Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pointing the way

Here's the image (photoshop sketch) du jour:

First, the whatever catches my eye file...
I was a guitar player for many years, reluctantly had to give it up thanks to a serious 'metal (oxide?) allergy'... but I still perk up to much about guitars...

Building the Guitar You’ll Keep
It's a Small World After All
A slide show of aerial photography, from pigeon-mounted cameras to Apollo 17 and beyond.
By Elizabeth Weingarten Posted Friday, April 22, 2011, at 7:00 AM ET


Mystery of Grand Canyon's Formation Revealed
Charles Q. Choi, OurAmazingPlanet Contributor
Date: 27 April 2011 Time: 01:23 PM ET
The birth of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Plateau through which it carved have been a geological mystery. Now a giant anomalous structure discovered on the underside of the plateau could shed light on how it was formed.

Desert town clings to its quirkyness
Quartzsite, Ariz., is a truck stop town of 3,600 that draws about 1 million visitors in winter with its gem shows, swap meets and 'naked bookseller.' Officials are looking for ways to boost revenue in the off-season, but locals and the snowbirds don't want the town's character to be lost.,0,575043.story


Toxic Art
On shelves, in studios, and at schools, art supplies containing toxic ingredients pose risks to human health and the environment.
By Jessica Carew Kraft
I mentioned my metal allergy above? Beware of all the chemical things you work with... enuf said.
The Digital Pileup
By SHELLEY PODOLNY - Published: March 12, 2011 - New York Times
"SOME facts of life are just plain counterintuitive. It can be too cold to snow. Heavy things float. Martinis have calories.
Here’s another one with significantly greater import: Electronic information is tangible. The apps we use, the games on our phones, the messages we incessantly tap — all of it may seem to fly through the air and live in some cloud, but in truth, most of it lands with a thump in the earthly domain.
Because electronic information seems invisible, we underestimate the resources it takes to keep it all alive. The data centers dotting the globe, colloquially known as “server farms,” are major power users with considerable carbon footprints. Such huge clusters of servers not only require power to run but must also be cooled. In the United States, it’s estimated that server farms, which house Internet, business and telecommunications systems and store the bulk of our data, consume close to 3 percent of our national power supply. Worldwide, they use more power annually than Sweden."
The best of geology and earth science on the web:

Postcards from the recession: Got knocked down, got up, and then got better
Though I wasn't a voluntary casuality, the truth is, I live in a happier place now.
By Ann Brenoff
March 13, 2011,0,6962977.story

Conjuring the desert
Spirituality and politics, stillness and violence -- all meet in the 'land of little rain.'
Every Wednesday afternoon, my colleague Douglas Burton-Christie and I try to conjure the desert in a classroom at Loyola Marymount University. We are both bona fide desert rats, but we come to the "land of little rain," as Mary Austin once called it, from very different places as we teach an interdisciplinary seminar called Into the Desert.,0,7700063.story

and now, on to some photography.....

(photoshop sketch above)
The petroglyph was found in Red Rock Canyon, just west of Las Vegas, December 2008.
There are alotta 'Red Rock Canyon's because there's alotta red rocks out here - consult your local geologist for a better explanation - the best one I can come up with is that this land has always been in transformation, for millions of years, including a few massive eruptions from Yellowstone, that covered the land for many hundreds of square miles, with ejecta/lava/etc.
The Mississippi river *flowed backward* in the great 1812 earthquake!
Buy yourself some John McPhee books - There's a series about North American geology, the formation of the continent - 'In suspect terrain', 'Basin & Range', 'Rising from the plains' and 'Assembling California'.

Anyway.... this glyph was carved on a rock about as big as a VW van, on the way to a tinjaha (sic?) which is a place water collects, and native peoples would obviously be drawn to. I watched many people waltz right by this, didn't notice a thing.

Stupid modern people! we notice so little of what is staring us in the face!
The human figure means ' "the people" are here'... I think. The figure is much the same as a 'glyph on the wall below White House ruins, in Canyon de Chelly.
What more would you need to know?
But now that the original artist's culture is long gone, maybe it could be pointing elsewhere...?

(darkroom prints above)
This quirky cloud seemed to be just right, I shot it at least 15 years ago, from my apt. rooftop deck in SF. It's kind of like a comet, with a head and tail.. but a soft slow moving, earthly one.
Maybe it's a modern spin on things, what with 'the cloud' taking on a new meaning these days.
In my sketch, i wondered if there were a horizon on sorts in there somewhere. The one i added to the sketch was a place-marker, the light is coming from the wrong direction.

I did the first 2 prints w/ just the glyph and the sky, the third w/ a bit of 'land' (barely discernible) in between the glyph and sky.. and the fourth/last with a much better 'horizon', some Joshua Tree rocks.
The dodging and burning on this one is pretty obvious, i shouldn't have to explain it much. It isn't a truly horizontal thing, but not far off.
What does the image mean? Hhmmm.. good question. Since the arrow points to what seems to be the leading edge of the cloud, and clouds are obviously temporary and insubstansial things, maybe what it all means is 'whatever it all means, i can point you to, but it is, was, and always will be transitory, elusive..
You better enjoy, take it in, while you can. In an hour, a day it will be gone. Follow this hint while you can!'

I don't usually try to explain my images, even to myself, not to mention anyone else. I wrote a statement 25 years ago:
".... Many of the pictures just seem to 'happen', because the individual negatives are 'looking' for each other. I'm just a chaperone, and a really loose one at that...."
Still true today. I try to stick w/ whatever immediate impulse inspired me. I'm not quite 100% in the "First thought, best thought" school... but it's never far from my mind.
And everything digital has made me acutely aware of the 'tweak things to death' impulse.
I also remain steadfastly adherent to the idea that a montage image is not necessarily about technique in blending things together, it's about the choice of images you use, and which ones you choose to 'montage' together. That one takes a while (and then some) to work out.

One thing I have started to do is tweak the prints in Photoshop, to refine them a bit. There's a difference between the values of the top and the bottom, here.. which I could fix very easily in the darkroom, printing from a copy neg (4x5, which I used to do all the time). I definitely don't 'remake' the composition, I only tweak values ('dodging and burning').

Larger images at:

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