April 26th, 2007 § § permalink
One of my life’s great and on going interest has been to comprehend and expand my knowledge of totalitarianism; not only because it is mouthful but primeraly because so much of our history is the consequence of a few men’s astounding ability to regulate every aspect of the societies they control, and remake in their own image.
The basic principles of totalitarianism are for the most part very simple but not so easily applied. If a career as a totalitarian political leader is appealing, “The Prince”, by Niccolo Machiavelli, would certainly be required reading. If the written word is not your thing, you can always consult the cliff notes, here, and get a jump on the competition. My interest in totalitarianism permeates almost every aspect of my life, and especially my work as a photographer, believe it or not.
For those of you who might be interested in a good read featuring a masterfully adept totalitarian, I would strongly recommend Bradley K. Martin’s book, “Under the loving care of the fatherly leader”, North Korea and the Kim Dynasty. I rely on the work of authors like Mr. Martin to deepen and broaden my knowledge on the afore mentioned subject, and am often awed by their ability to synthesize enormous amounts of information and popularize it for the rest of us. It often seems almost miraculous that anyone could manage, organize and narrate a 700 plus pages book on any subject as complex as the “excellent political adventures of the Kims”. I won’t attempt a synopsis as it certainly is not a skill I possess but take my word for it and pick up a copy.
In the meantime, I have contacted Mr. Martin who lives and work in Tokyo and someday hope to travel to North Korea. I am still trying to figure out what might entice a client to send me there but I am working on it. As soon as I get a lead I’ll let you know. Thanks for caring.
April 25th, 2007 § § permalink
My favorite photographers are robots. Cassini, Spirit, Opportunity, Stereo A and Stereo B, are beaming back billion dollar babies of Saturn and its moons, Mars and the Sun. I keep a large collection of these images, all available on NASA’s website. When I need a picker upper I gaze upon them to quickly regain a pleasant and easy manner.
April 24th, 2007 § § permalink
It might be said that my chances of becoming an astronaut have been severely diminished by my present occupation, but nonetheless, and in the off chance that NASA scouts are searching the internet for landscape photographers; I will venture to submit my candidacy electronically.
This might be the only time that it may not be held against me that, that “kind” of work, is actually not in my portfolio. Afterall, there has only been but a handful of photographers in space and none of them were “Professionals” . Furthermore, they have all retired to ranches in California or, in between naps, are lecturing to kindergardeners to pad their government pensions.
Tags: photographer, photography, planets, travel , government contract, tax and spend, gratuitous, round trip, re-entry, direct deposit, exemption, retrospective, artist statement, treadmill.
April 23rd, 2007 § § permalink
I think it was saturday morning, on my way to Costco, when Boris Yeltsin popped into my mind. Several years ago, I had previously written of my intentions of putting together a fotonovela called “Boris and the Donkey”, loosely based on Yeltstin’s life as a tippler and of his tendency to operate heavy industries under the influence. My original intentions had been to pass “Yeltsin’” into the vernacular as a verb; denoting someone’s tendency to imbibe alcoholic drinks, habitually or to excess: “Judy had been yeltsin’ heavily before she fell off the bridge, and onto the icy banks of the Volga”.
As I was saying, I briefly, inexplicably, and suddenly, remembered Boris Yeltsin and wondered what had become of him. Not much had been heard from him since 1999 and it seemed surprising that such an habitual yeltster might still miraculously be alive . Lo and behold, when I turned on the morning news, Boris had been pronounced dead to the world. For more on Boris Yeltsin, click here. As for my powers of intuition, further and more indirect proof of my channeling Russian political figures are needed to confirm this yet undiscovered ability.
April 22nd, 2007 § § permalink
Pawel’s cousin went to Kazakhstan on business a few months ago and brought back an armful of photographs. A small but poignant testimony of a trip, which was not without it’s rewards. An eye witness account of a country trying to shake itself free from the bonds of tyranny and ridicule. Pawel graciously forwarded his photographic manifesto to his friends in the hope of entertaining us all.
I promptly passed it on to my circle, and a few strangers I could trust. I had hoped that one day these images would boomerang back to me but so far, no cigar. The comedic quality of these images are undeniable, if technically mediocre, but that can be forgiven since without them some of our stereotypes may not have been confirmed. So without further ado, Pawel’s cousin’s photographs from his business trip to Kazakhstan. In the meantime, I am off to chop imaginary wood.
April 22nd, 2007 § § permalink
Henry Wessel whose work I have only just come across caught my attention. He seems to have had a great deal of influence as a mentor and teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute and beyond. His work is better viewed in person, and you can still do that at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, until April 22nd, which is today. I tend not to discuss other photographers’ work as I would rather leave those ruminations to others.
Another artist of note is Jeff koons, recently featured in the New Yorker. I have always liked Jeff Koons’s work primarily because it is humorous. “Fine” art is for the most part singularly uh-humorous but Jeff Koons is one of the few exception to that rule. Humor, is considered lightweight and unworthy of a great deal of attention because it somehow lacks depth (whatever that means). Art, much like religion, is not meant to be humorous, it’s serious business. No need to wonder why Art was the propaganda arm of religion for so long, the two are quite possibly forever joined at the hip. I am not quite sure that most people realize that unconsciously or not we equate both in our minds or work towards that end.
Art directly served religion for so long that it will take a very long time before it actually becomes divorced of that association. Modernism attempted to sever those links but only separated itself from its historical patron by looking to other forms of mysticism, culturally appropriating them to revolutionize itself, a much needed shot in the arm, but a fragile and momentary prescription. To this day I’d be willing to bet that most artists, wether they are conscious of it or not still work within that framework. I don’t think that’ll change any time soon.
April 21st, 2007 § § permalink
My friend Bill was nice enough to share this link with me and it’s one for the ages. Beware, as it contains strong language, so if you are at work you might not want your boss looking over your shoulder and jeopardize that symbiotic relationship you might have going for you. It will certainly bound to raise eyebrows, or lower them, or make you spit out that double latte, which contextually, might not be a bad thing. Give it like a man Charlie Rose…
April 20th, 2007 § § permalink
Got Lucky in the mail today, even-though I like the sound of that, it is not what you think but one of Conde Nast’s moneymakers. The magazine about shopping. I won’t bore you with a lengthy diatribe about attention spam, since I do not have one myself, but it certainly got my attention. This mysterious gift from the database gods landed on my doorsteps for reasons only they unfathomably understand but I am grateful for it’ s surprising arrival.
I could not make ifs ands buts about it as it seemed obviously calculated to confuse, and fill closets to boot; but what really interested me was how this rag ( I am using the vernacular here, not the pejorative) is put together.
Given my notoriously low attention span I am awed by the minds behind it. Not unlike great feats of engineering or logistics, Lucky seems able to come together with the relative ease of a library’s card catalogue, filled with the promise of untold intellectual riches but dauntingly intimidating since I can barely remember the alphabet; that’s right I still have trouble remembering it after 42 years of literacy. Now, if this previous entry fails to make a point, that would be my point; I am easily influenced.
The magazine about shopping makes me wish I could actually understand Nature (the Magazine about Science), since I seem to sense that no matter how hard I try, I know that I’ll get Lucky before I get Nature.
Also in the news today: Today is the first day of California light. For those of you who have never been to California the light here is really quite simply pornographic. So today, while sitting outside, I noticed that summer light is here. It’s usually characterized, at least to my mind, by a very subtle intra molecular silvery hue, as if billions of crystal meth nano-particles were suspended in the air in an orgy of riotous cosmic love making. You kind of have to squint, or space out a little to get in the groove, but if you face North North West (10AM Standard Pacific Time), it is quite visible. Light particles buzz around each other and create soupy clear micro-explosions, I can only understand as some kind of photonic switch, which to my mind means: Get to work.
April 19th, 2007 § § permalink
For up to the minute updates on what I am doing, this blog will serve as the perfect platform to freshen up the official website of the other “Our Dear”, “Dear leader”; the political arm of Olivier Laude dot com. Think of it as its under-secretary of public relations and imoticons.
I shot this yesterday in the Sacramanto river delta, a favorite haunt. This image will further garnish Charlie’s* cult of personality; until one day the world will recognize his image as readily as any other dictator worth his salt. Once this image is properly scanned and color corrected to my exact specifications, it will be called “Yossef’s Buck”, a cultural reference to a now long deceased German artist better know for his obsessive compulsive use of felt and bees wax.
Besides this superficial reference to our afore mentioned German Artist, I am, as I often like to do, referencing other images of mine. The redwood bark palette was used in a previous photograph; the now infamous “Mikkel Sønafenlillepigemedsvovlstikker, from the “Autobahnüberfal, the Danes” series (see below). I have good reasons to do so, so please trust me on this one…..as you might a beloved father.
*our compliant and charismatic model.
April 19th, 2007 § § permalink
Cultural anthropologists have become some of the most interesting and insightful writers around. It stands to reason that Cultural Anthropology and its methods should be applied to individuals working in the arts as a means of understanding their work in ways which are more empirical, based on field work and theories already used in the scientific study of humanity. I see no reason why these principles may not be used to focus on specific individuals as a means to understand their work without having to rely on their own interpretation and on those of other Art professionals; a group of people notoriously prone to obfuscation. This has already been achieved by visual anthropologists and art anthropologists but in broader contexts, not necessarily focusing on one particular individual, so correct me if I am wrong. Any further information on the subject would be appreciated.
Cultural anthropology is one of four fields of anthropology (the holistic study of humanity) as it developed in the United States. It is the branch of anthropology that has developed and promoted “culture” as a meaningful scientific concept; it is also the branch of anthropology that studies cultural variation among humans.
The anthropological concept of “culture” reflects in part a reaction against earlier Western discourses based on an opposition between “culture” and “nature”, according to which some human beings lived in a “state of nature”. Anthropologists argue that culture is “human nature,” and that all people have a capacity to classify experiences, encode classifications symbolically, and teach such abstractions to others. Since humans acquire culture through learning (the processes of enculturation and socialization), people living in different places or different circumstances may develop different cultures. Anthropologists have also pointed out that through culture people can adapt to their environment in non-genetic ways, so people living in different environments will often have different cultures. Much of anthropological theory has originated in an appreciation of and interest in the tension between the local (particular cultures) and the global (a universal human nature, or the web of connections between people in distinct places/circumstances).
Parallel with the rise of cultural anthropology in the United States, social anthropology, in which “sociality” is the central concept and which focuses on the study of social statuses and roles, groups, institutions, and the relations among them, developed as an academic discipline in Great Britain. Some anthropologists have drawn on both traditions and identify themselves as socio-cultural anthropologists.
Some Cultural Anthropologists you might want to read:
Jared Diamond, “Guns, Germs and Steel”, and “Collapse”, a less succesfull book by the same author but still worth reading.
Jack Weatherford, “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”, and the “History of Money”.