August 2009 Archives

Low Rollers ...

|

(Drawing)

 

Bloom-IMG00464-20090830-0943abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Low Rollers ..

|

(Postcard)

Fruitvale / Oakland

 

Rollers-IMG_2379a.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Low Rollers .

|

(Tile)

Fruitvale, Oakland

 

Roller-IMG_2388Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale .............

|

(Tile)

Moving Day

 

MovingDay-IMG_2401Abw.jpg
Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Puparazzi

|

(Portrait)

 

Puparazzi-Boudreaux-IMG_2355.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Face Up

|

(Playing Cards)

 

mjcards.jpg

The MJ Playing Cards (available on request but not for sale) were fashioned from other already published items in disparate pop media vehicles, which I scavenged, recombining them editorially.

Some of the concept was based on Michael Jackson's own fictitious self-invention of his "King of Pop" persona, which was a commercial underachiever although it used the conventional rhetorical machinery of previously successful marketing campaigns. But that effort to artificially create value made it unintentionally ironic, I think.

The "face" cards in a deck of playing cards are artificially valuable: they only have value because we agree that they do, which is of course why they are a game instead of "real world" currency. Right?

When commercial audiences disagreed with the "King of Pop" campaign, they left MJ with lots of hyped material that drastically contrasted against the pop news coverage of the "real" Michael Jackson. Strangely, the "real" MJ was dedicated to succeeding in what looked like a fantasy world (Neverland, plastic surgery, etc.), while the "fictional" MJ (King of Pop) was dedicated to succeeding in the real world of commercial culture.

He also generated fans (hearts), moneyflows (diamonds), racial derision (spades), and special interests (clubs) on both sides -- actual and fictitious -- of his publicized presence.

Yet at his death, the explosion of so-called "information" about him accomplished only one thing: providing raw material to support whatever you wanted to think of him, regardless of what others thought. So finally, the MJ that "exists" is a synthetic personality that we assign value to -- exactly the point of most commercial tv, partisan news, competitive product marketing, and playing cards.

Copyright to these pictorial derivatives and text: 2009 Malcolm Ryder

For source material citations contact mryder@malcolmryder.com

Casting Types

|

Hunks or Perps. You be the judge.

Ordinarily I don't spend time talking about web links that may disappear.

That said, today August 28th one can see a video about men by Philip Scott Johnson on YouTube that reminds me of the following things I'd love to give the same treatment:

- August Sander's "People of the 20th Century"

- College Yearbooks (yearbookyourself.com)

 

yearbookyourself.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- passports and police lineups (apfn.org)

 

22-most-wanted-terrorist.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- polls of pols (blastmagazine.com)

 

PresidentialCandidates.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

- and, corporate headshots (www.photographers.sg)

 

corporate_headshots_portraits_singapore.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Lace

|

(Drawing)

 

LearningLace-IMG_2282Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ...........

|

(Drawing)

 Reclining. Nude.

RecliningNude-IMG_2375.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Dimond ...........

|

(Postcard)

 

DimondGates-IMG_2278A.jpg
Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Dimond .........

|

(Postcard)

Portals

EmeraldPortal-IMG_2268A.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ..........

|

(Drawing)

 

SunPoms-IMG_2271Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Backup

|

(Postcard)

 

Backup-IMG_2320Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Industry of History

|

(Drawing)

 
IndustryOfHistory-IMG_2301A.jpg
 

All progress is a particular of the route from the root

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ..........

|

The Dream of Home Ownership

 

Fruitvale-IMG00437-20090821-1843.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Class Structure

|

(Postcard)

 

DimondClassSystem-IMG_2260A.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Dimond ......

|

(Drawing)

 

DimondSpray-IMG_2257Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

The Meeting

|

(Drawing)

 

TheMeeting-IMG_2240Abw2.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

MacArthur ....

|

(Tile)

Public anonymity / private secrecy

 

MacArthur2010Club-IMG_2253A2.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Decadence and Innovation

|

Plant life means earth itself, and without plants we aren't sure what earth means and thus what human means, either. We're sure that regeneration is our most powerful argument that our being here is intended by some higher power. Celebration of growth's beauty is our gratitude for that power; but celebration of decay is the image of our surrender to that power. Oddly, the stance of gratitude may emphasize our contrasting ordinariness in the face of that power, and distance us from it; the latter stance may admit the commonality of fate it hands us, and so join us to it. But typically, we have an emotional predisposition that leaps over that understanding; we look for growth, and avoid decay, until we learn how to do otherwise, or (such as in an unanticipated poignant moment) until we recognize that we already know how.

 

Decadence-IMG_2238.jpg
As an amplification of decay, the aesthetic of decadence depends nonetheless on having the image of prior growth --  although not necessarily of growth's "glamour". Instead, much of the "beauty" of growth is in an awareness of an intelligence of its design. With decadence, what grabs us is the transformation of that original design by an opposing intelligence... not necessarily a different intelligence, but an intelligence that now has an objective opposite to the glamour of growth's design.

Often that sense of decadence is recognized in situations where a force that very nicely built something up goes "too far" and begins to tear it down. While seeing things on the downslope, we feel them also as they recently used to be.

Looking at decay is sometimes even romantic, for example when the moment of something's observed decay is a punctuation mark on an earlier experience that we had or wished we had.

 

colosseum-rome07.jpg
The experience may have been epic such as from the achievement of an architectural monument; it may have been heroic such as the surfer's conquering of a massive ocean tube.

MonsterTube4503.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even without being captured by pictures, the moments of breakdown held as ruins and breakers readily impress themselves on us. They  offer scale to highlight their status, and dramatically burn their image into our minds.

 

SunsetBoulevard-sjff_01_img0480.jpg

Other subjects may require more deliberate, less sudden exhibition to make their mark. They may build our awareness over time. 

Available imagery of glamour runs from "classic" to "fashionable"  but at fashion's end, beauty is especially subject to the pressure of artistic innovation. While innovation is an analog for re-generation, it also fits the notion of a transition to a new beauty.

KateMoss_CalvinKlein.jpg
This "new beauty", however, is not always initially convincing, even if, like the anti-supermodel aesthetic of "heroin chic" in fashion, it eventually wins out decisively somewhere. 

"Conventional" or "real" decadence may be thought to resist this manipulation -- to instead insist on being found and not invented.

But in another famous irony, Irving Penn, the fashion photographer, exploited pictorial devices to innovatively beautify decay.

The enormous industrial and commercial energy spent to mass produce perfect smokes also pushes them on through to being individually trivial and disposable. Penn focused on the down side with an almost unheard of degree of care -- with lushness and with scale.  In the process, he staged several overlapping and stark contrasts against precedent about himself, about the subject, and about the use of the genre.  

 

 

irvingpenn_butts_1972.jpg

We say that the resulting pictures themselves are decadent, but this is in line with our overall stance. it is the opposing intelligence -- the market's, and Penn's -- that makes for their decadence.

 

Credits:

Ruins © 2007 - John L. Polos

Monster Tube © 2009 - Jason Murray/BillabongXXL.com

Kate Moss © Calvin Klein

Cigarette17 © 1972 - Irving Penn

Sunset Boulevard photo © Paramount Pictures

All other material: Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Yearbook Signings

|

(Documentary)

Bret Harte Middle School, Oakland, CA

When MySpace, Facebook and the like broke out across campus PCs everywhere, the switch flipped off on the conventional school yearbook. Any quick scan of the results of their self-publishing shows how people want to show themselves, and what is spoken of mainly as a precautionary issue is that these exhibitions are also how people will remember each other.

To a less obvious extent, we see how people want to remember themselves, but this view is an assumption that we make because we know that a self-publisher is selective, whereas we don't know what they decided to leave out of their own presentation of themselves. Not everyone comes to grips with all the things they can show about themselves, and so they don't do them all.

SchoolsOut-Driveway-IMG_1975.JPG
Beyond that, what also shows up less and less is the environment under, around and behind the bodies and faces that dominate this publishing of the self. In effect, the work of covering that is still left to others. There is not much innovation of any kind expected in that work. But the real experience of these spaces usually starts out with seeing a space for what it could be, and then after we're gone, seeing it for how we had claimed it as Our space.

The "yearbook", as the memory bank, aims to capture certain of these spaces in order to allow us to span the architecture of the site with the emotion of the scene. For any given person, only some shots credibly qualify. Still, these images become the collective signature of the place -- important not in contrast to other places but rather in fidelity to the place that they show.

SchoolsOut-Exits-IMG_1978Abw.JPG
For the picture-maker, this also amounts to a challenge to be visually efficient. The shot needs to find what is typical, and offer that up in a way that invites the viewer to "re-consider" it (if it shows their space), or to "appreciate" it (to assign value to it when, especially, it is not their own).

Important devices for building those spans include abstraction and narrative. Abstraction supports the sought-after efficiency, and narrative builds the invitation. As a result, a suite of pictures may accomplish for the stranger to the site what a singe picture might accomplish for an alum. The problem is to build enough of a narrative with the abstractions.

 

SchoolsOut-StepsRacks-IMG_1984.JPG

This short suite runs on an axis -- from the unclaimed site, to the site supporting the inhabitant, to the inhabitant claiming the site, to the scene having claimed the inhabitant, but with the inhabitant literally destroying the connection in the end.

 

 

 

 

 

SchoolsOut-Tables-IMG_1988.JPG
At greater length, established over time, the basic skeleton of the narrative stays the same, but more images add in to amplify its shape and add weight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SchoolsOut-Hoops-IMG_1986.JPG

The boundaries of spaces are often the most important factor in appropriating the space to the self. Embracing the boundaries is a strategy for a player to transform the space into "my house". Making the boundaries -- defining the field -- is what so many memories of place are all about.

 

 

 

 

SchoolsOut-Gates-IMG_1974.JPG

 

 

 

 

SchoolsOut-Mural-IMG_1990.JPG

 

 

 

SchoolsOut-Leafs-IMG_1981.JPG

Sequence "taken" from return drive-by of graduated middle school ballplayers and onlooking girl friends reminiscing .

 

(All images copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder)

 

 

 

Need to Know

|

(Postcard)

Comparison: an a priori landscape connotes facts in evidence, or documentary, where a post facto landscape connotes design. Yet much of what we notice is arranged specifically for a view, and often we look at things and still don't see what is there.

When we aren't told which case is intended -- the a priori or the post facto -- we'll typically decide for ourselves; but only if there is some motivation to decide, not just means and opportunity.

Rentals-IMG_2062AB.jpg

As observers, we might want to know whether the work was about staging the look in advance (leaving it to be discovered by others), or if the work is about finding the look (seeing it a certain way) afterwards-- because this tells us who the real landscaper is...

Either way, for landscapers, the motivation is simply the work of composing. The picture above, like many, is a construction resulting from study, from sustained survey. One basic characteristic of the area pictured is that it is relatively lean of detailed features. This makes it seem that there is not much data to worry about. But as learned from the surveying that led to the picture, much of what is there to give the scene a sense of place is there only under certain light at certain times. It is a theatricality of staging: when the particular light is not there, the "data" of this scene is not there either, stuck somewhere in between unnotable and unnoticeable.

In pop culture, the survey is often represented by detective work, with which the crime solver dwells on the same scene extensively-- not until he "finds" something but instead until something "shows itself". It is not a matter of immediately encountering neutral finished facts, but instead, of realizing that eventually, from a certain point of view, something that was present all along responds to attention. Attention creates the evidence.

At the start, what makes the present evident, and what makes the evident important, is not uniformly set in all viewers' minds; and so for the landscaper there is a point to some artificial enhancing of attention.

Contrary to popular belief, this enhancement is also key to the role of documentary, where the document is supposed to mean that the viewer does not need to go to the actual site. In that role, the document itself is what we need to know, and it presumes of the viewer a need-to-know basis.

But in order to substitute for the site, documentary landscape must first define the scene. Once the definition is accomplished, the proposal being made is to explore the evidence of the scene. Despite the aid of the distillation, not everyone buys into the proposal. After all, it is a convention of exhibitions, not of pictures, that viewers come ready to investigate.

In the picture here (click to enlarge), we "know" by investigation that there is a driveway and not just a lot, because of a minute and indifferent fragment of a vehicle left on the margin. We "sense" the central box structure as having a presence and story -- of being something more than "non-descript" --  ironically because it is framed and echoed by the complexity of an equally anonymous backdrop that to us means "inhabited". We "find" that the buildings of that backdrop are perfunctory, their decoration notwithstanding, when we notice how their paint job does not have "finished" edges all around but sometimes, rather, prominent color areas that simply "stopped". And so on. 

On the one hand, these details will be more immediately obvious when the site itself changes and features different things. Many documents become interesting only historically. On the other hand, before history takes over, inspection may evolve into insight.

While evidence is given the opportunity to be discovered by documentary, the nature of the documentary is that its evidence is all designed facts. As with any survey, the energy is not in the answers but instead in what questions are asked. As documentary, landscape choreographs a set of inquiries to make the answers add up to something, and yet it is the "craftiest" of those surveys that most often have the appearance of neutrality.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ..............

|

(Drawing)

Assembly

Commercial realtors transformed an old blue box into this property after three years of inattention during the "housing downturn" following the death of the previous owner. During year #4, seeking equilibrium, it swung back and forth between being indifferently overgrown and tactically remodelled/reconfigured, until new owners finally took it over and bolted it down piece by piece into the general infrastructure of the traffic, hill, basic gravity, trees, and sky.

  

NoMoBlue-IMG_1835Abw.jpg
Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ..........

|

(Drawing)

 

DimondFences-IMG_2156B2bw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale .........

|

(Postcard)

 

ChampionShack-IMG_2150Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

MacArthur ....

|

(Drawing)

 

MacArthur-IMG_2230Abw.jpg

Frontality.

 

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale .....

|

(Tile)

 

SwingShift-IMG_2162Abw2.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ........

|

(Drawing)

 

FruitvaleMultiplex-IMG_2157bw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ......

|

(Drawing)

 

Fruitvale-IMG_2158Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale .......

|

(Postcard)

 Ship's captain at lookout, sailing into the intersection.

ShipsCaptain-IMG_2160Bbw.jpg

 

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ......

|

(Drawing)

 

FruitvaleHouse-IMG_1994bw.jpg

The embrace of the place.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Oakland on Lincoln

|

(Poster)

 

FruitvaleMural-IMG_2146A.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale .......

|

(Drawing)

 

AutoPuffs-IMG_2017bw2.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Dimond ..

|

(Drawing)

 

TVSales-IMG_2056bw2.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Dimond ......

|

(Postcard)

Oakland, CA

BretHarteHouse-IMG_2060.jpg

The business landscape of the Laurel District is preceded geographically and socially by the creation of a resident consumer class, charged to nearby Bret Harte High in Dimond Heights. From the school, eastward along MacArthur Avenue, the Dimond Heights district evolves into Laurel. The lean functionality of the avenue's buildings largely consists of scaffolds, with the most important differentiator of locations and classes being planes of paint. Non-commercial fixtures -- front porches and playgrounds included -- exploit the space in any direction, and later storefronts wall off the grounds at the streetside.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel .....

|

(Postcard)

 

LaurelRed-IMG_2104.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel ....

|

(Postcard)

 

OaksMotel-IMG_2079.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel ....

|

(Postcard)

 

 

HighlanderMotel-IMG_2112.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel ...

|

(Tile)

 

 

SportService-IMG_2072.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel ..

|

(Postcard)

 

FlowerBuds4U-IMG_2054bw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Laurel

|

(Drawing)

 

MacArthurParked-IMG_2068bw.jpg

Parked.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale ........

|

 

 

WindowBox-IMG_2008.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Good Help

|

(Postcard)

 

AutoServiceOpen-IMG_2130.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Flashion

|

 

 

Flashionfoto-IMG_1825.JPG

Modeling is intentional, but it isn't always voluntary. The occasion of modeling is one where the photographer is using the object being pictured to imagine a particular version of an idea. The importance of the object -- of the model -- is that it can be interpreted. The image is an idea, the model is interpreted in terms of the idea, and the picture is the rendering of the interpretation.

Because the idea is driving an interpretation, it throws out a seeking scrutiny that tests any number of objects as models. The excitement of the model comes from how the model influences the interpreting, just like a great country road influences the driving of a roadster in the hands of a professional.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Big Game Hunting

|

(Snapshot)

Oakland, CA

Palette-IMG00411-20090803-1720.jpg

 

Snapshots fall into hundreds of different categories; and they all want to run wild and free. But postcards want to tame them.

Still, they both have the chance to show a trophy caught.

 

 

Shrub-IMG00408-20090803-1714.jpg

Postcards usually avoid showing the catching, while that is where the snapshot plays hardest.

 

The postcard holds up the trophy for the catcher; whereas, the snapshot holds up the trophy and the catcher too.

 

  

The evidence of the catcher, however implicit or explicit, is in the long run, what the snapshot is for.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Priorities and Essentials

|

(Postcard)

Oakland, CA

 

Lourdes-IMG00404-20090803-1659.jpg
Lourdes Parlor, with extras. Kids, left. Grownups, right.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

The New York Times ran an article being poured over by many New York artists affiliated with the NY Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Much of the artist commentary on Janet Maslin's  "Absolutely, Positively Free ... if You Think You Can Afford It" is appearing on Facebook where NYFA has a profile and posted the article.

Selfportrait.jpg
Not surprisingly, the commentary shows that some artists freely "donate" art labor and the resulting works without charge, and some defend "six figure" price tags, and there is lots of variety in between. Two prominent worries are that free art makes it harder for paid art to survive, and technology erodes the artist's copyright-style control of inventory. Along with the article, these concerns raise the issue of an artist's marketing strategy to the arena of ethics as well.

Per my perspective gained through working at federal, NY State, and New York City arts organizations (including NYFA) that were competitively funding artists, artists must understand economics. It's important to recognize the difference between (a.) having an affordable occupation, (b.) having a special influence on a community, and (c.) having a scarce asset.

"Open" markets, being inherently competitive, make some percentage of some occupations affordable for some people. No line of work is affordable for everyone, and no one has a "special right" to any particular kind of work. Meanwhile, of those who get the opportunity for certain work, some earn it while others more easily just receive it.

Artists do not significantly alter the affordability of the occupation for other artists-at-large; buyers do. But there is no league with a players union and unionrep for artists, and no roster limit. If an artist uses his/her time to focus on producing a scarce asset of high influence on a well-capitalized community, then the artist's occupation may become more affordable through the workings of the market.

But that is a very tough formula to execute. Most artists struggle with a harsher formula: the target community is fickle or restrained, which makes the influence not strong enough to cause any scarcity of the work to raise market demand to an adequate sustainable likely compensation level through market value. We do know that only a small percentage of working artists find high compensation for the work on any recurring basis. What we don't know is how much great work gets done through only occasional efforts, nor how much great work is never sold or perhaps never acknowledged. What does this mean? It means that some plausible artists don't have full-time affordable work as artists -- and moreso, that not all plausible artists need it. 

The point of these contrasting observations is that the common denominator amongst artists is not, and will not be, prices or workload, but instead the artwork's own search for infuence. So, strategizing workloads, and strategizing prices, is important primarily for supporting an increase of influence. 

Strategically, "free" and "cheap" pushes exposure to more communities, so it is fair to understand that dynamic as hunting for influence.

Meanwhile, the most challenging economic concept to embrace is that a higher price is actually an opportunity cost of the producer's distribution, not only of customer acquisition -- and the opportunity cost is not necessarily compatible with all environments of supply. Why not? Because customers usualy have more choice than producers do.

What must be figured out with "free" and "cheap" is (a.) where it is that a lower price will increase the work's value by making it more likely to increase the demand for more work by the same producer, and (b.) whether that is necessary to do. It is never simply the case that an artist might price themeselves out of 'the" market; instead, markets must be developed and targeted, and the artist discovers whether he or she is able to calibrate one's artwork to "a" market.

(Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder / artdotdot) 

Fruitvale.....

|

(Postcard)

Fruitvale-IMG_1946A.jpg
 

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale....

|

(Postcard)

 Oakland, CA

Fruitvale-IMG_1947Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale...

|

(Drawing)

 

Fruitvale-IMG_1938Abw.jpgCopyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale..

|

(Document)

Oakland, CA

Fruitvale-IMG_1949Cbw2.jpg
The notion of a "document" applies stress to a picture, stress that may not exist for the image that the picture represents. "Document" brings the expectation that there is a stakeholder in the utilization of the picture. What we know from the history of photography is that as a picture's "topic" becomes more abstract, elusive, or just unannounced, the documentary context and related stress becomes more a matter of "culture" than of any other presumed category of evidence.

Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder

Fruitvale

|

(Portrait)

Oakland, CA

 

Restraint-IMG_1942.jpg
 Copyright 2009 Malcolm Ryder