Sunday, January 29, 2012

Found Face #1

Collage made from paper and found materials.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ferrotype: Young Woman

Ferrotype (a.k.a., tintype): approximately 2.5" x 3.625" (64mm x 92mm)
Date unknown

Another item from my photograph collection is this ferrotype. Ferrotypes, more commonly referred to as tintypes, were a collodion photography process in which an emulsion was applied to a lacquered iron plate to create a positive image. Despite the more commonly known name, tin was not used as part of the substrate.

The photograph above, with a cropped detail below it, is certainly from the nineteenth century, but not being a fashion expert, I wouldn't be able to narrow down the date to anytime more specific than sometime [most likely] between 1865 to 1900. Looking at the cropped detail, we can clearly see that some blush hand tinting was applied to the subject's cheeks.

The ferrotype gained in popularity near the end of the American Civil War and started to fade from production around the turn of the twentieth century as newer photographic processes and materials started to dominate the market. 

In our digital age, when more photographs are taken in a day than in the entirety of the nineteenth century, we can look back at this particular process, the ferrotype, and see the beginnings of photography's democratization. For it was the ferrotype, which could be processed and handed to the sitter in a matter of minutes after being taken, that allowed the masses to sit for the camera for an affordable price.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clothes & Shoes #1

Glitch Merge One: Testing Transmission

Here's another musical experiment of mine that started out with the creation of a small sound loop. I strung the loop out, adding in additional structural elements, then placed other bits of field and musical recordings to the overall piece. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Courtyard Menace

Many years ago I was introduced to an art form known as, Mail Art. Being a postcard fanatic, I started making small collages on postcards and mailing them off to mail art exhibits. Eventually I moved on to making pieces without the postcard base. As that most mail art exhibits do not return pieces, mailing off a piece is saying good-bye to it forever. Everything I ever mailed off was never returned.

I was recently clearing out some old files and came across an envelope marked, small collages. Inside were a few small pieces from back in my college days. I can only figure that the pieces inside, including the piece posted here, were things I just felt like keeping for myself. As that I haven't participated in any mail art shows for many [many] years, the pieces I found were a nice reminder of days past.

The above piece measures 5.5" x 3.5" [approx. 14cm x 9cm]; assembled from found materials.

I recently added a link to my blog roll below that leads to an online, ongoing mail art exhibit. You can get there from here.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Postcards: Japanese Village & Deer Park

As the California Alligator Farm once operated in Buena Park, California, so too did another zoological park, The Japanese Village and Deer Park. As a child, I visited the Deer Park many times and enjoyed wandering through the deer compound and feeding its hoofed inhabitants. Along with the animal exhibits, the park was also a Japanese cultural center. Visitors could see demonstrations of martial arts, visit a tea house, eat Japanese cuisine and buy some Japanese crafts as souvenirs.

The surrounding area of Buena Park that hosts Knott's Berry Farm was once home to a number of tourist destinations that offered a different experience than neighboring Anaheim's Disneyland. Along with the still operating Knott's Berry Farm, visitors also had their choice of going to The California Alligator Farm, The Deer Park, Movieland Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. The four aforementioned businesses are now closed and long gone. The Wax Museum's building is still standing with a Starbucks operating out front in what was once the Museum's stand alone gift shop.

Like so many other roadside curiosities, oddity museums and tourist parks across the country, economics, shifting attitudes and corporate take-overs have been the death nail to a plethora of alternate cultural experiences.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Postcards: Montevideo

With postmarks dating from 1904 to 1919, these three postcards hail from the capital town of Uruguay. Interestingly, all three of these cards were printed in London, England. Evidently commissioned by the Uruguayan government, London based printers, Waterlow & Sons Limited, were established in the early nineteenth century and dealt in the printing of stamps and bank notes.

All three of these postcards have notes or messages written on the reverse side, but my interests lay in the graphic nature of the front sides with not only their original layouts, but also the added handwriting and postal markings. Their final compositions resemble the resulting forays of mail art pieces or collage, as my previous post.

Collage: From Here To There

I'm not a proponent of using old photos, postcards or 
other semi-historic ephemera in collages, but did so myself 
with this piece, using a postcard from my own collection.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Postcards: More Alligators Spotted In California

More postcards from the California Alligator Farm in Los Angeles, California.

Those were the days when you could let your child hang out with a clutch of hungry young alligators or hitch your buggy up to a grown one and not be arrested for child endangerment. Yes, society has changed its views on many things since the early twentieth century, but I think there are still folks out there who long for those days and do take their 'gator out for a stroll on the lawn. Certainly, it must be an effective way to keep the neighborhood dogs out of your yard.

Admittedly, I once took my family to Gatorland in Orlando, Florida and let my son hold a live alligator, albeit a young, two to three footer with its mouth taped shut. Good fun and fond memories. I expect I might get a few angry comments from the folks at PETA, but hey, a healthy appreciation and respect for nature can't always be had by watching Animal Planet on cable.

Postcards: More Scenes From Silver Springs

More scenes from the crystal clear waters of Silver Springs, Florida.

If you viewed the previous postings of Silver Springs postcards, you may have noticed that the last card in this posting has a common element in the composite, namely the diving girl. The background has been changed and the figure has been flipped to the left.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ambling Juncture

Postcard: Pigeons, From Los Angeles To Dublin

The other day I was reading about the Pigeon Ranch in Los Angeles and today I came across this postcard in my collection — in yet another unsorted shoebox. 

The Pigeon Ranch was located along the Los Angeles River across from Elysian Park. The pigeons were raised as a food source, squab, which was evidently very popular in those days. Founded in 1898, the ranch became a steady business until 1914 when heavy rains caused the river to swell over its banks, flooded the ranch, drowned the livestock and swept everything down river and out of existence. The owners of the ranch never rebuilt.

This card was mailed from Los Angeles, California to Dublin, Ireland in 1915, a year after the ranch's demise. Aside from the card's Hitchcockian frontside, I'm really thrilled about the stamps and cancellation mark. 1915 was the year of the World's Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, California; this card bears the official cancellation mark for the exposition and the 1913 issued Balboa 1¢ stamps printed to promote the event. I'm no philatelist, but I still think that this is a pretty cool pairing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Postcards: Cawston Ostrich Farm

In 1885, Edwin Cawston chartered a ship to bring fifty ostriches from South Africa to Galviston Texas. From Texas, he boarded his birds on a train bound for South Pasadena, California. In all, only eighteen of the ostriches survived the trip. But from the remaining flock, Cawston was able to bred and maintain a flock of approximately 100 head for his business — ostrich feather products.

It may seem odd today, but in the late nineteenth century up through the mid twentieth century, ostrich feathers were big business. Cawston's products were shipped worldwide. 

Cawston wasn't the only game in town or in the country for that matter. If there was a buck to be made from plucking big bird feathers, you can bet that there was going to a lot of competition. Ostrich farms popped up all over the world to capitalize on the feathery commerce.

Although the big feather business isn't what it used to be, there are still many ostrich farms across the globe. I've visited a few in my day and can tell you that it takes a certain type of person to raise these birds. Personally, I'd rather stand in a pasture with angry bulls than with ostriches. From what I gather, they're not very smart, can out run anyone you know and I wouldn't advise turning your back on one. 

One day, just on the outskirts of Buellton, California, I was standing in front of a flock of ostriches, with a high fence between me and the flock, camera in front of my face, focusing on one of birds when my son gave a shout out that another bird was stretching over the fence looking to peck me in the head. Close call. Oddly enough, this was not my first encounter with an overly curious ostrich.
This group of postcards is from the early twentieth century, approximately circa 1910. I really enjoy the first card in this group. I've been to South Pasadena and can say without a doubt that there are no great pyramids in or around the town; nor does the surrounding landscape look like the Sahara Desert. However, I do appreciate the artist taking dramatic license to alter the landscape, achieving a suspended reality for the sake of marketing the farm as an exotic location.

Stop For Children

Postcard: Alligators In California

Alligators [and other types of crocodilians] have fascinated us for a long while. Their very primordial nature conjures images of dragons and our vulnerability to the powerful, instinctive aspect of nature. Holding such beasts captive and out from jaw's harm is an inescapable draw for satisfying our curious disposition. 

The Los Angeles Alligator Farm was founded in 1907 in Lincoln Heights [east of downtown L.A., east of the Los Angeles River]. In 1953, The Alligator Farm relocated it's operations to Buena Park, California — adjacent to Knott's Berry Farm.

I'm not old enough to remember the move from Los Angeles, but I did spend many afternoons at the Buena Park location. Only a few miles from my house, it was a young boy's idea of a great zoo; nothing but big scary beasts. I fondly remember gazing down at the Nile Crocodile they had in their collection. At approximately twenty feet [6 meters] it was the biggest, scariest creature I had ever laid eyes upon at that point in my life.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Postcards: Alligators In Florida

Continuing the Florida postcard theme, here's a group of cards featuring alligators in various locations throughout the state. 

The American Alligator is found across the Southeastern United States and is one of only two alligator species in the world — the other species being the Chinese Alligator. 

Alligators are a very common sight around Florida. It's not uncommon to see them crossing a back road or floating around in a neighborhood swimming pool. In fact, one of the best pieces of advice I had been given during my first trip to Florida was not to approach bodies of water without a plan. But then even a really good plan isn't going to make any difference to an alligator. Snap.