(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘photography

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”*…

Stalking Chernobyl

In recent years, the Zone, a highly restricted area in northern Ukraine that surrounds the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, has become a tourist hotspot. Each morning, tour buses queue at the entry checkpoint where a souvenir shop plastered with nuclear warning symbols peddles neon keyrings and radiation suits. The guides’ t-shirts read: “Follow me and you will survive”. In fact, the dangers are minimal. Along their tightly demarcated routes, these visitors will be exposed to less radiation than during a routine x-ray.

Existing in the shadows of this highly commodified industry is the secretive subculture of the “stalkers”: mostly young Ukrainian men who sneak into the Zone illegally to explore the vast wilderness on their own terms. The name originates from the 1972 Russian science fiction novel Roadside Picnic. Written by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, it tells the story of contaminated “zones” created on Earth by aliens, in which rogue stalkers roam, hoping to recover valuable alien technology. The book inspired Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 cult-classic film Stalker.

Beyond youthful rebellion, the motivations of the modern stalkers are complex, and speak to the national trauma that resulted from a tragedy whose effects will be felt for generations. And now there is another side to the practice. Enterprising stalkers have started offering their own “illegal tours” to travellers seeking a less restricted (and therefore more dangerous) experience of the Exclusion Zone. I joined one such tour in an effort to discover why visitors might chose a stalker over an official guide. Can a subculture that is so tied to deep wells of personal and national loss really offer something of value to an outsider?…

Accompany Aram Balakjian on a beautifully-photographed expedition through the forbidden area: “Into the Zone: 4 days inside Chernobyl’s secretive ‘stalker’ culture.”

* Uzbek proverb

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As we take the tour, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000, via an announcement by then Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, and after decades of denial, that a U.S. government study conceded that cancer and premature deaths of workers at 14 nuclear weapons plants since WW II were caused by radiation and chemicals.

nuke source

 

 

Written by LW

January 28, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Full Metal Jacket”*…

 

metal jacket

Heavy metal is a vast and complex subculture, with supremely elitist followers and heavily codified attire, impenetrable to those outside of its fanbase. As heavy metal’s influence continues to spread throughout culture, from Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour imitation of Pentagram’s logo to Tommy Genesis wearing Toxic Holocaust merch,  Melchior Tersen’s timely and impressive book, Killing Technology [here], documents the frontline of its symbolism: patches and patch jackets, DIY garments that fans build up themselves, sometimes over many years. Patches are bought at festivals, on merch tables at gigs and from record shops and online distros. Sites like T-Shirt Slayer exist both to trade in rare items and, more importantly, to show off collections of rare items. The breadth of the genre is overwhelming, but most true metal fans would be able to size you up immediately by the patches you wear on your jacket…

metallica

Metal style was a fashion in the 90s. Now we are in an era that’s more based on reblogging than pure avant-garde creation.  Still, metal visuals fascinate a public that’s not necessarily into metal as music. A consideration of the form– and more photos– at Paper Journal‘s interview with Tersen: “Killing Technology.”

* (the title of a Stanley Kubrick film)

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As we get loud, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” become that first single to enter the U.K. pop charts at #!.  The record (the B-side “treat Me Nice”) would stayed on top for three weeks.

220px-jailhouse_rock source

 

 

Written by LW

January 25, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned”*…

 

presidents park

Presidents Park, near Williamsburg, Virginia

Birmingham-based photographer Leland Kent travelled the South to document “abandoned places”…

six flags

Six Flags Amusement Park, near New Orleans

jax

Jax Lanes, Jacksonville, Florida

See more of these three sites and many others, all with explanatory history, at Abandoned Southeast.

* Emile Durkheim

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As we forget to remember, we might send acerbic birthday greetings to Alexander Humphreys Woollcott; e was born on this date in 1887.   A critic and commentator for The New Yorker (and a member of the Algonquin Round Table), he is probably more easily recognized these days as the inspiration for “Sheridan Whiteside,” the main character in the play The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and for the far less likable character Waldo Lydecker in the Otto Preminger film Laura .  (Woollcott himself was convinced that he was the inspiration for his friend Rex Stout’s brilliant, eccentric detective Nero Wolfe; but Stout denied it.)

220px-alexander_woollcott_(1939) source

 

“There are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary numerals, and those who don’t”*…

 

Guide to Computing

From a collection of vintage photos of computing equipment by “design and tech obsessive” James Ball…

Guide to Computing

More at Docubyte

[TotH to Kottke]

* vernacular joke, as invoked by Ian Stewart in Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities

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As we rewind, we might spare a thought for Christian Goldbach; he died on this date in 1764.  A mathematician, lawyer, and historian who studied infinite sums, the theory of curves and the theory of equations, he is best remembered for his correspondence with Leibniz, Euler, and Bernoulli, especially his 1742 letter to Euler containing what is now known as “Goldbach’s conjecture.”

In that letter he outlined his famous proposition:

Every even natural number greater than 2 is equal to the sum of two prime numbers.

It has been checked by computer for vast numbers– up to at least 4 x 1014– but remains unproved.

(Goldbach made another conjecture that every odd number is the sum of three primes; it has been checked by computer for vast numbers, but also remains unproved.)

Goldbach’s letter to Euler (source, and larger view)

(Roughly) Daily is headed into a Thanksgiving hiatus; regular service will resume when the tryptophan haze clears…  probably around Monday, November 26.  Thanks for reading– and have Happy Holidays!

Written by LW

November 20, 2018 at 1:01 am

“There is only one perfect view — the view of the sky straight over our heads, and that all these views on earth are but bungled copies of it”*…

 

7 sq miles

(Clockwise, from upper left) Seven-square-mile views of Manhattan; Chaganbulage Administrative Village in Inner Mongolia; Venice, Italy; and farms in Plymouth, Washington

 

Spending time looking at the varying and beautiful images of our planet from above in Google Earth, zooming in and out at dizzying rates, I thought it would be interesting to compare all of these vistas at a fixed scale—to see what New York City, Venice, or the Grand Canyon would look like from the same virtual height. So, the following images are snapshots from Google Earth, all rectangles of the same size and scale, approximately three and a half miles (5.6 kilometers) wide by two miles (3.2 kilometers) tall—showing seven square miles (18.1 square kilometers, or 4,480 acres) of the surface of our planet in each view…

The Atlantic‘s Alan Taylor takes us a remarkable tour of the earth:  “Seven Square Miles.”

* E.M. Forster, A Room with a View

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As we gaze groundward, we might recall that it was on this date in 1797 that André-Jacques Garnerin accomplished the first successful parachute jump.  He ascended to 2,230 ft. above the Parc Monceau, Paris, with a balloon, then released it and unfurled a silk parachute.  Lacking any vent in the top of the parachute, Garnerin descended with violent oscillations– as a result of which, he suffered the first case of airsickness.

Garnerin releases the balloon and descends with the help of a parachute, 1797. (Illustration from the late 19th century.)

source

 

Written by LW

October 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I’ve never seen contraptions with so many dials and knobs before”*…

 

control panels

Control room, Klingenberg Power Station, Berlin, 1928. Photos by E.O. Hoppé.

 

Just one selection from the plethora of “dials, toggles, buttons, and bulbs” at “Control Panel.”

* “Lampy,” in The Brave Little Toaster

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As we twist and turn, we might spare a thought for Guillaume Amontons; he died on this date in 1705.  A physicist who made formative contributions to the understanding of friction, he was also an accomplished designer of scientific instruments– perhaps most notably, the air thermometer, which relies on increase in volume of a gas (rather than a liquid) with temperature.  His approach led to the emergence of the concept of “absolute zero.”

amonton thermometer source

Amontons source

 

Written by LW

October 10, 2018 at 10:01 pm

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”*…

 

banana

Doug Battenhausen spends much of his working hours searching for pictures no one else cares about.

They’re the kind taken by people would never be considered ‘photographers’, the kind that no one has even thought about for years, where any sense of artistry is purely accidental.

Instead they’re pictures of drunk friends at grotty house parties or silly sleepovers, landscapes snapped from car windows on boring drives, and assorted images that Doug can only describe as “strangely mundane”…

drunk

relection

Learn more– and see more abandoned images– at “The internet’s forgotten shit pics are accidentally amazing,” and then visit the motherlode: Battenhausen’s Tumblr, Internet History.

* Henri Cartier-Bresson

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As we smile at serendipity, we might spare a thought for the source of today’s title quote, Henri Cartier-Bresson; he died on this date in 2004.  A master of the candid and pioneer of street photography, he was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.  With other luminaries (Robert CapaDavid Seymour, and others), he founded Magnum Photos. a photographers’ co-op that covered the world for news outlets and other publishers.  His Magnum coverage of of Gandhi’s funeral in India in 1948 and the last stage of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 brought him international acclaim.

View his Magnum portfolio here.

220px-Henri_Cartier-Bresson source

 

Written by LW

August 3, 2018 at 1:01 am

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