Saturday, April 28, 2007

Portaits: IN studio and AS performance

I just came across this interesting work via the super-in-depth photo blog site I *heart* photograph, which I visit quite often. The mostly-anonymous Laurel (many wonder, but here is her identity here and here) posts a new photographer and photograph almost every day - and many are new to me. (I wonder where and for how long she scours the internet?!)

I *heart* photograph shared this work by Nora Herting. For the series "Free Sitting," she got a job in a department store portrait studio. She explains that by breaking the rules of the studio portrait, she changes their status as social symbols. The jury is still out on her written conclusions - I like them more for her "hacking" of this genre and her mining of the layout of the commercial portrait printout. The visual design and patterning of the gestures, colors, and gazes, for me, is their strongest suit. I especially like the layouts that include "outtakes," images that the customer would not have selected.

Herting also produced a "studio performance" installation/audio piece on the same idea. Here is what she says about this work (click on the word here to hear it, I had to do it several times):

As my employment as a trade photographer wore on, I became fearless and obsessed. I made hidden microphones embedded in Santa Clause pins and flower broaches. I was striving for covert ways to reveal the odd dynamics and labored performances required to make these mundane photographs. Audio of photographic sitting between a family of four and myself was collected by hidden microphone.

The middle part of the audio is a bit too layered and jumbled for me; I'd love to hear more from more than one family and mixed up with more variety in the endlessly repeated phrases. BUT - I love this idea and it would make a great installation in a gallery.

Visual Studies Workshop did an exhibition on photographic backdrops a while back. Does anyone know what it was called and if it had a catalogue? I'd love to get my hands on one. Update: I just found an essay from Afterimage on the show.

Credit: Nora Herting, Wanted, 44 x 65 inches and Nora Herting, 29' x 12' Photographic Background. Sensor. Audio. Dimensions variable. From

Monday, April 23, 2007

Art + Tech = Cyberarts

This past weekend was the first weekend for the Boston Cyberarts Festival and new media enthusiasts were out in force. (The region-wide festival runs through May 6th.) We managed to get to several venues and two openings. Here are some stand-outs:
COLLISIONeleven (C11) (especially the Wizard of OZ piece)
MIT Stata Center Balcony Gallery
3rd floor up stairs from main entrance
32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA USA
as part of Boston Cyberarts and the Cambridge Science Festival
Apr 20 - May 1, 2007, weekdays 9-5, weekends 12-6pm

Brian Knep: Aging
Works in Progress from the Harvard Medical School
Judi Rotenberg Gallery
130 Newbury Street, Boston, MA
Brian Knep, "Frog Time," 2007, non-repeating video installation, dimensions variable. For more of Knep's work see or, or even visit him at South End Open Studios (and he is a super nice guy to boot!).

When in doubt, post links

Taking a cue from Modern Kick's post of the same title, here is an attempt at what I have dubbed a "mystery list post":
As for the latter, I want to stand up and shout proudly, I am a card carrying art historian and I blog! (more thoughts on this later...)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Picture Show: Home Run!

Since it is baseball season, it's apt to suggest that the current PRC exhibition, Picture Show, is a home run! We had an EXCELLENT review in the Boston Globe, courtesy of the amazing writer Mark Feeney. The show seems to have hit a nerve and we have gotten a lot of press. I am equally a fan of Mark's insightful reviews as much as I am grateful that he actually takes the time to read and experience a whole exhibition. He always knits together culture, history, and philosophy in his art reviews; I try to do the same in my exhibitions via art, text, and the environment. Exhibitions are my art, so I couldn't be happier that someone appreciated it at that level. The idea of this show has haunted me for a while. These wonderful artists worked very hard to install this complicated show and were so excited to be in such company that many made or adapted new works for the show. Here are some of my favorite phrasings from Mark's review:
The aim of this show of contemporary art is to re-create the enchantment viewers experienced when first encountering these visual marvels a century and more ago. The PRC gallery, curator Leslie K. Brown writes, has been made over into "a space somewhere between a cabinet of curiosity, carnival spectacle, and an early motion picture theatre." An even better analogy might be to the interior of one of Joseph Cornell's boxes. There's the same sense of sly magic and delicate otherworldliness.

In "Always, Just Beyond Reach," a set of outstretched hands can never quite reach a set of pretty flowers. Futility has rarely been so sweetly appointed. It's as if Laura Ashley were hosting a garden party in honor of Tantalus and Zeno.

In a league by itself is Hans Spinnermen's "The Dream of Timmy Bumblebee." It consists of an impressive contraption of metal and glass that looks not unlike an immobilized, Jenny Craig version of Robbie the Robot from "Forbidden Planet. " Projected within it is a film of a bumblebee in flight. The film is incidental to the rather majestic monstrosity of
Spinnermen's creation, which is on loan from le Musee Patamecanique, in Bristol, R.I.
I feel humbled; what more could a curator want than to have their gallery be compared to the inside of a Joseph Cornell box! (For Cornell fans, the Peabody Essex Museum will be hosting a huge retrospective of Cornell's work opening April 28.) The second quote is brilliant, what more can a writer pack into that last sentence!

Picture Show is up until May 6th at the PRC. As the artworks are interactive and kinetic, the show needs you to work! We hope that you can experience the show, but for those out of town you can check out Picture Show installation and opening images on our Flickr site. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Geek Post: Wall text

Until I can muster up a review of Photolucida, I will share this great overview of the history of museum wall text. Yes, that's what I wrote, wall text. As a curator, I think about these things and write them (it can't get more geeky than that!). Over at Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes, he offers up the post "Where wall text came from" in response to the Jeff Wall exhibition at MoMA. Green notes that the show has a short introduction from Peter Galassi and simple individual titles. He also shares a link to a Flickr set of photos that capture bewildering wall text from a newly-renovated Glasgow gallery called the Kelvingrove. Wow...I must say, these astonishing blurbs seem to be written very quickly by an intern or by a performance or conceptual artist. You can read more about the museum's philosophy here. Nevertheless, I must say I still prefer what they dub "Victorian" museum writing to this. Here is a camera phone snap of one of the Kelvingrove texts:

They remind me a bit of the brilliant wall text from the Museum of Bad Art here in the Boston suburb of Dedham. If you haven't been to MOBA yet, get thee there!

Here are some of the standouts from the MOBA catalogue:

Can the swirling steam melt away the huge weight of George's corporate responsibilities? This pointillist piece is curious for meticulous attention to fine detail, such as the stitching around the edge of the towel, in contrast to the almost careless disregard for the subject's feet.
see the image here

Stirring in its portrayal of feline angst. Is Peter hungry or contemplating his place in a hungry world? The artist has evoked both hopelessness and glee with his irrational use of negative space.
see the image here

For those in the Boston area, MOBA is presenting their MOBA Rejection Collection Auction, this coming Monday, April 23. Check out the catalogue online here. Car pool anyone?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Off to Portland....Oregon that is

We're off to Photolucida for tons of portfolio review fun: I as a reviewer, Bruce as a reviewee. I know my eyes will be exhausted, I have to see 48 people over the course of the event. We've never been to Portland, Oregon and we very much look forward to it.

Photolucida also oversees Critical Mass, a super competition. I've been a reviewer for Critical Mass for 3 years and found many people for shows through it. They will announce the book award winners for 2006 very soon (here is the top 50 from 2005). One of my favorite discoveries from this year's top 150 photographers was Susan Lakin and her "Television Portraits". I was delighted to discover that Susan also entered the PRC's Juried Exhibition this year and Jen Bekman selected her as one of 16 out of a record 317 entries! And guess where she lives, fair Rochester, NY!

One of my favorite images by Susan Lakin, From

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Geek Post: Quote for Friday

Friday is nigh, Bruce has an opening, my parents are coming into town and get to meet his parents for the first time. Things are hectic, but good. For a happy Friday, I share a quote I came across from an excellent post by a friend we simply call DK.

For all of those wondering the exact words Steve Martin said in the "paddle ball game/lamp" scene in The Jerk--and we all know we have attempted to quote this part many, many times...Oh my, I just got lost in his website. I adore Steve Martin, *love* Pure Drivel, and especially crack up over his art related writings, which you can read here and here and here -- and oh joy, here is one about photography and philosophy! Without further ado, here are the words from that infamous scene in The Jerk, courtesy of this most excellent site, Quote Geek:

Well I'm gonna to go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this. And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game, and the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one - I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control, and the matches, for sure. And this. And that's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Photogenic Fish

Here is the new fish - Oliver! He is also known as Mr. Krinklebein, and he is the second cousin once removed of the fish in the tv version of Cat in the Hat, Karlos K. Krinklebein. As was Chester and Zeke, he is a photogenic fish. Check out his nice bubble nest in the below pic.

To make this a somewhat art and photo-related post, I share with you couple of links (one to the photo archives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration) and a short history of underwater photography:

1856William Thompson takes first underwater pictures using a camera mounted on a pole.
1893 — Louis Boutan take underwater pictures while diving using a surface supplied hard hat diving gear.
1914 — John Ernest Williamson shot the first-ever underwater motion picture.
1923 — W.H. Longley and Charles Martin takes first underwater colour photos using a magnesium powered flash
1957 — The Calypsophot camera was built by Jean De Wouters and Jacques-Yves Cousteau. It would later be produced by Nikon as the Nikonos, the best-selling underwater camera series.


Monday, April 2, 2007

Monday Show and Tell: The Uncyclopedia

I was surfing the internet this weekend searching for a name for my new betta fish. Somehow, while typing the phrase "Dr. Seuss fish names" into Yahoo, I stumbled across the Uncyclopedia, which dubs itself as "the content free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," and its entry on fish. Think wikipedia, but pulled through a wormhole and back; basically wiki meets The Onion, only weirder. Delighted and tickled pink, I found my way to the article on photography, which I will quote below - I hope you have a good laugh. I found one comment on this entry that will help set the mood: "An article on Photography without photos. Excellent."

Without further ado, here are some selections from the article on photography.

Photography was invented in the 10th Century AD.
Photography is a style of ultra-realist art which became popular during the invention of Myspace. Or, as my aunt says, photography is "nudie pictures".

==The War of Photographic Aggression==
During the twentieth century photography fought a bloody battle with non-realist styles of painting such as expressionism and cartoons. It is widely believed to have been one of the bloodiest wars in human history, involving many humans rights abuses on either side. One of the most notorious was the genocide of blue paint, after it declared allegiance to post-cartography (an anti-realist form of cartography once used by the Ordinance Survey). This war is often called The War of Photographic Aggression, but is known as The Cubist War in some parts of rural Angola....

Photography usually begins with a sketch, made by an incredibly small artist inside a metal or plastic box. This sketch is then taken to a printing lab where it is elaborated by a larger, and consequently more skilled, artist. The larger artist is able to add colours, something which can't fit inside the small box. The small artist uses a complex shading method to denote the colour which the large artist should add.

==Digital photography==
Recent developments in artistic training have lead to digital photography. This is a form of photography in which the large artist is replaced by a medium-sized artist who can fit inside a home PC. The reason this is now possible is that the training of medium-sized artists no longer involves cutting off their fingers (or digits) hence the name digital photography.

==The Death of Photography==
It is expected that photography will die out sometime in the twenty-second century due to either heart failure, or the superiority of Neo Soviet Realism.

== See also ==
[[War of Photographic Aggression]]
[[Focus on the Family]]
[[Black and White]]
[[Modern photography]]

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