WEEK 40: Portrait: Sitting in a Chair – Either a formal sitting portrait or a re-interpretation of this classic. Photography your subject sitting in a chair.
With the lack of willing models available to me I decided to get creative with this one. At a recent visit to MoMA in New York City I was looking through the blinds in the cafeteria and into the museum’s courtyard below. I took a couple of shots focusing on the blinds and then the courtyard and have merged them, having desaturated the main subjects, to emphasize that they are outside, yet still inside the museum confines.
WEEK 42: Artistic: Minimalist – Isolate your subject using the minimalist approach. Inspire someone with your art.
Wow, I am at the last day of the year and I still have 9 photos to complete for the 52 week challenge! This really has been more difficult that I expected, especially after I lost momentum in the summer months. I started on January 7th, 2016 so I still have a week to try to do as many as possible.
This piece is called Red Room Redux as it was a color photo that I desaturated to make it look more moody.
Not taking photographs may seem an odd subject to write about on a blog that was really set up to feed my photography website but it’s something I have been thinking about for quite a long time now. I am going to leave the philosophical discussion about living life in reality, rather than through a LCD screen, to which I eluded in the entry Missing the Point back in September, and instead blather on briefly (is that possible) about the rights and wrongs of photographing in Art Galleries.
I bring this up following a recent trip to New York City (or simply “NYC” as the trendies like to call it) where we visited the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Frick Collection.
As always, I carry a camera with me and in this case it was my trusty little Panasonic DMC-LX5. It’s a few models old, but does a great job with a decent wide-angle/zoom lens and is compact enough to slip in a jacket pocket. For those that may be interested in such things I usually have it set on aperture priority and have the lens stopped full open to gather as much light as possible – there being no flash built in.
MoMA was heaving with visitors, to the point in fact where it was quite difficult to appreciate the art, and the number of people clicking away, mainly with their phones, was quite surprising. This is not necessarily a problem as MoMA is quite liberal with their photography policy, even though there are many items on loan from private collections that should not be photographed as they do not belong to MoMA. As usual, I asked the staff before taking a few shots for reference and was told of ones which I could not photograph, but most visitors did not seem to be asking. It is assumed these days that we can all photograph anything, I guess.
This overuse of photography came to a head in front of Van Gogh’s Starry Night which was surrounded by a veritable scrum of viewers adopting paparazzi-like stances with overhead snapping as if the monaural artist may himself appear briefly in the village church window depicted in work and they may miss it! It seemed quite ridiculous and I was unable to actually get in front of the painting for even a brief uninterrupted close view, which was a shame.
The other behavior that seems to be odd to me and which I have not seen before was the art-selfie, as I shall call it. I was surprised to see just how many people were obsessed with getting a photograph next to a painting or sculpture, rather than actually examining the composition or skill of the artist for a few minutes. The order of play for many guests seemed to be: stand in front of art, turn your back on it, smile (or pout), click, upload, move on.
On the other hand The Frick Collection takes the opposite approach to MoMA and only permits photographs in the garden room. No photographing in the 16 galleries is allowed. I respected their approach and, to be honest, it probably contributed in part for an improved ability to examine some of the works in much greater detail that MoMA afforded.
Now, to the point of this ramble: I was looking at reviews of The Frick Collection on TripAdvisor and I noticed that among the 400+ photographs uploaded by visitors are several images of the art pieces taken within the galleries themselves. This makes me ask a few questions such as, firstly, why are people so ignorant that they seem to think that rules don’t apply to them and, secondly, why doesn’t the Gallery or TripAdvisor police this clear breach of their policy and copyright?
As a member of a large online art community there never seems to be a day without one or more artist complaining about copyright infringement and the stealing of their images for unauthorized, uncredited and unpaid use by third parties on the web. Such conversations are usually met with vociferous defence from all quarters that “artist’s rights” or the “copyright holder’s rights” are sacrosanct and must be defended at all costs against all infringers. It can often get quite heated and complicated due to the nuances of interpreting copyright law and even the definition of “art.”
I realize that such a small sample size cannot really allow conclusions to be drawn but if the commercial outlets (and I use this term deliberately because they do make money from the display of the art) are inconsistent and fairly indifferent to enforcing their rules what are the rest of us to do?
Does this mean that, at least from the perspective of what could be regarded as “public art” the rules of copyright are no longer in play? In effect, has “mob rule,” or perhaps more appropriately, “phone rule” changed the game, and is it for good or bad? If the galleries do not pursue the infringers are they, in effect, condoning this behavior? I would be interested to hear any opinions on this below.
Every year since I have lived in the USA I have been asked the question, “what is Boxing Day?” by at least one person during the Holiday Season.
This year I thought I’d use this blog to explain.
In Britain, the day after Christmas, also known as St Stephen’s Day, is traditionally the time to extend the excesses of the previous day’s obligatory over consumption of rich food and alcohol, known collectively as “the festivities.”
Being the day after Christmas Day, and living in a society subject to the the law of supply and demand kicking in, it is also the time for the biggest sales of the year as shop keepers try to offload all those items they overstocked for Christmas gift sales that didn’t happen.
The ability to purchase products for 75% or 50% of the price you paid for them only 48 hours previously made hard working people angry and this would often result in a round of fisticuffs in the stores and brawling in the streets, leading to the creation of the term “Boxing Day” as people let of steam. This was often fueled by copious amounts of alcohol that was available at this time of year since 63% of the annual alcohol consumption in Britain occurs over the week between 5pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
So, there you have it – the true meaning of Boxing Day!
In the spirit of fairness I must point out that one conflicting theory still persists that “Boxing Day” refers to parental treatment of ungrateful children who were unhappy with not receiving worthy gifts being subject to a “cuff round the head,” or a “clip round the ear,” or having their “ears boxed,” which are all jovial references to a little seasonal parental abuse, but I don’t ascribe to this analysis.
‘Tis the season of festivities and bombardment of our in boxes and web browsers with a large amount of pointless junk that is aimed at redirecting our thoughts at best, and harvesting our data at worst.
Be careful how you use your mouse out there.
For those of you who may want a little back story as to why we call this bombardment of unwanted electronic dross spam, here’s a short explanation.
Back in 1970, the Quintessentially British comedians of Monty Python’s Flying Circus constructed a sketch whereby a hapless customer, Mrs Bun, and the waitress of the Green Midget Cafe in Bromley have an argument over the fact that everything on the menu comes with spam. Add in some singing vikings (obviously) and the rest, as they say, is comedic history.
The first spam message has been attributed to Gary Thuerk, who sent an unsolicited email to 600 people over ARPANET back in 1978. He was told he was a naughty boy and not to do it again. (How very Monty Python)
When more people started using the world wide web (or emails to start with) to send unsolicited emails for products and services that were unwanted it seemed a natural extension for those who were in control of geekdom, and who have a particular liking for Monty Python, to use the term “spam”.
In 2009 it was estimated that dealing with spam cost around US$130 billion. For context Hormel, the manufacturers of true Spam, had a revenue of US$8.2 billion in 2012
Today is the Winter Solstice, the “shortest day” and therefore the start of many rebirth legends and fables that are liberally sprinkled throughout human history, give or take a few days. Rather than reflect on the meaning of Stonehenge or myriad superstitions associated with this time of year I prefer to pay homage to one of my favorite artists of all time who was born this day, in 1940 – the late, great Frank Zappa:
~ Frank Zappa ~
On Winter’s solstice
This Mother of Invention
Brings forth Jazz from Hell!
(By Discreet Records (ebay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)