Thursday, November 16, 2006

Amatuer Photography Marathon III: Not For Sale

For our photography field trip, we visited St. Philip's Plaza, a ritzy corner of the north part of Tucson, full of art galleries, antique shop(pe)s, and expensive restaurants. Being the contrarian than I am, I didn't photograph any merchandise. My first goal was to stay away from the premeditated, structured, commercial reality set up to impress, and tried to capture the hidden, mundane, ugly, or plain realities of the plaza that marked it as a locale on the mortal plane of existence. I changed directions after a while, but here are the photos that follow that theme.

The street out front of the plaza was heavily under construction. I like juxtaposing contrary elements--here the beautifully designed sign above mounds of broken concrete. A couple other examples:

I walked into a store, and saw these tucked away just inside an "employees only" room. I snuck in and snapped 'em. One of these things is not like the other...

All right, so this is not a very interesting photo. But it follows my juxtaposition theme, and the effect is heightened by the dark-light-dark-light effect of the sunset.

Some other distinctively "not for sale" stuff I shot:

I'm going to sell this to the Arrowhead marketing department. I'll make MILLIONS.

What? I was thirsty. Could be featured in an Arrowhead water fountain user manual.

Note I cheated on this one: I erased a blemish on my left hand. You can see artifacts from my editing. I'm still not very good with the GIMP.

Besides being one of my favorite photos, this one allowed me to put my empty cup to good use. Waste not, want not.

As you can see, my reflection is perfectly visible in the nozzle. ARGHARGHARGHAR. I wonder if I could edit myself out.

Looks more like police evidence than an artistic shot. Much of the concrete in the patios was covered in faint patterns like this. Intentional, or left over from sloppy construction workers? Guessing the latter, I shot it, and hiked up the contrast.

If you're a dog, I'm sorry.

Now I won't be too offended if you say that my work is garbage. You can say anything you like, really. I've bin insulted worse than that. And I don't even care if my work is getting a little rusty. So should I put a lid on this paragraph? Maybe I'm just wasting my time. But would couple more throw-away lines hurt that much?

Ah, such secrets as await us in the back-alleys of art galleries.

Imagine the looks I got photographing this instead of the thousand-dollar pots and sculptures with which I was surrounded. Really, do you think they would have made better photographs? But that is the postmodern nature of photography: the camera lens flattens the value of its objects--gold and dross are the same.

I might try rendering this as black and white eventually... but not the proceeding one:

Waves in a sea of clay.

NOW, as I said, I didn't just photograph junk and utilitarian objects. I still stayed away from merchandise, but it's impossible to be in a place like this and avoid everything beautiful.

Sometimes I feel it's a shame shadows are associated with the concept of an 'insubstantial copy'. The substance of a shadow is that it is cast by a light, through an object, onto a surface. A shadow has a substance, and that substance is relationality. To wit:

More pretty things...


My camera (formerly yours, Br. Thomas, if you're reading this) has no zoom lens. That means, yes, I was standing knee deep in freezing cold water. Our instructor was so amused, she snapped me in the act--I will post it if I get a copy.

Just so you know, that water was really cold.

Off of the gate entering the courtyard of St. Phillip in the Hills Episcopal Church (twice as beautiful as any Catholic Churches in the city. Those silly Episcopalians, didn't they learn anything from the iconoclastic architecture of the 70's? Art's not supposed to imitate nature!)

Note the difference between the above two artistic flowers, and fake flowers. Artistic imitation is not pretend. Imitation glorifies that which it imitates; pretend insults that whose visage it steals.

The courtyard itself. It's late in the day at this point, so my light's not very good.

One last beauty before I go to sleep.


Br. Thomas said...

WOW! Jeff, you mean you're still taking photos with the camera I gave you out of guilt after I tried to fix your camera after you dropped it at the Thanksgiving party in Leuven while taking photos of Fr. Wally carving the turkey? Cool!

If I had any money I'd help you get a camera with a zoom lens; yet, you are willing to suffer for art. Another sign of your unique identity. Now, don't cut off an ear or anything; Nicaea would forbid you from becoming a cleric.

Matt of C G said...

You hansome, blue-eyed devil, you! Getting that woman to pose for your shot. You see, human beings are what interest me. Our depth, our complexity, the elegant simplicity of our motivations as they are brought from thought into action amidst the vicissitudes of daily life. I would've very much liked to have seen pictures of your classmates taking pictures of all those tawdry baubles along with the ones you posted here. This way, your point would be driven home much more effectively.

Both you and Brother Thomas got mad jokes today, yo.

You guys should've typed: -insert rimshot here- in their respective places.

Matt of C G said...

--next to last shot--
framed in with the vines like the final scenes of the movie The Cell.

--last shot--
your playing with intersecting angles aren't you?

Matt of C G said...

You almost got the halo over that woman's head.