Posts Tagged ‘photography’
The Art of Google Books collects two types of images: analog stains that are emblems of a paper book’s history and digital glitches that result from the scanning. On the site, the analog images show scads of marginalia written in antique script, library “date due” stamps from the mid-century, tobacco stains, wormholes, dust motes, and ghosts of flowers pressed between pages. On the digital side are pages photographed while being turned, resulting in radical warping and distortion; the solarizing of woodcuts owing to low-resolution imaging; sonnets transformed by software bugs into pixelated psychedelic patterns; and the ubiquitous images of workers’ hands…
The diverse, startling adversaria of Google Books merits examination and exhibition. The aim of this project is twofold; to recognize book digitization as rephotography, and to value the signs of use that accompany digitized texts as worthy of documentation and study.
Read more– and find links to others mining Google Books– at “The Artful Accidents of Google Books.”
As we put away our cotton gloves, we might send well-turned birthday greetings to Gustave Flaubert; he was born on this date in 1821. Widely considered one of the greatest novelists in the Western canon, he is known especially for his first published novel, Madame Bovary (1857), for his Correspondence– and for the scrupulous devotion to style and aesthetics they demonstrate. Flaubert’s almost obsessive commitment to lean and precise prose was a major influence on his protege Maupassant, and later on such authors as Zola, Kafka and Coetzee, and has been the subject of admiration from thinkers and writers across a spectrum that runs from Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes to Mario Vargas Llosa and Marshall McLuhan.
Novelists should thank Flaubert the way poets thank spring; it all begins again with him. There really is a time before Flaubert and a time after him. Flaubert decisively established what most readers and writers think of as modern realist narration, and his influence is almost too familiar to be visible. We hardly remark of good prose that it favors the telling of brilliant detail; that it privileges a high degree of visual noticing; that it maintains an unsentimental composure and knows how to withdraw, like a good valet, from superfluous commentary; that it judges good and bad neutrally; that it seeks out the truth, even at the cost of repelling us; and that the author’s fingerprints on all this are paradoxically, traceable but not visible. You can find some of this in Defoe or Austen or Balzac, but not all of it until Flaubert.
- James Wood, How Fiction Works (2008)
Dorothea Lange started her career in the 1920s as a commercial photographer in San Francisco; but in the 30s, as the Depression took hold, she instinctively tool her camera to the streets. Then in 1935, Lange began her landmark work for the Farm Security Administration, a Federal Agency. Collaborating with her second husband, labor economist Paul S. Taylor, she documented the troubled exodus of farm families migrating West in search of work. Lange’s documentary style achieved its fullest expression in these years, with photographs such as Migrant Mother becoming instantly recognized symbols of the Depression.
“Migrant Mother” is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month’s trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration.
In 1960, Dorothea Lange gave this account of the Migrant Mother experience–
I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).
Read more of Lange’s extraordinary journey, and see more of her work at the ever-enlightening The Selvedge Yard.
* Dorothea Lange
As we dust, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that the Bank of United States, a commercial bank in New York, suspended withdrawals and closed, seeking protection for the Superintendent of Banks. The prior day, a crowd had gathered at the Southern Boulevard branch in The Bronx seeking to withdraw their money. Though there had already been a wave of small bank runs in the southeastern part of the U.S. at least as early as November 1930, it was the run on the Bank of United States, reported by the New York Times and picked up by other metros around the U.S., that historians generally agree began the Great Depression.
Norwegian nature photographer Kjell Bloch Sandved has devoted his photographic career to capturing the beauty of the world we live in and along the way, amassed a collection of butterfly and moth images with interesting patterns on their wings. Sanved’s keen eye took notice of the spectacular shapes the natural designs came in, recognizing their resemblance to letters of the alphabet. As a result, he formed the Butterfly Alphabet.
Featuring all twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, as well as the ten single-digit numbers (0 through 9), Sandved assembled a wonderfully-colorful collection of readable butterfly and moth wings…
Read more at “Entire Alphabet Found on the Wing Patterns of Butterflies,” and see more at Sandved’s website.
* Antoni Gaudi
As we float from letter to letter, we might send bucolic birthday wishes to Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz (née Cary), the naturalist and educator who was the co-founder and first president of Radcliffe College; she was born on this date in 1822. After the death of her husband, Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz, with whom she traveled on scientific expeditions, she settled on the idea of college for women in the “Harvard Annex” in Cambridge; in 1894 the Annex became Radcliffe College. She served as its president until 1899, then honorary president until 1903. Her books include A First Lesson in Natural History (1859), and A Journey in Brazil (1867).
Fascinated with the idea that two totally unrelated people can look like twins, photographer Francois Brunelle set out to take portraits of 200 doppelgangers. This beautiful black and white series began when he photographed a pair of friends who looked as though they were identical twins that had been separated at birth. Although most of his photos so far have been taken in North America, Brunelle is now taking his I’m Not a Look-Alike! project around the globe to create a book and international exhibit…
Read more of Brunelle’s story at Visual News. Then see more doppelganger portraits (and follow Brunelle approaches his goal of photographing 200 pairs) on his website and Facebook. And follow Sophie Robhemed, a journalist on the hunt for her doppelganger, as she seeks her double.
As we stare into the mirror, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954, in Oak Grove, Alabama, near Sylacauga, that a meteorite crashed down through the roof of Ann Hodges’ home and struck her– the first documented extraterrestrial object to have injured a human being in the U.S. The grapefruit-sized fragment crashed through the roof of her frame house, bounced off a large wooden console radio, and hit Hodges as she napped on a couch. The 31-year-old woman was badly bruised on one side of her body but able to walk.
As we resolve to be more thorough as we vacuum, we might send microscopic birthday greetings to Rita Rossi Colwell; she was born on this date in 1934. The first U.S. scientist to create a computer program to analyze data related to the taxonomic classification of different strains of bacteria, she enabled the surprising discovery that the strain of cholera bacteria that had been linked to the disease belonged to the same species as benign strains of cholera. Subsequently, her team of researchers found that both the harmless and the disease-causing (toxin-producing) strains were found commonly in estuaries and coastal waters.
She is perhaps better known as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation– the first woman to hold that post. In 2004, she was awarded the National Medal of Science.