Five Cool Things :: August 5, 2012

This weeks brew: A touch of nostalgia. And la, la, la, la, la.

A lot was made of Robert Frank’s The Americans. But his artist statement for the Guggenheim that made that book possible is something, too. Nico’s classic 60’s take on Jackson Browne’s tender-hearted teen lament. What is InstaCRT? Hip new photo app. Instagram goes to Syria and Amy waxes on AbEx. Will post my recent radio interview when it becomes available. Pema Chodron asked me to tell you. “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”


1. Shooter, Writer, Beat Poet | Robert Frank’s Artist Statement

detroit river rouge plant – photo by robert frank

From U.S. Camera Annual, p. 115, 1958 (Statement written by photographer Robert Frank, to the Guggehneim Foundation.)

“One is embarrassed to want so much for oneself. But, how else are you going to justify your failure and your effort?”

– Robert Frank quoting Malraux. ‘To transform destiny into awareness.’

With these photographs, I have attempted to show a cross-section of the American population. My effort was to express it simply and without confusion. The view is personal and, therefore, various facets of American life and society have been ignored. The photographs were taken during 1955 and 1956; for the most part in large cities such as Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and in many other places during my Journey across the country. My book, containing these photographs, will be published in Paris by Robert Delpire, 1958.

I have been frequently accused of deliberately twisting subject matter to my point of view. Above all, I know that life for a photographer cannot be a matter of indifference. Opinion often consists of a kind of criticism. But criticism can come out of love. It is important to see what is invisible to others—perhaps the look of hope or the look of sadness. Also, it is always the instantaneous reaction to oneself that produces a photograph.

My photographs are not planned or composed in advance and I do not anticipate that the on-looker will share my viewpoint. However, I feel that if my photograph leaves an image on his mind—something has been accomplished.

the americans

It is a different state of affairs for me to be working on assignment for a magazine. It suggests to me the feeling of a hack writer or a commercial illustrator. Since I sense that my ideas, my mind and my eye are not creating the picture but that the editors’ minds and eyes will finally determine which of my pictures will be reproduced to suit the magazines’ purposes.

I have a genuine distrust and “mefiance” toward all group activities. Mass production of uninspired photojournalism and photography without thought becomes anonymous merchandise. The air becomes infected with the “smell” of photography. If the photographer wants to be an artist, his thoughts cannot be developed overnight at the corner drugstore.

I am not a pessimist, but looking at a contemporary picture magazine makes it difficult for me to speak about the advancement of photography, since photography today is accepted without question, and is also presumed to be understood by all—even children. I feel that only the integrity of the individual photographer can raise its level.

The work of two contemporary photographers, Bill Brandt of England and the American, Walker Evans, have influenced me. When I first looked at Walker Evans’ photographs, I thought of something Malraux wrote: “To transform destiny into awareness.” One is embarrassed to want so much for oneself. But, how else are you going to justify your failure and your effort?” Let’s flip through The Americans together.


2. “I have not forgotten them” | Nico, These Days

So many covers of this beautiful song. None as gorgeous as this one. There’s a Wes Anderson soundtrack (The Royal Tannenbaums), a KMart commercial, Andy Warhol got his mitts on it, Greg Allman and on it goes.  By Jackson Browne — at a tender sixteen. Read more>>


3. iPhone Photo App | InstaCRT

instaCRT :: picture taking goodness

king street station, seattle, richard pelletier :: via InstaCRT

Cool new app that is essential for any serious iPhone shooter. You owe it to yourself to take a peek at how this analog-ish app works. You can do that here>>


4. Revolutionary App | Instagram on the Front Lines

syrian war captured via instagram

Instagram is a wildly popular photo app (unfortunately now owned by Facebook) that allows for social sharing and a way to “filter” images to create different looks and whatnot. As the Syrian war rages on, Syrians are taking to Instagram to document the hell that is raining down on them. More images here>>

This is the hashtag for this boys image: “#syrian #revolution #freedom #child #childhood #syria #Assad #killer #bombing #killed #guns #mortar #rocket #homs #hama #idlib #aleppo #dara #damascus #shaam #Suriye”


5. Amy Sillman | Painter, Writer

amy sillman

Such an abundance of talent. From a piece Amy wrote called AbEx and Disco Balls, In Defense of Abstract Expressionism II:

“I feel kind of bad for AB-EX. At sixty-something, the old bird’s gotten the gimlet eye from just about everybody: It’s vulgar, it’s the phallocracy, it’s nothing but an empty trophy, it celebrates bourgeois subjectivity, it’s a cold-war CIA front, and, well, basically, expression’s really embarrassing. A dandy wouldn’t be caught dead doing something as earnest as struggling, or channeling jazz with his arms.”

“So I don’t find it odd that AbEx practices have not been vitally reinvigorated by a queered connection of the vulgar and the camp. Many artists — not the least of them women and queers — are currently recomplicating the terrain of gestural, messy, physical, chromatic, embodied, handmade practices.”

Take in more of Amy here>>

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