Nothing happens if you stay at home

A couple of weeks ago a wise man told me “Nothing happens if you stay at home.”. That’s the rationale for spending money to prepare for and mount shows and go out and deal with the public.

We went to the Bay Area Anarchists Book Fair yesterday. Sometimes, nothing much happens when you go out either. Here are my gross earnings for the day.

It was late in the afternoon (There’s nothing like a whole morning of absolutely no interest to sap your ego.) and finally a young woman spent a while studying the postcards. There were a few she liked, but she was trying to narrow it down to one. I suggested she could get more than one, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. She asked if I had any postcards that were more explicit like the books, because she would have preferred that, but I had to tell her that the postcard printer had rules. In the end she picked the Legs postcard and counted out the change shown above.

I felt bad. Did I take her last $2.00? It sure felt like it. I gave her a second postcard, probably should have given her more.

I should send her a print of this Legs image.

More Legs

Legs, legs, and more legs. I’m slowly moving through the images, selecting the best, and finishing them. Last week I selected ten images to include in the Legs sample book.

The SF Zine Fest and the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair are coming up soon and I want to get the Legs book finished and printed in time. Only 5 weeks to go. That means I’m in a rush, as usual. No time to spare.

But the opportunity to shoot new work arose and I took it. Hey, there’s a nude model, gotta do some work.

So there are new images and I got distracted from finishing the selected ten and worked on this one instead. It’s a little goofy, as the Legs series is supposed to be. I see it as a couple of flowers sprouting from a vase.

Water Nudes by Karin Rosenthal

I first encountered the work of Karin Rosenthal when I was preparing an entry for the Ultimate Eye Foundation nude show. Doing my homework, I looked through the earlier shows to get an idea of what the organizers were seeking.

Words can be very deceptive: one person’s novel and modern can be rooted in the 1950s and another person’s nude can be nothing more than a bare back. A lot like the ubiquitous celebrity nudes that have become the rage for magazines trying to get attention or clicks. Come to think of it, this is not a recent trend, look at those not-nude, nude supermodels from the Herb Ritts photo posted a few weeks ago.

Ultimate Eye was a good and truly nude show. I was sorry to see it end and also sorry that I can’t find any online reference for it. Even though I never won the prize, my photos were in the show for several years and it was always interesting.

Anyway that’s where I met Karin Rosenthal’s nude work. She shows a few detours into landscape, but most of her body of work is nudes and most of it is good. I guess everyone has to do a couple landscape photographs during their career!

Here’s a landscape (but not a detour):

As you may guess, I like her Water Nudes best. That’s why I have “Ripples” hanging on the Living Photographers Wall.

As she says, “I consider these images most successful when their ‘objective’ reality is countered with several levels of ambiguity and mystery, so that what they seem to be is stronger than what they are.” I think that’s a good thing, a photograph that is more than a recording of the subject. A photo that makes you look twice and maybe think a little.

Living Photographer Wall

Here is the Living Photographer wall:

I have another room called the Dead Photographer Room. Sadly every photograph in that room is by someone who is dead. This wall is supposed to be more modern.

That’s a print from Karin Rosenthal of Massachusetts on the left. It is called “Ripples”. Karin does a lot of work with water, in this case, I believe the water is on Cape Cod.

And then next is a print from Jerry Uelsmann of Florida. It’s a collage, of course. Done before Photoshop. With enlargers, whatever those are.

Then there’s a print from Eikoh Hosoe of Japan from 1970 on the top. This print is from his Embrace series. They are numbered, but I have no idea which one this is.

And one of the Nudes by Michael A Rosen on the bottom. Michael also numbered this series. And again I don’t remember the number, but I looked it up. This is #4. Michael asked why his is on the bottom. I said he had to print smaller than Hosoe to be on top.

And on the right is a print by Lucien Clergue of France. Clergue also often features water. This water is probably from the Mediterranean. Sadly, Clergue died several years ago. I have not updated the wall.

I hadn’t noticed before, but except for the Uehlsmann photograph, there’s more than one person in each of these photographs. What a bargain, 5 photographs, 10 nude people.

The average age of these photographers is about 102. Clearly we need new blood. Where are the contemporary photographers?

Where do you find art?

After you exhaust the well known–Weston, Bernhard, Callahan, Brandt, Kertesz, Hosoe–where do you find art? More specifically where do you find contemporary photographic nude art.

I’ve done internet searches, and that’s clearly not the way to find art. What does an Internet search reveal? Lots of photographers trying to sell workshops, boudoir photography sessions, soft-core porn, and a couple of big wall-art sites. About the only thing positive I can say about my recent search is that there are a lot of attractive women being photographed nude.

The workshops offer to teach you how to make art. I suspect there are a few that help with that, although I think most of the instructors impose a style, rather than helping the students develop their own. One instructor says she sets up a scene and then lets the students take turns shooting it. But mostly, they offer a session with a nude model and an exotic locale. They advertise, “We will have stunningly beautiful models …’ and “… you will have a chance to photograph a live model …”. Wow, they have nude women! But don’t get too frisky, as another workshop says it “… will cover the importance of mutually respectful interactions …” Really, people need instruction for that? Some of the locations are pretty cool though–Lake Powell looks like a good place.

The less said about the boudoir photographs the better. There are so many photographers offering this service that there must be customers. And wow, the prices are high $1000-1500 for a session. And I’m trying to sell postcards at two bucks a pop. Their forte appears to be making the customers feel comfortable when naked, “… is quite adept at making the most skittish clients feel comfortable …” and applying makeup, “Let us create a glamorous look from dramatic bomb shell to soft country chic.” I wish the photographers were better at photography.

And you know what the soft core porn market offers–young attractive nude women. Why do these photographers claim to be making art? It might be good porn, but when judged as art, it’s awful. There’s no idea, no concept, no imagination, no soul. “… has the largest selection of webcam models in the world.” This is advertised as art? No, it’s naked women.

And then there are a couple of big sites showing collections of art. Click on one of these and you can get nude art in any size, on any paper, and with many framing options. The frame costs more than the art. Maybe rightly so, since the photographer isn’t even involved in the production. There are thousands of images. I started looking, but was soon too bored to continue.

So where is the contemporary art? I look at a lot of stuff and very rarely find anything I like. Or even anything I think is worth looking at. Next week, I’m going to start showing some of what I found in my recent search. In the midst of dozens of pages of the other stuff, there were a couple of interesting photos. And I’ll also show some contemporary work that is on my wall.

But for now, here are some more legs:

How did you get her to take her clothes off?

This question gets asked all the time. How did you get the model to take her clothes off? Some of the usual answers are: ask, sex, drugs, pay, and fame. Which answers are true? That’s hard to say. But probably all are true at some time. After all with 7,600,000,000 people in the world, pretty much everything is happening somewhere.

With so many lies and misrepresentations, it’s hard to even collect any meaningful data. Several photographers have published books of their multiple girlfriends. Yeah, right. Others are well known for photographing their partners but not making a big deal of it. In the 60s and 70s drugs fueled a lot of activities. In online forums, many photographers claim that their fame causes women to clamor to model nude for them. Funny thing, I’ve usually never heard of them. Wonder where these young women hear about all of these photographers?

It’s 1989, Herb Ritts got five famous, supermodels naked in his studio for an iconic photo:

Even the Getty Museum buys into the story saying in the copy accompanying their print of the photo, “It was the atmosphere of trust that Ritts created in his studio that enabled him to convince his sitters to disrobe.”

But take a look at this photo of the sitting. They weren’t actually nude. So there’s a new answer: Retouching!

There are a few other changes too. Cindy Crawford loses a bruise. The shadow behind Stephanie Seymour’s butt and the crud on the floor disappears; she keeps her tattoo! I think the fake waist on Naomi Campbell is too low. But what do I know; I’m not as famous. And the wall.

$44,812.50 in the nude; only $9375 with panties. Nudity has value. Even when it’s fake.

Will AI take over the world?

Every now and then someone famous praises or worries about AI. Will it solve all the problems; make war, famine, and disease a thing of the past? Or will it take over and enslave humans, a la The Matrix or Colossus.

No one flies around or stops time in Colossus, but the computer does run the world and it is 30 years earlier. The creator tries to disable Colossus but that proves difficult because it sees and hears everything. So the creator tells it that he needs private time with his mistress when what he really wants to do is plot pulling the plug with his assistant. Too bad, turns out Colossus is a voyeur.

Let’s examine this question using Google Image Search as an example. Here are some of the images identified by Google as being me, or at least identified with my name:

That’s right none of them are me, although one is an image by me and another is an image of someone who shares my name. Can you guess which ones? But why are the other 3 in there? Is that really how well AI works? And what are these people doing trying to masquerade as me?

A long time ago I took a course called 6.034 Introduction to Artificial Intelligence from Patrick Winston, one of the founders of the discipline. He’s still teaching the course according to Wikipedia. Back then the AI community claimed they were going to understand human thought, something philosophers and psychologists and everyone else had failed to do.

They also claimed that computing languages didn’t need things like plus or minus signs. I got an A in the course, but I thought it was all pretty silly. Still do. But computers have gotten a lot faster and have a lot more memory so doing things the hard way is now possible. Plus somewhere along the way the AI community discovered equations.

But they still can’t find an image of me on the Internet. I admit it’s a pretty hard job. Despite my presence on the Internet (and its predecessor) for more than 40 years, as far as I know, there is only one picture of me on the Internet. But it’s right here on this blog and Google know about this blog, so why can’t it find the image?

New Photos of Sasquatch

Last week I read that there is new evidence about the Northwest hijacking from the seventies. D. B. Cooper was never caught because he went to work for the CIA. He retired in Northern Michigan and died a few years ago after telling the author of a new book his story. Buy the book!

Similarly, I have recently shot new photographic evidence of another Northwest legend, Sasquatch. The legend is real; it’s not a hoax. Except he’s a she and she’s not hairy. But like the legend says, she has big feet. Very big feet. Buy the photo!

More nude on the dunes

Last week we had a nude on the dunes by a famous photographer. This week there’s a nude on the dunes by an unfamous photographer. Is that a word?

I took two trips to Oceano to photograph on the dunes. All of the previously shown images are from the second trip. This image is the first image from the first trip which was more difficult.

On the first trip I didn’t know what I was doing, so we stayed in a hotel that I thought was close to the dunes. On the map it looked like it was just a few hundred feet away. I didn’t know about the closed area for bird nesting and the mile and a half walk along the beach, all the while dodging hot rodding off road vehicles, to actually get into the dunes. So we got there a little later, a little tireder, and a little grumpier than planned and the sun was already up and shadows were pretty intense. I wasn’t paying enough attention and most of the images from that trip have obnoxious shadows. Digital retouching to the rescue; it takes more time but those images are starting to appear.

On the second trip, I felt much better prepared. I had noticed that an RV park abutted the backside of the state park. You could walk from the RV park to the middle of the dunes in a minute or two. Really, it’s that close. But the RV park was very aggressive about parking. Meaning, no parking in the RV park and it was two or three miles from any other parking. Looked like another long walk. Except, bright idea, rent an RV space for a day. If it can hold a 40 foot long RV, a car should be easy. So I did.

When we showed up, they were mad that we didn’t have an RV. You can’t stay here with a car, they said, even though I had already paid for the spot. I said, what do you mean, the seats fold down and we can sleep in the back. Ok, they grudgingly agreed. So we took the spot and then went and slept in the motel I had also reserved. Sleep in the back of the car, no way, that sounds uncomfortable. Next morning, we were back before dawn, parked, and walked into the dunes. Perfect. Got there before the sun was up, and the photos were much easier.

What else I like

I bought a new photograph. Actually, it’s an old photograph that I have been coveting for while. 50 years old. Sea Palms by Wynn Bullock.

Wynn Bullock was the second photographer I really liked back when I was just getting started. Edward Weston was the first, of course. And no, I’ve never really liked the work of their more famous contemporary, Ansel Adams. Loved his instructional books, but was never moved by his work.

The first photography books I owned were “Edward Weston: Photographer” and “Wynn Bullock Photography a Way of Life”. And the first two prints I owned were by Weston and Bullock too. Now I have so many books, I may need to get another house to store them in.

Sea Palms shows an idyllic scene of Palm Trees blowing in a slight breeze above a foggy, coastal canyon. The exposure is long and you can see the trees blowing in the wind. The low lying fog is brilliantly lit by the sun. (The print is far more stunning than the web image up above.) It’s a beautiful scene. Made even more intriguing because all of that description is false. That’s what it looks like, but that’s not what it is. Or maybe I should say more artfully. That’s what it is, but that’s not what it was. Not a recording of the scene, but a transformation. I like that.

Auctions are a funny thing. I’ve been looking for Sea Palms for a long time and it wasn’t really available. There was an auction several years ago in Chicago, but you could tell the print was bad from the online catalog. Then there was a gallery that offered me a print two years ago at a steep discount for only $18,000. They said the print was extremely rare and would sell quickly at that price. I laughed at that. They still have the print. Finally a couple of months ago, a stunning print was up for auction and I bought it. And yes, the gallery’s price is a very, very ridiculous price. Next month a different New York auction house has another print for sale. So if you want one too, …

This is sort of like when Sotheby’s auctioned the “only known print in private hands” of Mapplethorpe’s famous image of the big penis hanging out of a polyester suit a couple years ago. Then the next month, Christie’s sold one too. Oops. Guess Sotheby’s didn’t know much.

Since Sea Palms doesn’t really qualify for this blog, here’s another Bullock image. Sand dunes and a nude woman. Where have we seen that before?