Monday, April 30, 2007


mellow + yellow swap

i'm pretty sure marta and i read each other's minds because we both gave each other presents (for the gift swap that she organized) that the other had been secretly pining over. what a fortuitous match!

some fyi's:

1/ in the interest of becoming better friends, marta asked if she could interview me. i delightfully consented.

2/ you can see all the other amazing and creative gifts exchanged through the swap by going here.

3/ marta has amazing handwriting.

4/ and let me just say that she took some stunning photos of the gifts i sent her! the lighting is so beautiful. so beautiful!

i mentioned my swap partner to my sister, and ever the musical lover, she responded: "i'm marta and i'm going to be seven on tuesday and i'd like a pink parasol." "pink is my favorite color too." (i'm sure marta is fully aware of the reference.)

lost at e minor

look at the cool write up my exhibition for the bruise received on lost at e minor (yay!).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

cabinet de fumisterie appliquée

in the past my pictures have often relied on the use of soft depth of field to help me establish a particular sense of mood and place. recently i've been admiring a lot of work that manages to do something similar while still maintaining sharp focus. not that i think i'll ever shoot f22 or anything crazy like that, but i have been experimenting with f8 and f11 as opposed to my standard f4.5 or f5.6. to tell the truth, i have found it refreshing to work again with a camera that has f-stops at all (please don't tell my holga). i get the sense that the aesthetic of my work may be headed in a more formal direction altogether, primarily as a result of shooting in a square format, but i'll have to wait to see what the negatives look like to know for sure. i certainly seem interested in finding more subtle ways to direct the mood, especially through the use of composition and gesture.

these images work for me in that regard. i also really like these pictures for their sense of humor. many may find this an odd comparison, but this work kind of reminds me of joel peter witkin's gang of misfits, but in a much sweeter, sunnier way (while i am a huge fan of witkin, i'm not going to link to him because of the graphic and controversial nature of his images, you are obviously welcome google him if you like).

cabinet de fumisterie appliquée; a flickr set:
above: siamese twins/ below: drying women

film : jackie

Saturday, April 28, 2007

ashley ordering

i found the sweet and quirky images of ashley ordering today through the affordable art guide on d*s. i especially love sets 2 - 5 because instead of presenting several images from one series together (like she does in sets 1 and 15), she pairs seemingly incongruous images together to make a more compelling story. in fact, the first time i looked through those sets, i thought she had mixed old family photos in with her own images, but on subsequent viewing i think i've determined that they are all her own images. after the 5th set i started to get a little bored even though tucked into each set there was almost always one or two really really amazing images.

i also really responded to the styling in a lot of the photos. she presents a sort of hispter-vintage-chic lifestyle that has a timely (and timeless) quality to it.

kioskas/ 4

amy arbus talk

sorry for the late notice, but amy arbus is giving a talk and signing books and posters at gallery 339 today at 2:00 (on the corner of 21st and pine). please come if you can make it! the book signing is from 4:00 -6:00.

Friday, April 27, 2007

red buttons channels william christenberry

red buttons work seriously reminds me of william christenberry. i dare you to compare red buttons (aka 'ed') to william christenberry (aka 'one of my gods'). both of the pictures i featured are red buttons'. but take my word for it, they are soooo christenberry.

(if you like this kind of thing, you may also like this kind of thing).

kisokas/ 3

julia blaukopf

while dropping off my 5 rolls of color film to be processed at philly photographic this morning (yay!), i picked up a flyer for a julia blaukopf show at photo612. i featured some of the images from her mt. kenya reforestation project, specifically ones where she depicts the landscape as an ominous almost life-like creature.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

the poetic logic of art and aesthetics

i inherited a small pile of magazines today that my boss had designated as recycling:

issues 184 and 185 of aperture (fall and winter 2006)/ issues 43 and 44 of portfolio/ and issue 47 (summer 2006) of source (i'm sure such specific information makes little difference to anyone, but details are in fact very important to me).

those magazines led me to investigate photographers like edgar martins (strangely i keep confusing his name with with medgar evers in my head) who made an appearance in both aperture issue 184 and portfolio issue 44. quite the coincidence indeed. the delightfully surreal image above is from his seductively titled series, the accidental theorist. find more of his work at the betty cunningham gallery or at the moth house. and also the photographer magali nougarede's images (portfolio 44) remind me exactly of a project zia worked on once (see below).

there was also a fascinating article on frederick sommer that has me searching high and lo for a copy of the poetic logic of art and aesthetics and also the writings of martha rosler were mentioned somewhere, so i'll be looking into her as well.

other recent acquisitions to my library: so the story goes: photographs by tina barney, philip-lorca dicorcia, nan goldin, sally mann, and larry sultan (the catalog accompanying the Art Institute of Chicago's fall exhibit)/ diane arbus revelations/ lorna simpson/ and the nature of photographs by stephen shore.

kioskas/ 1

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

michelle arcila/ 7


ever have a really great friend who you haven't talked to in so long that any conversation will inevitably entail catching her up on all the pesky details of your life that make up the context of every other major story you want to tell her and you just keep putting off the call because you never seem to have a large enough slot of time to devote to so colossal an undertaking? i often leave those phone calls entirely unsatisfied because while explaining all the details, i can never comfortably settle into the natural rhythm of our friendship.

that's how i feel about the post i want to write about last weekend. so i'll just leave you with the highlights for now: i went to new york and saw some photo exhibits. i shot a bunch of photos.

i'll try to fill in the rest later.

michelle arcila/ 6

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

michelle arcila/ 2

the abiltity to take pictures

i've probably read joan didion's the year of magical thinking three times at this point. i can't say for sure because it's the kind of book i return to time and again when i need it. it's the kind of book i need.

yesterday i went to visit it to find this passage:

"why had he forgotten to bring his note cards to dinner that night? had he not warned me when i forgot my own notebook that the ability to take a note when something came to mind was the difference between being able to write and not being able to write?"

can the same be true of photography? if i get the urge to photograph something and can't do it, even if i write the idea down, can i still make the same picture later? will i still want to make that picture anymore? did i lose it forever? i've been holding several pictures in my head these last few weeks, but how long can i hold them?

i worry about pictures i've already made too: if i shoot a picture and leave the image latent on the film, why did i take it at all? sometimes i think i just shoot to feel the weight of a camera in my hands, to see the world cropped through a rectangle. silver on plastic. magic in a box. if you can call light magic.

i've accumulated a small pile of film to process now. i couldn't tell you anymore what secrets it holds. i don't know if i still want to know.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

100 little flickrs!

hey! see that post down there? that's right, the one right below this one? that little flickr down there? well that happens to be the hundredth little flickr i've posted! what a wonderfully momentous occasion. aren't you all excited? i know i'm excited.

michelle arcila/ 1

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

paul herbst pretends to be a photographer

i really enjoy paul herbst's sense of humor. his site, my dream is the awakening, showcases some terribly interesting images paired with such apt, witty titles, that the titles themselves almost become another visual element of the diptych: above static combination, below rapid chess tournament.

(and, yes, alec soth has been posting about titles for the last few days, but, no, this wasn't directly influenced by that; i swear this is just a coincidence, well at least i think it's just a coincidence, it's just as likely that after reading his post i was subconsciously more conscious of titles. it's tough to say for sure.)

paul also has a decent variety of interesting stuff on flickr, and as far as "pretending" to be a photographer goes, he's doing a really crappy job, or i guess a really good job depending on how you look at it.

gregory holm

i just commented alec soth...

i feel like such a groupie. i just left a little short one, you know, to test the waters. i have butterflies in my stomach.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

close to home

it's finally done! i've been teasing you all for weeks with mentions of the issue i was curating for the bruise magazine, and at long last "we at the bruise" have something to show you. we asked five other photographers to submit images based on the theme family ties and the home, and i must say, everything came together quite swimmingly. so without further adieu...

close to home, an exhibition curated by carey macarthur (that's me) with images by:

carey macarthur/ alison whittington/ alissa hafele/ catharine maloney/ jaime alvarez/ alexandra batsford

"as photographers we inherently explore the world around us yielding a small glass lens like a weapon. we look. we see. and we try to make some sense and order of our own small worlds. sometimes we only succeed by compelling the fragile relics of our families, all of our hidden secrets, into a composition and onto an equally fragile sheet of plastic. those photographs in turn become new relics carrying with them their own quiet meanings and secrets that haunt and confound us. our families are our past, present, and future, so are our photographs, the two, our closest relations." -- me

special thanks to the multi-talented mark shepherd for inviting me to participate in this project. if you are interested in submitting work to the bruise (anything at all; it doesn't need to be photography), send images to: submit(at) they would be more than delighted to see what you're working on.

oh, and by the way, the images above and below are mine.

gregory william

Monday, April 16, 2007

my crazy weekend...

let's imagine it's ten o'clock on a saturday night and you just got home from a long week of work (okay maybe for effect you should imagine it's a friday night) and just for fun, you decide tonight is the night you are going to move an enormous peice of furniture up from your basement, an enormous piece of furniture that has been sitting in said damp basement for probably longer than you've been alive (in this case 22 years), and let's imagine for the sake of argument that your sister agrees to help you with said endeavor and that upon your arrival with "beasy" at the top of the stairs, you realize that getting her past the washing machine and around the corner is going to be quite the adventure. and what an adventure it was because as you've probably guessed by now, this hypothetical activity was really truly my saturday night. god bless my sister. the whole situation would probably have gone a lot smoother if we had boyfriends, but as we do not have boyfriends, we had to manage on our own.

the project was well worth the sweat and tears as i've been sitting at beasy in my studio all weekend enjoying the view of my backyard and watching the tremendous noreaster we experienced while working on this and this and a screen printing project that i don't have up yet. i did manage to tear myself away from my studio long enough to make a field trip to ikea where i saw lots of stuff to finish getting my darkroom in order all of which i intend to purchase as soon as i get paid again:

1/ the nian wall shelf with built in lighting finally ends my search for a sweet looking light table (i think the 22" was on sale for $19.99 because it says $75 or something on the website and i remember thinking it was more affordable)

2/ these measuring cups for all my chemical concoctions, and

3/ this clothes tidy to dry my film in.

i also filed my taxes today. wow. what a productive weekend.

university tragedy

i don't really know how to address the shootings at virginia tech or if as the writer of a photography blog it is even really appropriate, but as a member of this generation of random acts of violence, i feel somehow obligated to at least acknowledge the terror that occurred there today. violence in educational facilities seems especially horrific to me, as college is truly a place of promise. my heart goes out to the families of the victims.

lastleaf/ 5

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Saturday, April 14, 2007

lastleaf/ 3

the price of being a photographer

i've been really busy the last few months. i've been writing this blog, and reading other people's blogs, and working on some printmaking ideas, etc, etc. the one thing i haven't been doing is making pictures. that needs to change. i'm moments away from having a workable darkroom space (i told you i've been busy), although it doesn't have a sink, but that's a smaller problem than not having chemicals and a dust free space to hang my film and those last two are really quite attainable and afforable. but even more important, i'm still in need of a large format camera because who cares if i can process film if i don't have anything with which to shoot it.

i started pricing the behmoth beasts today, hoping that i would be able to find something for under $1000. i did. i found this field camera. but once i added in all of the "accessories" which should really be called "necessary accessories" or even better "essential pieces of equipment without which the camera is in effect a useless lump of metal" (for example a lens. or a tripod even. or a freakin' head to mount on the tripod, an accessory's accessory if you will), my total was much nearer $2000.

it's times like these i wish i had chosen a much more lucrative and much less expensive medium. but i guess photography chose me more than i chose it so i'll just have to deal. unfortunately there is no end in sight to this quest for more equipment. once i purchase the camera, i'll have to start thinking about a printer and after that i'll probably want yet another camera. and so it goes. for now i just need to take this one overly priced peice of equipment at a time. and in the meantime i should really start combing ebay for more affordable "gear" as the cool kids like to call it.

lastleaf/ 2

Thursday, April 12, 2007

lastleaf/ 1

sannah kvist revisted

exciting moment of my day experienced while working on a horrendously annoying mass mailing: i heart photograph (one of the photo blogs i recently discovered) featured sannah kvist as a pic of the day a few days ago, that's right, the same sannah kvist whose images i also featured as some of my flickrs. same photo and everything (see above). god i have good taste.

my life will never be the same

finding that trove of photo blogs via alec soth was almost as momentous an occasion as being initiated into the very world of blogging itself. i can't wait to infiltrate their clique. i think it will finally give me some more material to pull from and allow me to direct my posts to an audience of mainly photo people and stop feeling like i need to dumb down my medium. sorry if that's harsh. deal. i feel a blog overhaul coming on. i still want to keep the focus on young photographers. not even "emerging" photographers, who are just starting to get gallery recognition, but photographers like myself who are just young and out there doing their photo thing. and i don't know if you've noticed but i have kind of gender bias towards female photographers. feminine work resonates with me. and i have seen first hand that female photographers and artists get shafted (i graduated with 2 guys out of 18 students, and when i visited yale this week i noticed there were more females than males in the room, yet the ratio of men to women who have gallery representation disproportionately favors men, so bite me).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

emiliebjork/ 2

my red self

i bought this book, violence, by helena kvarnstrom on a lark late last night. it was only $10 plus a mere $1 for shipping and it looks beautiful and creepy and fraught with psychological tension just like i like so i'm excited for it to come. the cover design grabbed me at once. her work reminds me of robert frank and francesca woodman, maybe also nan goldin, there is one image in particular of a shed that reminds me of michal rovner, and the picture of the bird on her menu page brings to my mind an image by susan paulson from a little known book called tomatoes on the back porch. i couldn't tell you if the work is entirely diary based or not, but the book combines her images with her writings, which appeals to my love of both memoir and photography. the tender pairing of text and image creates this blended visual and literary poeticism that i find irresistible.

the excerpt that directly led to my purchase:

"and i'll bury myself so deep inside you and i'll be your tragedy and you won't have to find it anywhere else, pay for it on movie screens and play it in your songs, i can be all the tragedy you need and i'll tell you all my stories and you'll look so serious and maybe you'll cry and you'll say you're so sorry you're so sorry and i'll write myself onto your palms onto your lips you'll swallow me hard you'll wonder if you're one of my stories too and one day the back of your hand will run into my cheekbone.

your hand will run into my cheekbone and i'll become sand.

the times you fell in love me with were: when i ran out of the store and you found me on the floor in the bathroom and i would not stop shaking. when i could not breathe on the bench. when i borrowed scissors from your mother to cut up my pills and did not brush my hair. i am running out of reasons for you to love me even before the piss yellow snow melts and you know it is up to you now. you love me best with a wet face and swollen lips and i don't mind much.

sometime in december i run out of the house with no shoes and it is the first time i have left for a week. i cross ashland and stare at the ground and there is no one to see me, past the laundromat where you buy me gum and rubber bouncy balls while we wait for the bleach to take away that week's accidents. the laundromat is owned by a very nice hispanic man and it is called soapy's. that's where we tell people to turn left to come visit us but no one comes anymore. it's so quiet at night here and then the freight train goes by and i regret not getting to the tracks sooner just to be close to the sound. you watch tv and imagine my body crushed by boxes carrying lumber, cars, and children's cold medicine."

this is the route that brought violence to me (or me to violence depending on how you look at it): emiliebjork's flickr page (yesterday's flickr selection) brought me to paper-doll where i browsed a wide range of good and bad photos until i got to helena's which took me to her site, my red self, which brought me to lazyline from whom i bought the book.

aren't you jealous alissa? maybe if you're really nice i'll bring it next weekend to show you at some romantically quiet moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

emiliebjork/ 1

alec soth blog

could everyone please stop what they're doing and tell me why no one told me that alec soth has a blog? anyone?

the blog is so well written. i can't wait to dig into more of his posts. i'm gonna start commenting the crap out of him. only on second thought then he might come over to my blog and see this post and i'd get really embarrassed. i'm such a photo nerd.

(apparently there are more of me out there. i've long been searching for other photoblogs like mine to no avail, but i think i've finally found the network. all i need to do now is comb through alec soth's comments section. now that i have found others like me, i'll have to remind myself not to let this blog get too pretentious and overly academic. i make no promises though.)

pete deevakul

since none of you could be at yale with me yesterday, i invite you to watch two videos i saw presented in one of the crits by second year photography student pete deevakul. i think you'll enjoy them. the above video is a little more serious; it's a stop action video made from still photographs (so stellar). the below video is a music video in which deevakul pairs the misfits song, hybrid moments, with video clips from star wars. he presented it in the crit first with the song playing, and then again without it. i think it was almost more interesting without the sound, so if you're like me and you don't have speakers on your computer at work, fear not, there is still an enjoyable experience to be had. in fact i actually recommend you listen to it with the sound off the first time around just to get the full effect.

Monday, April 9, 2007

yale photo

i'm headed up to yale to sit in on a critique. one of the students that was ahead of me at drexel is currently attending and she offered to show me around (she's a freakin' rockstar by the way). i'm not really ready to think about grad school yet, but when i do, and if i decide to go for photo and not film, yale is at the top of my list. i'm also really excited because i haven't been to a crit since before i graduated in june, so i'm overdue for a large dose of academics. see you tuesday!

water & sleep/ 2

Sunday, April 8, 2007


for some reason, when many photographers go to buy art, they themselves don't want photographs. they may want something photography related, but not photographs. in my opinion it's because we can't commit to only one; if we can't have the whole series, what's the point? this print symbolizes a love of photography and the camera without actually being a photograph. in fact i myself have a photographer in mind to gift this to (and no, it's not myself).

limited-edition of only 100. 24" x 26" hand-screened on french paper dur-o-tone butcher off-white 80 lb cover. $35 each.

coudal partners have more cool stuff and prints for sale through their swapmeat because as they put it, " periodically, we receive unsolicited stuff in the mail. we love getting it, and most of the time we return the favor by sending back some of the stuff we've made. so we're trying to do the same thing on a slightly larger scale in an attempt to make lots of people as happy as we are when the fed-ex guy shows up unannounced. featured items are listed on this page."

via k. cooper

water & sleep/ 1

Saturday, April 7, 2007

some 'traditional' self portraits

in this the age of the "myspace" self portrait, i was charmed to find these three traditional "mirror and 'old-fashioned' camera" self portraits on flickr.

top left: ...chourmo, top right: allygurl1016, below: emma wears an anorak

leidio/ 3

Friday, April 6, 2007

a note on the flickrs

irene asked me a good question about the "a flickr a day" series (the flickrs from here on out), and it occured to me that the majority of my readers probably have no idea what they are about considering when i started posting them i had little to no readership. no, i don't comment in any meaningful way on the flickrs becuase i post one every day and i think that just by posting them it's clear that i like the images. i don't think i'd be able to keep up the daily pace if i had to write something for every image. i also like how clean the images look by themselves. they function as daily visual inspirations and nothing more. of late, i've taken to editing them into series of 3 - 6 images, partly because it's fun for me, partly because i like the way it looks. i don't retouch the images unless they appear overly cyan; for some reason a lot of people can't see cyan. i find the images by digging through the favorites sections of other flickr photographers i like. it can be harrowing work at times. i've detailed that here.

this is what i wrote about the flickrs when i first started and this explains how they, and this blog, progressed.

and to irene: i appreciate the feedback, to everyone else: feel free to let me know your thoughts every once in a while. blogging can be a lonely business without comments from readers from time to time.

leidio/ 2