Mixed bag

December 22, 2010

So the semester ended…lots of mixed feelings, Hopefully the break will give me the time I need to feel …”refreshed” as I return to finish up.

I’ve been working on sorting out an idea I had a while back that all started with this:

Which resulted in this: 

If that didn’t keep your interest, basically Im photographing every single thing I own. In a mock studio lighting set up. The past couple of weeks i’ve been purging, which at first I thought would be detrimental to the integrity of the project but A.) I still will own a ton ( literally) of ‘stuff ‘ and B.) If I ever want to feel like I can actually accomplish something, and/or finish in a weeks timeline, I had to get rid of roughly 6 black garbage bags of crap. 3 bags of clothes went to Salvation Army ( shirts and pants i hung on to from high school, hoping I would one day fit back into them) , boxes of an assortment of art supplies went to young kids that I know will benefit and use them, and roughly 2 bags of just trash, ( i.e. old papers, broken bits, old containers no one wants..etc.)  I’ve worked on categories and sub categories of how to organize it all . So far I have:

1. ART.

  • my art
  • other peoples art that I own
  • supplies ( cameras, painting , print, paper, jewelry making, dark room set up, craft/sewing supplies, drawing , tools, )


  • undergarments ( bras, underwear)
  • pajamas
  • jeans
  • t-shirts, blouses, and tank tops
  • dresses/dress clothes
  • shoes, boots, sneakers
  • summer wear ( bathing suits, shorts)
  • winter wear ( coats, scarves, gloves, hats)
  • accessories ( jewelry, bags, tights , belts )


  • lamps/ lighting
  • plants
  • knickknacks/decor/ bottles
  • crockery( bowls, silverware, pots and pans)
  • family photos ( ? does this belong here?)
  • Frames
  • Papers/documentation/ manuals (?)


  • art
  • text
  • fiction
  • non-fiction
  • magazines/pamphlets/undergrad and grad school catalogs.


  • dental care ( toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, etc)
  • make up , perfume
  • tampons
  • general hygiene products ( shampoo, razor, soap, deodorant, etc )
  • towels


  • laptop/accessories
  • hard drive
  • cellphones ( current and old/broken)
  • cables
  • digital camera(s?)
  • tablet
  • records/record player
  • cds/dvds
  • boxes for said items(?)


  • paper, stationary
  • pens, pencils, staplers, paper clips, rubber bands, scissors


  • wallets
  • bank statements ( with private info blotted out)
  • check book
  • cards ( bank card, license, membership cards, etc.)


  • old toys

It shall be an interesting endeavor. I’ve gotten over the ‘bashful’ aspect of it ( a.k.a . that my professors will undoubtedly see all my underwear.)   Im hoping another purge will ensue after the photographing. Maybe this will help me once and for all start on the track to simplifying my life/possessions….

but I highly doubt it.


I know you all don’t want to read my yammering on and on about my final project for alt. process, so I will do my best to explain through pages of my sketchbook and images…


My idea is quite simple: I am going to create a book, that documents people living in remote and rural areas of New York State. I will also include commentary and profiles of the towns/townspeople.I will shoot it all in peel apart Polaroids, using 3 different film types ( fujifilm fp-100c , fp-3000b, and some expired Polaroid 669) and some expired slide film that I will have crossed processed .

I believe my best ideas come from the negative aspects of my life. That sounds terrible but its true. When ever something bothers me, I either make light of it by some how incorporating humor, or fight to change what bothers me. As of late I have become severely depressed with my environment. I’ve lived in Bath Ny, for most of my life, and went to a college that is exactly 32 miles from my home. Part of me is just itching to move on , go get my M.F.A at the School of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. ( My dream Grad School) and be done with these closed minded sheltered towns. I know I should be taking in and making use of everything going on around me now…but I’ve just become so discouraged by the area that I’ve found it hard to do so.

Its a candid moment , one that I doubt anyone will read…but it gets me to my point…

I’ve decided that what I need to do , is flip my current situation. Take something negative and make it positive . If I think these towns give me a ‘artists block’ , why don’t I document that. Its as simple as that. ‘New York , No , Not City’ will also be a pun at all the out of staters who automatically think your NYC when you say your from New York. A how the ‘other-half ‘ lives kinda deal.

I hope it will be successful.

Recently a good old friend gave me 12 packs of 11 years expired 669 polaroid film , I took one pack already with my Reporter Camera. For its ‘death date’ being in 1998, it still makes some fabulous images. I’ve noticed its pretty touchy with light, and the ASA is 85, so shooting outside in pure sunlight is the only way to get an image. The chemistry fogs up and produces these sometimes beautiful clouds on the prints… Here are some images from the first pack of 8…


This mystery man with a mustache is my father, Chester

This shows a range of exposures. I wanted to get somewhere in between the 2nd and last one, but with a only a simple exposure knob with 7 little lines as settings, its pretty much trial and error. But mostly error.



My best shot of the day, featuring decaying flowers on my front porch

Over the summer I stole some family photos from my grandmother that where taken with polaroids, they are pretty spectacular , and aim at what I am trying to achieve so I deem them worthy of posting…


My Great grandfather, Abe. He was quite the wise alec, and actually lived in the school bus you see in the background just because he could.


My grandfather Dale is modeling the snazzy white jump suit

I also found a great image I took when I was around 12 ( ?) with a terrible digital camera…I am in the process of doing a stone litho of it…


The sign lies

Ever since high school, It was instilled in me by my teacher to keep a good sketchbook. Since I was around the age of 9 I’ve been keeping one , I’ve accumulated close to 30 now, some more full than others. I enjoy leafing through them…especially some of the earlier ones. I kept three sketchbooks last year and filled them up ( for the most part), and I thinks it really when I started to understand what to put in it and how to organize it. I no longer have that new sketchbook anxiety (fear of starting a sketchbook because you didn’t want the first page to look like feces and if you mess up your too afraid of ripping it out for fear of wasting paper and money.)

I digress

I enjoy blogging, but I feel like some artists may use it as a way to get out of keeping a sketchbook. I say why not integrate the two.

so here ladies and gents is pieces of my beloved sketchbook, and my thought process behind my ‘staged photo’ project.


Lastly I feel the need to give props to Keri Smith and her book Wreck this Journal. I call it ‘Freshman Foundations ” in a book. But basically it gives you prompts to destroy the book. Some of my favorite pages included “cover this page in fruit stickers” and “take this book in the shower with you” .The back even has a mailing label and it tells you to tape the book shut and mail it to yourself. It really changed the way I kept a sketchbook….I encourage you all to splurge on the 10-15 bucks for the book. You wont be sorry.

Tracey Baran

September 30, 2009

Before I explain my thought process behind my next project, I feel the need to introduce an artist that got me to my idea.

 Plus, I think she was an extraordinary photographer, and I find it timely to talk about her and her work as there is a exhibition in her honor through October.

Tracey Baran was born and raised, in my neck of the woods: Bath New York, A small town that highlights include a large Salvation Army, and home of the oldest County Fair in the country : The Steuben County fair ( which really brings people out of the woodwork.) She attended School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC. Many of her photos revolve around small town life mixed with big ideas. A lot of the photos are actually taken in Bath, and of either of her or her family. Sadly Tracey passed way last November at the very young age of 33.

I did not know about Tracey until after her unfortunate and surprising passing. But once I found out that there was actually a well establish artist from Bath, I did my research, and needless to say, I fell In love with all of Tracey’s pieces. Leslie Tonkonow Artworks+Projects in NYC is arranging an auction to help benefit  a scholarship in her name. If I could fork over a 2500 dollar price tag I would buy one of her prints in a HEARTBEAT. But I live on a college art students budget, so that is highly unrealistic.

Someday when I am ridiculously wealthy and famous I’ll buy one, which will happen right after the second week in never .

But that’s why the internet is a beautiful and glorious thing, I can look at Tracey’s images for hours for free! Because due to my work load this semester , 2 jobs, and my observing in classrooms for my teacher certification, I doubt I will get to NYC before the exhibition closes October 17th or even be able to afford a trip down there.

Here are some of my favorites of hers

Tracey Baran. 'See Through Me' 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'See Through Me' 2005 ©


Tracey Baran. 'I miss you already' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran. 'I miss you already' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran . 'Oasis' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran . 'Oasis' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Son and Father'. 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Son and Father'. 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Wishing, Hoping'. 2007 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Wishing, Hoping'. 2007 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Untitled. Cherry in Hand'. 1998 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Untitled. Cherry in Hand'. 1998 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Club Valentine' 2003 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Club Valentine' 2003 ©


And here is an image I took that was inspired by her 2003 print “Club Valentine”

Courtney Wilcox. 'Club Valentine' 2009

Courtney Wilcox. 'Club Valentine' 2009


After I found out about Tracey’s passing, I took my camera out for a spin with some expired slide film (that I eventually had the incompetent workers at Walgreens cross processes because I didn’t have the means to do it myself). Club Valentine is no more than 5 miles from my house, so that was my first stop of the day. When I got there the paint was peeling and the exposed areas of steel were rusted and severely weathered. I found it fitting and significant that the sign was falling apart and somewhat decaying.  Now that I remember it had to be in the middle of winter, but I remember it being an abnornmally warm day ( looking back, I recall being quite peeved that there was going to be a hint of snow in shot, which now I don’t mind so much ).The owners have since re-painted the sign, and when they saw my reductive woodcut of it ( I used my original photograph for reference ) at a local art show , I think they were somewhat taken aback by it, and they made sure I knew that the sign was repainted. They also didn’t seem to understand the reference of the photograph or how I was inspired by Baran’s work.

What are you going to do? You cant please everybody, certainly not in a small town. I need to get out of here.

So now you all know about Tracey Baran, because undoubtedly she will come up in my conversations quite frequently.

Peter Kennedy

September 6, 2009

In between my assignments, for this class and others, I have attempted to enlighten myself on the process that is cyanotypes.

Although I dont mean it as a dorky, brown nose statement, I find the alt process book by Christopher James ,to be an amazing source of information. It is also clerverly writen and find myself ‘lol-ing’ after I read some of his small anecdotes. This book will definitely not be re-sold on amazon in hopes of making a small marginal profit, but will forever reside on my bookshelf , most likely next to my ever growing collection of polaroid cameras. Although I havent finished the chapter on cyanotypes quite yet, it wont be a ‘forced read’, and will go back to my little corner to finish it up most likely after I write this post.

Anyhoo I have found a vast amount of Artists working in this media on Alternativephotography.com, which has been the best source of hunting down artists for my alt. process class thus far.

I was able to find an artist by the name of Peter Kennedy and after seeing some 10 plus images he has created, I found him worthy of blogging about.

Typewriter ©

Typewriter ©

Blue Jeans ©

Blue Jeans ©

His composistion remind me of something I might see on Polanoid, a site thats enables users to post polaroids of all sorts ( from Mamiya with polaroid backs to altered peel aparts from Land cameras) Also a site that I have found myself over the summer, to frequently visit. Getting back to the point , his pictures make me think of users on polanoid, who with their expensive and now obsolete film , take great care in deciding what memories they wish to be transfered to film. His pictures have this soul that I cherish and admire (He also scored mega brownie points with me , who is obsesed with typewriters, found his print of a Brother typewriter.

It also made my heart flutter a bit when I read his bio and discovered he uses a Holga camera ( a plastic ‘toy camera’ that was first produced in Hong Kong in 1982 , but has been reintroduced by lomography at a steap increase in price, for hipsters who frequent urban outfitters and die hard photographers alike. ) It produces vignetting , light leaks, and basically any other so called ‘mistakes’ that most professionals would frown over.

Holga Bikini ©

Holga Bikini ©


If you havent guessed by my ‘subtle’ include of polaroids, I have quite the obsession. I would like to post about my new found ‘obsession’ but I am afraid once I start to talk about , I wont be able to stop. However once I find the time, I will most likely ( eventually) post some of my recent polaroids and new found knowledge of instant film . But first I must return to my alternative process book.

Binh Danh

August 30, 2009

While perusing through The Book of alternative photographic processes, I found myself highly interested in the chapter dealing with Anthotypes and Chlorophyll processes. The Chapter ended with striking images printed on leaves by a Vietnamese-born artist named Binh Danh.

 Binh Danh

 At first, I have to admit, I had one of those “ Why didn’t I think of that” moments. Simply sandwich a negative and a leaf in between two sheets of glass , expose to the sun and let nature ( and in this case photosynthesis) do the rest. But Danh’s work is much more than just images juxtaposed on to leaves.  Many of his leaf pieces deal with the Vietnam War , a war that  forced Danh to move to the United States with his family at a young age. Faces and portraits frequent the leaves, creating haunting images as the sun bleaches the leaf.  The leaf also serves as a part of the composition, the shapes of the faces tend to echo the shapes of the leaf.

Binh Danh . Drifting souls. 2000

Binh Danh . Drifting souls. 2000

In the case of Drifting souls. The slender leaf frames the soldiers perfectly. The green and yellow tones that the leaf produces, is noticeably similar to the colors in camouflage uniforms.  Danh talks about his work as ‘decomposing’ to creating something else, almost a sense of rebirth.  

Danh first finds leafs suitable for the negative that he creates on a computer, he then puts the leaf on a felt backing placing the negative on top, and a sheet of glass on top of that. These sun ‘exposures’ can take a few days , up to a few months. If and when satisfied , Danh then casts the pieces in resin in order to preserve them so the images are not lost.

What I appreciate about Binh Danh’s work, is not only is his method very inventive but his themes are personal and relate well with the media in which he works.