Monday, October 30, 2017

Guggenheim Application images: Magic & Logic.

  Magic & Logic is a series of KINETIC still life.  Definition:  A still life that requires a camera to see it.  Kinetic still life is burning, balancing, melting, et.  Images are more events than assemblage.  Many are not visible until the negative is processed.

  This series features images of new ideas never before seen in nature or culture.  As in the Blackfork Bestiary the subjects come from the yard, the street, the trash...the local ecosystem.  Mostly they are photographed on a tiny board stage.  Just the players change.  I regard this project as landscape-generated.  I'm primarily a landscape photographer.  When shooting landscape, God, (or the universe, or Gaia, (or someone with a larger prop table),  picks the props, arranges the background, handles the lighting, et, et.  The photographer just picks the viewpoint and the moment.  With these kinetic still life...I'm god.   My ideas have to measure up to, (at least), a sandy hill or a momentary rainwater rivulet.  Landscape and still life are two sides of the same coin.  If you are having trouble on one side, reset by flipping to the other.

    I regard myself as a slight surrealist.  A reminder in the studio says: "Make Man Ray Blink!"  If the imaged idea isn't delightful and surprising, back into oblivion they go.

  In order of application:

Flaming mushroom.

Puzzle Ice.

Illuminated Manuscript.

Fall Running Scissors.

Writing Light.

Deconstructed Magnolia.

Folded Frozen Flatware.

Puzzle Tornado.

Wisteria Scissors.

Handful of acorns.

I'm thinking about switching one:

Moon Pans.

  Now you know everything I know.

Guggenheim Application images: The Blackfork Bestiary.

The Blackfork Bestiary selections for  Guggenheim application.  "Blackfork" refers to the Blackfork Creek watershed where my home sits.  A Bestiary is an ancient catalog of animals.  All in the studio.  Human touch, containers, eye contact.  Vertical format as a book project.  There is a short story to go with each image.  These images are very much influenced by reading Bruce Chatwin and Barry Lopez exploring their thoughts about landscape as the generator of human culture.  All language, cultural customs, religion, technology are connected to and generated by the landscape.  You don't need 100 words for "ant" or the knowledge to fabricate a grass skirt in the arctic, nor do you need 100 words for snow or the clothing to survive -30 degree winters in the tropics.    I was mulling that knowledge while trying to puzzle out a vision in East Texas by orienting myself by watershed and Amerind trails and village sites.  I kept bumping into my fellow Blackforkians...and decided to take some portraits.  As soon as that creative foot was placed, they came cascading in.

  In order of Guggenheim presentation:

Fledgling American Crow;

Stacked Toads.

Bullfrog in beaker.

Black Widow in eggshell.


Snail Hand.

American Alligator and Texas Rat Snake.

Cicada hand.

Copperhead Martini.

Whitetail fawn.

  I admit sighing as I have to make this disclaimer, but contemporary contact with and knowledge of our fellow inhabitants of our ecosystems is so limited that people routinely ask:  "Are they dead?  Did you hunt them?  Where did you find them." et.  

  All animals are alive.  (Don't they look alive?)  All were legally handled.  Many were rescued from the edge of oblivion.  (Turtles trapped by curb and gutter on roadways, et)   None were harmed or stressed by the experience.  As any artist would tell you, they found ME as much as I found them.  Bugs from the yard.  An opossum from my 90-year-old neighbors garbage can.  A public school science teacher's Bullfrog raised from a tadpole.  Birds trapped in ductwork.  Crows blown out of nest in town.  Fawns mowed up in hayfields.

  The whole series is up at

  It all began with putting a foot on the landscape and searching out the way to walk and the way to think about seeing it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Back to work. Magic & Logic.

  Plenty of work in my little studio, plus teaching, plus working my negatives through pyrocat and proofing them.  All the time new ideas.

I tried putting some double exposures in a still life.  It's undergoing the mat/wall test now.  Holding up OK.  Had a couple of these combinations with landscape from the trip out West.  The moon exposure didn't work.

Puzzle pistol.

Scissor wrap. (gen II)

Cindy and I wander estate sales most weekends.  I'm looking for...things.  If asked, I just say I'm trying to find a good pair of toenail clippers.  I've been adding to my scissor pile.  This was a sudden idea out of nowhere.  This is the second generation.  The third generation is waiting development.

  Going West tomorrow to Zuni Pueblo to assist Chris Johnson on a video project he is doing.  Chris is writing a recommendation letter for a Guggenheim application I am putting in.  Will also see two more of my recommenders.  Just kicked the first part of that application off.  Now back West for a week, but I won't be doing my work, just driving Chris and seeing people.  I am taking my camera.

625 miles tomorrow to Santa Rosa, New Mexico and dinner at the Comet II restaurant.  God willing.

Mesa Verde

Finally the time was up and it was time to go home.  On the way I wanted to visit Mesa Verde and Aztec Ruins near Farmington.  It was mostly personal development, though I did try to meet the Artist in Residence co-ordinator.  Hadn't been to Mesa Verde in a while.  Spent a day there and camped.  No serious photography, just toured the museum and Balcony House and Cliff Palace.  Every time you go its a little more controlled for the tourists.  Beautiful spot and informative museum.  Woke up in the 4-runner the next morning and it was 48 degrees.  I drove down to see Aztec and took most of the tour.  Area to the North was closed due to a bear and cubs sighting.

Balcony House tourists.

Balcony House.

Finally pointed the 4-runner toward Smith County and punched "go home" on the Garmin.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bumming around Mexican Hat and the San Juan.

I checked out two other volcanic necks:  One West of Shiprock near Cove, Arizona and one just South of Mexican Hat, Utah.  Neither was to my liking.  I had to follow bare traces of a track, very rough, around the Mexican Hat volcanic neck.  It was hot, mid-day.  Touchy going and the road wasn't really a road, or even much of a track.  Google maps showed it but it was barely a hint.  On the backside I was forcing my way and ran into three donkeys.  Past them it just evaporated, so I got turned around and retraced my route.  It really wasn't anywhere for a non-4WD vehicle to be picking around anyway.  The neck might throw a great shadow and will have to give it another look.  It has some official name on maps, but have forgotten.

  Ate in Mexican Hat, at the grill at the bridge, bought an extra for dinner and headed out to explore other Google rumors of roads to the East of Mexican Hat. 

There was some of this, but I did see some areas I hadn't.  It was hot.

 Almost to back to Comb Ridge from Mexican Hat I found a turnoff that was supposed to be a loop that went back and hit the pavement nearer Mexican Hat.  It wasn't, but after some picking around I retreated from a useless track to a terrific view over the San Juan.  The turnoff is before a dry oxbow on the San Juan I had always wanted to see.  It was a spectacular point on a place nearly as nice as the Goosenecks State Park.  I parked there overnight.  Nobody around, nobody showed up, nobody had been there in a bit.  Views in all directions.  I'm on the North bank of the San Juan.  I think the river campsites have been closed due to Bighorn Sheep presence through this area, though I never saw any boats on the river, nor sheep, though I spent some time with binocs glassing for sheep.  I could hear a donkey calling to the East but never could locate him.  He called into the night.  I couldn't tell if he was in lust or peril.

I set up and went to work.

Looking West off my parking spot.

East View.

This trip was spent looking for BIG shadows.  Found all I could use.

Picking away at shadows on the river.

Big afternoon rainstorm blew through to cool things down a bit.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Shadow chasing.

  Climbed into the caldera with a little footwork.  It's not quite scaled for a human being. Everything a little too tall or too deep.  Rugged spot.  Since I was so remote I took extra care, but you can only limit the risk, not eliminate it.  The desiccated Horned Owl told that story.

  The neck was a natural astronomical observatory.  The views were East and West.  Great peaks and notches for shadow projection matched with significant stone features at just the right places.

West out of the caldera looking at a volcanic dike.  Bowl was full of bones from various raptors.

Worked all afternoon with the shadow.

One afternoon I just got a glimpse or two of the shadow.  The second afternoon I had the whole show.

Morning shadow to the West.

Afternoon out over the plains to the East.



The Keyhole as it hit the floor of the talus slope.

Spring foal that never saw the summer.  I gathered the scattered bones.

Two nights, one coming and one going.  Needs more work.  It takes me a while to get comfortable and see a site in various lighting.