Category Archives: images

still more imagination

Some creatures only appear once, never to be found again, accidents of light and angle and fate. This is one such:


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It took me a day or two to see the elephant and the sharp-goateed tiger:

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and not until today did I discover (1) the muppet Statler on the left side:
Statlerpair
and (2) a nameless musk ox on the right:

muskoxpair

I don’t think I could find that rock again, and even if I did, I doubt that those creatures would manifest again.

Other readings are of course possible. The ‘musk ox’ could be a disgruntled chimpanzee, and the ‘elephant’ may be an open-jawed creature about to bite Statler’s head off as the tiger looks on. YMMV.

the morning’s fun

This one has enough enigma to satisfy any devotee of the obscure:


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It’s a fissure in a large rock mass, but the two sides seem to have had quite different histories of erosion. The left-hand panel seems obviously to sport a grinning but rather lopsided face, but the right side is less easily parsed into something that makes sense.

So: in search of hidden essences, I first mirrored the left side and produced a rather more unsettling face, reminiscent of The Mask of Agamemnon:

leftside

A quick mirroring of the right side also produced a sort of face, perhaps a bearded figure not unlike my friend Daniel Heikalo:

rightside

…and then it occurred to me to flip that panel vertically, to reveal a gently smiling portrait of a being with an insectoid headpiece:
right side upside down

The conceit of the moment is topological: the two halves are meeting at a corner of tesseractoid hyperspace. But other readings are possible. At the bottom of the left side there might be a demonic motorcyclist:
left side detail1
or it may be that the mirrored left side should also be flipped vertically to reveal a wrathful or perhaps merely disapproving godlike being:

wrathful

revealing the hidden

I’ve been trying to figure out effective and efficient means to parse some of my more …erm… complicated images, to reveal what I see hidden in them. If I had the chops to be able to reproduce what I see as drawings, cartoons, or even tracings, I would spend many happy hours rendering photographic captures into hand-drawn graphics. While I can imagine what such translations would look like, I certainly haven’t the powers or skills to realize my imaginings. Yesterday it occurred to me that the combination of details clipped out and narrative might be effective enough to begin with. Here’s the starting point for today’s exercise:


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What it is : a stretch of highly-figured Drift Inn rock, 5 or 6 feet wide, with tidewater pooled in hollows (the white-flecked areas).

On the left I see a crowned bird-headed Hieronymus Boschish figure in a speckled robe, looking to the left over its right shoulder:


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Below that is a long-toothed and perhaps cat-like nightmare figure, reminiscent of Ralph Steadman’s graphic style:


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and to the right of those is a flame-haired human figure, arms raised and possibly with Harry Potter glasses or maybe just preternaturally googly eyes:


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and on the far right edge, a long-snouted foxy-horsey creature, with what might be a single horn on its head:


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.

You may see none of these, or find other figures that I haven’t yet discerned. There’s another shot of most of the same scene, from the other side, which offers a whole different array of interpretative challenges:


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For the moment, I’ll just point out the insouciant but demented (and possibly fanged) flying squirrel in the upper left:


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petroglyphic gnomons

My friend Jan Broek, Argonaut of lexicographical vastnesses and master of le mot juste, seems always ready with a pithy showstopper, an observation distilled into an apposite phrase that may never have been spoken before, but which positively nails whatever he assays. His comment on my latest Album of Creatures:

…petroglyphic gnomons…

strange empathic encounters with the stony beings that bring us into terrestrial arrest

Van Gogh has nothing on your rabidic plunge…

It’s always worthwhile to consider what others see in and say about the images into which I invest (or from which I draw?) so much meaning. The constructive exercise of making meaning from fragments, of perceiving form in what might first appear chaotic, is surely worth documenting, explicating, tracing in line and word. I need to develop the tools to extract and display what I discover and discern.

I deal in the whimsical and the figurative, imagining the Story, as in Pas de Deux

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and its Lindy Hop variant

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Another recent example is this Rocky Conversation, in which the figure on the left passes stony comment to the askance-looking figure on the right:

20x18170 Rock Conversation

I got to wondering about the broader context of the duo and went back to Drift Inn a couple of days later to rephotograph the scene. I wasn’t surprised to find that the interlocutors weren’t so clearly present without the definition of the bright sun’s shade:

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Addendum:
went back a couple of days later and found the pair still muttering to one another:

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The ephemerality of rock is a perpetual surprise, looking different from hour to hour and day to day, and revealing new facets to every change of viewing angle. Here are two more of yesterday’s new perspectives on a beach that I’ve visited scores of times:


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The muppets Statler and Waldorf, don’t you think?

Form Finds Form

I’ve been seeking subsetting and organizing principles to cope with the vast complexities of wood and rock portraits I’ve been collecting, and yesterday an interesting candidate presented itself as I was reading Rudolf Arnheim’s Visual Thinking (1969):

A concept, statistically defined, represents what a number of separate entities have in common. Quite often, however, a concept is instead a kind of highspot within a sweep of continuous transformations. In the Japanese kabuki theatre, an actor’s play suddenly petrifies into an immobile, monumental pose, the mi-e, which marks the climax of an important scene and epitomizes its character. (pg 182)



Mi-e generally follow a pattern, serving to focus our attention on a particular character or characters at an important moment during the play. Mi-e crystallize the action into a formal picture. More than mere focal points, mi-e are used to express to the audience a climax of great emotional tension. To perform a mi-e the actor must physically and emotionally wind himself up to the desired emotion, be it anger, fear, indignation, or surprise. Most mi-e are accompanied only by the beating of the wooden clappers (tsuke) … struck in a pattern called ba-tan, the two beats of which serve as a framework for the climax of the mi-e, in which the actor, while holding the pose rotates his head toward his adversary and crosses one eye, the other looking straight ahead.

The first beat, the ba, is hit as the actor strikes the pose. Then, as he rotates his head and glares, the mie is completed by the second, tan beat. The tsuke beater, or tsuke uchi as he is called, has the great responsibility of not only timing his beats to the actor’s movements but also feeling the emotional climax of the mi-e with the actor. (from Ronald Cavaye Kabuki: A Pocket Guide)

“How very like the moment of photography!” I thought. And sure enough some of my creatures are caught in mi-e, communicating directly to the viewer.


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More commonly, the creatures appear self-absorbed, going about their business, brooding or just being grumpy or dozy or fey, not interacting with the watchers, or simply being unaware of their audience. I’ve assembled a gallery of some that seem to me “immobile, monumental” and performing for the viewers

Form Finds Form is a phrase I’m continuing to unpack and trying to more completely grok. My mother was wont to say it, and via Ann Berthoff it has crept into the field of Rhetoric and Composition. It seems to resonate with many things I’ve done over the years (photographic projects, surname mapping, improv music…), even though I can’t fully explain just what it Means. In this instance, my almost accidental discovery of the Form mi-e educed the subset of images, each an exemplar of that Form. But which found which?

the succinct

One take on ‘simplicity’ is the quality of being succinct: getting a [sometimes complex] message across briefly, clearly, with a minimum of havering and expatiation, in a tidy package of nicely chosen words, or in an image that the viewer may grok without the need for exegesis. Sometimes there’s a way to express a complex story, with details and interconnections with other stories, in a spare or even gnomic gesture: one can know the story at a glance. Here are three examples taken today that seem to meet this criterion of the succinct:


Ann, Wife of

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tragedy2


and some from earlier captures:

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screech

awaken


My usual mode of photographic operation seems to favor the whimsical, which tends toward unconventional readings of images and require explanation, or the narrative, which attempts to engage the viewer in digressive backstories that revel in complexities and outward-bound links. Too many years in classrooms, not enough time in quiet contemplation of what I see. One can see a lot by looking.

simplicity

I’m thinking more and more about an online photography workshop with Andy Ilachinski (see his blog) that begins in a month or so. The subject, or title anyhow, is “Cultivating the Art of Simplicity in Photography” and so I’m grappling with what simplicity connotes. Seems like a good idea to keep a running tally of thinkage and experiments in this medium.

This foggy morning it occurred to me that we continually process the images—the video—of our lives. The focus of our attention, the frame, keeps moving, and we extract moments that please us, then (if we’re photographers) capture as still images to REMEMBER (and perhaps further explore) the moments of pleasedness.

Those thoughts in mind, I chanced to look out the window and saw this:


out the window

Since one of the issues I’m exploring at the moment is the personal importance of monochromatic [“black & white”] images, I tried out several filters (red, orange, yellow, green, blue) and chose the green as best exemplifying the overall feel of the moment of capture:

out the window

Now, it’s not that the image is really marvelous, but it does capture something of where my attention went at the moment: to the fog-shrouded treeline in the distance, to the imperfections in the nearest leaves, to the mid-August moment of Queen Anne’s Lace in the lower left. The image is a satisfactory rendering of a moment, something not-just-quotidian to contemplate.

There is a sort of simplicity here, an encoding of a still and quiet moment. Needs more thought, in a reflective mode.

On the Bancroft-Tyszkiewicz Account

I was first drawn to this family saga by seeing Clara Peabody Bancroft’s over-the-top memorial at Pere Lachaise:


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We can interpret the memorial variously: it’s an opulent sculpture of an elegant lady, modishly dressed and replete with possibly allegorical rose-strewing; or perhaps it’s the opening paragraph of a story, the sort that Somerset Maugham or Saki might have turned into something eternal. Or a puzzle of parvenus and arrivistes, of money and society. Or it can be read as a series of family calamities, or medical missteps. The elements of each of these scenarios seem to be gloriously present.

Clara Peabody was born in New Hampshire in 1826, and married Edward Bancroft in 1845. Edward was from Worcester, and became a Boston banker and broker (perhaps specializing in cotton), but the details of his occupation are pretty sketchy so far. Their sole surviving child Clara Elizabeth was born in 1857, and Edward died in Naples in 1865.

Here is Edward’s rather modest headstone in Mount Auburn Cemetery:

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Edward Bancroft

Departed this life at
Naples Italy
in the morning of Sunday
February 19 1865 Aged 42
By his own request his body
reposes here

I have not been able to discover how Edward came to die in Naples, or what took Clara to Europe (her own passport was issued in 1866, and includes her daughter and a servant), or when Clara returned to her residence in Newton Center (where the 1870 census records her as having a Personal Estate of $200,000).

Clara Elizabeth married Count Benoit Tyszkiewicz in Newton MA in 1874 (she was 18, he 22). Just how he came to be in Boston is a mystery, but in 1875 he and his bride had returned to Europe, and he commissioned a schooner at Havre:

In 1875, the Polish Count Tyszkiewicz Benoit, then
aged 23, would have a sea vessel for his travels. He has
spent two years in Boston, where he was impressed
by the big American schooners . Back in France, he
ordered Jacques Augustin Normand, Director of Augustin
Normand shipyards in Le Havre, the Zemajteij
which will become known as Velox. From the specifications
drawn up by the count, Mr. Normand will
design a schooner quite innovative that will mark his
time and influence the plans of the future construction
of yachts, both American and English.
The design of its hull, in particular, is revolutionary :
the Velox is the first ship to combine the breadth of
American yachts with the depth of the English shells.
This gives it great rigidity to the fabric and allows it to
carry more sail area than the competition.
The hull construction is also original: Jacques Augustin
Normand will use the method of triple-lined (2 longitudinal
and diagonal) which brings lightness and rigidity.
This is a first for a vessel of this size. The stability
is provided by a ballast 87 tons.


(Wikipedia, translated from the French)

It’s not clear when Clara Bancroft relocated to Europe, but her grandsons Benoit and Edouard were born in 1875 and 1880, and she herself died in Switzerland in 1883. She was first buried in Passy, but was moved to Père Lachaise the next year. A plaque on the magnificent tomb says

Son gendre et ses petits enfants pour accomplir les dernières volontés de sa fille la comtesse Tyszkiewicz ont élevé ce monument témoignage d’un vieux souvenir.

(Her son-in-law and grandchildren, to fulfill the last wishes of her daughter the countess Tyszkiewicz, have raised this monument in witness of an old memory)

The old memory may be of Clara strewing rose petals, and clearly it was the count who commissioned Henri Chapu’s sculpture.

But the story continues. Clara’s will specified that her daughter should be the beneficiary of a $100,000 trust, which would pass to her children if she should die. Clara Elizabeth did in fact die (of pneumonia) less than a year after her mother, just a few months after the birth of her third child.

The Bancroft plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery has a memorial


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upon which are inscribed the names of the various Bancrofts, but only Edward is actually in residence, and all of them enjoyed post-mortem travels (Edward’s wife Clara died in Switzerland but is interred at Pere Lachaise; their daughter Clara died in Switzerland but reposes in Czerwony Dwor, the seat of the Tyszkiewicz family).

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Just who had the monument erected is another mystery.

There was a court case in Boston in 1904, the Tyszkiewicz children seeking distribution of the principal of the trust, and their maternal kin desiring that the original terms of the trust continue. The children lost the judgement, and I can find no further information on their lives. (See the text of the judgement).

Count Benoit Tyszkiewicz lived until 1935. According to the Almanach de Gotha, he married the princess Marie Lubomirski in 1885. He seems to have been active in the development of sugar beet cultivation on his Polish estate, and his avocations included photography (membre de la Société française de photographie [1884] et du Photo-club de Paris [1898]).

Further detail, translated from Polish Wikipedia:

Benedict Henryk Tyszkiewicz
Date and place of birth December 11, 1852
Date and place of death May 13, 1935, Menton
Father Michał Tyszkiewicz
Mother Maria Wanda Tyszkiewicz
Wife Klara Elżbieta Bancroft
Children Benedict John, Edward, Elisabeth Maria

Benedict Henryk Tyszkiewicz, Leliwa (born December 11, 1852 in Diam , May 13, 1935 in Menton , France) is a Polish photographer .

Son of Michał Tyszkiewicz (died 1854) and Maria Wanda of Tyszkiewicz (died 1860). After premature death of parents (both died of tuberculosis) from the age of 8 brought up by Benedykta Tyszkiewicz , grandfather from the mother, patron and collector, owner of the Red Court , marshal of the Kaunas gubernian .

Tyszkiewicz’s sports interest in the early years of his life made him travel to the Seine on a ship belonging to Grandfather Benedict, as well as a trip to the United States, where he was in contact with the family of the wealthy owners of the Peabody ships. Benedict developed not only sailing passions, but also (in 1874) married a representative of the family, young Elzbieta-Klara Bankroft.

In 1875, a naval architect, Żak Augustyn Normand, designed the costume of the Count “his yacht of dreams” (42.2 meters long and 7.2 meters wide), in honor of Benedict’s property in Lithuania and Żmudzi was named “Żemajtej” . The Count was planning to take a trip around the world on his award-winning world exhibition in Paris (1878). Due to the outbreak of the Russo-Turkish War, however, it reached only Gibraltar and Algeria . Until 1881, the Count was a member of the Nice Regiment Committee .

During his stay in Lithuania he remained a patron of Polish sports organizations, and also contributed to the establishment of Sokol gymnastics company.

Tyszkiewicz debuted in 1876 at an exhibition in Philadelphia, where he presented a reportage from a trip to Algeria . In Poland his works were presented in 1894. His works consist of photographs from foreign trips and works made in the atelier, mainly portraits. His work has enjoyed international recognition, which was reflected in the achievement of the 1899 gold medal at the Berlin exhibition. He was a member of the Paris Photo Club. The artist’s work and most of his work were destroyed during the First World War.

The surviving photographs are held by the Musée Nicéphore Niepce in Chalon-sur-Saône , France, and have been exhibited in Lithuania in 1999.

Benedict Tyszkiewicz, like other members of his family, including his grandfather Benedict, remained a collector and patron of the arts. The Tyszkiewicz Collection from the Red Court, owned by Tyszkiewicz, was one of the richest family archives in Lithuania. It counted 20,000 documents, 12,000 letters, over 10,000 books. The collection at Red Castle in Kaunas included a rich gallery of paintings by Polish and foreign painters Canaletto , Bacciarelli , Czechowicz , Wańkowicz , Rust , a collection of slippers (destroyed in the Warsaw Uprising), tapestries and makat . Benedict Henryk Tyszkiewicz was also known as the painting buyer Stefan Batory at Pskov’s Jan Matejko for 60 000 francs, which decorated one of the rooms in a residence in Red Dwor.

Benedict Tyszkiewicz was a very wealthy man, not only the numerous travels, but also the residence of Wiala (Wiała) in the Minsk district. Not only was it decorated with a magnificent garden, but also enormous game and hunting pavilions. The cost of their maintenance greatly affected the state of Benedict Tyszkiewicz’s finances, which eventually decided to liquidate them.

Family

Benedykt Tyszkiewicz from a short-lived (9-year) marriage with Klara Bancroft (died 1883 in Chur , Switzerland ) had three children: the heir of the Red Court of Benedictine John , married to ???, Edward Branicki, married to Adel Dembowska, and Elżbieta Maria, wife of Stanisław Witold Plater Zyberk.

Literature [ edit ]

L. Narkowicz, Tyszkiewicz’s Ordinance in Zatrocz , Warsaw 2007, p. 30, 87-88.
A. Snitkuviene, Benedict Henryk Tyszkiewicz (1852-1935) from the Red House – a forgotten photographer , “Dagerotyp” 6 (1997).
A. Snitkuviene, Exhibition of Benedicts Henryk Tyszkiewicz and John Batho in Lithuania , “Dagerotyp” 9 (2000).
T. Zielińska, Polish Aristocratic Family Order , Warsaw 1997.
Flea Market Treasure. Photography by Benedict Tyshkevich
Benedykt Tyszkiewicz (fotografiakolekcjonerska.pl)
W. Chomański, Kovno “Sokol” , “Our Time” 11/2005 (661)
Glossary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries, Volume XIII
Tyszkiewicz Palace and Park complex

and more on the Red Court (translated froma Polish site):

Attractions of the Red Court near Kaunas

In the recently renovated Tyszkiewicz Palace in Red Dwor near Kaunas, every day, up to the Three Kings, trips, entertainment for children and adults, and tasting of Tyszkiewicz dishes are organized. Raudondvaris castle and chapel is a monument of Renaissance architecture from the beginning of the 17th century. The palace rises on the upper terrace of the Niewiazy River, 9 km from Kaunas in the direction of Jurboks. The main building of the palace complex in Czerwony Dwor is a castle from the second half of the 17th century with a tower. The manor house consists of a palace, a 3.8 ha park with two outbuildings, an orangery, stables and a glacier.

The construction of the castle in Czerwony Dwor in the second half of the 16th century began by Wojciech Dziewałtowski, the Kaunas subcommittee. Later the castle-palace complex was successively owned by the most famous Lithuanian magnates: Jan Eustachy Kossakowski, Janusz Radziwiłł, Jan Karol Worlowski, Antoni, Józef, Henryk, Kazimierz Zabiello, Michał, Benedict Emanuel and Benedict Henryk Tyszkiewicz. The architecture of the castle-palace complex in Czerwony Dwor is the most visible traces of the activities of the Tyszkiewicz, the last owners of the palace. After a fire in 1831, in which wooden court buildings burned down, Count Benedict Emanuel Tyszkiewicz built a new palace, brick. The castle became then a magnificent residence, where rich collections of paintings, works of art, rare books, exotic plants and animals were collected.

The palace and court buildings in Czerwon Dwór have been restored in the last few years. The Kaunas Tourist Information Center is currently operating in the former ice rink. In the palace they found headquarters: Juozasa Naujalis, Museum of Culture and Court Painting, Office of Civil Status. There are conference rooms, a hotel and – in basements – ballrooms. In the stables and coaching room the Art Incubator has opened with a theater and concert hall for 500 seats, there is a gallery of photography and art, studios and apartments for temporary artists staying.

During the Christmas holidays there are many interesting projects in Red Dwor. In the Art Incubator there are concerts. For children and adults, trips are organized on the grounds of the former Tyszkiewicz estate, during which the Old Keyman talks about the castle and its inhabitants, the tasting of the Tyszkiewicz cuisine is taking place in the cellars of the palace. Santa Claus is waiting for the children in Red Court. The cycle of Christmas attractions will last until 5 January inclusive.

co incidence

I really admire Andy Ilachinski’s photography, and often enjoy the enlightenments of quotations he pairs with images in his Tao of Digital Photography blog. This morning’s Schopenhauer passage projected me into a 3-way conjunction with a deceased wombat and a decaying stump:

…All the events in a man’s life accordingly stand in two fundamentally different kinds of connection: firstly, in the objective, causal connection of the natural process; secondly, in a subjective connection which exists only in relation to the individual who experiences it, and which is thus as subjective as his own dreams, whose unfolding content is necessarily determined, but in the manner in which the scenes in a play are determined by the poet’s plot….
(http://tao-of-digital-photography.blogspot.ca/2017/04/a-great-dream.html)

This morning I happened to learn that Patrick the Wombat had expired in Ballarat, probably around the time I discovered Patrick’s visage at the dead center of a tessellation of an elm stump at Horton Landing, Nova Scotia:


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(zoom in to inspect the visage more closely here)

Just sayin’