Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Drew on a printout of a distressed scan of another drawing. There's definitely some Lebbeus Woods influence coming into this, and maybe a bit of sumié landscape painting as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Phone camera pictures

Here's a bunch of pictures I've taken on my phone while out and about.

This fuschia dimebag was sitting in the dirty snow on the way to the subway one morning. All sorts of metaphors mixing here.This artfully découpaged freezer door was sitting on a pile of trash (gasp!) on Lispenard street. Tattered newspaper page listing 9/11 victims blowing in the wind, next to pinups and sports heros.
(Straight) Gay Straws. Back behind the bar at Walker's on Varick.
This rock out at Ditch Plains in Montauk looked like it had a nice, wet head of hair on it.
Someone taped a dead roach to the fire hydrant with packing tape. Begged to be recorded.
"Supporting graffiti" I just liked the lines in this view: the real lines of the walls and the construction as well as the cast shadows. The graffiti really popped, too.
Dead chickadee on Smith and Baltic, in front of the elementary school there. Poor little bird.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Criminalizing Retouching

A video op-ed piece appeared on the NYTimes.com (
Op-Video: Sex, Lies and Photoshop: Why magazines should let readers know if images have been retouched, March 10, 2009) about whether to legislate or even criminalize retouching of images. Jesse Epstein mentions potential legislation in France where the Department of Health would mandate what images could be published, and how. The piece is voiced in terms of public service and right-to-know, but this is such a dangerous and slippery slope. If, by law, we are not allowed to retouch images for advertising, are we then not allowed to retouch wedding images? What about the kids in high school who had acne whose class pictures always had that dizzy glow to them as a result of the photo company helping them out a bit?

As someone who makes his living as a retoucher, I am in favor of full disclosure of retouching practices, and believe that there should be more public awareness of same. I sympathize with young women and their insecurities, and the need to identify with something, whether positive or negative, for example, and then try to model themselves after it. I have no problem telling anyone I meet that 100% of the images they see in print have been retouched. Sometimes that just means that the levels and colors have been altered and sometimes it is 20-30 rounds result in what I like to call "frankenstein's monster images" like the Lucky cover used as an example in the editorial.

The question Epstein does not ask is this: What would this knowing do for us? If, on the table of contents page, where they credit the clothes, stylist, and photographer of the cover shot, they also showed the four unretouched images, would that solve this problem? Would criminalizing this behavior so that all we would be allowed to publish are photos as-is, solve the problem? Should we mandate that only models who conform to national medians of height, weight, and ethnic makeup be allowed to be photographed? And what about celebrities? On the same day, Kelly Clarkson was on Good Morning America performing to promote her new album, and when they showed the cover she said something along the lines of, "I don't really look that good, they photoshopped me..." Is that enough? If celebrities had to issue disclaimers each time their image was photoshopped...

Retouching is not a new phenomenon. Since images were able to be reproduced with photographic techniques, they have been altered; from hand-tinted daguerrotypes to hand-tinting negatives to the common-until-now 'airbrushing'. Photoshop is now a verb as well as an adjective that refers to manipulation of images. Should the red-eye fixing tools be removed from picasa.com and iphoto?

We should certainly be wary, whenever we
manipulate images, of the potential for abuse. There is an excellent case study of this type of excess aiding fascistic tendencies called, "The Commisar Vanishes" by David King. It documents instances in Stalin's Soviet empire where people were systematically removed from official images as they were eliminated, each new image becoming the new true fact. Thus images that are lies can become accepted as facts.

It seems like an oversimplification to conflate these two sets of images and intentions. Epstein seems more intent on discovering true images than exposing false images. My question is this: what is a True image? Is it a court portrait from antiquity, where the artist had to flatter the patron or face the blade? Is it an online-dating profile picture taken from a flattering angle with blemishes removed? Is it an AP news photo where the photographer has artfully composed the image in-camera, to capture a moment, and has edited out unwanted information?
There's a big difference between eliminating a zit and eliminating a person, and we should be wary of giving power to others to make such distinctions - and to base laws upon the distinctions they make, and so determine what information is or isn't good for us.

More Doodle-splody

Drawing from the news

Kids throwing stones.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Bands that don't exist

Blunt Force Trauma
Ends With Benefits
Chimp Attack! (courtesty Andy Goldberger)
Rorscharch's Journal
Techtonic Mates
Sound Baffle
Pork Butt
Charlie Wilson's Gore
Mountain Packets

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

Went to a bunch of the art fairs this year, yesterday and today. Scope, Pulse, and Volta. Pulse had the best of the work, in my opinion, but the others had art worth mentioning. But not here, or at least, not now. Tired and late, and I just lost an hour to the farmers and their dang clock-changing ways. Click the above link for work that you can spend days talking about and yet, in person, it is lacking: Lacking anything but the barest of barry la ve's, a gaudy(?) fischli & veiss, with platinum and gold nails in the finest of woods. Ok, I get it, you're sitting around your studio and you are fucking OUT of ideas, but you must be some kind of hot or some kind of intelligently persuasive beast to convince people that this shit is what's up. Say what you will about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it has an ethos ... this shit is just vacant garbage propped up by empty words.

On the positive side, there were some really nice drawings, photos, digital installations, video pieces, etc. Kudos to the pallbearers and the stormbringers.