On Reinterpretation - Lauri StallingsSunday, February 19, 2012
|Lauri Stallings, Canon Fiery from colour negative, placed on silver card and scanned|
In my collection of CDs and records (plus cassettes with lots of wow that makes them almost unplayable) I have several versions of jazz classics. One of my favourites is Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s My Funny Valentine. I have at least 8 by Gerry Mulligan. It is most interesting how in a jazz tradition of extemporaneous improvisation (I am aware that both those words sort of mean the same thing but I want to put emphasis here on the idea that Mulligan while being forced to improvise by the very nature of what jazz is, must also respond to the feelings of the moment) so many of those versions are so different. One may be loud and brassy another quietly intimate.
|Canon Fiery from colour negative scanned as a slide.|
A week ago I read in my NY Times an obituary of photographer Lillian Bassman. Of her (I had not been aware of her existence) I found out that she had entered the world of magazine editing and fashion photography as a protégé of Alexey Brodovitch, the renowned art director of Harper’s Bazaar. In the beginning she was a graphic designer and magazine art director. She gave work to such luminaries as Richard Avedon and Robert Frank. It was only later that she began to dabble in photography and made it big. She became less enamored in photography in the 60s and destroyed her negatives. Some she put away in b bags and promptly forgot about them.
But then in the early 1990s Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian who was staying at her house, found the long-forgotten negatives. He encouraged her to revisit them. This she did. She worked on her negatives in her old fashioned darkroom and tried darkroom special effects to modify her original approach.
She called these reinterpretations. I like that, lots!
Readers here might know that an original early print by Ansel Adams might fetch a pretty penny because of the value of an approach grounded on its vintage printing by the master. But the master got older and in his further reinterpretations (perhaps even having better photographic paper able to reproduce his subtle grays) he might and did revisit his famous photographs into versions that are dazzling if not worth (plain monetary value) as much.
|Scanned original b+w print|
Today I looked into Lauri Stallings’ very thick file and found many of my original prints (on b+w paper) prints from colour negatives and even Canon Fiery prints on acetate that I mounted on silver card to make them resemble colourized or hand tinted Daguerreotypes. Her file includes stuff in which I used b+w in both a 35mm and 120 formats. It included colour negatives, colour slides and quite a few in Kodak’s 35mm b+w Infrared Film.
What you see here are reinterpretations of the stuff I found in those files. They are reinterpretations by the very nature of the fact that I placed them on my scanner today.
|Scanned original b+w print|
The reinterpretations may emphasize what has been much in my thoughts in the last few days. I will probably continue on that theme in the next few days or fill the space in the back blogs that are empty. For a while my trip to Austin and stuff at home left me with a writer’s block more about not knowing what to write about because I had so much to write about than not having anything to write about!
An incidence (I will not write about it here, just as yet) with my eldest granddaughter during the viewing yesterday Saturday of the film Beau Geste, precipitated this concern that I have on what exactly a woman is and how that may mesh with my idea of woman. That idea has been tested by my analysis of the pictures I took of my friend the professional dominatrix. My pictures, while showing bits and parts, have no pornographic content and to be sure my friend John Lekich (whose women occupy lofty places on top of tall pedestals) would call them all tasteful.
That reinterpretation (both the pictures of Lauri Stallings you see here) and my idea of what a woman is reinforced by the very reason I began to photograph Lauri Stallings who at the time was a most original dancer of Ballet BC. While watching her dance I began to suspect that ballerinas were not swans who danced/flew effortlessly. I began to understand that they were women (as male ballet dancers were also men) who took baths, sweated, ate, defecated just like the rest of us, and even brushed their teeth. My photos of Stallings were my beginning of an attempt to bring down women from the Lekich plinth and try to see them at my own level.
The very action of scanning an original print is in itself a reinterpretation. Had I scanned the negatives themselves the filed ege of my enlarger that you see here would not be present. These can be added on with Photoshop. These are the real thing.
|Scanned original print from a Kodak b+w Infrared Film negative|