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Showing posts from June, 2012


From codex99 website: Evelyn McHale This detail from a photo by Robert C. Wiles was published as a full-page image in the 12 May 1947 issue of Life Magazine. It ran with the caption: “At the bottom of the Empire State Building the body of Evelyn McHale reposes calmly in grotesque bier, her falling body punched into the top of a car.” Evelyn, still clutching a pearl necklace, looks disarmingly placid and composed – as if simply asleep. Around her, however, the broken glass and crumpled sheet metal of a car roof show the brutally destructive evidence of her 1050 ft jump.

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Warhol used the image during his early 60's Death and Disaster series.  His primary intent may have been concern with morbid media saturation and de-sensitisation:

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The suicide note:

“I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me. Could you destroy my body by cremation? I beg of you and my family – don’t have any service for me or remembrance for me.
My fiance…

Faces in front of the maths

There is interesting theory that where we find beauty is the outcome of some internal mathematics of perception.  Our brain quickly and decisively computes (based on the precise relationships of proportionality of phi 1.618) how attractive something is.  Human bodies and faces, buildings, art.  All kinds of stuff.

I suppose the calculation reveals itself in pleasure or repulsion and there's a surprising degree of unanimity in our species as to what measures up. 

Maybe the process is involved sometimes when I've been aware of calculations taking place accompanied with a vivid sense of place being invoked.  It's like fragments are thrown up as the sums are being done. Long ago there was a vivid sense of the Pacific Ocean about one person I knew, and if I had a map I'd be able to place a pin fairly precisely, presumably again based on spatial relationships within the oceanography of that part of the planet.  An identification of person/place/activity with the light, the …


I've got a week off work coming up and I am contemplating a new idea for a dressing up shoot that continues the pattern of unidentifiabe self-portraits but inserts another face anyway.  I've been looking on eBay (see pics below) and will be spending Saturday going around all the charity shops in town looking for lots of these particular kinds of tops that I'd need - tops with girl faces on.  I'd frame shot so that my face is either cropped or erased out of the shot, leaving these deeply cliche 'generic' faces to provide one for me.

Jo Spence

Jo Spence visited Trent Polytechnic when I was a student there in the early 80's.  I think she came with her collaborator Rosie Martin.  She was well known in British photography at the time and acknowledged (though not necessarily admired very widely) for her strong socio-political approach to her image-making, as well as for its intensely personal nature.  She was not the usual sort of visiting photographer and she seemed fairly unimpressed being invited to present her work to us and had little to say. I don't think she had much time for us young students (kids, really).  She was not the usual 'artist' type, that's for sure.

Her photographs dealt with honesty about the repulsive reality of human bodies (fleshy self-portraits defying the conventions of female beauty) and admittedly I found the work unappealing.  It was defiantly antagonistic to just about everything and she was quite intimidating.  In retrospect she probably had far more serious issues in her life…

"The fear of getting caught"

A Sunday afternoon and just a few minutes after I had scaled the fence and was taking the first few pictures of the earthworks the gate to the site started to open and two guys appeared.  There was nothing to do but say 'Hi' and see how things went.  It was awkward and I left a couple of minutes later (and went and took pictures elsewhere) but I still feel unsettled.  It's no different to the apprehension about being unexpectedly found wearing a dress.



I had accepted an invite from a mate to take photos at a music festival event at a special needs school this evening that his other half had organised.  It was typical music festival weather most of the day, torrential rain but it had stopped by the time I got there, after finishing work.  A bit of sunshine would have been brilliant but there was plenty of it in other ways, particularly on the faces of people who are actually special, regardless of their needs. There is some indefinable aspect, like peering at the softly shimmering surface of a full, creeping river and sensing some powerful hidden current. In eyes and smiles was the original mystery of the human soul, raw and undeflected, subtly strange and innocently beautiful.  The most precious thing and seemingly long ago lost and forgotten in myself.

The band rocked:

Hanging and Private View

Adolescent sexuality & flatness envy

I don't know why it's taken me so long to buy a girdle (apart from the fact they seem hard to find these days - they are out of fashion).  When I was a teenager I remember looking through my mum's home shopping catalogues at night when everyone was gone to bed and felt both thrilled and ashamed of looking at the women's underwear pages.  One of the things I felt most vividly was - I don't think there's a name for it - but the opposite of 'penis envy'.  The photos of women's smooth profile was totally preferably to my maleness.  The appeal of the girdle in emphasising flatness (rather than protuberance) was especially appealing.

Apparetly TG children are avid collectors of mermaid objects; toys, ornaments, pictures. Perhaps it is the sense of not entirely specific feminine that appeals

This memory of enviously looking at photos in catalogues only came back to me a few years ago and surpised me as I didn't really appreciate that I'd had any tr…

Total photography

The compulsion to shoot was intense this weekend.  All week at work I'd been looking forward to doing a couple of photo sessions and actually ended up doing four - three dressing up ones  and another at a new construction site nearby.  I shot the equivalent of over 55 rolls of film which is absurdly satisfying.  Quantity may not be analagous to quality but it's a good second best psychologically.  Another benefit of shooting in such quantities is that editing can be postponed indefinitely.  I think 'art' photography could see such high output as a bit proletarian rather than reassuringly intellectually coherent.  (If you shoot 5" x 4" you don't usually knock out 2,300 sheets in a couple of days.)  I think it's still conceptual expressing itself because of/through, some hybrid work ethic/ neurotic compulsion. And I don't have the assistants to 'perfect' the shot before removing the dark slide and unleashing that exposure onto a sheet of Fuj…

meal photography

Stephen Shore photographed every meal (as well as everything else) on his road trips across America in the 1970s, comprising the series Uncommon Surfaces, and like a lot of nerdy photographers whenever I eat out I usually take a photo of the food, too.  But a nine year old schoolkid in Scotland, Martha Payne, has been banned from taking photos of her school meals after her daily blog received over two million hits.

* Update: ban lifted in response to huge support for Martha.

Sarah Raymond

Visiting the local university photo and fine art shows last week I expected to see someone interested in transgender and this year it was photographer Sarah Raymond.  She had a documentary project, collaborating with someone locally and also a set on adrogyny.  Her straight fashion shoots were strong with great pro lighting and with models that remind me of Lise Sarfati.  The technical and creative skillset were very impressive and I think she will do well. 

As for the clothes those models are wearing, I would love this totally sensational satin dress from a student designer Claudia Falcieri.

4 self-portraits (4MM)

Elina Brotherus

I saw some photographs by Elina Brotherus exhibited recently - I think it must have been at the current monster contemporary photography round-up at the Saatchi Gallery - and felt an affinity with what she does - which is compulsive self-portraiture.  She's been doing it a looOOoong time.  And she uses a 5" x 4" film camera.

I think when anyone photographs themself even once - let alone a lot - it is assumed they have a rather super-massive ego the size of a black hole and just as crushing to anything that comes close to it, but that ignores a couple of fundamental insights to the process of someone like Brotherus.  Firstly photographing the self is standing at the border crossing between two spaces, the personal  and the public, and that's the case even if the image never sees the light of day, it's an act of exploring the individual in relation to society.  Secondly, on a more practical level, there is no faffing around arranging someone to pose and having to …

Preparing to be unseen

I've just spent an hour shaving my legs and arms and face and washing my hair and am about to apply a little make up and then go take some trans self-portraits in my spare bedroom.  The attention to detail in all this preparedness seems counter-intutive, seeing as how I am planning on occupying only the most minimal part of the photographs, lining myself up at the edge of the frame so that I am hardly in the shot at all.  If I was more conceptually-minded I'd probably do my best to be the person I want to be then stand outside the edge of the frame altogether, or simply press the shutter while stood behind the camera and tripod: being the person I want to be at the moment the exposure is made but not representing myself at all, avoiding all the complexities that would ensue, and leaving a space for either expectations or imagination.

1 am

evening dress (& barefoot)

Torn thread

Yesterday was spent mostly up a ladder re-pointing brickwork and fixing a gutter and as always after doing DIY I really needed to change my clothes.

I had come across this swishy prom dress in a charity shop, after making a short detour on the way to the tool hire shop.

New gold dress