Wednesday, March 19, 2014

In Memory of Ben Paige

Looking at Death”, Benjamin Paige with SWPC members, 2003

Yesterday I learned Ben Paige had passed away after a long illness.
Ben was with the Seeing With Photography Collective for many years. He was a determined photographer who was an inspiration. Ben created many memorable and wonderful images,  despite his total blindness.  Ben sometimes showed up tired -but full of ideas and enough energy to work, even though earlier in the day, he had to undergo kidney dialysis. You can experience some of Ben's work here...

 Read Ben's own words as he relates his experiences with our art group. I interviewed Ben in 2006. "Italics " are my own words.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pre Digital

At the photography group I belong to, we've been getting rid of excess, while organizing and packing essential props away. An upcoming building renovation requires us to move our location temporarily. 
Mark Andres and I spent some time looking through boxes of prints, our old view- camera work. He mentioned he wants us to put together a portfolio of images and writing to bring to various photography book publishers. Mark flipped through the silver prints quickly, and we remembered the incidents, people and events surrounding their creation. The newer people in the group sat around listening to our stories and recollections of SWPC artists,  many no longer with us.

So, in that kind of nostalgic mood, I've been browsing through some of my own early work too – all pre -digital, 35mm negative scans. Here are a few. Excuse the dust. All made from about 2003 to 2006.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Whats new?

Glad to be back online after a very long absence due to technical difficulites and replaced wiring. My friend Darius, who has been very busy opening his new " Foro Cultural 81", in Guanajuato Mexico, will be exhibiting some of my work there in June of this year. Take a look at this cultural gem by going HERE .

Sunstone 17

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Sunstone Series

A Sunstone is a cut crystal of calcite, used for sea navigation by ancient peoples. When the sun was obscured by thick clouds and  accurate direction needed to steer by, a sunstone crystal was held up to the sky. In it's facets, the navigator could discern circles of radiance, lines of polarized light, which cut through the dense overcast, and unmasked the hidden sun behind, allowing an accurate reading of direction for sailing.

The photographs in this ongoing series are like personal landmarks or beacons of navigation, each now mostly obscured by vision loss, and each of these recent photographs contain another image - points of visual imagery re- imagained, and brought into a new, immediate context.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Filming with Nori

Nori Mizukami continues filming his documentery, and yesterday he spent time with me, both of us got to work. I made a number of light paintings which may be used in Nori's film. I suggesttde a close up of an eye, and also, I thought that using a laser pointer would be interesting too, because Nori's film, in part deals with,his own unfortunate experience getting Lasik surgery. Last image of the night here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oliver Sacks talks with John Dugdale

John Dugdale is a blind photographer, whose work I've been admiring for many years. I actually met him briefly when SWPC went to one of his exhibitions.
Here both Sacks and Dugdale discuss vision, sight loss and perception.
Mark Andres, of SWPC, will be moderating a discussion of this
film at the Rubin Museum in New York October 9.

UPDATE... Mark wasn't able to moderate the discussion, but Donald Martinez and I both did. The Rubin Museum's theatre is quite innovative and relaxed, providing seating at candle lit tables, so the audience can enjoy lunch too.  The dark space, though difficult for me to navigate, is very warm, and Don and I took some questions about image making and sight loss from the many people gathered there. Though I couldn't see our audience- I heard the applause at least! Thank you to the Rubin Museum.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Moon- Half a diptych

Last week I finally finished the last section of my diptych called-"The Sun and the Moon". Each main area is enclosed by slender column like forms. This style echoes ancient Greek and Roman fresco decoration that presented the illusion of a hanging panel painting suspended in a miniature architectural enclosure.
Phil, Charlie and Nori helped me out by lighting the two columns, and I did the lighting of myself grasping the luminous spheres, and the surrounding atmosphere. I brought in a special, dot patterned paper that produces a granular effect, I use this paper often. I hope to join all the elelments and present the final piece complete, but, for now, here's the right side.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Photography workshop in Penza Russia

On Saturday September 7, I will be participating in a workshop organized by two of my Russian friends, Anton Akimov and Anna Nistratova. What's different about this workshop, is that I'll take part via the internet, and that's new to me. Norihiro Mizukami has helped me tremendously by sharing  his expert filmmaking skills, and has made a demonstration video of me explaining the light painting technique. It'll be shown to the Penza students. Here's the result of that night's photo session.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The View from Here: On the Snapshot Part 1

It's the personal snapshot I'm going to dwell on. Not the intriguing, or ironic, or unexpectedly fascinating, no. Only the picture whose sole purpose is to remind and reawaken, provokes this inqiry.

The availability of inexpensive cameras and better film in the mid twentieth century, left many Americans with plentiful, usually colorful, paper totems of memory never intended for any other purpose than the personal document. Some artists explore the personal, casual and intimate photo as their theme, but I refer to the unintentionally ordinary.

 And to how they resonate and evoke beyond their appearance, beyond just the trap of the visual. Unbound by concerns of form and freed of trends, our snapshot albums let us do a little time travel, and the veneer of style peels away with laughter at our confidence and comfort among the hilariously outdated. It's one of the pleasures of time travel in the shoebox. As great art, they fail - all, but retain their unmistakable grip, molding our memories and charming us with the light and shadow of a vanished world.

These casual snapshots are the dual of my striving as an artist, and examining their meaning is like trying to see the back of my own head, so woven into my mind's fabric of self have they become. Its an inquiry of words. I wont need to mix color on a palette

Friday, August 9, 2013

Matsushige's 17

If I could just let it go, forget about that picture.

Aug 6 2013

As usual, I try to distingish the importance of this morning's essences. As usual, around 8 oclock, I peer outside into the bright eastern morning and sparkling currents of the river below, reconfiguring what I see to another location and time. Then, at 8:15, the required moment, I'll note it all before my eyes, the angle of the sun across roofs, New York's own awakening. I'll compare the similarities and dismiss the differences quickly. Its an annual ritual. Then later, as usual, I'll linger and scrutinize the forms and shades of the bridge embankments of Manhattan, looking odd I guess,  even odder than usual, as I stare at what, to others, is nothing at all, but project on these ordinary, urban, functional and gray angles, an emotional echo. August 6. Its a strange personal ritual I share with very few, if anyone else at all, I imagine. As usual, I'll quietly, futiley tell myself to bring my camera there  sometime one August 6th, to the Manhattan embankments with their thick railings, to start an art project to mimic or re-enact...that picture... that is seared into my soul, as though my familiar Manhattan surroundings were Miyuki bridge. As though I was Matsushige- the person who made that picture. Or maybe someone else, some lower ranked Military photographer who might have recorded a few on that day too, maybe hidden away even now, forgotten somewhere in a Hiroshima warehouse. As usual, I'll shake my head wondering why I'm so regular in my thinking about these matters around August 6th. That day.That picture.

Dreadful anxieties about annilation flow from that picture.That smudgey, rectangle of distant fires, broken windows and burned victims seems like a detailed imprint not only  from the past, but of a possible, awful future too. I grew up in the 1960's, and vividly remember sitting in a school hallway, shoulder to shoulder with my class, ducking and practicing, molding ourselfs to a suitable position which might better resist the impact of a Hydrogen bomb. One morning an odd picture appeared in the lobby of my family's apartment building. That toxic looking, yellow and black fallout shelter icon, directing us to an imagined safety.

During World War II,Yoshito Matsushige was working in Hiroshima as a photographer for the local newspaper. Soon after the atomic explosion, he had the presence of mind to dig out his camera from under the debris of his home, as well as two rolls of film - 24 possible pictures. And at the end of the day, 17 potential shots remained blank.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Fantastic news from Kat Yi. Her documentary "Light Mind" is an official selection of the 2013 HollyShorts Film festival in Hollywood California. I'm beyond happy for her and so proud.
I hope those of you in LA can get a chance to see it. GO KAT!