Found in transmisalation

Walking back from Kappabashi Street to Asakusa  I met this wall and then two young photographers wandered in . . . Does this image tell you about them, about me or about how you see?

Any years ago I watched a short documentary film of A.Wyeth in which he discussed  his painting of the Kuerners, the one where he is holding the rifle, and they are standing in front of the white wall.  Wyeth discusses  his concern with the white wall and how  he redid it multiple times until was right.


Light is what a photograph is, but so is Lens.

Lens is how about your personal feelings with the content of the image.

I am an adjustable kind of person so I have a zoom lens. Actually I am old, its easier to carry around one lens than multiple cameras.

I do not know anything about these two people, just two photographers on a street in Tokyo between Asakusa and Kappabashi Street.  I was admiring the reflections on the wall and they were admiring other things,


For me, the highest Art level of photography is photojournalism. For people photographs aways are about reality, no matter how abstract is a photograph people unconsciously   ask “ But what is it?” They need to have that answered before they can visually experience line, texture, shape, color, etc. My sister and I on our way to learn our  mother  had a stroke, lost her memory  and was never to know who we were again.


Second is the is snapshot, people love to take photographs  and snapshots are about the experience of taking the photograph or being photographed,  and not the photograph itself.


There is always the “realisim” of a photograph—is it evidence incur or insurance claims, proof of infidelity or a family history of a great grand parent.


Photograph is using light to Mae an image, The visual experience  is in the interaction between  the light and the eye , but the human experience is between the eye and the  human mental process,  and these are different.


The eye is happy with line, shape, color,texture but the human mental process  is not satisfied  with  those things,  it wants words, categories  to classifiy the experience and that is what “understanding“ means a photograph means to people.

But it was not always this  way,  this is what McCluhan is writing about how print so radically changed  the meaning being human.


Japan is both so modern and yet so many of the modern  inventions do not quite fit into the Japanese world bandits fine that they stay outside, its alright to keep the invaders out.


The old shows its age and new just walks by . . .


Japanese may not care about the meaning, the color, the experience of the the shape, the color, the line is enough. Who nos where the shadow goes?


Sometimes you do not need to speak the language ,just drinking sake and eating edamame with people you meet passing through  Ueno is enough.







The artless misdodger

Art* for knowone

Professionally I had a  graphic design business when, “pre computer”, the term “art” refered to everything & anything that would be exposed to the film which would be used to expose the printing plate. 

Computers have changed many technical elements of printing,  I retired 2016, and in my 25 years of experience since I got my first Mac II  even  later  when there was no film or printing plate, still “in the trade, ”  “art” referred to the materials used to composite the final visual for a specific printing job.

*Definition for this post: Art or art is specifically referring to a two dimensional visual experience. 


Often  in an inter-personal experience of viewing someone’s “snapshots” I will use the term “art”  as I would in the printing trade and their reaction may express that “These are their personal images, not to be seen as at the level of Art” suggesting that not all photographs are “Art.”

When I was young sometimes there would be discussions or essays about whether  photography was an Art or whether specific photographs were Art.

Mal Sharpe on the trombone.malSharpe2552_72ppi800px.jpg

“Art“ usually refers  to a combination of a level of technical expertise in the process, a level of artistic quality in the expression and a standard of subject matter.

One person may photograph a chair for an insurance record which may not meet this definition while another photographs  the afternoon light coming in through the window reflecting the curves of the chair expressing a human feeling.

San Franciscosf5845Det33%100C800.jpg

I saw in the news  last week, or perhaps the week before, that this Burger King was (finally, thank you ) shut down due to the unsanitary conditions. Its at the corners where you get off  BART  at Civic Center.  On the first floor looking out the window  in the hotel across  the street on the left is a Starbucks, often in the early morning  you can different languages of visitors from all over the world.

Is a photograph of a homeless person  “Art,”  is  being homeless in San Francisco or Los Angeles is a lot easier than being homeless in New York City, Boston or Cleveland, if only because of the weather or maybe its the food, or maybe its the bus ticket and a little cash from the   town fathers of a some  town in the midwest.

Where does a homeless person?


A photograph of an old house, maybe Art? who noes? Is it a visual record like a savings account of the experiences of those whoever lived in it, or a visual record of the how  of the outside world has altered its appearance? What is the Artist? who is the Art


San Jose Tofu

I lived on 11th Street, the first block just north of E. Santa Clara  in the two story white  apartment building, second floor right side, about 1982,  and would buy tofu at San Jose Tofu.  Even when we lived in Fremont,  I would drive down for the tofu and almost anytime I was in the area I would stop and buy. No one in the family took it over, they had to hire outside-the-family help and later close down.


Photo courtesy of—or maybe no courtesy of, I did not ask— Google.

Alameda Creek runs right bye my baby’s door,
Ain’ going down Highway 61 know more.


’cause  when you get to the stretch where the fence ends, the road begins . . .


Or you are politely requested not to enter and you see it as a choice.


Can I ask a photograph to show me who I am , or even who I was some moment in the past? Can you see the things I wish I had done in my life that I did not do,? the things that did in my life  I wish I had not done, ?  The things in my life of which I am proud of doing?

Green and red are complimentary colors and I use them to feel  complete,


To see my self, does a photograph have to more than line, color, texture, some feeling not\ matter how undefined, or does it need to be something  which we all commonly experience the same meaning?

If someone saw this image two hundred years from now and saw a photograph of the the Sales Force building  two hundred yours form now would they experience both images the same way,  perhaps as some visual record of the past?


Maybe they got home alright, or maybe they had a better offer, not bad lettering . . .


Dancing with the stars

I know its also the title of a TV program like I no Kardashians are people, I remember once I was with a woman who was ashamed of being scene with me because I was not a good dancer, then again, I never asked someone to think I was a good dancer but that is not true, in the 7th grade I was in Mrs Ship’s ballroom dancing class at the country club, but later it was never that important to me.

Dancing is encouraged  in Asakusa on a Sunday afternoon. A record of a moment  past or  a  predictonof the future.


Seto-Guro guinomi

Seto  (and neighbor Mino)  is an long time pottery producing area in Aichi Prefecture. Sometimes pottery in general may be referred to as “Seto Yaki, ”  yaki being “fired thing.” Guro means black , guinomi means sake  cup, and a seto-guro guinomi is a black sake driving cup from Seto.

There is an old  story which involved Sen no-Rikyu,  Toyotomi Hideyoshi, an order of seppuku  and a black chawan—I have seen reference to it being seto-guro, and I have a seto-guro chawan—but for all I know it may have been raku which is more commonly, though not exclusively, associated with chadō.



Sic nessun! too death

RIP: On Friday Ed Grundy  passed away after a long life
shortly after a memorable Fall Cider Club event.

Alameda Creek, going east between Beard Staging and Isherwood is near my house;  going west you can go all the way to Coyote Hills and San Franciso Bay.


San Franciso  Bay Blues,  a song  written by Jessie “LoneCat”  Fuller, was one of “those” songs —Freight Train/ Elizabeth Cotten Cocaine Blues/Dave Von Ronk; Baby Let Me Follow You Down/ Bob Dylan; I Am A Rovin’ Gambler/Ramblin’ Jack Elliot; Spike Driver Blues & Stagolee/ John Hurt;   which most every picker in th 1960s tried to learn.

NOTE: Except for Freight Train which (I believe)  was written by Cotten the others were traditional songs but the guitar part was an envied creation by the performer.


I try to walk  four miles everyday —speed walk.  In Spring 2007 with my son in college I moved my office home and I started walking four miles daily— I cannot run as it bothers my knees, and I walk along on the dirt beside side the black top trail—then it  took 50 minutes. At 74 years it takes me a little over an hour, or more if I meet someone I know and have a conversation, or sometimes I meet someone I never met before and we have a conversation, either way its interesting.


Its a levee built up to prevent the annual over flow of the creek, the area used to be farm land, now its houses, town houses, condos and some apartments though not in my immediate neighborhood. The Union City BART station is about five- ten minutes from my house, and it takes about 50 minutes to downtown San Francisco. Ihave an elder ClipperCard so it costs me about $4.40  roundtrip with Saturdays, Sundays and holidays free parking  while  weekdays are $3.00 until 3:00PM when it becomes free parking until the next morning .

The levee along the creek is a couple of minutes walk from my house, maybe 8 houses away. Along   the creek there are always things to capture one’s interest . . . stories of natural excitement and tension . . .


and moments of simple textures and patterns.


And people that I meet,

And the folks I meet ain’t always kind
Some are bad and some are good
Some have done the best they could
Some have tried to ease my troubled mind

Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound, Tom Paxton

Actually most of the people I meet along the creek are, for the most part joined by a common purpose of getting some exercise along this beautiful creek, but then, the  song is more about life than it is walking or riding along Alameda Creek just to get some exercise.


Amherst, MA,  a 50’s Buick, a country porch and a bell.


Tobacco drying barns


and the promise of moving sky’s


Someone told me I was not aggressive enough, it could be that I wanted something pure & clean and at the same time wanted happiness. Another person said I was too easy on myself  . . . I don’t know whether that meant they wanted something else, or I had no ambition . . .


but being in the city? does it bring you back to life, or like  for Rousseau, the city is human corruption. Everywhere people are born free and spend their life seeking to live in chains.


What is that one thing about a photograph that makes a human connection, that  single thing which no other two-dimensional image can claim, perhaps it a taste of never perfect cosmic truth,  not like line, or color. But its really good to see boys, bikes & girls.


From my kneads and knews,  I too was constrained  to cry out for attention wherever I could get it from, there was no standard, no rules  a little here , a little there, sometimes it got me through the night, or a promise of another day.


Its knot when its easier, two young men in a photograph, I no knowthing about them,  how hard or easy their life is.  A small peace of my life, a small piece of  theirs, which  together for a shared moment . . . we forget our troubles, our happiness comes out, its  the taking of the photograph which is the drug itself.


I could ponder . . . or  I could make it simple, the zen of feeting or


or the feat of zenning  . . .


Its not as if we had a choice, or did not have a choice, but moving to the Bay Area I never had to dress like this or watch my breath condense in the air again.  Photo circa 1977, Central Square  between Western Ave and River Street on the river side, near the apex one or two blocks from Mass Ave.  pstr_10.24_800.jpg

Asphodel, that greeny aspiration

“We had a yeast starter, everybody in the county had a yeast starter. Whenever yours would get down to where it wouldn’t raise very good, you went and borrowed. You’d take your jar and go to your neighbors and get your yeast starter.”

Opal  Whitsett,  84, Scott County, Indiana ( from Feeding Our Families, published 1983)


Know mind; know Buddha; know things. Nansen didn’t say it, or maybe he just didn’t say it in that tone of voice but that time the cat ran away.


What human behaviors are necessary for survival? Is our measure the survival of the  individual or survival of the group?  Can individuals survive alone or do individuals survive by living in groups.?


Make your own list . . . Assume an individual can survive alone— “survival” is over   when the individual dies—and write a list of behaviors which are successful to survive as an individual  . . .   Is the behaviour of a group more than only specialization of these behavours?


Rules of survival also include ethics, or principles which are commonly expressed by behavour to  define theses  boundaries— common sense.


My mother had a stroke resulting in severe memory loss and expressive aphasia.  During the three years before her  passing I made some  images.


Make a list of behaviors which describe our common sense of empathy, compassion, our sense of “humanity”  . . . do different groups have different  behaviors on their lists?


Compare their list to your list of behaviors necessary for survival. Are they different, maybe some are antithetical and inspire destruction of others..


Are the behaviours of the two groups compatible or incompatible  with each other?

Are there some behaviours  which  some individuals have more skills than others? Is there a “minimum skill level” that every person must  express. Are there some things which can never  be done by the individual.?


Individuals  with different behaviors may be “find a place-create a place -forced into a place” in the system  but generally their  life is not defined  by one of those and in the situation of slavery it is where the place of the individual is defined as by “forced into place.”

And one valuable quality of “the spirit of humanness” is individuals who when forced into an inhumane place still manage to express and communicate basic human qualities, not necessarily to a standard to which we can life, but more importantly,  one to which we can individually and commonly aspire.


One part of photography is the visual experience of something never seen before—sometimes its  something never seen before by the individual  such as a photograph  of a never seen before  mountain;

or,  the visual experience of the photograph expresses smaller particles or images of  Jupiter;

or, the visual experience communicates a better understanding of a human  experience.

or, the visual experience communicates a memory.


In the Beatles song Maxwell’s first victim was studying pataphysics.

Does a person’s life end when they die in the song  or do they get a relife when (or if)  someone sings the song again. Alfred Jarry also wrote the Ubu story, which is another story,  I think in modern society it may never have a relife, which may be why RJ is waiting for the fall when the leaves are already on the  ground


Some individual successful survival behaviors are not compatible with successful survival behaviours necessary for the survival of the group.

And some individual behaviors which (are believed to) enhance the life the individual —such as shooting someone and taking their money to buy a car —are not compatible with the survival the group.

Or vice versa, some behaviours of the group are not compatible with the survival the individual


But for survival  its always necessary for people to figure it out a Common Sense—this is  the purpose of “culture.” Culture is not a bunch of stuff in a museum,  a hair style or  cornerstones—those are expressions of culture . . .


Culture is a field like a “gravitational field in the universe” where the interaction  between  i some big rocks and fireballs  in space  generate gravity, a force field which generates  a changing order enabling their survival for a period of time.

People, who everyday do things generate culture, which like gravity, is a force field  which creates a structure of society, it just happens, its not controllable and goes wherever it goes.*

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
                        yet men die miserably every day
                                                for lack
of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams,  from  Asphodel, That Greeny Flower**



*  Institutions which broker power within a structure of society are a different subject matter for a different time.

* * About 1971 while driving in Vermont one night we ended up staying at a small cabin as the guests of Bobby Richkin (photo below,1970) and his wife and he read Asphodel, That Greeny Flower to us. When I returned home I bought a copy of  Pictures from Brueghel which, 40 years later I still have.