Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obama Trading Cards

I can't decide whether I think these are worrisome or awesome.
All this reading I've been doing lately about images... how we are encouraged to live in a world of shadows, consuming; acting in a commercial/image realm and equating that with having an actual affect on 'real' life...
And then there is Ranciere's notion of the 'distribuition of the sensible' which proposes that by changing our images we are indeed changing the world: A change in what is visible catalyzes a change in what is imaginable and acceptable, this allows for new social configurations and dynamics.

What does it mean to commemorate (co-memorate—as in: creating memories together) history commercially? Topps has marketed other historic series' such as President Kennedy cards and 'Man on the Moon' cards in the 1960's. 
In this way one can 'own' a part of history. But don't we already own a part of this history? Don't we own it because we participated in it? Does owning it as an image, as something outside of ourselves, eclipse our sense of personal involvement in it from experience?
Whatever Obama trading cards mean, I have to admit, I like 'em and I kinda want some...

get your own at Topps

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Devil's Hangout

Bliss, Daddy Hickman said, you keep asking me to take you even though I keep telling you that folks don't like to see preachers hanging around a place they think of as one of the Devil's hangouts. All right, so now I'm going to take you so you can see for yourself, and you'll see that it's just like the world—full of sinners and with a few believers, a few good folks and a heap of mixed-up and bad ones. Yes, and beyond the fun of sitting there looking at the marvelous happenings in the dark, there's all the same old snares and delusions we have to sidestep every day right out here in the bright sunlight. Because you see, Bliss, it's not so much a matter of where you are as what you see...
Yes, sir, I said.
No, don't agree too quick, Bliss; wait until you understand. But like old Luke says, "The light of the body is the eye," so you want to be careful that the light that your eye lets into you isn't the light of darkness. I mean you always have to be sure that you see what you're looking at. 
I nodded my head, watching his eyes. I could see him studying the Word as he talked.
That's right, he said, many times you will have to preach goodness out of badness, little boy. Yes, and hope out of hopelessness. God made the world and gave it a chance, and when it's bad we have to remember that it's still his plan for it to be redeemed through the striving of a few good women and men. So come on, we're going to walk down there and take us a good look. We're going to do it in style too, with some popcorn and peanuts and some Cracker Jacks and candy bars. You might as well get some idea of what you will have to fight against, because I don't believe you can really lead folks if you never have to face up to any of the temptations they face. Christ had to put on the flesh, Bliss: you understand? And I was a sinner man too.
Yes, sir.
But wait here a second, Bliss—
He looked deep into me and I felt a tremor. Sir? I said.
His eyes became sad as he hesitated, then:
Now don't think this is going to become a habit, Bliss. I know you're going to like being in there looking in the dark, even though you have to climb up those filthy pissy stairs to get there. Oh yes, you're going to enjoy looking at the pictures just about like I used to enjoy being up there on the bandstand playing music for folks to enjoy themselves to back there in my olden days. Yes, you're going to like looking at the pictures, most likely you're going to be bug-eyed with the excitement; but I'm telling you right now that it's one of those pleasures we preachers have to leave to other folks. And I'll tell you why, little preacher: Too much looking at those pictures is going to have a lot of folks raising a crop of confusion. The show hasn't been here but a short while but I can see it coming already. Because folks are getting themselves mixed up with those shadows spread out against the wall, with people that are no more than some smoke drifting up from hell or pouring out of a bottle. so they lose touch with who they're supposed to be, Bliss. They forget to be what the Book tells them they were meant to be—and that's God's own image. The preacher's job, his main job, Bliss, is to help folks find themselves and to keep reminding them to remember who they are. So you see, those pictures can go against our purpose. If they look at those shows too often they'll get all mixed up with so many of those shadows that they'll lose their way. They won't know who they are is what I mean. So you see, if we start going to the picture-show all the time, folks will think we're going to the devil and backsliding from what we preach. We have to set them an example, Bliss; so we're going in there for the first and last time—

-from Juneteenth, by Ralph Ellison

A capitalist society needs...

A capitalist society requires a culture based on images. It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetize the injuries of class, race, and sex. And it needs to gather unlimited resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats. The camera's twin capacities, to subjectivize reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs and strengthen them. Cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society: as a spectacle (for masses) and as an object of surveillance (for rulers). The change is replaced by a change in images. The freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself. The narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images.

-Susan Sontag, On Photography, p178-179

Friday, June 12, 2009

Found Art Installation

Fenced-off Lot
Potrero Ave. & Mariposa
Clearly intentional,
Note the aerosol shadow that the tree throws- down the wall, across
the cement...
Did the same mind join the tree to the pipe?
I don't think so
These are different sensibilities
One is changing, connecting, inserting, disturbing, lifting
The other is commenting, noticing, tracing, projecting
One is the sun, active
The other the shadow, receptive


Bryant, between 24th & 25th

I've been really drawn to construction sites lately.
The colors, I love the bright orange,
but also the equipment,
I have the awe of a 6-year-old boy all of a sudden
And the digging and breaking and the working together
The changing of the city
The changing of a street
These crews come in and they change our physical world!
These orange colored crews

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Sign

I just like the way this looks
The contrast of the two signs
The one, nicely typed and formatted
The other, official in a different way, functional
One, professional
The other, working class
Two different signs from two different worlds placed side by side
equal in their necessariness

Monday, June 8, 2009

...nothing that should not be seen...

"According to one attitude, there is nothing that should not be seen; according to the other, there is nothing that should not be recorded. Cameras implement an aesthetic view of reality by being a machine-toy that extends to everyone the possibility of making disinterested judgments about importance, interest, beauty. ("That would make a good picture.") Cameras implement the instrumental view of reality by gathering information that enables us to make a more accurate and much quicker response to whatever is going on. The response may of course be either repressive or benevolent: military reconnaissance photographs help snuff out lives, X-rays help save them."

- On Photography - p176

Excerpts from 'On Photography'

by Susan Sontag
published in 1973

"Through being photographed, something becomes part of a system of information, fitted into schemes of classification and storage which range from the crudely chronological order of snapshot sequences pasted in family alums to the dogged accumulations and meticulous filing needed for photography's uses in weather forecasting, astronomy, microbiology, geology, police work, medical training and diagnosis, military reconnaissance, and art history. Photographs do more than redefine the stuff of ordinary experience (people, things, events, whatever we see—albeit differently, often inattentively— with natural vision) and add vast amounts of material that we never see at all. Reality as such is redefined—as an item for exhibition, as a record for scrutiny, as a target for surveillance. The photographic exploration and duplication of the world fragments continuities and feeds the pieces into an interminable dossier, thereby providing possibilities of control that could not even be dreamed of under the earlier system of recording information: writing."

"While many people in the non-industrialized countries still feel apprehensive when being photographed, divining it to be some kind of trespass, an act of disrespect, a sublimated looting of personality or the culture, people in industrialized countries seek to have their photographs taken—feel that they are images, and are made real by photographs."

"To possess the world in the form of images is, precisely, to reexperience the unreality and remoteness of the real."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Zen in the Art of Photography

"Cartier-Bresson has likened himself to a Zen archer (see my post on 'Zen in the Art of Archery'), who must become the target so as to be able to hit it; 'thinking should be done
beforehand and afterwards,' he says, 'never while actually taking a

-'On Photography' by Susan Sontag