Memory, Reason, Imagination

Great conversation here discussing how the Library of Congress, the largest library on the planet, is encouraging folks to use their digital resources and data sets in innovative ways as part of a general rethinking of the cultural role of libraries today. 

I was particularly struck by Kate Zwaard’s thoughts on how the notion of ephemerality is changing in the age of Instagram, mobile, and cloud computing:

I think the other thing about the ephemerality of the material as far as the young people think about what they create. It think actually they don’t think about it as ephemeral. They actually trust the world to keep it. So they don’t think about their photos as disposable but they don’t think about storage. They’ve actually abstracted that, right? That’s someone else’s problem. And to me that’s actually very good. I think reconstructing an archive from someone’s cloud services is very possible.

Magritte the Puzzler; “Mystery of the Ordinary” Survey Exhibit at MoMA

Holland Cotter’s back-handed review which wouldn’t deter me from going if I could:

As it turns out, “Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938,” which opens at MoMA on Saturday, is good solid fun, because Magritte is solid and fun. There’s no mystery about why he’s so popular. His paint-by-numbers illustrational mode reads loud and clear from across a room — a good thing, as the exhibition galleries are sure to be jammed — and reproduces faultlessly, even on a cellphone screen.

Paolo Ventura’s Winter Stories

Paolo Ventura, Winter Stories

Paolo Ventura’s much-anticipated Winter Stories has arrived. A departure from what I am typically drawn to in photography, it is Ventura’s depiction of the details of the everyday that really wins me over. The gun metal bed frame and smoky mirror, the muddy puddles, the smudged window panes, all give his imaginary tableaux a rumpled yet vibrant lived in-ness.

The artist discusses his process here. And if you are in NYC, his work is at Hasted Hunt Kraeutler through January 23, 2010.

Terra Incognita

Rod Coover - Voyage Into The Unknown

For as long as I’ve known Rod Coover, his web-based media projects have regularly gone against the grain of convention and often, almost by definition, pushed the limits of modern browsers. With his latest publication, Voyage Into The Unknown, it seems he is still pushing those limits, as he warns on the landing page:

Voyage Into The Unknown is designed for 1024X768 or greater. If you have a small screen please go into FULL SCREEN viewing mode in your browser. You are entering a very wide landscape; if you have a smaller screen size you will need to scroll more to travel into the landscape–use all the space you can get!

Rod’s project got me thinking about how landscapes stand in for a kind of knowledge of place and one’s brief time in it–as Rod points out, we might name anew a bend in a river, but how many names may have gone prior, or after? We think of unknown territories as somehow a thing of the past in the age of Google Maps and GPS positioning and we can easily forget that today’s maps are not the territories to which they point and can only, at best, approximate (even with street-level photographic evidence).

What Makes a Great Portrait?

"Ansel Adams, Dorothy and Cole Weston at Home , Ca. 1940

Ansel Adams, Dorothy and Cole Weston at Home, Ca. 1940

With the recent arrival of my now 2 1/2 month old son, I’ve been struggling with this very question, especially a “portrait” of someone that is just figuring out who he is, at best, and who is changing so dramatically from week to week. It’s as if the metamorphosis itself is what I am trying to capture when I press the shutter. It’s really made me rethink my approach to taking pictures, and the results thus far have been more the product of sheer chance than any kind of skill. The experience has led me to appreciate portraiture all the more.

Timothy Archibald:

Trying to really pinpoint what makes a great portrait is almost like trying to figure out why it feels good when someone smiles at you or why it is disturbing when someone yells at you.

Jörg Colberg posed the question to various photographers, curators and bloggers. Their responses, including example portraits, are definitely worth a read.

(via kottke.org)

Cara Barer’s Ephemeral Evolution

Cara Barer

Houston-based Cara Barer makes striking photographs of books altered by exposure to water (via kottke.org). For me, the photographs evoke both a sense of natural beauty and transformation and also prick my hard-to-shake belief in books as sacred, immovable objects, despite all my training and evidence to the contrary.

From her site:

My photographs are primarily a documentation of a physical evolution. I have changed a common object into sculpture in a state of flux. The way we choose to research and find information is also in an evolution. I hope to raise questions about these changes, the ephemeral and fragile nature in witch[sic] we now obtain knowledge, and the future of books.

Fun Designs by Liesl

Hydrant Dog and Crabalicious
A quick plug for friend and artist, Liesl Lavery, who has just announced that her CafePress storefront is now open for business!

You can choose from a number of her unique, colorful designs and print them on just about anything, from t-shirts to tote bags to… infant creepers? So click on over and tell ‘em that Joe sent ya.

Metropolis Coffee Company

© 2011 Google

© 2011 Google

Metropolis Coffee Company is my new favorite coffehouse in Chicago. Anyone who has brought up the subject of coffee during the past year has had to listen to me go on (and on) about why Metropolis is the bee’s knees in my book.

A welcomed relief from the by now generic coffee culture cultivated and branded by Starbucks and others, Metropolis focuses on great coffee (they roast several great blends) and a relaxed eclectic scene that attracts everyone from local artists and musicians to far-flung yuppies and students alike. On any given day, you’ll overhear conversations about organic farming co-ops in the making, recent gallery openings, winning Scrabble strategies, or a hundred other everyday stories.

And now there is one more reason to make the trek up to 1029 Granville: Daniel Teafoe’s U2/3D. On exhibit through June 19, this collection of 3D photographic images gives you the rare pleasure to relive U2’s 2001 Elevation tour. What more could you ask for?