Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Suburban Study, 2008

This was taken about forty-five minutes ago. It's the typical "red ball", smog-induced sunset I was talking about in an earlier post. Bet this is what the sunsets look like in Beijing

Every single evening.

Untitled, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rain #2, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Suburban Study, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Untitled, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Suburban Delphi (Grapevines, Sunflowers & Satellite Dish), 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thunder & Lightning (Black & Mauve), 2008

I think the weather may have finally broken. After an oppressive buildup of hazy heat & humidity, we had torrential downpours last night with violent (or in this case, violet) thunder & lightning. I could feel the concussions from the thunder resonating in my chest as if I were standing next to the speakers at a rock concert. (Canned Heat, 1969, it was some mid-sized venue on Long Island…) In fact, they were so intense that car alarms were going off all over the neighborhood. Despite all of the noise & commotion occurring directly overhead, the air at ground level was oddly still & calm ~ there was none of the high wind one usually expects with this type of summer storm. When the raindrops finally came plunging down they were perfectly vertical, like millions of watery plumb lines. I stood there on the porch looking into the deluge, searching for the photograph I suspected was somewhere in all that falling water, listening to the liquid white noise of countless raindrops striking pavement & wondered if this was in any way like the monsoon rains of southern Asia.

The beautiful wisteria-purple hue is the result of a lightning flash at the exact moment I snapped the photo, illuminating the black void of the night sky & back lighting the raindrops. Technically it's the shade known as mauve. I'm serious… You can do a match here. It's a somewhat nostalgic color that is most often associated with the last decade of the Nineteenth century, homosexuality & decadence. The sharp-tongued & famously litigious painter James McNeill Whistler (who was not a homosexual & always insisted that most of Oscar Wilde's best lines were lifted from him) said of the color:
"Mauve is just pink trying to be purple."

I say there is no harm in having aspirations.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Suburban Study, 2008

The weather has been oppressive for the past few days & I fear we are developing one of our famous inversions. See how hazy it was yesterday? That bit of orange on the right horizon is the sun just slipping out of sight. I could look directly into it without squinting. There have been some little grumbling thundershowers but not enough to clear the air.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fig, 2008

Suburban Study, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Suburban Study (Venus, unaccompanied), 2008

Sunday, July 20, 2008

East (Manipulated Moon) #2, 2008

To my western eye, this one turned out looking particularly Japanese (although not in a refined style) & surprisingly decorative. No profound Zen parables here. No wabi. No sabi.  By the way, I don't consider this image's highly decorative nature to be a negative thing; in fact I think it would make a very nice kimono pattern… Perhaps to be worn for moon viewing which always seems to enter in my thoughts at this time of the year. In fact I was drinking cold saki last night for the first time this summer so all I need to make it a re-run of last year is my copy of Sei Shonagon's Pillow Book (the Ivan Morris translation, naturally), except it is so hot here the only sections that would have any appeal for me would be the ones written in autumn & winter. One last thing about the photo (although it's been so manipulated that I'm not sure if I still want to call it a photo) The appeal for me is the way the moon visually alternates between being a positive & negative space: a solid then a void.

Well the cats have gone home & this year's temporary pet show has come to an end. Once again it's time to Hoover the cat hair & put the porcelain back out on the shelves. I must confess to spoiling them a bit this year. I happened to have a bag of frozen cooked shrimp in the freezer so I thawed a generous handful & every night they each got a couple of shrimp as an evening treat. Bobo got to the point where every time I went near the refrigerator (toward the end of the week all I had to do was go into the kitchen) he was right there, meowing for shrimp. I expect he will continue to do this once he gets home.

His owners are going to be very annoyed with me.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

East (Manipulated Moon), 2008

When this was taken, I was literally looking eastward from my attic window. Not towards Asia but in the sometimes paradoxical truth of  geography, towards Europe. However one can clearly see from the photo that I was thinking of Japan. More specifically the old Zen proverb about mistaking one's finger for the moon: giving such importance to the map that one ultimately forgets the destination, can't see the forest for the trees, lost in the details… 

Although I do not have Photoshop on my computer, I do have iPhoto which gives one an interesting assortment of image adjustment tools to tinker around with. Of course these are primarily designed to tweak & correct bad exposures, which is what (for the most part) I do with them, but if taken to the extreme one can seriously manipulate an image; almost to the point of unrecognizable. I now see how tantalizing all those Photoshop effects must be…

Naturally, like alcohol or drugs, one has to learn to cut oneself off while the buzz is still pleasant ~ in other words before things get unattractive.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Suburban Study (Full Moon & Venus), 2008

I'm amazed that the moon was actually bright enough to create lens flare.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Suburban Study (Venus & Moon), 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Suburban Sublime…

I'm not ashamed to state that last night I unconditionally surrendered to pure gluttony… I'm talking about visual gluttony here, with a small side order of transcendental. Yesterday's sunset was one of the most exquisite & breathtaking we've had in a long time & I'm not talking about one of those smog-induced, blood-red summer sunsets we usually get around here. No indeed. An offshore tropical storm sucked a large, clear Canadian air mass through the Northeast, creating atmospheric conditions that would have most certainly inspired the nineteenth century American Sublime landscape painters ~ Frederic Church, Albert Bierstadt & Sanford Gifford in particular. If one looked to the west (over a period of about 45 minutes) we went from this…

To this…

To this…

These photos do not come close to capturing the actual experience (nor does an ancient 3.5 megapixel Nikon Coolpix camera), but sometimes we have to settle for the best we can do with what we have at hand. The evening was capped off by a clear night sky with an almost full moon (full enough to cast shadows), a bright planet which may have been Venus & more stars than we usually see Back East in our severely light polluted skies. I didn't even bother to try & photograph the moon; it always looks so much smaller in photos. Sure, this all would have looked much more grand somewhere in Arcadia; perhaps the Catskills, or better yet the Rockies, but still…

One has to embrace the transcendent where one finds it. Particularly in suburbia.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Film Noir Study (after Val Lewton), 2008
See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Colder than the moon
It's been so long…
David Bowie

Friday, July 11, 2008

He's back…

Yes, Bobo is back. The Princess is here as well but the fifteen minute trip in a motorcar has left her a trembling wreck. She'll might possibly grace me with an audience later this evening. They are here for their annual week-long visit. It always strikes me as funny that when taken out of their transport satchels it's quite clear both of them can sense my apartment is someplace they have been before; they're a little upset but certainly not panicked. Perhaps a year ago is too distant in the past for their tiny kitty brains to remember with any clarity. Princess always hides for a while & honestly, I may not actually see her until I open the food can tomorrow morning. However Bobo, being a bit of the tough guy, swaggers (with a bit of well camouflaged nervousness) around the apartment taking possession of everything; claiming it all with a cheek rub. In typical macho tom cat fashion he will invariably save my cheek rub for last. I always imagine that they're having this tremendous deja vu experience; it's all strange, yet still mysteriously familiar…

They've seen this: smelled this before, but can't quite remember when.

Nature Morte #3, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nature Morte #2, 2008

If you look very closely you can see that I got my wish. There are slugs in there.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Nature Morte #1, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Raw material…

One of the nice things about working with designers is getting to hang around the design department & workroom. My mount fabrication shop is mostly filled with stock brass & various types of esoteric foam or plastic padding; nothing terribly exciting. (Except for perhaps my acetylene torch with its electric-blue flame & subdued roar.) On the other hand, across the hall in the exhibition design department there is a seemingly endless supply of interesting & thought provoking raw materials lying around. The above photo is the end of some two inch square sections of aluminium tubing that will be used to support identification labels for outdoor sculpture. The wood filler is simply there to provide something to drill into & no one will see it. The completely arbitrary choice of end grain pine (it could have just as easily been poplar) was made by the technician who fabricated them & is (I think) quite beautiful, particularly in contrast to the metal. They were just sitting there on the end of Tracy's desk. There are are so many happy accidents surrounding you ~ the unplanned & elegant…

One just has to notice them.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dionysian Study #1, 2008

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Suburban Study (Crescent Moon), 2008

Garden Study #6, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fireworks, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Untitled, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A year ago…

Early Fireworks (July 1, 9:21 PM), 2008

Well, I made it. It's been a year since the first post here & I will admit in all honesty; I never thought I'd keep it going this long. I also never imagined I'd be posting so many photographs…

I need to give a tip-of-the-hat to all my buddies who put up with this minor obsession of mine for the past year (you know who you all are, thanks for your patience & support) but there are a few particular people I'd like to thank. First George Snyder (1904), who talked me into doing this in the first place; second Francis Strand (How to learn Swedish…), who always seemed to say something nice in the comments just when I needed it & lastly Ellen in Bethesda Maryland who, according to my sitemeter, gets the gold star for best attendance. (Thank you. Just knowing that someone is showing up is sometimes all one needs…)

Oops, there's the exit music. I have to get off the stage now.