Production days + this week's recommendations

Breezewood Meme Photograph, Soth Doc, Photographs & Money, a Mirror Universe? & McKenna on the Internet

There’s normally a welcome moment after I’ve started the field work on a new project that I realize I’m in new territory and it won’t end up as I’ve envisioned it. That’s part of what makes creating stuff so interesting and exciting. I definitely had that feeling this week as Tom and I started recording and shooting footage for our new show. It’s exciting to move forward after a few months of research and planning but we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Here’s what caught my eye this week. More photography stories than in previous weeks! Thanks for reading, drop me a line if you have a tip on a good story info AT bryanformhals.com

Burtynsky’s Breezewood Meme Photograph

Getting such a striking image of the place took a lot more work than most meme-sharers might realize. Burtynsky told me he spent three days in town scouting vantage points and setting up the shot. He often shoots from helicopters, but here he relied on an earthbound rig.

“I’d rented a four-wheel drive and a scissor lift that had the ability to take me up 80 feet,” he recalled. “I was just driving around everywhere with it, hiking it up and looking for the point of view. I kept trying and trying, and no, no, no. Eventually, near the end of the second day, I found this motel slightly up on a hill. And in the parking lot of the motel, if I hiked [the lift] up and used a slightly longer lens, which adds to the compression, I was able to create the shot.”

I’ve seen these memes pop up on transportation and urbanism Twitter the last year but didn’t realize it was an Edward Burtynsky photo. The documentary ‘Manufactured Landscapes’ gives a deeper glimpse into his creative process. There’s also a documentary for The Anthropocene Project but I have not seen that yet. Have you?

Alec Soth Documentary

The Minnesota-based, internationally-revered photographer Alec Soth recently released his ninth book, entitled ‘I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating.’ But in the summer of 2017, less than two years before the book’s release, Alec wasn’t dreaming up plans for a new series of photographs. In fact he was doing the opposite - he was considering walking away from photography altogether.

The narrative about Soth’s creative evolution and process has always run parallel to his work and the hype around it. It’s part how he’s able to control the narrative. At first, it was his popular, legendary blog where he really honed his voice around the creative process. After that died, it was the regular interviews that would accompany his new books. Most recently, it’s his Instagram account where he’s consistently meditating on the creative process and new ideas.

This short documentary brings it all to life and I think gets to the core of his tension with art. There’s a lot to learn from him. For me, it’s that you should only make art if it will also make you a better person. See also: Blake Andrews reviews ‘I Know How Furiously Your Heart Is Beating'‘

“Was the automotive industry a terrible mistake?” - YES

In theory, private driverless cars can reduce that waste. Instead of owning two cars, you can have a single car that drives Mom to work, drives itself back home, ferries Dad and the kids around, and zooms back to the office to pick up Mom. Yet the new gridlock-producing waste of this arrangement—“zombie car” trips, by empty vehicles—leads Schwartz to argue that we must move away from the idea of owning cars and see them as a shared resource, like taxis. He favors “a pricing strategy that discourages private ownership in urban areas, recognizing that, for people who live in rural areas and remote locations, personal vehicles are a necessity.”

This is a great essay in the New Yorker about the price we’ve paid for not understanding the negative impacts of car culture. It focuses on how driverless cars and car sharing could impact transportation in the United States. There’s no question we need fewer cars on the street. It needs to happen in cities first.

M. Scott Brauer on the Campaign Trail

M. Scott Brauer is back on the campaign trail and has a new website for the project. He was on the LPV Show back in 2016 and it was a fascinating discussion about photographing politics.

Money Talks: Eve Lyons and Matthew Leifheit

I see a lot of artists who have to start making compromises to support a family or a lifestyle or even a relationship, which I totally respect. But I actually put my art practice before almost everything in my life. Like my health or personal relationships for example. And if it really came down to it, I think I would rather move to Boise or Topeka or wherever and live above a strip mall and work some stupid job just to be able to keep making my own photographs. I would rather do that than do a lot of things I didn’t care about to have a nicer apartment or live in New York or make another human being or whatever it may be. I am just trying to make a masterpiece. This is sounding really self-righteous! But I think it’s true that I would rather blow up my life and go live in a trash can than stop making the art I want to make.

That quote is from photographer and editor Matt Leifheit and I think it’s spot on. Read the full conversation in the latest issue of the superb Rocket Science Magazine.

Will we discover a mirror universe?

Zurab Berezhiani, a physicist at the University of L’Aquila in Italy who has conducted his own mirror neutron searches, offers an intriguing explanation: Dark matter has been hard to find because it is hidden away in the mirror world. In this view, dark matter and mirror matter are one and the same. If so, the mirror world is not just ubiquitous, it is far more massive than our own. At a recent physics conference, Berezhiani expanded on the idea, outlining a possible parallel reality full of mirror stars, mirror galaxies and mirror black holes. Maybe even dark life?

The tech industry generates a non-stop stream of media coverage and it often revolves around services and businesses that don’t matter much in the grand scheme. Conversely you don’t read much about the technology pushing the boundaries of science until you read a headline about a potential discovery of a mirror universe. What? I’m hope I alive during one of the major scientific break throughs that will inevitably happen.

Terence McKenna Talking About the Internet in 1996

Further Reading

  • Q&A with Photographer Anthony Hernandez [LATimes]

  • FaceApp Is the Future [NYTimes]

  • Photojournalism as Iconography: The Most Beautiful Suicide [Codex 99]

  • Trailer for documentary on Jay Maisel [Stephen Wilkes]