Mostly Photos :: Eric Etheridge

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It's So Hard, Communicating

That's what my friend Robert said to me the other day, trying to explain what he'd meant in a googleChat when he'd written . . . which, when you think about it, makes no sense at all.

Earlier in the day I had come across these observations on the futility of conversing by Osmo Wiio, a Finnish researcher of human communication. For some reason, I find them heartening.

  • If communication can fail, it will.
  • If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.
  • There is always somebody who knows better than you what you meant by your message.
  • The more communication there is, the more difficult it is for communication to succeed.

Found at 37Signals. More here.

Posted on April 26, 2008, in Web Stuff.

Breach of Peace in May Oprah

Now on the newstands: The May issue of O the Oprah magazine has an excerpt from Breach of Peace. Look for the cover with Oprah holding a big red flower.

Now on the web: I've launched a web site for the book, conveniently called, where I will be publishing new material not in the book -- interviews with the Riders, archival documents, archival newspaper coverage of the Freedom Rides and more.

First posts -- "Hank Thomas: My First Arrest" and "Barnett to Kunstler: What If Your Daughter Married One?"

Posted on April 19, 2008, in Mississippi.

Two Songs for Spring

I just discovered the Great White Jenkins (myspace), a band in Richmond, VA. To me they're somewhere in the Heartless Bastard and Arcade Fire zone.

First song: (Cast Your Shit to the) Wind

Second song, though this is more the blackberry winter part of spring: O Night

The two songs are sort of indie power ballads. "Wind" is from Mussel Soals; "O Night" is from Where is They Sting?, which is available on iTunes.

Thanks to Aquarium Drunkard for the introduction.

Posted on April 11, 2008, in Heavy Rotation.

links for 2008-04-04

Posted on April 03, 2008, in Delicious links.

The MIssing Criticism: Papageorge on Robert Adams and 'What We Bought'

wwb.jpgIn 2000, the Yale University Art Galley acquired the 193 prints that comprise Robert Adams' book What We Bought: The New World (cover right). Two years later, Tod Papageorge wrote this critical appraisal, which also includes a significant amount of details about Adams' working method, derived from conversations with the artist. The essay originally appeared in the Yale University Art Galley Bulletin.

Download the essay here (PDF).

My intention here is not to “valorize” Robert Adams (or this necessarily imprecise version of him), but to illuminate — or simply surround — what I consider a remarkable moment in the history of recent art. If, as I believe, Adams’s work of this period stands as one of the most significant, and original, achievements produced by an American artist in the last thirty years, it was an accomplishment created and fed by the stringency of the decisions, both personal and aesthetic, that he made in the universal tumult that was 1968.

The pictures that Adams began to produce that September were resolute in their determination to eschew any type of pictorial effect in favor of a direct, matter-of-fact descriptiveness that just avoided triviality. Rather than failing through cleverness or excess or by straining for beauty, these photographs risked that possibility by appearing to be little more than the record-keeping snapshots that architects, contractors, and developers jam into their project-files. The drama in them, such as it was, occurred in the air, as sunlight and figured clouds took on the role of Chorus to the mute prairies, highways, four-way stops and agglomerations of building-types below, elevating them into places worth … cherishing? No, not quite, but certainly worth contemplating as they sat there, so irrefutably present in their nakedness.

Originally published in 1995,What We Bought is currently out of print, though copies are available from the usual sources online, starting at around $400. (Click on the cover image here to see sample spreads from the book). However, the Yale University Art Gallery is planning to publish a facsimile edition next spring. The gallery will also issue an new, expanded version of Adam's Denver next year as well.

Aperture has just published a new edition of Adams' The New West, and reports that "a major traveling exhibition" of the photographer's work will begin touring in 2010.

Papageorge has been the Director of Graduate Study in Photography at the Yale School of Art since 1979. Aperture has recently published his book American Sports, 1970: Or How We Spent the War in Vietnam. Last year, Steidl published his book Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park.

This is the second in an occasional series, Photography: The Missing Criticism, which aims to bring great writing on photography back into print. The first was Papageorge's essay on Walker Evans and Robert Frank.

Posted on April 02, 2008, in Art Stuff.