all "TXT" posts
#01 : When replying to e-mail, make a conscious decision whether to include the previous exchange.
Most reply buttons you press will automatically add the body and attachments of the e-mail you are replying to to your new e-mail. As e-mail systems have gotten smarter at grouping e-mails, often displaying them as ongoing conversations, there are now however much fewer occasions warranting the inclusion of previous communication.
Of course it would be wise to include all previous communication when you are writing to an organisation where your request is being handled by multiple people, or when you are replying to an e-mail so old, its reply would risk confusing the recipient if the original words aren’t immediately available for reference.
But one thing that never needs to be returned with your e-mail is the original attachments you received. You can expect that the people whom have sent you photos, documents or songs will still have those files and don’t need another copy adding to their inbox limit. Especially when the attachments are large, the cumulative size critically adds to their bandwidth consumption and eats up the inbox limit.
So, as a rule of thumb, don’t include any previous communication, unless you believe it will make things easier for the recipient.
On Saturday, following the example of artists who’d reconstructed the Unabomber’s library, I made a tentative effort to put together a shelf of the books I’d have had at the age of 18. I suppose the idea of such reconstructions is that books also construct us — they can be the building blocks of our subsequent personality — and that by reconstructing a library we’re reconstructing a construction, and therefore suggesting that different books could have resulted in a different person.
But it isn’t just books. If I think back to the Edinburgh bedroom of the teenaged me, there are posters on the walls, too. They’re by David Hamilton, a British photographer living in France who specialises in soft-focus soft porn images of pubescent girls. Did David Hamilton’s images “construct” my adolescent sexuality? I think they very possibly did. I was a rather sheltered virgin at a boys-only school. The internet didn’t exist then, so I’d never really even seen porn. I would probably believe anything you told me about what girls, what women, “really” were.
Why did I choose to believe David Hamilton? Well, his images reflected me in female form. Like these girls, I was a teenager of slim build. Like them, I was somewhat refined and naive. Like them, I embraced a somewhat late 19th century aesthetic, a Wildean decadence. I was even, at 17, developing a bookish myopia which threw the entire world into the kind of gauzy soft focus Hamilton favoured.
I didn’t at that time know the “pagan sensuality” of Pierre Louÿs, nor had I seen David Hamilton’s film of his 1894 poetry collection Songs of Bilitis. All I had was Hamilton’s poster of a ballerina, and — I’m pretty sure — the one of the two girls at the picnic table. Despite the “decadent” label — and the fact that in a post-Polanski France, a hysterical-about-child-sexuality Britain and a puritan America these images certainly don’t read now the way they did in the 1970s — these are “innocent” images to have grown up with. If I were 17 now, I’m sure I’d be seeing much, much harder stuff.
It was in Japan, though, that I encountered the only other person to have been impressed as much by David Hamilton as I was; Kahimi Karie. The photographer-turned-singer loved Hamilton so much that she put one of his images on an early Kahimi Karie t-shirt. This t-shirt inspired me to go off and write one of my most beautiful songs, the fluid, languid composition which just bears the photographer’s name as its title:
Exemplifying the post-feminist guilt of a lot of my Kahimi material, this song gives a humourously jaundiced view of Hamilton’s work. Read the lyric and you’ll see that the tale of a modeling session is told from the point of view of one of the waif-like nymphs; “bored and slightly chilly”, she wonders why the photographer must “gild the lily” with his umbrella flash, his liquid nitrogen, his carbon snow.
Then again, the song’s narrator is happy to live in the South of France, in the lap of luxury, at Mr Hamilton’s expense, lying in bed until 3pm “with nothing on”, and grateful that “he only asks for photos in return”. In the end, she’s philosophical: “If this lazy suffering can bring erection to the lap of just one man it hasn’t been in vain”. That’s a crib from a line of Howard Devoto’s: “If one life has been saved by this photography session it has been worth it.”
I’m not sure if any photography session can save a life, but influence a life? Oh yes, photography can do that. For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, for harder or softer focus.
Via : Click Opera
Sat, 30 Oct - Today was a happy day. One of the finest reaffirming moments for me as a photographer. Usually, I am naively precious about my images. Not about what they show, but how they are read. I don’t want people to see pretty faces, a perfect portrait, see the image and run. I want them to engage with the photo, pick up on visual and contextual clues, connect the constituent elements, and lift the image out of the framing I chose for it. But you have to be careful not to force your hand as there’s only so much you can communicate with a single image. Photos, some photos, may say more than a thousand words, but nobody gets to choose which 1000 they speak.
This is true in two ways. Of course you can’t constrain people’s interpretation of your pictures, but there also isn’t a single shot for everything that needs to be said. There simply are some scenes, some emotions that we are aware of and can all relate to. And these shots alone can substitute 1000 words because even without seeing the actual image, we already know what the image is going to say. We are already carrying knowledge of the cultural and episodic context with us which will move us to feel strongly about the image, and give us the impression taht we know what it stands for. In this image it’s the familiarity of Bush’s face, the aircraft carrier setting, the knowledge of the war in Iraq, and the blunt uncompromising force of the ‘mission accompished’ banner that lends it its 1000 words.
And so it is with all images that speak to us about more than what purely can be seen. If you want your images to say something where the relation between the image and the message is less than obvious, where the idea itself is not already ingrained in collective memory and where the message is more deeply encoded in the visual cues of the image, then the odds of being read as intended are very odd indeed. That’s where the challange lies for me as a photographer: to say something new, something that doesn’t rely on mass-familirity for its emotive content. It’s an intention I don’t often get away with…
In the late hours of the Cathay Camera Club Exhibition’s opening night, two south-american Jews on business visit entered the Cultural Center. One of them, the older Sephardic Argentinian, did the talking. Like almost all whom attended, he asked for the images I had up. Next to the Chinese kid, I had an image of Hannah that I had taken while in Hawaii. Hannah is wonderfull, in that she has an astute understanding of the relation between image and perception in today’s society. But unlike most others who are as keen, she neither burnt her bra or stopped shaving, but instead plays out the cultural prejudices to her advantage: she knows how to present an image of herself that will get her closest to whatever it is she’s after. It’s not, like the cynics say, that she fakes it, instead she has perfected her ability to manipulate her physical appearance and thereby elegantly sidesteps the obstacles set up for those of lesser dedication.
But no matter how pleasant I find her interventions, for the casual onlooker they often remain a given. A constant they have come to accept as part of those as striking as Hannah. But not our Jewish friend. A psychologist by training, a diamond man by profession, he talked about the eyes, the eyelashes, and even the nose, and saw what they meant. He didn’t call them fake, he called them faux. And without knowing the title, right there he nailed it: Faux if you like it.
Using a computer to write your thesis is like attending a talk on the sex lives of frogs in a room filled with entire nations ready to engage in yours. Seriously, my thesis will be written only if I start taking notebooks and pens with me to the bog.
By artist I mean an individual professionally engaged in the pursuit of ultimate truth.
The truth is an eternally elusive beast called the Noumenon that lives in the dark heart of the island of all ideas.
The artist is an eternally hopeless and eternally hopeful hunter, believing the beast to be at his mercy despite the fact that history and reason tell him otherwise.
But therein lies a contradiction, for the proposition ‘there is no ultimate truth’ is its own refutation. It is a logical problem which has bothered mankind in many forms, yet it is also our greatest source of hope - which is why the hunter will endlessly travel to this continent in pursuit of the Noumenon.
Along the way he will acquire more-tangible souvenirs of his journey, and on his return he will sell this bounty in order to fund his next expedition to the island.