Lasting Stuff

This is the slow dissolving, long lasting stuff edition:

  • Photography is dead. From Erwins Home: The essence of film-based photography is not only the fact that the mechanism of capturing an image and fixing it in a silver halide grain structure creates a final picture that can hardly be altered. The fundamental issue here is the fact that the laws of physics create the image, in particular by the characteristics of light rays and the interaction between photons and silver halide grains. Photography is writing with light, and fixing the shadows. Human interaction and manipulation are minimized and reduced to the location, viewpoint and moment of exposure by the photographer. Reading the new book about Cartier-Bresson, the Scrapbook, makes one aware of that peculiar and forceful truth that photography is not only intimately linked to the use of film, but in fact depends for its very existence on film.

    If photography is dependent on film and not the photographer’s drive, interest, eye, skill, and talent, than all I have to do to become a great photographer is blow the dust off my old film camera, load it with film, stand on a corner and, every once in a while, snap the shutter.

  • Now is not the time to hear that global warming is going to increase drastically, though I have at least two years to move before it gets really bad.

    Not everyone agrees with the predictions, though. Freeman Dyson a physicist at Princeton states, My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models. (via 3Quarks)

    An interesting read, but in the end, Dr. Dyson doesn’t convince one of anything. His arguments are based more on anecdotes and opinion, rather than presenting anything factual that one can then review and either accept or reject. He also has too much belief, in my opinion, on humanity’s ability to ‘fix’ things at some future time if predictions of climate change do occur. He then wraps all of this in his ‘heresy’, as if to make himself seem a maverick, when there have been people who have argued against the prevailing views of global climate change. He strikes me as man who doesn’t want to see what the climatologist are predicting, but rather than focus on the sacrifice of today’s people, he disputes that any such prediction can’t be possible because of all the variances that exist in the world. The thing is, from what I know of climatological models, these do account for all that ‘messiness’.

  • Loren Webster wrote an in-depth review of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM). I enjoyed reading the posts, and hearing Loren’s views.

    I read ZAMM once, a long time ago. I remembered thinking after reading the work that this was a book written by a man for men, though there is nothing in the work that is even remotely sexist. I felt, though, that I was reading a book written in language I’ve learned to speak fluently, but wasn’t my native language. After Loren’s reviews, I might try reading it again, and see if I still suffer the same disconnect.

  • If you haven’t seen the South Korean film The Host (Gwoemul), I can’t recommend it too strongly.

    I was expecting a creature feature, but I wasn’t expecting such excellent special effects, darkest black humor, and a fascinating look at South Korean culture, which may, or may not, match what actually exists in South Korea. Not to mention subtle and not so subtle digs at the US.

    I don’t want to give away much of the storyline other than a huge creature terrorizes Seoul, capturing the youngest daughter of an amazingly dysfunctional family. The rest of the movie is then taken up with the family’s attempt to rescue her from the beast, taking the members to hospitals, along water fronts, and into telecom companies.

    This is not a ‘likable’ family, either, at least not in the beginning. But as they traverse the shoals of bureaucracy and the lies of corporate and military leaders alike, not to mention the homeless, ecowarriors, and, well, the beast, they rather grow on you. One reviewer described it as …a mutant hybrid spawned from the improbable union of Little Miss Sunshine and Godzilla, which is as good a description as any.

    There was one scene, in particular, where the family is seated at a table eating their dinner. It was seemingly incidental to the movie, but it captured simply, without edging over into the maudlin, the relationships within the family–all without one word being exchanged. It was brilliantly done, unusual, but captivating.

    I watched it in Korean with English sub-titles, which I recommend; in my opinion, dubbing destroys movies. I wanted to see The Host at the St. Louis film festival last year, but they were out of tickets. Too bad, too, because I bet the movie was exceptional on the bigger screen. Still, it translates to the smaller screen nicely.

    Rotten Tomatoes critics give it a 92%, unusually high for that site. Out of five stars, it gets a five star rating from me.

The Host Movie Poster

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7 Responses to Lasting Stuff

  1. Doug says:

    Re Erwin Puts:

    I keep seeing people write stuff about how photography is just about capturing a point in the space-time continuum and nothing else. Which some types of photography are. But lots of other kinds of photography involve setting up locations, backgrounds, lighting, props, posing people and/or critters, yadda yadda.

    Here’s something someone wrote about this:

    Group f/64 limits its members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods. The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography.

    That was Ansel Adams, in 1932.

    Ansel also wrote this in the same text:

    Group f/64 is not pretending to cover the entire spectrum of photography or to indicate through its selection of members any deprecating opinion of the photographers who are not included in its shows. There are great number of serious workers in photography whose style and technique does not relate to the metier of the Group.

    And then there’s this.

    P.S. The Preview functionality does nothing in my Firefox browser, and gives a Javascript error in MSIE6. I can only hope that the above tags work okay.

  2. James says:

    The idea that a photograph was complete once fixed on film is bunk – photographers have long been improving them in the darkroom.

  3. Noah Slater says:

    I have also read many opinion pieces about how photography is dead. Unfortunately this is the same old cry from a generation of people who have invested an entire career on one technology and don’t understand/accept when the state of the art changes.

    The essay draws parallels with the earth being flat and various other provable conclusions. Unfortunately this actually highlights how wrong the thesis is – photography is defined very precisely and it’s nomenclature should give away what that is:

    photo – graph = light drawing

    The theses makes as much sense as saying that a virtuoso playing an electric organ or an electric guitar is no longer a musician.

    If the thesis is to be accepted, that the transition from analogue to digital nullifies the art-form, then it also has to be accepted that:

    * Cinematography is dead.
    * Typesetting, binding and publishing is dead.
    * Book writing is dead (you should be using a quill and parchment)
    * Architecture is dead
    * etc etc etc

    Like James points out, the author conveniently forgot to mention the post-processing skilful photographers can do in the dark-room. Where do you think “dodge”, “burn” and “smudge” come from in your graphics editor?

    I really did save the best for last, however.

    “The fundamental issue here is the fact that the laws of physics create the image, in particular by the characteristics of light rays and the interaction between photons and silver halide grains.”

    O RLY?

    Actual physics create the image with analogue cameras? No! You mean… wait, the light rays have characteristics in a digital camera? What!? They actually interact with the silver halide grains?

    I thought this stuff was science fiction! You mean this is real?

    Considering that digital cameras take photos using magic pixie dust and vodoo soul-stealing spells I guess he has a point – if only we could figure out a way to make them digitals cameras use this dang physics thing and we would be set.

  4. Sophie says:

    I second your opinion on The Host, it is excellent. There are so many things in this movie, and the doctor is scarier than the creature ;)
    I saw it on a very small theater screen, with subtitles, and loved it.
    As a plus it features squid. As a minus they are dried and tend to be delicacies that emerge from the characters’ mouth when eaten.

  5. Brian says:

    I read ZAMM once, a long time ago. I remembered thinking after reading the work that this was a book written by a man for men, though there is nothing in the work that is even remotely sexist. I

    Odd – I never got that. What I retained from that book are the dialogs on Quality. And the realization that while it is much more pleasant to work to music I work far better and harder without any external distractions.

  6. Phil says:

    I remembered thinking after reading the work that this was a book written by a man for men

    When I tried to read it I got the strong impression it was a book written by know-all teenage boys for same, and gave up rapidly. Which is odd, because I was in fact a know-all teenage boy at the time. (And I liked the Outsider.) I think it’s probably an American thing – when I read Emerson at university the tone initially jarred on me in much the same way.

  7. According to this 2002 article from Science Daily, there is a lot more going on with our climate and what effects it then most climatological models take into account (such as Sol’s magnetic cycle).

    BTW, if you’ll toss those links to me, I’d be more then happy to blog roll them asap (I have until about 1 pm CST).