Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not FDA Approved

... and slightly frightening. Sara and I went to the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown today. "Factory" is a misnomer as it was more like an alleyway storage room with facilities carved out to make fortune cookies. Lots of free samples because the women making the cookies rejected many of the flat disks before they were folded quickly over a metal rod with fortunes slipped inside of them.

Think hard Dollar Pancakes.

We should have bought a bag of these or better yet the "Adult" Fortune Cookies which we didn't see until editing photographs hours later.

More weird food experiences: North Beach Restaurant (phenomenal Italian food). The view inside the wine cellar for a large party due to arrive shortly after we did. I don't think I can handle eating food under drying meat.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monterey: What a Dump!

Clearly I'm joking as this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.

1/3 of those seals are babies!

Off to San Francisco via Santa Cruz. The hunting and gathering portion of this trip continues. Rats, I also now know where Richard Misrach lives! If I don't make it this trip, the Society of Photographic Education conference is in San Francisco in March. Amelia - ready for a BART trip to Berkeley?

Monterey Bay Aquarium: Mesmerized by Movement

Everyone is photographing the leafy sea dragon.

The top of the wave.

Underneath the wave (just like the car wash).

As visited earlier this month in Muncie.

The school of fish visible near the end were so breathtaking that I spent more than 20 minutes videotaping each one thereafter.

Imagine music like Enya playing amidst all those voices.

Then I moved closer.

James Turrell + Fish

Opting for the still due to many people not reading "No Flash" and flashes going off on multiple occasions in the middle of the video.

The seahorse the size of my thumbnail was this audience member's favorite but they were too minute to photograph with an i-Phone so here is a potbellied one instead.

I Am Here / Am I Here?

There is one disadvantage to traveling to magnificent places on one's own... very few photographs exist of me "conquering" the place - posing in front of it, "owning it," etc. Within the past few years, the act of holding the camera out at arm's length is the popular solution. Rather than asking someone else to take a photograph, we rely on our digital technology to show us that we are indeed in the composition though the background imagery becomes secondary due to not being able to position the camera further away. Not that I would ever use these photographs as "art" - more for the hypothetical photo album - but I started to wonder whether or not something could be said with this.

Yesterday at Point Lobos, I started to photograph all the places that looked like typical areas to pose in front of the scenic landscape. I am not sure this will go anywhere but here is a rough sketch (i.e. rudimentary at best) of the thought process.

Only the image with the suggestion of my absence reminded me a little too much of Joel Sternfeld's On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam.... It's also sad and that wasn't the emotion I wanted to portray.

Overtly suggesting my presence was the next step.

Then comes the crude, comical arrow which I gravitate toward on many occasion.

I am intrigued by using the 5-D to take a high resolution photograph compared to the low resolution of a camera phone. How about a diptych accentuating these differences?

Then I started to wonder about overlapping both (here's where rudimentary comes in). This reminds me too much of a poorly constructed William Wegman collage but the differences in exposure still interest me.

I haven't overlooked a tripod or rock roughly the same height but I'm not in the position to haul around the former and the latter is hardly ever convenient at these locations. The act of asking for help - "Will you take my photograph?" - brings many a complication. Very few people know how to operate my camera unless I specifically gravitate towards the person who has an SLR but where are they on hikes like this? I can't take a photograph asking them to replicate the composition as that rarely works according to plan. So do I think of this as an element of performance and take whatever I can get (again asking for help in an art project)? Or do I eliminate the idea entirely and prove I was there by other means? I would ask if it even matters but I already know the answer to that. We are taught to pose in front of these scenes and the well worn tracks at those locations indicate this is a universal practice. We want images of our loved ones in front of beautiful places and we want to remember that we were there. A photograph of the ocean is a very different animal than a portrait of a person standing in front of the ocean. All of this may seem obvious but it's a dilemma I'm grappling with heading to Europe with the high possibility there may be no evidence of my physical presence ever setting foot in Italy.

I've also considered the ghost presence, the overt cut-out initially photographed on a neutral background, writing my name in the dirt, or holding a photograph in front of the place. All or none of the above? One photograph is all that I ask for and that may be one more idea to add to Part 2 of the list. One more image that may ultimately end in failure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Arthur Tress Lives Here

Look! I'm at the Beach Again! Big Sur to Be Exact.

Big Sur is AMAZING! I was constantly reminded of New Zealand today beginning with the pier at San Simeon (with Hearst's Castle on the hillside). Above is Point Lobos.

I stood here at Willow Creek for a little while to watch some surfers.

Looking a little like the Oregon Coast but with sunshine.

The Cypress Grove hike which was my favorite of the day because... lead to photographs like this (channeling my inner Edward Weston and Ansel Adams that never, ever appear).

Point Lobos is named for the sea lions which were prominent. I hauled my binoculars all the way to California but LEFT THEM IN THE CAR on this hike. Idiot move of the day.

Putting my undergraduate geology class to work... 55 million year old conglomerate rocks at Point Lobos.

Nearby sedimentary rock at Point Lobos.

Someone dropped their sombrero.

More photos of Big Sur coming soon.

Breakfast at the Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo

The definition of "over the top" applies to the Madonna Inn where the Highland Family and I went out for breakfast yesterday. This is my second visit. The first time I wandered into the infamous men's bathroom and purchased many postcards. Room 137 - The Caveman Room (image from their website - check out all the themed rooms) is a great example of what is behind these doors.

Large rocks and pink are key features. The fireplace resembles a smaller version of Grove Park Inn.

From the outside, the chimneys look like they weigh 4 tons.

Everything is so well constructed and straight out of 1950s Disneyland. This is where all the themed rooms can be found:

The entryway near the banquet hall:

Heavy breakfast goblets with Allegra's sippy cup.

The desserts are amazing and equally fitting to their surroundings. Oh to buy this and push my hand through it.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

San Luis Obispo: Quick Recap

Best artwork viewed in SLO (at a transgender BBQ where all the propane for the grill was empty before we started and we nearly resorted to micro-cue before heading into town to eat at a restaurant):

Meet my friend Doug. We went to graduate school together and have known each other for 15 years.

If there is anyone more organized than I am, it is Doug. This isn't the best photographic example but it does show that he too owns a label maker and actually puts things where they belong and yes, everything is spotless:

Doug runs the Photography area at Cuesta College where I photographed this chair I really liked outside the main Art office:

We have visited many a fine restaurant here in SLO (finally Mexican food!) where I saw boxed water for the first time (I'll be waiting for that to hit Indiana until the day I die):

Today, with Doug's help, I conquered two major entities on my SLO list and also added something on tomorrow's agenda. I now know where Arthur Tress lives. It's on the way to my next destination. I think I really have become an artist stalker. I knew I brought those binoculars for a reason. We also spent some time photographing/researching at Pismo Beach today. Here I am reading The Wave with waves in the background. Let's say "meta" all at once now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Day in LA

Oh the photographs one can take at a 826 store!

The very hard to capture without a glare entry window at the Time Travel 826LA in Silver Lake.

JR and the dinosaur eggs behind sliding glass doors

Just in case I ever decide to open one of my McSweeney's subscriptions, this is what the inside of the head box contains.

Beer bellies in the terrarium.

No one can beat these doughnuts - one year old or 26 years of age, they are the winners of this vacation's search.

Moving on down the street... if it wasn't a 99 cent store, it might as well be.

The pigs may have had help in the arranging of this photograph.

The nearby bookstore also on Sunset that featured this lovely zine cover introducing...

... the LA River near Adam's house. Egrets, herons, and...

... clever graffiti.

Jack Nicholson in Chinatown at Silver Lake in 1974.

Silver Lake 37 years later.

Cats on a "No Parking" sign and...

... DIY handicapped parking stencil (?).