Aeric Meredith-GoujonTitles unknown (200X)

Tumblr has it’s problems. However, in at least one regard, I think it’s actually better than a museum.

When I go to a museum: I’m in a public place–which makes me uncomfortable to begin with. Short of seeing something that makes such a profound impression that I lose track of time and physical embodiment, I’m always super vigilant about monitoring my anxiety levels, hunger, do I have to pee and if I do which bathroom can I use with the least fuss.

All these factors preclude my not fully engaging with the majority of works I see.

Tumblr–until they made their asinine best stuff first option (which you all should disable this feature, double pronto)–is sort of wonderful with the way it both introduces you to stuff you wouldn’t have known you loved but also forces you to reconsider work you’ve previous passed on.

I’ve been in the anti Aeric Meredith-Goujon camp for years. He’s completely revamped his website, though; and his editing is better–although I do think he’s lost some of his early edginess in favor of making his bodies of work more accessible.

Either way, the above two images are fan-effing-tastic.

Andrea Torres BalaguerUntitled from hypnogogia series (2013)

It’s probably just a knee-jerk response but there’s something about this image that feels melancholic.

I mean: yes, it’s a function of the rain; it’s also how the image is composed. From left to right, we see what is presumably a boy dressed in black trying to climb up on the rock and the young woman already atop the rock but her position there looking decidedly temporary–as if she’s going to jump down as soon as the boy manages to climb onto the rock.

It feels very cyclic–a play on the notion of the yin-yang symbol.

But looking at this I can’t help but thinking of two children on a playground. One sitting at the top of the slide and the other climbing the ladder to the slide–the endless repetition of work and reward–climbing the ladder, hurtling down the slide. Again and again and again–all day long if the bell never rang calling all back to desks, books and irritable teachers.

Historically, Mozart remains a psychological anomaly–an artist from who work emerged Athena-like, fully formed and final drafted on the first go round. And as valuable as repetition is to learning and mastery, the educational faculties insist that at a certain point, we should be able to crap out work that’s good enough on the first try. This is actually a dangerous precedent to accept. Unless you’re writing a fugue–which I can say from experience is difficult as fuck–repetition is one of many tools that contributes to the notionality of a ‘form’,

It’s a shame that we allow what we deem worthy of repeated actions generally orbits a sense of social obligation. I go to work each day in order to pay my bills. Whereas we feel as if we’ve wasted time by watching a movie we love or listening to a song that moves us for the billionth time. We feel that the former is a good use of time and the latter extravagant, frivolous–wasteful even.

However, the things that truly matter, we pursue with that same dogged child-like determination–up the ladder, down the slide. Repeat ad infinitum.

Tim BarberUntitled [rain/shower] feat. Kaya Wilkins (2013)

I’ve probably seen this image at least three dozen times but today is the first time I noticed that it’s raining.

A good part of why I’ve never noticed is that the most circulated version features compressed contrast and lower resolution.

As a result, I checked out Barber’s work and discovered that not only is it of an especially high quality, it’s also categorically interesting. He’s rigorous about formality of composition while showing a rare ability to make color vs. absence of color integral to the image.

Further there’s something about his work that transforms rather typical, nearly-prosaic scenes into something that feels autonomous, distinct and thoroughly singular.

The above image was included in a 2014 show at Capricious 88 in NYC’s SoHo.

In relations to that show, Barber claims:

I’m interested in the slippery
narratives that my photos can communicate, and a good narrative always
involves relationships of some kind […] Photographs can be so literal, but I’m
more interested in them as entry ways rather than finales; windows on a
wall, question marks. Another way to put that is I’m less interested in
what they are about then what they could be about.

And while I don’t think he has an especially good grasp of what narrativity actually entails, there is a strong sense that this image “could be about” a sort of Thoreauean search for existential vitality.

In the same breath, however, there’s an undercutting of that notion: the absurdity of showering in the rain; the out of order sign on the cabin–a sort of winking glance toward the ‘backwards-ness’ inherent in the proposition.

I could never abandon the hustle and bustle of big city life but there is a part of me that craves departures, ruptures and disjunctions with that life. Is it too much to want to stand naked on your front porch drinking coffee and staring off into the forest or to bathe in the falling rain?

Molly SteeleNaked, happy, and muddy (2015)

As much as I freaking adore vivid, super saturated color work (William Eggleston pretty much being the progenitor), my own personal aesthetic preference involves work like this that thoughtfully presents a broad spectrum of two or three different complimentary colors.

Note: with this how the grass and lichen runs from green to brown and how given the hint of blue-green in the water, serves to make the skin tone positively pop out of the frame. Other than that there’s not a lot of color to speak of but with regard to brown and green there is a vast spectrum on display with this.

I also love that it’s raining. I’m always so paranoid about damage to my gear that any time it’s raining like this, I stow everything. I maybe need to figure out a way to make my gear at least vague water resistent.

Also, as someone who skinny dipping is in the top ten items on my bucket list, this image captures exact what I envision as the concept underlying the term.

Alena ZhandarovaEvita Goze (2011)

I’m reblogging this from mpdrolet–who if you follow me, you seriously ought to follow; he curates what hands down the best Tumblr blog. (Not to mention: and he’s forgotten more about fine art photography than I’ll ever know.)

It’s odd though because while he’s usually fastidious with sourcing; when he posted this image, he attributed it solely to Goze, linking to modeling work Goze did for Aiga Ozolina.

It’s absolutely worth the time to click through and check out all parties involved. (Especially consider the impact the collaboration with Goze has on the respective image makers codified styles.)

I’m not interested in comment on that, however–mostly because there is something about this image with which I am utterly enamored.

It reminds me of Martin Buber’s I and Thou wherein it’s postulated that their are two modes of relationships in the world–the relationship between a subject and objects (termed I-It) and the experience of transcendent, non-duality (termed I-Thou).

I-It, for example, involves a subject perceiving an object–Molly looking at a painting in a gallery, Dev reading the subway map, etc. I-Thou, on the other hand, like a gust of wind, wrenching open your window and a macaw flying into the room; you are so startled by the sudden and unexpected presence that for a moment you forget to resort to language in the instinctive drive to sort and identify situations; you experience an unmediated fullness of awe in the moment. (This is an example–you can certainly experience I-Thou moments looking at a painting in a gallery. Hell, I wouldn’t be alive if not for that possibility.)

Buber maintains that the spark of the I-Thou moment lies encased–not unlike an insect in amber–within the I-It moment that litter our lives.

* * *

As an off-the-charts introvert, I need a metric fuck ton of solitude in order to even halfway function as a human being. Yet, I do need a modicum of social stimulation–just not in a small talk/how about this weather/interacting with strangers at a loud bar; I need to feel connected to others.

One of my pressing struggles in my life is balancing the need for some sort of connectedness with the fact that I really only have recourse to more casual and frivolous interactions.

Imagine that we are standing on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I am standing facing you and your back is to the sun dipping towards the horizon’s shelf. Something in the color or the vista speaks to me, I enter into an I-Thou moment. All I can do–without slipping out of the moment–is instinctively point. Either you’ll see it and share the moment or you wont. Even if I could explain, the explanation would be a little like explaining a joke–that which was humorous is rendered sterile via translation.

* * *

I want to share the I-Thou spark that flickers just below the surface of this image. Don’t you see it? It’s staggering…

if you don’t the only thing I can suggest is to remind you of the scene in Klimov’s masterpiece Иди и смотри (probably one of my three favorite films of all time) where Florya shakes water from the trees and dances with Glasha in the rain?

Don’t you see it? Look. It’s right there…

Sam Scott Schiavo – excerpts from La Solitudine (2013)

This post presents the images as a triptych whereas on Schiavo’s website it’s a five panel progression.

I am not sure how to process it. None of the images considered individually are especially strong.

However, re-constructed as a triptych, the separate images form a cohesive whole: water droplets and reflections in the glass separating the subject from the camera diminish as the eye moves downward; the elbow’s reiteration strangely enforces as continuity between the top and center frame, easing transition.

Whereas, the discontinuity between the absence of the hand and arm in the center frame eases what would other be an especially jarring re-framing.

I dig the the images as a triptych. The difficulty I have is the individual images aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. And to me that’s one of the prerequisites of the polyptych form. Granted I am not well-versed in the formal conventions beyond altarpieces, Van Eych and Bosch.

Familiarity with the form is certainly important but there is something disingenuous about cramming a work into a form as a remedy for one-dimensional conceptualization and lackluster execution.

And that is a shame because in the age of iPhone panoramas and automated photostitch programs there are a few image makers who are creating fascinating polyptych’s. The ones that jump immediately to mind are: David Hilliard, Accra Shepp & Tom Spianti.