Category Archives: Art

Back where I started

Sometimes you can travel thousands of miles just to get back to where you started. It doesn’t matter how many life-changing moments you have, when you return to your home and your lifestyle, it’s easy to put all those experiences away just as you unpack your suitcase. Once you’re unpacked you find yourself picturing what new furniture you’ll arrange on your patio, or obsessing over the order of your closet.

Looking Back

This is from my very first roll! It’s Fuji Acros 100, and this is the only image that exposed properly and doesn’t have light leaks that warrant pampers for Holgas. I’m looking back at the road we’d just traveled, still in North Carolina. This image is particularly meaningful to me right now because of a very important lesson we learned on the road. You see, we started bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, eager and beaverish.

Mary, at the start

We were of the mindset that we would capture everything we encountered, and if we could not capture it the first time around, we’d go ahead and turn the car around because “that might just be the Pulitzer prize-winning image and I’m pretty sure I just double-exposed it with an image of a piece of gum on the ground, and I really wanted to shoot it with my other camera anyway.” This lasted a few days before we made an agreement that, more than capturing every instance that may lend itself to a great picture, this was a trip about looking forward. We would refuse to look back. We had to keep moving and keep looking ahead to find what’s just up ahead. You might call this a “pillar of salt” syndrome. You might also call it a Pocahontas “just around the river-bend” complex. At any rate, we would either get the picture, or we would not. It was terrifying and thrilling, and I’m appalled to see how backwards-facing I was to take the image of the road already traveled.

But here I am, forced to look back.

I guess I would have turned into a pillar of salt from looking at all my negatives and scanning them in one-by-one, but I’m going on a brand new journey this time. It has the same cast of characters and the same sets, but it’s an all new adventure. Many moments have been lost forever (like the image of a waterfall below that was ruined by having film wound too loosely) but I’m finding that my camera has often found what my eye did not. This requires a new lesson, post-roadtrip. Don’t look back, but take what you have seen and done and learned, and experience it all again with fresh eyes. I’m trying to integrate the places where I have been, into the life that I’m now living. So, I’m back where I started: preparing to take a road trip.

Waterfall, ruined film

-V

PS. My dog just farted audibly. I don’t think the universe takes my life seriously.


Work at Home? Don’t be Oxymoronic

104 degrees today. WHEW is that HOT! I know most of the country is going through a heat wave, so I’m not alone. It makes me thankful that I’m able to sit inside and enjoy AC, because I know that there are many people and animals who aren’t able to.

It’s been almost two weeks since we’ve been back home and I’m just thinking, “shit, where did all the time go?” I had it all figured out, as I usually do.

I was going to get home, and then treat everyday like a work day. Wake up at 8am, scan and develop photos, start putting the book together, research about grants and artistic opportunities, edit videos,  and then finish the day at 4 or 5pm.

And I haven’t followed any of the plan above, as I usually do.

I have worked since I’ve been back; scanning and editing, developing the last rolls. And I have even started to think about the book. But it’s just not at the pace I should be. Reminds me that I am no longer on the road where such cares and worries were so far away. I’m back in the present and needing a massive fire lit under my ass. (The thought of working at a minimum wage job in the mall if I don’t succeed in making this book is a start.) But apparently I need more.

Because sleeping in is so wonderful.

No one rocks Hollywood like we do. This is how I like to work. Unfiltered and uncensored.

I have never, and will never be able to understand how people work from home. When I meet someone who says they do, I have to ask how they get it done. Really. How do you people do it? When I sit down to work, its usually much later than I wanted because I don’t have to rush to get to an office and I don’t have an overbearing boss who will scold me if I’m late. I’m my own boss and I’m usually pretty forgiving of myself, especially if I give me a mocha. Then when I finally actually start to work, I suddenly think of a million things that need to get done at that very moment. The laundry, which has sat in a pile in the hall for days, suddenly has to be washed. And the collection of shoes in my closet dating back to when I still wore braces should be gone through and organized. My car needs to be vacuumed, or else it might start up and drive away.

This is what goes through my head and consequently, I don’t get shit done. How do you people do it? Is there a pill or mantra or little leprechaun or pokes you with a stick every time you deter from your work?? At this rate, I’m going to have to duct tape myself to my chair and have a feeding tube inserted into my arm.

I welcome any suggestions as how to focus my energy.

But if you’ll excuse me, there is a special on E! about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce and a box of chocolate chip cookies that are calling my name.

-M

Coffee and a waterfall? Not a bad way to wake up in Texas. Taken with a 35mm camera using Kodak Gold 100 speed film.


Goodbye San Francisco

We’ve been staying here with Mary’s cousin for about a week in El Cerrito. We planned this week so we could catch up, check out the Bay Area at our own pace, and get some well-deserved R&R (often in the form of trash TV). It’s been our home. But, at last the road is calling us away, so we will be heading off to Nevada in the very early morning. Ironically, I feel more behind than ever because I’ve picked up 23 rolls of color and I’ve scarcely had time to scan a fraction of what I had already.

Kerouac’s scroll is true to one aspect of living on the road. It doesn’t stop. You can slow down, but you can’t stop. I have a copy of “The Original Scroll” edition of On The Road, and I can speak to it’s honesty of omitting paragraphs and trucking through the story without pause. The way you read it, you look desperately for the next period and try to place your bookmark in it so you can close the book and rest, but you always end up reading a bit too far, or stopping mid-sentence, or losing your place when you pick up again. I’m doing this now, trying desperately to scan in one more roll of film, packing up so it won’t be too hard to leave, looking out the window at the city beneath us and the red lights of the Golden Gate bridge in the distance. I’m lost. Tomorrow it’s back to fighting off bugs, showering with scorpions, and stopping at gas stations for sustenance.

San Francisco is pretty fantastic. The hills are atrocious; they’re so steep that there are stairs in the sidewalk. The weather is so unpredictable that you must dress for summer and winter at once, because it’s freezing in the shade and unbearably hot in the sun. You will sweat and shiver in the course of walking down one city block, no drugs required. But you can’t beat the home of hippies and beatniks. Maybe it’s just my own projection, but I think the pavements reek of defiance. It’s where protestors go to make love and not war. It’s just, cool. It’s cool in every sense of the word.
Okay, so this isn't in Cali, but give me a break. It's symbolic, or some shit like that.

That said, I’m ready to leave the (gorgeous) fog behind and find some sunshine. Goodbye California, I’ll be back again soon.

-V


Nine Days Left

We have nine days left on our Kickstarter project. There is no doubt in my mind that we will make it. Trust in the universe. Its a lesson that I sometimes have trouble following but always holds true. Trust in the universe, surrender to it, and you will always be taken care of.

For those of you who are new to the blog, or for others who are passing through and ask, “why should I care about this project?” here’s the answer I give to you:

Our mission is to capture the raw and unfiltered aspect and landscapes of America that might be gone in the future. The focus will be on forgotten towns and abandoned lifestyles. The photographs taken will be documented, collected, and preserved in a book.
Please help us achieve this mission by being part of our team and supporting us anyway you can. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of a legacy that will last for generations and generations. The book we publish be will be something that your children will be proud of and remember you by. You helped to create it.

All contributions will be acknowledged in our book.

Please go to www.kickstarter.com to make a donation.

We will receive your donations when our goal of $5,000 is met by April 20th, 2012. Otherwise, this project will not be accomplished.

Please help our “mission impossible” start on May 8th, 2012.

Thank you for your contributions and for being part of our team

-KodakKerouacs


Thursday, already?!

I can’t believe it’s been a whole week, but LAST Thursday I went to a lecture that pretty much changed my life. It was a presentation by Camille Seaman , who is this really amazing photographer who likes to take pretty pictures of icebergs and storm clouds. TAKE THAT all you professors (who may or may not have been sitting with me during the event…) who said “pretty pictures” don’t make art! HA. Part of her artist statement was that she was motivated to become a photographer due to the aftermath of 9/11, all the news stories of the horror and war happening across the globe. She wanted to “do something” that would make a difference, and all she felt she had a talent for was taking “pretty pictures” to make people feel peaceful.

I have to say, her images are not merely pretty pictures of icebergs and polar scenes. They have a style and execution that invokes tranquility. They are truly magical, and I risk selling her short to simply call them “pretty.” Seeing her work, and hearing descriptions of her work might have been enough to get me really jazzed, but the stories behind the images put it over the top for me. She uses film. She also uses digital cameras, but some of her most haunting images were those taken with 120 panoramic cameras that she operated in -30 degree weather! There is an image of an iceberg that stands out in my mind, you will see it at 1 minute and 47 second in the Ted video from the link up above, where the captain of the ship actually turned around and swept by the iceberg again, because he’d seen her struggling on deck to change her roll of film, and missed her shot the first time. She knows what she is out to capture, she never shoots on pretty days with blue skys and puffy white clouds. She likes the stormy atmosphere. She allows the ice to glow on its own in a dark sea. I suppose it’s similar to Cartier-Bresson’s “moment” but in relation to landscape photography.

What struck me most about her stories, was her zeal for adventure. She could manage her fear well enough to step out onto an ice bridge, and walk up to the cliff of an ice shelf. She would sneak out on deck of the icebreaker ships she rode and take pictures during storms and blizzards. She travels back and forth from the north and south pole to do what she does, and visit places where so many explorers had died long ago. Now she photographs with a storm chaser, and rides in an SUV at unheard of speeds to take her, still zen-like, photographs of clouds and tornadoes and the landscape before destruction hits. I am so jealous of her lifestyle. I can’t wait to travel and take pictures and have the adventure to tell about.

She gave us some advice. She told us to walk. She said that was the natural pace to take in all of our surroundings. I guess I have to buy some walking shoes and start practicing.

-V


Confessions of a hermit.

Thank GOD I did not have to assist this week at the studio. If I were waking up at 6:30 AM then I would not have been able to stay up until 4:30 AM on Monday, compressing and re-compressing that damn video that I am fucking proud of. It just about killed me. The stress of making everything work flawlessly, mostly on schedule, and without any major arguments was enough to make me sick. Getting sick might have something to do with my coffee/grapefruit juice/champagne diet, but I’m pretty sure it was the stress. I am alive, and writing to you now, but I just want you to know, that I was ill-prepared for what it would do to me. I feel like I’m back in college again.

That said, I have spent the past few days relishing the luxury of not doing anything and not paying the consequences. Which only resulted in my obsession with the wreaths hanging on the doors of my neighbors. No offense, neighbors, but they lack imagination.
wreath collage

Here is a quick capture of the wreaths at fault. We have everything from the wreath that’s been up since last fall, the wreath that’s plausibly been up since the Christmas before last, and the people who want it to snow on the fourth of July. I’m not entirely sure what’s up with the moss heart requesting “peace.” Is this from Christmas? Are they hippies? I can understand if they’re hippies, but it’s just a little Hallmark. The hideous-angel-wreath-people left their door open, so I had to sneak a shot of it behind a bush. It’s small, but you can smell the ugly. My least favorite wreath is also the newest one of the bunch. It’s directly across the lawn from my apartment, and I have this paranoia that’s it’s smiling happily at me just to make me feel inferior about my wreath-less door. It’s also pointing the finger at all the front-door faux-pas happening in the complex; it sits there and says “Hey guys, don’t you know it’s springtime?” I want to rip the stupid yellow thing down. The worst part is that they are also planting pansies around their front step and two days ago they set out this ENORMOUS Japanese maple IN A BIG-ASS POT. You just know they’re going to take that thing with them when they move into their perfect, precious, suburban, new-construction home. I have the same irrational hate for them as I have for Kelly Ripa. How can that woman be so, fucking perky all the damn time?

I understand that I need to take a major chill pill, stop hating on suburbia (since I kinda live there now), and grow up. I understand, and I plan to grow up when I get all the foolish and rash impulses out of my system.

My plan of attack is to make a wreath for my door. At first I wanted to make one out of broken vinyl records, then I remembered this clothespin wreath I saw to hold tea bags and thought that would be controversial if I replaced the teabags with condoms. I would maybe add an uncomfortable little sign that said “No sex is safe sex, but if you’re going to do it, take a condom.” Maybe it could say something about love being in the air. Or maybe the back of every condom could have a Bible verse condemning either sex before marriage or contraception. Then I could enjoy the faces of displeased neighbors all day long from my window. Would you take it? Man, what a great piece of angsty installation art that would be. Now, this idea would upset my roommate, parents, and probably cost more than the satisfaction it would give me to be the neighborhood assholes, so I’ve discarded it. I could do the same with polaroids, but I thought I might throw this idea out to our readers and ask for some creative, yet somewhat appropriate ideas and opinions. I’m making a wreath.

-V


Lets 86 this 85%

Its been 4 days and we are already funded 15%. Wow. I believe I can speak for Valerie as well, when I say I can’t tell you how incredibly grateful and appreciative we are. We love the support we are getting from friends and family, as well as from “fellow passengers on the journey of life” to quote Valerie.
I don’t think she minds me speaking for her. I’ve spoken on her behalf many times, although in most cases it was rude or offensive things.

Only 85% to go. Lets do it!

In all the excitement I’ve completely missed the fact that we’ve reach 100 blog followers. No, wait…MORE than that. 103 followers! Thanks everyone! Again, we really appreciate your support. We can’t WAIT to get on the road and start photographing!

I spend last weekend in San Francisco walking around. I should have those photos up by Saturday…afternoon. I’ve been working on all the Kickstarter stuff in lieu of sleeping for the past two weeks. Which is great, totally jazzed about the response. But I’m looking forward to sleeping in Saturday and bestowing a painful death upon anyone who would wish to disrupt me.

This is how we felt while working on our Kickstarter campaign, running on no sleep

This is what we looked like when our video didn't work.

This is how we felt after we launched Kickstarter

-M


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