1211: Storage

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I’ve been putting off a major chore for too long. I’m referring to rental storage spaces – the 21st Century version of attics. Out of sight, out of mind. The rental charge slides into your monthly bills without much thought. And there your stuff sits… and sits… and sits. The latest snowfall somehow seemed to get me moving and so I began the process of tossing all but what’s most important. After all, if something had sat long enough for me to forget about it, then I probably don’t need it anymore.

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That said, I ran across many things worth keeping, from grade school report cards and my baby pictures et al (Thanks Mom!). to things like these four images from days past. I found this diverse mix in one box. On top is a shot of me working with Robert Frank, one of the most important photographers of the 20th Century. I was printing some exhibition work for Mr. Frank – some of his earliest forays into the digital world. It was an honor and pleasure working with him.

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Next are a couple of polaroids I found at the bottom of the box. The first was from a weeklong shoot on Ellis Island – shortly before renovations began. This scene, eerily enough, was from the old mortuary on the island.

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And this one, for anyone old enough to remember, is none other than Buffalo Bob Smith of Howdy Doody fame. I remember keeping this one because I was always fascinated by that outfit! The belt buckle, the fringe! I watched that show religiously as a kid. So what a surprise when I was asked to shoot all the advertising promos for an anniversary show years later.

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And last, my stacks of pulp sci-fi covers from the Fifties. Tom Swift was my real hero. And so visualizations of astronaut adventures (way before Star Wars) sparked my imagination.

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All this looking back got me in the mood to revisit early fossil images. So I decided to comb through my earliest library and pick out images worthy of a second look. And here they are for the first time.

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I’ll leave you this week with another winter landscape.

Thanks for the visit.

250 Million

I’m sure that most of you have already seen the news story about Facebook’s purchase of Instagram. Certainly the key takeaway was the purchase price – one billion dollars – yes, with a “B”. But I was more interested in a statistic buried in the story. According to Facebook, on average, the number of images uploaded daily to Facebook is 250 million.  And that’s only Facebook. And that’s only what people chose to upload and not how many were actually taken.

Does such familiarity with image making leave the average person with a more sophisticated understanding of images in general? Or do the millions and millions of daily “snapshots” all just blend together – the good, the bad, and the ugly – into some flattened out visual background noise? Have apps such as Hipstamatic and other smartphone tools helped unleash the creativity of the masses or have they simply just raised the level of mundane?

I suppose, as is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. Perhaps, whatever the baseline, “the cream always rises to the top” as they say. And the end result may very well be a greater general appreciation of the process of photography and of images that speak to us.

All this reminds me of an encounter I had a number of years ago with Robert Frank, arguably the most important photographer of the Twentieth Century. I was very fortunate, and honored, to do some printing for him. In fact, I believe this was his first foray into the world of digital printmaking. He was wonderful to work with and I enjoyed each and every encounter we had. One day, as we were viewing some of his juxtaposed images, his assistant was busily rattling on about which combinations worked together and why (a bit excessively I thought). After a few moments Mr. Frank turned to me, with a sense of bemusement over such a fuss, and said, “You know, Art, in the end they’re all just pictures!” Wise words from a wise man.

As for me, when I wonder about all of this, I am reminded of Voltaire’s exhortation to tend one’s own garden. These days my garden remains full of fossils!

As the crinoid moon above lights up the darkest night my dear Cindy lights up all my days. Happy Birthday to you, Cynthia!

Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com

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