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


Architectural Grid

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , on February 26, 2015 by briancarnold

I compiled this 32×40 inch grid of architectural photographs the other day.


It’s part of my photographic memoir made in Denver, CO.


This combination of pictures is perhaps a bit more intuitive than many of the others in this series.  It’s really just architectural pieces and shapes made around Denver, though still addressing themes that repeat throughout (e.g.  Western identity and religion).


Most of the pictures have been made over the last few years, though there is one color snapshot from 1994.


It’s from the first place I lived in after college, my first house in Denver after leaving my mom’s place.

greek church

I guess you could call it a biography in architectural forms.


Greek Orthodox Church

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , , on February 26, 2015 by briancarnold

When I was a kid in Denver, there was a huge, annual festival held at a Greek Orthodox Church in town, the Denver Greek Festival.


I was pretty young, but I still remember going to these festivals.  They were crazy, so many people drunk on Ouzo.  I also remember the gyros and baklava.


The last time I was in Denver, I went back to this church to photograph.  It was a pretty amazing day, with that uniquely rich Colorado light. late afternoon.


The church is located on the line between the Cranmer Park and Glendale neighborhoods in Denver.


I parked my car in a ratty parking lot underneath the church, and spent the next couple of hours making pictures.  It was a nice afternoon, not only for the light, but because my five year old son wanted to join me; he made pictures on iPhone while I walked around with my Bronica.

church lot1

I made all these pictures that afternoon, a series of silver prints mounted into one frame measuring about 17×68 inches.


It’s part of ongoing series of photographs I’m compiling about growing up in Denver.  I’m heading back West next week, and delight to make pictures again.

greek church mock up

Eastman House Selections

Posted in Art, Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2015 by briancarnold

So I continue to work on my forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, Alternative Processes in Photography: Technique, History, and Creative Practice (the title has changed a couple of times).


Since around September or October, I’ve repeatedly visited the George Eastman House in Rochester, pulling pictures from their archives to use as illustrations in my book.


The Eastman House is home to the world’s largest public collection of photographs, and needless to say it’s been a great experience combing through these archives in search of photographs.


Just a few days ago, I finally submitted a list of 30 pictures to the museum for reproduction rights.  It’s remarkably satisfying to see this project coming together, to see these pictures becoming something of my own.


If you scroll back, you can see a list of some of the contemporary contributors I’ve successfully recruited for inclusion in this book.  Now, to add to that list, all these great photographers pulled from the Eastman House archives – above, William Henry Fox Talbot, Anna Atkins, Abelardo Morell, and Eugene Atget.


In finding all these photographs for my text, somehow I feel they become part of my own history too.


These pictures are all apart of a biography for which I want to own, a statement about my own life.


I know that might seem silly to some, but I see so much of myself – both a literal and aspirational history – in all of these photographs.

Silver Gelatin Print, printed under supervision of Edward Weston

The historical illustrations, at least with just a few exceptions, are coming from the Eastman House.  Above, Frank Gohlke, Charles Negre, Peter Henry Emerson, and Edward Weston.  For more recent examples, I’ve been contacting friends and colleagues from over the years


On a personal or visual level, some of these pictures mean more to me than others, but all are meaningful in reflecting a history I love.


The book is due for release in February 2017, and my goal is to submit a completed draft of the manuscript by the summer.

Betty Hahn, "Morning Mum, 1979", brown print with pastels, 1979

There are moments and movements in the history of photography that mean more to me than others, and certainly photographers who mean more to me than others, and yet still there is so much that I love about all photography, from daguerreotypes to Instagram.


Part of my goal as a teacher and photographer – and as author of this book – is to keep an multiplicitious approach to photography alive and a part of the contemporary discussion.  Photography, it’s approaches and possibilities, are so much bigger than most of us know.


These pictures are all part of the request I just submitted (just pulled from google image searches), along with many others (above Alvin Langdon Coburn, Edward Steichen, Betty Hahn, Clarence White, and Edward Weston) .  And all these pictures represent something of my own journey and life as a photographer.


This last picture is from one of my first, serious bodies of work, all photographed in Commerce City, Colorado.  These train tracks run through a former military weapons arsenal, though since converted to an animal refuge and sanctuary.

Reading Room

Posted in Art, Java, Photography with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2015 by briancarnold

So, if you follow any of my other blogs, you know I am working on some projects in Indonesia.


The other day, I ventured out into the cold and spent a couple of hours in the Cornell Rare Book and Manuscript Reading Room, and looked through the archives of Claire Holt.


Claire Holt is a writer, Indonesian scholar, art historian, and woman I admire tremendously.  She wrote a fantastic and influential book on Indonesian art, Art in Indonesia:  Continuities and Change.

After a very diverse and eclectic career, Holt finished her work at Cornell, as a member of the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project.


I am working to organize an exhibition of contemporary art photography from Java, and periodically over the past few years, I’ve gone to Claire Holt’s work for both information and inspiration.


Cornell houses a lot of Holt’s research materials – notes, letters, photographs, notebooks, lectures, and other materials that all coalesced into her great book.


This exhibition I am organizing will include some of Holt’s photographs, so I went to Cornell in hopes of finding more of her pictures, more ideas for this exhibition.

photo back

I was a bit disappointed in the photographs I found.  Most of her photographs and albums are held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (Holt was an early advocate for the developing a dance research archive in New York, which really helped spawn this particular branch of the library system in NYC).


So I didn’t find the photographs I was looking for, but nonetheless found lots of interesting things.  Letters exchanged between friends and colleagues (my favorites were the letters exchanged with Dutch artist Rudolf Bonnet, largely about reproduction rights for paintings from his collection), reviews and acknowledgements of her book, lectures from her time in NYC and at Cornell, and notebooks and albums she kept in the field while working in Indonesia.


It’s amazing the glimpse you can get into a life with such ephemera.  I feel a connection and affinity with Claire Holt, and that is largely been from engaging these types of objects and history.


So I didn’t find the photographs I was looking for, in regards to organizing this exhibition, but I found something else, inspiration, and a great connection with the work and ideas of a woman whose life has meant a great deal to me.


As I walked home, I thought about that famous novel by A.S. Byatt, Possession.


Possession tells the story of two modern academics, and the research they conduct on the lives of poets from Victorian England.  I was struck by the idea – maybe even the reality – of relationships we can build that transcend the boundaries of time.  And even how these types of relationships can give us a better understanding of our time and relationships today.




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