Alan, Tuck and Carol degli spiriti last evening on the terrace.
"This duality, which is familiar in the work of such important twentieth-century American photographers as Ansel Adams and Walker Evans, is linked to photography's ambivalent posture — as tool and product, means and result, reportage and artistic work," writes Gary R. Hilderbrand in the introduction to Alan Ward's totally awesome American Designed Landscapes: A Photographic Interpretion, a signed copy of which we were gifted with last evening when longtime blog commenter extraordinaire Carol Ward and her significant other came to break bread with us at Chelsea-by-the-Sea. We never read books at home — That's Tuck's job. He reads everything — the tininess of the type usually sending our fading eyesight careening to the internet, where you can increase the size of type with a click or two of the mouse. But for Alan's book and Gary's introduction, we make an exception. Gary was one of the best teachers ever during our Harvard School of Design days last century. We remember thinking of it in these terms: Gary was rather modest of physical stature, but when he came to your studio desk to look at your project to date and challenge you to be the best that you could be, his empathetic heart and historically-charged critical mind expanded to fill the entire universe for a few magical moments, when everything seemed possible.
Gary Hilderbrand's deep, dark and delicious professorial exposition on "photography's ambivalent posture" called to mind by contrast the egregious excesses of fauxtography, from al-Durah on down to the latest photoshopped gunboat-diplomacy travesties of the missile-happy Iranian dictators. Our dear friend Scott Ott of ScrappleFace catches the conscience of the thing with "Iran Threatens to Photoshop Israel from Map":
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his nation’s missile tests this week are part of a previously-secret plan to “Photoshop Israel from the map.
”Images of the missile tests showed apparently-real, as well as computer-generated duplicates of Shahab missiles, which Iran claims have a range of up to 1,250 miles — long enough to strike Israel — a claim which has since been questioned by Western arms experts.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said that while it may take years to produce actual weapons that could strike “the Zionist state”, Iranian scientists and graphic artists have already demonstrated the ability, using Adobe® technology to “completely obliterate” Israel from the map.
Tiny of the tethers. She and the Babe were all over Carol and Alan, totally honest and true cat people. Usually when new folks drop by, the Chelsea Grays head for the hills. With the Wards, they just sat there, made eye contact and started to purr.
A couple of fascinating addenda. First this totally clueless, damned-by-faint-praise 1998 NYT "review" of Alan's book:
Nature happens but gardens don't, and the pleasure of large illustrated garden books is greatly increased if you can adopt a Bourbon indifference to the matter of labor and gaze over your demesne, like Louis XIV while Versailles was still a construction site, without noticing the little people at work upon it. And, of course, the invariable convention of large illustrated garden books is to show completely uninhabited gardens, as if the camera were king and everyone had suddenly ducked out of its regal path. Three very different but worthwhile examples of this genre.
Pathetically all about the reviewer with not an inkling of Alan's heart-grabbing vision of a "poetic balance between architecture and landscape; they are inseparable." And now, for something completely
different relevant, Boss Tweed's insightful take on how to fool most of the people most of the time:
"Stop them damned pictures," Mr. Tweed complained. "I don't care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents can't read. But, damn it, they can see pictures!"
One of them is worth a thousand words.