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  • feedwordpress 08:01:57 on 2017/05/26 Permalink
    Tags: , cannes, , , Jason Shulman, Palme d'Or, photography, , Union Pacific   

    “Observation is a dying art”*… 


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    Alice in Wonderland (1951)

    Jason Shulman captures the entire duration of a movie in a single image with his series Photographs of Films.

    There are roughly 130,000 frames in a 90-minute film and every frame of each film is recorded in these photographs.

    More examples, and the backstory, at “Final cut: films condensed into a single frame – in pictures” and here. See Shulman’s other work here.

    * Stanley Kubrick

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    As we enjoy our popcorn, we might recall that it was on this date in 2002 that the Cannes Film Festival employed a specially-empaneled jury to judge films from 1939, the planned first year of the festival (which was postponed due to World War II).  The retrospective Palme d’Or went to Union Pacific.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:48 on 2017/05/08 Permalink
    Tags: , drive-in, , , Ingrid Bergmen, , Neorealist, photography, Rossellini, ,   

    “Drive-ins were actually playing a difficult game from the start; the economics of the business were counterintuitively awful”*… 


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    Photographer Lindsey Rickert was just seven or eight years old when she went to her first drive-in movie. Looking back now, what she remembers most is magic of the experience itself, “laughing and playing with my friends under the big screen as the cloak of darkness surrounded us and the screen above illuminated our playground.”

    Those experiences came flooding back after she chanced upon the 99W Drive-In in Newberg, Oregon, a few years ago. First opened in 1953, the 99W still shows two features a night during the warmer months, and often sells out on weekends. But it has been more fortunate than almost all of America’s other drive-ins. In June 2016, the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association estimated there were just 324 drive-ins still in operation—down from more than 4,000 in the late 1950s.

    Rickert’s chance encounter with the 99W sparked the idea to photograph drive-in theaters across the country. She spent a year planning the trip and raising money on Kickstarter before she hit the road: 12,022 miles across 32 states in 65 days. She hit 28 theaters in total—both abandoned and still in operation—and had encounters with former employees, braved bad weather, and learned why it’s important to wear boots in the tall grass. We spoke to Rickert about her ambitious project and resulting book, Drive-In America

    More of the back-story, and more photos, at: “A Photographer’s Quest to Find the Last of the Drive-In Theaters.”

    * Kerry Segrave, Drive-in Theaters: A History from Their Inception in 1933

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    As we roll down the window to mount the speaker, we might send cinematic birthday greetings to Roberto Gastone Zeffiro Rossellini; he was born on this date in 1906.  Perhaps most widely known in the U.S. for his then-scandalous relationship with Ingrid Bergman in the 50s, Rossellini was was one of the leading directors of the Italian neorealist cinema.  His 1945 film Roma città aperta (Rome, Open City) and the other two entries in his Neorealist Trilogy (Paisà [1946] and Germany, Year Zero [1948]) are widely considered classics.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:29 on 2017/03/29 Permalink
    Tags: , Dreamland, , Nara, photography, , Romain Veillon, Santa Fe, ,   

    “Life is not a theme park, and if it is, the theme is death”*… 


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    French photographer Romain Veillon documented the after-life of Dreamland, a theme park built in Nara Prefecture in 1961, that was expected to become Japan’s answer to Disneyland.  But its fate was sealed when both Disney and Universal Studios opened up their own parks in nearby Osaka and Tokyo.  Closed in 2006, it lay dormant until it was razed in 2016– just after Veillon’s photos were taken.

    Visit the ruins at “Deserted Japanese theme park photographed just before demolition.”

    * Russell Brand

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    As we contemplate an E Ticket, we might recall that it was on this date in 1955 that the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway signed a five-year contract with Disney, agreeing to pay $50,000 per year in exchange for Disney’s use  of the name “Santa Fe” and company logo on all Disneyland trains, stations, literature, etc.

    Walt Disney (left), with California Governor Goodwin J. Knight (center) and Santa Fe Railway President Fred Gurley (right) on Opening Day at Disneyland

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:12 on 2017/03/18 Permalink
    Tags: Dillon S. Myer, , , internment, , Milton Eisenhower, photography, Tom Kiefer, , War Relocation Authority   

    “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions”*… 


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    The C.B.P. considers rosaries to be potentially lethal, non-essential personal property, and agents dispose of them during intake.

    Tom Kiefer was a Customs and Border Protection janitor for almost four years before he took a good look inside the trash. Every day at work—at the C.B.P. processing center in Ajo, Arizona, less than fifty miles from the border with Mexico—he would throw away bags full of items confiscated from undocumented migrants apprehended in the desert. One day in 2007, he was rummaging through these bags looking for packaged food, which he’d received permission to donate to a local pantry. In the process, he also noticed toothbrushes, rosaries, pocket Bibles, water bottles, keys, shoelaces, razors, mix CDs, condoms, contraceptive pills, sunglasses, keys: a vibrant, startling testament to the lives of those who had been detained or deported. Without telling anyone, Kiefer began collecting the items, stashing them in sorted piles in the garages of friends. “I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he told me recently. “But I knew there was something to be done.”

    Kiefer, who is now fifty-eight, had moved to Ajo from Los Angeles, in 2001, hoping to simplify his life, purchase a home, and focus on his passion: taking pictures. (Previously, he’d been a collector and dealer of antique cast-iron bed frames, and, before that, a graphic designer.) He took the C.B.P. job, in 2003, for purely practical reasons: it paid ten dollars and forty-two cents an hour, and it seemed unlikely to steal mental space away from his photography projects. Now he began photographing his C.B.P. collection in his studio, arranging and rearranging items, sometimes putting a single stuffed animal or T-shirt in the frame, more often capturing like with like: dozens of roll-on deodorant sticks, hundreds of nail clippers. Today, he has taken hundreds of photographs of objects he brought home from the processing center. Together they make up “El Sueño Americano” (“The American Dream”), an ongoing project that, thanks to its unconventional perspective on U.S. migrant policies, has launched Kiefer into a photography career he’s dreamed of for decades…

    The extraordinary story in full at: “A janitor preserves the seized belongings of migrants.”

    * George Washington

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    As we put out the mat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that an executive order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Relocation Authority (WRA), a United States government agency established to handle the internment, i.e. forced relocation and detention, of Japanese-Americans during World War II.  The WRA operated 10 camps, mostly on tribal land, that ultimately “housed” 110-120,000 people.

    The program was initially headed by Milton Eisenhower, younger brother of Dwight and a New Deal stalwart who had opposed relocation.  Eisenhower did his best to limit the program and to protect the property and rights of those interned.  But his efforts were largely thwarted.  He was replaced after only 6 months on the job by Dillon S. Myer, who ran the WRA until its dissolution at the end of the war.

    In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which apologized for the internment on behalf of the U.S. government and authorized a payment of $20,000 (equivalent to $41,000 in 2016) to each camp survivor. The legislation admitted that government actions were based on “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.”  The U.S. government eventually disbursed more than $1.6 billion (equivalent to $3,240,000,000 in 2016) in reparations to 82,219 Japanese Americans who had been interned and to their heirs.

    See: “A ten-year old Japanese-American girl in an internment camp.”

    Dust storm at the Manzanar War Relocation Center

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:43 on 2017/01/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , photography, Picabia, , sweaters,   

    “I have a sweater obsession, I guess”*… 


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    More at: “This guy makes sweaters of places and then takes pictures of himself wearing the sweaters at those places.”

    * Drake

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    As we perl one, knit two, we might send challenging birthday greetings to Francis Picabia; he was born (Francis-Marie Martinez de Picabia) on this date in 1879.  A French avant-garde painter, poet and typographist, Picabia experimented with Impressionism and Pointillism before becoming a Cubist. He then became one of the early major figures of the Dada movement in the United States and in France, and was later briefly associated with Surrealism.

    See his work at the major retrospective now hung at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and on their web site.

    Francis Picabia, 1919, inside Danse de Saint-Guy

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:26 on 2017/01/12 Permalink
    Tags: Cinderella, , glass slipper, , , Malls, Perrault, photography, ,   

    “Nostalgia is, ‘Hey, remember the other mall that used to be there?’”*… 


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    Built in the early 1970s, a decaying Midwestern relic of throw-away consumer architecture will be torn down and developed into an updated outdoor shopping space. What is lost in the process?

    An era is coming to its end in a mid-size Illinois city few Americans might recognize. Sandburg Mall, the four-anchor shopping arena constructed in 1974 on the northwest corner of Galesburg, is finally being torn down after decades of decline. Located near the intersection of Henderson street and Carl Sandburg Drive, just off the US-34 exit, the shopping center was built during Galesburg’s population apex — nearly 38,000 citizens were registered in 1960 census, dropping only about 1,000 by 1970. Per the city’s most recent census report, that number has dropped to just above 32,000…

    Sandburg Mall is now a relic about to disintegrate, albeit one few citizens will probably miss. Its existence has been maligned for most of my teenage and adult life. It taunts and reminds most of a better, more colorful economic past in a town still struggling — and in some places, succeeding — to get back on its feet…

    Tag Hartman-Simkins‘ haunting photo essay: “Baby Come Back: Images of an American Shopping Mall Before Its Death.”

    * Charles Saunders

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    As we shop til we drop, we might send fabulous birthday greetings to Charles Perrault; he was born on this date in 1628.  A member of the Académie Française, he laid the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, deriving his work from extant folk tales.  He is best known for Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Cendrillon (Cinderella), Le Chat Botté (Puss in Boots), La Belle au bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty), and Barbe Bleue (Bluebeard).

    Hugely influential (e.g., on The Brothers Grimm, who wrote over 100 years later), his versions became canonical– and thus the basis for other literary tellings, operas, play, and ultimately movies… which is why Disney’s Cinderella (among other incarnations) has to contend with fragile footwear:  Perrault is believed to have confused vair for verre (the commonly-used descriptor in earlier versions), and thus to have given his princess-to-be “glass” slippers instead of “squirrel fur slippers.”

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:14 on 2016/12/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , astrophotograph, , John William Draper, , photography, , William Mortensen   

    “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.”*… 


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    “Machiavelli” by William Mortensen

    Anton LaVey was a fan, and so was Ansel Adams who called him the “Antichrist.” William Mortensen was clearly no ordinary photographer.

    Born in Utah, William Mortensen spent the formative years of his career in Hollywood working as a still photographer on Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings, among other gigs, before setting up shop in Laguna Beach in 1931. Mortensen’s experiences in the fantasy factory of Hollywood provided a solid starting point for his jaw-dropping exercises in imaginative manipulation. Consciously channeling the Old Masters of centuries past, Mortensen tirelessly executed dozens of astounding portraits and evocative “scenes”—pictures so ravishing that the viewer is often bound to question their status as photographs…

    Read more of Mortensen, and see more of his work, at “William Mortensen– the Anti-Christ of Photography.”  There’s even more in this short (23 minute) documentary, Monsters and Madonnas:

    * Diane Arbus

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    As we fiddle with the focus, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that John William Draper took a daguerreotype of the moon, the first celestial photograph (or astrophotograph) made in the U.S. (He exposed the plate for 20 minutes using a 5-inch telescope and produced an image one inch in diameter.)   Draper’s picture of his sister, taken the following year, is the oldest surviving photographic portrait.

    An 1840 shot of the moon by Draper– the oldest surviving “astrophotograph” as his first is lost

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:20 on 2016/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: cars, , , , , Langdon Clay, , , , photography,   

    “The car has become an article of dress without which we feel uncertain, unclad, and incomplete in the urban compound”*… 


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    Langdon Clay spent two years in the 1970s roaming the streets of the Big Apple at night, photographing parked and abandoned cars.  See more of the results at “Eerie portraits of cars in 1970s New York.”

    * Marshall McLuhan

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    As we slip behind the wheel, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 that Thomas Midgley Jr., then a young engineer at General Motors, discovered that, when added to gasoline, a compound called tetraethyl lead (TEL) eliminated the unpleasant noises (known as “knock” or “pinging”) that internal-combustion engines made when they ran.  Midgley could scarcely have imagined the consequences of his discovery: for more than five decades, oil companies saturated the gasoline they sold with lead– a deadly poison.

    (Resonantly, 13 years later Midgley led the team that developed chlorofluorocarbons [CFCs]– specifically, Freon– for use in refrigeration [and ultimately, air conditioning and aerosols].  Like the lead additive, CFCs were celebrated in their time…  but later banned for their contributions to climate change.)

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:15 on 2016/11/02 Permalink
    Tags: Alfred Stieglitz, , , Eliot Porter, , photography, stock photos, , vintage   

    “All photographs are memento mori”*… 


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    Tropical Street: tourists walking past shops and restaurants in a tropical setting, Hawaii, USA

    Many, many more glances at yesteryear at “Vintage Stock Photos“– all free.

    * Susan Sontag

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    As we check those photos in our wallets, we might spare a thought for Eliot Porter; he died on this date in 1990.  An American photographer, he is best known for his color photographs of nature. With encouragement from Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams, Porter turned an adolescent hobby into his profession.

    Porter was the first established artist-photographer to commit to exploring the beauty and diversity of the natural world in color photographs.  Over much of his career, black-and-white photography set the artistic standard, and he had to fight his colleagues’ prejudices against the medium. But in 1962 the Sierra Club published “In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World.”  That immensely popular book, combining his evocative color photographs of New England woods with excerpts from the writings of Henry David Thoreau, revolutionized photographic book publishing, and legitimized color.  Its success set Porter on a lifelong path of creating similar photographic portraits of a wide variety of ecologically significant locations the world over.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:24 on 2016/10/19 Permalink
    Tags: Area 51, Ficino, , Neoplationism, , photography, Robert Ormerod, Roswell, Tarot, ,   

    “The truth is out there”*… 


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    Photographer Robert Ormerod took a road trip from Roswell, New Mexico to Area 51, exploring our fascination with the unknown by immersing himself in the lore extra-terrestrials… and in the lives of those who seek them.

    More of his photographs, with his commentary, at “Inside the everyday world of UFO hunters.”

    * tagline of The X-Files

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    As we deliberate the Drake Equation, we might send ideal birthday greetings to Marsilio Ficino; he was born on this date in 1433.  An Italian scholar and Catholic priest, he was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance.  The first translator of Plato’s complete extant works into Latin, he was important in the revival of Neoplatonism, and was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day. His Florentine Academy was an attempt to revive Plato’s Academy, and influenced both the direction and the tenor of the Italian Renaissance and thus the development of European philosophy.

    Ficino was also an astrologer, and is credited with having inspired the Tarot card deck– the Tarot of Marseilles– that was the pattern from which many subsequent tarot decks derive.

    Marsilio Ficino, from a fresco painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

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