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The Largest Mobile Camera in the World — Ian Ruhter’s Wet Plate Photography


Some of you who follow the blog and chasejarvisLIVE probably remember Ian Ruhter from last year’s season finale of the show. I wanted to let y’all know that Ian’s Silver and Light Project will be in Vancouver, April 2nd to April 16th. For more info on the Vancouver event go HERE.

For some background on Ian and why you should be paying attention to his work:
Ruhter and his crew shared his unique process of wetplate photography with a worldwide live audience – and me – along with his very personal story when he brought the world’s largest mobile camera to my studio and we shot several wet plate photos over the course of a 3-hour live broadcast. If you missed it, it’s one of my favorite episodes.

His project has attracted a ton of attention and is a great example of the power of personal work. He transformed his life to follow his dream to do something different in photography. He has been living the mantra of doing something different… not just better.

His personal artistic mission is for the creation of photographic art using the wet plate process dating from the 1850’s. His project “Silver and Light” is getting worldwide attention for both the story and the unique images he is creating.

Ian’s story is one that is reflected in the subjects he photographs, Severely dyslexic as a kid he found himself as an outsider challenged by many obstacles. It was his mother’s gift of an old film camera that got him started on a way to express himself and the path to his present project. In his previous career as a snowboarder Ian was a rebel, which helped lead him to his direction as a photographer.

His “American Dream” series has focused the largest portable camera in the world, a giant camera in a truck which he calls “The Time Machine”, on a cross section of others with a variety of challenges. His photographs present calm and dignified portraits that honour the subjects and tells their story. The narrative of Ian’s project and subjects are truly inspiring. Ian’s images of Los Angeles and the Mountains are one of-a-kind studies that are beautiful, mysterious, captivating and mesmerizing all at once.

Now, just up to the north from us in Seattle, Ian is at it again, sharing his passion and his amazing Time Machine camera. He is creating a body of work focusing on Vancouver, people and the stories he can find. He will also be participating in a series of talks to share his stories.

For more information on the project go HERE

Reality Bender — Interview with Street Artist that Transforms Sidewalks into 3-D Wonderland

Regular readers here know I’m a big fan of street art. And when I find good stuff, I share it. In particular the work of Tracy Lee Stum have blown my mind of late – pushing the boundaries of what can be done with perspective and chalk, creating innovative new ways to expand the medium. Where most people see a piece of chalk and a stretch of sidewalk, Tracy sees yawning chasms, hidden underground cities, mythological creatures and ancient gods. To Tracy, it’s all a matter of perspective. That’s why I caught up with her in an interview below.

Anamorphic art (distorted perspective which requires the viewer to occupy a specific vantage point) is as old as the Renaissance. This new stuff from artists like Tracy borrows from that era and overlays a new urban canvas — pieces taking as “little” as 4 hours, or as long as four or more days. Nevermind that sometimes weather conditions will destroy a piece before it’s even finished.

CJ: At this point in your career, you have made art in many different countries. Is there anywhere you specifically like to work?

TS: Good question! I like working wherever I have an adequate surface, good weather (no rain) and a crowd. Certainly big cities are terrific for these works but I am also keen to travel to more 3rd world countries to introduce the art form to communities there. Art inspires and oftentimes folks in those areas don’t have access to what the 1st world population has. I’d like to bring my art form to those out of the way places.

CJ: How do you keep your passion for this specific medium alive?

TS: I’ve been doing this for a long time – 14 years! – so I do understand about keeping the passion going for the art form. I personally strive to find new ways of creating innovative images with different approaches to composition and design – a challenge keeps me going! And of course, there is nothing as satisfying as getting to the drawing phase, where color and line and all the methods you employ as an artist come into play. That makes it easy to stay excited about the art. Authenticity is huge for me and I push myself to stay authentic.

CJ: When you conceptualize a piece, do you have a specific scale in mind, or do you wait for the perfect space to create an idea you have?

TS: It’s a combination of these things – I usually have a sketchbook full of concepts (ideas come to me intuitively and I simply jot them down for later reference) and when a project presents itself, I will consider location, actual site, space, size, and interactivity needs. Scaling a painting to work with live participants is a fun challenge for me and one that requires considerable mental contemplation. I spend quite a bit of time going over my image design to make it work the best it can with a particular scale. Some designs demand specific spaces and those come to the foreground when a venue or site is offered that will accommodate them.

CJ: Do you create your pieces completely from your mind’s eye, or do you have a sketch you work off of?

TS: In the past I have typically used a sketch, albeit rough ones, to work from. I’ve also used a camera lens to view the site and imagine a likely image for the space. Lately though, I seem to find that approach somewhat restrictive and prefer to create on the spot. I may rough out an idea and once the properties of a good design are worked out, I forget the sketch and go with impulses I get while working on the actual painting. Often times, and this has been true throughout my career, I begin with one idea and then make significant changes to the design as I am developing it on the street. Again, I receive impulses and follow those absolutely – they always take me to a better result than staying with a rigid framework. I’m fairly fluent in the principles that govern 3d works so I feel fully confident to spontaneously create a design at any given time and place.

Thanks Tracy. More of this badass work found here…



Transparent Cameras – Photo Gallery of X-Rayed Cameras


Copyright @Blake Billings,

In the shuffle of airport security I like to sneak a peek over the shoulder of the TSA agent and catch a glimpse of my gear as it moves through the X-ray. Shaving kit, headphones, a book, my ipad and usually a camera or two. It’s cool to see a quick view of the inner workings of the things we carry. Even cooler when it’s your camera’s hidden internal magic.

Photographer Blake Billings has created an entire series of that moment with his X-rayed camera photos. Here are the things that are moving around inside the magic light box.

Can you identify the model/make of these transparent cameras? Any of your favorites in the series?


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,


Copyright @Blake Billings,

Original story via our friends at PetaPixel

Legendary Celebrity Photog Chris Buck + Musical Guest Hey Marseilles on cjLIVE – [RE-WATCH]

In this episode of chasejarvisLIVE I sat down with legendary photographer Chris Buck and hosted special musical guest Hey Marseilles.

Chris has taken the concept of “celebrity photography” and flipped it upside-down. By applying a playful, twisted fine art mentality to celebrity photography (and his commercial work) Chris has created some of the most interesting work I’ve seen. He is truly one of my all-time favs. We talked about everything under the sun, including his work with editorial giants like GQ and Esquire and what it’s like to photograph President Obama and what his life is like as the photographer of a good 100 or so of the top celebrities in the world. Never afraid to push the line – Chris often erases it, which is why he’s been one of the most powerhouse photographers of the past decade.

Also featured in this episode was some incredible music. Remember more than a year ago when we brought you LIVE to our humble little show bands like Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (now #1 in the USA, double platinum, and headed to perform on this week on SNL – March 2) and The Lumineers (nominated for 2 Grammys) long before they were blowing up? Well we did that same thing again for this show. Hey Marseilles, brought us a full performance. Thanks for tuning in if you caught it LIVE and if not tune in for the next episode of chasejarvisLIVE for yet another conversation with the most fascinating people I know, who are doing big things in the world – coming April 3.

Special thanks to our sponsors who help make this show possible – please follow them and let them know you appreciate the free content. #Respect.
Help us welcome new sponsor to chasejarvisLIVE and follow them on twitter @borrowlenses. They are helping make the world a more creative place by supporting the show and supplying gear to photographers and filmmakers everywhere who need a gear solution TODAY.

Manfrotto: @manfrotto_tweet
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HP: @hpprint
Broncolor: @hasselbladbron

Photo History 101: Rare Color Photos of Paris in the Early 1900s

There is a school of thought that proposes the Earth is home to a smattering of “sacred sites” — energy centers, places of mystery and wonder — earth Chakras some call them. The Pyramids. Lake Titicaca. Mt. Fuji. You get it. I don’t know if Paris is on that list, but it should be. There’s a magic to that city, so much so that I lived there for a few years not all that long ago and get back there on the regular a couple times each year.

So it was with serious interest that I ravaged through these extremely rare color photographs of Paris taken in the early 1900s that recently crossed my desk. And I’ll admit to a fair amount of digging (thanks for the help Ben) to validate their authenticity (I was sure they were hand colored or Photoshop fakes), but rest assured these are no fakes.

Students of photography and its history (um… both of you) will appreciate that these here stills were taken using the “Autochrome Lumière” technology, a tricky process patented in 1903 by the wonderous Lumière brothers of France. These gents were the real deal. The pointillist… say, slightly impressionist quality of the photographs is a result of the coarseness of the dyed starch that coated the glass plate and served as the original “color filter” idea. [photo apps, eat your heart out – this shiz is the real deal]

All the images featured below were shot between 1907 and 1930 – many of them the work of a banker named Albert Kahn, who sent Autochrome photographers across continents to create what he called the “Archives of the Planet.” Who said bankers weren’t creative? Put that it your abacus pipe and smoke it – happy weekend.

[All images here – courtesy of the Albert Kahn Museum. Much gratitude and respect. Amusez-vous bien!]

Me, Myself and I – Francois Brunelle and his Doppelgänger Project [Find Your Look Alike]

Nathaniel Siri, Edouard Toledo. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Canadian photographer Francois Brunelle spent 12 years tracking down real life Doppelgängers — two individuals who are not related but could pass for identical twins — and photographing them. He calls his project “I’m Not a Look-Alike,” and it’s starting to get some well-deserved attention.

Francios Brunelle has a goal of photographing 200 “couples,” as he calls them. And when I first read that about his work, I was shocked. Having put out my own personal body of work where I shot portrait of 106 people over 3 years (Seattle 100 here)…I knew from experience what he’d signed up for… But the he added a whole additional layer. By “couple” he meant “unrelated people who look just like another person.” Whoa. I was blown away.

A student of the human face since his early days as a photographer in 1968, Brunelle’s work is a reflection of his fascination with “the resemblance between look-alikes” and his “ongoing effort to capture the elusive human soul. Those who know they have a Doppelgänger or know someone else who does are encouraged to email the artist with the look-alikes’ names, city and country of residence, contact info and — if possible — photos.

Monster respect to Brunelle for redefining determination. This project has take him 12 YEARS. 12 years is a serious chunk of life to devote to any project, let alone one that amounts to a slightly warped, “needle in a haystack” manhunt. And it seems to me that finding the subjects is just half the battle. There’s then the convincing of the subjects to participate, which involves quite intimately posing with a perfect stranger. [Never mind the fact that the other subject is virtually the same person you’ve seen in the mirror for the past X years] It’s precisely the sense of familiarity the subjects appear to have with one another that really strikes the chord with the observer, particularly once you know the full story. This is a major factor in what makes the whole project a mindblower and a true work of art.

It’s said we all have a Doppelgänger. I’ve been brow beaten teased for years by the photo industry that mine is is here in this post, but asking to be couple #187 is a little more difficult because of my doppleganger’s busy schedule. Then again, maybe I’d feel an immediate kinship with my other. You know, cuz he’s sort of walked a mile. So we’d hang out. Grab a drink. Make another Hangover movie. And maybe we’d start ironically singing Tom Petty’s You Don’t Know How It Feels. And then we’d send an email to Brunelle. Couple #187. What the hell.

Much respect to Brunell – great project. Enjoy the work and let him know if you find another pair.

Marie Johnson, Isabelle Péladeau. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Rudi Kistler, Maurus Oehman. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Marcel Stepanoff, Ludovic Maillard. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Morgan Bowden, Imogen Rawe. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Maurus Oehman and Rudi Kistler. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Stéphane Morin, Claude-Simon Langlois. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Ian Perrreault, Alain Roberge. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Marie-Chantal, Perron Nancy. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Carmen Apitzsch, Kerstin Rubin. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Nina-Rose Singh, Anna Rubin. Photo Courtesy of Francois Brunelle / Rex USA

Dream Photos and Proof That Our Mind is Made of Creative Gold [work of Ronen Goldman]

What’s in a dream? For me, dreams have always been an incredibly powerful driver for creativity. At least a day or two every week, I wake up at 3am, scurry out of bed and make some notes about a future piece of work, an idea that needs development,etc. In short, the rooms of our subconscious are ripe with fruit for the picking. I’ve been considering creating a series of images of my own dreams and in doing so, stumbled on the work of Ronen Goldman. Ronen’s work is solid, simple and clean with a sprinkle of surreal, never overdone or overly dramatic. He imposes time and budgetary limits on himself so he can complete the work – focus on “making” rather than pontificating, which is something I really appreciate. As a part of researching for my future project, had a chance to ask him a few questions via email about his photographs and his creative process. See below – enjoy.

Chase Jarvis: How long have you been shooting?

Ronen Goldman: I have been shooting for about 8 years, and started the surreal series about 6 years ago.

CJ: What inspires you to pick up a camera and create this stuff?

RG: Well, I studied script writing at university, but felt that some things are difficult to express verbally. I find that visuals, and photography in particular have quite an ability to convey complex and abstract ideas.
Oh, And l love taking pictures.

CJ: Where’d you drum up the idea of photographing your dreams?

RG: It started out with a simple photo I tried to create for a music album I was putting out independently, me in the woods with a bunch of guitars which was based on a fragment of a dream I had regarding exploding guitars. from there I just created more and more (this project has been going on for six years, so about 4 or less images a year). depending on things I was going through in the different times- the images took on different “subjects” and dealt with different things.

CJ: Are there any particularly challenging concepts you have been unable to tackle?

RG: Since this is a personal project, done with zero budget, I have ideas that producing them is just outside my financial ability. I usually work with a skeleton crew of myself and maybe another person aside from the person or people in the image.

CJ: Are the images created primarily with photography or photoshop?

RG: I am more a photographer than a photoshop-er. All elements of the surreal photos are shot in the same shoot, on the same day with the same lighting, without the camera moving. I don’t “bring in” elements that werent there, and that is why the whole thing looks so believable, most of the time.

CJ: How do the models feel when you tell them what you’re planning?

RG: Great question. I was blessed that the people I choose to work with are the kind of people that “just go with it”. they trust That I know what I am doing, even if it doesnt make a whole lot of sense when I describe it ahead of time. They are in it for the art, as am I- and sometimes awesomeness occurs.

CJ: Tell us a story behind one of your dream images.

RG: “The Magician” was born of a dream I had involving order within chaos. its hard to explain. but I knew the image I wanted to created. We went out into the woods, did the shot of the magician(using a Canon 5d mk2 , 50 1.2 Lens, lighting thru soft box on top of magician hat and below for face) and then used the ambient light for all the individual cards. we plotted the spiral carefully and the whole thing took about an hour of shooting. When we got back I realized the cards were underexposed, so I convinced the Magician(Dvir) to go out with me and do the whole thing again.
happily, he agreed, and it all worked out great.

CJ: What do you have planned in the future?

RG: I hope to be able to create more elaborate and enticing conceptual imagery, whether for commercial ads or personal work.
The Series is exhibited and sold as fine art editioned prints, and I hope to be able to share this type of imagery with many people, and hopefully inspire them to chronical their own dreams, or pursue creating weird ideas they may have and were afraid to produce.


Photo: Ronen Goldman


Photo: Ronen Goldman

Interview with a Collector — The Discovery and Legacy of the Vivian Maier Collection

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

I’m a huge fan of Vivian Maier’s work. When I heard that there was an exhibition of her work right in my backyard (over at PCNW) it made me want to share some insight. In this interview, Photo Center’s Rafael Soldi and Jeffrey Goldstein discuss the in’s and out’s of discovering, developing and managing this important collection. As a curator and an artist himself, Rafael is well-qualified to dive into this interview with fine art collector Goldstein. [Check out Rafael’s blog here to see some of his work.] Take it away Rafael. – Chase

Thanks Chase. The Photo Center of NW is proud to announce an upcoming exhibition of photographs by Vivian Maier (1926 – 2009) from the Jeffrey Goldstein Collection.

Maier’s work was discovered in Chicago in 2007 when boxes of abandoned prints, negatives and undeveloped film were sold at auction. Starting in the late 1940s, she shot an average of a roll of film a day. Born in New York and raised in France, she moved to Chicago in the mid-1950s, and spent the next 40 years working as a nanny to support her passion for photography. Maier died at the age of 83 before her work was ever publically recognized or exhibited.

1. How did you stumble upon Vivian Maier and how did you come to acquire this large collection of her work?

Well, the short version is that I heard about Vivian Maier through the rumor mill at a Chicago flea market that I religiously attended every Sunday morning. I knew some of the original Vivian Maier buyers that attended the auction house where Maier’s works first appeared. One of the original Vivian Maier buyers owed me a substantial amount of money, and we decided to make good on the loan through my acceptance of 57 vintage Vivian Maier photographs. At the time, this decision held a fair amount of risk, word was just starting to spread and more often than not, “discovered” artwork doesn’t stand up long-term on its own merit. This transaction was my start. Sometime later another one of the original auction buyers and I connected, and I ended up acquiring an approximate total of 20,000 images.

2.What went through your head when you first dove into Vivian Maier’s imagery?

Regardless of medium, I tend to fall for “the image,” whether it is a drawing, painting, lithograph, etching, photograph or sculpture. There is a connected history of Chicago’s art scene from the 1950’s forward that I am partial to. I felt that Vivian Maier’s imagery fell in step with what I like. It’s a chord that struck my personal sensibilities, gritty and beautiful with a great care for composition. For me, wonderful visual metaphors come out of this particular combination. Too, the images contain a no nonsense, blue-collar worker’s approach that appeals to me.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

3. What are some of the logistical, ethical and curatorial challenges that come with interpreting, sharing and producing work by an undiscovered, deceased artist as prolific as Vivian Maier?

This is the greatest of questions and one I have spent, with the help of others, honing down over the past 2 plus years. I have worked alongside some of Chicago’s best-known artists, gallery owners and art collectors for the past 30 years, until this project came along. This taught me that you have to make quality decisions throughout all aspects of handling a collection. I have also been an avid art collector since college and now I work toward making available in the Vivian Maier archive what I personally seek as a collector. Something of quality that’s as close to the artist’s hand as possible, even if that’s in the medium of multiples (prints).

There is an inherent responsibility that is different than anything else when you are handling a deceased artist’s work. It’s their legacy, not mine. There are hands-on ethical factors on how we approach the silver gelatin printing. We always stay with first generation negatives and never crop. We don’t sell any digital work and use no digital files to make corrections on the negatives. We’re very conservative and won’t even wash the negatives for fear of doing irreversible damage. Any issues are dealt with on the finished print only with hand spotting and etching done where needed. We stay true to the sensibilities of the time when the film was shot. Exhibition size was 12″ x 12″ and the print sensibilities tended to lean towards rich darks. The edition size of 15 is kept intentionally low as done with most good art prints of any serious artist. Ethically, we work hard to stay as true as we can with both the artist intentions and the medium.

The hardest part of the project, as with any project, is dealing with the money aspects. There is a notion out there that money bastardizes art, and I disagree. Anyone who makes art, needs materials, space, frames, shipping, art insurance, storage and so forth. Money is needed to solve these problems. Money well used is an incredible problem-solving tool. The logistics are immense and exciting. I’m with a small and tremendous dedicated group of talented people. Their individual indelible mark on the project gives us our successes. We treat this project like archaeology, careful not to disrupt or destroy, let the material speak for itself.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

4. Vivian Maier was first and foremost an image-maker. She did not delve much into the darkroom; she did not exhibit her work or publish her photographs. How do you see your role now as a major figure in the dissemination of her images? What is the importance of the work your team is doing to bring her images to life?

There is fundamental understanding we all have had to come to, those in the project, the casual gallery goer and the collector. Vivian Maier, as far as we know, was not into printing. We feel that her images are worthy of printing so the question is how should we approach printing? The answer we feel works best contains our least personalized interpretation while staying rooted in the sensibilities of the time the film was shot. To a certain extent, we also factor in the sensibilities of the city that the artist lived in. It’s important that we make available an exceptional viewing experience featuring the work of a brilliant artist that was uniquely inspirational.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

5. Tell us more about the book. How did it come about? How is it special compared to other Vivian Maier books out there?

The book deal for Vivian Maier, Out of the Shadows, took about 2 minutes to consummate. I meet with Richard Cahan and his business partner, Michael Williams in my kitchen surrounded by boxes of unsorted photos and negatives. Cahan was previously the photo editor for the Chicago Sun-Times for 17 years. Williams turned out to be one of the most visually poetic people I have come across. He is incredibly clever in putting pieces of a puzzle together in order to bring a visual story to life. The book cracks open the first inkling we have of who Vivian Maier was as a person. Also, it’s radical in showing the vast range of what she shot beyond her known street photography. The book shows how the ordinary captivated her and how she turned everyday things into something extraordinary. The first edition of 8000 has sold out and the 2nd printing is now available through the author’s site, A limited amount of books from the first printing will be available at Photo Center NW.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

6. How can we connect with Vivian Maier?

The best place to get the full force of Vivian Maier’s images is at the gallery shows. We are very pleased to partner up with Seattle’s Photo Center NW for a show that runs from the Feb 1 – March 28. An official opening date is set for Feb 15th. Photo Center staff can answer any questions you may have related to the show along with information on print and book sales. I think I can speak on behalf of the Photo Center, the authors of Vivian Maier, Out of the Shadows and the overall Vivian Maier project team, when I express a great appreciation for the public’s interest in acquiring prints or books. We consider these sales as a form of sponsorship that we need to continue to maintain the collection and to move the project forward. Please stay posted on PCNW’s site,, for the date and time of a book talk and slide show by Richard Cahan. We look forward to seeing you there! For print sales and additional information please contact Ann Pallesen, Photo Center Gallery Director, (206) 720-7222 x11

This video helps to illustrate the interview:

The Vivian Maier Photography Project from Aaron Cahan on Vimeo.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

ChaseJarvis_Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Jeffrey Goldstein Vivian Maier Prints Inc.

Holy Sheep – LED Artwork of Sheep Herding [Suspect]

In a virtual world full of fans, circles, followers and friends, today we celebrate the world’s greatest follower: the sheep. Consider: A clever group of Welsh hill farmers dress their flock of unsuspecting sheep up in LED lights and — with the help of some seriously talented/obedient/well-trained border collies — create moving art on a hillside and film it from a distance. Check it out:

Matt Smith, the co-founder of the ad agency The Viral Factory who shot the video for Samsung, interviewed for a Telegraph article not long after the video blew up. He admits to some post-production trickery, but those are real sheep, real dogs and the real Welsh national sheep herding champion Gerry Lewis guiding actual sheep around into position. [The Mona Lisa bit was their wink-wink, nudge-nudge moment, apparently.]

Kudos to Smith.

For a closer look at a master sheep herder at work, check out this video of Brendan Ferris of the Kells Sheep Centre.

Snowshoe Art — Creativity Out in the Cold

There’s a magical impermanence to Simon Beck’s “Snow Art,” like low tide beach sculptures or Buddhist sand mandalas. Created using snowshoes and precise orienteering, these snow crop circles — which average 10 hours of focused, measured walking to complete — last only as long as the conditions favor them. A stiff breeze, a new snow or a sudden thaw and it’s tabula rasa, all over again. As yourself if you have the love-of-what-you-do, desire, and willingness to put something this “fleeting” out into the world?

An Oxford-educated England native, Beck’s work as an orienteering mapmaker gives him one of the skills necessary to create his art. According to the artist, “accurate use of a compass and distance measurement by pace counting” enable him to be successful. What else does it take? “Physical stamina,” Beck explained in an email exchange.

On the issue of commercialization of his work, Beck had this to say:

I have theoretically been offered several thousand GPB [British Pound Sterling] for three photos but this has stalled as the customer has (on having a better look) asked for higher resolution photos, so the drawings have to be done again so I can shoot them with my new camera (and most likely hire the helicopter). Given better equipment I think I shall make money in this way. It is time to make the commitment and investment.

Most immediately, Beck hopes to publish a coffee table book of his work by 2014.

Currently the artist uses a Nikon D7000 for snapping the photos [usually from the vantage point of nearby mountains or chairlifts], although prior to this season he used “cheap consumer cameras from mass-market retailers.” Oh, and he’s got TSLs or Tubbs strapped onto those feet, for those who were wondering.

Before you go associating these snowshoe shapes with those corn-field cousins, heed this final word of Beck’s into consideration:

A lot of people seem to call it snow crop circles, which I dislike as a lot of those who do crop drawings don’t ask permission and I don’t want to be associated with that sort of illegal activity. I don’t see the need to call it something else [besides “snow art”] but I would be open to suggestions.

Tell me this is superfresh…

*All photos courtesy of Simon Beck.

Skate This: Recycled Skateboard Sculptures

Photo Credit: Haroshi

From the street to the gallery: Ever wonder what happens to old skateboards that get tossed when next year’s decks come out?

Turns out some of them make it into the three-dimensional sculptures of Japanese artist Haroshi. Haroshi takes layers of stacked decks and transforms them into multi-colored body parts, animals, toys and shoes [which I’d definitely wear].

Here’s a little insight into the process, taken from the artist’s website:

In order to make a sculpture out of a thin skateboard deck, one must stack many layers. But skate decks are already processed products, and not flat like a piece of wood freshly cut out from a tree. Moreover, skateboards may seem like they’re all in the same shape, but actually, their structure varies according to the factory, brand, and popular skaters’ signature models. With his experience and almost crazy knowledge of skateboards, Haroshi is able to differentiate from thousands of used deck stocks, which deck fits with which when stacked. After the decks are chosen and stacked, they are cut, shaven, and polished with his favorite tools. By coincidence, this creative style of his is similar to the way traditional wooden Japanese Great Buddhas are built. 90% of Buddha statues in Japan are carved from wood, and built using the method of wooden mosaic; in order to save expense of materials, and also to minimize the weight of the statue. So this also goes hand in hand with Haroshi’s style of using skateboards as a means of recycling.

Although unseen, each of Haroshi’s statues contains an embedded metal object that was once part of a working skateboard. Taken from his collection of broken skateboard parts, the chosen metal piece represents the “soul” of the statue. In many cases the metal piece is one broken from a skateboard during the previous owner’s failed “Big Attempt.”

Photo Credit: Haroshi

It’s no wonder Haroshi’s work glows with a life of its own. One wouldn’t be surprised to see a pair of feet or the toy bear get up and Pinocchio its way right out of the room.

Haroshi’s work can be seen at the Jonathan Levine Gallery at 529 West 20th Street, NYC, from January 12 – February 13.

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Photo Credit: Haroshi

Gorgeous Portraits of Children from 169 Countries — The American Melting Pot


Keime - Tanzania

How does that song go? “I believe the children are our future.” While it’s an obvious statement, apparently photographer Danny Goldfield shares this same sentiment. Over a period of seven years, he dedicated his work to photographing a child from every country… except he did it at all right on the streets of New York City. The work is not only a journey into the faces of innocent youth, but a social nod to the massive variety of people who live in the United States – specifically in New York City. Amazingly, Goldfield traveled to photograph kids from 169 countries – with his NYC Metro card. [22 percent of New York City residents are foreign-born as opposed to 13% in the rest of the country].

The project has been celebrated by the media for months. In fact, it landed his work on the cover of Life magazine in addition to a ton of press from NPR to the New York Times. For me, the work is powerful statement for the importance of personal work. Godlfield was inspired and took action. He did whatever it took to create his vision. And the results are spectacular.

Danny Goldfield began this project because he believed that these photos would bring people together. He was convinced of this after meeting a Sikh man (at a gas station in Arizona) who told him his brother had been gunned down in a hate crime. “But I’m not afraid,” said the man, whose name was Rana. Instead of running from the world, Rana said, “I am going to go out and meet my neighbors.” Inspired by Rana, Goldfield started visiting mosques, temples, churches, community centers and meeting children with his camera lens while doing so. The resulting photos are an incredible project of hope and beauty. The curated images were all on display until last week at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan.

I have a few selections here for your viewing pleasure. The pure resilience, diversity, and beauty of humanity is apparent in every single one of these images.



As the Drone Flies: Compelling Art Inspired by Unmanned Aviation Vehicles

Photo by James Bridle.

Just how history will judge our country’s use of drones in the “War on Terror” is not for me to decide. I’m not going to to wax political or to publicize in which direction my moral compass points.

What I can do is show you how this powerful machine of war is being seen by a handful of artists around the world. Through these representations we find perspective, and with each new perspective we can consider ourselves better informed to then pass what judgment we will. Or in my case, won’t.

James Bridle is a writer, artist and publisher residing in London, UK. Using records of drone strikes drawn from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Bridle has compiled images from Google Maps Satellite on Instagram of strike sites, which include locations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The collection images — of cities, towns, villages and roads — is Bridle’s attempt to “[Make] these locations just a little bit more visible, a little closer. A little more real.” Bridle calls this collection Dronestagram.

Photo by James Bridle.

Photo by James Bridle.

In another related collection entitled “Under the Shadow of the Drone,” Bridle and friend Einar Sneve Martinussen chalked out 1:1 representations of the MQ-1 Predator drone on the pavement of a parking lot in London.

Photo by James Bridle.

He then did another in Istanbul, in front of a Greek Orthodox Church, whilst in the city as a participant in Adhocracy.

Says Bridle of the drone:

The drone also, for me, stands in part for the network itself: an invisible, inherently connected technology allowing sight and action at a distance. Us and the digital, acting together, a medium and an exchange. But the non-human components of the network are not moral actors, and the same technology that permits civilian technological wonder, the wide-eyed futurism of the New Aesthetic and the unevenly-distributed joy of living now, also produces obscurantist “security” culture, ubiquitous surveillance, and robotic killing machines.

Finally, there is this moving dock-drama by Israeli artist Omer Fast, in which an interview with a drone operator is juxtaposed over a dramatization of the story he tells. No more summarizing from me. Watch. It’s worth the ten minutes out of your day.

5,000 Feet is the Best from Commonwealth Projects on Vimeo.

[Additional reporting provided by Ben Hardy.]

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