Few video stills from the music video I directed and shot recently. Never underestimate the importance of a good location if you want to make a retro video. Canon 5D Mark II, 24mm lens, shot at 24p. It doesn’t get any more guerrilla than this…Read More
A few photos I took at a show on June 10, 2011 at The Trash Bar. Daylight Mourner is: Jay Serkin on Vocals. Jon Wiley on Guitar. Adam Mucci on Bass. Kim Mucci on Keyboards, and Anthony Arza on Drums. B&W Digital. Untouched.
View the slideshow.Read More
Rip-Off or Artistic Assimilation?
This photograph of Michael C. Hall, star of the Showtime series Dexter, appeared in Entertainment Weekly last year. It was photographed by Michael Muller. By itself, given the nature of the show, it seems pretty much designed as you might expect. The ethically conflicted serial killer with doleful look and blood on his hands. But, there’s a story here: the concept behind the photograph is not an original idea. It’s an almost exact duplicate of a photograph that Annie Leibovitz took of rock legend Pete Townshend of The Who during a cover shoot for Rolling Stone after a concert in 1980.
It’s rather striking how the Muller photo duplicates the Leibovitz photo down to the placement of the band-aid, and the lighting in the background.
What’s also interesting is that the Muller photo was run with no mention of it being influenced by Leibovitz’s photo. Perhaps it was an homage in Muller’s mind.
While it is well understood that artists barrow from each other in all sorts of ways – and that’s perfectly acceptable – this seemed to me as a knock-off for a very specific reason: it takes the design and meaning of the first photo by Leibovitz and completely alters it in a way that doesn’t add to the original at all. It actually detracts from it. It crosses a line between art and marketing that I feel should remain uncrossed.
The Muller photo is a public relations shot. Meant to sell the show. It lifts the graphic power and mixture of violence, innocence, pain and exhaustion of Liebovitz’s photo and uses it to sell a show about a conflicted serial killer. But, it sucks the meaing out of it. Liebowitz’s shot of Pete Townshend was spontaneous, taken after a 1980 performance in Oakland, CA by The Who, during which Townshend cut his hand on his guitar doing one of his famous cartwheel arm swings on stage. It wasn’t an entirely undesigned shoot, as Townshend explained in 2004, a bit of serendipity and embellishment by Leibovitz was empployed (the technique that made her famous):
By the time we got to start taking pictures, the blood was badly congealed, Annie got me to swing my arm afresh to generate more blood.
Then she actually found some fake blood and added a little to create the runny effect. But, I have to say, my hand was a fucking mess before she started to embellish it.
While Townshend is aware that the Leibovitz approach of employing “embellishment” is an issue, he seems to think that it didn’t cross the line. And, I have to agree. It’s not photo-journalism exactly. But, it is still very real. And very powerful.
While I don’t object to artist riffing on the work of others, it’s not entirely clear that the Muller photograph is doing anything except riding on the back of a much greater photograph. Are we that bereft of ideas? I don’t think so.Read More
A few unretouched photographs of The Static Jacks at The Mercury Lounge on January 20, 2011.Read More
Cleveland blues legend rips the paint off the walls with his sonic blowtorch. At (le) poisson rouge with The Golden Palominos a few months ago.Read More
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Gil Scott-Heron was one of those people who everyone listened to and waited to hear what he was going to say next. He was that relevant and eloquent and personal. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” and “Message to the Messengers” are arguably some of the greatest political and social commentary put to music ever. And, his contribution to “Let Me See Your ID” on the anti-apartheid album Sun City still stands out as one of the great raps during that time.
Then he disappeared into the hole that is Rikers Island for drug possession. But, all things come around and now he’s back. A must read interview with Gil Scott-Heron in Salon is here, and he’s released a new album. Gil manages to reach into the depths once again. Here’s the video for “Me and the Devil“.Read More
During the show, Douglas has an interesting conversation with Paul Krassner that touches on how issue oriented satire has changed over time from Lenny Bruce to Jon Stewart, conspiracy theories in the real world and Krassner’s new book Who’s to Say What’s Obscene:Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today.
Please listen to the entire show. The segment below runs five minutes.
Mp3 file located at Internet ArchiveRead More