Adrian Chesser and Timothy White Eagle

Beaster Bunny and Bear

I ran across this image and followed it to the artists site Mercury Vapor Studios. Very interesting photography. Check out their Portfolio.
From the artists site:

“We are a team of two artists who work together under the name Mercury Vapor Studio. Adrain Chesser was given his first camera more than 20 years ago and has been taking pictures ever since. He is a photographer who over the years has developed a working style which often involves using aspects of ritual to capture his photographs. Timothy White Eagle spent his twenties involved in theater, visual and performance art. He spent his thirties diving deeply into ceremonial ritual, working extensively with native American, pagan and Haitian traditions.”

“Together we explore the intersection between art and ritual. We use ritual to create an environment of opening and safety. Together with our subjects we go into an undiscovered country. We ask our subjects to expose their truth. Through our lens we seek that same truth. We do our best not to expect anything in particular from a shoot. We play the sacred fool stepping off the cliff, trusting that we have everything we need.”

Willy of the Trees
Ligger Lounging

Aids Boy Takes One for the Team
The Deification of Bear

In Shadow

It’s So Pretty It Looks Artificial
Posted in Art

Anthroposcenes (Equivalents)

Gregory Crewdson
The work of Gregory Crewdson also comes to my mind strongly when I think of landscape photography- albeit a sort of emotional landscape.  His constructed tableaus look more like film stills, yet are open to a broad range of allegorical possibilities.
When I see his images I view them as extensions of our emotional conflict as a civilization at this moment in time. Exteriors and Interiors are fused together in a kind of dream state.
Each image seems poised at the moment of revelation or pivotal decision, often imbued with a kind of catastrophic atmosphere. 
Strangely this feels “natural” give the chaotic speeds at which our live are propelled forward. When viewing his images it is like stepping into one of those dreams where you are lost and can’t remember how you got to such a place, such an impossible situation. I feel like this in my waking life too and it is disconcerting.  
Crewdson’s tableaus are anchored on the individuals who inhabit them. These people often appear exhausted and drained. A new kind of everyperson for the visually over stimulated.

His images are haunting not for their odd collisions of nature and human surrender, but because they are so familiar to our emotion experience of the stresses we encounter everyday through their own visual narrative.

In the past the stresses of civilization drove the poetic among us back to nature to balance mind and body.
For most of us the concept of “escaping to nature” is now a pretty fiction. It was possible at one time and numerous writers have given us eloquent accounts of their experiences, such as Emerson, Thoreau, Muir, among others. But for most of us, we are tied to our debts and jobs and numerous responsibilities. Civilization has eclipsed nature in many ways, or at least our access to it. 
Even national parks require fees and have camping restrictions, almost everything else is private property. Where are we left to go?

We “escape” to virtual places. Landscapes each with myriad individual emotional flora and faunas to navigate. 

Landscape as inhabitations experienced by people of various socio-economic status, race, and class…

Landscape as spiritual or allegorical visages and the detritus in our wake…

“Landscape” itself has become a mirror of the many psychic alignments of civilization.

Emotional intersections that have indistinct borders as much on actual land as they do in our experience of our environment, whether it be and exterior or interior space.

“The poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses. Every form of love, of suffering, of madness; he searches himself, he consumes all the poisons in him, and keeps only their quintessences.” —Aurthor Rimbaud

Minor White spoke of his theory of equivalence:

“Equivalence is a pregnant discipline. Hence the photography that grows out of its practice is bound to develop and change with the photographers and writers on photographic criticism who become mature enough to understand the nature of the theory or approach. The Equivalent is one of those ideas that in practice grows by the efforts and accomplishments of the people who explore it.”

Robert Polidori

“…photographs originate in a known feeling state. They are not self-expressive, or self-searching; they are self-found. Communication is of no importance, evocation of little significance, competition nonexistent. They are shown as an event out of which Equivalence might occur. The possibility of the reader’s being confronted with something of himself is their only reason for being reproduced. They will function as mirrors of the viewer, whether he admits it or not. It will not be pointed out which of the images knows happiness, the one that knows anger, or the one that knows sadness because viewers of photographs need the opportunity to learn faith in their own feelings.”

Sally Mann from What Remains
“Mann asks us in What Remains to contemplate the beauty and efficiency with which nature assimilates the body once life is over. Here she seamlessly connects the landscape of the earth to the topography of the body and examines how both are tightly interwoven.”

Philip Brookman

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Anthroposcenes (Part 10: Steven B. Smith)

In my research for this piece, I accidentally ran across the work of Steven B. Smith
Smith photographs landscapes in the midst of development. 
Sculpted Fence #8, Bloomington, Utah, 2007
I thought it was interested that he focused on developments where the design of the structures and surrounding spaces attempted to integrate with the local environment.
As with the slow food movement, the rise of eco-concerns in recent years has shifted the ways many people view their own position and participation in the radical transition of so much natural land into spaces for use. Softening the contrast of natural verses man-made  seems to be one way of convincing ourselves that all this new devolopment isn’t entirely destructive, regardless of the evidence that it is.
Too few are really interested in the long term solution- which is restraint in continued development, but details like this are evidence of the emergence of the consciousness of our increasingly overwhelming footprint on the land.
Smith zeros in on the biggest issue (in the west) over development— water. Without access to water development is not possible, yet for decades municipalities have appeased developers and have managed to steer water toward new development at great cost to local waterways, wet lands, and eco-systems which will have long term consequences.
From his Close To Nature series:

Saratoga Springs, Utah, 2009

 North Salt Lake, Utah, 2006

Bio info from his website:

Steven B. Smith is a photographer whose work chronicles the transition of the Western landscape into suburbia. For this work he was awarded the First Book Prize for Photography by the Honickman Foundation and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. His book The Weather and a Place to Live: Photographs of the Suburban West was published by Duke University Press (2005). He has received Guggenheim and Aaron Siskind Fellowship.

Sculpted Fence #7, Ivins, Utah, 2008
“The idea I had of using conservation methods as my language helped me step up to the plate and work with a subject matter that had been explored a lot, and well. While I felt a little nervous about photographing in a similar vein, I also felt there was something more that needed to be said. The landscape continues to evolve. The technology for restraining the land, as well as bringing in water, has changed dramatically in the past ten years—in fact, it changes every couple of years.”

Herriman, Utah, 2007, #3
“I started trying to use the landscape as a still-life. I remember reading about how Walker Evans would go on scouting trips during the summer and winter, because he didn’t like the light those times of year—he was very particular about the kind of light that he wanted.”
North Las Vegas, Nevada, 2003.
“I don’t want these issues to overwhelm the form and content of the physical photograph. The politics is in there, but I’m trying to take a tone that isn’t accusatory. There aren’t any easy answers. Sometimes it’s scary, and beautiful, because the land is all torn up and being completely reconfigured. But once the landscaping grows in, it looks like a pretty decent, well-managed, well-thought-out place. And then there are examples that are not nearly so nice. I’m trying to show the complexity of what is out there, what these water and soil control systems do to the land. One of my main issues, that I’ve tried to point out directly, is how water is used and channeled, and how water in these areas is imported.”
Las Vegas, Nevada, 1997
La Mirada, California, 2003

“When I encountered developers or other construction people, they tended to be pretty conservative, and they’d let me know my views weren’t really appreciated. [Laughs.] But I tried to avoid asking them what they thought—politically, I’m not in favor of this massive expansion and development.”

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Anthroposcenes (Part 9: Sze Tsung Leong)

From Guernicamagazine:
“[Leong’s] History Images frames the tragic beauty resulting from global modernism’s disdain for history and evinces all that recurs in Leong’s other works, including a series of oil paintings: the loss of historical space, the nuances and specificities of cities around the world, and the hierarchies represented by urban architecture.”

The Artist on his work from a lecture series at ICP.

“The photographs in History Images are of histories, in the form of cities in China, either being destroyed or created at this juncture in time. They are of past histories, in the form of traditional buildings and neighborhoods, urban fabrics, and natural landscapes, in the process of being erased…


…They are of the absence of histories, in the form of construction sites, built upon an erasure of the past so complete that one would never know a past had ever existed. And they are of the anticipation of future histories, yet to unfold, in the form of newly built cities…



Cities are the largest, most enduring, and most encompassing documents of history, uniquely recording the variations and residues of time.


Substantial urban change is generally expected to span over prolonged periods: decades, generations, centuries. The evidence of these changes is usually gradual and cumulative; residues of history are slowly left in built form, giving physical shape to the accretions of time.


There are moments in history, however, that accelerate the rate of urban change: warfare, changes of regime, transformations of social structure, economic prosperity. These moments force societies to evaluate their relationship to their own history and their attitude to their future, in turn affecting their relationship to their environments.



China presently finds itself in one of these moments, as its recent transformations in politics, society, and economics have triggered changes to its cities to a degree not previously seen in its contemporary history. . .” — Sze Tsung Leong

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Anthroposcenes (Part 8: Richard Misrach)

Richard Misrach’s photographs have always emphasized the enormity of nature to me, an in contrast how trivial our presence here is.
He is best known for his continuing series Desert Cantos studying human intervention in landscapes.

“I’ve come to believe that beauty can be a very powerful conveyor of difficult ideas.”—Richard Misrach

Misrach is represented by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.
Posted in Art

Anthroposcenes (Part 7 David Maisel)

From his site:
“David Maisel’s large-scaled, otherworldly photographs chronicle the complex relationships between natural systems and human intervention, piecing together the fractured logic that informs them both.Maisel’s aerial images of environmentally impacted sites explore the aesthetics and politics of open pit mines, clear-cut forests, and zones of water reclamation, framing the issues of contemporary landscape with equal measures of documentation and metaphor. As Leah Ollman states in the Los Angeles Times, “Maisel’s work over the past two decades has argued for an expanded definition of beauty, one that bypasses glamour to encompass the damaged, the transmuted, the decomposed.”

His images appear related to the earlier work of Emmet Gowin, though more richly complex in color.
Maisel sees this body of work as a collection of “Black Maps”. As grim testaments to what we’ve done, they are uncomfortably beautiful. Strip mining, clear cutting, leaching fields, firestorms, and other devastations look like patchworks of unbelievable color separated by the brushlines of tiny vehicle tracks.
These images also remind me of the canvas meditations of Mark Rothko.
Maisel is inspired by the apocalyptic writings on the Great Salt Lake of Robert Smithson.
“Smithson wrote that “the sense of the earth as a map undergoing disruption leads the artist to the realization that nothing is certain or formal.” Maps, like photographs, are designed to offer an objective overview, a means to comprehend our location; they are both place and concept, figurative and abstract. But a map that is black, as the title of this work suggests, is a kind of negation. Black maps are indeed unknowable and unnamable; they are ciphers. Perhaps these are the only kinds of pictures, with their compelling ambiguities, with which we can mark the demise of these landscapes.”
Posted in Art

Anthroposcenes (Part 6: Laura McPhee)

In her collaboration with Virginia Beahan No Ordinary Land, Mcphee explores the ways people interact with the landscapes in which they live.
In River of no Return She focuses on Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley. From Yale Press:
“McPhee depicts the magnificence and history of the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho. Her subject matter includes the region’s spectacular mountain ranges, rivers, and ranchlands; its immense spaces and natural resources; the effects of mining and devastating wildfires; and the human stories of those who live and work there.”
Posted in Art


Foreclosures in 2008: whether you intended for it or not
this is how you will be remembered, Mr. Geithner

The New Yorker has a great piece on how Timothy Geithners policy recommendations “saved” the economy… at least the fortunes and futures of the 4 big banks. For the rest of us… I’m not so sure… interesting read.

“When President Obama came to office, the Bush Administration had already committed two hundred and thirty billion dollars of taxpayers’ money to big banks—a policy that Geithner, as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, helped to enact. During the transition, he warned the incoming President that more “repugnant” actions would be necessary to shore up the financial system and restore economic growth. (In the first three months of 2009, G.D.P. declined at an annual rate of 6.4 per cent.) “We knew it would be politically costly, but not nearly as costly as if we hadn’t got it right,” Geithner said to me of the financial stabilization plan. “And we didn’t think we had other options available that were credible.”

The argument is that if they hadn’t done what they did things would be much much worse. I don’t doubt it, but then then not come down hard on the offending executives, managers, and practices too?
“Geithner seemed exasperated by these critiques, and by the idea that the Democrats were now viewed in some quarters as beholden to business interests. “I don’t think the Democratic Party is seen as the party of Wall Street,” he said. “I think there are some in the Democratic Party that think Tim and Larry are too conservative for them and that the President is too receptive to our advice.” The reality, Geithner insisted, was that the Obama Administration had given just seven billion dollars to banks—mostly small and midsize banks, not big Wall Street firms—and it had proposed the biggest regulatory overhaul in seventy-five years. “Some on the left have fallen into a trap set by the Republicans, allowing voters to mistakenly think that the biggest part of the bank bailout had come under Obama rather than Bush,” Geithner said. He suggested that his critics draw up a balance sheet comparing the Administration’s expenditures on programs that benefitted Wall Street with those that benefitted Main Street. “By any measure, the Main Street stuff dwarfs the Wall Street stuff. Compare money for housing versus money for banks. Measure tax cuts for working families versus money for banks.”
Something just doesn’t add up. Can’t put my finger on it, but as long as the banks are behaving like pirates I will remain deeply suspicious.
“Geithner’s figures are accurate. But he and the Administration have failed to persuade the public. For whatever reason, a large chunk of the population—from liberal Democrats to right-wing Tea Party activists—does indeed believe that people who used to work for Wall Street firms, particularly Goldman Sachs, run the Administration. At Capitol Hill hearings and other public events, Geithner himself, who has been a public servant for almost his entire career and has never worked on Wall Street, has sometimes been identified as a former investment banker.”
I don’t know what to believe.
Regardless, I still recommend people to move money out of the big banks.
If the government did act in good fail hoping that the banks would behave in the greater interest, then the banks have betrayed them as well.
Closing our accounts is our only way to tell them what we think of their response to their use of public funds and their greedy business practices.

Amon Tobin: Live In Brussels

Just saw this and downloaded.
Amon Tobin is giving away the live recording performance of his latest effort The Foley Room.
From his site:

“Recorded by Studio Brussels at the world famous AB theatre in Belgium – which arguably has the best sound system in Europe. After months of back and forth and despite everyone’s best efforts the mix was in danger of being edited into the ground to accommodate big labels and publishers. Rather than release a compromised version commercially, the decision was made to give it away for free instead.”

more from around the interwebs

Restless, can’t concentrate, moody.
Tired of working all the time and making so little progress. I refuse to give up and just chip away at my little art projects.
Tired of the same excuses I make to myself for making rationalizing bullshit.
But then the dishes need to be washed and the bills paid and, and, and…

Tumbling, drifting, amazed at how others manage to do balance art and life. I’m not talking about the million dollar “successful” ones, but the rest of us who are still toiling away for the that elusive carrot.

In my head everything is ruins, in perpetual collapse.

I used to go to art galleries to see new art, but now all you have to do is roam tumblr, or surf personal blogs, flickr and websites to see an astonishing array of incredible work… humbling and incredibly inspiring.

“If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
Love is the rhythm
You are the music
If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
You get what you’re given
It’s all how you use it…”

“When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”—Mark Twain

“Men appear to prefer to ruin one another’s fortunes, and to cut each other’s throats over a few miserable villages, than to extend the means of human happiness”—Voltaire

Sometimes letting silence speak is best you can do.

“A Tale of Love and Darkness”

Excellent article in the Sunday New York Times:
“Six years ago, when violence was the order of the day here, Elias Khoury’s 20-year-old son, George, was killed in a Palestinian terrorist attack. The Khourys are Palestinian, so the murder of George — who was out for a jog and shot from behind by gunmen in a car — produced an apology. Sorry, the killers said, we assumed the jogger was a Jew.”

“So, in memory of George, a charismatic law student and musician, Mr. Khoury did something that shocked many in his community. He paid for the translation into Arabic of the autobiography of Israel’s most prominent author and dove, Amos Oz.”

Someday, someday…

The Los Angeles Times has a great feature called “Homes of the Times”.  I love seeing how some people create their personal spaces. Here are a few of my favorites:

and my friend Tim Campbell’s Echo Park Modern

Anthroposcenes (Part 5: Toshio Shibata)

Toshio Shibata
From Laurence Miller Gallery:
“The photographs of Toshio Shibata convey a powerful drama generated by the conflict of natural forces against man-made structures. Water spills, crashes, glides, and pours over walls, sluices, concrete blocks and channels, in an endless gravity- propelled dance. Huge structures wind around highways and grasp the hillsides on which they are built.”
“Under Shibata’s eye, the man-altered landscape becomes a mysterious abstract composition in which the shapes and patterns intrinsic to both the natural and artificial forms becomes visible.”
“Shibata began his career in Japan, and the photographs he made there explore the inherent visual contradictions of a land relinquishing its natural resources to structures meant to contain and preserve them.”
“His sublime portraits of public works projects in both countries show that human intervention on a pristine landscape need not be jarring but can, in fact, be in exquisite harmony with nature.”
Posted in Art