"People ask me how I compose my shots," she laughs, "Well, I don't."
May 11, 2009 12:37 PM   Subscribe

This is great. I actually met both Douglas McCulloh (curator of the exhibition) and Kurt Weston (the first artist in the slideshow) a few months ago.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:44 PM on May 11, 2009

". . . and to the death of irony! "
posted by blackfly at 12:51 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wasn't there a John Waters film with a blind photographer?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:59 PM on May 11, 2009

posted by Astro Zombie at 1:00 PM on May 11, 2009

"I feel portraits. I smell landscapes" - Randy the blind photographer in Pecker
posted by wherever, whatever at 1:15 PM on May 11, 2009

I'm not blind, but many people have said that my photos lack composition too.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:19 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

how did these people get wedged into their scanners?
posted by snofoam at 1:20 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

One of Weston's techniques involves asking his subjects to place their faces on a scanner-as-camera. This not only gives his work a tone of hyperrealism, but creates an extremely shallow area of focus where flesh compressed against the glass is vivid and detailed, but anything farther away quickly fades into blur and black.

One of Weston's techniques produces images that kinda freak me the hell out.

Pete Eckert's glowing people have some great potential as nightmare fodder as well.

Still, I gotta admire anyone that can put together a photo that can grab me at a pretty base level and make me feel something, even if it is an uneasy sense of dread.
posted by quin at 1:21 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, the faces on scanner pictures were spooky.

It was neat, though, trying to figure out what was "wrong" with the first picture of that series -- the old man face -- since the caption explaining the scanner doesn't appear till later.
posted by selenized at 1:31 PM on May 11, 2009

I thought the caption "Afflicted with numerous eye conditions..." was a bit disturbing in conjunction with this photo.
posted by exogenous at 1:33 PM on May 11, 2009

Wasn't there a John Waters film with a blind photographer?

Zenmaster, I believe you are mixing up the aforementioned Pecker with the 1991 Australian film Proof. It is about a love triangle between a blind photographer, his housekeeper, and his friend. The housekeeper is played by the always-interesting Genevieve Picot. The two male leads, though: Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving... I wonder what ever happened to those guys?

I honestly don't know if it even got released theatrically in North America, and I have never noticed a copy on DVD (although there was apparently a region 1 release about five years ago). I stumbled upon it by purest chance: I bought a ticket to see a Roberto Benigni movie in Tel Aviv once and then belatedly realized as I was waiting for it to begin that this would of course be in Italian with Hebrew subtitles. I quietly snuck into the other auditorium of the two-screen theatre and saw this Aussie movie that I had never heard of, and I thought it was great.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Rosita McKenzie, Calton Hill
The photographs of this Scottish artist are imbued with the freedom that comes from not seeing. Rather, her inspiration is triggered by non-retinal criteria. "I'll hold my camera at arm's length, lay it on the ground, hold it overhead," she says. "I can be experimental because I don't see. Instead, I sense light on my face. I hear the rustle of the wind in the trees or smell the fragrance of the flowers in the air. People ask me how I compose my shots," she laughs, "Well, I don't."

OK, I'll be the bad guy and ask who's editing her photos-- because I'd guess that 75% of art photography is knowing what to keep and what to throw away.
posted by availablelight at 1:46 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

availablelight: I'd raise that to 95%.
posted by rusty at 1:57 PM on May 11, 2009

Wow. Some of these photos are near-disturbing, especially the ones with distorted human forms or those where the eyes are scratched out.
posted by slogger at 2:10 PM on May 11, 2009

OK, I'll be the bad guy and ask who's editing her photos

She certainly would need a lot of help, but maybe someone is helping her feel out the composition of the shots ("the pillars are here and here and here, the people are here, the sky is here") and she is selecting and cropping from there.
posted by pracowity at 2:22 PM on May 11, 2009

I think we're all used to reading the work of people who can't write.
posted by clockzero at 2:24 PM on May 11, 2009 [6 favorites]

Proof is a fabulous film, but the guy in it isn't a "photographer" in the sense that these guys are. He takes photographs because he wants some "objective" proof that what people tell him is happening around him is what is actually happening. Of course, that relies on being able to find someone he can trust to tell him about the content of the photographs. The lesson of the film seems to me to be that the search for that kind of 'proof' is a problem of infinite regression--that, in the end, one needs to make a leap of faith at some point; or, put another way, that one has to accept that there comes a point where you cease to ask questions.

It occurs to me that these blind photographers face exactly this problem. While they have considerable control over the process that goes into making the photograph, in the end they never actually know what they've produced, or whether what they've produced matches up to their idea of what they wanted to produce. For them, the work "itself" has no existence other than as a series of accounts given by sighted people; I imagine for each of them the problem of deciding when to cease seeking/doubting other people's opinions as to the quality of the works they produce is an interestingly troubled one (rely on just one voice and are you really yielding authorship to that person? Seek too many opinions, and does the work fragment kaleidoscopically?)
posted by yoink at 2:28 PM on May 11, 2009

I work with a photographer who believes that images, 9 times out of 10 are more interesting when the camera never makes it to you eye. If you could pick a random point on a map, go there, walk out with your eyes closed, asses the light (as much as possible) and snap the shot, odds are you have something compelling. I have yet to experiment with this method but these blind artists have really developed an amazing concept.
posted by Viomeda at 2:31 PM on May 11, 2009

Wow. Some of these photos are near-disturbing...

Who would expect the blind to have such a deep understanding of darkness?
posted by rokusan at 3:35 PM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Well, I think that if you have a good camera, a lot of pictures come out like this.

Some are spectacular. Others are average pictures taking on a spectacular camera.

Who's doing the editing and deciding what to keep?
posted by Malice at 3:49 PM on May 11, 2009

I will now start taking pictures with my eyes closed in the hopes that they will turn out awesome.
posted by tehloki at 4:09 PM on May 11, 2009

I will now start taking pictures with my eyes closed in the hopes that they will turn out awesome.

I might as well give this a shot, everything else I've tried did just about fuck-all.
posted by dead cousin ted at 4:34 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


You make a fair point, but I was thinking about how Weaving's character is labelling his photos in Braille with a description of what is shown in them, much as with the photographer who produced this image.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:59 PM on May 11, 2009

ricochet biscuit - you are mistaken.
The movie is about a photographer called Pecker who is not blind, but there is also a blind photographer character played by Tyler Miller who is introduced near the end.

I wish pretentious douchebags wouldn't keep doing this blind photographer/deaf recording engineer kind of bullshit. Some things are counter-intuitive because they are really stupid ideas.
posted by w0mbat at 12:22 AM on May 12, 2009

How about a deaf internationally renowned musician?
posted by MuffinMan at 5:19 AM on May 12, 2009

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