the other day about why this statement is so immensely problematic. She pointed out that it seemed—to her—like they were saying that you don’t have to agree with us. We respect the difference of opinion. I read something very different but I think here in Article 8, we finally get to the crux of the issue. The current pearl clutching about all of this is that much how Obama is blamed for enflaming racial tensions in this country—when someone who is oppressed gains some modicum of power or visibility, this increases awareness with regards to oppression. Obama didn’t enflame racial tensions, he just shown a spotlight that they still exist. Really, at the root of this entire statement is a sort of response to 1 Corinthians 8:9—which basically says that there may be things which aren’t specifically condoned or condemned by the law but that you still shouldn’t do because they may present a stumbling block to others of faith. In a number of ways, it’s fitting that this statement is so preoccupied with genitals as gender. In most church’s there the assumption that everyone is straight and therefore everyone fucks more or less the same as I do. That’s a rubbish notion. Yet when you have someone who is not heterosexual, there is this idea that they do differently with their genitals than I do with mine. Put it another way: no one in church is going to ask whether or not heterosexual partners engage in anal sex (they may or they may not but their orientation means that I can safely assume—even though that is unwise) that they fuck in a predominantly heterosexual manner. When you have folks who do not fuck that way, their mere existence in the framework of the church means that they probably don’t fuck the way most of the rest of the people fuck. Yet, instead of seeing them as people and due their privacy—I mean Christina Churchlady isn’t going to ask Hester Hiswill if she lets her husband finger her chocolate spot.But she’s going to see gay people not as people but as functions of their difference and this brings a level of crassness (and it’s definitely her bringing it) the Gayversons just wanna fit into a nice church where they can be spiritually and socially nurtured. That’s the real problem with all this. It’s an extension of the thing where you wouldn’t ask Joe if he’s circumcised in most polite conversation but we’ll ask Jane if she’s pre or post op? Fuck that.

Article 9
WE AFFIRM that sin distorts sexual desires by directing them away from the marriage covenant and toward sexual immorality—a distortion that includes both heterosexual and homosexual immorality.
WE DENY that an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality justifies sexually immoral behavior.

Again there is an awful lot of preconditions that need to be met in order to get to this jumping off point of this assertion.

Article 10
WE AFFIRM that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or
transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.
WE DENY that the approval of homosexual immorality or transgenderism
is a matter of moral indifference about which otherwise faithful Christians should agree to disagree.

OK, now this I recognize. This is the you’re not a real Xtian unless you are in-line with this way of thinking.The bible does refer negatively to homosexuality on a number of occasions. Yet much in the same way many Evangelicals eat pork and shellfish nowadays—in spite of Levitical law. There is a notion that Christ came to fulfill the law. Thus the OT rules—in a sense—no longer apply. Or, more accurately, tend to be acceptable to pick and choose. One of the best scenes in The West Wing deals with this.

There are 3 verses in the NT that refer to homosexuality. Only one is really clearly germane to this conversation: Romans 1:26-27. Needless to say there is hardly any sort of definitive consensus among Biblical scholars as to what this verse specifically entails.

Article 11
WE AFFIRM our duty to speak the truth in love at all times, including when we speak to or about one another as male or female.
WE DENY any obligation to speak in such ways that dishonor God’s design of his image-bearers as male and female.

And on the eighth day, God created pronouns in the indisputable image of man and woman. I’m going to overlook that this positions love on the side of intolerance and hatred and is like incredibly stupid with regard to how language actually functions. I suspect Wittgenstein would assault someone with more than just a goddamn poker over some of this trash.

Article 12
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesusto put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

Yeah, because conversion therapy is super, super effective.

Article 13
WE AFFIRM that the grace of God in Christ enables sinners to forsake transgender self-
conceptions and by divine forbearance to accept the God-ordained link between one’s biological
sex and one’s self-conceptionas male or female.
WE DENY that the grace of God in Christ sanctions self-conceptions that are at odds with [predominantly rich white men’s interpretation of] God’s revealed will.

Article 14
WE AFFIRM that Christ Jesus has come into the world to save sinners and that through Christ’s
death and resurrection forgiveness of sins and eternal life are available to every person who
repents of sin and trusts in Christ alone as Savior, Lord, and supreme treasure.
WE DENY that the Lord’s arm is too short to save or that any sinner is beyond his reach.

You can say that this is nothing more than a clarification offered by an organization that has every right to publicly clarify it’s position on hot-button issues. What is intolerable is the way that the statement intends to suggest that tolerance is is a function outside of what is deemed good, appropriate and true by a religious organization. Conform or be cast out, in other words.

The point is very clear either you are for us or you are against us. You can join us but if you don’t we will not accept you because we know better than you what’s good for you.

It leads to things like this. It’s why so many of the same fuckwits who signed this statement also are so Islamophobic–whether they realize it or not, they share tactics and a vision with Daesh more closely than they do with the ecumenical community.

This meme pretty much nails what I feel about this statement:

Lastly, I’ve been actually reading a lot of right-leaning commentary lately and a great number of people seem all pissy about the fact that the left automatically assumes they are stupid af. As someone who is so far left that someone like Tony Perkins can’t even imagine that someone like me actually exists in the desert of the real, no one assumes you’re dumb–you just regularly open your mouth and prove it. Just as an example from when I was in a parochial high school, no one I went to school with say any sort of contradiction in being pro-life and pro-capital punishment. I’m not saying I think there’s an equivalency, I’m just saying that from their perspective there is absolutely an equivalence except they can’t seem to see it.

Cem EdisboyluFRG3519 (2015)

I’m trying to figure out how to talk to you about Edisboylou’s work.

As best I can tell the work is primarily digital monochrome. There’s no one unifying thread. Yes, there’s a consistent focus on the solitude-isolation spectrum and a fascination with an arguably too rigidly circumscribed preoccupation with femininity as form–which is, yes, you guessed it: problematic.

It’s been said that the edges of an image’s frame are like a thumbprint. In other words, through attention to what’s included vs excluded, it is possible to reliably determine authorship.

No one is every going to confuse a Richard Avedon photo with one made by Robert Frank.

Avedon and Frank aren’t really the best examples. Genre-wise Avedon was a fashion photographer/portraitist and Frank was a documentarian. (Salgado–a fellow documentarian would have been a better choice…but I digress.)

Edisboylou doesn’t combine his work to one genre. A few of his images qualify as portraits, the rest are mostly distinguished by lofty, fine art aspirations.

The thing I keep coming back to in struggling to figure out how to encapsulate his work is an analogy to alchemy.

Generally, we’ve come to think of alchemy as some bent back old nutter with a Fu Manchu beard pouring bubbling concoctions from one test tube into another and then holding them up to light streaming in through a single clerestory window into a dank, moldering basement lab.

Of course, we think that the alchemist struggling to untangle the riddle chrysopoeia is hogwash. Although alchemy as a metaphor for leading a fulfilling, creative life is entirely valid–and arguably one of the less fundamentally detrimental metaphors for leading a better life; we take transmutation of lead into gold as literal, therefore deeming it inexcusably absurd but give Xtianity (a profoundly flawed metaphor at best) and Catholicism (with its transubstantiation, bread to flesh, wind to blood–an appropriation of alchemy) a pass.

It has always fascinated me that virtually all ancient traditions have a tradition of 4 or 5 most basic elements. And there’s a surprising overlap in that they all consider fire, water, wind and earth to be. (The eastern tradition includes metal as an element.)

Interestingly, these 4 (or 5) elements prefigured the eventual discovery and implementations that eventually became The Periodic Table. (The proposed fifth element in the western tradition, aether, informed early manifestations of Newton’s thinking on gravitation.)

So while yes, water and earth both figure prominently in Edisboylu’s work, it’s really aether to which, conceptually, I keep circling back. I’m not sure I can explain to you exactly why. But I think it might have something to do with potential vs. limitation.

I’m not a mathematician–I don’t have the chops for it (although number theory intrigues me), but it strikes me that the alchemical systems tend to be open ended whereas science is focused on replicability and that which is measurable–empiricism. (I can’t help but revel a bit in the fact that Rene Descartes, essentially the father of science, retroactively applied scientific precepts to interpolate ‘truth’ as to the interpenetration of the physical by the metaphysical, the perniciously resilient mind-body problem, Cartesian dualism et al.)

Alchemy is about potential, whereas science is about limitation. Or maybe, the better way to put it would be that alchemy aspires to outward expansion whereas science seeks accuracy and precision. (And it occurs to me that I’m further complicated things by setting this notions up as a diametric opposition. I’m not sure that’s helpful. It might be better to say that one is a hammer, the other a screwdriver; each has specific uses and secondary uses, including substituting the tools for each other in the absence of the other. Am I the only one who’s used the handle of a screwdriver as a hammer and vice versa?)

Kurt Gödel‘s incompleteness theorem famously used math tor prove that a system of symbols cannot be proven as true utilizing nothing more than the symbols intrinsic to that system.

There’s a great deal that one might reverse engineer about psychology with all this mess but I’ve meandered rather off the beaten path and I’d like to get back to the image above.

Perhaps one of the reasons I struggle to talk about style using more than a few distinct handholds here and there is because style is a category and by delimiting a category into increasingly specific subcategories, one eventually ends up with a category that holds only one thing–and what use is that beyond specificity for the sake of specificity.

A good category is one that is specific enough to group things with a prevailing theme or concomitant purpose without excluding a panoply of related overlap or intersection. It’s for this reason that I think stream of consciousness is actually one of the few truly useful categories. I loathe Joyce, for example. Have mixed feelings on FaulknerThe Sound and The Fury can bite my ass but As I Lay Dying is effing brilliant. Yet I adore Virgina Woolf. (Part II of To the Lighthouse is one of the most incredible bits of writing I have ever encountered and I’m trying to convince myself to actually excavate enough time in the near future to write that essay I’ve always been meaning to write on the Influence of To the Lighthouse on Antonioni, specifically the ending of L’Eclisse and Tarkovsky’s Mirror.

To those who actually read through all this: thank you. I realize this has been inexcusable intellectual masturbation (not to mention self-indulgent af) but it seemed disingenuous to just deem it aethereal without showing my work w/r/t how I arrived at that conclusion.

Peng Yun I also have a pair of wings (2013)

Typically, I’m not fond of excessive pitch dark negative space for the same reason I’m skeptical of close-ups–both tend to diminish context. And, if you haven’t already figured it out: I’m all about that context, ‘bout that context, ‘bout that context. No vagaries.

This though, this I like.

I think what renders it especially resonate for me is that I rarely dream anymore; or, if I do, I do not remember my dreams upon awakening. It’s probably partly that I don’t ever sleep especially well–which is almost certainly exacerbated by my dependence on self-medicated with a variety of substances.

That’s not really the point. One of two dreams I’ve remembered in the last six months or so, involved these gargoyle like creatures. They appeared more or less human–except on a slightly larger scale; like a short one would be about 7 feet tall.

What made them resemble gargoyles was they had tree branches grafted to their backs. Walking around and interacting normally, they looked like two Groot arms trailing down their backs. But when expanded, they revealed green leaved branches that could be flapped like wings and allowed for limited flight.

I wanted to do something with the idea since I had the dream but I’ve been struggling to figure out what fits. Thus, it’s unnerving to see someone a world away with a stunningly similar notion.

One other note: while I hardly dig all Yun’s work–a lot of it is a little two reminiscent of lazy liberal arts students who easily invent compelling concepts and then execute them in a half-assed, haphazard fashion to a Radiohead track. But, I do absolutely love the way there’s also an explicitly erotic tinge to her work. For example: this is an image of which I am murderously jealous I can’t claim ownership.)