2 of 365 (MN_WBS 2015)

2015-01-02

2 of 365
2015_01_02

Matt Niebuhr
West Branch Studio
www.mattniebuhr.com
shop.mattniebuhr.com

iphonography + instagramography = diptychliscous

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Basalt Shards

Image

Basalt Shards

Basalt Shards
East Central Oregon
2009
[photography]
Matt Niebuhr
West Branch Studio

This photo from a road trip through East Central Oregon has continued to rattle around in my imagination…

Joan Didion – Excerpts from “Why I write”

Applicable thoughts below on what exactly it is that you do….  (originally found partially via “but does it float”)

The trick it seems is to recognize the things that hold your attention and then to apply all your attention possible to those things…

Excerpts from Why I write

From The New York Times Magazine, December 5, 1976. Copyright 1976 by Joan Didion and The New York Times Company.

Of course I stole the title from this talk, from George Orwell. One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:

I

I

I

In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind.Its an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its aggressiveness all you want with veils of subordinate clauses and qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasionswith the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than statingbut theres no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writers sensibility on the readers most private space.

I stole the title not only because the words sounded right but because they seemed to sum up, in a no-nonsense way, all I have to tell you. Like many writers I have only this one “subject,” this one “area”: the act of writing. I can bring you no reports from any other front. I may have other interests: I am “interested,” for example, in marine biology, but I don’t flatter myself that you would come out to hear me talk about it. I am not a scholar. I am not in the least an intellectual, which is not to say that when I hear the word “intellectual” I reach for my gun, but only to say that I do not think in abstracts. During the years when I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, I tried, with a kind of hopeless late-adolescent energy, to buy some temporary visa into the world of ideas, to forge for myself a mind that could deal with abstract.

In short I tried to think. I failed. My attention veered inexorably back to the specific, to the tangible, to what was generally considered, by everyone I knew then and for that matter have known since, the peripheral. I would try to contemplate the Hegelian dialectic and would find myself concentrating instead on a flowering pear tree outside my window and the particular way the petals fell on my floor. I would try to read linguistic theory and would find myself wondering instead if the lights were on in the bevatron up the hill. When I say that I was wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron you might immediately suspect, if you deal in ideas at all, that I was registering the bevatron as a political symbol, thinking in shorthand about the military-industrial complex and its role in the university community, but you would be wrong. I was only wondering if the lights were on in the bevatron, and how they looked.

A physical fact.

I had trouble graduating from Berkeley, not because of this inability to deal with ideas–I was majoring in English, and I could locate the house-and-garden imagery in “The Portrait of a Lady” as well as the next person, “imagery” being by definition the kind of specific that got my attention–but simply because I had neglected to take a course in Milton. For reasons which now sound baroque I needed a degree by the end of that summer, and the English department finally agreed, if I would come down from Sacramento every Friday and talk about the cosmology of “Paradise Lost,” to certify me proficient in Milton. I did this. Some Fridays I took the Greyhound bus, other Fridays I caught the Southern Pacific’s City of San Francisco on the last leg of its transcontinental trip. I can no longer tell you whether Milton put the sun or the earth at the center of his universe in “Paradise Lost,” the central question of at least one century and a topic about which I wrote 10,000 words that summer, but I can still recall the exact rancidity of the butter in the City of San Francisco’s dining car, and the way the tinted windows on the Greyhound bus cast the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits into a grayed and obscurely sinister light. In short my attention was always on the periphery, on what I could see and taste and touch, on the butter, and the Greyhound bus. During those years I was traveling on what I knew to be a very shaky passport, forged papers: I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was.

Which was a writer.

By which I mean not a “good” writer or a “bad” writer but simply a writer, a person whose most absorbed and passionate hourse are spent arranging words on pieces of paper. Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?

Longitude and Latitude

Today, a glimpse out the office window alternates between rainfall and sunshine,  a black hearse drives slowly by and somewhere the ocean changes color…

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bolsena) 1969

CY TWOMBLY
Untitled (Bolsena), 1969
House paint, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas
78 x 98-1/2 inches (198.1 x 250.2 cm)

Some notes on coordinate systems as a way towards a description:

“We might say that there are two sections through the substance of the world: the longitudinal section of painting and the cross-section of certain pieces of graphic art. The longitudinal section seems representational; it somehow contains the objects. The cross-section seems symbolic; it contains signs. Or is it only when we read that we place the page horizontally before us? And is there such a thing as an original vertical position for writing – say, for engraving in stone? ” Walter Benjamin (c. 1920) p. 8 – notes from Marus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (eds.) Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 1, 1913-1926, Harvard, MA, 1996.

I’ve been looking closely at some of Cy Twombly’s works in the book “Cycles and Seasons”. The passage quoted above resonated with me as I was looking at the reproductions of the Bolsena Paintings by Cy Twombly and reading the accompanying essay by Nicholas Cullinan. One of a series painted in 1969, the Bolsena series it is said records the events of 1969 that may have been on Twombly’s mind – the event of the decade perhaps as NASA’s Apollo 11 space mission unfolded before a collective world audience.  It’s an interesting consideration and connection of current events of that time influencing perhaps and recorded in Twombly’s own cryptic cypher of graphic marks and painterly splots.  What a hopeful time and sense of exploration!


Gulf Oil Spill May 17, 2010 - via NASA satellite imagery

NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible satellite image of the Gulf oil spill on May 17 at 16:40 UTC (12:40 p.m. EDT) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Instrument on-board. The oil slick appears as a dull gray on the water’s surface and stretches south from the Mississippi Delta with what looks like a tail. Text Credit: NASA Goddard / Rob Gutro

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of our own current events unfolding, as reports and images trickle in on the growing disaster of the oil spill in the gulf. NASA Satellite images show the extent of the slick as is disperses – but it is too soon to know the toll and we somehow still are unsure of how to stop the bleeding. How far we have come in the last 40+ years.

Brad Moore – photography

I’ve been following some great photography work by Brad Moore – I think this work shows an extraordinary constraint and edit.

Vista Belta, Wimington, CA by Brad Moore

Vista Belta, Wimington, CA by Brad Moore

Also receiving alcolades from Lens Culture among many others…

Notable for making the cut at Photolucida, Critical Mass 2009 portfolio reviews: Congratulations to this year’s Critical Mass Top 50 – 2009. I think his work would be great to see in book form!  Let’s hope the work is considered for this – as a have appreciated many of the fine books put together by Photolucida which can be found here: http://www.wmjasco.com/photolucida/photolucida.html

Happy Kids Nutrition by Brad Moore

Happy Kids Nutrition by Brad Moore

I’ve appreciated Moore’s work for some time – especially the surburban landscape themed photographs – as written previously in this post. It would be terrific to see a group of this work presented at Blue Sky Gallery here in Portland…  Maybe someday soon!

Theme: Looking closely (at rocks)

Juergen Bergbauer: 42 Studien (Print Detail) Installation virtual 2008

42 Studien (Print Detail)
Installation virtual 2008 – JÜRGEN BERGBAUER

I first came across JÜRGEN BERGBAUER earlier this year through a 5b4 –review of Bergbauer’s book: Studien nach der Natur – which I see has made a “best of 2009 book list” on 5b4.  I wrote about my interest here in a previous entry

Bergbauer’s project – Studies after Nature” has been on my mind off and on for quite a while now.  In Bergbauer’s work – the “final” images are constructed out of an archive of objects – specifcally found objects (rocks) – from the roadside according to the artist statement.  The “studies” of the archive are arranged in various patterns of which I’m unsure of (or if) there may be an underlying organizing structure – outside of an aesthetic judgement and arrangement although the constructions do appear to be bound to a sense of gravity.  None the less the resulting constructions are I think quite beautiful – but also quite artificial – and deliberate – full of patterns hinting at structural issues – yet not really resolving them in my opinion. I’m also quite amazed (although admittedly it looks too laborious) at the amount of apparent work done to “catalogue” all of the pieces which are incorporated in to the final studies…

Untitled (basalt - East Central Oregon) 2009 - Matt Niebuhr
Untitled (basalt – East Central Oregon) 2009 – Matt Niebuhr

On my own road trip this summer, I came across a section of land by the roadside in East Central Oregon, that I have one image thus far that gets me very excited to explore further but with a different approach.

What I’m intrigued by is natural dazzle of that which can be found out in the world (by anyone) as determined by the forces of nature – just by looking carefully or deliberately.  This is a theme that I am beginning to be able to discern as a thread in a number of photo studies I’m working.  Here, the fractures of basalt arranged according to natural laws – the horizontal fissures describing the shifting forces inside the earth – reminders that the solid ground beneath is not still.  I’ve collected a few shards of basalt and the shapes that are revealed in these shards amaze me.  I’m looking forward to trying to document these shards in a meaningful way.  And then, I’m really looking forward to the next road trip back to eastern Oregon.

Jurgen Bergbauer – Houses and other objects…

juergen_bergbauer_haus51

untitled (Häuser no. 5) – Jurgen Bergbauer
60 cm x 155 cm (24” x 60”) lambdaprint on aluminium / diasec face matt , 2003

42 Studien (Print Detail) – Jurgen Bergbauer
Installation virtual 2008

juergen_bergbauer_natur4

Natur IV – Jurgen Bergbauer
180 cm x 240cm (71” x 95”) lambdaprint on aluminium / diasec face matt, 2008

juergen_bergbauer_natur

Natur – Jurgen Bergbauer
Installation virtual 2008 –

Quite nice work by Jurgen Bergbauer (artist website here)found via post by 5B4 Photography and Books (written up nicely as well….) – here’s some more hinting at the “construction” of the book by Jurgen Bergbauer.

There is a tight consistency and pattern of study or inquiry that appeals to my aesthetic sense and architectural interest which draws me to these wonderfully rich photographic images of Bergbauer’s.  The exploration of natural forms and resulting patterns or “structure” resonates for me in the direction of a “quell the clutter” approach…  Jurgen Bergbauer is an artist that I am to watch for upcoming work for sure….