A Journal of Life Pursued

Posts Tagged ‘Photography’

Loaded and Cocked.

In Books, Creativity, Photography, The Examined Life on March 26, 2013 at 6:00 am
Pride Parade, Portland, 2011, © Doug Bruns

Pride Parade, Portland, 2011, © Doug Bruns

I have loaded my camera–yes, “loaded my camera” means film, pilgrim–and am giving myself, again, to the streets. Beware, should you decide to stroll about in your bikini, I intend to find you.

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It is always revision and editing–everything changing, always subject to more, to less. I wrote a week or so ago about art and discovery and Jackson Pollock. the piece was called The Practice of Discovery and I included this quote:

“Could Pollock’s late paintings result from his lifelong effort to excavate an image buried in all our brains?”

Picasso wrote an essay, Art as Individual Idea, published in 1923. He said, among other things, the following:

“I also often hear the word evolution. Repeatedly I am asked to explain how my painting evolved. To me there is no past or future in art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was. Art does not evolve by itself, the ideas of people change and with them their mode of expression. When I hear people speak of the evolution of an artist, it seems to me that they are considering him standing between two mirrors that face each other and reproduce his image an infinite number of times, and that they contemplate the successive images of one mirror as his past, and the images of the other mirror as his future, while his real image is taken as his present. They do not consider that they all are the same images in different planes.”

I am arriving at the place of art’s ascension–the notion that art, like perhaps meditation, or nature, or drugs even, might render a revelatory state of consciousness. But what is art?

(BTW: The essay noted above is from The Modern Tradition by Richard Ellmann (the great biographer) and Charles Feidelson, Jr. If there is one book, albeit thick and with small print, that captures the thinking of the modern and the post-modern era, this is the book. I strongly recommend it if this period of great creativity interests you.)

* * *

Epiphany upon going to bed:

I’ve pursued the wrong question, it’s not How to Live? It’s How to Think?

How did I not realize this earlier?

* * *

ref=as_li_ss_tilA friend wrote to ask what I’m reading. I’m reading Where the Heart Beats, John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists, by Kay Larson. The book came to my attention thanks to Brain Pickings and the omniscient Maria Popova.

I’m also about to start, The Inward Morning, A Philosophical Exploration in Journal Form, by Henry Bugbee. Thanks to “…house…” member Geetha for this recommendation. I have not  yet cracked the cover. Here is a note from the back cover:

“The Inward Morning is a boldly original and lyrical philosophy of wilderness. Touching variously on poetry, fly fishing, Thoreau, and contemporary philosophers, this work is erudite and intimate. Henry Bugbee blends East and West, nature and culture, the personal and the universal. This reissue of an underground classic…will inform and inspire both contemporary philosophers and readers interested in an everyday philosophy of nature.”

–sounds like the book I was supposed to write…

Photo Saturday: Greece, 1978

In Photography, Travel on March 16, 2013 at 6:00 am

In praise of Kodachrome! Photos from deep in the archive of my first trip abroad.

Men walk past barrels on Greek Isle

Men walk past barrels on Greek Isle

A concert in ancient arena, Greece

A concert in ancient arena, Greece

View of remote Greek harbor from ruins

View of remote Greek harbor from ruins

Corner shot of the Parthenon, Athens

Corner shot of the Parthenon, Athens

The Parthenon in Athens

The Parthenon in Athens

The Agean--Man fishes, while sun sets.

The Agean–Man fishes, while sun sets.

Photo Saturday: Faces

In Photography, Travel on March 9, 2013 at 6:00 am

I started a project a few years ago of photographing the faces of working folks around the world. The project never came to anything, and, in a manner of speaking, remains open-ended. That is, I’ve not finished it, stated it complete–nor I have I pursued it. Perhaps I will, perhaps I’ll get back on the road, camera in hand. Stay tuned.

One portrait is digital, the others film. I mentioned which is which at the bottom.

Farmer, Tuti, Peru

Farmer, Tuti, Peru

School Girl, Guatamala

School Girl, Guatemala

Merchant, India

Merchant, India

Monk, Bangkok

Monk, Bangkok

Barber, India

Barber, India

The girl from Guatemala is a digital photograph, shot with a Nikon D100. Everything else is film., shot with a medium format camera, the Mamiya R7.

Santa Fe

In Photography, Travel on March 2, 2013 at 6:00 am

A little closer to home this week, photos (of the artsy-fartsy type) from New Mexico.

Bruns019

Lamp, Santa Fe

BrunsTuesday015 B&W

Prairie Farm

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Plastic Jesus, Blue Sky

Door, Taos

Door, Taos

Farm Panorama

Farm Panorama

OCT 2004119

A Nod to Ansel

These were shot with a Leica M8 digital rangefinder with a fixed-focal length 35mm Lux lens. At one point, doing a lot of projects, I owned two M8s. I’ve sold them both. My Leica MP (film) remains in my bag.

Thanks for stopping by.

Prague

In Photography on February 16, 2013 at 6:00 am

Much of my travel has been an excuse to take pictures–or perhaps, I used photography as an excuse to travel. No matter. Prague is one of my favorite cities. I thought I’d break the verbal monotony a bit and share a few shots:

Old Town Bridge Tower, Charles Bridge

Old Town Bridge Tower, Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge Stature

Charles Bridge Stature

Charles Bridge, Night

Charles Bridge, Night

Gulls Above Prague

Gulls Above Prague

Building facade of man holding fish, Prague

Building facade of man holding fish, Prague

Swan in Prague

Swan in Prague

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For you technophiles out there. These shots were made with either a Leica MP or a Maymia 7, medium format camera. All images on Fuji Velvia.

Thursday Theme Day: Diane Arbus

In Creativity, Photography on January 31, 2013 at 6:00 am
Diane Arbus at work.

Diane Arbus at work.

I’m sorry–I have not been precise in my use of language. A theme is not Diane Arbus. A theme is not Hemingway (last Thursday). However, as I noted in my post, Habits of Learning, I best come to a subject through the practitioners who demonstrated a mastery, though Hemingway thought mastery of writing impossible. Last week our theme, though not stated, was the craft of writing, as Hemingway understood it. Today we look briefly at Diane Arbus (1923-1971), the ground-braking photographer. (The name is pronounced DEE-ann, by the way.) I’ll let you determine the core theme.

In 2005 I traveled to New York, to see the exhibit, Diane Arbus Revelations, at the Met. I appreciate her photography a great deal, but it is not the type of photography that changes my view of the world. Robert Frank did that, Arbus did not. Of Arbus, Norman Mailer said, “Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child.”

Notebook, 1959

Notebook, 1959

However, as a pioneer Arbus was unsurpassed, and such effort inspires me.* What struck me at the exhibit was not the art on the wall, but the vast collection of journals and letters and notes where Arbus so diligently worked out her ideas.

Of her images she has said:

“They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there look at you.”

and

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”

and

“And the revelation was a little like what saints receive on mountains–a further chapter in the history of the mystery…”

and this quote, which I find revealing:

“Once I dreamed I was on a gorgeous ocean liner, all pale, gilded, cupid-encrusted, rococo as a wedding

Mexican Dwarf in His Hotel Room, NYC, 1970

Mexican Dwarf in His Hotel Room, NYC, 1970

cake. There was smoke in the air, people were drinking and gambling. I knew the ship was on fire and we were sinking, slowly. They knew it too, but they were very gay, dancing and singing and kissing, a little delirious. There was no hope. I was terribly elated. I could photograph anything I wanted to.”

In 1963 Arbus applied for a Guggenheim Foundation grant. (She was awarded the grant in 1963 and again in 1966.) Her project title was, American Rites, Manners and Customs, and begins with this paragraph:

“I want to photograph the considerable ceremonies of our present because we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it. While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning. I want to gather them, like somebody’s grandmother putting up preserves, because they will have been so beautiful.”

Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, NYC

Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street, NYC

There was no one more adept at exploiting the voyeuristic curiosity of human nature. It is a remarkable thing, the ability to tap into an aspect of being, extract it, as it were, and put it on display for all to see. Such ability is truly remarkable–and when it occurs, being an event so rare, history takes notice. For the artist, however, such mining can be a burden of expression. (Diane Arbus committed suicide in 1971.  “I go up and down a lot,” she’d written a friend.)

I suggest, as with any visual artist, that you study the work if you want to learn more. You can find more images here. If, like me, you are drawn to the creative life and want to dig deeper, I suggest Patricia Bosworth’s biography, Dian Arbus.

If you wish to know more of the artist’s life, as well as notes, letters and more images, I heartily

Diane Arbus, Revelations

Diane Arbus, Revelations

recommend purchasing Diane Arbus, Revelations, the publication encapsulating the Met exhibit. It is a coffee-table sized monograph and narrative that is indispensable to the serious student of the creative examined life.

Thanks for reading,

d

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* On inspiration: When you find it attempt to understand it. What inspires you and why? Construct a well of inspiration from which you can drink repeatedly.