Favorite Books 2013

My five favorite books of 2013... and this was a year that I did some solid collecting... Holy Bible, PIGS, Iris Garden, and all three LBM Dispatches (Three Valleys, Colorado, Texas Triangle) to name drop a few. I liked them all but these were my top five. Click the photo captions for book details.

1. Favorite overall-   Emmet Gowin

Emmet Gowin

2. Favorite exhibit publication-  Ink Art

Ink Art

3. Most fun -  Ping Pong

Ping Pong

2. Best curating -  The Unphotographable

The Unphotographable

5. Most fascinating-    Various Small Books

Various Small Books

Happy New Year!   My resolution for 2014 is to attend some Photobook Fairs. (I didn't attend any in 2013).

Surreal Illusionism

"From a Friend" (1904)

The Surreal Illusionism exhibition at the Finnish Museum of Photography
features nearly 500 photographic postcards that offer a surprising wealth
of pictorial ideas, high artistic quality and photographic allure. Surreal
fantasies, mysterious dreams, role-play, glamorous divas and irony are
running wild in the postcards. All these will transport viewers into the
fascinating, forgotten golden era of industrial photography in the early
20th century and the early history of modern photographic art.

The late 1890s saw the emergence of a number of factories in Europe that
were involved in the creation of a new art form. Photographs were not
printed on the cards, like today, but, instead, real photographs were
produced by using mechanised exposures and development processes. The
production of photographic postcards, also known as "real photo
postcards", became a sizable industry, and the end products were
distributed as far away as South America and Australia. The phenomenon
only lasted for two decades but resulted in millions of photographs.
Today, these cards are coveted collector's items.

From today's perspective, photographic postcards are fascinating
particularly because of the photomontage techniques used. The combination
of images and drawings, and multiple exposure were some of the methods
used in industrial photography a hundred years before "photoshopping".
Because industrial colour photography was yet to be invented, the cards
were coloured by hand. It is the craft that makes these mass-produced
images unique. The synthetic world of colours further increases the
mystery of the images.

The golden age of photographic postcards drew on the urban popular culture
that began to emerge in the early 20th century. The rise of the cinema,
the modern culture of sun-bathing, eroticism, circus and variety shows
inspired the imagery of the cards. Technical innovations, such as the
aeroplane, stimulated the imagination.

The heyday of postcards began to wane after the First World War. The
various innovations, however, lingered on. Artistic ideas such as
synthetic cubism and collage are based on expressive techniques that were
used in the postcards as early as the beginning of the 20th century.

In the 1920s and 1930s, a group of avant-garde artists and poets began to
draw inspiration from dreams, fantasy and the depths of the unconscious.
An art movement known as surrealism emerged. The photographic postcards
presented at the exhibition were "surrealist" before the word was even

The exhibition also includes an installation created specifically by
artist Jouko Korkeasaari for this show.

The curator of the exhibition is art researcher, docent Harri Kalha.
Kalha's book Ihme ja kumma: surrealismia ja silmänlumetta 1900-luvun alun
postikorttitaiteessa (WSOY 2012) serves as a good companion to the

The exhibition is part of the 2013 Helsinki Festival.

Fantasy Card Competition together with Paletti Oy:

Further information on the exhibition:
Chief curator Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger 050 518 7619,
Curator Reetta Haarajoki, +358 50 432 7562reetta.haarajoki@fmp.fi

Further information on workshops, guided tours and public program: Head of
education and public programmes Erja Salo, +358 44 2706216,

Exhibition hours Tue–Sun, 11–18 Wed, 11–20. Admission fees 8 / 6 euros,
under-18’s free.
The Finnish Museum of Photography, Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1 G,
00180 Helsinki
tel. +358 9 6866 3621 / fmp@fmp.fi /  www.valokuvataiteenmuseo.fi/en

Weekend Mail...

recycled mailer. Claudia McGill (2013)

I received some mail art today! A nice abstract painted over recycled concert promo mailer from Arcadia University. I love the way the text from the original mailer shows ever so slightly through Claudia's applied paint. You can see more of Claudia McGill's mail artistry here.

And her website....  ClaudiaMcGill.com

Altered Books & Journals

"Chaos" (art journal.  2008)

"Illness & Recovery" (journals. 2007)

"Someone's Bed" (collaborative journal. ongoing)

"Divine Mother of Tears" (altered book.  2013)

Mail Art

I've recently discovered the fun of exchanging art through the mail. If this is something you would like to get involved in, join me at International Union of Mail Artists and let's start trading.

The photo above is some postcards I made over the weekend. Just some goofy collage cards made from old ephemera; 1920's Newspapers, 1950's How-To book, 1960's Comic Book, and some 1990's Patriot Militia Newsletters. Quite the odd mix!

I'm working on a post featuring some of the artists who have sent me work. Stay tuned for some unique art features! 

Warsaw Photo Days 2013

Here is a free to enter call for work from the first ever Warsaw Photo Days festival to be held in October 2013 in Warsaw, Poland
Submissions are now being accepted for Warsaw Photo Days 2013 Open Programme based under the theme ‘CLASH’.
Open Programme welcomes entries from visual artists both nationally and internationally, supporting all disciplines of photographic (and photography-based) practice.
Our Jury will select 3-5 projects which will be exhibited during the festival.
Our theme - ‘CLASH’ - may be understood and interpreted in a number of ways e.g.: mixed media practices, opposites, meetings, collisions, borders, body / spirituality, male / female, pixel / grain, full / void, culture / nature, passive / active, tradition / modernity, life / death, open / closed, light / dark, synthesis, pop culture / kitsch / high culture, global / local, documentary / fiction and others.
We are looking for both photographic and mixed media projects using photography and/ or video.
Submissions sent by email to open@warsawphotodays.com have to include the following: 
pdf containing a set of photographs from the project (resolution 72 dpi), file size up to 5Mb;
description in pdf - max. 1800 characters, that obligatory includes:
project statement;
information whether or not the project has already been presented (if so, where);
proposed formats and technical description;
brief artist’s bio;
for video work - a link to a web page;
contact information (email, phone, Skype, mailing address).

Our Jury will decline your submission if it does not follow all the guidelines.
All applications must be received by September 5, 2013 (23:59 CET).
One artist can submit one project for consideration.
There is no entry fee.
Application deadline: 5 September 2013 (23:59 CET)
Results: 15 September 2013 - announced on www.warsawphotodays.com
Exhibitions: 4-31 October 2013
Detailed rules of participation can be found in the Terms and conditions of the competition.
Warsaw Photo Days Facebook Group

Free up some art

Designed to be the opposite of copyright, a kopimi notice specifically encourages that the work be copied - for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial. Kopimi is similar to the CC0 license created by Creative Commons, although Kopimi adds a positive imperative for others to copy.

"copyright is a barrier to free flow of artistic creation.
remove it.
promote the free exchange of art.
dissolve proprietary art."



Independence Day, 2008

Here's a great 4th of July exhibit put together by Crista Dix of Wall Space Gallery... Lot's of familiar names. It is fun to see each person's take on this special day.

wall space gallery | the flat file

Absence of....

"This one will be done the way I want to do it: just me and Mother Nature,"    Nik Wallenda

Photos from ABC13/AP

"Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, said his biggest concern is a cultural one. The Hopi Tribe has identified the Little Colorado River Gorge as a significant clan migration route.
“The Gorge and the Canyon are not about taking lives,” he said. “They’re about life, especially the spiritual lives of our ancestral people.”
Kuwanwisiwma said when a base jumper died in the area last year due to a parachute failure, it presented a cultural burden to the Hopi people—and, he suspects, to the Navajos living nearby."

How Nik Wallenda’s Tightrope Walk Benefits Navajo Nation, Angers Hopi

Let’s set the record straight: Nik Wallenda may have completed a death-defying tightrope walk Sunday night, but it wasn’t at the Grand Canyon, as the buzz may have led you to believe. Wallenda was actually on tribal land -- the Navajo Nation, to be exact -- and the Native American group has a lot invested in his big Discovery Channel-sponsored stunt.

National Park Service officials made it abundantly clear over the past week that such a spectacle would never have been approved at the actual Grand Canyon. Representatives claimed events “must not unreasonably impair the park’s atmosphere of peace and tranquility,” noting that stunts “don’t meet that [criteria].”

Weiwei on Surveillance

Ai  Weiwei  "Surveillance Camera" (2010)

The artist Ai Weiwei knows a thing or two about government surveillance and privacy intrusions, and has recently written an article for The Guardian, "NSA Surveillance: The US is behaving like China".

"I lived in the United States for 12 years. This abuse of state power goes totally against my understanding of what it means to be a civilised society, and it will be shocking for me if American citizens allow this to continue. The US has a great tradition of individualism and privacy and has long been a centre for free thinking and creativity as a result.
In our experience in China, basically there is no privacy at all – that is why China is far behind the world in important respects: even though it has become so rich, it trails behind in terms of passion, imagination and creativity.
The internet and social media give us new possibilities of exploring ourselves.
But we have never exposed ourselves in this way before, and it makes us vulnerable if anyone chooses to use it against us. Any information or communication could put young people under the surveillance of the state. Very often, when oppressive states arrest people, they have that information in their hands. It can be used as a way of controlling you, to tell you: we know exactly what you're thinking or doing. It can drive people to madness".

Read the whole article here

Nothing Is Sacred

I have considered Jerry Mander somewhat of a personal guru for many years. Absence of The Sacred is one of those books that is rarely put back on the shelf. I leave it within arms reach most of the time. My copy is falling apart, highlighted and underlined throughout, and I have excerpted it many times here on PHOTO/arts Magazine. Mander is a bit obscure and most people just shrug their shoulders when I mention his name. When you write primarily about the argument for eliminating television, the negative aspects of technology, and Native American causes, obscurity becomes a job hazard.

Within the light of NSA mega data gathering and the PRISM Project, it is books exactly such as this one that should be read by anyone who cares about maintaining technological balance in an out of control world. Mander is not a Luddite or any sort of conspiracy theorist. He is merely an intelligent skeptic. He was among the first contemporary critics to question what some might call a massive bribe. If you can't get hold of a copy of this book, just read the following list of what Mander calls recommended attitudes about technology. Remember that Mander wrote his books well before the internet as we know it, before cell phones and smart phones, and before cable television. Read this list in the context of your life today regarding issues of privacy, copyright protection, internet banking, healthcare, etc etc. This is in no way a call to abandon techno-toys; just a firm reminder to be mindful that there is always a price to be paid and we should certainly not be shocked by the recent news stories. Not one bit. 

Ten Recommended Attitudes About Technology

By Jerry Mander 
from In The Absence Of The Sacred (1991)

1.Since most of what we are told about new technology comes from its proponents, be deeply skeptical of all claims.

2. Assume all technology "guilty until proven innocent".

3. Eschew the idea that technology is neutral or "value free". Every technology has inherent and identifiable social, political, and environmental consequences.

4. The fact that technology has a natural flash and appeal is meaningless. Negative attributes are slow to emerge.

5. Never judge a technology by the way it benefits you personally. Seek a holistic view of its impacts. The operative question is not whether it benefits you but who benefits most? And to what end?

6. Keep in mind that an individual technology is only a piece of a larger web of technologies, "megatechnology". The operative question here is how the individual technology fits the larger one.

7. Make distinctions between technologies that primarily serve the individual or the small community (for example, solar energy) and those that operate on a scale of community control (for example, nuclear energy).

8. When it is argued that the benefits of the technological lifeway are worthwhile despite harmful outcomes, recall that Lewis Mumford referred to these alleged benefits as "bribery". Cite the figures about crime, suicide, alienation, drug abuse, as well as environmental and cultural degradation.

9. Do not accept the homily that "once the genie is out of the bottle, you cannot put it back", or that rejecting technology is impossible. Such attitudes induce passivity and confirm victimization.

10. In thinking about technology within the present climate of technological worship, emphasize the negative. This brings balance. Negativity is a positive.


Garrett Williams || CLOSED

Yes, by now we have seen many series of architectural photographs documenting the great recession. A certain fatigue sets in at the thought of ruin porn. But the recession lives on and store fronts remain closed. Garrett Williams reveals a fine eye for clean minimalism and subtle color in these images shot through the windows of empty retail spaces. They appear almost theatrical, as if waiting for the show to begin. I never get tired of peering into work with this sort of sublime mystery attached to it.

"I began shooting empty rooms through storefront windows about a year ago. These are a selection I took while traveling from Oregon to California last Fall. The simple aesthetics of these spaces pleased and surprised me, and the documentation of an economic cycle became secondary. The roughness of the images gives clues to the voyeuristic nature of the project. The glass was dirty, there were reflections, and my mobility around the subject obviously limited by a large glass plate. I plan to continue this series in my next trip back."    
- Garrett Williams

Images by Garrett Willams from his CLOSED series

More about Garrett Williams:

"I am an American photographer based in Oslo, Norway. I was trained as a fine art photographer in San Francisco, and have worked in various facets of the branch both here and there. The more I shoot the more I am fascinated by the concept of creativity. It's a feeling about an image that simply falls into place. Combine this with an enormous curiosity about people and this world and these photographs are the result. With a documentary background, my photographs are normally untouched scenarios that hopefully show how I view this fascinating world. "

Garrett Williams Photography

Open Call For Work || FIF 2013

International Photography Festival - Belo Horizonte, Brazil 2013

Open call for artists - International photo exhibition

Artists are invited to submit their original work for the main exhibition of the 1st International Photography Festival of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Submissions are free and will remain open until May 20, 2013. Applications must include a series of 5 to 8 images, artist statement, technical specifications of the work, resume and portfolio. The works will be judged by the duo of curators Eduardo de Jesus, critic, essayist, board member of the Associação Cultural Videobrasil (São Paulo/Brazil) and professor of PUC Minas (Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte/Brazil), and Patricia Azevedo, artist and professor of EBA-UFMG (School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte/Brazil). Selected works will be presented at the exhibition of the festival, to be held from July 12 to August 6, 2013, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Online submissions, terms and conditions and more information on the website www.en.fif.art.br.

Miquel Galceran || Inèrcies

Barcelona based photographer Miquel Galceran recently submitted images from his series Inèrcies. I immediately liked the subtlety of these photographs. Translating the series title from Catalan to English I discovered it means Inertia. Ah, yes. I could see it as well as feel it. I almost could have known the meaning directly from the images before learning the translation. The inertia is soft and flowing with gentle movement. I asked Miquel to follow up with some thoughts about the series...

"I started this project about 2 years ago, coinciding with my last course at the University of Barcelona. During this time, besides relating to some different authors, more theoretical aspects of photography have aroused my interest, and all these things have been affecting my way of seeing."

 Miquel Galceran,  Inèrcies

"My work has an important autobiographical component, but not documentary. I'm not interested in explaining things with photography, for me, it's a tool to develop my feelings, and overall, in this case, to transform my thoughts, so I'm moving myself around or close to the suggestive. I think the verbal language tends to structure our mind in overly specific meanings. So, I don't want to do that with images. I suppose it's a base problem, words tend to repeat the same idea, filtering and immobilizing them again and again. However, there is a narrative."

Miquel Galceran,  Inèrcies

"What Inèrcies introduces is a kind of journey through a closed space, the space of a representation. So, it introduces and represents itself, as a group of decisions that our own reality dresses up, punctually or permanently. This flattens to understand, turns it necessarily to an object. In fact, the work is very rigid in itself. Maybe because it comes from the rejection of time, therefore it rejects the possibility and the wish."

Miquel Galceran,  Inèrcies

"Deep down, all these things have been pushing me to explore metalanguage, which in photography is something like talking about the invisible from the visible. And from there, be able to start drawing things beyond. Of course, I don't want to overload the reader with responsibility  I want to play with insinuation. In that sense, one of my best biggest influences is David Jimenez."

Miquel Galceran,  Inèrcies

"I think that is where I am right now, I suppose it has arisen in a natural way. It's something more free, confident and flexible, because it assumes my own doubt and indecision. Because I want to continue discovering things, I need to delete others. At the end of the day, it's about playing with that fragment you make visible and the rest which it hides. I try to notice all those less conscious things in my day to day life. So, I suppose what pushes me to take photographs, is the eagerness to ask myself questions. But, this has nothing to do with conceptual art. I simply stay within the abstract, because it's there where all these images are born."

Miquel Galceran,  Inèrcies

To see more from Miquel Galceran...

John King || Bonavista

John King  From  Bonavista Peninsula

"The Bonavista Peninsula is on the east coast of the island of Newfoundland, surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean.  The peninsula separates Trinity Bay and Bonavista Bay and has about 30 small coastal communities. I live about 100 km. (60 miles) from the town of Bonavista and visit the peninsula fairly frequently.

My first visit was in 1995 with my wife whose family is from this area. We had been living in the Toronto area for many years and during our vacation trip to the peninsula I fell in love with the place. One sunny afternoon on that trip we hiked out to the headland past Tickle Cove and watched a huge iceberg break up off shore. It was that on day that we made a pact that when our daughter graduated high school and left home for college we would try to move here. Emily graduated in June 1999 and in July I started work at the college in nearby Clarenville. The power of will.

This is a very rugged landscape. Newfoundlanders often refer affectionately to their home province as “The Rock”.  On the Bonavista Peninsula it’s easy to see why. There is very little topsoil and lots of exposed geological formations. You rarely see a house with a basement.

Some of the oldest permanent settlements in the province were established in this area in the decades following John Cabot’s voyage of discovery in 1497. Communities were started near natural harbours where the fishing boats could shelter from the sometimes vicious North Atlantic Ocean.  Homes were simple wood structures usually built by their owners; churches and schools were constructed by community volunteers.

I see a simple but strong beauty in this area. There is a built environment but the natural landscape retains an equal voice."

-John King  March, 2013

John King  Handmade book details

John King’s images explore formal composition with themes that often include a sense of place and human presence in the landscape. His work has been presented in various group and solo exhibitions in Canada. He lives in a small town in Newfoundland Canada. John has produced a small hand bound book from the images he produced on the Bonavista Peninsula. You can see a full preview of the book and some interesting production notes on John's blog, The Occasional Word.

John King's work is included in the 2012 exhibit Self Contained.


Medicine Wheel.  (2013)

In six years of editing PHOTO/arts Magazine I have never missed more than a week or two between posts. This is the first post of 2013, so it has been almost four months since I have written anything about art or photography. My mother passed away three weeks ago after a courageous battle with brain cancer. She started significantly declining just after New Year's day and died very peacefully at home on February 22nd.

One of the things we most shared in common was a love of art, and I consider my mother to be my most significant artistic mentor. She was a daily reader of this magazine and it stings to know this is the first post that she will not read and discuss with me. We shared countless hours talking about favorite photographers and exhibits. Her influence will always be with me.

Something that helped me get through the roughest stages of her illness was to spend time painting in my studio. I found it almost impossible to write about art, but the process of working with paints was very relaxing and cathartic. The image above is "Medicine Wheel", and will become a mixed media piece involving oil paint and metal sculpture. I have found it to be a very healing source of medicine indeed.

I am slowly emerging back into the world of online arts. I have lots of catching up to do. The Self Contained exhibit book is close to completion, but needs final editing. I hope to have it ready for publication by the end of this month.