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Thinking Out Loud + Photography/Inspiring Reading

It’s late, and I’m meditating on the nature of a thread, on the twists and turns it can take…. flowing onward regardless of what has been said, meandering with thoughts and expression, as unconscious of its direction as a river… or as history, the endless chain of cause and effect… then, when anything anyone wanted to say has been said, it breaks, and dissipates to nothing abruptly…. which reminds me of a line by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “How fragile is a conversation”. The Decisive Moment, a book that changed the course of photography………….

anyone read anything that offers comparable inspiration for philosophy as well as images? Or willing to share which books have most influenced your work?

by Jenny Lynn Walker at 2005-12-04 17:01:23 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) That would be telling , United Kingdom | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Jenny,

No! Come on! Tell me where you are in the UK! I was just there a few days ago, back in the US now. . . How about Koudelka’s books? I think he goes well beyond Cartier-Bresson. He took documentary photography right to the edge of its limits. . . Sign up on the Magnum site and you can view thousands of his images. . . He’s done a lot of work to get the pictures that appear in Gypsies, Exiles, Chaos etc.

by Davin Ellicson | 04 Dec 2005 19:12 | | Report spam→
Hi Davin. Yes and No! ‘Yes’ to Koudelka’s images being breathtaking. But ‘No’ to unveiling my secret location!! On philosophy as well as for imagery, offer up a title or two?

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 04 Dec 2005 20:12 (ed. Dec 4 2005) | That would be telling, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
i would still have to say that the photo book most influential to me has been Robert Frank’s “The Americans” …. but as for a text ON photography that’s a bit harder to pick out, maybe John Szarkowski’s “Looking At Photographs” or W.G. Sebald’s beautiful and haunting novels with their meditations on photos …. Julian Barnes’s “History Of The World In 10 and a half Chapters” riffs on one painting, the wreck of the medusa …. last year read an interesting book about one single photo by Charles Moore of the civil rights struggle, called “Sons Of Mississippi” ….

by [former member] | 04 Dec 2005 21:12 | New York, New York, United States | | Report spam→
Jenny,

Books that combine both are harder to come by. Szarkowski’s text in “William Eggleston’s Guide” is pretty important as is Jean Pierre Montier’s book on Cartier-Bresson: “HCB and The Artless Art”. . . actually the whole book is on the level of a Ph.D thesis. . . Then there’s “Camera Lucida” by the late French philosopher Roland Barthes. . . there’s Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”, Janet Malcolm’s “Diana and Nikon” and more recently, Martin Parr’s “The Photobook: A History” which offers up some pretty intellectual matter. . . Oh! And there’s the Brit John Berger and his books “Ways of Seeing” and “Another Way of Telling” among others. Also, check out “Magnum Stories” too. these guys are quite philosophical. . . Phaidon’s “Photobook” is a nice read as well with its descriptions of each photographer’s work. Amazon.co.uk can help I am sure! why won’t you tell?! Best, Davin

by Davin Ellicson | 04 Dec 2005 23:12 | | Report spam→
Joan Fontcuberta’s work in general, the very good "Beso de Juda" is a great starter for theory, (not to mention that most of his photography is both visually stunning and intellectually rewarding as well as extremely funny). Then there’s Radu Stern’s destruction of the decisive instant mythology, taking Capa’s spanish soldier as an example (which is sadly unpublished, hope it’ll happen one of these days).


by [former member] | 05 Dec 2005 01:12 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
You could try Geoff Dyer’s ‘The Ongoing Moment’, which I havent read and is pretty new apparently. I read and really enjoyed his book ‘But Beautiful’ which is about jazz and contains commentary on photographs of jazz musicians, so i’ll be getting this one.

In the meantime, heres the blurb for the book:

"Seeking to identify their signature styles, Dyer looks at the ways that canonical figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Kertesz, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus and William Eggleston have photographed the same things (benches, hats, hands, and roads). In doing so, he constructs a narrative in which the same photographers – many of whom never met in their lives – constantly come into contact with each other. Great photographs change the way we see the world; the "Ongoing Moment" changes the way we look at both. It is the most ambitious example to date of a form of writing that Dyer has made his own"

As for philosophy…you could try the ‘Meditations of Marcus Aurelius’, which comes in big and pocket versions.

He was a dry old stick who oversaw the final collapse of the Roman Empire, but with a nifty turn of phrase. One of my favourites, which alludes to your observation of ahem…another twisting and turning LS thread perhaps… : ) is this one:

"In the management of your principles, take example by the pugilist, not the swordsman. For whereas one puts down his blade and has to pick it up again; the other is never without his hand, and so needs only to clench it."

by [former member] | 05 Dec 2005 06:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
h Jenny, what works for me is reading the (auto)biographies of artists that I admire, in any medium. Often my heart will respond and I will realize that words were just put to my vague feelings and thoughts, and then I will be able to have more clarity about my own direction. I don’t know the backstory on your mystery location, but here’s my guess in photo form.

http://www.retroweb.com/prisoner/port46.jpg




by [former member] | 05 Dec 2005 07:12 (ed. Dec 6 2005) | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
That was beautiful Jenny, but the mischevious little imp within me adds that threads do meander as uncsoncsiously of its direction as a river… alas, invariably downhill… (with apologies!)

Exploding into Life astonished and changed me during a newspaper internship. The gall, to publish a book that broke so many rules…

I’m not widely read, but for me the best imagery that I recall offhand comes from Conrad. Early on, I really loved an essay in Granta by John (Jean?) Berger, kind of on photography but not really, called The Zoo in Basel. Otherwise when I feel like I need to open up and feel rather than just see, I read four short pages called Hills like White Elephants by Hemingway. Gets me every time.

by Dave Yoder | 05 Dec 2005 07:12 (ed. Dec 5 2005) | Milan, Italy | | Report spam→
i travel with eduardo galeano’s “Days and Nights of Love and War.” it keeps things short and in perspective, and each short chapter stops hearts. as for photographers, “Shadow and Substance: the Life and Work of an American Photographer” is a biography of eugene w. smith by jim hughes that is sad and sobering, but includes enough of the photographers manic and beautiful writings to both inspire and destroy any romanticized myths about the man. read robert fisks’ “Pity the Nation”, his account of the war in lebanon. it is thick as hell but mind blowing, there are a million lessons for all of us in fisk’s work- staying with the story, looking behind and around the obvious, refusing the seductions of all sides in a conflict, and getting the truth on the ground, from the people it happened to or the people who made it happen. these three have kept me going in dark times.

by [former member] | 05 Dec 2005 10:12 | San Francisco, CA, United States | | Report spam→
The late great, Galen Rowell, of course. My phantom mentor. Check out "Mountain Light" or "Mountains of the Middle Kingdom".  A technical / philisophical  genious

by Jack Watson | 05 Dec 2005 11:12 | Jerusalem, Israel | | Report spam→
Daido Moriyama’s Memory of a Dog – words and pictures intertwine seamlessly to create a dark psychological narrative of Moriyama’s life with the identity crisis of postwar Japan. It’s about love, war, desperation and despair against a backdrop of a nation that doesn’t know where it comes from. Great book.

by Colin Pantall | 05 Dec 2005 12:12 | Bath, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
In a bit of a funk the past week or so, I plopped on the couch this weekend with a stack of books and Sam Abells’ ‘This Photographic Life’ was more profound than ever. To see that a guy with such a firm grasp on his vision thought about quitting photography was a powerful notion. Talk about a thin thread keeping this endeavor afloat. The quote that struck me the most was “With everywhere to choose from, where does one go? Sometimes nowhere.” The Zen is strong in him.

by [former member] | 05 Dec 2005 12:12 | New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
Here’s a few of my own favourites: Stephen Nachmanovitch. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art… Journey to the Alcarria by Camilo Jose Cela… Neruda, his 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair… Woolfe’s To the Lighthouse for the internal dialogues of the mind… and Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams for capturing the magic of a single moment….

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 06 Dec 2005 02:12 (ed. Dec 13 2005) | That would be telling, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Jenny,

You make me real curious about you, you know?! Of course I am kidding, but at the same time I wonder about your supposed seriousness about being secretive. . . Of course much can be gathered from literature on its own and then used as inspiration in one’s photography. . . Davin

by Davin Ellicson | 06 Dec 2005 02:12 | | Report spam→
I’m just playing Davin.

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 06 Dec 2005 02:12 (ed. Dec 9 2005) | That would be telling, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Bine, bine (ok, ok in Romanian), you can tell I’m starved for a woman. . . enough! Nice to converse with you! Davin

by Davin Ellicson | 06 Dec 2005 03:12 | | Report spam→
For me, there’s stories or books that create a singular otherness – a kind of living dreamscape that I’ve been told exists in some of my photographs. It’s not a deliberate attempt to create this dreamy atmosphere, more of a subconcious reaching for something, I think.

The books of Flann O’Brien, JG Ballard, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman all spring to mind. As do the movies of Terry Gilliam and David Lynch.

by Dave Walsh | 06 Dec 2005 06:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
I think we can call this The Light Stalkers “Dribble Page”, I hope you have napkins. John Patrick Naughton

by John Patrick Naughton | 06 Dec 2005 07:12 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks John. Can I take it you won’t be sharing anything you’ve read?

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 06 Dec 2005 07:12 (ed. Dec 9 2005) | That would be telling, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Oh Jenny, where ought thou, I search for thee to the depth and breath my soul can reach when feeling out of sight. A little not so light reading for you. JPN
http://www.nearbycafe.com/

by John Patrick Naughton | 06 Dec 2005 08:12 | NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Keep searching John! That’s an interesting site. Thanks.

“The Nearby Café is a quiet, relaxing cyberplace where you can engage with diverse projects and ideas in the visual arts, literature and writing, politics, food and travel, love and lust”

by Jenny Lynn Walker | 06 Dec 2005 08:12 (ed. Dec 9 2005) | That would be telling, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
When I’m back in Dublin in two weeks, I’ll probably look at my bookshelf and think ‘oh shite, forgot that’ and post a load more stuff.

The work of Harry Clarke is a big influence of mine…

And Jack B Yeats:
“The painter’s vision has not to be translated into words; if he has seen his vision clearly and if his hand is sure, he can give us his vision as it came to him, and painting can reach as high as men can reach.”
- Jack B Yeats
More »

Paintings by Yeats »

by Dave Walsh | 07 Dec 2005 06:12 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
These two reads stopped me in my tracks yesterday:

1) ’I’m Explaining a Few Things’, the poem by Pablo Neruda (extract below) which was quoted in…
2) Harold Pinter’s December 8th speech ‘Art, Truth and Politics’:

www.commondreams.org/views05/1208-28.htm



And one morning all that was burning,

one morning the bonfires

leapt out of the earth

devouring human beings

and from then on fire,

gunpowder from then on,

and from then on blood.

Bandits with planes and Moors,

bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,

bandits with black friars spattering blessings

came through the sky to kill children

and the blood of children ran through the streets

without fuss, like children’s blood.

Jackals that the jackals would despise

stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,

vipers that the vipers would abominate.

Face to face with you I have seen the blood

of Spain tower like a tide

to drown you in one wave

of pride and knives.

Treacherous
generals:
see my dead house,

look at broken Spain:

from every house burning metal flows

instead of flowers

from every socket of Spain

Spain emerges

and from every dead child a rifle with eyes

and from every crime bullets are born

which will one day find

the bull’s eye of your hearts.

And you will ask: why doesn’t his poetry

speak of dreams and leaves

and the great volcanoes of his native land.

Come and see the blood in the streets.

Come and see

the blood in the streets.

Come and see the blood

in the streets! *



by Jenny Lynn Walker | 09 Dec 2005 13:12 (ed. Dec 17 2005) | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

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Participants

Jenny Lynn Walker, Homo Sapien Jenny Lynn Walker
Homo Sapien
London , United Kingdom
Davin Ellicson, Photographer Davin Ellicson
Photographer
New York , United States
Dave Yoder, Dave Yoder
Milan , Italy
Jack Watson, Photographer Jack Watson
Photographer
Bronx, Nyc , United States
Colin Pantall, Photographer/Writer Colin Pantall
Photographer/Writer
Bath , United Kingdom
Dave Walsh, Writer, photographer Dave Walsh
Writer, photographer
(Energy and Environment)
Wexford , Ireland
John Patrick Naughton, Photographer John Patrick Naughton
Photographer
New York City , United States


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