… on… beyond the subject….

I once read something that got me thinking about how I photograph different subjects. I’ve started becoming more interested – not in just photographing a subject but actually photographing in a way that may allow people to look beyond the subject.  How do we frame a subject?

Urban Void

Is the frame to be ignored for the subject?
Investigate the setting. Investigate the frame.
Can you see behind? What is hidden by the subject? What is revealed by the frame?

How does framing a subject tell us more about the subject than the subject itself?

For many in our image conscious culture life beyond the frame is frequently unthinkable.  I think the opposite is true.  Looking beyond the subject can deepen my appreciation and understanding.  It inspires more questions on the journey that can propel the viewer further into the world of the image.

Urban Frame-Up

If you’ve followed me for some time then you know that I am a big fan of abstraction.  And so often my images have been composed only of the subject itself.  I haven’t changed As one friend told me “you actually think in abstract.”  Maybe I’m just starting to expand my view to include a larger world and larger context in which the subject appears and that – for me – is just as interesting as the subject itself.  That’s why I love images like the ones I’m posting here where the subject almost seems like a void – a vast emptiness that nearly fills the frame of the image but is framed by its surroundings.

I like the contrast between being and nothingness (as Sartre would phrase it).   I find the tension between two opposite things utterly compelling.  Existential imaging?

SHOW ME EVERYTHING – by Tindersticks from the album The Something Rain

… on…swallows play….

 

Field For Swallows Play

Field For Swallows Play

Where have all the swallows gone?
wings clipped
caged spirits
songs silenced
ghosts of freedom

murmurations
of grace and dignity
gone gone gone
hiding in dark shelters

feathers tremble
hearts quiver
waiting for the noisy,
angry hunter to leave

fire burns the fields
arrogance tears down shelters
bringer of death
the enslaver comes with a mocking grin
noisily waving a flag

… on… Cy Twombly….

One of my favorite abstract artists is Cy Twombly – especially his “scratch” or “scribble” works, like the “Blackboard Series” with the notions of automatic writing, action, movement, simplicity, emotion and passion and how these all work together as a joyous expression of life and identity.

Where I found this artwork: Last Summer I decided to visit the Cleveland Zoo.  I was hoping to get some nice pictures of animals but just like me trying to photograph people – my camera just said “no” to animals (mostly because the animals looked bored, unhappy or sickly – so JUST SAY NO to ZOOS! There has to be a better way to learn about exotic animals).  Okay so enough about my newly developed political viewpoint toward zoos.

Now, onto the main topic of this post.  I did find a couple of other cool things on the zoo grounds.   One thing was this blackboard outside the Ape Exhibit where visitors (animal or human) could take a piece of chalk and write, draw or mark up what ever they felt like.

Ode 2 Cy Twombly

ODE 2 CY TWOMBLY 1

Ode 2 Cy Twombly 2

ODE 2 CY TWOMBLY 2

I like both presentations of this work and even if they are the exact image the processing completely changes it and I think they are very complimentary side by side and in the spirit of Cy Twombly’s work  – which is why I titled them “ODE TO CY TWOMBLY”.  I hope you enjoy.

For the music part of this post I decided to include one of my new finds that I dearly enjoy.  The composer is Canadian born Mark Templeton.  He composes experimental/abstract/noise/glitchy/ambient music.  I hope you like this selection, “Pattern For A Pillow” which is from his 2007 recording STANDING ON A HUMMINGBIRD.

For more on Mark Templeton you can check out his website at http://www.fieldsawake.com

…on….more music…

Nik Bärtsch’s MOBILE is one of 3 ongoing Nik Bärtsch projects. The other being his solo piano work under his own name and the other group project Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN. All of his tracks are numbered. The one presented here is “Modul 4″and is featured on MOBILE’s latest CD, from ECM records, CONTINUUM. This is by far one of my favorite releases from 2016. This track features the quartet of piano, drums, other percussion, and a rare bass clarinet. Music that gets to the core of sound in a zen-like minimalist fashion that is surprisingly rich, full and even energetic. I hope you enjoy this wonderful track.


and a bonus track “Modul 29_14” also from CONTINUUM.

get more from his website at
http://www.nikbaertsch.com

…on… new works!

These new works* were created while listening to one of my favorite
ambient/electronic/glitchy bands named LOSCIL**.  It’s hard to say how the music impacted the artworks because I was not trying to duplicate or create/represent anything specifically heard in the music or its structures. It was all subconscious.

As an after-thought; layers of sound = layers in the image.
*In addition to the slides you can click on the individual images below to view larger.

**I’ve included a video below and a link to their website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

http://www.loscil.ca

… on color or b&w….

Some people prefer color and others prefer b&w.

In an image saturated society which has more impact and why?
Of course there are several considerations to make before answering such a question.

“image saturated society” ~
What does that mean?
How does it shape our perceptions and tastes?
How does it determine our escalating sense of reality?
How does it change how we process/create the images we see?
Where is the “truth” in an image? – What is “true” in an image?

reeds-and-ropes-bw

reeds-and-ropes

… on … losing country

Over the course of my adult life I have created a few short performance pieces. This is still one to see “the light of day”.  I have not had the opportunity to perform it yet – not because of the gun (Americans LOVE their guns) and not because of the text.  Simply because of the controversial use of the American flag.

~ LOSING/LOST ~

Setting:

The performance begins before the audience enters the space. When the doors open the audience walks in and is confronted with a tableau setting and the sound of distant thunder.

On stage left is a shadowy faceless figure in an aggressive stance with an american flag flag draped over their right shoulder and arm. The flag must be displayed upside down and in reverse (stars at bottom right and bars at the top). The figure is holding a rifle and aiming it at the figure stage right with the right hand ready to pull the trigger.

Stage right figure is seated at a small table. Angled to face stage front and slightly left almost facing the other figure. on the table is a large glass of milk. The figure just stares straight forward. Standing behind the figure at the table – and almost in the shadows – is a family – spouse and children.

As the house lights dim the sound of distant thunder and faint lightning. At the beginning the interval between lightning and thunder will be greater and should be shortened as the performance continues.

The figure at the table begins to speak. He/She is visibly tired, exhausted, spent with the appearance of nothing left to lose and speaks accordingly with long pauses almost struggling to find the words.

He/She: I have
I have lost
I have lost … something
I have
I have lost my … country

Home of the brave
Land of the free

I have
I have lost
I have lost my country

Home of hope
Land of opportunity

Who will
Who will free me
Who will free me from these unshakeable bonds?
Bondage

Home of fear
Everything lost
Land of Surveillance
Land of the lost

Who will?

(figure takes drink of milk from glass leaving the glass half empty/full)

Who will
Who will restore
Who will restore my country?

Home….
Home….

Home of….

(figures hand still resting on glass – slumps over at table and hand topples glass spilling milk with loud crack of thunder with simultaneous lighting flash. As figure slumps over table the family slumps to floor in slow motion and figure – with flag and gun – at stage left slinks off into the shadows. Lights fade except for one spot light on the corner of the table where the milk that was spilt has turned to blood and is now dripping of the edge of the table. Fade to black)

Entire performance should not last longer than 10 minutes.

… on … Richter and photography…

epistemology of existence wm sm

“Photo’s create a world,
but I don’t know what’s happening
outside of the frame.”

“You know the world of the photo’s,
but not the world they photographed.”

~ quotes by Gerhard Richter from the DVD, GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING

When it comes to photography I enjoy it and I am also constantly dissatisfied with it. The two quotes above, by Gerhard Richter seem to get to the crux of the matter for me. A photo can seem real enough but it isn’t. And it is that pretense of reality that everyone seems sucked into that I have trouble with.
I’ve destroyed almost as many of my photos as I’ve printed for this very reason. I want to create art; something that is lasting and meaningful – but all I can seem to create are images. ~ Terry S. Amstutz (a.k.a. mobius faith)

…on 3 new creations

*as always click on each individual image to view larger.

…on Peter Gabriel – Amazing


“I’m Amazing” – lyrics by Peter Gabriel

Run into the cage
With what I grew up hating
Keep on recreating
Please help me

Something’s got to change
It was something that you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Saw the kind of blood
Like a picture’s going to shatter
Can you recognize the pictures of a bone-luck setter
All the people, all the faces in my head that are running around
I’m trying to make connections but the circuits are down

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
I’m amazing

I’m living from without and I’m living from within
Got light in every layer of my illuminated skin
Could swallowing a lightbulb transform into the sun?
I can jump into the darkness
I can shine on anyone

Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do?
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Can you see what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Reaching out my hand
I’m going under water
Sunlight filtered into shafts
I’m going under water
With the human race
I’m going under water down
Under water down
Under water

Trying to put it together in my head
Feeling the weight of what you said
The weight of what you said
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead
Happy times ahead

Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Look at me
Look at me
Look at me
Look what I can do
‘Cause I’m amazing

Cause I can!
And I will!
It’s moving in me
The spirit is free
Oh what did I leave?

On his website Peter Gabriel[hereafter PG] states,

“I wrote a song a few years back – ‘I’m Amazing’, which was, in part, inspired by Muhammad Ali’s life and struggles and at the time of his death, when so many people are celebrating his life and thinking about all he achieved, it seemed the right time to release it.”

I do not believe we should see this song as a tribute to Ali. I saw one video posted on YOUTUBE that said this song was “about Muhammad Ali”. I disagree. PG is an artist; and as such, he uses all of life as inspiration in creating his art. Ali was only one part of the equation that helped clarify the point PG was trying to make. PG has something much bigger than one mans life that he want’s us to consider. If there is any comparison to Ali that can be made accurately is that the song deftly alternates between “Float like a butterfly, Sting like a bee”.

So what makes this song, it’s music and lyrics so powerful? Peter Gabriel has become an undisputed master of using various music influences from around the world in creating his own unique sound. “I’m Amazing” is a blend of these influences that borders on genius. The music moves forward and has it’s own pulse points with a fusion of sounds electronic, tribal and organic with lyrics both spoken and sung, chant and vocal ululation. There are ebbs and flows in the overall song structure that help propel the listener through the song with rhythmic emotional intensity.

Lyrically, the song offers intense criticism of our culture and society. He is careful not to place blame. He simply let’s the character in the song make observations and leaves it up to us to determine any cause and make appropriate adjustment in our own lives so that we do not end up in the same predicament. What is NOT said in the lyrics is just as important as what IS said. PG does not write on the surface of things but gets under the skin. While on the surface if you just read the lyrics it may seem like a positive paean with the old “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mentality. But listening to how the lyrics are sung provides a whole new wealth of meaning that seems truer. It is funny how music can add clarity to the meaning of words. By themselves lyrics are ambiguous and can be interpreted by each individual as they wish. But what is lost is the authors intention. Music provides that intention. I have not heard such snarling sardonic expression in pop music for a long time and it is refreshing. A true wakeup call. I love how the lyrics switch between introspect/retrospect/prospect as the singer looks to escape his own mundanity and latch onto all the promises made by a self-help society with “happy times ahead”. Drowning in his own misery he not only seeks for a way out but becomes so self-obsessed that all(and everyone) else is left behind. The character acts/does because he can and never asks if he should. It’s only after it’s too late does he contemplate what was left behind.

This is a most welcome addition to the canon of music written by this great artist.

…. on the culture blender….

I love blenders. They make great drinks, soups, etc….

But what about culture blending… there are pros and cons…. one of the pros can be – it’s just so damn entertaining. This has been proven, time and again, by many serious musicians. Some of you may remember a comedy called SPINAL TAP that lampooned every hair metal band that existed to that point in time.

Well, there was a movie in 1989 by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki called LENINGRAD COWBOYS GO AMERICA…. A fantastic comedy if you like your comedy very dry and dark. The “Leningrad Cowboys were called The worst rock and roll band in the world. In many ways they were the Finnish version of SPINAL TAP….. not afraid to mix in their cultural roots with communism and rock and roll they pretty much live up to the SPINAL TAP of world music comparison….. Of course just like SPINAL TAP – the band – the cowboys started taking themselves too seriously even daring to write some of their own rock standards and phasing out the cultural mishmash that made them so much fun to begin with….. But that’s the way of all things….

So here is a reminder of what once was. This live video was titled LENINGRAD COWBOYS TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW…. featuring drums mounted on a tractor, guitars shaped like tractors big, BIG hair and pointy shoes and of course the actual Red Army Chorus/band and Dancers from Moscow – all doing a cover of ZZ TOP’s “GIMME ALL YOUR LOVIN'”…What more could a citizen of the world ask for? LOL
May it put a smile on your face this weekend. 🙂

and here’s a trailer for the movie that started it all.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America – Free Screening at The Loft Cinema from The Loft Cinema on Vimeo.

…..on the story of our lives…..

I once saw a sign and my first thought was, “Hmmmmph, that’s the story of my life!”…..

In the past few months I’ve noticed that has been my reaction to more and more signs. These signs just seem to be coming into focus of my awareness in a way they haven’t before. In fact there almost seems to be an oppression by signs. Some are just general informational signs. Things that announce operating hours, directions to a place, time it takes to get somewhere, who to call (and it ain’t Ghostbuster’s), and other general announcements. But I’m finding, and maybe it’s just my growing awareness, that more and more signs are dictating things. Signs that tell us to do one thing or another, telling us what we can and can’t do. And there are signs that are used to threaten and control…..

That is the focus of this new photo project I’ve started. These signs make up the story of our lives and can tell us things about ourselves, our culture, our perceptions and misconceptions about the world in which we live. So while one may dismiss these images in this project as just pictures of signs. I am asking the view to go further. To go beyond the obvious. To ask questions and let these signs bring new understandings.

Here are eight of the 20 odd images I’ve collected so far (in no particular order). Enjoy.

….on….bored with color….

Is there such a thing as too much color?
In a world where saturated color and manipulated images have become the norm is black and white more real?
In our so-called modern society, and culture, image saturation is not only 360 degrees around us but also gets embedded in us as it’s imprinted on our minds. Technology now is primarily image based and all of it is in color; brilliant, vibrant, glowing, saturated color. Printed matter whether publications or advertising is 99% image-based.
Is there such a thing as too many images?
By having so many images do we become desensitized to the image and color?
Or, are we still in the process of becoming desensitized?
How much is too much?
I read a recent article in a publication that people today prefer to look at art online than actually going to a museum. Does this devalue art?
 

Well, these are just some of the things floating around in that vast empty space between my ears….. I had these thoughts as I have found that color images no longer interest me. I’ve gotten bored with images – specifically color images….. As a result, all my newer work is strictly in B&W. For me B&W feels more real. I find greater nuances in the images when I’m working in B&W. The image in B&W does not bore me – it makes me look closer. Will that change? Probably, at some time. But then, again, maybe not as long as our world is – the way it is.

Here are some recent B&W images I’ve created. Enjoy.
As always you can click on an image for a larger view and then use the arrows to advance to next image.

… on … GREAT movies about art works

GREAT movies about specific art works you may have missed.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s THE WAY TO CALVARY in Lech Majewski’s THE MILL AND THE CROSS.


Rembrandts NIGHTWATCH in Peter Greenaway’s NIGHTWATCHING

…..on… i must be in heaven…..

You already know my love for all things abandoned and forgotten….I recently came across this video…… and I gotta say – makes me wanna buy a drone camera… I must be in heaven – this is soooooo beautiful.