Abandoned Artifacts

Posted in Art, Photography, poetry with tags , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by briancarnold

I had this conversation with a friend of mine just the other day.

Biography - Jean Genet

I use to love so many of those literary outlaws – Buroughs, Jean Genet, Jim Carroll, Bukowski, James Joyce.  Djuna Barnes.  Luis Bunuel.


My sophomore year of college, I staged a music performance in a junkyard in the outskirts of Colorado Springs, CO.

For the performance, together with some friends, we sat in a circle holding hands around a portable tape player, with a cassette playing a recording of William Burroughs reading an excerpt from Place of Dead Roads.

Biography - Luis Bunuel

When the recording was over, we all found objects in the junkyard and used them as percussion instruments.  To make music.  We beat rusted pieces of metal together for about an hour.


I suppose this idea of an outlaw still resonants with me.


A number of year ago, I made a series of photographs of books, and within this series, I photographed a few biographies of artists that meant a great deal to me.  As a way of explaining myself.

Book of Anarchy

Chill of empty space, Kim gathers wood for a fire.


Forme de Toi

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , on April 18, 2015 by briancarnold

If you say the word tomato with great enough repetition, it soon begins to sound absurd, and you become more aware of the phenomena of language, the object referred to as tomato, and that strange intersection between language and the physical world.  Now image an extreme close up photograph of a woman’s nipple; it can work the same way.


Je veux une vie en forme de toi.


I spent part of the afternoon in the Rare Book and Manuscript Division at Cornell looking through the book Forme de Toi by Marc Attali.  The book is gem.  Printed in 1968, the book uses the photobook form beautiful, and feels true to the zeitgeist of the time.


The book begins with the words above – I want a life shaped like you – and then an extreme close-up of an open eye.  This first photograph is followed with some printed contact sheets.  The tone of the book is set immediately, with the close up – functioning as both an abstraction and a visual statement of intimacy – and then followed with a much more jazzy and playful feel.


This tone is held throughout the book, with the book really alternating back and forth between the close-ups and then the small photographs of the contact sheets.  The close-ups suggest a great deal of intimacy, love, and a profound curiosity.  The contact sheets, often broken into pieces, help give the book a great feel of freedom, really best characterized as jazzy, musical.


Printed in heliogravure on all black pages, the photographs are rich with detail and soft tones, rendering the body with the utmost care.


The book ends with an extreme close-up of a closed eye, bringing us back to the beginning.  Essentially, it is a book about love.  Je ne suis jamais content, the final page of the book.  I am never satisfied.

Turning Back

Posted in Art, music, Photography with tags , on April 14, 2015 by briancarnold

It was kind of a slow night at gamelan rehearsal last night.


I can’t tell a lie, I gotta little bored and started looking at some photobooks I got out of the library just before rehearsal.


It was a nice combination, Javanese gamelan and Robert Adams’ photographs, the book Turning Back.


They are mostly pictures of clear cuts in Oregon, and yet there is a great beauty to the tragedy documented in the pictures.


Despite all that is broken, there is still beauty in the world.


There are some lovely thoughts at the back of the book too, accompanied by some photographs of apples made close to Adams’ home:

Photography is inherently fragmentary, and I find I base my faith on perfect moments.

Next Time

Posted in Art, literature, Photography, poetry with tags , on April 10, 2015 by briancarnold

I love this poem by William Stafford….


Next Time

Next time what I’d do is look at
the earth before saying anything.  I’d stop
just before going into a house
and be an emperor for a minute
and listen better to the wind
or to the air being still.

When anyone talked to me, whether
blame or praise or just passing time,
I’d watch the face, how the mouth
had to work, and see any strain, any
sign of what lifted the voice.



February 5, 1987

Posted in Art, Photography on March 9, 2015 by briancarnold

I think it was something like the 3rd or 4th grade.  There was a new kid in the class, of Japanese-American descent.  Nobody knew too much about him or his past, but there were some ugly rumors.  Like me, he was placed into the higher end of the academic curve, and we were both fast tracked; thus, we spent a lot of time at school together.  We became more than classmates, I guess, but our friendship didn’t really extend beyond the school grounds.  We had enough time together in the classroom that we did have a friendship.


He changed a lot in high school.  Still smart, but he got involved with the gangs in town, the Crips really.

broken fence

On February 5, 1987, it was reported that four members of the gang were arrested in conjunction to a murder and brutal spree of attacks in neighborhood in Capital Hill, all done using golf clubs.


He was one of them, my classmate, one of the four arrested.


The other day, I went a couple of hours in the Denver Public Library looking for the original, local news reports on the killing the subsequent arrests (I love that is shares a cover with the death of Liberace).


Even before his arrest, he was famous around town for his graffiti.  His tag was The Kid, and it was all over the city.

orphan mock up

So I went to retrieve these articles because I am trying to back a composite panorama photograph that reference this memory as part of my personal history of Denver.


It’s all still a work in progress, and I do hope to actually print these newspaper photographs as part of the composite piece.


Beauty and Morality

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , on March 7, 2015 by briancarnold

The other day I went to a show of photographs by my friend Andrea Modica at the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and Humanities, on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver.


This has long been one of my favorite works by Andrea (whom I feel is one of the best black and white printers ever), and complete set of 35 pictures from the series was on display.

There was a staged discussion in conjunction with the opening, between Denver Art Museum Curator Eric Paddock, and Simon Falkind, the gallery curator at the medical center.  The conversation had its ups and downs.  I’ve long admired Eric’s thought process, and always enjoy his observations on photography, and he really carried the conversation.  Simon did make one comment I loved; in Andrea’s work, beauty and morality are intertwined.


I latched onto that comment, beauty and morality intertwined.  And how perfect that these photographs were displayed on a medical campus.  A wonderful example of art and science mixing together.

Towers Open Fire

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , , , on February 27, 2015 by briancarnold

We must storm the citadels of enlightenment, the means are at hand.

William Burroughs


The dreamachine was conceived by Brion Gysin.  It’s a mechanical device designed to invoke psychedelic or trance like states of consciousness.


A dreamachine is constructed by cutting out a series of shapes into a cylinder, which is then mounted on a record player.  A light bulb is suspended inside the cylinder, and the turntable spun at 45 or 78 rpm.


The user sits next to the turntable, eyes closed, and the shapes cut into the cylinder provide a flicker effect on the back of the eyes.  The combination of movement and light triggers the imagination, with hallucinatory or trance like results on the play of consciousness.

bricks and bunny

In the 1980’s, Denver was home to large, neopagan industrial art scene, grounded in the work and ideas of William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, and Genesis P-Orridge.  I was just 18 or 19 the first time I encountered a dreamachine, at a TOPY run gallery in the warehouse district of Denver.


I was fascinated by the works of Burroughs at the time, and spent a lot of time in the warehouse gallery and music scene.

bricks and bunny #2



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