Ko & An goin’ on

Some people like to make photographs more than they like to see them?

How do you feel when you “take” a photograph?

Its a moment,  you have a machine in your hand, for maybe 1/125 sec, you set camera,  compose and click—Is a rush? Some photographers like the click so much they have another machine attached to the camera  which automatically clicks it for them.


How do you feel when you look at a photograph?  Is seeing one you made different than seeing one someone else made?

With film the time between click and see was longer, not just longer, qualitatively longer. Most people exposed the fil.  took it to a  retail place which developed  it and made prints. Some might send it out in pre paid packages, some took it to the drug store which sent it out. It could take weeks.

Professionals used a professional laboratory or might have their own lab, many were at least capable of processing B&W film. It was faster and  more expensive  and better quality, but then the equipment of the professional was also  higher quality.


Polaroid instant camera was interesting, click, the image comes out.  wait 60 seconds seconds, remove the cover, apply gooey stuff from a stick on the image immediately to preserve it, —a process  which had to be done with enough skill so that the sticky stuff was applied very smooth, otherwise there would be smears on the image resulting in different thicknesses of the sticky stuff which after it dried, the light reflecting off the print would distort the image to the eye of the viewer.

But Digital camera on a phone!!  just point, click, see, and send.  Did you make the photo for yourself or to send to someone else. Are you showing your spouse a photo of your child  jumping or showing someone what a great time you are having, wish you were here!! HAHA. 

Later you find that you did not even want the photograph, to just delete into the nowhere world,  neither  a “0” nor a “1.” HAHA again.

Except for the two children in the background all of the people in this image have probably passed on. Some were loved and cherished I am sure.


I was late getting back, Wasn’t really late, just getting dark in late May,  Tokyo time, outside Nishi Shinjuku station, not many places to eat, I saw mabo tofu in a window so I went in.

It was a long, and narrow,  Chinese feeling restaurant, On each side was a vertical row  of tables going to the back, the ones on the right were smaller tables appropriate for two or  3-4 in rush hour  while the ones on the left were tables.   same width  as the other row, but with a  long side parallel to the wall for increased seating for larger groups. An aisle for walking ran in between them.

Two larger groups of salary men were sitting at separate tables, eating, drinking and smoking. Unusual for my experience in a restaurant, I just felt this one was owned by this couple , it felt as if this was not just their living but their life, together.  In the back of the kitchen in front of a stove  was a son cooking. It was dark and  I just set the camera on the table without even thinking,


The mabo tofu was good, a little mixture of chinese and japanese style. Another restaurant? . . .  I would have left because of the cigarette smoke, but there just something interesting here. One more thing,  it was a mabo tofu “set.”


A photograph is an extension of the eye. You can bring an experience to someone else’s eye of a place they have never been, or you can visually experience a place you have never been. Elevate my mined.


A photograph takes the eye back in time,  it never takes a picture of the future and even at 1/500sec or 1/1000sec, by the time the image realized it is the past.


Time weights for us all, and measures none, that’s what I like about Vermont, in the early morning..


I may look  like I am trying to fool myself into thinking . . .


I try to have some serious answers


MuShin, written right to left, looks like an ol’ toothless barbarian from the West stalking his mind or just swept up in the wake of the light.


Feelin’ good was easy, lord,  when I did not no what I was missing.


Know foe tow too, day

As a child in the 1950s  my family visited Mackinac Island, there was no bridge then , you tooth ferry from the mainland to the island, We drove up there, camped out, woke up at 3AM to get in an automobile line to get on the ferry. Sometime this line of cars on the road could be very long, no cars were  allowed on the island but I cannot remember where cars were parked or why they would even on be the ferry. Maybe there was a parking lot where people left their cars  and then got on the ferry.

People would start lining their cars up about 3AM, often with thermoses of coffee and  maybe something to eat, there might even be people with  the ability to cook—there were not enough motels for the tourist season, it was not an urban area and there were campgrounds—tourist time would be summer, and in the hours between sun rise and opening of the ferry service, people would put their car in line, turn off the ignition, get out  of the car with coffee, maybe a donut or something home cooked and stand around and talk to each other. As the ferry opening time approached while  talking with others they would be increasingly  sneaking glances watching for some tell tale movement in the line—having conversations where  the story you tell cannot be too long as it might not be finished.

But this image was in Cambridge, MA, 1971


Someone made pottery  with their hands and fired it, some one attached it to the wall, straight, somewhere SOMA in San Francisco


Memorial Day Parade, 1970, Marshall MN. When I was young there would a parade, usually local  groups involved in community affairs and/or representing some local interest  would have a contingent  walking in the parade. At the end  would be kids with their bikes decorated with  colored crepe paper.


Cambridge Wall circa 1972, probably somewhere between Harvard  and Central  Squares


James 1970, Haymarket, one afternoon


James before or after beard,


James 2015


James in San Francisco, 2015


Myles, 1973,  photograph by James. I have had this image for many years . . . to me  it feels like the 1960, or maybe what they could have been or graciously were not.  it usually hangs on a wall somewhere in my house, though not now—when we installed a new floo, everything got packed into boxes and moved to the garage, stuff had been accumulating for 20+ years and it is coming back in slowly, sparingly and cautiously.


Brooklyn,  photograph by James. He walked around, met people and made a photograph. jamed002_800

Last week  on national news there was a crime event reported which occurred in  Strong, or Farmington ME and  also mentioned Franklin County,   I forgot, nor could I find it on one google search,  but its the same time of the year as this image, County Fair,  circa 1970.


The busy street, late afternoon shadows from tall buildings,  and people strangers to each other but sharing a reason  to be in the same area at the same time—here no one is attacking or abusing  an other person.


They were discussing money outside her place of employment, or maybe she owned it, there was not enough time  to assess the situation and while it probably  was none of my business they were speaking loud enough to make it my business  . . .


The new Sales Force building attracts  people,  three young women and a baby  but if you are walking around, and listen, you ar  just as likely to hear three women walking and talking about business  strategies . . .


One afternoon, the end of my day walk , somewhere down on Market street near a BART station entrance  this man was texting himself, or thats what he told me, I did not look at the screens . . .   the arrows point up, the sign says “from above” but he is  not seeking something from above.


“A potter should start with an intuitive concept—he/she  thinks of a combination of shape, pattern, and color which will answer a given need futility and beauty at one and the same time.”

 Beyond East & West   Bernard Leach

Maybe it applies to whatever you do, including making mannequins for store window displays. Personally  I  prefer A Potter’s Handbook  to his memoirs.


Mom lived in a memory care facility  for a few years,  after lunch we would sometimes retire to her room, sit and talk . . . the wall hanging is from South Africa, the design uses simple contrasts to express  the visual experience— 7 sheep, three trees,  four houses with one house bigger and lighter contrast to 3 smaller, but the same shape and color, and the mountains contrast pointy and round.


Pulling a pho tow behind my life

“And all the way home I  held your camera as if like a bible 
Just wishing so bad that it held some kind of truth.

And I stood nervous next to you in the dark room.
You drop the paper in the water and it all begins to bloom.

from Old  Soul Song,   CD: I’m Wide Awake This Morning by Bright Eyes,   song written by Conor Oberst*


A photograph is a process to make an image like silkscreen is a process to make an image. Photographs can originate as continuous tone, such as film, or bitmapped information  such  as digital.

If the original is a continuous tone , then the quality of  the printed  image changes as it gets bigger. If the original is a digital  bitmapped image  again the quality of the  printed image changes as it gets bigger.

Along Alameda Creek—do you think that you should know what you see in a  photograph by “feel”? Or do you “think about the parts, ” define them—this is a house, this is a tree, this is air — and think “this is  a landscape.”


Along the highway in Farm Land, Minnesota.




If you see a photograph, and then see the same photograph reproduced in a book or  a magazine as offset printed or digital printed, is it the same experience?

You might say “No, No, No, the original photograph is a piece of Art, the printed image  of it is  reproduction, the visual experience is not the same.


If in a court room a person was on trial for committing a crime, would a photograph of the person committing  the crime carry the same weight as the image of the same  photograph reproduced in a book or a newspaper?

If you answer yes, then for you the experience of the photograph is the “real true  information” which as a property of the “original photograph”  can be transferred in its reproduction— the image of a a specific person committing a crime.


Is the “truth” of a photograph in its “real information” which is a property both in the original AND in the reproduction OR  is there a visual experience of the original photograph  with essential properties which are only communicated by the visual experience with the original image and  not communicated in the visual experience with its reproduction.


Is the “art” of a photograph in its real information or in the visual experience of the original where there are properties that cannot be communicated in its reproduction.

Is the Art of a photograph separate from  the “real true  information”  of a photograph? only to be visually experienced in the original print, not in the reproduction.

Obviously the photograph does not give you the same exact experience of being there.  We can not see what these people are looking at, but the are all  looking at the same thing and it must be captivating—except for the young man looking directly at me.

But you cannot hear what he was said to me. In this moment  (1969  Chicago, SDS Days of Rage) was I truly a photographer?


Should the photographer make images of the way people arrange themselves . .


or should the photographer arrange people to make an image of what they think is “some kind truth”?

Three boys and a dog in an alley, about 1968, that is 51 years ago, does the information in the image tell us  where are they now?   Do you have a thought as to where they are now?  Are these  boys what was was real for 1/125 of a second? The boys being here is  normal, the photographer (me)  being there is not normal.


Somewhere in Western Massachusetts  a child’s  old, perhaps outgrown, swingset in a field or maybe in a backyard, we cannot tell because the photographer has not included enough  information—actually I made this image and it was in a field , maybe the image is not good enough .

We had one in our back yard, When we got it I was almost too old  for it and my younger sister and  brother were were better fitted,  I think I may have destroyed it by swinging as high and as wild  as I could and seeing how far I could jump out which took a long term toll on the swing set, and even worse I would bring my friends over and we would have contests to see who could jump the farthest—perhaps nothing spells disregard for how you treat  stuff when you are kids  at your friends house except your  friend egging you on.

bwfield001_800My father, about 4-5 years older than I am now, we were having a conversation in the middle of an afternoon and he fell asleep.

/*I didn’t know what to think about it then,  I don’t know what to think about it now and after I die I will not ever think about it again*/dad06.11.11008_800

One thing about a photograph is any person can make one, just get a camera, point and click.


For the past few months often I have found myself driving through Centerville on Fremont Blvd and being delayed in a line of vehicles in the street because of a train. I get bored,  get angry, or  look for something interesting enough to pass the time—shapes and colors do me just fine to get me through the line.


When I feel that I am not connected to this Earth I look down and know matter how I pheal my feats keep me connected.


What is in the face of someone who has lived a long life? What is in the mind of someone who allows me to make a photograph of their face.



Commemorate Tri-X the eternally forgivable film . . .


Tri-X, RIP.


And me the unforgivable photographer, one too young to give his  permission, just had the misfortune to be in the  car window next to me for a few seconds at a stop light  in Boston.


Wherever you are, I am hands free, walking, waiting, skulking, trolling, and enjoying seeing all the incredibly different human beings  sharing life with me on this Earth.


* I’m Wide Awake this Morning is for me one of  the most difficult albums which to listen, its like an addictive  drug,  it reminds me of experiences which brought me great happiness and  resulted in  even sadder memories.  Anther line from the album:

She took a small silver wreath and pinned it onto me.
She said this one will bring you love. 
And don’t know if its true
but I keep it for good luck.



Awake! all phin, agains

Whom is seeing whom? Circa 1970;  Being out in the snow is a great memory, We— all of the people in the world—understand the word “season”  —  its winter; Its spring; its summer; its fall —but its a different real experience depending on where you live.

Walking around Boston, Back Bay one weekday, mid morning, snow covering the ground and still falling, Fifty years gone by, I remember that moment.

A photograph is both light and sight—sight in lightenment.


Somerville dog—A monk asked Joshu. “Does dog have Buddha-Nature?” Both Christianity and Buddhism have  similar base— Life is suffering. Where Buddhism  suggests discovering, stumbling, inviting, forgetting, killing,  your  Buddha , perhaps through meditation, the four truths, the eight-fold path,  Christianity says . . .


God was bored so he created the universe, including the world  and still he was bored, so he created Man who was also bored, so he took a “piece” of Man and created Woman, who was not bored but was very curiou about  this universe and our world  which was so boring to God and Man .


God, being bored and  seeing Woman not being bored, but  behaving so curiously could have thought,  “Gee., maybe this universe,  with this world,  with Man and Woman in it is an interesting place,”

Or maybe God got jealous—“Why could Woman be having fun while I am bored?”


Or maybe God got angry that Woman was doing something God  never thought of doing, or,  doing something  which God  did not tell her she was allowed to to do, even  though God never thought of being curious before,


Whatever was going through God‘s mind—if it can be said the God has a mind— God decided to command Woman not to yield to her base emotional desire of curiosity—perhaps the part of Man that was not included in the part God  used to make Woman was the part that enabled the ability to control a base emotional feeling such as curiosity, from being expressed in behavior.

God Commanded, “DO NOT EAT THE APPLE!!!”


Well of course,  after such a command from the “Authoritarion of all Authoritarions,”   Woman could not control her curiosity, she was too weak, not like God who was perfect  nor like Man who was strong



Or maybe it was  just a normal human response to the word “know”

I don’t no.


God, ingrate passion, or perhaps like an immature three year old having a temper tantrum, yelled. . . . “Your Fired”  . . .


and stormed off the stage. Who Won?


Like Joshu learning upon returning, or perhaps returning upon learning?  that Nansen’s cat was killed, had I been there when God had this temper tantrum I would  have nown  what to do . . .


But I was either 5,000 years too late or 6,000,000,000 years too late, or even four or five kalpas,  it depends on who’s  story.

ginza1251_24%ppi100DDetB800  skyTree525724%ppi100G800

But It’s  all, —right mom?


Still it could have been worse . . .

She took a small silver wreath and pinned it on to me
She said, “This one will bring you love”
And I don’t know if it’s true
But I keep it for good luck

We are nowhere, Lyrics by Conner Oberst,

You never know why to expect when you open God’s “can,”
maybe just more lightened insightment. Curious works for me.