Monthly Archives: February 2007

Straight off the bus.

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An aside

Cheddar gorge (The Hunts Post)

A FOOD phobia has left a Wyton man unable to eat anything apart from mild Cheddar cheese ever since he was a toddler.

Dave Nunley, 29, eats about 16st of Cheddar, preferably grated, each year and has never consumed a hot meal in his life – not even hot cheese.

After talking with experts on a BBC television programme, Dave can now eat an occasional bowl of Ready Brek or a bag of salt and vinegar crisps.

(via The Food Section)

Snow

In and around Garden City

Annals of Archiving: DVD flavors

So you’ve been wondering while you’re backing up your photographs (ha!) which kind of DVDs you should really be feeding your PowerBook…

Thanks to an entry in the blog “Ad Terras Per Aspera”, I learned more than science considered possible to know about blank DVDs. My disc-fountain overfloweth.

In essence – DVD+R is better than DVD-R:

DVD+R uses a superior ‘wobble’ laser tracking system, a far better error correction method, and the media quality itself is typically higher.

unless you’re burning video DVDs for playback in your parents’ DVD player, which is a mildly stinkier kettle of fish. (Wobble laser tracking system. I’d like one Wobble Laser to go, please.)

DVD+RW or DVD-RW both tend to let your data quietly decay away.

Dual layer (DVD+R DL) ain’t worth buying.

And the brand “Taiyo Yuden” is apparently worth hunting down, though I have to confess I’m gonna stick with burning two cheap discs instead.

This is all assuming that your burner enjoys all flavors of DVDs, which some old ones don’t.

Master Auto Panda, Inc.

There is a point on the Hempstead line of the Long Island Railroad, after the Queens Village and Hollis stations have rolled past, long after you have been rocked into heavy-liddedness by the ticket-snicketing and the shuddering of the train as it grumbles through switches and suburbs; a point where, it is said, if you look blearily out the window of the coach at precisely the right moment, you, too, might spy the long-rumored Master Auto Panda, Inc., your wonderment bounded only by the tired inevitability of the train’s continued trundling into Jamaica Station.

Others will champion the cavernous garbage-sorting facility, filled with harsh light and lurching begloved shadows at all times of night, as the most notable portion of the trip; or the shellacked Model T atop a rival auto shop, later in the ride; and these are worthy curios, I confess. But they know not the Master Panda.

Plagiarism in photography


Peter Bialobrzeski, Shanghai, 2001 (#57). Bottom: H. & D. Zielske, Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai, 2002. Screen grab from Slate.
Top: Peter Bialobrzeski, Shanghai, 2001 (#57). Bottom: H. & D. Zielske, Nanpu Bridge, Shanghai, 2002. Screen grab from Slate.

In the article “Can Photographers Be Plagiarists: The Case of the Nanpu Bridge,” writer David Segal raises the question of whether photographers can plagiarize. He shows and describes two very similar photographs of a bridge at night, and attributes them similarity based on their “luminous, Blade Runner-like glow” – or in less adorned English, their long exposure – and proceeds to highlight other, past cases of accused plagiarism in photography. Worth a look.

Walter Benjamin traversed this ground.

The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into its web. There is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. That of the painter is a total one, that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law.

Fragments of what? Reality, in Benjamin’s writing; but “reality” in our perception is not composed merely of that before us.

Reality as a concept is not objective or naïve; it is coalesced memory applied to our immediate surroundings. Without the aid of our past experiences, “reality” would be a worthless concept. I see a cactus; I remember having been stung by it. I see a bridge; I wonder what it would look like at night.

Consider for a moment the colloquial use of “realistic” – “Let’s be realistic.” The speaker is not asking you to analyze the objective nature of the things being discussed; he is asking you to apply the cynicism of collective experience to your idealistic proposal.

Realism is subjective. How, then, can it be judged by an objective ruler? How can one photographer’s capture of “reality” be more true, or more original, than another’s?

(Or, to take a veer into deconstruction: if you consider reality objective, then how can two photographs of the same constant be differing values?)

Yes, the argument could be made that one photograph came before the other, and is thus more worthy of praise. Little is new under the sun. Only the briefest window exists in which a photograph of something has never been made.

Writing in Harper’s, Jonathan Lethem voiced a reasoned critique of copyright in an article entitled “The Ecstasy of Influence”:

Is an intellectual or creative offering truly novel, or have we just forgotten a worthy precursor?

He covers most facets of the issue – including “cryptomnesia,” a term to describe the tendency of authors throughout time to read a book and then unconsciously regurgitate its theme or ideas in new format, without conscious plagiarism; the human mind rarely forgets on a permanent basis, but blends and chops and amalgamates past experiences into seemingly new ideas.

The real question, to my mind – why would you want to consciously copy someone’s photograph? Unless you are more able or willing to fiscally exploit the photograph than its creator, as with Koons/dogs, you don’t stand to gain much of anything. If you found an Eggleston photograph in a book, it’s pretty damned likely that your audience will recognize any particularly skillful reproduction of it. And only so many photographers can be “commenting on the nature of originality” – Sherry Levine did it, folks.

Little is new under the sun.

The real challenge of photography is in being unique. How many art students majored in photography? How many Flickr users are there? How many Americans go home after work and take macro photographs of ladybugs on the lawn?

Plagiarism in photography: not if, or how – but why?

It’s been voiced – and if I can remember by whom, or when, a link will be forthcoming by Mike Johnston – that photographers have two stages of development. In the first: you strive to emulate other photographers. The second: you strive to differentiate yourself from other photographers.

The Zielskes were misguided. Photographic plagiarism is pointless, particularly now.

(Thanks to Mike Johnston for the Slate link, too.)