my work + other things
ASSIGNMENT: Individual Photo Critiques
1. As I am a sucker for all things 1960s, I am drawn to this photo because of its retro glamor. Upon further inspection, I see the stark difference between this fashion white Europeans and the humble black Africans, and how they do not “co-exist.” The rope separates them, but I love that the rope is so tame in its severity. It’s hard to tell in certain places where this “division” is taking place.
2. What we are seeing is an entertainment event presented by the Africans, but which the whites enjoy attending. Therefore, the whites and blacks are separated in the seats. Mostly all parties photographed seem either bored or enjoying the show, but not entirely concerned with one another.
3. Vectors everywhere! The thatched roof and the rope and wooden poles create the compartments of this audience. Clearly, we see the separation of white faces from black faces, kept in homogeneous groups. Common fate shows that they are all looking at something behind the photographer, in this case, a performance. I love how densely packed the bottom portion of the frame is with faces, compared to the top portion that is filled in with the thatched roof.
4. Because the spectators were already grouped and seated, this is a great opportunity to take a photo. Cole placed himself lower, towards the stage, to capture the stadium-style arrangement of the spectators.
ASSIGNMENT: Individual Photo Critiques
1. Of all the photos from the “Ernest Cole: Photographer” exhibit, this photo was my absolute favorite. It was one of a few photos on display that Cole shot of the black citizens of South Africa using the railway system. The railroads were chaotic, dangerous and unreliable. But, to me, the photo doesn’t illustrate despair or hard times. I see a calmness within the chaos, and a dignity of these men, dressed smartly, despite the fact that they are crammed into the cars like cattle.
2. The subject of this photo is of a “black” car on a train, where these second-class citizens had to pack themselves in, while their white counterparts enjoyed exorbitantly less extreme conditions. However, what we see are determined faces of people on their way to to work, making the best of what they’re dealing with, even if it means finding a space near the ceiling.
3. In its composition, I find this photograph stunning. There is so much for the eye to take in: a small, finite space filled with body parts, faces, hair and clothing connecting together like a jigsaw puzzle. I find this picture special because of the inadvertent portraiture occurring. From right to left, Cole capturer many men’s faces, some staring in different directions, but with light bouncing beautifully off their dark skin. This effect helps me zone in on these faces and the details, like a furrowed brow, a spacey glance, or a hand gripping the ceiling of the train while the other grips a leather attache. The vector of the ceiling beam guides the eye through the body of this train car, and I love the close ups that form on the far right side of the frame.
4. I am stunned that (assuming it wasn’t staged) this photo was captured so elegantly in such an extreme setting. Where was the light coming from that illuminated these faces? How did Cole set up this shot? Was he squeezed in there somewhere, and did he just raise his camera high and start firing away? This is an example of his mastery of photography, no matter how it was obtained.
ASSIGNMENT: Individual Photo Critiques
1. My impression of this photo is: it makes me smile. It looks like a group of friends or neighbors enjoying a good time together, plus a cute baby. Culturally, this photo is extraordinarily significant because it illustrates how, despite political oppression, black and white people can still enjoy each other as people in a racially divided nation. If not for the stark difference in appearances (white European men in street clothes, black African woman in worker uniform), these people would not necessary seem so strange hanging out together.
2. The subject of the photo is a group of neighbors, made up of white European men and black African women and children, hanging out and having some fun together. It’s part of a series of a few other photos from the same area depicting similar imagery, mainly of white men physically interesting withe black women. Apartheid law in South Africa forbade and punished this kind of interaction, but here we see it occurring, naturally, anyway.
3. In it’s composition, I see elements of both grouping and separation. Due to similarity, we see 4 bodies embracing in a cluster, smiles and even physical contact– this alerts us of kinship and happiness. The dark contrast of the woman and child’s skin against that of the male companions shows that they are different races, and the significance of the racial mixing is extreme within the context.
I enjoy the way the subjects fill the frame with different levels: the smiling man in the background, the baby in the lower right quadrant of the frame. Became the black women is grasping the white man next to her, we almost see a visual fluid connectedness between them. They are the centerpiece of this photo, filling up two-thirds of the frame, a study of black and white in black and white.
4. Staged or not, the grouping of the subjects in this shot makes it feel so much more intimate and casual. The wide (toothless?) grin of the man in the background lightens the tone, particularly when compared to other photos in the gallery. Cole was probably crouching or kneeling to get this shot, based the angle, the closeness to the subject and the fact that the subjects are sitting close to the ground. The vector planes of the hut (vertical vector in the doorway, horizontal vectors in the paneling) frame the two stars of this photo, but also show us how “close to home” they probably are.
ASSIGNMENT: Response and Critique to “Ernest Cole: Photographer” Photo Exhibit
Within the relatively small interior of the Grey Gallery, I think this exhibit was orchestrated well. Looking back, I felt the odd juxtaposition of Cole’s photos and the gallery’s atmosphere.
While the photos were rich black and white snapshots of South African apartheid goings-on, the gallery was filled with warm bright light that reflected off the shiny wood floors of a distinguished NYU building. I think the tone of the gallery was somber, seemingly to pay respect to the content of the imagery on display.
The composition of the gallery was very pleasant. The prints themselves were gorgeous; rich contrasted black-and-white gelatin photos framed under lots of light. The tiny plaques were full of dates and information, so I found myself getting very close to each and every picture to read and view.
I wasn’t able to follow a guided “flow” because of a tour happening ahead of me, but I did notice the grouping of photos. Near the entrance, I saw the photos of the black Africans becoming integrated into the communities, assigned jobs, being washed, etc. As the exhibit unfolded, I saw different smaller collections of pictures: women working as nannies in white African homes, groups of blacks using the railroad system, pictures of street violence among both whites and black.
I don’t know if I found a greater narrative or “message” in the arrangement of the photos, but I had to keep reminding myself that these photos were taken “sneakily,” so to speak. Cole was likely only able to capture some of these moments because he was a black man in a racist society– largely ignored. I was struck by how he was able to capture both sides of this racial divide, and how personal a photo series this must have been.
ASSIGNMENT: Media Log
This past week in sounds:
I started seeing a guy who DJs and makes music here in NYC and in LA. I have been enjoying his SoundCloud for his DJ act Mother Brother:
He also got me hooked on this track by a DJ called Bro Safari:
My favorite way to enjoy music online is with the app and website Songza. The site uses decades, genre and mood to help you find a playlist, curated by their music experts. It’s my favorite way to revisit things I like and find new artists or styles of music. Here are some of my favorited playlists:
This led me to download N.E.R.D.’s 2010 album called “Nothing,” which featured this incredible single I missed out on 4 years ago, called “Hypnotize U.”
Aside from music, I spent time listening to NPR (“Fresh Air”) and Marc Maron’s podcast “WTF” for the first time. I love any radio program with interviews about the entertainment industry and the people involved. I listened to Terry Gross interview Bryan Cranston and Marc Maron interview Jon Hamm and Amy Poehler.
I had to do a final review to picture lock a feature I’ve been working on with my partner for the past two years, called “The Anchorite." Although the movie’s sound hasn’t been mixed yet, it’s a film about bands playing on tour and we’ve trimmed it down considerably to get the film to a reasonable length. I have been focusing on volume and sound transitions, and how the soundtrack interacts with the performances on screen.
Sounds I enjoyed this week were the voices of my loved ones. I got to return home to Rhode Island for 4 days and really treasured hearing things that were familiar and friendly.
I got to spend time singing this week, which I don’t normally get to do. I love singing in my car. I am a pretty decent singer with some experience behind me, so I can carry a tune. Since I no longer get to drive my car, I have to savor those moments when I return to Rhode Island. I often find myself driving around at night with my music and singing along. I like the sensation of hearing my own voice and matching the melody, changing the key or harmonizing.
I spent time at the ocean, which is very meaningful sound experience for me. It is a great way to dampen your thoughts.
I spend almost ever single moment from when I step outside my apartment until I reach my destination listening to music on my headphones. I always compare listening to headphones to listening to music in the car when I think of my NYC versus non-NYC worlds. I tend to change up my preferred genres, but I almost always listen to the same mixes or groups of songs over and over and over.
At home, I compulsively listen to music, just to have on in the background. I also always take speakers into the bathroom so I can listen to music when I shower. It is definitely not good for my hardware, but it’s good for my soul.
Other than music, I really enjoy silence. I am someone who becomes easily agitated or anxious when I cannot find silence or time alone. I need silence and stillness to calm me. When I come home to an empty apartment, I am energized and thrilled at the prospect of remaining silent for as long as possible. I have a chatterbox roommate (who is also related to me) so I endure a lot of babble– my least favorite sound. I am a meditator and someone who loves to clear my mind, so silence is crucial for me.
ASSIGNMENT: Sound Scape 2 - Bedford Ave, Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
metal crunching squeaking shoop
a dull jingle
cars approaching and pass
soft tingling piano notes
the constant sound of cars humming like the ocean actually
and the waves crashing close and far away
but these ones speed up
and radio songs go by with them
the “essss” sounds of a girl speaking
“i don’t know why”
there’s her friend talking about her birth certificate
legally spelled wrong
a baby is making a fit down the street, probably on the corner
all different tones of car horns
ones that sound just like this “beeeep”
tires on the pavement sticking
a plane at cruising altitude
car door shuts
and another door shuts less gracefully
a little baby is definitely crying somewhere
another plane is cruising by above me
more s sounds from the girls below
someone whacking something against the chain link fence
a car revs and makes its way from right to left
many more follow
and a motorbike too
another airplane plane is cruising above me
yip a car alarm
some condensed humming maybe a generator
tiny steps and tiny wheels spinning
a foreign voice speaking Hebrew
another airplane cruising above me
feet slapping against the pavement