Thursday, January 29, 2009

The exploding world

This image from "Mundus subterraneus (1664/65): "Systema Ideale PYRO-PHYLACIORUM Subterraneorum, quorum montes Vulcanii, veluti spiracula quaedam existant" is by Athanasius Kircher, a 17th century German Jesuit scholar, and shows a cross section of the earth with a central fire in its core.
I've looked all over the Internet for a book of his illustrations and the few I've found are between $7000.00 and $30,000.00 from rare book dealers. However this and another one of Kircher's engravings can be bought as a print for under $50.00 from
One of the details I love in this image are the ships you can see on the bottom of the earth between the volcanoes. There is an almost mosaic like quality to this image- and the form reminds me vaguely of a mandala. I don't know why I'm so powerfully attracted to images like this with so much detail and pattern, especially since my own images tend to be almost compulsively pared down, despite my frequent efforts to include more detail.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hunting for the best nuclear explosion photos is one of those research tasks that reminds me how much fun my job can be. This image is an example of one of the many photographs that are free and in the public domain that is also available at a price from Getty and probably other agencies. The image I received from the Los Alamos National Laboratory is much better quality than the version Getty images is selling.

This photograph shows the first thermonuclear test on October 31st, 1952. The island the test device was installed on, Elugelab (code named Flora), was entirely destroyed. The resulting crater was 6240 ft across and 164 ft deep.
I had dreams when I was younger of watching the bomb go off- this was during the cold war. One in particular I remember involved me sitting on a bridge with my legs dangling over the edge watching the bomb go off.

Photo courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory Archives

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This fat little creamer has been in my studio for years, and this is the first image I like using it. Milk has been something I've photographed a lot over the years, but here I've used thread as a stand in. I think I need to find some other colors I can credibly use for background. The dark blue (looks black here) is good and very dramatic but I think it gets to be a bit of a crutch for those same reasons. Although I suppose I could make some of these images shot on the same backdrop into a series.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I keep thinking of terrible puns for this one like "need a hand with that bag"? I shot this over the weekend. It needs some refining, it would really help to have someone else's hand besides my own to shoot here- things got pretty gymnastic when I was trying to shoot with one hand and model with the other one. I like the idea of a disembodied agent, working mischief. It reminds me a bit of those looney spirit and "ectoplasm" photographs that were so popular with the Victorians.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This image was taken the week before last. I am a bit suspicious of this one because the pleasure I get from looking at it is very uncomplicated. I have to remind myself that it is OK to make images that are simply beautiful every now and again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Never mind the guy falling asleep with the toothpick in his mouth. Today I saw a young woman with no pants riding on the subway. She came into the car with friends who were pretending nothing was was out of the ordinary. She was wearing a hat, boots, black underwear (and the regular girl kind- not boy shorts), sweater, and shirt.
My first impulse was to offer her my seat. I tried not to laugh too loud. Lots of people on the subway didn't even notice, but of course many did.
It was amazing, amusing, incredible. What a miracle of audacity. When I got off the train at Union Square I saw a guy dressed in a costume entirely in plastic bags, but he looked like yesterdays news.

I've been thinking about different kinds of ways of making images lately, and today I experimented with making images using a scanner. I'm hankering after more immediate results, and experimenting with mixing mediums again. The top image above is a finished photo, the below is the "drawing"/collage that I made before shooting. The finished version here has baffled me because people rarely noticed that the "water" coming from the fawcet is actually blue paper. Was the illusion that was too successful? It always amazed me that even when looking at a giant 30x40" print people didn't notice that crucial detail. Maybe I should have just finalized the collage instead. I am going to think about doing this more, and what the final presentation would look like.

Friday, January 9, 2009

These images are by Finnish artist Tuomo Rainio. I haven't posted any work here from another another blog until now. I discovered these images initially on the "i heart photograph" blog . These images remind me of some of the "invisibility technology" images I have seen. Some of these technologies involve projections onto surfaces (like a coat) of surroundings. The more promising technologies involve nano-scale surfaces bending light..
Of course I also like them because they remind me of some of my interests in my own work..the unseen, the invisible, a layering of time and space.

Photos courtesy © Tuomo Rainio

See more of this work here:

Monday, January 5, 2009

My flight back to NYC from Santa Barbara was cancelled due to the fog you can see offshore here. I was perfectly happy to stay in California another day. As I was running on the beach on that last day, the fog was so dense that I almost ran over a giant pelican that was sitting alone on the sand looking wild and prehistoric. Got a few minutes in the studio back in Brooklyn before the light died on Sunday, shooting a kind of hot air balloon I made out of a plastic bag. Photos to follow.
It is good to be back in New York. After all, who needs sunshine, surf and sand when you can watch a guy falling asleep on the subway with a toothpick in his mouth?