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I moved from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California this past weekend.
Blake Andrews — everyone’s favourite photoblogger and Oregon resident — wanted answers.
Bryan Wolf, “Eclipse watchers” (Grid M9).
On Saturday, my article The Grid Project: A Photo-Survey of Portland was published in The Oregonian. It was my first ever piece for The Oregonian, a paper which was founded in 1850 and predates official Oregon statehood which came about in 1859.
I wrote: “In 1995, Christopher Rauschenberg assembled a team of a dozen photography enthusiasts. Together, they sliced up a AAA map of Portland into square mile segments and resolved to hit the streets of each corresponding square and photograph, once a month, until no more squares remained. By 2004, they had documented all 89 squares within the city limits. At that time, the only thing to do was to start over. In September of this year, the Grid Project will complete its second full photo-survey of the Rose City.”
I wrote the article because The Grid Project is raising Kickstarter cash to replace its old, limited-function website with a new-spangly site with full on search, more images and happy-wide-eyed-users. With four days to go, just over $600 more is needed, so it looks like it’s going to make it.
When I arrived in Portland 18 months ago, folks at the Grid Project were some of the first I wanted to meet. Even though I don’t shoot photographs they let me join them for a meeting and look over images. Many of the Gridders are now friends.
The Grid Project is amazing. Here’s why:
1. It’s all about community.
2. It’s done for the love of photography; no one’s getting paid.
3 It’s a simple premise, but collectively 20 or so photographers have documented a changing Portland over nearly two decades. The estimated 40,000 images they’ve made is an incredible resource.
4. The Portland Grid Project invented the formula. The methodology has since been repeated around the globe in towns and cities such as Bradford, England; Toronto, Canada; Vancouver, WA; Victoria, BC; Rome, Italy; Providence, RI; Eugene, OR; Central Oregon; Napa Valley, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Forest Grove OR and Santa Fe, NM.
If you fancy a fancy print you should throw some money in the pot. Here’s some fine Grid Project images to stroke your eyeballs
Ann Kendellen, Pendleton Park, SW 53rd and Iowa, January 2011 (Grid N6).
BlakeAndrews, 2007, (Grid J12).
Bruce Hall, Kid on the Sandy Blvd overpass for the 205 freeway, (Grid J12).
Carole Glauber. “Frankie’s Franks” SE 82nd, 2011.
Christopher Rauschenberg, SE 15th Avenue, 2008 (Grid L9).
David Potter. “Inside of Marci MacFarlane’s car” North Interstate Avenue and Going Street, May 29th, 2005 (Grid J8).
Lisa Gidley. NE 42nd Avenue near Sumner Street, September 2011.
Nancy Butler, “Untitled” (Grid N9).
Bruce Hall, Off NE Fremont, (Grid K11).
Mark Barnes, “Jessie”
Mark Barnes, “Foster Rd”
Patrick Stearns (one image in a set of three) (Grid K8, 04/99).
David Potter, (M14, August 2000).
Patrick Stearns (one image in a set of three) (Grid G4, 04/00)
© Teresa Christiansen, from Trace Psychedelia.
The Eye On PDX series continues with Teresa Christiansen.
Blake Andrews asks the questions most others might shy away from. Read the full interview on Blake’s blog.
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BA: I love Trace Psychedelia. What is your experience with psychedelic drugs?
TC: The word “psychedelia” in the series title refers less to drugs than to the genre of music and art associated with that term. I also wanted to allude to the experience of seeing everything in immense detail through a heightened perceptual state of mind. I experienced this when I first moved to Portland after living in New York City my entire life. During my first spring here, I walked around with my camera, in awe of the dense greenness of everything. I painted onto the surface of the photographs that I took not only as a way to recreate this experience and the excitement I felt about being in a new place, but also as a way for me to put my photography in dialogue with painting.
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Blake has posted the latest in our Eye On PDX series. He spoke (at length) with Jason Langer. The conversation swoops over the achievements of Langer’s career beginning with his apprenticeship with Michael Kenna. Much of the conversation is Langer passing on the wisdoms that Kenna passed on to him.
Langer says, “I wrote a postcard to Kenna every year with my photo on one side and when I was ready to graduate in 1989 he was ready to hire his first assistant. I jumped at the chance, moved down to the Bay Area and got paid $6/hr. to babysit, mop floors, wash dishes- anything he needed- and of course all the photo related things. Souping film, making contacts, drymounting and matting prints and getting them ready to ship.”
“Kenna told me was that it takes about 10 years to figure out what you want to photograph- what your subject is- and it takes that much time to get good at it- and in the meantime, don’t show your work, until it’s ready- keep the photos under your bed and keep working. There is no rush. That’s a lesson which shocking (to me) has gone out the window- people don’t take ANY time to let their images stew in the pot. It takes AT LEAST this to create a signature style and subject matter- or so I thought. Now – seemingly- it doesn’t matter.”
Read the full conversation: Q&A with Jason Langer
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Blake has compiled a great little piece about the final images of some of the best known photobooks.
Here’s what Blake has to say about Eggleston:
The final image in Eggleston’s Guide is typical Eggleston. It’s so banal it almost seems meaningless. Yet I’ve always found this picture loaded and menacing. Peaked hoods in the south creep me out. I wouldn’t make this my last image before bedtime.
Near Jackson, Mississippi, 1970, William Eggleston
Earlier this week I featured Blake’s Brief History of the U.S. Passport Photograph. An artist/collector with hundreds of Passport and ID Photographs, named Least Wanted, followed up with Blake to get the word out on his sprawling collection.
Also earlier this week, I put up a piece about the JUSTICE Art Installation in Bridewell Police Station, London. Coincidentally, one of the artists for the JUSTICE exhibition exhibition was Mark Michaelson, aka Least Wanted. It seems like a small-internet-triangle-of-providence presented itself this morning and it is up to me to draw the hypotenuese …
Least Wanted collects, groups and displays a huge collection of I.D. photos on Flickr. In addition to passport shots, it includes medical photographs, badge I.D. photos and other documentary ephemera. Prison Photography is interested in the majority of the collection: Mugshots.
Least Wanted’s sets are a mad enough curatorial project to keep me going for months. For now, I’ll just echo Blake’s sentiment and point you in the direction of Michaelson’s epic archive.
The three images used in this article were drawn from Least Wanted’s misc. Set
Blake Andrews says, “Together with the mugshot, the passport snapshot was the earliest application of photography as purely personal identifier.” It’s a good read and you should check it out. My favourite observation was the 1920s transition, “Photos were glued instead of stapled.” Also, is that Indiana Jones?…
I’ve been thinking a lot about mugshots recently and how prison photography is one little orbit of many about the deathstar of dark-photography. Other orbits include Weegee, Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel (defining the cross over between documentary and fine art) forensic photography, police blotter, thanatourism, civil war hangings, Salgado’s “Beautiful Deathscapes”, lynching photography, Danny Lyon (the most appropriated of artists) and fetishism to name a few.
All of these, by method or subject, relate to the state, and thus more orbits of homeland and foreign surveillance, torture slideshows, death suites, electric chairs, driving licenses, mafia movies, Jenny Holzer and genocide.
The most everyday instance of a photographic collaboration with the state is the passport photo. No more than that. Just thoughts.