Film + Flash

Sunday, June 13th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

Image courtesy of Mus-Mus

I received a new call for submissions from mus-mus, which I’m happy to pass on:

Team mus-mus is looking for your help with an archive that will let us all see film and flash products that we’re bidding au revoir, leaving behind, or perhaps still clinging desperately to. Since George Eastman first invented an emulsion coating machine to mass-produce photographic dry plates in 1879, commercially available photography technology has been a sustaining feature of the photographer’s practice. As old technologies are increasingly falling away and sometimes re-emerging in new ‘skins’, it will be interesting to take a collective worldwide snapshot of what’s on hand in studios (and maybe flea markets) now that are gone from stores or will be tomorrow.

See details and submit here.  I have too many things to submit…


Friday, November 13th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

from The Past Tense of Pictures
Two memento mori from The Past Tense of Pictures

So, clearly I’ve been busy or otherwise I’d have been on here writing more. More soon, but to hold your attention a brief post pointing you towards The Past Tense of Pictures, a site by Jack and Beverly Wilgus (maybe the most adorable photo couple I’ve come across) that somehow found it’s way to my folder of links long enough ago that I forgot where I first saw it. It appears to be a private collection of daguerreotypes and other old photographs that functions as a low-tech stock photo site, and there are some real gems in there. Also, I really love the weird site design and unattractive brown borders – it seems to oddly fit the subject matter…

Check out also Bright Bytes, the mother site of past tense of pictures, that also has links to other strange photo related sites, like Not to Scale and A Collection of Collections.


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Still from VideoMate montage

Sorry – Another throwaway post before a longer one on Friday…

Anyways, AFC had a link, recently, to Ethereal Others, a web art project that I absolutely absolutely love, by Harm van den Dorpel.  Ethereal Others is the counterpart to Ethereal Self, a site that inputs an image from your webcam and outputs it as a weird, faceted kaleidoscope.  Little do the users know, but the webcam also captures an image which is then sent on to Ethereal Others and archived there.  The result is a huge survey of portraits.  More than all that, though, Ethereal Others is the internet version of people-watching – you can scroll while comparing faces, backgrounds, etc., checking out cute girls/boys, trying to figure out what this is an accurate sampling of: Internet users, art school students, AFC readers, those interested in net art?

The second link I’d like to direct you to is a phenomenal video on Ian Alexander Adam’s blog.  I won’t spoil it by describing it to you, but please go watch it.

Both Ethereal Others and the sources from which the video is taken are interesting takes on portraiture – One assumes that you can relate something essential about oneself through a screen and the other seems to assume that all that is relatable is one’s appearance, or, at most, socio-economic info gleaned from one’s clothes and background…

P.S.  Also, Hippolyte Bayard tracked down one of those Downfall videos, this one on Kodachrome.  I think it may be the best way of addressing that subject.

Looking at Pictures…

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Junior Bazaar
Junior Bazaar, January, 1947, with art direction from Alexei Brodovitch

Fred Ritchin writes frequently on how photography, and specifically concerned photojournalism, is and has changed on the web and in the era of digital.  A recent post caught my eye:

When one looks at great magazine design there is almost nothing like it on the Web. The era of mass picture magazines started with magazines like Vu in France where the covers were as graphic and stunning as posters. Inside pages for Vu and other early magazines like Regards and Picture Post were used to experiment with all kinds of juxtapositions of images, text and other graphic elements. But what we end up with in terms of design at the beginning of the Web era is much like what we have in desktop publishing — clean sites that look professional but are almost never transcendent.

Clearly, a lot of this has to do with the technology – In print, it’s one thing to, for example, overlay text and image, and in code it’s an entirely different and much more complicated thing.  Which is not to say the technology isn’t there, because it is, in Flash, which is an entirely different ballgame in terms of ease of use and loading times on a site.  As it is, Flash sites tend to be overdesigned, not underdesigned, frequently suffering from the seductiveness of whizzing, moving images and text, not an unwillingness to experiment with the medium.

Anyways, even within the limitations of technology, there are few people willing to push the limitations of text and image on the web.  I can think of one, off the top of my head – i heart photograph, with it’s seemingly endless list of photos of the day and willingness to ignore the conventions of blog interface in order to give the reader an endless way to explore it’s particular corner of the photography world.

Words Without Pictures site is one (recently back online with the publication of their book) even though it’s dialogue between text and photos is defined by a self-conscious absence of the latter. A commenter on Ritchin’s original post points to three other super-flashy sites:;; and the really, really excellent accompaniment to the book of the same name,

Who knows of any others that bear a special mention?

P.S. I wasn’t able to track down an decent images of Vu, but you can find a couple here and here and some more with a google search.

Cameras II

Monday, August 3rd, 2009 - Nicholas Calcott

Tokyo Camera Style
From Tokyo Camera Style

I stumbled across this piece of photo-equipment porn recently: Tokyo Camera Style. I love that they have so much Contax – you don’t see that that much these days…


Friday, April 18th, 2008 - Nicholas Calcott

Image from Art Fag City

Art Fag City has a rather amusing post about the autumn life of advertising imagery.

UPDATE: I guess I should specify that their post is in response to Private Circulation’s PDF Bulletin for Proposals.