Friday, April 18, 2008

Epiphyte Club

From the United States Botanic Garden, the root system of an epiphyte that I thought would look interesting. I have a widescreen laptop so I took it with those proportions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rivane Neuenschwander, three times fast

I went to DC's modern art museum this weekend, and I particularly liked a video installation by the Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. You can see a description of it here. I wonder if she (and her collaborator) had to cover the confetti in honey or something to get the ants to clean up our human mess.

There's some more of her art here and here. The latter one is quite interesting because it's owned by MoMA; MoMA's director for many years was Nelson Rockefeller, who was also the head of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs during World War II, which sent Walt Disney to Brazil on goodwill tours during the war, which led to the creation of the Ze Carioca character, which Rivane's work criticizes/satirizes/comments on.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring means capital fun

God made two things inherently beautiful, and I think I know why: flowers, to be attractive to bees, and derelict buildings in rural settings, to be attractive to looters. These are probably the easiest things to photograph in the world. The degree of difficulty is very low, though. It's very hard to do something surprising in those settings.

Thus most flower and derelict building photographs are mediocre. Nothing wrong with that: mediocre art is pretty, and pleasing for being so. But good art succeeds in showing us something in a new way, in getting us to see the familiar as something strange. That's why I'm not a good photographer yet, just a mediocre one. That's OK - I'm still thinking about how to get better. And if photography is my medium--and it has to be, since I can't draw or paint my way out of a Cubist-themed dance party--it's not going to be an easy one. "Photorealism" is inherent to the genre and to the technology, so it makes it challenging to produce something good, at least using the definitions laid out above. (Think about it: some of the best photographs you've ever seen use blurring or double-imagery or some other camera trick, pushing aside photorealism in favor of something genuinely illuminating.) Some of Nicole's best pictures, using light or lines in an unexpected way, achieve this. I'm still working on it.

But hey, it's springtime and I'm in Washington DC for two weeks of research! The bees have sprung fully formed from the ether, the cherry blossoms are falling to the ground, and open windows allow us to be irritated by our neighbors' behavior in ways that we had forgotten we could be over the long winter. Few things I like more, at such a juncture, than a walk in the woods, in this case DC's Whitehaven Parkway, near Georgetown University. The result: mediocre photographs. Sorry.

PS: There's another way to take good photographs, namely, to take them of people. Human beings are often quite interesting when frozen in time. But I don't have the social fortitude to do that. So I'll have to think of something else.

PPS: I didn't mean it about God; I meant the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

PPPS: I did try to take "good" pictures. I found these mushrooms on a log. The result is maybe mediocre+.

PPPPS: I went out twice today, and got rained on twice. It's been sunny the rest of the day. What does this mean? God didn't like my Flying Spaghetti Monster joke? But I hadn't even made it yet...but it's God...maybe he knew I'd make it.

PPPPPS: Maybe the Flying Spaghetti Monster didn't like my God reference in line 1, and that's why I got rained on.