In no particular order. Locations withheld. Want to see more with appropriate chronology and locations, follow me on Instagram by searching my full name. Breakfast included.
Persephone's favorites; mine these days are in the title honey....!
Another young woman, this time from Buenos Aires, Argentina was kind enough to include me in her book of favorite artists. Irana Douer started an online magazine called Ruby and was quickly recognized for her editing talents.
A few months back she contacted again to see if i would be interested in being part of the first compilation of her favorite artists from the last few years and I of course agreed readily. She book is now out and I am certainly impressed anew by her efforts. She teamed up with famed German publisher Gestalten and the results are well worth adding to your collection of coffee tables....
BLINK, a magazine out of South Korea has just released it's 4th issue.....It is a photography magazine with great promise and ARam Kim, the young and talented editor found enough in my work to included me in it's fourth issue... keep an eye out for BLINK and support her effort as they are well worth it....
1. Introduce yourself.
My name is Olivier Laude, I am of Corsican descent and grew up in France until I was 15...I migrated to the US to escape the tyranny of the French educational system.... Need further introduction go here or print it along with this interview...http://olivierlaude.com/about/ . Besides that here is the short version:
Olivier Laude grew up a poor illiterate shepherd on the idyllic Island of Corsica, off the coast of France and Italy. Bathed in sunlight and mountain breezes his childhood was characterized by long walks through the chestnut forests, tending to his grandfather's flock, and feral pigs upon which he feasted regularly. In 1979, at the tender age of 15, and after a brief sojourn on the European sub-continent Olivier moved to the United States in search of better pastures and artistic freedom. After wandering the land for years he settled in San Francisco and contemplated a career in photography, even though his eyesight was poor and he didn't particularly enjoy the occult.
Meanwhile, he traveled the world and managed, at gun point, to convince numerous magazines to publish his work. Well known publications like The New York Times magazine, National Geographic Adventure(RIP) and Time enjoyed his folksy ways and plain talking and along with Newsweek, US News and Fortune showered him with commissions, awards and high profile assignments which resulted in numerous assistants calling and offering their services.
In the meantime Olivier fathered two boys and one girl and permanently settled in San Francisco, comfortably nestled amongst the many trinkets and certificates of achievements he collected on his travels. His global empire of net properties (mexicanfoodmuseum.com, atlasmagazine.com and askjehovah.com) continue to flourish and charm millions around the world.
2. Where is home? and where are staying for now?
As mentioned above, I live in San Francisco, California, strattling the North American and Pacific plate, I am impatiently awaiting for the upcoming May 21st rapture and my subscequent dispatch via sea burial.... Regardless, I am getting tired of living in San Francisco, Central Asia and South East Asia would suit certain nefarious acts I might like to perform and which will be discussed in greater detail during the course of this interview.
I began responding to this interview request in a coffee shop in San Francisco but moved back to my office after being shamed into leaving the premises, by younger and better looking patrons than myself.... Sitting for too long also hurts like a bitch ever since I broke my back in 2007. Needless to say, more than the usual share of gratitude should be bestow upon this interviewee, as I suffered greatly, both physically and emotionally, while responding to your questions....
3. How long have you been a photographer?
I officially became a professional photographer January 1, 1993. I first started in photojournalism because I wanted to continue traveling throughout the word, as I had previously been doing from the mid 80's onward. After not graduating from university (then graduating, long story) I spend a year in New York City enriching myself and my peers. This cash was subsequently used to travel in Asia for a year and a half.... Despite afore mentioned assertions, I did not have much money so I tried not to spend it on film which did not stop me from needlessly carrying a Pentax 6x7 during all these months.... After returning to the US in 1989 I began having a very hard time adjusting to the routine of being back in North America. Within a fortnight, I decided to live cheaply and save as much as possible in order to return to China and escape a life of inpending drudgery.
During my earlier travails there, I had noticed that there were many completely unknown vernacular rural architectural styles all over the Middle Kingdom. As one of my goals at this time had been to enter architecture school, I needed to prove to my future graduate school mates, that despite my mediocre grades and lack luster academic credentials, that I was man enough to enter academia; if only to subcequently ignore the curriculum and skip classes as is has always been my academic predilection.
Back in the US, I had done some research on the subject but could find little on Chinese Rural vernacular architecture. This information or lack thereof served to convince me, and others, that I needed to go back to China and dedicate myself to finding, and documenting, these works of rural householdery; not knowing that the project would drag and take another 4 years of my life, untold tresor and my very life, on one occasion.
Fortunately, once I had completed this obscure documentary tasks, I realized that I did not wish to become an architect afterall but rather, a photographer, and a photojournalist at that, a decision I deeply regret to this day..... And so, besides my many intellectual misgivings with that profession, I remained a "concerned photojournalist" until just about 2004; when for various reasons, I began to truly invest myself in producing this most current work. To my eternal dismay, this still makes me a photographer.
My personal work started taking shape in 2000 but it really began to supplant journalism little by little for both economic and personal reasons... Nevertheless, I quickly discovered that my present work is much more "individual" and "pleasing", even though I would like to point out the way in which I would like to use the neutral nature of both words as much as possible....
4. When did you become interested in photography for the first time?
My brother introduced me to photography when I was 11 or 12 years old, he is 3 1/2 years older than I am and was always a bit compulsive as far as his interests and hobbies were concerned. As a teenager he took up photography with a vengeance for a year or so and I dutifully followed in his foot steps; but I stayed with it for lack of a higher IQ which would have, under normal circumstances, pulled me, like him, towards a distinguished and prominent carreer in surgery...
For reasons which have little to do with falling in love with photography or having some sort of epiphany, I kept at it because it became like water, a path of least resistance, something I did well and quickly; and not unlike quicksand, easy to get into, hard to extirpate yourself from without dying slowly, and/or of asphyxiation.
It gave me a way out of medical school, away from a reasoned existence and by which I mean becoming a "white collar" or even "blue collar" worker, even though I did a lot of the later over the years.
5. Tell us about your background which affect your life as artist. What makes you an artist?
Firstly, I do not consider myself an artist. The very mention of that word, at least in the West, is riddled with ridicule and stinks of dilettantism. But, as an artist, we may not have enough space to cover it all, especially since it is always changing, but, and I rarely mention this in interviews(I hope this one is only in Korean), I had a difficult childhood, a very aggressive, abusive father, both physically and emotionally. Those days are long gone and I have made my peace with them so I am certainly not mentioning this to garner any kind of sympathy; but simply put, those early days, especially because I was a child, were extremely important in shaping my future vision.
I often think of it as basic animal survival instincts.... I became very crafty, very quick on my feet, always thinking ahead to the next altercation. Fortunately, I was never crushed by it, I have always had a natural resilience and aggressive nature which made me very combative even as a kid....but, it was not very good for emotional development and did not instill a sense of security in my child's mind.
Thankfully, my mind found ways to protect itself; by dreaming, imagining, creating other, less brutal and stressful worlds... This is what I did, and to this day it shapes my need to work. I spent a lot of my childhood day dreaming...leaving my often unpleasant and difficult world behind me; drawing, play acting, and using my hands and my imagination to create a parallel universe.
For reasons still unknown to me, humor and my fate as a child are still intimately entwined.... The best I can do to illustrate what I mean is recall an anecdote which I think telling: I remember my mother giving me a spanking, who knows why(I was a very creative, productive and very impressive mischief maker), but laughing hysterically thru it all; not out of shame or fear, but because of the comedic nature of the whole situation...and besides her meager attempts at a beating/spanking were so pathetic compared to the real ones I took from my father that I also remember thinking this was just funny as hell and not much of a punishment... I guess, if you can laugh at your misfortune sometimes, you can overcome it and survive it in better shape than if you had not....
Nevertheless, I do not want to make it seem like my life was horrible, I did have one great saving grace. Every summer break, my brother and I, were dispatched to Corsica to live with my maternal grand parents, and that, was heaven....on earth..!
I think to this day the combination of those two worlds still shape me.... I have learned numerous lessons from both, but as an artist, I still embrace that escapism and into a more perfect world, but one with the perceptive and the emotional strength of an adult, born out of the self confidence of surviving hardship, and doing well by it...
A world of my own design, populated by characters I create to escape where I am easily understood; where I revel in the greatness of creating from nothing but skills acquired for that very purpose..... Works and images hardly imaginable 35 years ago.... To speak of my influences would take volumes, from close to 20 years of constant travels to my interests in the history of conflicts, a very great sense of the sarcastic and the cynical and a fairly good sense of humor I truly came to understand once free of fatherly tyranny, comes from my maternal grand mother.....
6. Why did you choose photography? what's photography for you?
Photography is both a means to an end, a need, diminished by a sense of itself. A very small spark into expressing how I think and who I am. Photography is both a job and a curse, I dislike it's financial aspects but cannot in good faith also dismiss it's appeals, both financial(at times) and personal. It is a path I have taken long ago and which like an arm cannot be cut off... It does not define me nor would it diminish me should I be forced to abandon its practice it tomorrow…hum, well, may be..!
Regardless, and ever since I was a child, everything I do, I do with as much perfection as I can muster. Something else I know is that I cannot do anything I do, poorly(at least as I subjectively see it and funfortunately I have failed numerously ), it is a personal impossibility, in theory. We make decisions which become us, almost thoughtlessly, and photography was and is one such adjudication.
I have tried many thing in the 46 years, from pre-med to art history, jungle warfare training, sharpshooting, writing, amateur astronomy and the list goes on; but all, like photography, have always compelled me to attempt them with great energy and intensity.... I take no real credit as that would be intellectually dishonest and presumptuous. I was built like this and know nothing else, nor do I claim to be particularly gifted at any one of them...
Earlier in this interview I poked slight fun at my brother, but I am my brother.... I am extremely proud(for better and for worst), focused and intense, yet, I am much enamored of making fun of myself, which today, does not seem to be part of my agenda....so please include this link if you can... http://olivierlaude.com/about/ !
7. How would you describe your photos to someone whose never seen them?
That is a good question because I have no real answer. Some of this also depends on who might be asking. A gallery owner might receive the convenient answer of the day, a friend, quite another, or both...but most of the time I would probably turn the question back on itself, and not always without a great deal of sarcasm, or even contempt ..... but since you asked and since I am, strangely enough, inclined to respond, I might tell them that they were the tip of my spears when it I had them in hand, but which have long since vanished to different beasts, or missed their mark entirely....
8. What image or project have you been happiest with? What are your favorite images from the series and why?
I do not really think in terms of projects at all, they are all part of a personal dialogue I am rarely aware of. At best, projects are consumption based, meaning that they are defined for the viewer to better understand, or for the artist to get a grasp on what it is she or he is doing; a framework, a convinience. Defining an idea within certain, easily absorbed parameters, is not my interest, nor am I particularly good at it. I quickly become bored and agitated with following pre-conceived, self imposed dictates....
As a journalist, I was never all that good at telling stories, the personal experience I wrenched out was always more important than the final product... in other words I reported more as a lifestyle than as a need to observe and bring back some narrative others could absorb and be informed by. Consequently, I felt no sense of personal responsibility to such entirely subjective matters, which were to me always associated with a perishable and dubiously commercial medium.
But to digress: I have always been fascinated by the fact that quantum mechanics suggests that when the viewer is not directly observing, it may cease to exist or will exist only in a vague and undetermined state... The tug of war between my need to physically exist and the undetermined state of all things keeps me largely frustrated and aimless, yet determined to keep fecklessness at bay.... Wether I like it or not, the fundamentals of living, force me to better my present state...
The present has always been what mattered most to me, the past and the future are either too hard to recall or too fuzzy to imagine as anything else but delusional hearsay.... But to answer your question, my favorite image is the one I am working on internally.... and I am also fairly certain that I have no idea what I've just said....!
9. What would you do if you could not make art?
I would have to use my hands no matter what I did. Opposable thumbs are, like bipedalism, very important artifacts of a life well lived.... I actually ask myself that question on a regular basis but i never like the answer I get... making a living is a necessity but when I imagine a perfectly lived life it never has to do with money. I have always wanted to live on a sail boat and circumnavigate the world a couple times...I have already sailed long distances and love the open ocean.....
10. What artists have influenced you, and how?
They haven't, or at least, not in ways that I am aware of, or better yet, I do not give much thought to it either. I think may be young artists think about that, but I am middle aged and mostly concerned with aging ungracefully.... but I am often moved by the vernacular. Those works which are done without artistic intent and often public merit.... I love vernacular photography and architecture in particular but also native fashion for example; in essence, the artist within humanity which surfaces without being consciously summoned, culturally elevated.
Intent begets consumption, begets commerce. Nothing wrong with commerce, but it simply mean that once we inject intent alongside money, we often manipulate our best intentions to please, sell, cajole, emmulate, copy or attain power, wealth or both. Nothing wrong with the later per se, but it does tend to play tricks on the best of us: Doubt, arrogance, fear, ambition starts to permiate the work we do and often lessens its stature, especially over time...
I recently saw Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams...." about the Chauvet cave in France and was profoundly affected by the innate talent of the cro magnon. Those are the things I am totally floored by..... but most of all I like all kinds of beauty and intelligence.... female beauty is often overwhelming and simple enough to bask in; often leading me in directions which I know have led me in both very destructive and productive directions... but at the end of the day, I am a sucker for people and landscapes who tend to prove me wrong and remind me that I am not a true misanthrope... it's just that in order to love you, I need proof, lots of it, so that I may not feel the need to dispatch you..;-)
11. Favorite living and deceased artist? It changes every week/month.
That's easier, well, may be not, it's sort of endless: The cro magnon, Jan Van Eyck, Quentin Metsys, The Northern Renaissance, Chinese Rural architecture, the country of Mali, Zimbabwe, everywhere I have ever been, even the DMV(Department of Motor Vehicles), my boys Raphael and Gabriel and my little girl Persephone, Oliver Mtukudzi, Mozart, Amadou and Mariam and just about everything form of art, science, thought, history....the cro magnons; the list goes on and on and keeps getting bigger... changes everyday, but, this I know: I freaking hate Salvatore Dali and Magritte....!
12. Where else do you find inspiration?( films, books, movies, music etc.)
Astronomy, science, non-fiction, history, fiction(mostly when I was younger), The Coen brothers, comedies of all kinds; I am a huge fan of comedy and for me it comes as close second to music.... but for some reason, music is rarely ever funny.... The Western US is also a very important place for me but land in general, and often how music and geography are inseparable .. I am almost at a complete loss to follow thru with this question, the paths are so numerous, inspiration endless, but more often than not, I really don't give a conscious shit... Friendship is extremely important as a source of inspiration as well, biology, natural history, using my hands, bipedalism.....
13. What do you do for fun (besides photography)?
I enjoy marksmanship, a hobby I have taken up only in the last 4 or 5 years. I won't even attempt to justify myself, that is subject you either understand or do not; mostly shaped by people's political herd mentality(I am neither on the left nor the right, I am "just right;-)" ). I am fascinated by firearms as objects of beauty and aggression("A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity." ("General Introduction to Psychoanalysis," Sigmund Freud; much ado about misattribution, which is to say that Freud might never have said this...).
They represent the power of restrain and destruction in the same weapon and I use them often in my work for that very reason. Marksmanship is also a form of meditation, and it is, very physically and mentally challenging.... Besides that, I am usually never happier than when spending time with my children and with my girlfriend Adrienne (even though today I am tempted to drop her off at the SPCA) which makes me a family man against my better judgement... Traveling of course, diving, sexy time (when and where available, 3D'ing being always better than flat screen'ing), changing diapers, bemoaning and cursing my life long companions for no other reason than: "Qui aime bien châtie bien…” I also desperately need and want to get my flying license, something my father and my brother picked up and a path I will follow as well but which alas, may be beyond my pay grade for now...
14. What has been the biggest challenge(s) so far in being a photographer?
Right now, answering your questions ;-)...! In a word, promoting myself, I freaking hate every minute of it, it makes me sick to my stomach.... other than that, garnering enough cash to work as often as I would like....which was very often until I got hurt. Don't believe what I told you earlier in this interview.... I would like to work more regularly...but I have too many kids and must begrudgingly admit that they are far superior creations than anything I can ever or anyone else have imagined.....
15. What camera are you currently using and why? And what camera and film did you use for the work?
I have one 8x10 Toyo studio camera, a tripod and one f 5.6 240-mm lens, that's it....! Kodak Portra 160.... A camera has to have a personality if I am to use them at all, most do not...like people, they just dress like they do.
16. What do you listen to when you are working?
I have always been a huge fan of African music, particularly of the 60s, 70s, 80, and 90s.... Recently music out of Africa is being overly produced and this has made me very unhappy. African popular music is very much a vernacular art, with a great many unsung heroes and geniuses which will remain unknown to the greater world at large....I love all of Mozart's operas...but some pop too... I go thru phases and I always buy CDs when I travel.... For example, if I came to South Korea I would visit a local store or get local recommendations...both new and old...hum, let's see what's on You Tube...! This is nice... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACnr_nDiBII&feature=related or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH1K0RTL0TM&feature=related or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeAXy13XEao&feature=related
ABOUT your work
1. share some trivia or interesting episode during shooting or preparing relate with each images from the series, tell us about it. (it really could be anything)i really want artist share anything with people. like artist talk at gallery. so you could tell us anything you want. (it really could be anything)
My best stories come from my photojournalism days... Believe or not, I like getting shot at, but that's probably because it did not happen too many times and I am still here in one piece to rattle off this peculiar idiocy.... My recent work is very involved and I go to great length to make sure I get the right location. On one shoot which ultimately failed I carried hundreds of pounds of equipment through a marsh nearby the Sacramanto river. The models had to go knee deep thru the mud to get to the location and were sun burnt and covered in mud by the time we were ready to shoot... I managed to put a nail thru my foot in the process and ended up with nothing; the picture sucked and I knew it before we had to make our way back to the parking lot....but it was fun and certainly marathonian in nature. You would think a event like that would give up some good images but no such luck...
Another shoot I had wanted to do was called "Jamon Piñata" which mean "Ham piñata" where a masked man was supposed to be hitting a whole proccuitto ham with a bat. Neighbors became frightened by the half naked man in a balaclava smacking a smoked pig's behind. Despite being at least a mile or two from any homes they called the state troopers to make sure we were not terrorists or confused islamists...but thankfully quickly, looking bemused and somewhat entertained by those artsy city folks… Of course, and most importantly, meeting Adrienne: Her portrait, which was shot about eight years ago and which I have included at your request represents the day we fell in love with each other. We are still together and have a daughter, Persephone, which is the little munchkin in my contributor portrait....
2. How did the idea for the shoot come about?
They magically appear in my head...really..! I often just lie on my back and day dream, as I am able to focus more and more images appear as visions, I accept some and reject others. It is essentially a process of editing the flow of images my mind produces when in a state of rest, or sort of meditation whcih rather than emptying my mind, serves to fill hard drives with scanned 8x10 files and cover the wall of my home...most of my work is done this way...
3. How come did you title it for the series?
4. How did you find your models and location?
Friends, on the streets, like my girlfriend Adrienne(AKA wife), and on Craigslist, sometimes real people modeling agencies..but rarely...! One of my favorite model is the older gentleman in many of my images. His name is Charlie and I met him many moons ago in a San Francisco coffee shop. He is a very Republican leaning gay man who works at the Haight-Ashbury recycling center.... He is a very smart, opinionated, interesting friend who is very much himself. A quality I appreciate greatly. He grew up in a German religious cult in Vermont called the Bruderhof http://www.apologeticsindex.org/b16.html and has led a full and varied life, not to mention is a very willing and wonderful model…. I cannot comprehend his love for Fox News but thankfully the breadth and richness of his personality makes up for this perceived anomaly.
5. Can you talk us through the process(preparing) of this photo shoot for the series?
I do everything on my personal shoots, from lighting to location scouting and styling.... Once i have an idea for an image I shop for clothes in San Francisco or prop houses in Los Angeles. I scout locations that might fit the image or sometimes an image appears to me when scouting... Once this is done I gather it all up and drive models, props, wardrobe and equipment to the location and shoot on average about ten sheets of 8x10. If I cannot get it right in ten sheets, I probably cannot get it at all, at least on my budget.... I sometimes try a couple times to get it right but most of the time if it does not work out the first time out, I move on to the next episode....
* do you have anything else want to talk about the work and yourself only for BLINK*?(if i did miss something. Let me know.)
1. artist statement(introduction) of the series
I do not have an artist statement but my friend Koichi wrote one for me, that's the best I can do:
"The most accessible aspect of Olivier Laude's photographic work is its sense humor. The collection depicts sticky "situations" - saucy interludes, strange anachronisms, pathetically earnest trysts, and episodes of stylized, absurd, whimsically threatened violence in bright, saturated color. Many of the images capture characters stalled in the process of performing some ludicrous act - interrupted, they acknowledge the presence of the artist-anthropologist who has stumbled into the clearing and established an instant rapport with the members of this rare species of postmodern somnambulists.
Comedy is only the work's surface, though. Its depth is, as is that of most humor, in the elusive pain that subtends it. For the cast of characters captured here (there is something distinctly cinematic about the collection), the real world is too painful - too abstract, bureaucratic, spare, or perhaps simply ordinary - to support life, so they have constructed their own set-piece within it to avoid extinction. Starved, they create in order to survive.
What afflicts them? This is the mystery to which the work provides abundant clues but no easy solution. The situations are ambiguous. In "Papa Bear" for example, the background is dominated by two forms: an electricity transmission tower that bisects the image, and a vast grain field that has been charred to a pure black carbon. Think of the hazards of agro-industrial monocultures, or the environmental damage caused by centralized fossil power generation or deforestation, but these are at best subplots to another drama unfolding in the foreground where a man in lederhosen is, with his chainsaw, putting the finishing touches on a stump-sculpture of a bear clutching a salmon. The man has on his face an expression that suggests concern and urgency - a mute, desperate to communicate a message through the howl of his chainsaw and this life-or-death game of charades. All is fastidiously arranged- within the photograph, certainly, but also behind (or before, in space and time) the photograph. for "Papa Bear," the log from which the totem is carved was discovered in golden gate park in san francisco, then dragged by the artist to Berkeley, where a chainsaw artist half carved the bear and salmon for $200, then transported in the rear of a pick up to the scorched earth near the convergence of 580 and I-5 where the image was ultimately shot. The work is an artifact of the artist's own therapy, evidence of the lengths to which not mankind but one individual must go in order to be understood, to breathe easily, to come home. Most of the images are shot on 8x10 film and printed as large as possible, nearly life-sized, an attempt to supplant life itself.
Laude's work is deliberately compositional, technically astute and fundamentally aesthetic. At the same time, the series contributes to the intellectual discourse on a number of matters that preoccupy contemporary art. First, while subject and ground are visually distinct in his images, they are imbricated in the sense that the subjects are in the process of expropriating their surroundings, metabolizing them to create their own environs. This is a complex visual ecology in which the organism cannot be understood without reference to the environment that has been selected, altered, decorated and ultimately occupied as habitat. Second, while the scenes are presented in two dimensions, the characters' gaze at the camera and the absurdity of the situations in which they find themselves ultimately pull the photographer into the piece. "How did this come to exist?" Laude captures not "le moment decisif" in the timeline of the world as the photographer found it, but "le moment dernier" - the last of a series of decisions forced on the world by the artist as laborer, carpenter, tailor, taxidermist, photographer. Finally, the attempt to comprehend Laude's work as political art ultimately ends in frustration. While the series may encourage dialogue about land use, the environment, technology, women, race, homosexuality, the central theme is not political but human, not identity politics but identity itself - individuality and the fierce, heartbreaking, surprising, and soaring ways we protect and project self."
This also works, originally done for Conscientious:
I'll have to admit that I am not a big fan of portraits as a whole. They are over valued as works of art or as general gallery and magazine fodder. Portraits usually feel staged and temporal, because they are, by their nature meant to be illustrative and propagandistic. The myth that the portrait, the good ones, the bad ones and everything in between, are an important and enlightening window into the soul of the sitter is just as much of an insipid cliche as the soul itself.
In a vacuum, what makes a portrait interesting and successful is the subjectivity of the photographer towards his or her subject. The idea that a great portrait can, and should capture the essence of a human being, is as absurd and deifying as to ascribe god like qualities to any human being, photographer or subject alike.
Portraits for the most part describe an edited moment within a window of personal and theatrical opportunity. Nevertheless, there is a style of portraiture which comes close to achieving the portrait's mythological goals and that would be the vernacular portrait. Those images taken without pretensions and with minimal expectations on the photographer's and the subject's part. These kinds of images are very rare and only seen when you see them.
Like the old adage about pornography, which is that you know that it is, when you see it, the portrait works in much the same way, you see a great portrait when you see it, and then again that is as broad a description as the myth of the portrait itself. The great portrait is only as good as the last pair of eyes which gazed upon it, and where ever that may be.
There is an old trick in photography which dictates that in order to please the sitter with a portrait they will find pleasing or personally revealing, you should flip the image horizontally to mimic the image of themselves they would normally see as if gazing in their bathroom mirror. That trick says much about the portrait itself, as an artifice of photography, it manipulates reality to please, judge or deify the subject in order to aggrandize, demean or mythologize ourselves. To my mind, the portrait lacks depth for those very reasons and for these very real and incapacitating barriers.
As for myself, there is a great quote by Fellini which states: “Don’t tell me what I am doing, I don’t want to know”. Consequently, don’t ask me what I am doing, I don’t want to know. But it just so happens that everyone wants to know, present company excluded. Me don’t need to know. Experience trumps reason. I like standing on a summer day in the San Joaquin valley and feeling the sun’s rays; the way I loved light when I was six years old but did not need to think, or convince others, to think about it or profit from it. Nevertheless, I am often accused of being a portrait photographer. A bit like accusing your reflection of being a mirror. My people may be staring at the camera but they are not portraits. They are not staring at you; I am.
Video card a crapping, 20 years old work recently found in the garage.... Part of many attemps at mortuary photography using Natural History photographs taken a good 6 or seven prior and trying to turn them into enamel photographs often seen in cemeteries.....Recent post on the subject here:
If there is one thing I do not like to be called, it's a liar....not that I do not spend most of my days making up stories and lying to various girlfriends, wives, concubines, correspondents and/or any other daily bipedal relations; but sometimes, when the occasion presents itself, I do not tell a lie....*
Back in 1994 and 1995, a couple friends and I started a site called Atlas Magazine. I originally came up with the idea and concept and quickly recruited Michael Macrone and Amy Franceschini, who at the time was an intern at a design shop in San Francisco called Post tool Design and who went on to moderate fame and fortune, the girl, not the shop...The site quickly became popular and unfortunately, to everyone's dismay a Web Design Company was spinned off the magazine....
At the time the corporate world was freaking out about having their own website and couldn't climb fast enough over each other to have terribly disfunctional and ugly sites built, and frankly we could not say no to so little money..... Long story short as I hate to tell boring stories such as this one, the magazine was eventually nominated for the first ever Webbies in 1997 and 1998, which we did not win...BUT, wait for it, there is another category which still exists today called "People's Voice Webby" which we did win both years....a fact which to our dismay is not properly credited on the Webby Awards' website, (i.e completely ignored).... Why you tell me? Why have we been so wronged to have won something of so little value, and yet, still remain uncredited...to this very day of our Lord, May 4th, 2011...a full 72 hours since Osama's unceremonious sponge bath into the Labian sea; a 70 Houris' a chanting?
Well, I only became aware of this fact a few years back and contacted Tiffany Schlain, the creator of the Webby awards and she very pleasantly agreed with me, that indeed, a People's Voice Webby award was originally part of
her/his (David Michel Davies) creation and that as a matter of fact we ought to have been mentioned as both a nominee for the main Webby Award, and as the winner for the People's voice award...."Thank you Tiffany...... I will contact the new owner of the Webby Awards" but I will be told that the "People's Voice Webby" did not exist back in 1997 and 1998 (which clearly did, see image above and email below) and to shove my thumb up me arse and see if my prostate reflects my recent and unavoidable foray into middle age.....
So, every year, when some mic or meat puppet announces the Webby winners on NPR, ABC, and/or NBC.... I am reminded that a great wrong has yet to be righted and quickly forget about it.... Ok, wait, let's backtrack, somebody named David Michel Davies (he looks like he is the original founder) from the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences/The Webby Awards did respond rather nicely(see email**) and passed me on to some woman named Jody who essentially told me to stick it where my prostate don't shine. Consequently the ball was dropped, the matter forgotten and buried by a life lived under a mountain of stress, highlights and cheap high heels....
So..... with evidence to boot, I am posting this so that may be, some day, the Webby Awards folks will be shamed into correcting these oversights, not for the three of us, but for all the other winners of the People's Voice of the 1997 and 1998 Webby Awards, who also still remain, to this day, uncredited, despicable polyamorous liars......
PS: Atlas Magazine had a different URL in 1997 as it was hosted by Organic, a now large tech company sold to Grey advertising or some such giant French conglomerate.... We were not affiliated with them but they did provide us with free bandwith which was very nice.....
Fuck that was painful....! Do not ever let me write a fucking entry like this again; with dates, names, facts, sentences...what a fucking bore.....!
...on the other hand I am still proud that Atlas Magazine was the first website in the history of humanity to become part of the SFMOMA's permanent collection...the first MOMA to do so...! Although, I do not think it means much of anything either....!
* Even though, as I must shamefully admit, I do live an incredibly full, polyamorous life filled with the joyous sounds of children from varied wombs, drained financial accounts and numerous, vituperously jealous harpies...! **
The Missus went to Asia and all she got me was a JPEG, and/or the tantalizing thought that, for a fee, I could expect and desire, that which remains unobtainable or beyond my easy reach: Witness first hand, "Pussy write a letter", which if you ask me, should also be, scented, wax sealed and delivered promptly....
Stefan Ruiz is a photographer whose work I have always appreciated but I was mostly happy to see that some of sources of his inspiration were both partly drawn from the Italian and Flemish Renaissance... Vice produced a comprehensive documentary about his work and it is worth watching, especially because there is no real third parties overdubbing or adding their own mediocre editorial voices; he does most of the talking which is how this sort of thing should be done ..... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4mL1gIW_gg
The other video is a small documentary piece done on yours truly back in 2004 for Spark, a Bay Area show on the arts in Northern California(KQED). To this day it still makes me cringes, but, humiliation "is" an essential part broadcasting; Vice did a far superior job letting the photographer speak instead of editorializing, which often falls flat and makes for crap TV... Nevertheless, and to my great surprise, both pieces discuss the Flemish and Italian Renaissance portraiture styles as inspirational elements....
I have very little time today to be even remotely introspective or eloquent, or even both, so I will allow you to draw your own conclusions instead of editorializing.....Thanks for coming, please come again.....a