See a lot of great SX-70 polaroid work [including mine] in the second special issue of Square Magazine: Polaroid
See a lot of great SX-70 polaroid work [including mine] in the second special issue of Square Magazine: Polaroid
Jack Cyr photographs the developing trays of past and present darkroom practitioners
a song by by Robin Holcomb
Is only perfect
For a very short time
You’re blinded to
And it’s rise
How can you know
The planting times?
Castile soap, scraped fine, and half the quantity of very finely pulverized chalk; wet them up to a paste with strong juice of tobacco; when desired to apply to the eye, drop two or three drops of brandy into the box of paste; then take out a bit of it where the brandy was dropped, equal in size to the fourth of a grain of wheat, to the diseased eye; wet it on a bit of glass, and put into the eye with a camel’s hair pencil.
Apply twice daily at first, and from that to only once in two days, for from one to two weeks, will, and has cured wretched bad cases, so says Father Pinkney, of Wayne Co, Michigan, who has used it over fifty years, he being over ninety years of age. His only object in giving it an insertion here is to do good to his fellow creatures; and also for animals, it being equally applicable to horses or cattle.
an excerpt from The Book of Haiku
thus not all. Not even the majority of all but the minority.
Not counting schools, where one has to,
and the poets themselves,
there might be two people per thousand.
but one also likes chicken soup with noodles,
one likes compliments and the color blue,
one likes an old scarf,
one likes having the upper hand,
one likes stroking a dog.
but what is poetry.
Many shaky answers
have been given to this question.
But I don’t know and don’t know and hold on to it
like to a sustaining railing.
– Wislawa Szymborska [translated by Regina Grol]
with mustered musement and merriment, a dispensation: at its most elemental, photography serves to reify that which the photographer deems worthy. to make a photograph is to assert value, and it is this assertion of value, in the form of a representation, that is, first and foremost, (re)iterated through dissemination. Instagram facilitates both acts: the taking and the trajectory, framing both as, as simple and as swift and as seamless as swiping a few onscreen buttons. and, unlike other models of making [a pro camera, being an artist, etc] and shaking [a book, the newspaper, a gallery or museum for example] that may by convention be bound by cost, time, purpose, profession, skill, education, social standing and/or experience, Instagram offers a relatively unencumbered mechanism to readily participate in a radically differing vista: the quotidian. to peruse a nexus of Instagram connections and to contribute your own photographs to that well, is to play a part in the real time accumulation, a steadying (re)valuation, of some of what gets us, singularly and together, through each day: friends, family, pets, places and food; something beautiful, something funny, something seen, and something done. it is in this way that the common practice of judging the relative merit of an individual photograph falls flat in the face of the Instagram interface. for the import of Instagram is in the very fact of each photograph having been produced and of the near-instantaneous shared profusion of countless such photographs across a network of exchange in which the legal tender is ♥ and minds [ie comments] and the reward, irregardless of the likes, is a reinforced sense of identification. every photograph a shiver not unlike your own.
i quit every other day and the other days i don’t even bother. i should’ve been a poet or a painter, or even smarter, taken those automotive repair classes in high school or got a good job at the shipyard like everyone else. maybe i should’ve went to a vocational cooking school, or better pestered my mother into buying me an electric guitar when i was twelve so i could’ve run away at fifteen to a southern california suburb to star in an angry punk rock band. instead what i’ve got are cameras, film, a darkroom i can’t afford, chemicals and paper. yet even with these riches i scarcely manage to fit any one thing worth your whiles to the confines of the material, never mind the unending erosion, for better or worse, of my very own wiles. it’s a feeble medium and it’s not keen to forgive. on my best days i think to tell the world important things, but let’s be honest, i cannot. it doesn’t work that way. it’s the cameras that do the telling and the most they ever tell me is what i’m in need of knowing. i scratch out the bits and pieces i remember and do what i can to smuggle them out to you. i try my best. i try to guess where you’ll be. i try to pronounce the languages you might speak. i try to carry on the mannerisms that might make your mind. i don’t know. the cameras don’t care what they do. the cameras don’t need to be used. there are long lonely days when i think the cameras are just fine by themselves as if maybe i should’ve been somebody else. like what i should’ve been is a clerk, a conductor, an electrician. some kind of catalyst. pure and invisible.
There is light. We neither see nor touch it.
In its empty clarities rests
what we touch and see.
I see with my fingertips
what my eyes touch:
shadows, the world.
With shadows I draw worlds,
I scatter worlds with shadows.
I hear the light beat on the other side.
Friedlander won’t admit an influence, offering a good pot of beans as inspiration enough and my father always said you weren’t really poor until you drank off the soup and cooked the beans again. I make these every few weeks.
Rinse clean a pound of white beans, great northern or navy don’t matter, and soak in water overnight. In the morning drain the beans and put them in a stock pot along with a diced large white onion, a minced clove of garlic, two bay leaves and a ham bone or smoked hock. Fill the pot with water a few inches above the beans. Tie together a handful of parsley and as many sprigs of thyme as you can find and set that in on top and bring the pot to boil on high heat. Carefully skim off any foam and scum that forms up on the surface and then turn the heat down to low and half-way cover with a lid. Simmer the beans slow for two or three hours and from time to time skim off any more scum that might rise to the surface. Once the beans are cooked through remove what’s left of the tied together herbs and the ham bone or hock. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Should you have any leftover ham or meat from the hock, cut that up and add that back into the beans and simmer another twenty minutes or so and then they’re done. Best though if you wait a day or two to let everything marry. Invite friends over; the beans are fine with toasted bread and baked squash. Freezes well.
Clarence John Laughlin organizes a lifetime of work — an excerpt:
GROUP A: STILL LIFES
This group, the earliest on which I worked, was begun in 1935. I started with no formal training at all as a painter or photographer, but with some background as a writer, and a vast background as a reader. Although this group originated in a desire to develop further an interest in composition (incited by the discovery of certain art magazines in the 1930s) it eventually became involved in an urge to see how far my feelings about objects could become projected through the camera; and in the discovery of objects which could become the clues to changes in the nature of American culture. Thus, here, as in much of my work, there is a progression from the semi-abstract to the poetic.
GROUP J: THE IMAGES OF THE LOST
Group J deals with the people rejected by our society; it is the first group primarily devoted to human beings. But the people were very seldom photographed where they were actually found. Instead, a difficult method was used: a special background was selected for each person (often from places discovered previously) with the intention of making the background work, not only in terms of design, but in terms of a subtle revelation of the overall social situation of the person. The people themselves were not used as models — they were not posed — nor were they used as “sociological documents.” The attempt was to treat them as individual human beings. The overall composition was determined carefully on the ground glass. But the exposure was not made till each person seemed to reveal himself by some spontaneous gesture or expression.
GROUP Q: NEW ANATOMIES
In this comparatively small group, which began in 1951, I have tried to show that the camera can explore the plastic potentialities of the human body in just as real a sense as, for instance, Picasso has done in some marvelous drawings where he makes use of numerous kinds of distortion in recreating the body; although in these photos distortion is not the method actually used. Nevertheless we are presented with visions of the body which it would be impossible for the physical eye directly to see. The pictures go completely beyond the kind of “recording” function usually assigned to the camera, and instead of giving us the results of direct vision, give us far more — the hyper-real vision created by the inner eye in man — the poetic, desiring, and dreaming eye. Because of this, the erotic element becomes all the more intense. But due to the puritanical code dominating this country till recently, none of these pictures have ever been published or exhibited before. The basic quotation for this series is from Hart Crane: “New thresholds, new anatomies!” And the last half of this quotation is, literally, the subject for this group.
GROUP S: THE MAGIC OF THE OBJECT
It should be pointed out that Group S is the only one of the many groups I worked on which is entirely devoted to so-called commonplace objects. In this group I try to show how the photographer, like the painter and poet, can release a level of meaning from the most ordinary objects, which has nothing to do with their naturalistic meaning. The photographer, of course, does this through intensely personal vision (just as is true of the painter and the poet) and when this happens, what the photographer is really dealing with is what the human mind has projected into the object: the secret language of inanimate objects, the hidden images of man’s hopes and joys, his dreams and desires, by which he makes more human the inhuman world around him. Although most of these pictures use the “found” object, all the objects are, in a deeper sense, “well arranged,” that is, lighting, composition, and other factors have been used, both consciously and compulsively, to make more manifest the hidden meanings these objects have for the sensibility of the photographer. But, aside from all this, many of the objects in these pictures can be truly, considered part of the iconography of our time.
to plot those places
where i last remember you
time and time again
your feelings, your experiences, your ideas are an auspicious, even admirable place to begin, just know when you’ve finally reached an end none of that should matter anymore. what there will be is something you’ve never seen before and what that will be is the very thing you did not even know you most needed.
I read that we’re all made of the same stuff: atoms, molecules and chemical compounds. That literally this could be that and that will become this. When they say all is one, they aren’t being kind. I know dead birds are a cliche, but figuratively it was on my doorstep and not many come knocking. When fitting energy to fate, and fate to phenomena, constellations are our only consolation.
made for a recent exchange for The Postcard Collective
– for Silvia Natalia Rivera
I don’t know why they would make me love a dream I had, many years back,
containing a dream of yours
– your skull appeared to me
And it had an exalted presence;
it didn’t look at me — it looked at you.
And it drew near my skull, and I looked at you.
And when you were looking at me, my skull appeared to you;
it didn’t look at you.
It looked at me.
In the exalted night,
someone looked on;
and I dreamed your dream
– beneath a soundless rain,
you hid within your skull,
and I hid within you.
right hand: polophony
left hand: stewardesses
top row: typewriter