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!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Yesterday I spent some nice time with Nori Mizukami, who is making a documentary about the Seeing With Photography Collective. Nori agreed to pose for some light paintings. Nori's film is dealing with his own visual problems, due to Lasik eye surgery that went bad .

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Soft and simple-Box Portraits

A magnifying glass lens and a cardboard box are used for our box portraits. A digital camera, focused at the end of the box records the light painting that is used to light our sitters up. Though minimal and very soft, the pictures have interesting subtleties, and gradations of tone that remind me of pastel drawing. Some of us were browsing through our collection of box portraits yesterday at our workshop, so I was inspired to post some of mine here. When grouped together in a gallery exhibition, they present a very striking unity.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

New Video

I've spent the last two weeks making a new video about the Seeing With Photography Collective. Here's the link-

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two news Pieces

Congratulations to Gaia Squarci who has had a series of her photographs published on the New York Times Lens online blog. "Guided by Blindness" portrays various blind individuals some of whom are members of the Seeing With Photography Collective.  Experience Gaia's images, and the accompanying story here...http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/guided-by-blindness/

And Aine Pennello's video is available now and can be experienced HERE on Vimeo.  Thank you Aine for your interest.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter light painting and beginning a new series.

The Light Painting World Alliance announced a photo competition for its members. A calander will be published in 2014 featuring 12 selected light paintings, which have the theme of a particular month. I asked the artists in Seeing With Photography to maybe consider working on such a project. So heres my first try, seen here before I submit it formally. The cold winter idea willbe further developed in more images soon.
Other SWPC people helped, Don Martinez, Phil Malek, Charlie Murry and the additional lighting was by our new friend from Tokyo, Norihiro Mizukami,or "Nori". Nori is studying film making at the School of Visual Art, and hes also visually impaired. Nori's very entheuestic and lots of fun to work with, hes started filming our goings on too. Thanks to all.
Last night I began a new series of memorial images, abstract compositions  of symbolic objects and arrangemets specific to those I've loUt in my life. It was a diffiult day. Aine Pennello, a journalism student at CUNY, was filming at my place. There were interviews, and light painting and reading from my journal using the Dragon voice -to -text program. As it so happened, the current page involved some very heavy stuff, which also, coincidentally, related to the first memorial image too. My instincts were torn between reading the passage, or not. I hadnt read the pages for 23 years, and wasn't sure of how the words would unfold before commiting to read it for her video. I went through it, and was filmed doing so. Having a  video camera very close by, while retracing the most awful moment in my entire life, was unlike anything i can describe. It exhauseted me being filmed.
When i have a satisfactory version of my first concept, you'll see it here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

kat Yi's Movie trailer

kat Yi has completed the Movie trailer for her documentary called "Light Mind". Have a  short visit...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

News Flash- Artificial Retina Argus 2 Approved by FDA

There's been big news about the FDA giving the ok to the Argus 2 retinal implant.  This actually restores sight to those blinded from RP.  Briefly- its a tiny photoreceptor chip implanted into the retina, and transmits electrical signals into the brain. The resulting artificial sight is crude and at a stage where just simple shapes and lines can be seen, so its useful for navigation and everyday tasks requiring sight. Something more or less like whats below... 

Some kind of sense... simulation of the artificial Retinal implant
Its an amazing mixture of biology and technology, there's a video camera and geeky looking eyeglasses.  I guess I could carry off the cyborg look by imagining its merely some super cool vaporware product under development, with streaming data sets pouring into my keen eyes. In New York, Im not sure how long they'd last on the streets here before someon decided to snatch them off. Do they work well with skinny jeans?
It could be that I'll wind up implanted with something similar one day, but as far as treatments go, genetic therapy seems more likely to restore vision to those of us with RP. I dont go to the RP bulletin boards and chat rooms any more. Newly diagnosed people need them for support and information.  And I'm tired of waiting for all those hope filled "promises of a treatment very soon", which never actualized. I need my life, my joy, my art, and stay as far as possible from the medical world and its terms and definations. The Argus 2 though, deserves bravos. My friend Raymond, who went blind from RP, might investigate this to restore his lost vision, and I guess its good to know that this cyber eye will improve in resolution, and will be there when I need it, its comforting of course.

"Unimpaired by Vision" by Maia Booker

 Journalist Maia Booker visited with the Seeing With Photography Collective last year. Read about her experiences HERE.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Two from a total of four light paintings I made recently. They are more in the "Revisit" series. bringing older art work to a new, visual life again through the technique and intent of light painting. I used some prints of blind Centaurs.  Here and there are small birds and butterflies blurred and partly frozen in flight.
Colin Nusbaum joined me, filming again. It was really nice to talk with him about writing, and film making. His intent is for a film with no obvious resolution, or formula, just recording life as it unfolds. Its unnerving somewhat, wanting to live up to some expectations, his or mine. As the subject, and focus of this project,  I want his effort and time filming to be rewarding. The week after he had filmed at my Yoga class, our teacher, Nina Priya David jested with us gently. "Last week", she said to our small circle of students, "It was very exciting here, wasn't it, with all that filming. Maybe you re wondering, will I be in it? will it be on TV?, will it be in the movies? Well... who gives a s..t! - you all were wonderful when that camera was on you, your poses could have made the cover of 'Yoga Magazine', so always do Yoga as though you were at the center of a big film."
 Colin is very casual and sensitive and laughs at my jokes, so Im kind of getting used to his camera being around.. I told Colin I haven't been making many photographs lately, and have just been writing. Mainly transcribing a journal I kept in the 1980's and 90's. Im the only one who can do this. I need to have these words travel with me to the place of darkness, though my images cant make that trip with me. He thinks its a good idea to film it, but I worry It'd be tedious for a documentary, 
The Seeing with Photography group has been invited to return to Russia, the plans are still preliminary, details as soon as I hear any more news.
Something new - but old ...Mark has a small batch of that wonderful Polaroid 4 by 5 inch negative film. I've made a few light painings using  it with the old speed graphic camera recently, like the old days! The negatives need to dry, and Mark has to scan the negs, so Ill show you some results soon.

 Above- Centaur 1 and 4

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Evelyn 1.13 #2

Evelyn Larson poses for a portrait behind an artist's easel. My idea was to show her framed by the wooden rectangle, so she sat forward to get the position better. Behind, and around, are small dots and lines, captured from a shopping bag, of all things. I moved it around, "painting" the patterns into the image. Evelyn is another amazing, determined artits in our group who is totally blind. She has breast cancer and is undergoing treatment, still, shes determined to show up and make light paintings.