First time, every time is a.

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First time, every time is a.*
Georgetown and Sodo
Seattle, WA
Spring Quarter, 2010

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Sunday, 6.20.10
(Bothell, WA)

Habits are tasks, repeated.
Over and over, we
get groceries.  Browse, pick, purchase.
Bag, store, squeeze, peel,
slice, simmer, taste.
Bed sheets unfolding//folding//unfolding.
Make bed, unmake bed:
laying, sweating, sleeping, laying,
kissing.
Alarm — alarm set, snooze.  Snooze……
……..      snooze.shit.

Habits are patterns we weave.
In to muscle-memory.
Interrupted regularly by the first times.
Instant and incident, instants and change
happens.

Again. and over again.

Every first time.

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*These are images from my first self-processed collection of photographs.  I made each photo using a black and white film camera while taking an introductory photography class.  They are from a roll of film I developed and scanned at the Shoreline Community College photo lab.  This is the first and only roll of film I have developed, and sure to not be the last.

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Featured artist :: Noah and the Whale

I see you, do you see me?

I see you, do you see me?
Seattle, WA
May 2010

Final Assignment: What is Art?

Artist’s Statement

This image is called ‘I see you, do you see me?’

I chose this photograph as my final assignment piece, an image that portrays what I consider to be art.  The definition of art, like beauty, is subjective, but I think the key element that a piece of art should embody is an element of intrigue.  Art makes us want to look at it longer and make sense of what we are seeing.  It should elicit a reaction, be it emotional or physiological.

I have found that shooting in and viewing black and white photos are more intriguing than color photos.  The lack of color brings forth the more fundamental aspects of a photograph, and allows the composition and subject of the photograph more room for expression, as well as gives the viewer more freedom as to how the image is received.  In this way, it simplifies the image; allowing the fundamental elements of the image to carry more weight.

At first glance, ‘I see you, do you see me?’ appears to be a complex photograph, with a lot going on in the picture, but the lack of color and compositional elements simplify the image.  In it we see patterns of circles and lines, which give the flurry of activity, present in the image, an anchor.  We see circles created by the mirrors in the forefront.  Both the glass of the mirrors, the repeated shape of the circular mirror reflected in the glass of the larger mirror, and the patterns of circles on the frames of the mirrors create this repeated circular pattern.  While these objects are static, the repeated circular pattern adds an element of movement and flow.

We can also see patterns of lines in this image.  Lines are embedded in the pattern of the large mirror frame, and we see lines created by the two thick chains that hold the large mirror suspended from the top of the festival booth.  There are also lines created by the man’s dreds on the left side of the photograph.  They look as though they are a continuation of the fingers of his left hand, which are in the process of running down his hair.  To the right of him, we see the profile of a man walking toward the mirror, with diagonal patterned lines on his hat.  Just below him, in the background we see lines created by the books stacked sideways in the merchant booth behind him, and lines created by the frames of the white merchant booths.  Additionally, the white tarps of the booths in the background provide a nice backdrop for the darker elements in the forefront, providing balance for the image.

I took this photo while at the Folklife Festival at Seattle Center.  My friend, Ivan Odin, is the man in the black hat, walking toward the center of the photograph.  We had lost track of each other, each walking through either side of the mirror booth, just missing each other.  As I walked through the booth, surrounded by mirrors on all sides, I felt as though I was walking through an optical illusion; not quite sure if what I saw in the reflection of the mirrors as I passed were reflections or a view of what lay on the other side.

I consider this piece to be a work of art because it captures that illusory feeling.  Upon looking at the large mirror, one is not certain if we are looking through the mirror, as the frames and coloring of the merchant booth that sits behind it match up with what’s reflected in the glass.  In fact, this is a reflection of what faces it.  I think this gives the image an element of intrigue.  It piques our curiosity.  It draws us in.  This is what art should do.

I sit with you.

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I sit with you.
May, 2010
Seattle, WA
These images were taken at my beautiful friend, Sophia’s, beautiful house in Rainier Valley.

Assignment #4: Light

Artist’s Statement

The title of this two-piece set is, ‘I sit with you’.

In these photos I wanted to use the soft morning light and reflective technique to create a sense of stillness and calm in the viewer.  I used the same natural lighting situation for both photos but wanted to convey the different visual and lighting elements that black and white versus color photography bring forth.

In both photographs we are drawn to the top portion of the photo.  The vibrant white of the statue immediately draws our eyes to it – the lap of the seated Buddha statue.  The folds of his drapes cascade downward to where his hands gently rest, and bring our eyes to the bottom portion of the photo, the pool of water in which he sits.

In the black and white photograph the water appears gray.  The lack of color makes it easier for the viewer to notice the fallen leaves sitting at the bottom of the birdbath.  We also see specs of white light from the sky reflected on the water’s surface.  Mixed among the various shades of gray below and on the water’s surface, the Buddha’s reflection is barely noticeable.  In this colorless image, the Buddha’s reflection is not as easily seen as in the color version.

The color photograph is more visually stimulating.  We can see the green leaves and brown twigs sitting in the palms of the statue.  The bottom portion of the photo is a mix of shades of green, brown and orange.  As in the black and white image, we see the bright white light of the sky reflected on the surface of the water.  The blurred outlines of leaves sitting at the bottom of the birdbath come in to view after further inspection; leading our eyes to focus on the detail of the head of the statue, and his serene expression reflected in the water.

Though the head of the statue is perhaps the last thing that the viewer focuses on or notices, it is the most refined and detailed element in the color photo.  In this way, the viewer must sit with both pictures for a while, as in meditation, to connect with each image and get a sense of what the image attempts to portray.

The image of Buddha, himself, is a peaceful sight to gaze upon but the soft glow of natural light cast against the white stone and the tender expression of Buddha in meditation reflected in the still water further heighten this sense of stillness and calm.

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I sit with you: black & white.

I sit with you: color.

Process of peace.

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Process of Peace.
Peace Park*
Seattle, WA
5.13.10


Assignment #2: Depth of Field

Artist’s Statement

The subject of this three-photograph series is ‘the process of peace’.

All three photographs were shot from the same angle and within the same compositional frame.  However, using different depths of field to create each picture gives each image varying compositional elements, and an overall different feel.

Each picture is divided into two parts by a horizontal line which is created where the tree-line meets the sky.  The top portions of the images are filled predominantly with a vibrant white cloud and the bottom portions of the photos, where the statue of a girl stands, is textured by the branches and leaves of the tree in the background.

In the first photograph (left to right) the fore ground is in focus.  This leads the viewers’ eye to focus on the statue of the girl holding an origami crane.  The chain of origami cranes, which lies on the statue’s left upper arm, creates an s-curved vertical line that moves upward to the statue’s right shoulder, and continues along her right arm which extends toward the sky.  This continuous line creates an upward movement within the image and focuses the eye toward the paper bird, which looks as though it is about to take flight.  The vertical line created by the budded flower in the bottom-right corner of the paragraph further creates this visual quality of movement.

The middle photograph shows the same scene but with the background in focus.  The statue is blurred and we can no longer see the detail of the statue’s hair, the paper crane necklace, nor the budded flower in the bottom-right corner.  The vertical s-curved line we see in the first image is no longer a predominant feature of this photograph.  With the background in focus, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the detail of the tree and the clouds.  This gives the image a feeling of expansiveness.  We can see more clearly what lies ahead.

In the third photograph, the background and foreground are in focus.  We are able to see the detail of the statue as well as the detail of the tree and clouds in the background.  All elements of the image are sharpened using this extended depth of field.  The viewer is able to focus on the statue in the forefront.  The vertical s-curve, as can be seen in the first photograph is present here as well; giving movement to the photograph.  The crane being held in the statue’s right hand looks as though it is about to take flight and fly toward the tree and cloud we see clearly in the distance.

In these images I wanted to convey a sense of hope, as is experienced during the process of peace – advocating for, building and maintaining peace.

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*Peace Park was the dream of Dr. Floyd Schmoe, who after winning the Hiroshima Peace Prize in 1998 used the $5,000 prize money to clear a small lot near the University of Washington.  From a pile of wrecked cars, garbage, and brush, he worked with community volunteers to build the beautiful Peace Park.

Peace Park is the current home of the Sadako and the Thousand Cranes sculpture, created in 1990 by artist Daryl Smith. The statue is a life-size bronze of Sadako Sasaki, the young Japanese girl who survived the Hiroshima bombing only to die of radiation sickness at age 12.

The park was dedicated on August 6, 1990, the 45th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

(Taken from City of Seattle web site.)

Knowing when it’s love.

“Knowing When It’s Love.”
Shoreline Community College Dark Room
Seattle, WA
4.20.10

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I’ve finally succumbed to my obsessive cell phone photo habit and have decided it’s time to graduate and start playing with ‘real’ cameras now and begin to understand how they work.  So, I’ve enrolled in a beginning photography class.  My teacher is a nut and very knowledgeable – I love it.

Our first assignment was to create a photogram to get us acquainted with the enlarger and dark room equipment, as well as to have us start thinking about composition and how to set up images in a way that captures what we want to express.

We were asked to create an image using objects taken from home.  What I first envisioned and started out with turned out to be different from what resulted as I played with objects, filters, exposure times, development elixir timings and agitations.  Initially I was planning on using more objects than I ended up with, and the subject of my image was going to be titled, “Daydreams, memories and forgetting”, but it unfolded into something else. 

That’s what I really enjoyed about this assignment.  The focus was on the process.  Often, in life, we focus on the result or the means needed to create, generate or ‘get’ something.  I am a proponent of paying attention to the process.  To do this we must focus on the present moment.  I think it makes the end result a more honest one.  

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To create the image above, I used a cotton black scarf (which is often found wrapped around my neck), a cloth flower I randomly found years ago and vowed I would find something to do with, and a necklace my dad sent to me from Kabul last year – a lapis lazuli pendant in the shape of a heart.

The image is a positive print or reverse negative of the first print I made, the negative.  To do this, you sandwich a blank sheet of photo development paper, emulsion side up, with the emulsion side (down) of a negative print, expose and develop.   

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Assignment #1: Create a photogram

The subject of this photogram is ‘our recognition, definition and understanding of love’.

The darker bottom portion of the image, the ‘soil’, represents our idea of love – our emotional experience of love that we cannot define with words; our internal experience of what we understand love to be.  The lighter top portion of the image is our contrasting tactile experience of love – the tangible, visible expression of the love that we see.  Like the flower, our surface-level experience of love can be understood through the senses:  we can touch and see the flower’s petals, smell its fragrance, and taste it, if we want to.

The gauzy texture of the soil captures the confusion and murky misunderstanding of love that we experience; usually as adolescents and young adults.  The visual rhythm of the roots, as represented by scarf tassels, falling downward leads the viewer’s eye to the heart, the universal symbol of love, which sits in the bottom left corner of the image.   It is unclear whether the flower we see has sprouted from the heart or whether it’s tethered to one of the roots which holds nothing at its end.

The stark contrast of the white space of the top portion of the image brings our focus to the flower.  Above the soil it’s clear what we see – a delicate, blossoming flower.  This captures the idealist nature of young love – a love that we want to see and believe.  What we see in this dreamy reality is the flower, and nothing else.  At face value, a love interest can appear beautiful and grounded in our understanding of what love means, but below the surface, we do not know if the love we feel is anchored in reality.