Club SeventeenTitle unknown feat. Tamara F (2013)

Ever since this post when I consume porn, I remind myself to pay attention to how the staging of a scene in relationship to the camera makes me feel about what I’m viewing.

Interestingly, scenes like this where the proceedings are cheated toward the camera to provide a clear and unobstructed view for the audience appeal to me more than scenes created by either a montage of various heterosexual erogenous signifiers or scenes that pretend to take a fly on the wall approach to capturing the scene–by staging the action for a stationary camera that only faces in one direction, moves on one axis and switches between reframings of close-ups and medium shots. (And POV shots are usually a huge turn off.)

I think there’s something about the sense that this scene has been blocked in a theatrical fashion contributes something to both the notion that both participants want to be seen in flagrante delicito. That self-consciousness makes me feel as if–as a spectator–my participation is expected if not the point of the undertaking.

(FYI, I do think this same idea can be applied negatively given the surfeit of tales where the consent of femme performers on porn sets is not protected or respected.)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

I’m usually super creeped out by hetero porn where the camera assumes the man’s POV but I actually dig this.

I think the reason why is because the leaves entering the frame in the upper right half of the frame draw attention to her face–which at least draws attention to her agency in so far as the proceedings are pleasurable for her. (And again, there’s the additional filter of displays of women’s pleasure in pornography being part of the product sold to consumers.)

But I think there’s a kind of bliss in the maybe three frames where you can see her right eye slide out from behind the leaf and look into the camera.

Also, as the sort of girl who strives to always have her manicure game on fleek, the color of her nail polish is absolutely perfect for that outfit.

Source unknown – Title unknown (1959?)

I’m intrigued by this photograph. (So much so, in fact, that I’ve spent several hours I don’t really have right now trying to learn something about it’s provenance; sadly, there’s nothing.)

The curious thing is that a lot of the blogs that have posted this generally have a lot of overlap with my own personal interests. And I have some–if we’re being polite–offbeat interests.

As far as just looking at the photo as it’s presented, I feel a lot of the things about controlling context with regards to Valerie Chiang’s All info is in the image applies equally here–even if it does work to a different end, i.e. in this case the control of context isn’t in service of clarifying anything, it’s intended to emphasize a certain enigma.

Like what I do know is that this is most likely a photo made with a 50mm lens–based on the angle of view–operated at a narrow aperture. (The focus between her chin as it’s tilted back and the ridge line in the distance suggests a wide depth of field & imposes on her a sense of being a part of the landscape a la Duchamp’s Étant donnés.)

It’s either a page from a photo album or is meant to resemble one. The 9659 is unusual. It could be a date. Sept. 6, 1959 in the US or 9 June 1959 in Europe–and to me the landscape looks straight out of central casting for Alpine Europe.

Beyond that I haven’t the foggiest. However, I do think what I find some mesmerizing about it is the contradictions it contains. There’s a level of very personal and therefore privileged/private intimacy occurring–yet the viewer is asked by the photo to bear witness. There’s the way that there is a sense that the grassy slope and trees are in the distance but with her head back like that, the distance is compressed substantially.

Also, compositionally this is absolutely the opposite of #skinnyframe bullshit–it’s intended to be read up and down and is arranged in such a fashion as to facilitated the parsing of such a reading. consider how it’s divided into five distinct horizontal bands: the sky, the trees, the area between the crest of the hill and her shoulders, between his middle finger and pinky finger with his pinching of her nipple drawing attention to both nipples and the area below watch band wrapped around the wrist of the intruding hand.

It’s a really compelling construction. And although I can’t find fuck all out about this I would very much love to know more if anyone has any pointers.

Michal Buddabar – Paula Lyily (2016)

Geez Louise, what are they putting in the water in Poland? The concentration of fucking fantastic image makers active there is just effing breath-taking.

Buddabar is putting out some interesting work. You can easily pinpoint specific influences. For example: if you take any artist featured multiple times by The Quiet Front, you’re going to find traces of those folks work in Buddabar’s.

I don’t want to belabor that point by cross-referencing specific examples but I do think the it’s useful to compare and contrast with Alexander Bergström.

There’s a huge degree of overlap between their two respective bodies of work: an unapologetic voyeurism, similar form and tone, etc. Bergström‘s use of color is superior, further I think he’s arguably the better technician.

However, where Bergström seemingly tries to sublimate his more perverse (I’m employing my preferred value-neutral connotation w/r/t this term), Buddabar is more unflinching–also, although this perhaps wasn’t the case two years ago, he seems to be a much better editor than Bergström.

But what I also love about this image is it’s yet another wonderful example of how using the frame lines to crop out someone’s face in service of preserving anonymity is just a garbage decision. There are so many other ways to go about it and even the worst, most ill-advised face blocking device will be infinitely better than figurative decapitation.

Either way, definitely check out Buddabar’s work–it’s pretty great, especially the more recent stuff.

Tono StanoUnidentifiable (2000)

Photography is not–as it were–my first visual ‘language’. I studied cinema for almost a decade before pursuing film making specifically.

Yet, similar to any first language–when I’m having difficulty expressing a thought in my second visual language, my tendency is to fall back on the first.

I had the opportunity to see the forthcoming Terrence Malick project Knight of Cups earlier this week.

It‘s a work by Malick–so all the things you typically associate with his style (multiple characters thoughts illustrated through stream of consciousness voice-over, so gorgeous they’re painful scenes and just a general profusion of beauty). It’s also so inexcusably vacuous, it’s vapid.

The mix of cinematography and digital cinematography is incredible. (Chivo is one of a teeny tiny group of indisputable ‘young’ masters.)

But what’s truly ground breaking about the proceedings are the way the roving camera approximates a dream. Chivo frequently fluidly transitions from one moving shot into another by trailing out of the first and then swinging into the second. By this I mean that you could say that the camera keeps moving without the actor and the motion becomes subjective, almost a POV and then it cuts to another subjective perspect that the actor then enters. It’s exceedingly well done and pulls together compellingly what would otherwise have been unwatchable.

But it’s frustrating: Chivo so frequently works with auteurs who’ve grown intractable in their approach to how and what the cinematic experience should convey (Malick) or godawful hacks who are only celebrated because of abject arrogant public masturbation sold to idiots as audacity married with technical precociousness (Iñárritu, who can kiss my whole asshole).

Sadly, Alfonso Cuarón is the closest Chiva routinely gets to a great artist and even that isn’t enough to push him to greater heights.

Really, I feel like Stano has quite a bit in common with Chivo. His work is consumately well made and presented but it lacks a conceptual clarity that it’s sorely missing.

For example: there are two image makers producing similar work–Dara Scully and Beatrix Mira. Scully is clearer in concept and execution than she is in presentation. Mira lacks Stano’s dynamic compositions but here’s seem motivated by a unifying personal obsession.

Stano’s work just looks cool as fcuk. But when you ask yourself what it’s about or what purpose it serves, the work reduces rapidly to an exercise in style over any sort of discernible content.

Ideally, the work I love most features both style and content but I’ll always taken the latter over the former. And that’s why I think ultimately, Scully and Mira are better artists.

Oh and here’s another example of how not cutting your head out of the frame is possible but still allows for anonymity and makes an infinitely better picture.

Sam LivmUntitled (2015)

While it’s possible and certainly important to quibble about several problematic considerations given the art historical problem of the male gaze, this is an absolutely fantastic exercise in perceiving color.

Theories on color are a dime a dozen. Color theory with regard to light is different than color theory related to pigments; digital color representation (RGB) is different than the parameters for printing work (CMYK).

I’ll be the first to admit that my (admittedly limited) theoretical understanding of color vastly surpasses my practical know-how. For example: if you consider this work as build on a foundation of Red, Green and Blue, then what becomes immediately clear is the dominance of Red and Blue.

The red highlights in the young woman’s hair, the red-brown of the foilage, skin and wood, the clump of golden leaves in the right third of the frame, the muted nectarine of the more pale skin on her back and shoulder and the more yellow cast of the weathered wood.

There’s the steely blue in the sky, gunmetal blue in the wood, even hints of it in the highlight details outlining her shoulders and hips.

It reminds me of Josef Albers. And yes, that’s a bit of a well-duh! jump to make. But I feel that it’s even more Albers-esque because this doesn’t fixated on only two colors–it uses a hierarchy that enriches the composition by unifying the elements of the image and also prioritizing what is most important about the frame (subject, setting, time of day–in descending order of importance). In the absence of the green, the image would’ve been flatter, wouldn’t have been so visually compelling.

And ultimately that’s what reminds me of Albers–the sort of feeling that rules are limiting and foolish and that when it comes to color, practice should inform theory not the other way around.

I’m not 100% on board with Livm’s work but the one thing I will say without reservation is that he is doing some righteous work with color–and is definitely worth checking out.