Christophe PokBlanche (2017)

Add this to the list of images I wish had been of me…

Also: another nail in the coffin of the tact where the subjects head is excluded from through frame edge decapitation to preserve anonymity–as this brilliantly demonstrates: there’s always a more creativ/better way of accomplishing the same end without embracing such knee-jerk, lazy means.

Alexander Gonzalez DelgadoUntitled feat. eddgein2 from somewhere in my head series (2018)

I like that this is analog. I like that the depth of field is such that the point of focus is actually somewhere behind Alice’s body but above the floor.

I also like the way the milk trailing down her body trails back to the bowl–due to the DoF, it’s all but devoid of texture (which adds to the sense of flowing liquidity.)

However, the way Alice’s body is dismembered by the frame edges–double amputation mid-thigh and having the top of her body removed feels like coded misogynistic essentialism (i.e. a woman’s body exists solely for the gratification of male sexual pleasure).

Also, I’m just really super not here for the whole milk bowl/cat/pussy riffing. (Several cat lovers have informed me that cats are by and large lactose intolerant.)

At the same time this feels of a kind with Marat Safin and I’d argue more honest than his in embracing the work’s fundamental depravity (in a value judgment-less sense…)

Source unknown – Title unknown (201X)

Although this doesn’t quite work there’s some great elements.

First off, I have a strong affinity for work which is ostensibly heteronormative but sublimates expectations. For example: most porn seems to operate from the principle that you shouldn’t see dick unless there’s a naked lady in the frame at the same time or a woman who although partial clothed is in some way interacting with the penis.

The positioning of the hands and the way they inform the rest of his pose reminds me of a Renaissance contrapposto sculpture. Also: the texture of the upholstery makes me think of those benches in national galleries.

The pattern of the tile and it’s alignment with the upholstery of the table is one of the reasons the composition more or less works–the eye scans left to right and the snaking chain attached to the shackle around his scrotum pulls the eye back across the image emphasizing the off kilter angle.

Overall all, as an image: it’s mostly strong enough to transcend the sloppy way his right ankle is chopped off at the ankle.

Diana Bodea#1 The Shadow from Touched by light series (2008)

Looking at this my first response isn’t to pedantically point out that it features backlighting.

As I am sitting here struggling to wrap my head around how to write about it, I am uncertain where else I might start.

See the problem isn’t noticing it’s backlit; the problem is focusing on the backlighting emphasizes technique over a more organic handling of the unity between concept and execution.

And what I want to talk about has more to do with the dynamics between the technical and the conceptual in this photograph.

Two days ago, Amandine spent a lovely day sharing time and space as well as practice our respective crafts–me trying to capture the interplay between color and fog along the coast, her drawing and painting dunes, people walking in the distance and the subtly variegated beach grasses.

Driving back we were talking about music. She asked me what I thought of Joanna Newsom. I said I had liked The Milk Eyed Mender. Then back-tracked that I was only really familiar enough with the track Sadie–which I adore.

My ex hated both Björk and Newsom because of their eccentric vocalizations. I felt the same way about the former–at least initially (she’s subsequently become one of my all-time favorite artists) but I wasn’t familiar enough with Newsom, so I sort of missed her work.

Amandine was telling me about how amazing she was and how I really should check her out. But she offered a caveat that one of her favorite of Newsom’s songs contains a mistake.

See the song Emily contains the following lyrics:

That the meteorite is a source of the light
And the meteor’s just what we see
And the meteoroid is a stone that’s devoid of the fire that propelled it to thee

And the meteorite’s just what causes the light
And the meteor’s how it’s perceived
And the meteoroid’s a bone thrown from the void
That lies quiet and offering to thee

She has it backwards, Amandine insisted. I mean it’s poetic and beautiful and brilliant but it’s the other way around, really.

I don’t know enough about it to comment but I do know–subsequently having listened to the album it’s on several times–it doesn’t matter, I don’t think.

Like maybe she created the lyrics based on being told it the wrong way around–which contributes to the meaning of the song, actually. Or it’s a John Donne-esque metaphysical metaphor of the soul–which again, contributes to the song. Or, it’s a rejection of science–again, something that fits with the song.

Whether it’s right or wrong, it works. And that’s kind of a rare and wonderful thing.

But it occurs to me that backlighting is the wrong thing to focus on in the photo about for the same reason it’s a mistake to get caught up in whether the rhyme about the difference between meteors and meteorites is right or wrong.

When I used to teach lighting workshops I would show kids how to set up a quick and dirty three point lighting setup. I’d explain that this is the key light, this is the fill light and this is the back/rim light. I’d then show them what each looked like independent of the others.

I’d then turn all the lights back on and explain the rationale behind this setup–it’s a stylization of how we experience light in the world around us. Like: if I’m standing in a field facing a camera and the lighting is behind the sun is behind the camera relative to my position–unless it’s straight on (a poor strategy if you’re trying for an aesthetically pleasing image because the light is too bright and people naturally squint when the light is in their eyes), then there’s one side that is incrementally brighter than the other. So natural light presents with a key and a fill light.

But light also falls on the ground behind where I am standing in said field. Yet, that light is like the fill light except it reflects enough light back towards the camera that because the body separates the light reflecting off the ground from the camera, it contributes a dimensionality to my body.

The point is–what we see we see only in relation to the way light interacts with it. The only source of light in this is presumably the window behind the shower curtain and the subject.

It’s interesting that backlighting combined with other lighting contributes dimensionality–yet we normally think of backlighting in terms of silhouetting. There’s a surprising amount of dimensionality in this. That’s partly due to the one point perspective imposed by the tile.

But the visibility of the mirror and the reflection of the hand, as well as the white sink gives a stark solidity to the image.

It’s a mistake to say: this is backlit and then just leave it at that because it’s how it’s backlit (how this is used formally and contextually to foster a sense of dynamic unity to between generally opposing elements).

An exquisitely refined work. Impressive and thoroughly unforgettable.