December 3, 2013
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November 13, 2013
While I love taking pictures, I do not always enjoy the bulk of my professional gear, especially when I am traveling and/or on vacation.
|Central Park - New York City|
In these instances, I often carry a pocket-sized plastic panoramic film camera that I bought at a thrift store for a dollar. (Click on an image to enlarge.)
I cannot make any exposure or focus adjustments.
|Field Prepped for Corn Seeds - Hadley, MA|
The constraints of technological simplicity breed freedom.
|A Mall was Planted on the Adjacent Field - Hadley, MA|
|Old North Bridge - Concord, MA|
Imagine waiting four months to see a picture you have taken.
|Walden Pond - Concord, MA|
Posted by John Nordell at 1:44 PM
August 15, 2013
For years I have used a camera as a tool to aid my absorption of art at museums, to make my seeing keener and to aid my retention of ideas and imagery. A multiple exposure at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:
|Reconsidering Mount Rushmore|
As my artistic path has become multidisciplinary, I now often bring a sketchbook along with my camera. View a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in New York for the Picasso Black and White exhibition.
A couple of weeks ago, after spending the afternoon at MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) in North Adams, I sat at picnic table in front of the museum and carved and then block printed my interpretation of Bang on a Can composer David Lang's Revolutionary Etude #1. An hour earlier, I had watched - heard - felt his piece performed by a saxophone quartet.
|Carving Grooves at MASS MoCA|
The other day, I visited the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass. The gorgeous grounds are bejeweled with sculpture and the museum building is loaded with contemporary art. To disrupt my normal practice, I brought neither camera nor sketchbook. However, realizing my deep need to leave with inspirational mnemonic devices, I snagged two pine cones.
|Figure #1 - Imagined Scientific Drawing|
|Plucking a Pine Cone "Scale" Sounds Like an African Kalimba|
|Clay Cone - All Arises from the Earth|
I think it is clear where I stand on this debate.
© 2013 John Nordell
August 2, 2013
|Pen, Paper & Pencil|
I drew this Zentangle sitting at a picnic bench in a park. Heaven. Note the various circular patterns on the right-hand side.
I then drove to a movie theater but parked far from the doors as I found a hint of shade. Emerging from my vehicle, I saw these car tire donuts.
|Paint, Rubber & Asphalt|
Then, a multiple exposure of the scene.
Maybe I will try a drawing like this photographic abstraction. Maybe I should slather my car tires with paint and drive on large sheets of paper.
What do you suggest?
©2013 John Nordell
July 16, 2013
I teach an online History of Photojournalism course at American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. I start the discussion on Photojournalism and Bias with these questions for my students:
Can we, as individuals, be free of bias? Can we make impartial judgments and be completely objective? What about with historians and photojournalists? The goal for these professions is to be objective and unbiased; to present the truth. But what is truth?
Might your truth be different from mine, which might be different from that of my neighbor?
|A "No" Vote|
I thought about these questions as I documented Springfield residents voting whether to approve a bid by MGM Resorts International to build a casino in the Western Massachusetts city.
|A "Yes" Vote|
I took the above pictures at the polling station in Springfield Central High School.
Does presenting both sides of an issue necessarily indicate a lack of bias on my part?
I then headed over to the to the polling station at the Frederick Harris School.
The Springfield Republican (which endorsed a "Yes" vote) reported that the MGM Resorts International poured about a million dollars into the Vote Yes for Springfield group while the grassroots Citizens Against Casino Gambling has raised about $3,000.
|He Voted "Yes"|
This man told me that despite the poor deal the city negotiated, he voted "Yes".
|Husband and Wife (in middle) Voted "No"|
The wife told me that she was a lifelong resident of Springfield and that a casino would be out of place in her City of Homes. The moniker stems from the city's large stock of Victorian housing.
Looks like a busy precinct, right? Actually, the voting machine had jammed, leading to this line of waiting voters.
One of the goals of my History of Photojournalism course is for students to understand the biases of photojournalists in the context of their own biases. I invite you to read student work here and here.
© 2013 John Nordell
July 15, 2013
Earlier this year, helping my parents pack up to move from their home of over forty years, I came across a box of photographs.
|"That's history," said Mom.|
In the future, we will not stumble upon boxes of photographs. Instead, we will pray that our current digital media will be viewable.
|Reach Out and Touch Something|
|Coney Island in Winter|
Yes, there is the Polamatic App that allows you to add the distinctive Polaroid frame to your cell phone images. Call me old school, call me what you want, but craft is disappearing from the photographic landscape. Digital apps with a touch of a button recreate something that you used to have to do with your hands based on learned knowledge.
Does choosing an Instagram filter constitute making art?
Before I become too smugly self-righteous, I must divulge that I use Topaz Adjust, a Photoshop plug-in, to pull the detail out of the in-camera multiple exposures I create with my Nikon D200.
|Is it Art in 2013? Was it Art in 1826?|
|Nonotuck Mill in Florence, MA|
I love to shoot digital. These Reality-Based Abstractions that I create would not exist without the technological advances related to digital photography. In contrast, however, I have written previously On the Sensuous Experience of Using a Film Camera.
Below is a telegram from 1902 on display at the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum of Connecticut. The terse message: "Come home immediately Mother." Imagine receiving such a message and then taking a train from Chicago to New York to find out why.
|From Telegrams to Instagrams|
A hundred years from now, will it be possible to view today's Instagrams in a museum?
Time to start printing!
I invite you to visit Create Look Enjoy on Facebook.
Thank you for your interest - John
©2013 John Nordell
May 15, 2013
The hardest part of artmaking is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over - and that means, among other things, finding a host of practices that are just plain useful.
A piece of art is the surface expression of a life lived within productive patterns. Over time, the life of a productive artist becomes filled with useful conventions and practical methods, so that a string of finished pieces continues to appear at the surface.
by David Bayles and Ted Orland
Some three decades ago book co-author Ted Orland and I crossed paths in the film darkroom at Stanford University; he a professor, me a student. Today, I am a professor, guiding students in the digital darkrooms at several Massachusetts colleges.
I recently finished reading Art & Fear. Bayles and Orland contend that for artists who teach full time, finding the opportunity to create art can be challenging. Right now, in between semesters, I realized that I myself have been too busy teaching and grading to shoot pictures. So I carved out a morning to stroll with my camera through Greenfield, Mass.
I got close to the container and set my lens intentionally and specifically out of focus to highlight visual rhythm.
One of the gifts of teaching is that now while I shoot, my feedback to students swirls in my brain. Using the rule of thirds? Making precise depth of field choices? Creating meaning beyond the obvious? Here, the green leaves swayed in the breeze faster than the flowers, so I held my camera steady and slowed the shutter speed to catch some background blur.
|> the = of the Parts|
Wilson's Department Store lives on as a store of yore. For this in-camera multiple exposure, I shot three individual letters of the store's sign and the camera layered them into one image.
|Reflecting on Change|
With this double exposure, I photographed a bricks and mortar building and then held my camera upside down to photograph a newer stucco structure across the street. When this image formulated before my eyes on the back of my camera, my artistic excitement took verbal form: "Yeah, baby!"
Back in the Stanford film darkroom, we worked on perfecting a craft that had been around for decades. Tonight, preparing to teach a new class on Digital Storytelling, I took a brand new iPad out of its box and within less than the minutes needed to make a paper print with chemicals, I was connected to my wireless network, capturing stills and shooting video.
In the end, it's not the technology that matters. Concurring with Orland and Bayles, I believe that artmaking (a verb!) is in the doing, of maintaining the discipline to create and follow "productive patterns".