Friday, January 07, 2005

Evidence and Narrative

Evidence and Narritive

If something happens to you, how do you put into a convenient 3 paragraph description of what went down? I read what I write and see it flailing on a page - I want to go back and correct my sentence structure in my first post of the year and remove the runons (where-as I fragement like drunk driver, barely missing a sentence to link the other sentence together neatly). I've never been into details... Me be a writer... (insert audible disdain here from the million or so writers).
An article in NYT about the banning of photographs in subways. I used to Fotoblog quite a bit and there was one controversial fotoblogger took all sorts of incredulous shots on the subway. People would leave their protests in the comments section - the artist defending themselves by saying "they do not see what's so bad"... I hate to say it - but I get some of my best shots with random crowds sometimes... There's such an intrusion in doing that however...

While a painting or a prose description can never be other than a
narrowly selective interpretation, a photograph can be treated as a narrowly
selective transparency. But despite the presumption of veracity that gives all
photographs authority, interest, seductiveness, the work that photographers do
is no generic exception to the usually shady commerce between art and truth.
Even when photographers are most concerned with mirroring reality, they are
still haunted by tacit imperatives of taste and conscience. The immensely gifted
members of the Farm Security Administration photographic project of the late
1930s (among them Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, Russell Lee) would
take dozens of frontal pictures of one of their sharecropper subjects until
satisfied that they had gotten just the right look on film -- the precise
expression on the subject's face that supported their own notions about poverty,
light, dignity, texture, exploitation, and geometry. In deciding how a picture
should look, in preferring one exposure to another, photographers are always
imposing standards on their subjects. Although there is a sense in which the
camera does indeed capture reality, not just interpret it, photographs are as
much an interpretation of the world as paintings and drawings are. Those
occasions when the taking of photographs is relatively undiscriminating,
promiscuous, or self-effacing do not lessen the didacticism of the whole
enterprise. This very passivity -- and ubiquity -- of the photographic record is
photography's "message," its aggression.

So sayeth Susan Sontag. Yes, there is whole lotta violence in that fstop because you are the person who is imposing the idea on us. Ever notice when you take pictures how people wince just prior to the flash going off?

Speaking of the recent death of Susan Sontag, my thoughts turn to camp, the language of my people. I've been watching alot of KITH from netflix and loving every minute of it... It's no longer knee-slapping funny, I find. But it is still highly literate and innovative to watch. Comedy-as-tragedy-turned-on-it's-thong-wearing-keister. Maybe taking pictures of people unknowingly will become renegade and thus comic? I don't know why I felt the need to push this into the path of Sontag's "On Photography"... Perhaps it's because I'm looking for a strange new comic vehicle...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Pop Obsessives Paid Weekly!

The promise of the new... After the new year, potentials and possibilities seem endless for some weird reason. After seeing a writing course offered in Salon, I went directly to their source ( and saw that they had offered a beginning online course for writing for Magazines beginning tomorrow. It’s strange – but I’ve always courted the idea of going back into the news business (even though I was always at the technical edges while working in T.V. and not technically “in” journalism, but I did technically graduate from the J-school at UO). Alas – a short lived dream however. The class was full and also expensive (plus, I’ve been hearing some horror stories of distance-learning where the feedback channels were less than optimal…), so I decided to forgo that, but I might look into a future course (in real-time somewhere) and/or just find some small-time gigs that would take submissions. Why the sudden interest in writing? The world is already full of would-be authors and bloggers and people who maintain their presence as a mini-“news authority”. Friends who are in the biz caution against it and those who do it usually give up after a while. I don’t know – I think it came about while I was distracted the other day chasing down facts on an obscure 1970’s musician named John Howard. I somehow stumbled across him on Amazon and a whole other universe opened up. I wanted to know more – but being that I should be working, I had to put my search aside. I’m always obsessed with minutia – 15minutes of fame, trivia and/or footnotes in history that actually have a larger ripple than we might realize. moment). My pop obsessions outweigh other tragedies and terrible histories, so I figure it has to be good for something.
In any case – I ended up purchasing the John Howard CD, and will look for stimulus perhaps through Seattle central, or a small group. In the meantime - I'm cultivating my obsessions with sad-eyed singer-songwriters from 40-30 years ago with continental flair and style, who were courted as the potentially next big thing and then didn't quite make it...

And also my other fave I saw today was Terry Reid, the man-who-would-be-Robert Plant. Dig the mod hair and bedroom eyes...