Mos Hi Def

Highest definition photo of earth ever made. The image is posted on NASA's Flickr stream in a variety of sizes, the largest being 8000 X 8000 pixels. You can zoom in on it to reveal incredible detail. I was asked by someone for my opinion on what sort of lens was used to obtain this odd perspective of the globe, it seems to be a very wide angle view, almost fish eyed perspective.  Then we noticed the description of the photo provided by is a composite image made from several swaths(?).  I would love to see the NASA version of Photoshop that created this picture. And it would be interesting to see all of the exif data, but nothing is provided on the Flickr stream.

NASA description of the image...

A 'Blue Marble' image of the Earth taken from the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP. This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012. The NPP satellite was renamed 'Suomi NPP' on January 24, 2012 to honor the late Verner E. Suomi of the University of Wisconsin.
Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite. It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.
Suomi NPP is carrying five instruments on board. The biggest and most important instrument is The Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite or VIIRS.

NASA on Flickr

NASA website

Gong Hey Fat Choy

These are really the first photographs I have made in 2012. (At least it is still January) The book is finished and I am spiritually and mentally liberated to make images again. I do not follow astrology, but the Chinese New Year had me wondering about my sign. I was born in the year of the Pig (Yin Earth) Honest, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, and intelligent. Can be naïve, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, and materialistic.  Some fits , some doesn't. Can't we find elements of ourselves in every sign of the Zodiac? One of the reasons I don't hold too much stock in it.

Eating New Year's dinner in a vegetarian restaurant (House of Vegetarian, 68 Mott Street), the young children at the next table were chanting the Cantonese version of Happy New Year.... "Gong Hey Fat Choy" while they entertained us with small dragon marionette puppets and even a delightful display of Chinese acrobatics by a precious two year old named Ellery, who could spell her own name.

These are from Mott Street, Chinatown, NYC... 

My Own Wilderness

My Own Wilderness is a celebration of the fifth anniversary of PHOTO/arts Magazine, and a platform to connect with readers in a new way. In a sense, this was my emergence from the wilderness that is the day-to-day habitat of the soloist blogger.

Themes related to modern concepts of wilderness are familiar to readers of PHOTO/arts Magazine. New Topographics and the cultural landscape, environmental art, and traditional landscape photography are all recurring subjects. While developing the concept for this international competition, I was close to embarking on my fifth trip to the Boundary Waters area of northern Minnesota. This annual journey takes me into the wild and secluded pristine lake region along the Minnesota/Canadian border, and involves three thousand miles of driving alone in the car - itself a form of wilderness. I was doing a lot of thinking about the differences and similarities between wilderness of place versus wilderness as a state of mind. 

Martin Buday

The call for work was worded as follows...

Wilderness has many meanings in this shrinking world we live in. The traditional definition is 'an area of earth untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain'. Where there once were immense regions on the planet that could be defined in this way, today there are fewer and fewer untrammeled places. But wilderness can also be more than a physical place. It can be a state of mind, a condition of loneliness, an economic or political status. It can exist within the most populated cities as a personal space created by the individual. How do you define wilderness?

I was looking for answers to the ways in which photographers interpret and sort through their own personal experiences with both the physical and the theoretical forms of wilderness. How would these conceptions look as photographs?

The answers are beautiful and profound. Some are haunting and difficult, others full of whimsy and irony. Almost all of the artists touch upon aspects of the mental and emotional experience of wilderness, and quite a few explore the blurred boundary between fantasy and reality. The wilderness of reality versus the wilderness of our minds. The internal and the external. The past and the present. These are the unifying elements of the photographs being presented in this book. Ellen Jantzen defines wilderness as a place of the mind rather than a physical place. Intrigued with parallel universes, space/time warps and other manifestations of altered realities, Jantzen invites us to step through the looking glass into another dimension. 

Ellen Jantzen

Mark William Fernandes draws inspiration from the experience of his grandmother´s struggle with Alzheimer's disease, which led to a collapse of space and time. Manipulating the border between fiction and reality, Fernandes creates his own visual truth, away from a linear concept of space and time. In her artist statement, Alena Lobanova describes wilderness as ‘space without time exists where everyone and everything exists’.

We live on the ever expanding borders of wilderness, squeezing it into non existence. Wilderness has evolved for many of us into a place of nostalgic longing, and quite a few photographers use an element of nostalgia and memory in their work. Herve Demers’ work is from a series depicting the landscape of his youth, to which he is strongly connected and brings to him a sense of inner peace. Eamon Mac Mahon returns to the place of his childhood, growing up in small landlocked communities in Alberta, Canada surrounded by vast stretches of ‘forbidding and mysterious wilderness’.

Eamon Mac Mahon

We dream of being in the wilderness we long for. Or we replace our immediate surroundings with self-made metaphors for wilderness. Willson Cummer thinks of mountain trails when he is exploring urban parking garages. Denis Tarasov records images of wistful landscapes painted on the sides of industrial equipment within the barren desert of a bleak Russian factory. The series is called Dreams of an Oasis.  

Does wilderness coincide with vulnerability? Real and imagined dangers are presented to us in the work throughout this book.The harsh reality of children living in the wilderness of drugs and alcohol. Children living amid the squalor of a waste dump. A child seemingly lost in the woods. Nudity would certainly represent the highest form of human vulnerability to the outside world, and this theme is presented in a number of photographs. There is an unmistakable loneliness in so many of these images. Moving beyond the uncertainties and the vulnerability and loneliness, there is also quiet placidity in virtually every photograph.

Five photographers were awarded special recognition for their remarkable depictions of a personal wilderness experience. I took into consideration their artist statements, the images you see presented here, and the full set of photographs they submitted. Simply put, this is the work my eyes kept returning to again and again during the weeks of assembling this exhibit. Katerina Bodrunova presents us with a fantasy world of a reversed role of hunter and victim. The series is inspired by the contemplation of a vegetarian lifestyle, and her surreal images touch upon almost all of the unifying themes in the book. 

Katerina Bodrunova

Bernard Mindich explores big cities to go on what he calls 'urban safari' trips to find wild animals, and in particular, seeks ways in which these obsessively man made animals interact with unsuspecting humans. Agan Harahap uses images of live animals in anthropomorphic settings, effectively taming the wilderness while blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. Andi Schreiber shows us an exploration of suburban American family life. We see a wild child literally climbing the walls of a cage, and another has just fired a shot from a gun. Both images leave me confused, disturbed, and amused all at once. Irina Popova documents a small child living in a world of drug addiction. Popova’s artist statement spoke of the intense struggle between recording the reality in front of her versus intervening on behalf of the child. Popova received intense criticism over this series and in a sense was placed into her own solitary world in defense of her work.

Irina Popova

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the photographers who took the time to submit work to this exhibit. This was truly an international collaboration, as you will see by looking through the artist biographies in the back of the book. I have presented the book in an exhibition format, and it is meant to be viewed as if you were walking through a gallery. The photographs are displayed one to a page, in an order that I would choose for them to be seen on the walls. I think there is a lovely cohesion not only to the sequence of these images, but also to the body of work as a whole. Enjoy.

Christopher H. Paquette

Full preview of My Own Wilderness

Complete Exhibit on Youtube

Complete Exhibit on Vimeo


Yesterday I briefly caught sight of a murmuration of starlings, but they moved behind some buildings and were gone. Today I saw this poem. 

Jeanette May

Jeanette May
Bachelor Pads
A.I.R. Gallery
Brooklyn, NY

February 1-25, 2012

Here is an interesting series by New York photographer Jeanette May inspired by 1960s movies and magazine spreads  highlighting the phenomenon of the “bachelor pad”.  May stages the contemporary bachelor  in his  metropolitan dwelling.  The original bachelor pads were conspicuously heterosexual and masculine in design—filled with the latest gadgets and markers of hedonistic pleasure. Mayʼs  photographs examine whether the  current version evolved or  if  the reel-to-reel sound systems were merely swapped for iPod stations and  large screen TVs.  The pad may define oneʼs economic or cultural standing, provide refuge, or seduce potential lovers. Mayʼs images raise these issues while offering a voyeuristic peek into the private living space of single men. Bachelor Pads furthers Mayʼs investigation into the representation of desirable men and the development of the “female gaze” in contemporary visual cultural. (Her previous project was called Easy On The Eyes) In this recent project, she concentrates on bachelors: unmarried men who do not live with their parents, spouses, or lovers. Her bachelors identify as straight or gay, live alone or with roommates, and cover a range of ages and socio-economic groups. May poses the men in a formal manner; their gaze is never toward the camera, but  they  seem  self-consciously  aware of  an audience.  She produces photographs located somewhere between portraiture and documentary, that allow women (and men) to stare unabashedly at  attractive bachelors and  then visually rifle through their  belongings. May presents her archival pigment prints in a scale  that  enables  us to read the spines of books on the shelves or covet a particularly desirable apartment. What do we learn about these specific bachelors, how do men present themselves to the camera, and does the female viewer take pleasure in the sight?

images are from the series Bachelor Pads by Jeanette May

Jeanette May is a photographer using a critical, sometimes playful, approach to investigate representation itself. May earned her MFA in Photography from CalArts and her BFA in Painting from the University of Illinois, UrbanaChampaign. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from the NEA Regional Artistsʼ Projects Fund, Illinois Arts Council, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and Ms. Foundation. Her work is exhibited in galleries and museums internationally, including New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Toronto, Canada; Sandviken, Sweden; and Athens, Greece. May lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Jeanette May  Bachelor Pads

A.I.R. Gallery

Family Dynamics

Emmet Gowin

"I realized that my own family was as miraculous as the most distant people in the world and at the same time , the most available to me, and perhaps available only to me.  I had not realized that art could be made by simply telling the story of your own life, of your own experience. I realized that telling my own story, using as subject matter the people I knew and loved, that this automatically involved an intimacy I could not have had in any other way."     Emmet Gowin

Family Dynamics
February 6 - March 4, 2012
The Kiernan Gallery
Lexington, Va

Andi Schreiber, one of the My Own Wilderness competition winners, was selected by juror Henry Horenstein to be included in Family Dynamics, a group show at The Kiernan Gallery in Lexington, Virginia, opening February 6th. 

Andi's selected image in the show is her wonderful image Injected...

Injected  by Andi Schreiber

See the rest of the images in this beautiful exhibit by clicking the link below.

La Corona by Zoe Strauss

Zoe Strauss Billboard Project
La Corona (Reed & Passyunk Ave)

Here is Zoe Strauss discussing South Philadelphia, immigration, cheese steaks, and bigotry at the site of billboard #1 of her Bill Board project which is a part of Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, opening January 14th at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Why Zoe Strauss Matters

From Next American City..... Why Zoe Strauss Matters

Cynthia,  by  Zoe Strauss

Bernard Mindich

New York photographer Bernard Mindich was one of the selected winners of the My Own Wilderness  competition. He is continuously on an urban safari, as he calls his wanderings through New York City and other places in his frequent travels.  Bernard's work in My Own Wilderness is from a collection of "inanimate" animals that he discovers within the urban environment, interacting in strange and often whimsical ways with unsuspecting humans.

Here is a nice little series that Mindich calls The World at my Feet.

"The title refers to both the physical perspective of the images and their implicit  metaphorical connotation suggesting the abundance of intriguing  content and infinite stories suggested with virtually every every step we take -- if we are awake to what is there".  Bernard Mindich

Images from The World At My Feet  by Bernard Mindich

Bernard Mindich's website

Zoe Strauss: Ten Years

Zoe Strauss: Ten Years
January 14 to April 22, 2012

Zoe Strauss: Ten Years is a mid-career retrospective of the acclaimed photographer’s work and the first critical assessment of her ten-year project to exhibit her photographs annually in a space beneath a section of Interstate-95 (I-95) in South Philadelphia. Strauss’s subjects are broad but her primary focus is on working-class experience, including the most disenfranchised people and places. Her photographs offer a poignant, troubling portrait of contemporary America.

Strauss (American, born 1970) states that her ambition is “to create an epic narrative that reflects the beauty and struggle of everyday life.” Zoe Strauss: Ten Years will offer one version of that narrative, presenting approximately one hundred and fifty of her photographs, along with slideshows displaying more of her imagery, and installations on billboards throughout Philadelphia that will extend the exhibition beyond the Museum. Between 2001 and 2010, Strauss hosted yearly day-long exhibitions of her photographs under an elevated section of I-95. She affixed prints to columns in an area roughly the size of a football field, providing visitors with a map keyed to a list of photograph titles.

 Prints of the exhibited images were available for sale for five dollars, with Strauss stationed at a nearby table to sign them. These installations animated the site with art, commerce, and social interaction, transforming it into a vibrant public space. Zoe Strauss: Ten Years will examine how, for Strauss, the opposite settings of the abandoned urban zone under I-95 and the galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art complement each other. Her engagement with both places is deep and she highly values the Museum as a place for civic discourse, just as she strove to make the space under I-95 a place for social interaction.

Untrained as a photographer or artist, Strauss nevertheless founded the Philadelphia Public Art Project in 1995 with the objective of exhibiting art in nontraditional venues. She turned to the camera in 2000 as the most direct instrument to represent her chosen subjects. In 2006, Strauss participated in the Whitney Biennial. In 2008 she published her first book, America.

*above text courtesy Philadelphia Art Museum. Photos by C. H. Paquette (2008)

Opening Party (soldout)
Saturday, January 14th, 2012
8PM to 1AM

Levi Wedel

Canadian photographer Levi Wedel creates his work in series that are thoughtful and concisely edited with a dream like quality to them. Be sure to look at his website as well as his beautiful collection of images curated on his blog. Links to both are at the bottom of this post. I was especially drawn to his Producing Landscape series.  The blending of random organics with geometric framing results in a sort of inverted facade for the eventual completed residence being constructed. As if the house has been turned inside out to expose the surrounding pre-existing site. These images evoke a mixture of elements from the New Topographic school and in particular the work of Lewis Baltz and Henry Wessel Jr. who both focused on the relationship between construction and the immediate surrounding landscape features.

Levi Wedel describes his Producing Landscapes series as follows...

The wood framing stage in the construction of houses presents an unfolding of space, one which enframes the surrounding landscape as much as the surrounding landscape enframes it. This causes a production of landscape—a doubling of the existing landscape through the creation of a simultaneous perspective from the interior of each house, a view in which the outer landscape becomes framed by the space of each interior and reduced to an image.
Likewise, each photograph depicting these internal landscapes reduces this play of landscapes and images into a further image while simultaneously opening a new perspective, a new unfolding of space and landscape in the space in which a viewer observes each photograph.

all images by Levi Wedel from Producing Landscapes

After viewing this series and his other related work, I asked Levi to comment on the continuing and sustained influence of the New Topographic style of photography among many photographers today. He presents a thoughtful an well written response to my query...

I think the effect of New Topographics never really dissipated and has continued to influence select individual practices through the years; it perhaps just wasn’t as popular or at least visible until the Internet allowed it to be widely reintroduced to new generations. I think the documentary style used in New Topographics continues to find relevance today, even if the landscape is no longer a newly-tamed frontier. I think it has particularly found new relevance within the context of postmodernism. New Topographics was never defined very strictly or concisely and that vagueness has allowed a flexibility as its influence has seeped into past and current practices. I think there still remains ample conceptual headroom to continue to explore, extend and redefine what New Topographics started.
There is a group of photographers I know in Hungary who are very interested in this style and last year they exhibited in a show called Hungarian New Topography, which is very interesting because apart from the documentary style their landscape is far removed from the new frontier that drove the original New Topographics. I wrote a foreword for their show.
Here is an excerpt from that foreword which I think is relevant:
“An important aspect of the New Topographics photography was the use of a documentary style which enabled the works to be viewed in a context of art. The photographs of New Topographics documented objects and places that seemed common, boring, peripheral and ugly—things not ordinarily documented. Walker Evans termed the documentary appearance found in such photographs as a ‘documentary style’. Evans used this term to differentiate between the document, which has a use value, and art, which is useless and only emulates the styleof the document through its presentation of factual information. Photography in an art context has no restrictions or guidelines regarding the information it frames or the way it frames that information because it has no use value.1 The New Topographics photographs exemplified this lack of use value and embraced the freedom to frame their information in ways that avoided standard conventions and the idealized landscape models of their time.”
I think the new prevalence and use of digital images causes some issues for the documentary style and its future. The digital image is a different kind of document and far removed from the fixed artifact of the photograph, yet its manifested form (on screen or in print) bears a semblance strikingly similar to the photograph, allowing viewers to view them in a similar way, perceive similar images, and use them for similar functions (despite the other many differences between photographs and digital images, both ontologically and in potential use-values).
In being a different kind of document, even when manifested in print which forms a different kind of physical artifact, digital images invoke a different set of implications and potentials; they are documents not rooted in physical objectivity but in the subjective forces of language (which is sometimes then manifested in a physical document but a document of a strange sort: objective in what it is but with a difference in source and in what has been objectively documented from that of the photograph). The photograph’s document indexes light that reflected from what was photographed (often second-hand in a final print from crystals affected first-hand), while the digital image in print indexes a mechanical process (how ink was splattered from a print head in an inkjet print or how lasers interacted with silver crystals in a photographic print like Lightjet). The digital print is a simulacrum. With regard to the digital image file as a document, documents based on language have been around far longer than photographic documents, yet the digital image file is new in the sense that it is a hybrid of sorts because its language signifies visual values.
Just as the art photograph can be of a documentary style (that is, appears as a document through its presentation of facts but without a use-value), the art digital image is often of a photographic style (appears as a photograph through its presentation of visual qualities but without any facts).
It is probably too early to begin to define the ramifications of these differences and their effect, though there is some interesting work being produced which explores the possibilities, such as work by Jeff Wall and Scott McFarland. Each has made work manipulating the digital language to produce images in the style of the photograph that are anything but. Digital images allow one to build one’s own hallucinatory “reality” that has no truth value (facts) at all, yet looks as objective as a photograph.
On a side note, I find digital images fascinating and use them myself, both from DSLRs for what they are and as scans of film that represent physical photographs (which are also simultaneously their own new thing—a digital image). My preference is dictated by conceptual necessity, and sometimes both mediums can be used together for the same work.
I have purposefully scanned film to print digitally onto photographic paper to create a photographic simulacrum, such as for a show I did with my work from Invisible City. It is true that people are unlikely at a glance to determine what source the work such as my digital photographic prints for Invisible City originate from or how they were made, be they digital or photographic, let alone a photographic simulacrum produced by digital means, but I think this is ok and does not harm the work. I think people worry too much about what a viewer can discern from a work, which is unquantifiable and unpredictable anyway; I am more concerned with what things can potentially be, are becoming and what they are. When art is created with the focus on an audience that is already defined, the work becomes restricted and begins to cease as art as it conforms to a model, a parody of itself and its potential. I am interested in the work that builds its own model.
1 Britt Salvesen, New Topographics (Göttingen: Steidl, 2009) 

Lewis Baltz   from Park City (1978-81)

Henry Wessel Jr.   Tuscon, Arizona  (1974)

Agan Harahap

Indonesian photographer Agan Harahap was one of the selected winners in the My Own Wilderness competition in 2011. Two of his images are included in the upcoming book and I thought it would be interesting for readers to see all of the images he submitted to the competition. Harahap's artist statement was very short and simple...

"In this series, various animals have been anthropomorphized and placed in common situations that we may face in our daily lives.I used a snapshot aesthetic, which further blurs the boundary between reality and my imagination."

This sense of confusion and the attempt to present a visual crossing over from civilization to personal wilderness was successfully achieved by many of the photographers who submitted work to the competition, and I think Agan Harahap's work really nailed it.   In the next couple of weeks I'll show more examples from other My Own Wilderness photographers.

images copyright  Agan Harahap  2011 from My Own Wilderness