Clarifications: posted March 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Nine Statements


Here are nine statements that I hope clarify to readers (and myself) what I'm on about here at PhotoRant.

It's also a useful prep for me as I try to write up more about the nature of my actual working methods. I don't expect them to apply for everyone, but here they are:

  1. I attempt to involve myself in work and ideas which constantly challenge that which I previously understood or thought I understood.
  2. I am interested in the relationships and play between an unfamiliar picture/object content and the familiar photographic image.
  3. As aspect of the work has to do with altering the literal/cultural meaning of existing public images and additions. Using superimposition, juxtaposition, and other contextual changes, I am functioning as a visual guerrilla.
  4. I am interested in the various ways that photographic images transcend their relationship to actuality.
  5. The pictures and objects are not related to direct experiential camera vision, but represent formalized symbolic equivalents of experience.
  6. The figure, because of its human, erotic, sensual and psychological connections, remains my primary subject interest and is the vehicle for the formal content of this work.
  7. Often the work relates to my ongoing interest in random and aleatory occurrences and associations. The images are the result of situational rather than visualized stimuli. Synthesis rather than selection is significant.
  8. Through my work, I am involved in extending the photographic medium into new processes, concepts, and areas of concern and utilization of new light sensitive materials.
  9. My basic aim is to be able to relate the concept and the content of the last piece into the next, so as to be involved in the constant development of individual subjective work. I value the open-ended evolution of ideas as opposed to a particular aesthetic resolution.

In fact, this list was actually created by Robert Heinecken in 1963, two years after starting to lead the UCLA Photography Department. I recently encountered it and was surprised how well it resonated 40+ years later.

"Students seem to want to know where they should stop," he wrote, "rather than where they might go."

Nine Statements: posted March 27, 2016 | 0 Comments

April Art in Palo Alto

Hidden Layers 3, 2016

I will have some pieces in the April exhibition at Palo Alto's Pacific Art League. As usual the opening will be on the first Friday. As you might expect for anything containing my work, that's April First.

Please feel free to come by during the opening reception that evening between 6 and 8PM, where you can critique in person over a glass of wine; or visit any time during the first three weeks of April. The gallery is at the corner of Forest and Ramona Streets, across from Palo Alto City Hall.

April Art in Palo Alto: posted March 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Recent Finds

In Asia.jpgContemporary Photography in Asia


KawauchiRinko Kawauchi: Illuminace, Ametsuchi, Seeing Shadow

Instant CityInstant City

Recent Finds: posted March 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

Folsom at Third


"Photography books often have titles like The Photographer’s Eye or The Vision of So and So or Seeing Photographs — as if photographers didn’t have minds, only eyes." — Duane Michaels

Folsom at Third: posted February 07, 2015 | 0 Comments



"Color tends to corrupt photography and absolute color corrupts it absolutely. Consider the way color film usually renders blue sky, green foliage, lipstick red, and the kiddies’ playsuit. These are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar." — Walker Evans

SJC: posted January 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Fourth at Market


"Although we know that the buildings, sidewalks, and sky continue beyond the edges of this urban landscape, the world of the photograph is contained within the frame. It’s not a fragment of a larger world." — Stephen Shore

Fourth at Market: posted January 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Townsend at Fourth


"Interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world — in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings.' It is to turn the world into this world. ('This world'! As if there were any other.)"Susan Sontag

Townsend at Fourth: posted January 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

Approaching Sansome on Market


"Most of what we know and learn, what we buy and believe, what we recognize and desire is determined by the domination of the human psyche by the photograph." — Donis A. Dondis

Approaching Sansome on Market: posted January 06, 2015 | 0 Comments

Fremont onto Market


"I like to photograph people who have strength and dignity in their faces. Whatever life has done to them, it hasn’t destroyed them." — Paul Strand

Fremont onto Market: posted January 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

Market at Taylor


Mono version.

Market at Taylor: posted January 02, 2015 | 0 Comments



I've received two handsome books of current black and white photography, just before the holidays.

The first was MONO Volume One, edited by Luca Desienna (of Gomma magazine) and released in 2012 as the first part of a proposed trilogy (A Kickstarter project for Volume Two also shows a video that includes paging through the first volume).

The second, smaller book was BLACK FOREST, edited by Russell Joslin (of SHOTS magazine) and just now available. BLACK FOREST is not entirely in black and white, though the color fraction is desaturated and small.

MONO is organized as short portfolios by an individual photographer -- BLACK FOREST is organized into four “visible poems” of Joslin’s devising, with contributions by many photographers. Thus the smaller book includes the works of more artists. At least one (Roger Ballen) can be found in both books.

For each portfolio or visual poem, there is a brief and self-consciously cryptic poem-sized intro text. I am generally mistrustful of such props. They can be safely ignored here.

Both books exhibit a considerable love of blackness. This might be a by-product of modern book-printing practice, but both contain not only photos with tones that sink down below the page but the images are often presented against black, and many pages that bear no photos are also inked over.

The blackness suits both volumes’ interest in nostalgic, dreamlike states: dreams, like photographs, can seem vividly real, yet in nearly all these photos, as in dreaming, the realistic depiction is thwarted by defiances of physics, surrealist-like dissonant combinations of scale, of objects, animals, masks, realigned gravity, uncharted woods, skulls, paint-spattered walls, naked flesh and drapery. There’s a baroque quality to the extremity of detail.

Nearly all the work is made in the studio, or in controlled locations, really with only a single exception, Trent Parke’s portfolio in MONO. The notion of the camera as a window onto the world, or of the world as a supplier of image elements, is absent here.

The internet is first and foremost for shopping. So which of these books is most worthy of your cash? While I like MONO’s affordance of a deeper look at one artist’s imagery at a time, BLACK FOREST (which is also actually available!) suits me better. That said, I’ll still pony-up the speculative 29 quid for a copy of the upcoming MONO Volume Two.

Mono: posted December 31, 2014 | 0 Comments

Third Off Brannan


"There was a ghost hidden in the invention of photography." — Araki Nobuyoshi

No matter how tiny, the human figure will dominate any photograph it's found in. What are the limits of this phenomenon?

Third Off Brannan: posted December 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Crossing Bryant at Third


"Photography is the act of 'fixing' time, not of 'expressing' the world. The camera is an inadequate tool for extracting a vision of the world or of beauty." — Moriyama Daido

Crossing Bryant at Third: posted December 26, 2014 | 0 Comments

Clementina at Third


" I mean, photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops—for a split second. But that's not what it’s like to live in the world, or to convey the experience of living in the world." - David Hockney

Many years ago David Hockney came to look at working with us at Digital Productions, to satisfy a curiosity of his about perspective. It seemed to me that he was after the notion that every object -- perhaps even every varying surface of an object -- might have its own frame of perspective, it's own lens and vanishing point.

At the time the whole idea of applying computer graphics to explore this idea was prohibitively expensive and now, when it's easier, he's moved on in different ways (his large prints from iPad paintings were going for ~$98K a pop at Art Basel last week). But that idea has always stuck with me because I could see a truth in it: that "realism" was an "ism" and that there may be others -- even using tools designed to make realism automatic -- that are just as true.

Clementina at Third: posted December 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

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