“When LIFE magazine’s Gjon Mili, a technical prodigy and lighting innovator, visited Pablo Picasso in the South of France in 1949, it was clear that the meeting of these two artists and craftsmen was bound to result in something extraordinary. Mili showed Picasso some of his photographs of ice skaters with tiny lights affixed to their skates, jumping in the dark — and the Spanish genius’s lively, ever-stirring mind began to race.
Picasso… gave Mili 15 minutes to try one experiment. He was so fascinated by the result that he posed for five sessions, projecting 30 drawings of centaurs, bulls, Greek profiles and his signature. Mili took his photographs in a darkened room, using two cameras, one for side view, another for front view. By leaving the shutters open, he caught the light streaks swirling through space.”
I’m in love with these “light drawings,” drawn by Pablo Picasso and photographed by Gjon Mili, that were recently released by LIFE Magazine. They’re amazing! The photography technique is at once simplistic and mind-blowing, and I find these images particularly magical: the way they tangibly capture the nuanced and transient movements of light, the way they translate a fleeting, flourished motion into art and illustrate Picasso’s creative genius. It’s incredible.
You can see more of Picasso’s light drawings here.
My good friend Bekah has been on a collaging kick as of late, and she invited me over a couple nights ago for a drink-PBR-and-make-collages night. I was a little skeptical at first, but once I got going, I slipped into a creative trance that I wanted to live in forever, cutting and gluing and arranging and rearranging. I was lamenting to a friend the other day how difficult it is to pursue creative projects that are free, but collaging seems an excellent solution to that dilemma: Bekah picked up a couple issues of National Geographic from the 1950s and 1940s from Half Price Books for just a couple dollars each, and I was amazed at how instantaneously and tangibly good it felt to be creating with my hands. I’m a collaging convert, guys.
On a related note, the photographs from the old National Geographics that we used for collaging are incredible. Truly some of the most amazing compositions and subjects I’ve ever seen. And it’s so fascinating to compare these dreamy, fuzzy-around-the-edges photos from the 40s and 50s to the crystal-clear sharpness of present-day photography. It’s what we’ve come to expect from our photos, I guess, but I think I prefer the more approximate old style. There’s a sort of magic and mystery in the diminished detail of the old photos that’s really enchanting because, as Bekah astutely noted, they’re not trying to be so literal. All of which is to say: I’m heading to Half Price Books immediately to pore through more of these amazing NatGeo photo archives, and to bring a few home for another collage night.
“…The series reveals the manner in which the artist gives himself over to the reality of the people who inhabit the spaces portrayed while at the same time conveying an historical and sociological perspective on the Mozambican contemporary reality, seen through this quarter of its capital city. (…) It is striking how the artist uses light to give life to the depicted elements. From colour to the objects themselves, his work carries us into an inhabited reality.”
As I was going through some of my boxes that have been in storage for the past year, I came across a program from a photography opening I attended in Lisbon, Portugal. It was called BESphoto, and it’s an annual competition/exhibition that showcases the photography of artists from Portuguese-speaking countries, now in its 8th year. My initial memory of this experience was of attending with my awesome couchsurfing host and eating a million pasteis at the reception, in addition to drinking many glasses of free champagne. But when I thought about it further, I remembered a particularly profound series of photos by Mauro Pinto, a native Mozambican, who actually ended up winning the competition. His photos, from a series entitled “Da Licença” (Excuse Me), were of the insides of homes in the Mafalala Quarter of Maputo, Mozambique’s capital city. What I love about these photos is how much character can be found in these sparse living places: the plaid shirt draped over the back of a chair, the assorted photos of Christ, the promotional wall calendar are not simply manifestations of poverty, but are also signs of personality, signs that people really live there. These spaces are positively alive. Though each living space might fall under the broad blanket of “going without,” each space is different and distinct, which is why Pinto displayed the photos in sequestered boxes (above). We are meant to see the humanity and individuality in these photos rather than lumping them all together into an assumed category, and I think that’s powerful.
Read more about BESphoto and Mauro Pinto here.
Ever since the closing ceremonies concluded the weekend before last, I’ve had an Olympic-shaped hole in my heart. I remember getting really excited about the Olympics as a kid, but these Games were the first that I’ve invested time in watching as an adult, and truth be told, it was a little magical. Everything is so big! And Olympians are so impressive! For the first time, I understand what a simultaneous honor and struggle it is to be an Olympic athlete, to represent your country on a world stage and perform at a consistent level of near-perfection. I would watch the Olympic happenings at Nate’s house with he and his roommates and it was a very communal experience, to sit together and cheer on Gabby Douglas and Misty May-Treanor and Allyson Felix and to all be emotionally invested in their victories together. There was such a latent excitement surrounding the Olympics this year, and it was fun to live in that excitement for a couple weeks.
But what happens when the Olympics are over and the excitement disappears? I came across a series of photos the other day on FlavorWire that attempt to get at that question. The Olympic City, a collaboration between photographer Jon Pack and filmmaker Gary Hustwit, is a photo collection of the ruins of former Olympic host cities. As it turns out, many of the grand Olympic structures built for the Games have faded into obsolescence, and a few have been repurposed for wildly different uses than they were originally intended for. These photos are really beautiful and haunting, and it makes me wonder whether it’s worth it to pour so much money into such a temporary grandiosity if this is the fate that awaits future Olympic sites. It’s an interesting and tricky question to consider.
See more photos from The Olympic City Project here.
Isn’t this video beautiful? I love cover songs, and I think it’s amazing that Gotye both put this video together and clearly appreciates and admires the diversity of interpretations of his own song. I can’t stop watching it.
Happy Friday, friends!
How amazing are these Alice in Wonderland illustrations by Salvador Dali? This twelve-part suite, with one illustration for each chapter of the book, was originally published in 1865 and is one of the rarest and most sought-after of Dali’s works. I love the bold colors and the interplay between the distinct and indistinct; what is rendered in black is so crisp and clear while the colors bleed and fade into each other like a dream. The surrealism of these illustrations so perfectly captures the strange and magical essence of Wonderland, and have made me that much more excited to dive into Alice in Wonderland this summer!
all photos via William Bennett Gallery