Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bringing Non-Paradise Postcards to Life

I've been spending a lot of time looking at the work of Gregory Crewdson. His work features incredible attention to detail, unbelievable lighting, and complex relationships between characters. It subtly seduces yet is uncomfortable and beautifully familiar at the same time. I'm excited to see he documentary "Brief Encounters" highlighting his process and work when it comes out on DVD:

All of this comes into play as I begin to sketch out how to bring the postcards from last semester to life. I was worried that some of these are still too forced or too cheesy but after meeting with my mentor Scott, I feel as though I might be on the right track. There's much more work to do to perfect these scenes (technically and conceptually) but below shows my start. I plan to go back to each location and shoot again. I also have a number of ideas for new locations and am particularly excited to begin focusing on the island's utilities centers - water, electric, sewer, trash, etc. Even "paradise" still has to contend with urban logistics and I think utility centers are solid grounding points to use as my backdrops for the non-paradise postcards. 

As a triptych.
My mentor Scott and I played around with grouping these verticals
and decided something might be working as a trio.

Seascapes continued...

I currently have 2 bodies of work. One continues my work with long exposure seascapes, paying special attention to objects and/or light sources on the water. I am looking for human-made obstructions on the natural landscape. I keep coming back to the collision of the artificial & natural. I also am turning my camera inland and beginning to experiment with human interaction on the landscape. Here are a few recent examples:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February Check-in

It's a busy time in the studio and on the academic front.
  • January residency summary is posted on the blog.
  • First research paper on this residency's critical theory class "The Archive" drafted. I pulled mostly from the reading below Sven Spieker's "The Big Archive." I'll post final paper soon.
  • Submitted, prepared, printed, and framed 4 images for Pauahi Tower show "Light." I'm looking forward to being apart of this endeavor organized by David Belhke, Koa Gallery Director.
  • Finalized this year's "Art and Poetry" show date at 39 Hotel featuring my high school student's artwork involving the theme of paradise and/or myths of paradise. Write Friday, April 19th in the books!
  • Working steadily on new seascapes.  I'm working with my 70-200mm to focus on small details on the horizon instead of the vast landscape. I'm also charting my latitude/longitude at each location in an effort to better track my location and shooting direction. As I anticipate a lot of traveling this spring, I'm interested in looking at this information and considering how the images relate based on their geography and what specific horizon they point toward.
  • Finally started shooting sketches for the non-paradise postcards. Bringing the postcard project to life has been a learning process. I'm finding that the more I do in pre-production, the better the overall shoot results. This type of photographic style (staged, cinematic) is new to me and I anticipate learning how to overcome various new obstacles as I move through my project ideas. They are not where I want them to be yet but I am learning with each run.
Images at Pauahi Tower for hanging
Framed Prints

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Nation Branding & Wonder Beirut Project

2 articles forwarded by my current mentor Scott Groeniger. I found both interesting as I work through how to approach, understand, and reconcile representations of Hawaii and island culture. 

1. Nation Branding:
"So, even in this (supposedly) more enlightened age, shouldn’t we still be slightly unsettled by top-down nation branding? Why do governments need to convince through PR and promotion that they are doing a good job? Or that their state is a great place to live (or at least visit)? Shouldn’t leaders just walk the walk rather than spend taxpayer money on talking the talk? And exactly whose vision and values are we promoting here?

“Attracting tourist dollars” is the easiest line of defense for such an endeavor—let’s get the word out about how great this place is!—and when cash-poor countries are now commonplace in even western Europe, who can blame them? Isn’t the innocuous “Greetings From _______!” postcard a form of nation branding? And what’s so unsettling about that? To point, if we’re going to rebrand Thailand, who better to hire than Mr. Monocle and Wallpaper himself, Tyler BrulĂ©e, and his creative firm, Winkreative, stripping away that sleazy veneer often associated with Bangkok to reveal the more streamlined, industrious and benign paradise (complete with Euromodern styling) that really exists? Still, a question that lingers is if the campaign actually illuminates previously unearthed Thai treasures or is a whitewash sanding down of the country’s rough edges. It’s one thing to exaggerate a product’s effectiveness, another to misrepresent an entire sovereign state."

2. Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Jorige:
"The story of a pyromaniac photographer is the first part of this project.
Between 1968 and 1969, Abdallah Farah was commissioned by the Lebanese State to take pictures to be edited as post cards. They represented the Beirut Central District and mainly the Lebanese Riviera and its luxury hotels, which contributed to form an idealized picture of Lebanon in the sixties.
Those same postcards are still on sale nowadays, although most of the places they represent were destroyed during the armed conflicts.
As of the autumn of 1975, Abdallah Farah systematically burned the negatives of the postcards, in accordance with the damages caused to the sites by the shelling and street fights. Abdallah used to photograph the image after each new burn he inflicted on it, producing a series of evolving images, which we call the “process”.
We distinguish two types of processes: The first, which we called the ‘historic process' follows very faithfully the events. Several battles have been documented this way among them 'The battle of the hotels' that occurred from 1975 to 1976. In Beirut. The second derives from the impacts which Abdallah inflicted willfully or accidentally to certain images which we grouped under the name 'plastic process'."