Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sunset Blvd

“When the sun has set, no candle can replace it.”
― George R.R. Martin

Friday, October 30, 2015

Casting Off, the Merch Life Reprised.

The term abjection literally means "the state of being cast off". In usage it has connotations of degradation, baseness and meanness of spirit; but has been explored in post-structuralism as that which inherently disturbs conventional identity and cultural concepts. The most popular of Julia Kristeva’s interpretations of abjection is that of the subjective horror one, and therefore one’s body, experiences when one is confronted with what she terms one’s “corporeal reality,” or a breakdown in the distinction between what is self and what is other. Kristeva claims that within the boundaries of what one defines as subject – a part of oneself – and object – something that exists independently of oneself – there resides pieces that were once categorized as a part of oneself or one’s identity that has since been rejected – the abject. Her most common example of this is the horror one experiences when one is presented with a corpse, as it was once a living thing capable of being identified with and thus fit within the bounds of subject, and has since become an object. The concept of abjection is best described as the process by which one separates their sense of self – be that physical and biological, social or cultural – from that which they consider intolerable and infringes upon their ‘self’, otherwise known as the abject. The abject is, as such, the “me that is not me”
from Wikipedia

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sacred Memories

Christ is a Nigger,
Beaten and black--
O, bare your back.

Mary is His Mother
Mammy of the South,
Silence your Mouth.

God's His Father--
White Master above
Grant us your love.

Most holy bastard
Of the bleeding mouth:
Nigger Christ
On the cross of the South.
- Langston Hughes, "Christ in Alabama"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuschman on Hopper

from PetaPixel
Richard Tuschman began experimenting with digital imaging in the early 1990’s, developing a style that synthesized his interests in photography, painting and assemblage. His work has since been exhibited and published internationally and recognized by, among others, Photo District News, American Photography, Prix de la Photographie, Paris, and the International Photography Awards. He currently lives and works in New York City.

PetaPixel: First, Richard, tell us about your background in photography. When did it start for you?

Richard Tuschman: I suppose it started as a child looking at my parents’ and grandparents’ family photo albums. I have always been drawn to photographic images (who isn’t?), but I have never had traditional photographic training and I do not possess traditional darkroom skills.

Until relatively recently, I would refer to myself as “an artist who uses photography” rather than “photographer,” though now I am happy to use the label “photographer.” When I went to art school at the University of Michigan back in the 1970’s, I studied mostly printmaking, though I did a lot of photo etching and photo lithography. I only took one darkroom course, and I was not very good at it. But I always incorporated photography into my work, through photo printmaking or collage.

It was not until Photoshop was introduced in the 1990’s that I had a “darkroom” that I felt comfortable with. I had been using a Macintosh for several years at my graphic design job, so Photoshop came naturally to me, and seemed much more analogous to painting and printmaking (which was good for me) than a traditional darkroom. After that, my career in photo-illustration took off.

PP: Who were the important teachers and mentors who have helped to shape your career?

RT: When I was in art school in Ann Arbor I studied with the lithographer Paul Stewart, and he was very good at pushing students to expand their aesthetic horizons, along with instilling a solid work ethic.

In terms of photographers at that time, the surrealism of Arthur Tress and the dreamy narratives of Duane Michals both strongly influenced me. When I began doing commercial work in the 1990’s, I was looking a lot at painterly photo-illustrators like Matt Mahurin and Amy Guip. I was also drawn to the beautifully crafted and surreal conceptual work of Geof Kern.

PP: Your project “Hopper Meditations” is an uncanny collection of images directly inspired by the work of seminal American painter Edward Hopper. How do you connect with his work, and what prompted you to make these images?

RT: I wanted to do a series of staged figurative narratives, something I could sink my teeth into. I have always loved the way Hopper’s paintings, with an economy of means, are able to address some of the psychological mysteries and complexities of the human condition. I love the humble nature of the works and their sense of quietude. The characters’ emotional states can seem to waver paradoxically between reverie and alienation, or perhaps between longing and resignation. I also liked that many of them seem to be set in New York City, which is my favorite city, and where I live.

PP: The bulk of Hopper’s work was created in the early 20th century. What about his personal vision still resonates today?

RT: First of all, the period in which he made the paintings resonates very much with me. Though it is a generation or two before my time, in many ways it feels very familiar, from all the time I spent as a child poring over the family photo albums. So, for me, it has the right balance of strangeness and familiarity.

But also, their sense of humanity, and the themes they evoke — solitude, alienation, longing — are timeless and universal.

PP: The technical properties of this work are outstanding, and from lighting to set design it seems like you had a great team to make this project come to life. Talk a bit about who they are and the role they played.

RT: Well, thank you! And let me thank my two wonderful models, Aria McKenna and Ariel Kleinberg, and my terrific hair stylist and makeup artist, Falon McKinney. That is the team.

The sets are all painted dollhouse size dioramas that I built and photographed in my studio. A lot of the furniture is standard dollhouse furniture, but some I made myself. I photographed the models against a plain backdrop, and then made the digital composites in Photoshop.

PP: I’d like to hear more about the technical aspects of these images, was there a lot of post-production involved? Do you consider digital production a specialty of yours?

RT: First, let me give you a little background. The idea of digitally marrying dioramas and live models brings together a few of my different working methods from the past thirty odd years.

When I first moved to New York after art school around 1980, one of my first jobs was working in an architectural supply store. The model building materials there inspired me to make a series of miniature “stage set like” box constructions. The tone of these was surreal, and a human presence was often suggested by collage or painted shadows, or sometimes an actual painted clay figure. I worked this way for most of the 1980’s.

As I mentioned previously, the introduction of Photoshop in 1990 launched my (ongoing) career as a digital photo-illustrator. So yes, I would consider digital production a specialty of mine. I began seriously photographing live models several years ago for my book cover assignments.

In terms of post-production, as much as I love Photoshop, I do not want to spend any more time there than necessary. Silhouetting can be time consuming, but other than accurately scaling and placing the figures, the image is largely done by the time I get to post-production, at least if I have done my job right so far. Sure, there is the tweaking of the contrast and colors, maybe I’ll have to paint a shadow or two, and I will retouch some seams in the diorama. But the guts of the image are determined before the digital stage.

When I photograph the dioramas, I always take some shots with small artist mannequins as placeholders for the live models. This helps me tremendously in matching the lighting. The lighting for both the dioramas and the live models is sometimes continuous hot lights, and sometimes speedlight strobes. I try to make the most of the sessions with the models, so for this project there was just one shoot with Aria, and one shoot with Ariel.

PP: The emotional tones you set do closely mirror the senses of loneliness and solitude that Hopper expressed in his paintings. You also mention Rembrandt as an inspiration to the chiaroscuro lighting effects you’ve utilized. Are there any other artists out there who’ve directly inspired this project?

RT: Yes, I love vintage photography, too, so I would include people like Julia Margaret Cameron and E.J. Bellocq.

PP: As a follow-up, what other photographers working today inspire you in general?

RT: Paolo Ventura and Lori Nix for their diorama work, the figurative work of Hellen Van Meene, Hendrick Kerstens, Richard Learoyd and Jayne Hinds Bidaut, and of course, the incredible staged images of Gregory Crewdson.

PP: Lastly, talk about what other projects or activities you’re looking forward to in 2014.

RT: I have just started work on a new series inspired by recent trips to Krak├│w, Poland, where my wife was born. It’s another series of open-ended narratives, but set in Eastern Europe, largely inspired by the architecture, and with an expanded cast of characters.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


In the days of the broken cubes of Picasso
And in the days of the broken songs of the young men
A little too drunk to sing
And the young women
A little too unsure of love to love —
I met on the boulevards of Paris
An African from Senegal.

Knows why the French
Amuse themselves bringing to Paris
Negroes from Senegal.

It's the old game of the boss and the bossed,
boss and the bossed,
worked and working,
Behind the cubes of black and white,
black and white,
black and white
But since it is the old game,
For fun
They give him the three old prostitutes of
France —
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity —
And all three of 'em sick
In spite of the tax to the government
And the legal houses
And the doctors
And the Marseillaise .

Of course, the young African from Senegal
Carries back from Paris
A little more disease
To spread among the black girls in the palm huts.
He brings them as a gift
disease —
From light to darkness
disease —
From the boss to the bossed
disease —
From the game of black and white
From the city of the broken cubes of Picasso
- Langston Hughes, "Cubes"

Friday, October 16, 2015

On the Job...

I do not know, and I doubt whether even scholars know, if the book of Job had a great effect or had any effect upon the after development of Jewish thought. But if it did have any effect it may have saved them from an enormous collapse and decay. Here in this book the question is really asked whether God invariably punishes vice with terrestrial punishment and rewards virtue with terrestrial prosperity. If the Jews had answered that question wrongly they might have lost all their after influence in human history. They might have sunk even down to the level of modern well-educated society. For when once people have begun to believe that prosperity is the reward of virtue, their next calamity is obvious. If prosperity is regarded as the reward of virtue it will be regarded as the symptom of virtue. Men will leave off the heavy task of making good men successful. He will adopt the easier task of making out successful men good. This, which has happened throughout modern commerce and journalism, is the ultimate Nemesis of the wicked optimism of the comforters of Job. If the Jews could be saved from it, the book of Job saved them.

The book of Job is chiefly remarkable, as I have insisted throughout, for the fact that it does not end in a way that is conventionally satisfactory. Job is not told that his misfortunes were due to his sins or a part of any plan for his improvement. But in the prologue we see Job tormented not because he was the worst of men, but because he was the best. It is the lesson of the whole work that man is most comforted by paradoxes. Here is the very darkest and strangest of the paradoxes; and it is by all human testimony the most reassuring. I need not suggest what high and strange history awaited this paradox of the best man in the worst fortune. I need not say that in the freest and most philosophical sense there is one Old Testament figure who is truly a type; or say what is prefigured in the wounds of Job.
- G.K. Chesterton, "Introduction to The Book of Job"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.
- William Blake, "Eternity"

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Tiramisu (from Italian, spelled tiramis├╣, meaning "pick me up" or "lift me up")

Friday, October 9, 2015

Nobody Knows

Time to roll
The answer floats on down
The farthest shore
Of the mind

Roll the dice
That sail the ship
And all the doors will open
On down the line

Turned to wrong
A lesson learned
And then forgotten over
In our time

In that moment
I awoke among the
Smoke and mirrors
I was blind

Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows for sure

It begins and on and on
A baby’s born
The elder’s down
All in their time

Start a door, the setting sun
The day has come
My mind is open
My oh my

Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows for sure

Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows, nobody knows

Time to go
The answer floats on by
The farthest shore
Of the mind
Roll the dice that sail the ship
And all the world will open
All this time

Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows
Believe, believe, believe, believe
Nobody knows, nobody knows

Nobody knows
Nobody knows

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Time for Love

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?

But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.
- Kahlil Gibran, "On Time"

Friday, October 2, 2015

Life as It's Known

Northern arc and all the sleeping cars, the sleeping pills
by this horseshoe road tucked in maple leaves/make-beliefs
A talisman that gave an end, time to amend
from the steepest quarter since I arrived, I survived

I force myself to sleep
and sway into those dreams
where I tip-toe on pine trees
swept up by the breeze

Everyday I go to work and then back home
eat my meal, go to sleep and start again
I've got a black dog named Izzie and she's the only one
who understands, without a word, undeterred

I force myself to sleep
and sway into those dreams
where I tip-toe on pine trees
swept up by the breeze
Colour the Mundane, "Maple Leaves/Make-Beliefs"