Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photojournalist Hugh Gentry Talk

I attended a lecture tonight by Hugh Gentry at Pacific New Media and was reminded again of how rapidly the fields of photography (in this case photojournalism & commercial) are changing. Powerful SLRs, camera equipment with video capture, the Internet, iPhones have all change how we approach image making and  image viewing. Overall, I enjoyed Hugh Gentry's talk and I was especially interested in hearing about his underwater work shooting the Ironman. It was fun to step away from the modern fine art world and walk into the fast-paced action of photojournalism and diverse assignment and travel shooting.

Quick bio pulled from Pacific New Media website:
"Hugh Gentry is a freelance photojournalist and videographer working as a stringer for Reuters and the Associated Press as well as the major television networks. His client list also includes National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Land Rover. He started his career as a TV news cameraman and in 2003 transitioned into digital photography. By combining both skills, he can deliver multiple content formats to a diverse range of clients. He specializes in shooting underwater, surfing, and adventure sports."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vintage Postcards: Depictions of Hawaii

Went down to Bailey's Antiques and Aloha Shirts down on Kapahulu today (  to start some research on vintage postcards of Hawaii. With ideas of escapism and tourism in mind, I'm interested in what kinds of postcards visitors were sending back to friends & family. What types of images were portrayed and even better, what were visitors to the islands writing about their experiences, vacations, or deployments? What role did/do postcards play in the exoticism of Hawaii?

I talked to the store owner and learned that in the last 15-20 years vintage Hawaiian postcards have become really expensive, anywhere from $5-100 a piece!!! Whoa, that's a bit out of my league at the moment. I did have a chance to browse a handful of albums with vintage postcards and it was fascinating to see old landscapes and cityscapes. So much has changed and developed.  It's clear now why these seemingly mundane objects have value as historical documents of a time and place.  I found interesting that most of the postcards (at least at this shop) were simple images without any text - many were straight photographs. Seems to me that nowadays many postcards have some kind of cheesy tagline like "Mai Tai Time" or "Aloha from Paradise!" Perhaps, over time the tourism industry started including text when it realized that postcards are an ideal source of free advertising.
As far as budget is concerned, I may have to stick with representations of Hawaii in modern-day postcards. Next stop for postcards: ABC Store in Waikiki.

I did find and purchase a $2 United airlines postcard and will scan it shortly. One line from the caption on the back reads "For most people, a visit to Hawaii is not just a routine trip but fulfillment of long-held expectations." This phrase caught my eye because in David Nye's "American Technological Sublime" he considers Clarence Dutton's views on how initial expectations play into, or disrupt, our experience of the sublime. Nye writes,"Ideally, it might seem that the sublime should be an unexpected encounter, a largely unmediated experience of discontinuity between the self and the startling natural object. Because the travel is so prepared in advance, the sublime may seem to be swallowed up by representations in the mass media. Only a prolonged reexperiencing of the site can overcome the egotistical demands of the informed visitor." (15)

Food for thought!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2 Sketches: Motion in Air

While I was traveling back home and spending time in the Pacific Northwest, I stumbled upon a few children jumping into a lake. At the time, I wasn't planning to make images, but I was intrigued with how beautiful the motions in the air looked against the (almost) cloudless sky. I cropped out any hints of the diving platform and avoided shooting the horizon. These two shots feel like sketches or brainstorms for something to explore in the future. They also feel similar in many ways to my work in water - the human form in a sort of weightless, surreal world. I'll have to look into experimenting with more images of freefall and/or jumping.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marilyn Minter: Attraction/Repulsion/Seduction

At this June’s residency, I was encouraged by Oliver Wasow to discover the work of Marilyn Minter. I checked out the book below from AIB’s library before leaving Boston. One can approach Minter’s work from a variety of angles, but at this moment I am most interested in considering how her work tackles the dualities of attraction/repulsion and realism/fantasy. Since I’m particularly interested in exploring the notion of sublime as the intersection of absolute beauty (awe, wonder, etc) and terror (fear, ugliness, unknown), Marilyn Minter’s work has acted as a launch pad for my research.

  • Minter, Marilyn.
  • Marilyn Minter. New York: Gregory R. Miller & Co, 2007 
    Artist’s quote on glamour and its tricks:
    “Everybody I know gets so much pleasure from looking at glamorous pictures, movies, videos – but at the same time, you are always aware that you are never going to live like that, look like that, or be like that. You can get pleasure out of it, yet it can make you feel very insecure. I think that a lot of my work is trying to articulate what that insecurity combined with pleasure feels like. The sexy underside? Well, that might be inherent in taking things apart because that is where things start to get untidy and messy. So even though the glamour we see in popular culture is so perfect and flat, when it starts to come undone perhaps it gets sexier.” (Pg. 62)

    Artist’s quote on the NYC Billboards project:
    "I'm trying to make an image of what it feels like to look. I want to make a fresh vision of something that's compelling; something that commands our attention; something that is so visually lush that you'll give it multiple readings adding your own history and traditions to the layered content. Some things make you feel transcended; others make you feel slimed. I'm constantly looking for that transcendent moment." (Pg. 36)
    Interesting fact: I learned that both Jan Avgikos (current AIB faculty member) and Marilyn Minter were part of an intellectual group in the early 1990’s focusing on issues of sexuality, pro-sex feminism, and pornography. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to do a group critique with Jan this past June.

    Green Pink Caviar Trailer:

    Saturday, July 7, 2012

    Seattle Art Museum & Olympic Sculpture Park

    I am making my way back to Oahu after this June’s intensive residency and am currently visiting my sister in Seattle. Yesterday, we had a chance to visit the Seattle Art Museum. The exhibition titled “Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection” was incredible. The canvases were breathtaking, dizzying, and rich with storytelling symbols passed on through a culture that is believed to have originated as early as 50,000 years ago. Notes from Laurel Spark’s lecture during the June residency on “Abstraction and Meaning” resurfaced in my mind. What appears remarkably modern at first is in fact directly rooted in an ancient, dynamic, and abstract visual language.   Check out: Kutungka Napanangka (Old Woman Dreaming), 2004 

    As a side, in the contemporary wing of the SAM, I also enjoyed viewing the new acquisition of Reneke Dijkstra’s matador portraits. Three male (presumably heroic) subjects were photographed not in the traditional stadium but against an unassuming beige wall appearing vulnerable and fatigued.
    Check out: Rineke Dijkstra Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal, May 8, 1994 

    We also had the opportunity to browse the Olympic Sculpture Park. It is definitely worth a visit to experience this outdoor space filled with large sculpture against the scenic backdrop of the Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains. Artists featured include Richard Serra, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Mark Dion, Teresita Fernández, Roy McMakin, Louise Nevelson, Roxy Paine, Beverly Pepper, Tony Smith, and George Rickey. Be sure to check it out if you are ever in Seattle!

    Friday, July 6, 2012

    Museum Hopping in Boston

    While attending my first residency at AIB this June, I was able to take advantage of three great museums in Boston.

    ICA: Josiah McElheny: Some Pictures of the Infinite
    This was a great starting off point to begin my museum visits in Boston. Besides being an impressive space, the ICA organized an engaging show on Josiah McElheny’s “Some Pictures of the Infinite.” A variety of media attempted the impossible task of representing the unrepresentable. When I walked over to photograph one of McElheny’s chandelier sculptures, I discovered the piece had an interactive component. As I lined up my camera, I was simultaneously outside the piece and yet reflected in the mirrored bulb. My reflection was not only visible in the bulb I was focusing on, but also in every other bulb accompanying the piece. I found myself inside yet outside, independent yet part of a greater whole, grounded yet expansive. Nice work.

    MIT: ‘Joachim Koester: To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown...’
    I attended Ben Sloat’s field trip to view Joachim Koester’s exhibit at MIT. I was interested in learning more about Koester’s interest “in the unknown” and “what can and cannot be told.” The film installations “Tarantism” was housed in an almost completely blacked out room with jagged boards nailed against the window and set up as partitions. The photography was most interesting to me depicting mysterious scenes from a squatter community in Copenhagen and a project titled “The Kant Walks.” A revealing quote from Koester:  

    My next days in Kaliningrad were spent on foot, following Kalinikov's walks, or Kant's - I was never sure. Drifting through the ‘subtle realms’, the 'psychogeography' of a city that officially, for more than forty years, had no past - in Soviet text and guidebooks Kant was born in Kaliningrad. Paradoxically, I found that the concealment of the city's history, made it appear even more distinct, exactly because the past was not compartmentalized as such, but seemed to turn up as 'blind spots'. Detours, dead ends, overgrown streets, a small castle lost in an industrial quarter, evoked history as a chaos, a dormant presence far more potential than tidy linear narratives used to explain past events. Nowhere in Europe are the traces after World War Two more visible than in Kaliningrad. Hauntings from a war that shaped lives and destinies for generations to come. Including my own - like many, affected by the ‘third generation syndrome’, I have always felt as if I was pulled towards an empty space: ‘that which has not been said.’”

    On my last day in Boston, I visited the Museum of Fine Art. Having never been before, I was surprised at how large the museum was and the number of works housed here. I definitely need to plan more time next visit!
    Edward Weston: Leaves of Grass
    This was my first stop at the MFA and the room showcased a selection of images from the “Leave of Grass” project. The exhibition left me curious to view the original edition of “Leaves of Grass” with the full text and the accompanying final selection of images. In addition, it would be fascinating to see Weston’s contact sheets. A number of the images on display did not make it into the final book edition.

    Silver, Salt, and Sunlight: Early Photography in Britain and France
    Viewing early photography reminds me to recognize the skill and patience required to produce a successful image using old methods. I learned of a female British photographer, Anna Atkins, who published the first photographically illustrated book titled “Photographs on British Algae” using cyanotypes in the 19th century. Ladies represent!

    The Invention of Fantasy: 18th Century Venice
    I was interested in this exhibition due to my curiosity in exploring how places become romanticized and exoticized. I also have family in Italy, lived in Florence and Sicily, and have spent time in Venice. The drawings and prints were skillfully crafted but the idea of “fantasy” seemed to be portrayed in a more playful, theatrical sense. Although it was not what I expected, there were some comical prints on everyday Venetian life as well as a number incorporating biblical and mythological narratives.

    Contemporary Wing
    I wasn’t sure I would have enough time for this wing but I am so glad I did. A number of works were accompanied by an artist quote that resonated with me.

    Blue Green Yellow Orange Red, Ellsworth Kelly, “I think that if you turn off your mind and look at things only with your eyes, ultimately everything becomes abstract.”

    Steigend steigend sinke nieder (Rising, rising, falling down), Anselm Kiefer, “The more scarred the work of art is by the battles waged on the borders between art and life, the more interesting it becomes.”

    Tamahagane,  Henry Mandel, “Ours is a chaotic world and abstraction is my way to depict its essence.”

    Manhole, Ivàn Navarro, “My work consist[s] of (metaphorically) ‘diryting’ the purity of industrial forms.”

    Sunday, July 1, 2012

    MFA Initial Portfolio

    As a starting point for my MFA journey, I've posted a selection of images I brought to the first residency. These photographs are part of series titled "Emerge/Submerge: The Paradox of Permanence."

    1st Residency Critique Wall