1. SIMULACRA

    What am I looking for in photography? Images that  penetrate the eye, engage the mind, and pierce the heart.  Mark L. Power

    Wikipedia: simulacra, from the Latin simulacrum  which means “likeness, similarity”… by the late 19th  century, simulacra had been regarded as an image without the substance or qualities of the original…

    All we want from art: reality, mysteriously deepened. David Shields

     I wait..for the exact instance when everything is connected..the moment of exposure is a result of rejecting all other possibilities. Ruth Bernhard 

    You know you have achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add but when you have nothing more to take away.      Antoine de Saint Exupery

     What I’m looking for is the exact amount of not enough. Amy Tan

    Old posts from my former blog, the Salt Mine, can be found in the archive section, from 2008-10.

     
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  3. I first met Ray Metzker in the Fall of 1997. I made a few pictures and we spent a couple of enjoyable hours on my farm in Virginia talking about everything but his work. That seemed entirely appropriate because obviously his work speaks for itself.

    Nevertheless, after I learned of his untimely death I remembered a time when I did speak of his work in a review I wrote for the Washington Post in 1986. Excerpts appear below. RIP Ray K. Metzker.

     
  4. Photography for  Ray Metzker is cerebral play with the elements of a photograph: size, shape, line, pattern and texture are the syntax of a language with which he abstracts form: it is intelligent, rigorous problem-solving akin to mathematics and music; the Bauhaus at its most reductive and elegant.

     
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  6. The key for Metzker’s spiritual expression is the rigor of abstract design. For example in his street photographs, the street is mainly a pretext for exploring form: people, cars and buildings are shapes revealed and concealed by slashing, cubist constrasts of light and shadow. It is elegant ambiguity : what is hidden is essentially what is revealed. But beneath that formalist obsession is the muffled drumbeat of metaphor. Metzker’s attitude to form is comparable to Susanne Langer’s  “A symbol is any device whereby we are enabled to make an abstraction” 

     
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  8. One thinks of Metzker’s peer, Minor White, when one thinks of abstraction in photography. But even at its most successful White’s abstract work seems to happen by an act of will; it’s rhetorical rather than imaginative. It was Yeats who first observed, “When the will does the work of the imagination, the result is visual rhetoric.” I think Minor White had an iron will but not much imagination. Ray K. Metzker, of Philadelphia, on the other hand, is almost all imaginative invention. 

     
  9. Guest Bloggers

    Today I turn over Simulacra to Shirley True and James Sherwood, two photographers who live near Washington D.C. and often work together. 

     
  10. Looking for One Great Photographer and Finding Another

    In April 2013 my partner Jim Sherwood and I were shooting in Eastern Pennsylvania as part of our ongoing Pennsylvania Project. We live near Washington DC so it’s pretty easy to do week-long road trips to PA.

    During that April trip we were shooting in the Lehigh Valley area. When we visited Bethlehem Jim was obsessed with finding the graveyard where Walker Evans made his famous photograph of the large white cross with steel mill chimneys in the background (included in American Photographs.) After several inquiries and a few false leads, someone directed us to what turned out to be the right cemetery.

    It was mid afternoon on a warm, early spring day, bright with a near cloudless sky. It was immediately obvious that the cross that appears in the 1936 Evans photo was no longer there. Jim and I parted ways and shot independently for over an hour.

    At about the time I was beginning to take a break and head back to the car for some water, Jim came walking toward me and said, “You need to stop what you’re doing, and come with me. There’s someone you need to meet.” “Who?,” I asked, feeling overheated and thirsty, and not inclined to meet anyone. “Just come with me. You really need to meet this person.” “Who is it?” I persisted, thinking it was probably a town historian or someone with a historical connection to the cemetery, and still not interested. But as we talked we were walking in the direction of two people seated on a stone wall. We soon approached them, and Jim said, “Shirley, I’d like you to meet Robert Frank and his wife June Leaf.”

    They were on a road trip to North Carolina to visit a friend and had stopped in the cemetery to have lunch.

    Shirley True

    Copyright Shirley True 2014 

     
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    Robert Frank and June leaf c. Shirley True

    Robert Frank and June leaf c. Shirley True

     
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    Robert Frank and June Leaf c. James Sherwood

    Robert Frank and June Leaf c. James Sherwood

     
  13. The Poplar Terrace House

    A project thirty-seven years in the making. 

     
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    Remnants of a Corinthian pilaster found in the ashes of Poplar Terrace House

    Remnants of a Corinthian pilaster found in the ashes of Poplar Terrace House

     
  15. For many decades, Poplar Terrace house, a handsome Palladian-influenced structure sat abandoned on land in the middle of Frederick, Maryland. Once the home of the Baughmans , a prominent newspaper publishing family in Frederick, the house remained empty year after year, decade after decade, as the absentee owner suffered a long illness. In its slow and gradual decline, the mansion ( built in the 1870s)  became the local ‘haunted house’, the site of rowdy teen ager gatherings until finally it became so dilapidated only animals dared to prowl its dark interiors.

    Finally the end came to the Poplar Terrace House when it burned to the ground in the middle 1980s