Sunday, February 27, 2011

A classical love story told uniquely...

Normally, I would like to give credit to the photographer, since it’s not the camera that’s taking the great photograph, but the genius mind of the photographer. This photograph, however, has a sad story in this sense.
Not to be misunderstood, I still appreciate the photograph I’m going to present here. And certainly, I do give credit to the photographer. The only thing is I don’t know who the photographer is. 

I saw this photograph at the Modern Museum of Art in Barcelona (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) in a limited time exhibit called “Praha, Paris, Barcelona: Photographic Modernity 1918-1948”. I was very lucky to run into this exhibit in my very little time in Barcelona to see this photograph which has had a direct impact in my vision of digital photography. Unfortunately, the little notebook in which I took notes about the photographs is at home and I have to write this post without being able to mention the photographer’s name. I apologize for this inconvenience, standing on the world wide stage of the web.

As I was walking through the gallery, this particular photograph struck me at once. The image you see is very familiar, but at the same time different, weird and a little bit disturbing. It grabs your attention instantly and starts you to think of what the artist wants you to. It is a path very well directed through the impeccable ingenuity of the photographer.

It is a silhouette of a man and a woman; however, the images cross over each other. It is a love story, obviously, possibly a sad one, as the man and the woman are looking at opposite directions, yet they are in one another. In other words, the two are essentially one. Who knows why they cannot be together; there can be a number of reasons, but the truth is that they love each other.

Lovers forced to depart is a historically cliché story. However, it is very well put in this photograph, smartly and uniquely. As much as the story itself, the way how the photographer tells it interests me. The technique used in making this photograph is a well known dark room trick where you pose two photographs on one paper. In this case, the photographer overlapped to partial silhouettes to obtain a complete silhouette, half of which is a man’s face and the other half the woman’s, looking at opposite directions.

A couple words on why this photograph represents a milestone in my photographic journey. This photograph was altered, essentially, which in the digital world of photography directly corresponds to what most of us would instantly object: Photoshop. What is done in this photograph can be done exactly the same with the digital tools of Photoshop. This made me question if Photoshop was really something to stay away from or not.

In analog photography, the images are posed on a chemical film and the films are post-processed in the darkroom. After all, digital photography is just an extension of analog photography in a world where technology takes over and anything that does not keep up with it is wiped away. Looking from this point of view, Photoshop is only an extension of the darkroom, to post-process in the computer rather than the darkroom, the images that are posed on a sensor rather than a chemical abstract.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I picked up this song

to be a background for this kind of feeling:

"When we are being compassionate, we consider another's circumstance with love rather than judgement... To be compassionate is to move into the right here, right now with an open heart consciousness and a willingness to be supportive."
— Jill Bolte Taylor* (My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey)

*Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained brain scientist who suffered a stroke in 1996 -at the age of 37- in the left hemisphere of her brain. She spoke of her experience at the 2008 TED Conference and wrote a book titled "My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey".

In this conference, she says: "But on the morning of December 10 1996 … I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the haemorrhage I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life. I essentially became an infant in a woman’s body.
We are energy beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, all we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect. We are whole. And we are beautiful.
But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am,” I become separate. I become a single solid individual separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you.
And this was the portion of my brain that I lost on the morning of my stroke.
…And I’m asking myself, “What is wrong with me, what is going on?” And in that moment, my brain chatter, my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent.
And at first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there."

full text:

Monday, February 21, 2011


Unlike many bands & singers from Canada, Elsiane is a mysterious, sophisticated and emotional output of the collaboration of two people: singer-songwriter Elsieanne Caplette & drummer Stephane Sotto.

Caplette's unusual voice tone and down-going vocal put me on the verge of a waterfall, or self-awakening, or crying, or devastation, or few steps before reaching the top of a green hill from where a totally different world can be seen on a dark, cloudy and windy day. It's like giving the last and strongest argument in a discussion in which I'm so calm because I know I'm right.

Behind, Sotto gives a smooth downtempo rythym and does it well.

Bonnington, Richard Parkes (1802-1828)
View of Rouen from St. Catherine's Hill

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The movie always ends the same...

Hiroshi Sugimoto is one of the successful contemporary photographers; born in Japan, studied in Los Angeles and started living in New York. Sugimoto’s work focuses on life and death, the transience and the conflict between the two. He differs from his colleagues mainly by the conceptual and philosophical aspects of his photographs. His exploratory nature led him to an incredible series of photographs. He recalls the time when he decided to photograph movie theaters as a semi-hallucinatory conversation with his own self.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Theaters - Regency, San Francisco (1992)
Sugimoto photographed theaters. Here is an example of his work from the Regency Theater in San Francisco. At first glimpse, the photograph is simple. A blank, white screen, empty seats… The photograph is so simple that you may even think that there is no ingenuity in it. It is just a plain picture of a theater, a classical architectural documentary.

This would be the general reaction to Sugimoto’s series. However, with some technical background in photography and with some thought, you should ask yourselves: “Why is the screen so bright?”

The answer is simple. The answer is in how Sugimoto took these photographs.

Sugimoto did not just take documentary pictures of theaters. He dressed up as a random tourist, walked into the theater as the movie started with everyone else. He sat down, set his camera on a tripod and pushed down on the shutter when the movie started. He exposed the film throughout the entire movie. And that is the reason why the screen is so bright. And that is the reason why he is so smartly genius.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Theaters - Cinema Dome, Hollywood (1993)
The way Sugimoto photographed these theaters shows his philosophically questioning side. The thinking behind these photographs, that they were taken with people in them, people that do not appear, yet keep being the main focus, are very modestly saying, fascinating.

It rushes a million questions to my mind every time I see one of Sugimoto’s photographs from this series. How can a still architectural figure represent life when people that actually lived it pass through it and do not leave a single mark behind? It does and it makes me wonder what kind of lives have flown through these images. We can only imagine what those people have done or felt throughout the movie.

Maybe there was a family with two little kids and the kids got bored of the movie. Or maybe there was a couple that argued in the middle of the movie and the woman left the theater leaving the man alone. Maybe there was a single guy, ditched by all of his friends and depressed, but still hanging on to life, enjoying his time. In the drive-thru cinema below, maybe there was an old car with a convertible top at the very back of the row in which a young lady had her very first kiss. Or maybe, there were no one. Maybe the entire movie was shown to an empty theater.

The same follows for the movie as well. Maybe it was a romantic comedy. Or maybe it was an action movie. Maybe it was horror or maybe a love story. We will never know…

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Theaters - Drive Thru Cinema, Union City (1993)
People came into the theater, watched a movie and then they left. In other words, people were born into the movie theater, they lived a movie and they were gone without leaving anything behind and by only taking their experiences with them. Regardless of which movie they came to see, the end result of the photographs are always the same. The movie always ended the same, with a bright white screen. Like a door opening to heaven…

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Womack & Womack - Teardrops

This time we are going to 1988.

Hard to notice at first: The echo effect (that you can clearly distinguish after some lines) and the soul tune of the keyboard... Altogether they make words spread connotations in my mind. Sometimes I remember of a long gone smiling face, some other time, a dinner by seaside with friends. Mostly the second one thanks to the video where sunlight and friendly ambiance is just impressive. But the feeling is the same: nostalgia.

Similarly, lyrics suggest that the woman (Linda Womack) kept crying in different tunes although she danced just to forget the sorrow. She's so sad about losing her beloved one after "she took a chance" that she reassures she'll be honest ("true") next time.

By the way, interesting: In this song, I've seen the only instrumental solo that plays only two different tunes. However, it's a good waving effect on the feelings, as they swing between happiness due to good memories and sadness of losing those memories.