24 June 2014

The Webbs Visit Rochester

I have to say that I find this project by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb on Rochester banal beyond belief. The repeated 'reflected in glass' images (is there a technical term for that sophomoric approach?) is just stupefying. Is it supposed to convey depth? Why is it that photographers seem to be wholly unable to approach the city in a direct, sensible way? Here they are at The New York Times and here they are at TIME. This makes me long for the Pellegrin fiasco!
P.S.: (6/25/2014) And here they are at The Guardian. Slow news day?

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Road trip across Ontario yesterday from Rochester (sunny blue skies) to Ann Arbor (overcast & drizzle). The drive was uneventful, even at the borders. Americana sound track: Los Lobos; Sam Baker; Emmy Lou Harris; Steve Earle; Uncle Tupelo. Now for another iteration of the ICPSR workshop.


18 June 2014

More Reasons - If Any Were Needed - Dick & Liz Cheney Are a Joke

Dick Cheney (war criminal) and his daughter Liz (who has accomplished precisely nothing in her 'career' beyond accepting nepotism) are criticizing Obama? Are you kidding? The reason why Iraq is in its current state reflects the duplicity and criminality of Cheney and his cronies in BushCo. So, Obama (of whom I am no fan) is bad news because he has not cleaned up Cheney, et. al.'s mess to their liking! What a bunch of bullshit. By publishing this sort of tripe the WSJ Editorial Page perfects its mimicry of Pravda.

Unfortunately, the Cheney's reportedly  have launched a 'grass roots' outfit to counter Obama's policy. They not only seem oblivious to their own abject unsuitability as sources of foreign policy advice. They also seem to not get the definition of grass roots - describing any organization launched by a former US Vice President and his privileged offspring as 'grass roots' is a laughable category mistake. And, might I add that the link to the WaPo Editorial Page (basically a free advert for the Cheneys) suggests that they are not far from the WSJ as peddlers of propaganda.
P.S.: And, it turns out the Cheneys are not alone among architects of the BushCo fiasco who seem oblivious to the disaster they created.

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13 June 2014

The Salt of the Earth

 Juliano Salgado, Sebastião Salgado & Wim Wenders (2014)

I recall, as I first began (mostly here) to think semi-seriously about photography and its uses, watching Spectre of Hope the short film consisting mostly of a conversation between John Berger and Sebastião Salgado. As I noted at the time, it really crystallized one of the primary insights I have developed on Salgado's work specifically and the politics of documentary more generally. In any case, there is a new film -  The Salt of the Earth, a collaboration between Wim Wenders and Juliano Salgado (the photographer's son) - documenting the elder Salgado's work. You can find two stories on the undertaking here and here at The Guardian.

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10 June 2014

World Cup Politics

"Soccer, metaphor for war, at times turns into real war. Then “sudden death” is no longer just a name for a dramatic way of deciding a tied match. These days, soccer fanaticism has come to occupy the place formerly reserved for religious fervor, patriotic ardor, and political passion. As often occurs with religion, patriotism, and politics, soccer can bring tensions to a boil, and many horrors are committed in its name." ~ Eduardo Galeano
The World Cup is coming up very soon - soon enough that Susan and Esme (the English contingent of the family) sent me an England Jersey for Fathers Day. It is important to keep the nationalist spectacle in perspective. The tournament is not working out well for all Brazilians. Surprised? I came across this report at The Guardian on street art in the host country protesting the games. And, perhaps the best writing on "soccer" is by Eduardo Galeano who has dissected the political-economy of football in pretty exquisite ways. You can find a sample here but really ought to track down his book Soccer in Sun and Shadow (Nation Books). That is where I lifted the opening passage above.
P.S.: My fellow political scientists have written a series of posts at The Monkey Cage (WaPo) on the politics of the world cup; it is fair to say that some of these are howlers, while others are more interesting. But here they are nevertheless: 1, 2, 3. 4. 5, 6

P.S.2 (Added 6/12/2014): My friend Navine Murshid alerted me to this OpEd by Dave Zirin at The New York Times which is germane to this post. FIFA is as corrupt and authoritarian as the NCAA and the International Olympics Committee.

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09 June 2014

The Bullet Point Guide to Photography Theory

Need a cheat sheet on theories of photography? Look here ...

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08 June 2014

Seeing the Occupation and Hearing It

"A Palestinian farmer looks toward the horizon of a beautiful landscape in the Jordan Valley. His farm and house were demolished twice by the Israeli authorities, as was the rest of his village. He decided to stay, to fight against the continuing attempts to uproot him. He fights using his very existence as a tool. This is the story of Burhan Basharat from Khirbet Makhoul in the Jordan Valley. This is also the story of many others."
I lifted this image and caption from this collection here at +972, an online web magazine focusing on  the reality of Israeli-Palestinian interactions in the occupied territories. And then, this morning, I discovered this report at The Guardian on Breaking Silence - an initiative undertaken by former IDF members to describe those interactions in words. A powerful convergence.

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Ethical Reasons to Oppose Political-Economic Inequality

Only just occasionally the TED-Industrial Complex produces an interesting presentation. Here is one by philosopher Tim Scanlon on various ethical arguments for reducing inequality.

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02 June 2014

Annie Appel The Occupy Portraits

 More or less coincidentally, I came across a link to this set of remarkable portraits of Occupy activists across several cities. The images are by Annie Appel who, while making the portraits, asked each subject how long they'd been in the movement and what they hoped for from the Occupy movement. Their answers, simple and direct, provide 'captions' for the images. Appel has initiated this Kickstarter campaign to try to get her images published in book form. Regardless of whether you approach her portraits primarily along political dimension, from the perspective of unadorned images, or both, Appel's work is really very good. Her campaign deserves your support. Give it up!

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