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Posts Tagged ‘photography

“All things are subject to decay and when fate summons, monarchs must obey”*…

 

from Startape PhotoGraff, Flickr

 

from 95wombat, Flickr

 

From the collection of over 11,000 photos in the Flickr pool “Old Factories and Industrial Decay Around the World.”

* John Dryden

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As we celebrate the beauty in the ephemeral, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell, and their colleagues at the Roslin Institute (part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland) announced that they had successfully cloned a sheep, Dolly, who had been born on July 5, 1996. Dolly lived her entire life at the Institute, where (bred with a Welsh mountain ram) she gave birth to six lambs. She died in February, 2003.

Dolly’s taxidermied remains

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Written by LW

February 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The ludicrous element in our feelings does not make them any less authentic”*…

 

A Chinese photographer is making counterfeit luxury goods and knock-off designs look good. With a budget of just $9 per item, Quentin Shih, a photographer from Tianjin, held a fashion shoot in a small coal-producing city in Shanxi province that is best known for its choking air pollution.

Counterfeit goods have been the focus of the government’s recent criticism of Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce retailer. And China leads the world in the sale of counterfeit goods—also known as shanzhai, meaning imitated or pirated brands—with its factories producing almost 70% of the world’s total supply, according to the United Nations.

Shih takes a more positive look on these goods. His motive was to “explore typical small city lives” in central, poorer China. “I want to create some humor using fake luxury goods, and the vivid color of these goods is also what interested me, ” he told Quartz. “But the fake stuff is not the whole topic I want to explore—young people, life, portraits are what I’m looking for in this project,” he said….

Read– and see- more at “A $9 fashion shoot in a Chinese coal town shows how beautiful counterfeit clothes can be,” and at Shih’s own site.

* Milan Kundera

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As we clear out our closets, we might send stylish birthday greetings to Sarah-Jane “Trinny” Duncanson Woodall; she was born on this date in 1964.  A fashion guru in the UK, she is best-known as the co-originator and co-star (with Susannah Constantine) of the television and print juggernaut What Not to Wear, a huge success first in the U.K., then in the U.S. and elsewhere.

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Written by LW

February 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Chicago is not the most corrupt American city. It’s the most theatrically corrupt”*…

 

John Dillinger’s body on display in the Chicago City Morgue (No explanation is offered of the two women in bathing suits leaning up against the glass.)

 

Even a casual observer of American history will no doubt recognize several of the names in Gangsters and Grifters, a new book of early 20th century crime photographs from the Chicago Tribune archives. John Dillinger (and his corpse) monopolizes a handful of pages. A smirking Al Capone makes a few courtroom appearances. But this isn’t another text seeking to glorify the Second City’s criminal past.

Photo editors Erin Mystkowski, Marianne Mather, and Robin Daughtridge, who refer to themselves as “The Dames of the Chicago Tribune Photo Department,” made a conscious effort to offer a more holistic representation of the annals of Chicago’s notorious history. Through 125 thoughtfully curated photographs, juxtaposed next to the corresponding Tribune headlines, the somber realities of Chicago’s historical criminal activity become apparent…

Tillie Klimek sits on the right in this photo, next to her cousin Nellie Stermer-Koulik. The two women were accused of using arsenic to poison 20 relatives and friends. Tillie was eventually sentenced to life in prison, where she died in 1936, while Stermer-Koulik was found not guilty.

 

More images and their backstory at “Unrestricted Access to Images of Chicago’s Criminal History.”

* Studs Terkel

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As we toddle around town, we might recall that it was on this date in 1827 that M. Chabert, wearing an asbestos suit, entered a large oven carrying a steak; twelve minutes later, he emerged carrying the fully-cooked steak.  Harry Houdini’s account (and broader appreciation of Chabert, “the most interesting character in the history of fire-eating, fire-resistance, and poison eating”) is in his book Miracle Mongers and Their Methods.

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Written by LW

January 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available… a new idea, as powerful as any in history, will be let loose”*…

 

10/2/2014  L’Eixample.  Valencia, Spain (39°27′53″N 0°22′12″W)      The urban plan of the L’Eixample district in Valencia, Spain is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues, and square blocks with chamfered corners.

Plato suggested that “man must rise above the Earth —to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”  Benjamin Grant and his colleagues at Daily Overview mean to help.

Our project was inspired, and derives its name, from an idea known as the Overview Effect. This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire.

From our line of sight on the earth’s surface, it’s impossible to fully appreciate the beauty and intricacy of the things we’ve constructed, the sheer complexity of the systems we’ve developed, or the devastating impact that we’ve had on our planet. We believe that beholding these forces as they shape our Earth is necessary to make progress in understanding who we are as a species, and what is needed to sustain a safe and healthy planet.

As a result, the Overviews (what we call these images) focus on the the places and moments where human activity—for better or for worse—has shaped the landscape. Each Overview starts with a thought experiment. We consider the places where man has left his mark on the planet and then conduct the necessary research to identify locations (and the corresponding geo-coordinates) to convey that idea.

The mesmerizing flatness seen from this vantage point, the surprising comfort of systematic organization on a massive scale, or the vibrant colors that we capture will hopefully turn your head. However, once we have that attention, we hope you will go beyond the aesthetics, contemplate just exactly what it is that you’re seeing, and consider what that means for our planet…

9/30/2014  Erosion.  Betsiboka River, Madagascar  (15°48′55″S 46°16′13″E)       Dramatic evidence of the catastrophic erosion in northwestern Madagascar is seen at the rapidly expanding Betsiboka River Delta. Deforestation of the country’s central highlands for cultivation and pastureland has resulted in the most significant erosion recorded anywhere in the world (approximately 112 tons/acre), which transforms the river to this vivid orange color.

Tour the Earth from above at Daily Overview.

* astronomer Fred Hoyle

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As we put perspective into purposeful practice, we might send insightful birthday greetings to Lewis Mumford; he was born on this date in 1895.  A historian, sociologist, philosopher of technology, and cultural critic, Mumford is probably best remembered for his writings on cities, perhaps especially for his award-winning book The City in History.  (See also The City– the extraordinary film that Mumford made with Ralph Steiner and Willard Van Dyke, from an outline by the renowned documentarian Pare Lorentz, with a score by Aaron Copland.) 

Mumford’s approaches to technology, its history, and its roles in society were acknowledged influences on writers like Jacques Ellul, Witold Rybczynski, Amory Lovins, E. F. Schumacher, Herbert Marcuse, Thomas Merton, and Marshall McLuhan.  In a similar way, he was an inspiration for the organicist and environmentalist movements of today.

Unfortunately, once an economy is geared to expansion, the means rapidly turn into an end and “the going becomes the goal.” Even more unfortunately, the industries that are favored by such expansion must, to maintain their output, be devoted to goods that are readily consumable either by their nature, or because they are so shoddily fabricated that they must soon be replaced. By fashion and build-in obsolescence the economies of machine production, instead of producing leisure and durable wealth, are duly cancelled out by the mandatory consumption on an even larger scale.

– Lewis Mumford, The City in History

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Written by LW

October 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch”*…

 

Australian photographer T.Q. Lee has thing for food… or at least, for what looks like food…

Waxed Rolled Socks w/ Dirty Hot Shaving Cream  Now with ten times the fibre of regular donuts! It took me a few tries to work out how to get these brown, rolled socks to accept the wax treatment without simply absorbing it. In the end, refrigeration was rather aptly, the key ingredient in my wax frosting.

His series, Inedible, composes a wide– and often revolting– variety of ingredients into appetizing photos of “food.”

Telephone Cord in Papier-mâché Sauce w/ a glass of Betadine  All of my images for Inedible are lit with natural light in contrast to and to highlight the artifical subjects being photographed. At times the distinction between real and fake became indistinguishable, and so I would add a final element that causes the viewer to question what they are seeing. In this instance, I felt the combination of telephone cord, mashed-up serviettes, soap and green cardboard clippings was too convincing alone. I was also coming down with a cold, so I fortunately had access to plenty of sore throat gargle to complete the dish..

Lee explains…

Part visual pun, part social comment on convenience food, Inedible is a still life photographic series of meals made from unconventional ingredients. Every element in these dishes are considered inedible in insolation. Together, do they whet or surpress your appetite?

Kitchen Cupboard Sushi  My first awareness of sushi was from the cult-classic, The Breakfast Club. In the lunch scene, rich-kid Claire (Molly Ringwald) explains that sushi is “raw fish, rice and seaweed” to the disgust of school-criminal, Bender (Judd Nelson) and, supposedly, the audience. How things have changed. Sushi is now a staple lunch for the modern workforce. It was precisely this ordinariness that I wanted to capture in this Inedible work. “Kitchen Cupboard Sushi” is made from ingredients found in a common kitchen cupboard, with just a few additional inedible materials from my craft box. See if you can figure out all of the raw details.

Browse the buffet at Inedible.

* Orson Welles

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As we wonder what he’d do with green eggs and ham, we might spare a thought for Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he died on this date in 1991.  After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of nascent young readers.

The more that you read,

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

The more places you’ll go.

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)

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Written by LW

September 24, 2014 at 1:01 am

“See Me, Feel Me”*…

 

Billboard for the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Tommy

In the late 60s, record companies took to the streets, using billboards to promote record releases. Photographer Robert Landau was there to document the blitz.

“When I went out to explore the world,” says Landau. “I felt the Strip was like a gallery; there were these hand-painted works of art on the street. … They looked like giant art pieces that kind of represented my generation and the music I listened to.”

“At one time, L.A. just felt a lot funkier. It felt more Western, and … people could come here and do whatever they want. To a degree, that created a lot of chaos, but there was something about that freedom that allowed people to do fun things,” he says. “Things were a little quirkier back then. There was a bit more of a personal feel to the environment.”

Read more at Dangerous Minds and at NPR; browse the full collection in his book, Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip; and see the ful range of his work at his site.

* single from The Who’s 1969 album Tommy.

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As we celebrate synesthesia, we might send birthday hooks to Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holley**; he was born on this date in 1936.  A rock pioneer, Holley saw Elvis perform in 1955, and was inspired to create his own sound– a blend of Rockabilly and R&B– that exploded onto the music scene.  He was among the first to write, produce, and perform his own songs, and established the “two guitar, bass, and drums” template that became standard for rock.

His career lasted only a year and a half, before he was killed in a plane crash.  Still, he was profoundly influential on the future of popular music: an avowed influence on hundreds of acts, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan; and one of the most covered artists of all time.

** Decca Records misspelled his name “Holly” on his first release, and Holley adopted the “stage spelling” for the rest of his career.

Hear Buddy Holley/Holly on Spotify.

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Written by LW

September 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

“It is easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top”*…

 

Miami Beach, from above

Last weekend, tens of thousands made their annual end-of-summer pilgrimage to the beach…

On ground level, these crowds look like tidal waves of coconut-oiled flesh, but as seen in the work of Belgian photographer Antoine Rose, the effect is much different: from above, the crowds that gather on the beaches of New York and Miami take on splendid geometries that make each beachgoer’s place in the sand seem almost methodical.

The project that eventually became Rose’s Up In The Air series started back in 2000, when he was head photographer of the Kiteboarding World Cup. Using a helicopter to film kiteboarders as they raced, Rose became fascinated with aerial photography. But it was only after flying over the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana during a kiteboarding final in Rio that Rose turned his lens from athletes to beachcombers, snapping the herd-like patterns of their oiled hides and colorful beach towels and umbrellas from the air…

The photographer insists he doesn’t coordinate his shots, nor does he alter them after the fact with Photoshop, aside from some standard color correction and post-processing. The beaches appear to us just as Rose saw them leaning out of the side of a helicopter with his camera pointed down.

Read more at “Beach Crowds Are Beautiful From 5,000 Feet In The Air,” and see more of Rose’s remarkable photos at his site.

* Arnold Bennett

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As we head for the high ground, we might recall that it was on this date in 1516 that Thomas More sent Libellus vere aureus, nec minus salutaris quam festivus, de optimo rei publicae statu deque nova insula Utopia (or, as we know it today, Utopia), his fictionalized work of political philosophy, to the printer.  It was edited by Erasmus, and printed later that year.  More, a lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, Renaissance humanist, and councillor to Henry VIII of England, was beheaded by Henry in 1535 for refusing to accept the king as Supreme Head of the newly-established Church of England.  More was acting in accordance with his opposition to Martin Luther,  William Tyndale, and the Protestant Reformation…  for which he was canonized in 1935 by Pope Pius XI.  (He is remembered by the Church of England as a “Reformation martyr.”) Utopia wasn’t translated into English until 16 years after his execution.

An illustration from the 1516/first edition of Utopia

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Thomas More

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Written by LW

September 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

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