Posts Tagged ‘photography’
The word “weird” is defined by various dictionaries as odd, bizarre, eccentric and unconventional. And where most of these traits could be considered unsettling, in the world of photography, and specifically sports, it could also translate to a gold mine. The essence of photography is to capture a truly remarkable moment. And many times, different (or weird) can be good. If photographers covered the same events from the same angles, we really wouldn’t achieve anything unique or memorable…
Sol Neelman, a self-proclaimed “failed athlete” and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, has turned his lens away from the conventional targets of sports photography…
* Michael Jordan
As we Do It, we might recall that it was on this date in 1893 that “Cowboy Bill” Pickett invented bull-dogging. A 23-year-old cowhand at the time, he rode alongside a stray, dropped from his horse to grab the steer’s horns, and– emulating bulldogs that he’d observed– sharply bit the steer’s upper lip. Soon after, Pickett and his four brothers formed The Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association. He did his bulldogging act, traveling about in Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. In 1905, Pickett joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show that featured the likes of Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, and Tom Mix; Pickett was soon a popular performer who toured around the world and appeared in early motion pictures (see below)– though he often had to mask his African-American heritage by claiming (only) his Native American roots. (Even then, while he was in fact part Cherokee, he claimed to be part Comanche.)
As the event became a common rodeo event, lip biting became increasingly less popular until it disappeared from steer wrestling altogether.
In 1954 House & Home reported that “half a million new hobbyists joined ranks of Hi-Fi enthusiasts last year”; by 1955, one authority noted that “High Fidelity at low cost is available to everyone.” (The rise of specialized publications catering to the new audiophiles is another indicator of the trend.) In fact, although stereo technology had been developed in the 1930s, it was not until February 1954 that RCA made the first commercial recording (a performance of The Damnation of Faust, by Berlioz, at Symphony Hall in Boston). Toward the end of the decade one observer would declare that “1958 will be remembered in America as the year when Stereo arrived.”…
Radios and phonographs had been around since the 30s, but with the rise of stereo…
Listening to music on hi-fi systems was not only central to music culture but also an accepted part of domestic culture — a complementary activity to almost anything else that could be done at home, from housework to recreation to eating to sex. As the cultural critic George Steiner wrote, in 1961, “The new middle class in the affluent society reads little, but listens to music with knowing delight. Where the library shelves once stood, there are proud, esoteric rows of record albums and high-fidelity components.” Listening to music was fast becoming one of the most important shared experiences in the American home…
More on the huge impact of the hi-fi at “A Tiny Orchestra in the Living Room.”
* Rebecca West
As we load the changer, we might send sonorous birthday greetings to Robert Williams Wood; he was born on this date in 1868. A physicist and inventor, Wood made substantial contributions to optics and to the development of infrared and ultraviolet photography. He is probably best remembered as the first to photograph the reflection of sound waves in air, and for his investigated the physiological effects of high-frequency sound waves.
When General Electric debuted a new lower-emissions locomotive, the company commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning aerial photographer Vincent Laforet to take some glamor shots. The results are industrial porn at its most artful.
Check it out at: “Vincent Laforet’s Aerial Shots Of Trains Look Like Abstract Art.”
* Robert Lowell
As we hop aboard, we might spare a thought for Ephraim Shay; he died on this date in 1919. An inventor and logger, Shay invented and patented the “Shay locomotive,” a small, geared steam engine used to haul heavy logging (and ultimately also mining) trains at low speeds over rough terrain with poorly-laid, uneven track, sharp curves, and grades up to 14 percent. By 1945, when production ended, 2,771 Shays had been built.
“The key of the success of Studio 54 is that it’s a dictatorship at the door and a democracy on the dance floor”*…
In 1977, at the height of the disco craze, a club opened at 254 West 54th Street in New York City. Studio 54 was—and, arguably, remains—the world’s most renowned and legendary disco. Regularly attended by celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger, Jerry Hall, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, Elton John, John Travolta, Brooke Shields and Tina Turner, the club fostered an atmosphere of unadulterated hedonism for New York’s art and fashion set. Hasse Persson [c.f., here] and his camera were frequent club guests from 1977–80. The images he photographed there have become legendary, capturing the club’s famed revelers, dancers in costume and general, drunken exhilaration—and yet, incredibly, Studio 54 (published by Max Ström) marks the first time in history that they have seen publication. Almost 35 years after the club’s unceremonious and sudden closure, this beautiful hardback volume superbly documents the zeitgeist…
* Andy Warhol (seen, holding his camera, at the bottom of the photo above)
As we look for the “Hot Stuff,” we might recall that it was on this date in 37 CE that the Roman Senate conferred the Principate on Caligula. His great-uncle Tiberius had left the office jointly to his grandson, Gemellus, and to Caligula; but Caligula had the will nullified on the grounds of Gemellus’ supposed insanity.
Caligula reigned until his assassination three-and-a-half years later by members of his own Praetorian Guard; the first two years of his tenure were marked by moderation– but accounts of his reign thereafter paint a portrait of extraordinary sybaritic excess and cruel, extravagant, and perverse tyranny… leading many historians to suspect that Caligula succumbed in his last months to neurosyphilis.
Photographer Ryan Deboodt and his team hiked (for days)…
… then flew a drone even further into the belly of Vietnam’s Hang Son Doong, the world’s largest known cave.
See more extraordinary photos (and larger versions of those above) on Ryan’s site.
* Joesph Campbell
As we go spelunking, we might send crusty birthday greetings to Adam Sedgwick; he was born on this date in 1785. One of the founders of modern geology, he proposed both the the Devonian and the Cambrian periods of the geological timescale. Sedgwick was a fierce critic of the theory of evolution when it appeared, calling it “”utterly false… from first to last it is a dish of rank materialism cleverly cooked and served up”; nonetheless, he and Charles Darwin (one of Sedgwick’s students at Cambridge) were friends until Sedgwick’s death in 1873.
“The camera is first a means of self-discovery and a means of self-growth. The artist has one thing to say—himself”*…
In this Age of the Selfie, it’s good to remind oneself that the impulse to photographic self-portraiture has a long history… and that, sometimes, that heritage is shrouded in mystery…
He likely hailed from the Midwest, sometimes sported a fedora and smoked a pipe. He dressed in casual plaids or in a suit. His demeanor ranged from jovial to pensive. His hair evolved from thick black to a thinning white widow’s peak. And sometimes, a “Seasons Greetings” sign hung over his head.
We might know a lot about how this man aged, but what we don’t know is his identity or why he took – and saved – more than 450 images of himself in a photobooth over the course of several decades.
This mystery has come to light with “445 Portraits of a Man,” a collection being shown for the first time as part of “Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture,” an exhibition [that was] on display through [last] July at Rutgers’ Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick.
The 445 images – silver gelatin prints owned by photography historian Donald Lokuta – were taken over the three decades from the Great Depression through the swinging ’60s, when the booths were most popular. “There’s quite an age difference in the photos: You see him as younger man and then with a white, receding hairline and wrinkles,” says Lokuta, who came across a few of these images at a New York City antiques show in 2012.
Upon learning that the antiques dealer had hundreds of these portraits of the same man, Lokuta knew he had to keep them together and purchased them all. “As a historian, I knew this was very rare, but on a deeper level, I wondered, ‘Why would somebody want to take almost 500 photos of himself in a photobooth?’ In appearance, they are unremarkable. They look like mugshots, but that’s what makes them special: The sameness, the repetition.”…
Read more about the “Mystery Photobooth Portraits.”
As we say “cheese,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that the first issue of VU was published. France’s first weekly French pictorial magazine, VU pioneered the “photographic essay” form and provided a home to contributors that included Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, and André Kertész.
“Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt”*…
The word “photography” might bring to mind the stark granite of an Ansel Adams photograph, or perhaps the memory of a childhood vacation. But the camera is also a scientific tool, whose progress can, in one sense, be measured by its ability to freeze ever-smaller fragments of time for our observation. In 1826, Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce needed at least eight hours to create an imprint of the view from the upstairs window of his Burgundy chateau onto a pewter plate coated with bitumen. Today, we can capture photos with an exposure time of a trillionth of a second, and are at the brink of attosecond photography—that is, snapshots taken 10 billion trillion times faster than those first grainy images in the east of France…
Click through a collection of photographic images that, at the time they were taken, were breakthroughs in speed at “Photographing Time.
* Susan Sontag
As we stop the clock, we might send hard-boiled birthday greetings to Frank Morrison “Mickey” Spillane; he was born on this date in 1918. A writer who cut his teeth on comic books, Spillane moved to crime novels, many featuring his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. Early reaction to Spillane’s work was generally hostile: Malcolm Cowley dismissed the Mike Hammer character as “a homicidal paranoiac”, John G. Cawelti called Spillane’s writing “atrocious”, and Julian Symons called Spillane’s work “nauseating.” (By contrast, Ayn Rand publicly praised Spillane’s work, though she later publicly repudiated what she regarded as the amorality of Spillane’s Tiger Mann stories.) But the public was altogether enthusiastic: more than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally; and in a 1980 survey, Spillane was responsible for seven of the top 15 all-time best-selling fiction titles in the U.S. Still, by the late 90s his novels had gone out of print– Spillane had begun supporting himself by appearing in Miller Lite commercials– and remained unavailable until the the New American Library began reissuing them in 2001.
“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar…”