The Susurrus Glides, Selcouthly

Vladimir Zuev, Summer

Summery susurrus is here. Muggy to the point of maliciousness; I’ll just eat a banana, then split. To get right to it...

Duane Michals, on the benefits of skipping art school, in a recent interview by BOMBLOG:

SM: “Sometimes getting out of town gives you the anonymity and the balls to try things out you might never try at home.”
DM: “Exactly. You know, it was all on a lark. I wasn’t taking myself seriously as a photographer. I borrowed a camera, they wanted to give me a light meter and I wouldn’t take it. Here is my photo education: when you’re outside in bright light you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 250 or 500 or something, when you’re outside and it’s cloudy you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 60, and when you’re inside, you go by the window and you put the thing on 2.8 and the other thing on 30. That’s what I did and all my exposures were perfect. That was totally my education in photography.”
SM: So we should tell people to save the hundred grand they are going to spend on a BFA education?
DM: Yes! I was shocked. I don’t get it. I gave a graduation talk at The New School and I asked one of the students how much money they owed and he told me around 20000 dollars. I couldn’t believe it. Indentured servitude! And you know what they have to show for it? When they walk out they have a portfolio containing a hundred pictures of their girlfriend’s ass. That’s it. They sit around in seminars and talk about each other’s work and then they’re on the street. It’s pathetic. It’s like the cost of buying an apartment….”

SM: “I thought a good school was supposed to teach you the rules and the history of the rules, and then why you should break them?”
DM: “But you can do that all on your own. You don’t need school. See, I’ve always been self-motivated. I never needed anyone to give me an assignment. When I was in high school, I used to prepare for the scholastic contests. I would paint all summer on my own. I always liked working towards a goal, like a contest or an exhibition. I would constantly give myself assignments. What schools should do is free you to be you, and how to find your thing. I found my thing and my thing is . . . many things! I keep evolving....”

Nan Goldin said it best: “I care more about the content of a photograph than I do about the formal aspects of it.” There’s always going to be opposition in the Arts, at some point or time, whether or not the reflection is cast off of another reflection, that is cast off of another reflection, or cast off of another reflection’s object, or objective’s object or object’s objective, just as the sun’s light is reflected from a cloud—there is always going to be naysayers, and the sayers of the unsayable are the poets; O’Hara, do I hear thee in these quivering walls? Everyday I wake up, and there usually isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at myself in the mirror, to see what changes have occurred (nasolabial folds are slowly manifesting), to see if perhaps it’s all a pipe-dream, a fragile fantasy (phantom fantasy)—to get people to see the ‘anxious body’ manifest in front of them, would be like seeing an avalanche, an iceberg, slicing the starry innards of a so-called shatter-less ship.

My body feels like an avalanche; I’m caving-in to myself, or caving out of myself. I seek to locate every particle of my Being. Not surprisingly, it’s quite dewy. There is a kind of barrage of madness in stability. If I looked for myself in the places where I wouldn’t think I’d be (like where keys or remote controls get ‘lost’/‘misplaced’), I’d likely find pieces of myself, or another Self, a Statue of Me, a kind of Prelude to the idea of changing without changing.

I feel superimposed, at times, over the world, but the heavenlies pull me back again, cremating my existence into a silhouetted smoke beyond the understanding. Perennial manifestations of fire in the air (in the inner-air); what screams from the Matrix of my irregularity is never wayward, but is rather like a perpetual operatic drama that will always remain unmanageable.
What to say about Photography that hasn’t already been said? I have realized that I always (most of the time, anyhow) have to explain myself; or, rather, I often have to expel energy towards convincing people to participate/follow-through with the ideas that I’d like to experiment with and become a reality, and the most difficult part of all is not feeling an awkward blockage within the aura about it (which deflates the balloon); it’s easy to say that one could pay one’s models, but that takes it to a totally different nexus. My God, what happened to simply trusting the artist? What happened to wanting to create simply for the love of creating art? This “anyone can be a photographer”-Digital Age has really vampire-sucked the life out of what a ‘photographer’ is, or isn’t. Photography has become a sequestered, like sticking one’s tongue to a frozen pole—it just remains stuck until you pour something over it to loosen the connection; what I seek to pour over Photography is typically a particular approach that either makes one turn away, or makes one question my reasons, my approach(es), my understanding of what I’m seeking to do, and it’s just a blather of sewage that is often frustrating.

“I’d definitely love to collaborate with you at some point” becomes either the echolocating sounds of cricket-noises, or I’m consistently lead on (though I’ve learned not to get too disappointed; ah, experience!—Shakespeare said that [e]xpectation is the root of all heartache, so I’m on top of the totem pole, in that regard)—Tom Clark once reverb’d: “Like musical instruments / Abandoned in a field / The parts of your feelings // Are starting to know a quiet / The pure conversion of your / Life into art seems destined // Never to occur.” Oh! But it always occurs, but history often repeats itself in patterns, in the proverbial ‘domino effect’; or, as Patricia Coelho would write: “[a]ccount history no empty chair….”—or shall I just ignore the red squiggly-lines underneath the texts of Art? That’s the color of the blood-life of Language, of Art, of Music, of Poetry, et al.

The thing is, Photography has a million eyes, and more than that. I strive to create, to be creative, to showcase it and to literally become the “process” of it, because (and this is usually where I’d say something about how “it’s in my blood” or “because I’m a visual poet,” and so, and those things are true, but it warrants more) it breathes with a thumping heartbeat within my heartbeat; my brain has eyes, has heartbeats; my body is a living example of creativity; creating art is outside of the wall, outside of the ineffable, per se, and when I come to terms with any attempt at making an explanation to the whys and whats and hows and consistently having to answer or explain-away or even (at times!) defending why I’m an artist, it just feels blasphemous to Art, in general. It just seems awkwardly-wrong. Words explain. What does Art do? It explains, yes, but it explains visually what no words could ever do. Art, a Visual Image, shatters language as written-word, or vocal commentary. I heard an artist once say that explaining ‘why’ or writing about one’s art can be akin to “making a really tasty meal, and instead of eating it, you’re given the recipe to read.” I agree with this, wholeheartedly, and it seems like a cliché’ to write about, all of this Art-talk-and-why-an-artist-shouldn’t-have-to-explain-oneself, etc., but I suppose the truth only hurts if one has been lying to oneself. This idea that it is the ‘camera’ that makes the art is foolishness. I love what Nobuyoshi Araki said about that: “Cameras have too often been the masters of photographers. A Photographer, a slave to a camera. No longer will I be a slave to my camera. To any camera.” Imagine the vitriol/laughter this would seemingly produce in many ‘art schools’ today! They’ll steer clear from these beautiful truths, like staying out of a river of swarming piranhas. Why should I be trying to convince people to ‘get it’ or even want to delve in to an artistic idea, or even an artistic thought? 

Imagine inserting photographs of stop-signs where punctual periods (‘.’) would be, without enlarging them, but keeping the images as the same size of the punctual period, would be a synchronicity not to be missed. The ‘.’ should be re-examined. Edmond Jabes once stated that the period at the end of a sentence is an eye. To me, they are like stop-signs, darkened, like black holes, or some kind of infinite void. If one reads a sentence, without reading too quickly, and allowing that sentence to soak in, one may fall into that very void, along with the sentence itself, which may or may not allow the sentence to collapse in on itself, collapsing in on the reader.

With that said, I’ve been walking through cemeteries lately. I find it incredibly appealing how gravestones appear to be quivering when you walk a certain way, in a dim-lit surrounding. Perhaps they’re quivering at the sight of human life. Gravestones are like unforgettable souvenirs. They seem to be in bondage, somehow; or, they are mirrors of what lies underneath them; or, they are simply trees that have been turned into conflicted Identities.


One of my favorite writers, Georges Perec, writes:

“Be present, be yourself. You are here. Objects are here. They are for you only, because you see them” (said by some Tibetan Lamaist). Contemplations of everything. Observing everything. Like Sherlock Holmes, who was based on real-life man, Joseph Bell, who once said: “In teaching the treatment of disease and accident, all careful teachers have first to show the student how to recognise accurately the case. The recognition depends in great measure on the accurate and rapid appreciation of small points in which the diseased differs from the healthy state. In fact, the student must be taught to observe. To interest him in this kind of work we teachers find it useful to show the student how much a trained use of the observation can discover in ordinary matters, such as the previous history, nationality, and occupation of a patient.” T.S. Eliot would write: “I learn a great deal by merely observing you, and letting you talk as long as you please, and taking note of what you do not say.” (“Taking note of what you do not say” makes me think of Williams, out of The Great American Novel: “Words cannot progress. There cannot be a novel. Break the words. Words are indivisible crystals. One cannot break them—Awu tsst grang splith gra pragh og bm— Yes, one can break them. One can make words. Progress? If I make a word I make myself into a word. Such is progress...”).

Vladimir Nabokov: “the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes.”

Becoming a better writer is, and will always be, about practicing the craft, just as it is with anything else. If the hours that I spent writing to people early on in my twenties (whether handwritten or via email) could be turned into fortunes of some sort, I would be a wealthy gent. It was just yesterday that I spent daydream-like moments pondering all of the “love letters” that I had written to former sweethearts in the past and especially those sweethearts that could write equally well to the extent that our commonplace, everyday language within our exchanges gradually turned into poetics (not that I’ve had that many to write to at such an intricately-poetic capacity, but nonetheless). As if language can BECOME poetic, as if it wasn’t already poetic in a subliminal way(?); words began to become far more about putting together Impressionistic Imagescapes to, not necessarily ‘one up’ the other with these poetic exchanges, but to essentially write maniacally because one had to, because this love-force closes all barriers, clogs schisms with magical contents, and gives one a kind of pinnacle of enchantingness that seems to be directly underneath some divine pull. It had to come out. It is what love does to a person, madness!, perhaps, madness!, of some sort, and you just feed off of the other person’s love, and poetry comes from that particular geographic thumping in the very existence of one’s being-alive-ness.


How gloriously enchanting/frightening (but far more magical, at least with the right amount of fuel [literally]) to have been randomly chased on motorcycle by a gray wolf? THIS


Trailer to the documentary about artist, Renaldo Kuhler, ROCATERRANIA, which is (and I quote from thegodfaceis.blogspot.com):

“…a feature length documentary exploring the secret world of scientific illustrator and visionary artist Renaldo Kuhler. This screening is presented by Phantasmaphile.
In the last four decades, seventy-six-year-old Renaldo Kuhler has created hundreds of plates for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, illustrating diverse flora and fauna for obscure scientific journals and reference books. Before the making of this documentary, no one knew that Kuhler is also a prolific visionary artist—and the creator of an entire imaginary world called Rocaterrania.

Rocaterrania is a tiny nation of eastern European immigrants who purchased a tract of land along the Canadian border—just north of the Adirondack Mountains in New York— after growing restless with America’s notions of “democracy.”  Over the next six decades, Rocaterrania saw two revolutions and the rise and fall of a succession of czars, dictators, and presidents among a cast of characters vaguely resembling Russian historical figures. But, as the film reveals, each change in government reflects a deeper meaning for Renaldo, an outsider who struggled to escape an emotionally abusive family and searched for freedom within a real nation threatened by forces of conformity.

Rocaterrania unveils Kuhler’s astounding body of work to the world and reveals the powerful story of his life in the process. Among other themes, the film is about the insidious nature of conformity, the courage to be one’s true self, and the redemptive power of artistic creation.  Featuring an eclectic original score by Merge Records recording artists Shark Quest.

A link to the trailer HERE.


Many say “epic” for something outrageously wonderful, but when I look at a really crappy photo that I’ve taken, I say: “Ehh Pic”. Irony, especially when absurd, is so soothing. Like Aloe. Staring at an undeveloped roll of film, I hear “the man behind the curtain” inside of the film, saying, “Go on! Do look behind the curtain!” which is contrary to the typical.

Wallace Stevens: “fictive things / Wink as they will.” 

Walt Whitman: “To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough...”

Isn’t it really just enough?

 by Oren Eliav

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