Friday, 30 December 2011
Great (woman) photographers: Vivian Maier - a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma - what a moving story!
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
Once, during Ramadan in the mid-1990s, Erfan Sabeti was on his way to an all-day genetics class at the Baha'i Institute for Higher Education in Tehran.
He had taken to wearing a tie to show he was not a hard-liner, though the Ayatollah Khomeini had just issued a fatwa saying that ties were a symbol of westernisation. As he was about to get into a taxi, he was stopped by revolutionary guards.
Click on link to read the article.
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Monday, 19 December 2011
Saturday, 17 December 2011
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
“Everything is a subject. Every subject has a rhythm. To feel it is the raison detre. The photograph is a fixed moment of such a raison detre, which lives on in itself.” André Kertész (Hungarian born photographer/ known for his groundbreaking contributions to photographic composition and the photo essay)
Click on ink to go to the Whether or Not blog
Sunday, 4 December 2011
St Paul's Cathedral was wrong to shut its doors as protesters camped out on its steps, the shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said today.
Mr Alexander said the job of the church was not just to "comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable", adding the demonstrators camping outside the cathedral were speaking to a "general unease" in the country.
Speaking to Jeremy Vine, standing in on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Alexander said he felt uneasy when the cathedral's authorities decided to close its doors.
He said: "I think the job of the church is not just to comfort the afflicted but to afflict the comfortable.
I like that.
Click on link for the whole article
Sub-title: 31 OF THE MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS ABOUT (STREET) PHOTOGRAPHY
DERIVED FROM ROLAND BARTHES’ BOOK CAMERA LUCIDA
inspired by the annotation by Kasia Houlihan (University of Chicago)
Roger Prentice Ph.D., MA (ACE), B. Ed. (Hons)
1st draft 4th Dec 2011
Although my practice of photography is still at a beginning stage I want to keep up an old habit - that of theorizing my practice and practicing my theory. On the theory side as a starting point I have gone for 'the big one' Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida.
Camera Lucida provides answers for an enormous range of problems, not just to understanding the true nature of photography. In particular it is staggeringly insightful about what it is to be human, in the world with others (and the memories of them) and the exquisite place the art of photography can play in deepening our realization of our true selves.
I have taken as a starting point Kasia Houlihan’s excellent summary/annotation to be found HERE The four sections relate to the 4 paragraphs in Kasia’s original summary/annotation. To Kasia I will be eternally grateful because it enabled me to stop wandering around in a desert of unmanageable responses to Camera Lucida - and it saved me from the temptation to dive in to the very large pools of academic writing about Camera Lucida - where I would probably have developed unbearable head-hurt and eventually drowned. Including the 10 Step course this is a framework for further development.
The area of photography that grips me currently is Street Photography. I discovered the truth in Camera Lucida two ways a) by doing street photography, however modest my achievements to date and b) through all the work that went into my doctorate - see HERE .
For serious students therefore I suggest the following 10 steps;
1) start taking photographs and keep up the practice between every one of the other steps listed here - & get as much feedback as possible.2) look at photographs a lot - yours, your family’s and those of great photographers,3) read Camera Lucida, don't worry about understanding4) read Kasia Houlihan’s original summary/annotation to be found HERE and this piece (in development) which was inspired by it.5) read or re-read this listing of 31 major ideas,6) read articles about street photography - there are a range of starting points - HERE7) read at least the summaries of my doctorate HERE or work out your own understanding of the human spirit8) do even more photography9) read every poem and other literature you can find about photos & photography, look at every painting & dance about light etc. Link photography to transcendent spirituality if you will - there's a 'course-on-a-page HERE10) then and only then read the academic literature on Camera Lucida and Barthes!
Whatever is true here about photography is also true about street photography - in fact I would say it is especially true about street photography. I intend to write other articles about how this incisive, manageable way into Camera Lucida relates to street photography, to art generally, to spirituality and so on.
1 The book Camera Lucida sets out to determine a new way of looking at photography.
2 Camera Lucida is about a new consciousness - by way of photography.
3 Barthes seeks a new way of reading and valuing photographs - an altogether customized framework.
4 Barthes’ framework is to be distinct from all existing accounts of classifying photographs.
5 He wants to deal with photographs so as to get at the essence or noeme of photography.
6 Barthes says that he wants, ‘a History of Looking’. (RP don’t know what is meant but 26e below might be the answer)
7a In his search Barthes attempts to account for the fundamental roles of emotion and subjectivity
7b in i) the experience of and ii) accounting for Photography.
8 Subjective experience of photography (I would say creating as well as reading) has an essential nature—or eidos
9 The essential nature of a photograph is as an index indicating, ‘that-has-been.’
10 Photography is set apart from all other forms of representation.
11 Previously established ways of classification etc are ‘disordered’ (because they fail to work with the essential nature of photography.)
12 Consequently it is unclassifiable (I suppose compared to say genre classification in film).
13 We need to hold to the fact that ‘the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially’.
14 The essence is the event,
15 The event is ‘that which is never transcended for the sake of something else.’
16 In other words, the photograph is never distinguished from its referent—that which it represents;
17 ‘it simply is what it is’ (I, RP, wonder if this means, “It is what it is because it is indissolubly linked to that which it represents?)”
18 This is illustrated by the fact that one says ‘this is me’ when showing someone a photographic image of oneself, as opposed to ‘this is a picture of me.’
19 When we look at a photograph, it is not the actual photo that we see, for the photograph itself is rendered invisible; (presumably because we see what the photo is a referent of - or see what we are)
20 Consequently the photograph is unclassifiable,
21 Why? - because it resists language, as it is without signs or marks—it simply is. (This is comparable to Lacan’s version of the Real.)
22 Furthermore, the subject that is photographed is rendered object, dispossessed of itself.
23 Consequently it becomes ‘Death in person.’
24 In his personal—subjective—examination of multiple photographs, Barthes proceeded to note a duality that was characteristic of certain photographs: a ‘co-presence of two discontinuous elements’—what he terms, the studium and the punctum.
25a The studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone (RP because we are taught by the culture and society of which we are part).
25b The studium part of these photographs is unary and coded, - the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole
25c The unary meaning of the studium can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’).
25d The latter (THE CODING) implies that the pictorial space is ordered in a universal, comprehensible way.
25e The studium speaks of the interest which we show in a photograph,
25f the desire to study and understand what the meanings are in a photograph,
25g to explore the relationship between the meanings and our own subjectivities.
26a The punctum (a Latin word derived from the Greek word for trauma) on the other hand inspires an intensely private meaning,
26b one that is suddenly, unexpectedly recognized and consequently remembered
26c It "shoots out of [the photograph] like an arrow and pierces me”.
26d It ‘escapes’ language (like Lacan’s real); it is not easily communicable through/with language.
26e The punctum is ‘historical’ as an experience of the irrefutable indexicality of the photograph (its contingency upon a referent).
26f The punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze;
26g it pricks or wounds the observer.
27a The ambiguity of the book’s title lends itself to the many levels on which the text addresses media theory.
27b This ranges from the very materiality of the photographic medium itself
27c to its grander implications for human consciousness in the pursuit of truth.
28a In his efforts to divorce photography from realms of analysis that deny or obscure its essence, Barthes ultimately formulates a new science of photography
28b It is an original framework in which photography steps beyond the shackles of classification and such terms as ‘art,’ ‘technique,’ etc. and, thus,
29a It draws upon an ‘absolute subjectivity’
29b This absolute subjectivity exceeds the normal boundaries of the everyday by moving the activity of viewing from a transparent relationship of meaning and expression to a level in which meaning seems to be there without the presence of subjectivity.
29c It is as if the photograph brings out the unconscious;
29d it also represents the unconscious, while at the same time, it denies all of these relations of meaning.
29e The photograph allows for the sight of self,
29f not as a mirror but as an access point into a definition of identity—
29g but identity associated with consciousness,
29h thus housing a whole;
30a it is in the photograph ‘where being coincides with self,’ (109)
30b It is ‘true being, not resemblance.’
31a The photographer, (is) a mediator,
31b S/he is one who (RP potentially & for themselves) supplies the transparent soul its clear shadow,
31c S/he reveals the soul’s value and not its mere identity (110);
31d the photographer, ‘makes permanent the truth.’
Camera Lucida is more like a revelation, a spiritual text, than a piece of academic writing. I have no no doubt that it's a work of intuitive, soul-searching genius. It tells us nothing about the mechanics and technique of photography. It tells us everything about the nature of being human, in which photographs are a gateway to reading our soul.
We (should) read photographs as we are asked to read the text of the self - with the whole of our consciousness and with truth, beauty, goodness and justice.
All photographs are self-portraits. In all creating of, and viewing of, photographs we are searching. For ourselves, for our love, for that mysterious Whole of which we each are an infinitesimally small part.
We, and our photographs, are each the mote that the ray of light makes visible. Through them we enter the lucidly lit room.
For me in our ‘plucking from the flow’ the photographs that come to us it is not so much the ‘collecting of souls’, as Thomas Leuthard suggests, but is the embodiment of spirit caught when the mote turns in the light. That for me is my street, and its flow of (human) spirit, in that genre we call street photography.
1 WikiPedia Indexicality
an indexical behaviour or utterance points to (or indicates) some state of affairs........
Social indexicality in the human realm has been regarded as including any sign (clothing, speech variety, table manners) that points to, and helps create, social identity.
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Friday, 2 December 2011
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are, Christmas trees.
It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, 'Merry Christmas' to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God ? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking.
Billy Graham's daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her 'How could God let something like this happen?' (regarding Hurricane Katrina)... Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, 'I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we've been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?'
In light of recent events.... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We said an expert should know what he's talking about. And we said okay.
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many on your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or what they will think of you for sending it.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it.... no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
My Best Regards, honestly and respectfully,