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  • feedwordpress 08:01:38 on 2018/04/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , gymnastics, , , Pehr Henrik Ling, photography, Swedish House Gymnastics, Theodor Bergquist, , Wilhelm Weber   

    “I’m so unfamiliar with the gym, I call it James”*… 


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    These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 German book titled Schwedische Haus-Gymnastik nach dem System P.H. Ling’s by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen. As the title tells us, this style of “Swedish house-gymnastics” demonstrated by Bergquist (and his mysterious female colleague) is based on a system developed by Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a pioneer in the teaching of physical education in Sweden. Inventor of various physical education apparatus including the box horse, wall bars, and beams, Ling is also credited with establishing calisthenics as a distinct discipline and is considered by some as the father of Swedish massage.

    * Ellen DeGeneres

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    As we affirm our faithfulness to fitness, we might spare a thought for Wilhelm Weber; he died on this date in 1963.  A German gymnast, he medaled twice for his country at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis.

    The 1904 German Olympic team

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:36 on 2018/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: daguerreotype, Dark Days, , Leon Foucault, Louis Fizeau, Mimi Plumb, photography, ,   

    “Wherever there is light, one can photograph”*… 


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    Three decades ago, as a graduate student at the San Francisco Art Institute, Mimi Plumb [see here] was wandering around Bernal Heights when she came across the site of a recent house fire. Plumb went inside to explore the building’s charred remains. She paused to photograph a blackened globe and a singed stack of telephone books. In the basement, she found snapshots of an unknown family, and in the bedroom, a burned lamp and dresser. The grim, soot-filled rooms would later remind her of her childhood during the Cuban missile crisis, when duck-and-cover drills occurred every few weeks. “My mother told me there might be a nuclear war,” Plumb says. “I would wake up in the middle of the night.”

    The photos of the house were among the first that Plumb would take for her series Dark Days, which will be published this summer by TBW Books in a collection titled Landfall

    After seven years of taking photos for the series, Plumb did the unthinkable: She packed the negatives into a box and didn’t look at them again. In some ways, she knew she had nothing more to add to the work, that she had adequately captured that feeling of imbalance. But there was also another reason. Plumb felt pressure as a female photographer to take more “palatable” images.

    The series was tucked away until 2015, when Plumb, having retired from teaching black-and-white photography, began going through her archives. She was struck by how much the work — with its themes of nuclear anxiety and environmental decline — “runs eerily parallel to our current situation.”…

    More on Plumb’s work at “Unearthed“; see more of the Dark Days series at her site

    * Alfred Stieglitz

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    As we ponder the pix, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that French physicists Louis Fizeau and Leon Foucault took the first photograph of the sun.  The daguerreotype was just 4.7 inches, but as National Geographic reported, still caught sunspots.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:13 on 2018/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , Eli Rezkallah, , , , Kate Chopin, , photography, ,   

    “Women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid”*… 


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    Last Thanksgiving, I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling “their womanly duties.” Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison…

    From Eli Rezkallah, a series of fictional images, recreated from real ads in the Mad Men era, that question modern day sexism: “In a parallel universe.

    * George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

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    As we check our privilege, we might send path-setting birthday greetings to Kate Chopin; she was born on this date in 1850.  A writer of both short stories and novels, she was highly-regarded in her time and in the decades following her death (in 1904).  Probably best remembered today for her novel The Awakening, she is considered an important forerunner of American 20th-century feminist authors.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:48 on 2018/01/26 Permalink
    Tags: Atlantic City, biggest jackpot, , Cynthia Jay-Brennan, , Jay Wolke, , photography,   

    “I can understand that a man might go to the gambling table – when he sees that all that lies between himself and death is his last crown”*… 


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    Wheel of Fortune, Las Vegas, 1988

    Thirty years ago, gambling in the US was limited to three destinations: Reno, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City. Jay Wolke photographed the ordinary people who played, lived and worked in the rapidly expanding cities.  Wolke was fascinated by the intersections of people, artifice, architecture and landscape in the US’s three gambling cities…

    Girl in car, Trump Plaza, Atlantic City, 1989

    Fortune Hunter, Las Vegas, 1988

    See more at “Same dream another time: under the skin of 80s Vegas – in pictures” and at Wolke’s site.

    * Honoré de Balzac, The Wild Ass’s Skin

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    As we consider the odds, we might recall that it was on this date in 2000 that Cynthia Jay-Brennan won $34,959,458.56 on a Megabucks slot machine at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas, the world’s largest payout; it was a one in 7 million chance.  A cocktail waitress at another casino, she had been a Desert Inn regular; on this occasion, she had “invested” $27 in the machine that paid off so handsomely.

    Sadly. Jay-Brennan has become synonymous with the “Jackpot Jinx”: a few weeks after her huge haul, she and her sister were driving to a casino out of town when they were hit by a drunk driver, paralyzing her and killing her sister.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:14 on 2018/01/23 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , James Gosling, Java, photography, , Sun Microsystems,   

    “Unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.”*… 


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    Andrei Lacatusu, a self-taught digital artist from Rome, created this series of digital art called “Social Decay.”

    Learn more at “Artist Imagines The Decay Of Social Media Companies“: see the full set at Lacatusu’s Behance page.

    [TotH to the always-illuminating Pop Loser]

    * Ernst Fischer

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    As we contemplate a post-social media world, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that the first version of the Java programming language was released by Sun Microsystems; the language, created by James Gosling, had been in use in since 1995 as part of Sun’s Java Platform.  Its ability to “write once, run anywhere” made Java ideal for Internet-based applications.  As the popularity of the Internet soared, so did the usage of Java.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:41 on 2017/12/10 Permalink
    Tags: , , Computer programming, , flash, flash photography, , photography, ,   

    “A flash of revelation and a flash of response”*… 


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    “A Cellar Dive in the Bend,” c.1895, by Richard Hoe Lawrence and Henry G. Piffard

    All photography requires light, but the light used in flash photography is unique — shocking, intrusive and abrupt. It’s quite unlike the light that comes from the sun, or even from ambient illumination. It explodes, suddenly, into darkness.

    The history of flash goes right back to the challenges faced by early photographers who wanted to use their cameras in places where there was insufficient light — indoors, at night, in caves. The first flash photograph was probably a daguerreotype of a fossil, taken in 1839 by burning limelight…

    In its early days, a sense of quasi-divine revelation was invoked by some flash photographers, especially when documenting deplorable social conditions. Jacob Riis, for example, working in New York in the late 1880s, used transcendental language to help underscore flash’s significance as an instrument of intervention and purgation. But it’s in relation to documentary photography that we encounter most starkly flash’s singular, and contradictory, aspects. It makes visible that which would otherwise remain in darkness; but it is often associated with unwelcome intrusion, a rupturing of private lives and interiors.

    Yet flash brings a form of democracy to the material world. Many details take on unplanned prominence, as we see in the work of those Farm Security Administration photographers who used flash in the 1930s and laid bare the reality of poverty during the Depression. A sudden flare of light reveals each dent on a kitchen utensil and the label on each carefully stored can; each photograph on the mantel; each cherished ornament; each little heap of waste paper or discarded rag; each piece of polished furniture or stained floor or accumulation of dust; each wrinkle. Flash can make plain, bring out of obscurity, the appearance of things that may never before have been seen with such clarity…

    Find illumination at “A short history of flash photography.”

    * J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace

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    As we glory in the glare, we might send elegantly-calculated birthday greetings to Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron); she was born on this date in 1815.  The daughter of the poet Lord Byron, she was the author of what can reasonably be considered the first “computer program”– so one of the “parents” of the modern computer.  Her work was in collaboration with her long-time friend and thought partner Charles Babbage (known as “the father of computers”), in particular, in conjunction with Babbage’s work on the Analytical Engine.

    Ada, Countess of Lovelace, 1840

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:50 on 2017/11/17 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Pablo Iglesias Maurer, photography, post cards, ,   

    “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day”*… 


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    Grossinger’s outdoor pool, olympic sized, built in 1949 at a cost of $400,000 (about $5 million in today’s market.) Long gone are the private cabanas, changing room and lounges that used to surround it.

    Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer‘s desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

    The picture came with the title How to Run A Successful Golf Course, but when Maurer got to the place, it was clear the owner of Penn Hills Resort didn’t follow that advice. He pointed the camera at the decaying building at roughly the same spot and did a ‘5-decades-after’ shot of the place.

    Ever since then, Pablo was hooked. He ordered more 60s postcards from eBay and started going around the country capturing these once beautiful buildings that now stand abandoned only as faint memories of what once was…

    * Shakespeare, Richard II

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    As we contemplate continuity, we might send never-ending birthday greetings to August Ferdinand Möbius; he was born on this date in 1790.  A German mathematician and theoretical astronomer, he is best remembered as a topologist, more specifically for his discovery of the Möbius strip (a two-dimensional surface with only one side… or more precisely, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space).

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:42 on 2017/08/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , grocery store, , photography, , , , , William Henry Fox Talbot   

    “Food is our common ground, a universal experience”*… 


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    William Henry Fox Talbot, “A Fruit Piece,” 1845

    We have Instagram to thank (or, perhaps, blame) for the proliferation of avocado toast today. But it was another, much earlier development in food photography that introduced us to the avocado in the first place.

    In the 1940s, brands like Crisco and Aunt Jemima began to produce “cookbooklets”—free, promotional pamphlets that contained recipes accompanied by vivid photographs touting their products. “In lots of ways, they changed the way, especially in America, that people ate,” explains Susan Bright, author of the recently published book Feast for the Eyes.“Things like avocados and orange juice really became household objects through these cookbooklets.”

    Bright’s book, which explores the history of food in photography, reveals that the subjects have been intertwined for nearly two centuries—almost since the birth of photography itself. The medium was introduced to the general public in 1839 with the unveiling of the daguerrotype. Six years later, William Henry Fox Talbot took one of the first photographs with food as its primary subject: a still life containing baskets of peaches and a pineapple…

    All of the appetizing story at: “Food Photography Didn’t Start on Instagram—Here’s Its 170-Year History.”

    * James Beard

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    As we suggest to the cheese that it name itself, we might send a basketful for birthday greetings to Clarence Saunders; he was born on this date in 1881.  A Memphis grocer, he developed the the modern retail sales model of self service– he received U.S. Patent #1,242,872 for a “Self Serving Store”– and thus had a massive influence on the development of the modern supermarket.  His Memphis store grew into the Piggly Wiggly chain, which is still in operation.

    The first Piggly Wiggly store

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    Clarence Saunders

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:27 on 2017/07/18 Permalink
    Tags: activism, , , Mildred Norman, pacifism, Peace pilgrim, photography, , Weegee   

    “To me, pictures are like blintzes – ya gotta get ‘em while they’re hot”*… 


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    Sure. I’d like to live regular. Go home to a good looking wife, a hot dinner, and a husky kid. But I guess I got film in my blood. I love this racket. It’s exciting. It’s dangerous. It’s funny. It’s tough. It’s heartbreaking.  

    -Weegee

    Weegee wanted his pictures to show some humanity. He walked back about a hundred feet. Set up his camera. Used flash powder and Kazam! There was the whole scene. The corpse. The blood. The cops. The balcony seat of people looking out to see what had just happened. Drama. Humanity. Crime.

    Weegee came out of Złoczów now part of the Ukraine. He was born Arthur Fellig in June 1899. He emigrated with his family. They landed New York 1909. Lived in the Lower East Side. His father was a hatmaker and part-time rabbi. Weegee took whatever work came. He became a janitor. Got the nickname “Squeegee Boy.” He hung around with the bums on the Bowery. Started taking photographs. First passport pictures, then commercial work. At the age of thirty-five, he upped his game, quit commercial work, became a freelance news photographer.

    He went out nights, hung around the police station waiting for the stories to come in over the teletype. Off he went taking pictures of murders, fires, fender benders, wacko kids on their way to juvie hall. He spent two years with no accreditation following the police all around town. In 1938, the cops gave him his own police radio. Weegee could tune in and pick up on what was happening. Most times he got to the crime scene before the cops. The cops thought he must be psychic. This gave rise to the apocryphal story his nickname was the phonetic spelling of “Ouija.” Weegee added a darkroom to the trunk of his car. He took his picture, developed it at the scene, put his print on the back, and sold it to the papers. During his ten years at police headquarters, Weegee said he must have photographed 5,000 murders—“at least one murder every night.”…

    More of the story– and more examples of the extraordinary work– at “Through a Lens, Darkly: Weegee’s Photographs of Death and Disaster.”

    For more of Weegee in his own words: “Altering life by holding it still”*…

    * Weegee

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    As we snap it up, we might send pacific birthday greetings to Mildred Lisette Norman; she was born on this date in 1908.  Better known by the descriptor she gave herself, “Peace Pilgrim,” she was a non-denominational spiritual teacher, mystic, pacifist, vegetarian activist, and peace activist.  In 1952, she became the first woman to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one season; she then walked across the United States to speak with anyone she encountered about peace– and journey that lasted for 7 cross-country round-trips over 28 years.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2017/06/07 Permalink
    Tags: , Getty Museum, , National Gallery of Victoria, , , photography,   

    “Photography always acknowledged there were cameras before photography”*… 


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    Bernardo Bellotto’s “The Demolition of the Ruins of the Kreuzkirche,” 1765

    In an era when photographs are the de facto language of record keeping, memories of modern history before the camera can sometimes feel a tad distant. But people and places did exist before 1839. And in 18th century Europe, the need to produce visual accounts of events large and small was becoming increasingly important. Social and technological developments in the early modern era were buttressing a new sense of global connectivity heralded by the rise of mercantilism and early colonial contact with the New World. It was a period defined by travel and trade, and the lords of Europe must have seen their situation as pivotal enough to commemorate with oil on canvas. The urge to self document is a modern one. A contemporary recognition of history as something worth immortalizing on one’s own terms. In keeping with the technological progress of the time, less than a century later a new medium would be invented to supersede painting’s documentary role.

    “Eyewitness Views: Making History in Eighteenth Century Europe,” now on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, gathers a series of such canvases by Italian-trained artists of the early modern era—painterly predecessors of breaking news photography. As a response to the increasing awareness of time as a commodity—an ephemeral something worth remembering—painters were commissioned to record the day’s most important spectacles and events. From political rallies and papal visits to public festivals and natural disasters, the images offer an expansive view of life at a time when the boundaries of time and space were opening up enormously—a sentiment reflected in their size and scope. Documentary paintings were one way for those in power to formalize the narrative, “making history” on their own terms and based on their own hierarchy of importance.

    More at: “These 18th century painters made eyewitness news images at the dawn of globalization“; see the exhibition at the Getty through July 30.

    * David Hockney

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    As we believe our eyes, we might send sharply-focused birthday greetings to Jennie Boddington; she was born on this date in 1922.  After a successful career as a filmmaker, she became the first full-time curator of photography for the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.  She was the first such curator in Australia, and perhaps only the third in the world.

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