Sunday, February 24, 2008

Photography before Photoshop

The amazing photographer/blogger Amy Stein had a recent post that pointed me to the fascinating blog, Modern Mechanix. This blog purports to showcase "Yesterday's Tomorrow, Today" and features scans, summaries, and entire articles from a variety of old tech magazines. I encourage you to browse the entire photography category, but I will share a few articles that give us an insight into camera and photo trickery before Photoshop...hopefully to remind us that this wasn't that long ago!

From Popular Mechanics, "How to Make Incredible Pictures" (1955). Read the whole article and see the entire spread here.

From is another fun one, Modern Mechanix, "Tricks of the Composite Photograph" (1938). Read and see it

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Powerpoint punniness

This post is in honor of Bruce, who was just on an ARTspace panel at the College Art Association conference with fellow UConners in Dallas, TX (and got even offered a job in the elevator even though he's not looking and went on to meet the renowned Annie Sprinkle).

It's also dedicated to all of those artists and art historians giving Powerpoint presentations this season at conferences (and my friend Kimberly who just gave a lecture in Europe this week). Without further ado, I share a very funny standup bit about Powerpoint presentations. That is what I said, Powerpoint. Yes folks, it's not only fodder for artwork, but also for comedy. Now watch!

Firefox seems to be having none of youtube and is going in fits and starts.
I recommend re-launching this post in explorer or safari to watch the video.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Digital vs. film storage...

Although not the newest news, the following is worth repeating (and presages my pending post about Polaroid). The New York Times recently reported on the afterlife and storage of cinema, digitally-born vs. film-based:
To store a digital master record of a movie costs about $12,514 a year, versus the $1,059 it costs to keep a conventional film master. Much worse, to keep the enormous swarm of data produced when a picture is “born digital” — that is, produced using all-electronic processes, rather than relying wholly or partially on film — pushes the cost of preservation to $208,569 a year, vastly higher than the $486 it costs to toss the equivalent camera negatives, audio recordings, on-set photographs and annotated scripts of an all-film production into the cold-storage vault. ...

To begin with, the hardware and storage media — magnetic tapes, disks, whatever — on which a film is encoded are much less enduring than good old film. If not operated occasionally, a hard drive will freeze up in as little as two years. Similarly, DVDs tend to degrade: according to the report, only half of a collection of disks can be expected to last for 15 years, not a reassuring prospect to those who think about centuries. Digital audiotape, it was discovered, tends to hit a “brick wall” when it degrades. While conventional tape becomes scratchy, the digital variety becomes unreadable. ...

For now, studios are saving as much of this digital ephemera as possible, storing it on tapes or drives in vaults not unlike those that house traditional film. But how much of that material will be migrated when technology shifts in 7 or 10 years is anyone’s guess.
Of course, still digital photography will also suffer a similar storage dilemma. Besides massive offsite and online storage, which are only bandaids, are we running headlong into a major preservation disaster?

ABOVE PHOTO: Detail of film and ephemera storage in a salt mine, by Mank999. See his Kansas salt mine storage flickr set here, fascinating!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

You have 3 days left to be exposed

Although in theory this is a personal blog, life and work merge together when one works at a small non-profit. I want to remind folks that you have until February 15th to get your submission in the mail for the 13th Annual PRC Juried Exhibition, EXPOSURE. Seriously photo folks, don't let this one pass you by! It takes but a second to burn 10 images to a cd and gather your materials! Run, don't walk to the post office. (Not that I am encouraging procrastination, but you can find the branch that is open til the wee hours online for that coveted postmark).

The juror this year is Lesley A. Martin of Aperture, who was recently named one of 2007's "Innovators of the Year." Aperture! This is a golden opportunity for an amazing publisher/book editor to see your work. Aperture has a venerated history and also a track record of discovering new talent (and did I mention, they also publish a magazine and have a gallery??). Not only that, but all of us jurors are a part of a secret society (just kidding), but understand that we do talk to each other and recommend artists to each other. Who knows what this might lead to? Not only that, but gathering up a handful of juried show wins at places like the PRC and its other kindred spirits speaks volumes on your resume. A good investment, to be sure.

Read about the submission details and get the required entry form as a PDF here. See pics of last year's show here. Now, git!

ABOVE: Our poster boy from last year, Jim Turbert. Did you notice how Jim exploded onto the scene after this? We're so excited for him. Visit his fan club and more of his work here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Future of Photography at the PRC

Over at the PRC, it's one of our favorite times of the year when even more creativity and boundless verve adorn our walls...that's right, it's the PRC Student Exhibition! 18 of our institutional member schools brought us their 5 best pieces (yes, that is 90 works). Because each program juries as they see fit, we don't see the pieces until they show up on our doorsteps! Our favorite art installer Vinnie and I had a blast playing with the works this past Saturday.

You can check out some of the student work at this audiovisual feature on BU Today. We gathered over a dozen images and students together and the nice folks there did their magic. Click here for the slideshow and here to listen to the students speak quite eloquently about their work. For local folks, there is also a smashing, full-page spread in the Weekly Dig.

Pictured above is the work of our poster child Alan Alan Arsenault, a junior at New England Istitute of Art. I was immediately smitten with this image and knew that it had to be on our postcard. People have been going ape over this picture and deservedly so, it's an amazing piece and series. If you look twice, you realize that this is not an Edgerton: the "bullet" is hanging on a string and there is cotton stuffed into the apple. W
e also took a lot of behind-the-scenes pictures, installation shots, and portraits of the students and posted them on the PRC flickr site.

Our Daily Red (the blog of Big Red and Shiny) gave us a
shout out early on. Mr. Matt Nash points out that the PRC Student Show is "a great chance to see the work of upcoming artists -- and many of the artists we write about on Big RED got started at the PRC." Thanks Matt! (He also has a interesting essay on the future of photography in the current issue of BRS.)

Join us for the dry opening Thursday, February 7 from 5:30 - 7:30pm, where we'll have izzy drinks flowing freely and way more hummus than you can shake a stick at.

ABOVE IMAGE: Alan Arsenault, Exploding the Forbidden, from the series “Edgerton Follies,” 2006/2007, Inkjet print, Junior Photography major, New England Institute of Art