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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about. Ask me anything you can't Google.



Posts tagged "looking"

Aug 04, 2014
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I have to make time to daydream and change my eye… Mrs. Vreeland was right: “The eye must travel.” You have to see something different, even if it’s just finding a new way to walk home.

Apr 16, 2014
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lonelysandwich:

Ergo dronies

If Kottke says it’s a thing, it must be a thing. As consumer camera drones become more common, this kind of shot (or the one that inspired it by Amit Gupta) will become more familiar. Or this one I made with ominous shadow and a bit of vignette for enhanced drama.

There’s a reason that you’re going to see a lot of these from drone flyers like me, and it’s this: once you get past the novelty of taking a camera high up in the air, getting a bird’s eye view of stuff is actually a little boring.

What birds see is actually a little boring. Humans are interesting. Getting close to stuff is interesting. I bet if we could strap tiny cameras to bird heads, most of what we’d want to look at would happen when they fly close to people. If we could, we’d put cameras on bird heads to take pictures of ourselves.

But try flying your drone close to people. They get freaked out (trust me). Ergo dronies. You want to shoot people, you have to shoot the people you have access to. You end up shooting yourself. It’s not vain, it’s pragmatic.

The next part of the story is the fun part: discovering new things to do with it. New ways to shoot, new shots to get, new moves and new angles. What this feels like to me is that photography was just introduced and enthusiasts are figuring out what a wide shot is and how it feels different from a closeup. Or like the Steadicam was just invented and people are figuring out that running it down a narrow hallway looks really fucking cool.

This doesn’t happen very often, that we find new ways to see ourselves.

Filed under: photography

Jan 19, 2013
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If you’re told what to look for, you can’t see anything else. So one thing is to see, in a way, without words…. Once you have an idea, or somebody tells you something to look for, that’s about all you can see. I had this experience recently: A dear friend of ours has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I hadn’t seen her for about six months. And when she came and visited, I couldn’t see her anymore. I could only look now for symptoms, how the dementia was manifesting itself. I couldn’t see her through any other lens but the possible symptoms. And that one word, that one piece of knowledge totally corrupted every time I looked at her.

Dec 10, 2012
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Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees + True To Life by Laurence Weschler

Two fascinating books that really must be read together…1

When the artist David Hockney read Lawrence Weschler’s Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin soon after its publication, in 1982, he telephoned the author to say that while he disagreed with virtually everything in it, he couldn’t get it out of his mind. He invited Weschler to his Hollywood Hills studio to discuss it, initiating what has become a series of engrossing dialogues, here gathered together for the first time.

Weschler explains in the introduction to the Hockney book:

For some twenty-five years now, whenever I have written about one or the other of these two giants of contemporary art… the other one has called me to tell me, “Wrong, wrong, wrong.” The two have never met or conversed in person (straddling that Southern California scene like Schoenberg and Stravinsky before them, each seemingly oblivious of the other’s existence though in fact deepy seized by the work); instead they have been carrying on this quite vivide argument for over two decades, through me, as it were.

It’s fascinating to juxtapose excerpts from the two books — there are so many things to cross-reference, so many subjects that come up again and again.

One thing that fascinated me is the way in which each artist’s process is driven by asking questions (both artists in the course of their careers have befriended scientists, and waxed poetic about the connections between science and art in terms of inquiry), but how the way each goes about his inquiry has direct economic implications.

At one point, Irwin talks about the importance of artists structuring their finances “in such a way that they do not have to rely on the sale of their art”: “Look…it’s really quite simple. Pursuing the questions which art provokes is a long-term activity that necessarily needs to be free of short-term measures and rewards.” This take is an outgrowth of Irwin’s process: he spends a great deal of his artistic inquiry not actually making anything tangible. In fact, his installations are of such a fleeting and ephemeral nature that “he simply was not producing much by way of salable items.” Irwin admits, “I spen[d] days, weeks, months finishing things no one is ever going to see,” and, “My stuff, my offering, for the most part simply isn’t going to be there to pass on because…almost all my more recent steps have essentially been erased.”

Hockney on the other hand, while working through his questions he is constantly making pictures, whether it be his photocollages, photocopier experiments, paintings, etc. He’s leaving a kind of paper trail behind, and a paper trail can be picked up and sold.2


  1. Oddly, my reading year has been a year of paired books: reading one book, then reading another that compliments it or cancels it out… 

  2. This isn’t to say he’s necessarily intentionally structuring his process in a way that produces salable items. (“I’m not so much interested in the mere objects I’m creating as in where they’re taking me, and all the work in the different media is part of that inquiry and part of that search.”) 

Sep 22, 2012
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Don’t think, look!
— Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (via)

Sep 12, 2012
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Looking, for Hockney, is interest-ing: it is the continual projection of interest.

Aug 08, 2012
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How to look at art

johnmartz:

I saw a lot of this at the Picasso exhibit at the AGO.

Edward Tufte has an interesting pamphlet called SEEING AROUND — in it he talks about how important it is to make the label and description the last thing you look at when you look at art in a museum:


  Pre-installed narratives, categories, metaphors, points of view, and deformation professional all interfere with how and what we see. In looking at art, once story-telling starts, it’s hard to see anything else….
  
  For a while… let the artwork stand on its own. Walk around, see intensely, view from up down sideways close afar above below, enjoy… Your only language is vision.


Joe Brainard said the same thing:


  the first thing to do when looking at a work of art was to do just that—look. Let your eyes take in what is in front of them. Look at a picture from different distances. Look away and then look back, but, since each picture suggests a visual starting point in it, choose a different point each time you look. At this stage, try not to have any thoughts about the work, such as where it fits in the artist’s oeuvre or in art history or social history. You can do that later. If you allow such thoughts at this point, they will distance you from your seeing.


Something I try really hard to do now when I look at art — and as Goodfellas shows us, it’s so much more fun to make up your own stories about a painting…

How to look at art

johnmartz:

I saw a lot of this at the Picasso exhibit at the AGO.

Edward Tufte has an interesting pamphlet called SEEING AROUND — in it he talks about how important it is to make the label and description the last thing you look at when you look at art in a museum:

Pre-installed narratives, categories, metaphors, points of view, and deformation professional all interfere with how and what we see. In looking at art, once story-telling starts, it’s hard to see anything else….

For a while… let the artwork stand on its own. Walk around, see intensely, view from up down sideways close afar above below, enjoy… Your only language is vision.

Joe Brainard said the same thing:

the first thing to do when looking at a work of art was to do just that—look. Let your eyes take in what is in front of them. Look at a picture from different distances. Look away and then look back, but, since each picture suggests a visual starting point in it, choose a different point each time you look. At this stage, try not to have any thoughts about the work, such as where it fits in the artist’s oeuvre or in art history or social history. You can do that later. If you allow such thoughts at this point, they will distance you from your seeing.

Something I try really hard to do now when I look at art — and as Goodfellas shows us, it’s so much more fun to make up your own stories about a painting…

(Source: johnmartz)

Jul 22, 2012
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We see with memory. My memory is different from yours, so if we are both standing in the same place we’re not quite seeing the same thing. Different individuals have different memories, therefore other elements are playing a part. Whether you have been in a place before will affect you, and how well you know it. There’s no objective vision ever – ever.

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Writers and artists have always been self-conscious consumers and filterers of experience, saving it and using it for artistic purposes later on. Perhaps Facebook and Twitter and Instagram incline more and more of us to respond to our experiences as only artists once did — perhaps in that sense the optimistic view that all of us are becoming creators is really true. Though whether that’s a good thing or not, whether the moment tends to get lost in the anticipation of its digital representation — that bears thinking about…

Jul 08, 2012
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These sketchbook pages by Lynda Barry reminded me of this sentence I read recently: “quieting the mind so that God can get on with the surgery of the soul.”

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