At what point do you stop asking the question why?

I thought on my way to work:

When a perception I have is put into words it is my responsibility to analyze my inner dialogue and hold it up against what else I know before I voice it . However, I am a biological creature and do not have a view of everything and can only know what my limited view has shown me. I embrace this attitude of humility because although I have given much time and thought to the question – why our world is, like it is, I cannot presume to know, without deeper questioning the extent of another experience. Or the extent of the ancestral histories that add weight to the experience. I see a lot of deeper histories left out of dialogues, often in order to add gravity to a particular experience. So with that in mind I think the real solution is not to control the narrative by powerful policy but to share on a big scale a searching and open dialogue. It is easy to find reasons to discount another voice, it is much harder to find love and allow another to explore the depth of their experience. Real, honest thoughts are fragile, tenuous and easily destroyed, and destroying a heart causes anger and frustration in that heart. Some say anger and hate is inevitable because we are emotional creatures, but how do we choose what perception gets all the emotional passion? It is part of responsibility to take a deeper look at what is hurting a fellow man, not searching for reasons to hate and create emotions too hard to quench with love.

In the age of internet media.

Rhizome has supported innovation and artistic exploration on the internet for about 13 years. Founded in 1996 as only an email list subscribed to by some of the first online artists, Rhizome created a space for artists working in emerging technologies to exhibit work, critique and define this new media and archive the work which is quite ephemeral as dot com time limits can expire.

Rhizome is a non profit and this month are holding a benefit: Rhizome 2009 Benefit There are still many spaces left on the $50,000 web page. Buy a pixel or a ticket to the event which will include works by innovative artists.

Mission

Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology. Through open platforms for exchange and collaboration, our website serves to encourage and expand the communities around these practices. Our programs, many of which happen online, include commissions, exhibitions, events, discussion, archives and portfolios. We support artists working at the furthest reaches of technological experimentation as well as those responding to the broader aesthetic and political implications of new tools and media. Our organizational voice draws attention to artists, their work, their perspectives and the complex interrelationships between technology, art and culture.

Rhizome is located in the New Museum.

the new museum

Myth and Modern Culture

Darren Mahuron is a photographer in demand. He and his wife Lisa work in Fort Collins, Colorado creating commissions and artworks that are highly imaginative and metaphorical. Darren’s friends describe him as a passionate artist who is unpretentious, unstoppable and a natural at visualizing his imagination. I first saw his work when Gabriella Louise showed me the photograph he had done to promote her as a musician.

This piece (below) MEDEA 3 illustrates an interestingly modern interpretation of an ancient greek myth, the tragedy of Medea.

medea-3

Darren lent me his ear and answered a couple of questions about what inspires him and a little about how he achieves the beautiful textures and colors within his photos. The Mahuron’s work can be seen at the online gallery, Darren Mahuron: Photographer.

Sounds like you’ve been a visual storyteller for some time now… what is it about our world that inspires you to create?

I am inspired by many things; Music, Literature, Film, People, Places, Relationships. I love to travel, I enjoy conversation, most often topics that go well below the surface. I am passionate about life and death. I rarely look at other photographers work so as to not be influenced.

Looking at your web gallery I see a lot of metaphor in your work. Can you talk about the inspiration for this kind of storytelling?

Many of my ideas come from listening to music or reading. I love pre-christian history, Greek Mythology and politics, they all play a part in my storytelling I suppose. I typically have the idea as a visual first and then begin to understand it’s meaning later or sometimes never. Some of the ideas in my work have also come from my wife Lisa or the subject or as a collaboration.

In discovering digital photography what struck you first about the medium?

I really discovered Photoshop first. It was very intuitive for me. Digital photography was a tool to get a file into Photoshop to mess around with. That’s how it started for me. I like photography more now that I understand it better, but I still consider myself more of a digital painter than a photographer.

In your photographs, the first thing I sense is your grit and texture, it seems that you use high contrast lighting to start achieving this effect. Can you talk a little bit about why you frequently choose this pallet?

I try and create a consistent world that is dirty, or gritty, a little edgy maybe as a way to communicate my ideas. Not sure why I started down this road, it just resonates with me.

One distinction in your photographs are the shadows and rich colors, it seems that you shoot above the ambient with the strobes… or do you achieve the depth in post?

I’m not completely sure what “above the ambient” means actually.  I’m self taught, and I just do what I think looks right. One way I’ve learned to improve on my contrasty look is to shoot with brighter lights. This saves me time in post. It also allows me to shoot at say F22 rather than F2.8 which gives me a larger depth of field and more detail to work with later in Photoshop.

As far as advertising, I really enjoy the Exist campaign. The photographs illustrate the fears we see in our minds as we are driving around the city, and also the fears of biking around the city.  To create events like those must require a bit of pre-production, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of photographer or do you plan ahead meticulously?

I’m a pretty meticulous planner. I always have the shot in my head before going on location. I typically know how I’m going to light it as well. I sometimes will also loosely draw the image so that I know the composition will work.
I definitely try and allow for some spontaneity while on location, but that typically has more to do with allowing the model freedom inside the controlled set and lighting.

I tried to learn from your techniques in this photo of my husband Brooks could you give me a critique? He wanted all of his freckles to show and we were trying to recreate something similar in detail and texture as this cover of Wired Magazine because it is so the opposite of airbrushed perfection.

wired

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Sure. By comparing the photos the number one issue keeping you from getting the look that I think you are going for is the lighting. I think you’ve done some interesting things in post, but without strategically placed, high contrast lighting, it will end up a little flat.

If you were starting over again, what flash/strobe would you start with?

I started with Alien Bees actually because they were the least expensive lights that were still getting positive reviews. I still use them.

If there is anything you would like to say other artists please do.

People often ask me about short-cuts. I don’t really know of any. I spend 4-12 hours on each image. Also, the best way to get better is to try and shoot or photoshop ever single day. I think work ethic is more important than just about anything else art related. If you want to make a living doing photography or art, it’s simple, just work longer and harder than your competition.

Understanding our physical world.

First it was Schrodinger starting with one proton, then Maxwell with his light equations, then Time Dilation from Lorentz Transformation – Timespace and then finally Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – our recognition of free will. CHOICE – choose a particle or a wave, but not both.

What of the universe will they uncover next?

Coraline artist panel at Nucleus.

Gallery Nucleus has recently hosted a Coraline Production Artist PanelSteve Lambe has posted most of the event which Sean Szeles recored during the talk. The talks are also viewable on YouTube.

MEET some of the PRODUCTION ARTISTS that worked on the movie as they drop by to discuss their contributions to the film, along with the production and artistic process for this highly anticipated visual masterpiece.

Nucleus, located in California, hosts many emerging artists, illustrators, animators and interactive work.

coraline talks at nucleus

Coraline was done in stop frame animation, all of the finish work and pre-production that went into it though are enormous contributions and art in their own right. The original story was created by a favorite of mine, Neil Gaiman, directed by Henry Selik renound for many films such as the “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Social media for disease control.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has taken the social media model and in doing so has made it so much easier to find current information on product recalls to infection outbrakes.  The recent peanut butter recall is highlighted here. The blogs that keep outbreak news updated, the webinars to allow bloggers to stay up to date on outbreaks and recalls and to ask questions of FDA and CDC subject matter experts, the searchable databases where information on products can be found and much more are available to anyone with access to a computer.

This kind of information is pertinent in our fast paced, multifarious world.

Super Bowl Ad.

Ahhh, the beautiful and plentiful broadcast time put aside for advertising during the Super Bowl.  This year my absolute fave was the ‘Heist‘ done by Psyop and Weiden + Kennedy Portland. The little tricksters are brilliant in the use of illusion and subtlety! Full list of Credits. The sweet crane shot at the beginning is just perfect for setting up the scene to be somewhere between dream and reality.

butterlies as coca cola

Inspiration from Antony.

AntonyAntony’s voice can knock your socks off. His voice embodies beauty, love, and compassion, perfect tune and depth of passion. If you haven’t heard his rendition of Leonard Cohen’s song, “If it be your Will” you must, it is truly amazing. He has offered words of inspiration to people singing their hearts out in Paste‘s latest issue. Vocal Tips. I believe his words apply for any artist working to realize a vision or expression. Words of wisdom.

You’re taking a risk, but you’re challenging yourself to be more vulnerable or to put yourself out there. In that vulnerability is great strength.

Competition.

From the Crane website.

The Competition:

TheCrane.tv, Discovery Campus and reelisor.com are hosting a film competition for creative talents from all over the world in the categories: Culture, Art&Design, Lifestyle, Fashion, Ideas, Travel and “Green”. We reward creativity and encourage you to offer fresh, insider perspectives into your topic of choice. We would like to feel inspired and enriched by your contribution.

Launch: 18th November 2008 at the International Film School Festival, Munich.
Deadline: 28th February 2009 Films: There are no boundaries to your creativity. The short films can be fiction, non-fiction or animated.
Specifications: Between 1 and 5 minutes long, preferably in English (or subtitled) and all standard file formats
Submissions: Electronically via the upload portal on www.thecrane.tv Here you can also register your email address to receive the latest news on the competition.

The winning films will be selected by our accomplished jury and announced at the international launch of TheCrane.tv in February 2009. The rewards for Laureates include cash, equipment and TV broadcast. All entries will be available for viewing on www.thecrane.tv when the competition is over.

Martian sunset.

Sunset over Gusev Crater, Mars.  This photo was taken by the Spirit Rover on May 19th, 2005 and posted on the NASA astronomy picture of the day website.

martian sunset

As long as we are on the subject of Mars, scientists using spectroscopy readings from telescopes in Hawaii have tracked changes in the composition of Mars’ atmospere over time and found releases of methane into the atmosphere. A very interesting read on Arstechnica, Mars Makes Methane: Sign of life or geology at work?

Ajax Starglider & Future Shock.

freedom camaroon

Bozeman right now is harboring a super talented man named Ajax Starglider, he hails from the sunny west coast and brings with him experience and talent appreciated by the youthful, the artistic, the musical and all the ones who dien to give more to the world than the average stories.  I mean he packs a hip hop punch. Ajax’s beats and sounds, his harmonies can be found here. His band Future Shock recently created the space in their lives to travel to Cameroon and perform and get to know some of the people. I have heard whispered tales of a documentary recorded during the adventure, something that I look forward to seeing next year. Ajax was kind and answered a couple questions to quench my curiosity about what they were up to in Africa. He is open to more questions if they are voiced.

First off can you talk a little about the inspiration that ignited this prolific exploration of music and story that is Future Shock?

Future Shock was born out of our hearts to express intelligent concepts that would relate to people and help them examine ones existence, and at the same time we hoped to encourage people to be themselves.

So you hail from the sunny lands of San Diego, and you and your family moved here, to Bozeman, a little under a year ago, do you think you can get Future Shock up here to play for us someday?

Yeah, maybe, we’ll see. I would just be happy if i could get some of those fools to visit.

Is there something in your musical inspiration that made you chose to go perform in Israel, in Cameroon?

I think there is something about music that transcends language, even in a music genre like hip hop that is so centered around its use of language. When we were in Cameroon, Africa at a radio station, they loved our music. The DJ at a radio station said “Even if we don’t understand your words, the flow of your lyrics penetrates our heart.” Also, I think in America we take for granted a lot of things and often lose our understanding of how good music is medicine to the soul. We are so inundated with choices that we often overlook the right ones and get lost in mediocrity.

What places did you perform while you were in Cameroon during this latest trip?

We performed in and out of their main city of Douala which is like their L.A. to California. We performed live on TV several times, several different radio interviews, clubs and several different concert venues throughout our 3 week trip. It was a crazy schedule. We were lucky to get a few hours sleep every night.

What were the connections with the audiences like?

The audience received us very well. I often felt more understood by these so-called foreigners then I have performing in the states.

You mentioned to me that people were interested in recording their music, what caught your ears and your eyes?

It seems that music is more of a real expression of ones identity there. For example we traveled to the pygmy tribes and delivered medicine to those in need and when they were done, it started pouring rain in the wilderness. The sounds of raindrops hit hard on the tin roof of the little building that we set up shop in. We were stuck until the rain stopped and it became pitch dark. A lot of us were worried if we would get stuck out there because it started flooding. Someone picked up a conga and people started singing and dancing with pure joy reflecting on the day. Amidst the dark all you could hear was this conga drum beating and people singing and dancing with strength. Every once in a while lightning would flash and I would get a brief glimpse of how circumstance was just oblivious to them. They were lost and found in the music. It made me almost jealous.

That is all for now, hopefully we’ll hear more from Ajax and Future Shock soon. Check out Fisheye Paradigm from Future Shock you wouldn’t feel disappointed.

Journalist, photographer.

Sebastiao Salgado shows us what our world is made up of and many of the relationships and realities that we are a part of.  His work shows me the compassion it takes to realize that this amazing world where we live is a place where we often don’t know what it takes, what it means or what we must yet overcome to live here… simply because the world is such a big place and we are so small.

He must also feel the wonder and awe at a world that just is.

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