Akuma Aizawaexplanation (2014)

Truthfully, I know fuck all about collage as a form–thus I won’t be able to address this as directly as a photography.

What does interest me about this (besides getting the giddy feeling in my tummy that always accompanies finding work that resonates with me), is the conceptual praxis.

The text reads:

This is to my absurd trying/of intending anything/AT ALL Example:/I’ll try to remember the/sensation of imagining you/missing/me

I’m not sure quite how the text interacts with the image yet–although I do think the example is the image and not that statement beneath the image.

I am more comfortable with the text, so let’s stick with that for a minute. The first block of text mentions the absurdity of trying to intend anything at all.

It reminds me of that famous line Yoda utters in The Empire Strikes Back. Luke Skywalker is trying to use the force to life his X-Wing out of a swamp on Dagoba. It seems like he’s making progress and then the vehicle sinks back. Yoda chides him and Luke whines that he’s trying as hard as he can. Yoda snaps back: do or do not; there is no try.

It’s a very Zen sentiment. Essentially, what Yoda means is doing the thing, you either do or do not do it. But by trying to do something the effort of your action is focused not singularly on the doing of it but on the trying to do it–the question of whether or not it can even be done.

The distinct Yoda is pointing toward is the same thing Wittgenstein is getting at in his Philosophical Investigations–only Wittgenstein is concerned with how language means instead of lifting a vehicle out of mire with nothing more than the power of the mind.

Essentially, Wittgenstein says hey, as long as your talking–language isn’t at all difficult for you. You just talk. It’s when you start thinking about how you language works, that you begin to run into problems. Because instead of doing, one begins to think about how one does what one does and that’s where trouble creeps in at the seams.

The philosophy of language questions how words mean. And that question is already off on quite the wrong foot. Wittgenstein proceeds systematically to poke holes in the notion that words mean via some sort of mental process as opposed to meaning as use in context.

The last stand of the person intent on language being a mental process clings to the notion of the possibility of a private language.

In order to demonstrate what this would be like, Wittgenstein conceives the staggeringly brilliant metaphor of The Beetle in the Box.

Say there’s a group of people somewhere and everyone of these people has a box and in that box is what is called a ‘beetle’. There’s a catch: no one can look in anyone else’s box. So there’s no way for anyone to check what anyone else’s beetle looks like. This begs the question does Jethro have an ant in his box while Marieanne has a mosquito, or perhaps her box is empty. Thus ‘beetle’ can only mean nothing or what the group agrees it means independent of whatever is or isn’t in their respective boxes.

(As an aside bad artist, racists and mansplainers are always whining about how they didn’t mean it that way, their intent was different. But that’s the thing, it doesn’t matter how you meant it, there’s a generally agreed upon external context and whether or not you meant it that way, that’s how it functions in the external context. Do or do not; there is no try.)

So what I dig about this is the way the top text cancels itself in a similar fashion to the way the bottom text does the same thing. In the top portion the speaker is trying to intend which is decidedly not doing or meaning–thus, I would assume the absurdity of the undertaking. In the lower portion, there’s again a trying–in this case a trying to imagine the sensation of you missing me. Trying imagine the feeling of something that will never happen.

There’s something profoundly lonely about this but in an unusual and I would argue defiantly feminist way. I feel like this is supposed to look like it’s about a relationship. But I think this is also on a meta-level about the relationship between an artist and their art as well as the relationship between women and the art historical male gaze.

Yung Cheng Lin (aka 3cm) – [↑] 4.420 (2013); [←] 2401 (2013); [→] 9197 (2014); [↓] 6381 (2013).

When people distinguish between porn and not-porn, the difference is usually framed in terms of what is shown and what remains unseen.

A better question might: what does the manner of presentation tell us about how we are supposed to see what we are being shown?

There’s honestly too many things I could go on and on about with 3cm: his mindfuck mastery of color; precocious Photoshop manipulations, clever visual puns, recurrent images/themes, my guess that his process is highly improvisational and a repudiation of all the lazy ass characterizations of his work as ‘surreal’.

That’s all lagniappe.

Positioned as it is in the no man’s land between capital-A art and small-a art, I think there’s an instinct to round up. I’m not opposed to that. Not all of 3cm’s work is good, but almost none of it is crap outright.

What I think people have talked themselves out of is the implication of the sexual subtext in the work. The sexual subtext is not only the raison d’etre it’s much, much more than a subtext, it’s shockingly pornographic.

There aren’t even three nipples in roughly a thousand images. But that doesn’t matter, read the space between what you see explicitly in the images with the huggable elephant in the room of what the image is ultimately fixated upon. It’s a little like reading Shakespeare: read the first scene and then start over again and this time you’ll pretty much have it.

But here you aren’t searching for the rhythm as much as the correct tone. The space between what is explicit and what is implicit has a confessions of depravity feel to it. If you can stay in that space long enough, you’re initial response will probably be to blush. If you are like me though, you’ll be extremely turned on.


Mathieu Vladimir AlliardNicole Pollard (2013)

Such editorial-fashion portraiture is not my cuppa Joe. This though, I can’t get out of my goddamn head.

It’s the asymmetrical picked at nailpolish on her right thumb, the textured trim on her knickers, the way the light makes her hipbones look uneven, the mole above her navel, the contrast between the cream color of her bra against the sickly white of her skin somehow balancing against the dark background to create a strange vibrancy.

But it’s really the strangely intense blue-eyed stare somewhere between knowing, asking and boredom that is most captivating. I do not know what Ms. Pollard is thinking but I really, really, really would love to know.

Expressions are what elevates Alliard’s work above the paint-by-numbers editorial-fashion crap. His sitters usually appear edgily defiant and half feral.

A similar mien shows up in Ms. Pollard’s work. It’s less overt but she appears matter-of-fact, in control and as if she is prepared to give it to you with both barrels if anyone so much as thinks about giving her shit.

Somehow what Alliard customarily seeks and what Pollard offers, cancel each other out here. In the resulting void, something unexpected happens.

The single substantial criticism I have is #skinnyframebullshit. The only compositional logic governing the use of a vertical frame is to facilitate slimming–which is unnecessary and fucking stupid. Ms. Pollard is quite gorgeous but she’s fucking skinny. The bra straps hanging off her shoulders accomplish the desired purpose well-enough and do not require backup. Not to mention, the image would been moodier for landscape orientation as well as adding weight to the oddness of the expression.


Extraordinary people are, ordinary people by Hassnaa




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Hossnaa Mohamed’s illustrations are not unlike look books from those trendy nationwide chains flinging promises of faux indie cred with their shitty threads.

Were this just another hit-and-run denunciation, it would perpetuate the same sort of hollow vapidity it means to critique.

There’s something altogether more heartfelt here, however: the so-cool-it-bleeds haute couture façade of sleek, clean lines remain but are instead imbued with self-conscious anxiety—the cool is beset by the awkwardness.

It’s staggeringly familiar: wanting to be wanted, one reach for some vaunted ideal of cool touted; while what precisely what makes one cool is the same thing insisting one isn’t.

Pointing out problems is one thing. Pursing the inversion of the present order is another. Neither effort accomplishes much of anything. To truly subvert requires the fundamental alteration of the conversation.

Ms. Mohamed’s work is not only subversive as fuck—it’s sexy as hell.

Untitled shot on a Mamiya 645 by Heidi Systo

Every now and again I crush hard on internet famous photographers. For example: Kimmie Eliot Fung, Traci Matlock (aka Rose) & Ashley MacLean (aka Olive) and Lynn Kastanovics.

With Ms. Fung’s shift to more textile oriented work and Traci and Ashley’s ‘breakup’ the last three years have remained crush-less. (Even if Ms. Kastanovics never chooses to exhibit her work again, she will always hold a place in my heart not unlike the one occupied by Francesca Woodman.)

But the drought ended when Muss4You posted this photo created by Pratt undergrad Heidi Systo.

Ms. Systo describes herself on her website as:

[A]n artist living in Brooklyn who uses medium format photography to explore issues of identity and voyeurism in the era of social media.

She is who she appears to be.

As far as artist statements go the above hits all the right notes: simple, unadorned and streamlines.

So I was surprised to find another expanded statement on her Flickr profile:

Since the era of social media, photography is more accessible than ever. From the perspective of teenage girls it is a tool used to gain attention through provocative imagery posted on sites like Facebook, Flickr, ad [sic] Tumblr. My work explores the relationships between photographer, photograph, and ultimately how it is consumed at various levels in the realm of social media. I portray these attention seeking girls at different levels of development, from passive and curious, to sad and aggressive. As an artist, I am shifting the power away from the viewer and on to the subject. No longer an object to be either discarded or idolized, she now becomes a window into the unsettling viewer’s gaze.

This again towers over most undergrad artist statements—which suffer from the default ego-tripping blather setting; but a young artist whose work is so precocious, edgy, technically savvy and stands on its own, doesn’t need to be explanations.

Unless the statement is meant to reveal the artist is fully aware of what she is doing—and given the swaggering confidence of the photographic voice, doing so seems unnecessary/redundant. (Then I am admittedly kinda anti-artist statement…)

Regardless, I cannot recommend her work highly enough. Definitely check her out. Just don’t tell her I sent you. The lesser known fourth law of thermodynamics holds that: beautiful women render [me] incapable of managing fuck all more than stuttered, incoherent ramblings.

I’d rather not come off like a total heel to someone whose work I admire so much.


Irving S.T. Garp

The color of the wall is highly complimentary to her skin and emphasizing both the translucent white and indigo pattern in her wonderful bra as well as the reddened impressions of the straps on her back.

It reminded me of a similar image of marks left by a bra but more than that it reminded me of a pose figuring prominently in perhaps the second most transcendent sexual experiences of my life.