Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daily Practice 90/365

Title: "Abstraktes Bild"
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One of the themes that I want to explore more intensively as I go forward with the daily practice exercise is the interface between painting and photography. I once did an installation piece which combined watercolour paintings with a grid of black and white close-up photographs of details of the paintings. I think I was inspired to pursue the idea from a piece I saw on Art:21 on Arturo Herrera, who makes photographic images of details of his drawings as part of his art practice. I've posted a few images in this blog so far as part of a developing series of "Topographic Notes" which borrows from that idea.

Today I made some images of one of my watercolour boards. The patterns of colour and shapes on the board reflect the history of many paintings that were made. There is a richness here that accumulates from that long history, a richness difficult to achieve in a single painting. The photograph removes us by one step from the painting and shifts our perception of exactly what we are looking at. I think it might be interesting to make some more close-ups and then print them out on watercolour paper and continue to develop the image with painting.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daily Practice 89/365

Title: "Looking out at a different reality"
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This is a glamorous location - the skylight in the washroom at work. I looked up and thought of the hours I spend indoors. The weather can change from hour to hour, but there are days when I've been hunkered in my windowless office and have no idea the weather has cycled from rain to wind to bright sunshine. Today the view made me think that I experience one reality working in my office, while an entirely different reality takes place beyond the confines of my existence.

There's a nice irony to this image. Photographers often talk about "framing" their composition, and of things being in or out of the frame. So using the window as a framing device is a reference back to the very process I used to create this image.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Daily Practice 88/365

Title: "Aftermath"
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This was one of those times when a conversation turns into quick inspiration. We had just finished watching murder and mayhem on the tv, and my darling wife announced that she had to go clean up the aftermath in the kitchen. I was puzzled - I had cleaned the kitchen after dinner, and since then she had a grapefruit. I asked if she was talking about the carcass of grapefruit preparation, which she confirmed. I immediately thought of making an image of the lovely grapefruit bones with my phone - and thus an image was born. Perhaps we're watching too many detective shows on tv. But we both agreed that the curving spirals made for an interesting composition.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Daily Practice 87/365

Title: "Topographical Note #28"
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I have started looking at the book "CAGE", a beautiful "behind the scenes" look at the development of the Cage series of paintings Gerhard Richter did in 2007/2008. These are large abstract works nominally inspired by or dedicated to the artistic aesthetic of John Cage. I wanted to get the book because it is filled with photographs of each painting at different stages of the painting process. I admit to being fascinated by the opportunity to get a voyeuristic glimpse at artists' studios, and love photographs of works in progress and of the flotsam and jetsam lying around in the studio. The Richter book does not disappoint, and the essayist Robert Storr spends part of his essay discussing this voyeuristic desire people have to see the studio, and the photographers who attempt to document such spaces.

This is an image from my own "studio" (aka "the basement", of which I am king - that's right, I'm King of the Basement! - oh, such glory). A well used piece of tarlatan is pinned to the wall beside my paper cabinet. I thought it would be a likely subject for the Topographical Notes series, with it's interesting curves and tones of old ink. I also realize looking at the image that by its very nature, tarlatan has built in grid lines, like a map, from the open weave of the material.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daily Practice 86/365

Title: "A message from the universe"
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Words to live by.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Practice 85/365

Title: "In between sea and sky"
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In between sea and sky, that one still moment a persistent melody.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Daily Practice 84/365

Title: "Parting of the Veil"
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An opening to dark moistness, to hidden secrets too wicked to tell. A veil to this life and the one beyond.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Daily Practice 83/365

Title: "Degradation and Decay"
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I like the curved lines and the soft textures of this image, and thoughts of hidden spaces beyond the receding light. A secret place, paths to navigate, stories to discover. Strength in the face of decay and desolation. The birth of new understanding.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daily Practice 82/365

Title: "Abstraktes Bild"
(Click to view larger)
Today the tide was way out at the beach around the corner, exposing rocks and sea life that are normally submerged. The different coloured lichen at the top of the rock has grown and been scraped back by wind and waves, similar to the way a painter might apply and remove paint from a canvas. The dark, permanently wet base of the rock, with the sea plants growing from crevices provides a solid ground to the abstract composition, the pebbly sand providing a sharp contrast of realism. I remember reading that Edward Weston generally preferred to teach his eye by looking at the work of artists in media other than photography. I've just finished reading the biography of Gerhard Richter, and looking at some of his impressive body of work. I see how looking at some of his abstract works has educated my eye to find such compositions in nature.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Daily Practice 81/365

Title: "Angular Momentum"
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As I near the finish of the first quarter of this year-long exercise, I find myself becoming more aware of potential images as I go along in every day life. Practice should, and does, sharpen one's compositional eye. As I was walking to the parking lot from my office, I noticed an interesting dialogue happening between the sky and the angular shapes of the building. The contrast between the organic and geometric shapes brings the nature of both into sharp relief.

When the end of March comes, my plan is to move on to a "phase two". Phase one was to establish and keep the commitment to make images each day. I think of it as being a "warm up" to more serious work, the way one might take a large sheet of newsprint and some soft pencils or charcoal and warm up the arm and mind by making large and small lines, curves, circles and ovals with big gestures before embarking on a more deliberate drawing. My daily practice so far is similar to keeping a sketchbook, taking the odd 15 or 30 minutes of time to make quick sketches to record ideas.

I want to take a retrospective look back at the work accomplished so far to form the basis for the next phase. I'm going to look over my "sketch book" of ideas to see what peaks my interest as the beginning of a longer-term project. I will probably pick two or three ideas, so that on any given day I can direct my daily practice to furthering which ever project is accommodated by the limitations imposed by the nature of that particular day. I've been missing doing dark room work, so one project will be completely analogue based and there will be days when the image making will be happening in the dark room rather than with a camera. I see this change as a natural progression in the notion of the daily practice - that some days it might be directed at collecting images (sketches) for future consideration, while on other days there will be more time and thought directed to working on an on-going project.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Daily Practice 80/365

Title: "In the lee of the lull"
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What a spectacular sky awaited at the foot of our street, as one storm was clearing before the arrival of the next. I found a nice perch along the shore just out of the wind, sat with the sun in my face. As I watched the ocean, I thought of the work of Vija Celmins who has produced in various media highly realistic views of the ocean. The works are incredibly detailed, capturing each rise and trough of water - not large, dramatic waves but the water pattern when the wind is relatively calm and the tide is just starting to turn. I think it is common to think of the wave patterns on the ocean to be ever-changing, yet when you have time to sit quietly, you become aware that the visual and aural patterns of the ocean follow a cycle. The drama of the sky can be a feast for the eyes, but it is that ocean cycle that is a feast for the soul.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Daily Practice 79/365

Title: "She walked down to the lake, her new spring dress bringing a smile to her face"
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I went to the lake today to enjoy a walk in the woods and also to try out something experimental with multiple exposures on film. I just finished processing the film and will make some prints soon. I can tell by looking at the negatives that the basic idea worked (one bug needs to be worked out), so this may be the start of a new project.

I noticed the spring sun on these willow trees that are starting to get their new leaves. I love the shape of these trees, and the yellow colour of the fresh foliage. I felt as though things had come full circle, since the trees have a similar colour in the fall:

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Thoughts on Process

I was reflecting on the sequence of events that eventually lead to the selection of yesterday's "daily practice" image. I've decided to put some thoughts down for future reference, and although these are intended for me, please read on if you wish.

I remember coming out of the building at the end of another long day of work researching and preparing a lecture for my class. I was immediately struck by the fresh, slight warm breeze hinting at the coming of spring here. My immediate thought regarding my daily practice was to go down to Cattle Point at the shore and take a typical tourist shot of the channel islands and distant mountains. My thinking was that I live in a tourist town and so it would be interesting to see what image I could make with the deliberate intention of being "touristy".

As I reached my car, I noticed the budding branches on several trees contrasted against the sky. I picked up the point and shoot, deciding to start making images here since I found the compositions engaging. I noticed that there was some sunlight warming the top branches of some of the trees, and I made several images, any one of which I expected might become the daily practice image. A few examples are:

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These images haven't been given a final polish through Lightroom, but it isn't hard to see the possibilities that each offers.

I noticed the neighbouring building against the sky, and thought of perhaps pairing one of the tree images with an image of the building, so I made a few images of the building and then left for home.

Once I downloaded the images and started to work with them, I found myself drawn to the image of the building. The image straight out of the camera was somewhat interesting, but I was seeking an image that was a bit more expressive. Noting the halo of clouds above the building, I worked to emphasize that feature of the image and arrived at a version that seemed to express something about the day I had had. In looking at the final image now, I like the contrast of the dark building, the blue sky and the zone of clouds that separates them.

(original, click to view larger)

(final, click to view larger)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daily Practice 78/365

Title: "A Vague Sensation of a Different Space"
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I'm working flat out these days in my windowless office, preparing lectures and study materials for my students. Although I occasionally come up for air, it always seems that the day has passed me by before I get outside. I chose to deliberately darken the building to represent that feeling of being chained to the desk. Looking up at the sky at the end of the day feels like a tantalizing glimpse of hope and salvation. Without the back story, I think the image works on a the same level, with that dramatic halo of clouds separating the dark building from the darkening sky.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daily Practice 77/365

Title: "Indirect expressions of love"
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It's interesting how flowers that are fading and past their prime still cast strong shadows. This was the first image I made of the flowers, it was the first view I had of the still life and I immediately connected with it. I made a number of other images, some of which I quite like, but this one is the strongest for me. The wonderful thing about shadows is the fact they are indirect representations of objects in the real world. That indirectness forces us as viewers to make an intuitive leap to recognition, to make assumptions about what the object casting the shadow truly looks like. Shadows move in a blurry world, a world of fragmentary memories and desires. A worlds that is always enticing, calling out to us.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daily Practice 76/365

Title: "Gerhard's Curtains"
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There is a certain serendipity to this image. I was reading the Gerhard Richter biography last night, and in the late 1960s Richter started to move away from making paintings from mundane photographs. During this transition period he made several paintings that had all the appearance of being photographs, but he had used his imagination instead for source material. The paintings consisted of vertical bands of light and dark tones slightly blurred, and took on the appearance of being paintings of draperies, although that was not his intention. All the same, the paintings had a great deal to do with that fuzzy line between photograph and painting, something Richter was very interested in.

This image has the appearance of being light coming from a window behind curtains. But really, it is a photograph of light reflections in a roll of mylar I had standing against a wall in the studio. Just bands of light and dark tones that give the impression of a somewhat mundane subject. I like that ambiguity because it says a lot about the qualities of light and the hazy line between abstraction and realism in photography.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daily Practice 75/365

Title: "Torn"
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On mornings like this, I stop whenever I can on the way to work to admire the drama and beauty of the sea and sky. I love to immerse myself in this environment and imagine all of the experiences that it promises. I consider an image like this to be a special, personal talisman that can only speak fully to me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daily Practice 74/365

Title: "Topographical Notes #27"
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Tonight we watched part two of Dan Gilbert's series "This Emotional Life". Although the series is promoted as being about happiness and finding happiness, the first two parts have taken a large detour through obstacles to happiness, and emotions such as fear, anger and despair. I'm fascinated by what science has learned about the brain in the past two decades, some of the research upending long held beliefs about brain development and plasticity. I find the topic interesting and informative to my role as a teacher of others, and myself (which is what "the bertie project" is all about). In tonight's episode, there was some interesting insights into the brain physiology and chemistry of depression. One study has shown that the hippocampus in a depressed person is considerably smaller than the hippocampus of a "normal" person. The longer a person has gone with untreated depression, the smaller the hippocampus. Interestingly, those who are successfully treated with medications for their depression have a normal-sized hippocampus. A study at Stanford has shown that rats who receive anti-depression medications or ECT actually show the growth of substantially more new neurons in their brains than untreated rats, perhaps explaining the protective effect that medical treatment of depression has on the hippocampus size in humans.

All of this made me realize that there is an intricate internal topography of physiological structures, chemistries and emotions in each of us. Which dovetails very nicely with today's image, which shows an interior topography much different from the exterior shape and surface of the subject.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daily Practice 73/365

Title: "Topographical Note #32"
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Today I felt a bit defeated by my daily practice. I had one idea that I wanted to pursue, but the results were underwhelming. The defeat comes from the time constraints of not only doing daily practice, but also documenting it. I felt I didn't have the time to keep pushing the idea in case nothing came of it at all at which point I would be scrambling later in the evening to come up with something for today's entry. Of course, I could have posted one of the failures, and perhaps I should have. Daily practice isn't always pretty (one might argue it's almost never pretty) and certainly its purpose is not to produce a completed work of art. Its purpose is to build and strengthen those creative muscles and the underlying neural networks that support them. Even when things don't work out, things were done. And that's a success.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daily Practice 72/365

Title: "The intersection of parallel lines"
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I didn't feel terrific when I woke up this morning, but the sun was shining and I wanted to get out for a walk in a favourite woods and see what the image possibilities were. On the way I decided to stop at the stables where I used to ride (and hope to return someday soon) and watched a beautiful young mare being ridden. A well schooled, mature horse is a fusion of power and grace under saddle; it's truly incredible to see talent being crafted from the raw enthusiasm of a young horse.

In the forest I was drawn to the power and grace of the old giant cedars, their trunks etched with the lines of their long, storied lives. The weather was beginning to close in, the light playing magically across the textures of the trees. In some places the trees stand close together, seeming to gather strength and comfort from each other.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Daily Practice 71/365

Title: "Indirect evidence of existence"
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I am not interested in debating the pros and cons of analogue vs digital photography. The truth is, I use whatever tools are at hand, or are appropriate for my intended purpose. Sometimes an image starts in digital and ends in an analogue print, sometimes it's straight digital or analogue from start to finish, and at other times it begins with an analogue film camera but goes through some digital processing or printing. While the specifics of what I am doing in creating any final image contribute to the success (or not!) of the exercise, I don't personally feel the need to get into those specifics in presenting or discussing an image.

Having said that, given pressures of a recent heavy work load that left little time for my daily practice, I have been relying exclusively on a straight digital process for the past several weeks. What I observed was a general decline in my engagement with this project. I need to have the tactile feel of film and prints, the routine of film processing and darkroom printing in the mix in order to stay creative and engaged. Using my hands as well as my mind is important for my process.

Today's image was made during a session with a homemade pinhole camera and some expired Polaroid 664 film. I had come home from work and noticed the shadows in the backyard and wanted to explore the possibilities they presented on different surfaces. My enthusiasm for the idea went up dramatically when I thought of trying hand-held pinhole image making, which adds a slight uncontrolled blur in these exposures of 6-8 seconds. The strong geometric shadows on the geometric lines of the brickwork were able to stand up to the hand held long exposure.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Practice 70/365

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Even light, natural fresh colour, a sense of vigor and hope, a renewal. Reasons to make this image.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Daily Practice 69/365

Title: "Reconfiguration"
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These patterns, though formed of paint, were forged according to the same physical and chemical laws that govern pattern formation in nature. I came across some older works on paper while searching around for a subject to make an image of tonight. There is something to be gained by revisiting old work, finding new ways to see it, coming upon new meanings and understanding. There needs to be a balance between always looking forward, and always looking back. Besides making new work, taking time to consider past work can bring new insight, can create a spark of enthusiasm for finding new directions. There are times when one isn't even aware that a base of strong images exists upon which to build a cohesive body of work.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Daily Practice 68/365

Title: "The lies we tell ourselves and others"
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I've just started reading "Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting" by Dietmar Elgar. On the back cover are two quotes from Richter. The first, dated 1966 reads "I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no programme, no style, no direction. I have no time for specialized concerns, working themes or variations that lead to mastery. I steer clear of definitions. I don't know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-commital, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty." In part, this reads like a passionate defiance of the art establishment, a refusal to be categorized or have motives attached by others to his work. I love that final sentence, the idea of liking continual uncertainty. Can one follow uncertainty, use it as a platform for making images? By its very nature, uncertainty cannot be followed - how to know where to turn next? Yet it can be an intoxicating platform for making images as long as one is willing to accept the unexpected.

The second quote, dated 1992 is in part a repudiation of the earlier quote although one must bear in mind the influence of hindsight. Richter is quoted as saying "That [meaning the 1966 quote] was an attempt at self-protection - saying that I was indifferent, that I didn't care, and so on. I was afraid my pictures might seem too sentimental. But I don't mind admitting now that it was no coincidence that I painted things that mattered to me personally - the tragic types, the murderers and suicides, the failures and so on." Again, I really like that last sentence. It reminds me that soon after we first moved to our island paradise, I was taken along to a meeting of the local camera club. What followed was a mind numbing parade of images of all the beautiful flowers to be found locally. One member allowed as how she had brushed off some dew drops from one subject as they detracted from the flower's beauty. I remember having a violent reaction to all this, wanting to immediately go out and find the seedy side of town, take pictures that shocked of subjects too horrible and ugly to stomach.

One of the things Richter is famous for is his paintings of photographs, often rendered blurry. I learned from what I've read of the biography so far that in the early days after leaving East Germany, Richter routinely burned his work because he felt it did not yet lead to what he was truly connected to. The first paintings to survive were his first paintings of photographs. There's an important distinction here - he did not do paintings based on photographs, rather the photographs were the subjects of the paintings. Richter chose photographs from newspapers, magazines and family snapshots. He chose to paint these photographs because they typically lacked any formal compositional elements, and by making them the objects of the paintings, he was in turn freed from making an compositional impositions on the works, unlike painting a landscape, a still life or an abstract. In addition, the painting took the photograph out of the context in which it had been originally presented.

According to the biographer, these paintings do not transmit well as reproduced images, because the surfaces of each were given very careful consideration by Richter, and are an important part of properly experiencing the work. I dearly would love to see some of those works in person to have that experience. Photographs typically have very even, regular surfaces, so the surface of the paintings bring new information to the photographic subjects. It would be wonderful to know what that additional information conveys.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Daily Practice 67/365

Title: "A Convergence of Seasons"
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There is something about a sunny, frosty morning that is invigorating. This winter they have been missing, until today just as winter is at an end. These little pellets of hail, and a brief flurry of big, wet snow flakes this afternoon is the only sign we've had of winter. The geometric lines provide a nice context for the tiny, irregular ball of ice. A little glint of sunlight hints at things to come.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Daily Practice 66/365

Title: "His soul lay fallow on the barren wasteland"
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Go for a walk in the forest, and there's no doubt you will feel better at the finish than you did at the start. For me that restorative power completely sums up the magic of natural places. I walked in a place called Mystic Vale this morning, just behind the university. The university is undergoing a complete power upgrade today, so the emergency power generators were working full force at every building, a constant mechanical noise that invaded the Vale. But...just keep walking, just keep looking and after awhile I realized I had moved completely away from the intrusive noise. Today I noticed the sand that's accumulated in the dry creek bed, which I find mystifying since the soil around here is not really sandy. I wondered where it had come from, how far the water had carried it before it accumulated in the little pools. As I walked back towards the university, the generator noise returned but was somehow less noticeable, not at all annoying. An object lesson in how noise is just noise, it's effect can easily be superseded by becoming absorbed in other aspects of one's immediate environment.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Daily Practice 65/365

Title: "From reflection comes clarity"
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I was in the bathroom this morning when I noticed that the light streaming in through the window was creating an interesting geometric pattern of light and shadow in the shower stall. When I returned a few minutes later with the camera, I was disappointed to see that the pattern was less distinct and less interesting, but I made a couple of images anyway. I knew the images were not going to be particularly compelling, and I was about to move on when it struck me that I could of course manipulate the blind on the window to let in more/less light and to create different patterns in a range of contrast levels. I attribute this little insight to reading about Ruth Bernhard and her approach to teaching students. Bernhard really trained her students to observe light, how it was always changing and what affects those changes had on different subjects. Ruth herself had loved to spend many hours during the night setting up a still life and playing with the lighting to educate herself about the different ways lighting could change the mood and intent of an image. This practice also illustrates her ingenuity - she didn't use fancy lighting equipment, just very simple set ups with aluminum foil or white paper to reflect light from different angles and sides. She gained valuable insight into the effects of light working in her apartment with things as simple as lifesavers or drinking straws as a still life subject, a camera and some inexpensive lighting all in a setting that was immediately accessible to her.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Daily Practice 64/365

Title: "He stumbled across the clavicle of the ancient beast"
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I've been reading an interesting book by Sir Ken Robinson called "The Element". I watched a TED presentation that Robinson made on how the educational system basically beats the creativity out of students, and he mentioned several anecdotes of people who had against all odds found their passion, there being a key moment in each story where an epiphany happened for the individual in question. The book I'm reading is the result of his gathering these stories and marrying them to his understanding of the environment that results in individual fulfillment through creativity. I just finished reading a chapter called "Finding the Tribe".

For a number of the individuals Robinson writes about, their epiphanies occurred when they met a group who shared the same passion that they did. It helped to know that they were not alone in their passion for a particular domain or field, and the tribe they found would prove to be important in their deepening development of their understanding, commitment and abilities. Robinson goes on to make a sharp distinction between finding a tribe, and being part of a "fan group". I was particularly struck by the fact that one consequence of being a fan is a process called "deindividuation", because it explained why I had become disenchanted with the photo sharing site flickr. On first inspection, one would think that flickr would be the ideal place to hang out and find your tribe if you are interested in photography. But the large volume of members makes that difficult, at least it did for me. I was fortunate to find a few people whose work I found inspiring and who were kind enough to take the time to look at my work and make thoughtful, insightful comments. But I was also overwhelmed by the huge volume of mediocre work I saw on flickr that garnered numerous trivial, overly complementary comments ("best photo I've ever seen") that really didn't merit those comments. Many people make hundreds of contacts amongst their flickr brethren, and then within these contact networks there arises a mediocre "esthetic by committee", which has tremendous support within the network. All of the people in these networks produce work that is virtually identical and interchangeable, the very antithesis of individuality. Amongst sports fans, this "deindividuation" is a consequence of the "mob mentality" that grows within such groups, as I learned from Robinson's book.

I wouldn't necessarily care what's happening with these other people on flickr, except that I found myself being influenced by the environment. I found that eventually I would choose work to post on flickr that I was pretty certain would garner some very positive response. When looking at recent work, I could always pick out one or two images that I knew would be well received when posted to flickr. So in the end, although I wasn't necessarily a member of one of these "mobs", I was allowing the flickr experience to limit my individual creativity, in the sense that I think art does not stop with the making, it continues with self curating of the work and decisions about where and how to present the work.

Another benefit of belonging to the right tribe is the synergy factor. Robinson makes a point of saying that you need not like everyone in the tribe, or everyone's work, but none the less the tribe environment allows for spontaneous group creative moments. In fact, the synergy results because each tribe member brings different (and often opposing) sensitivities and abilities to the table in the heat of the creative moment. Reading that made me realize that an online environment like flickr can never be an effective tribe from this point of view. Because there is no moment online. Someone sees something interesting in an image I have on flickr, and leaves a comment. One I'll see hours or days later, and if their comment creates a bit of a spark with me, I might leave a comment on one of their photos. But the sparks are just falling to the hearth, not igniting anything because the moment has long past (in reality never existed).

Naturally, the virtual environment does successfully work as a tribe for some. But I know it doesn't work that way for me, and now I understand why it doesn't. I realize that I need to spend my time making the images that matter to me and avoiding situations that influence what I make or what I decide to present to the world. If I'm searching for a tribe, it will be in the real world, not the virtual world.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Daily Practice 63/365

Title: "The Golden Mean"
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Ruth Bernhard talks in her (auto)biography without any sense of  irony of the fact that shortly after she had to stop making photographs in 1976, she started to get some significant recognition of her contributions to photography, along with a number of other women photographers. She goes on to talk about a winter term in 1982 that she spent with Lotte Jacobi and Barbara Morgan at Northwestern University in Illinois. They visited various classes to talk about art, seeing, photography and by the end of term had gathered quite a following of devotees - they used to have quite the entourage whenever they walked across campus.

I marveled at that sense of "small world" while reading the story. In 1982 we were working and studying at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, just a few hours south of Northwestern University. I must confess at that time I knew nothing of Ruth Bernhard, Lotte Jacobi or Barbara Morgan. But during a visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario, I was quite taken by images made by both Jacobi and Morgan that were on exhibit, and subsequently acquired a small book of photos each had made. Ruth Bernhard is someone whose work I've just become acquainted with quite recently. So in the wonderful fantasy time-shifted reality of the imagination, I was struck by how close I had been in 1982 to perhaps meeting these three photographers, or seeing their work, as I read this story in the Bernhard biography.

Jacobi made a lovely series of photograms she called photogenic drawings. I wanted to make an image tonight along those lines, but instead it seems I challenged the surrealist work of Man Ray and "rayograms".

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Daily Practice 62/365

Title: "She's all man!"
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A treasured find at a garage sale for the local art school, along with a gorgeous blue bowl. An artifact from the days when such things were made well, not just made for the sake of raking in fast money. I'm keeping it for the day when I decide to go fully "eccentric", when I'll use it to carry a mid-lecture snack to my classroom, or perhaps hard candies to hand out to students brave enough to answer a question in class. I can already imagine the reactions, how quickly the appearance of Wonder Woman in a serious academic classroom will spark a new legend. It's a reminder of the lost playfulness of childhood, of the time before self-consciousness overcame pure joy. A talisman against a hardening of the soul.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Daily Practice 61/365

Title: "She saw fragments of hope and despair pulling at the threads of life"
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The infinite drama of the sky offers endless opportunities to make pictures and reflect on life. I was attracted by the multiple layers, the mutual interrogation of cool and warm tones, the fragile beauty of form.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Daily Practice 60/365

Title: "Airforce, battered and bruised"
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Everyday objects are standing by, waiting to take your call for modeling jobs. They come in all shapes and sizes. They are young and fresh, or mature with signs of a life well lived. Rates are low and patience is endless. They represent a rich history in mid 20th century photography.