Digital Dexatrim

I’ve just learned that my new dwelling will is outside of the Comcast coverage area. Normally, this would be cause for celebration (as Comcast is a force of evil in the universe), but this means that we’ll have to drop to Century Link or Cox. If Comcast is bad… the alternatives are straight up horrible.

We get to pay twice as much for half the service? Gee wiz! Capitalism sure is working! /rant

Two options: get ripped off or do without.

Let’s opt for doing without.

So, the experiment begins. How long can I survive without constant connectivity? How long can I go without mindlessly binging on Frasier on Netflix? And what will my attention span look like without constant easy access to the news cycle?

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TUS – (Group Sports, Group Touch)

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TUS – (is full of)

Low hanging photo fruit, but it seemed inevitable I’d make this photo.
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Dichotomy of Photographic Control

A simple question that has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks: could one consider photography (at least some forms) to be the ultimate stoic art form?

Philosophy and photography have been alternating focal points for my attention since I finished up my MFA (a solid 10 years ago, wahoo). In particular, the connection between Stoicism’s key tenets and the practices of making photographs. I’m thinking here of the Stoic practice of focusing on what can be controlled and accepting what cannot.

Turning to Epictetus in Enchiridion:

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us.

What happens to be in front of the lens is only partially up to us. True, there are those photographers (I’m thinking of Gregory Crewdson here) who are able to control almost all aspects of an image. The right lighting, the right subjects, the right post-processing. But, for the overwhelming majority of images produced, it is less a matter of controlled, precise outcomes and more a relationship of chance and intention, much like the Stoic “Dichotomy of control”.

This fluid dialog of photographic intention and control is a spell-binding focus for study in itself. On my desk at the moment I have a range of photography books from Issei Suda‘s Tokyokei to Rinko Kawauchi‘s Halo to the collection of the work of Sophie Calle, Did You See Me?. Each of these photographers is embracing this dichotomy of control in a slightly different way, each is surrendering varying degrees of control and setting the territory of what is controlled and what is up to chance. The result is a fascinating gradient ranging from tight, almost documentary narrative arc to diffuse, ephemeral, and soft soft control of where the camera is pointed and what it will document.

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Media Dieting

I’ve owned this domain since I graduated from undergrad in 2005. In the course of those many years, I’ve restructured this thing from a strict-portfolio site showcasing intaglio and woodcut prints made at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to the repository of daily updates when I was traveling through Bulgaria documenting my stolen identity to what it is now: a mishmash of photos and projects. In the last 4-5 years, like most people, I migrated away from the blog and portfolio site format to the privatized paradise of social media platforms, specifically Instagram. While it is great to be able to post an image and know, for a fact, it is reaching an audience of people I like (and many I have no idea who are complete strangers to me) I’ve become so much less careful and focused with making photographs. Point. Shoot. Post. Or, even more bleak: point, shoot, develop, scan, process, post. All that work for a tiny blip on a social platform where attention is scarce but content is abundant and context is… irrelevant.

I want to get back to being conscientious of what I put out on the internet and so begins the media diet. Instagram is disabled. Facebook is turned off. And if I post photographs they either go to the blog section here or they must be spun into larger projects. Any photograph posted has to come with context of some sort.


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