Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Pin-Ups

As my disenchantment with the traditional gallery system grows – fueled by acrimonious disputes with a couple of representatives of it that have cost me half a year's income in legal fees – whatever time I have between working on commissioned paintings has been absorbed by unstructured explorations of other media that eliminate the need to hang anything on a wall. I've been experimenting not only with digital video, getting to grips with the idiosyncracies of Final Cut Pro 7, but also sound. I record everything I can, from conversations to the white noise of the surf, on a small Edirol R-09 and use the raw material for aural collages that I might later use as soundtracks.
My focus on these new ideas – and new tools – has loosened up my approach to my painting. For a while now, I've wanted to paint the portraits of a few 'adult' performers I knew. However, I've resisted, mainly because I wanted to do them in a way that was somehow 'credible' – read 'politically correct' – as serious art.
Then a friend lent me a copy of David Bailey's collection of black and white portraits from the early Sixties, A Box Of Pin-Ups, featuring everyone from the infamous Kray brothers to a young Mick Jagger and the world's first supermodel (and Bailey's then girfriend), Jean Shrimpton.
I decided to do my own set of pin-ups. I painted them big, really big, so the larger-than-life-sized girls would loom over the viewer and I painted them pretty,
in high-gloss enamel, with simplified lines and soft, pastel hues. I painted the surface to be as shiney and sexy as each of 12 subjects – and yes, adhering to the convention, there is a Miss for every month.
I could have given the series a title that would offer an ironic wink to those looking for deeper intellectual substance but I resisted. They are simply Big Pin-Ups. Nothing more – but nothing less, either.


Debra said...

Great idea. I love this first one and look forward to the others. I enjoy your take on retro images through new eyes.

Hugh Gilbert said...

Helmut Newton did a series,

Big Nudes

simple and that is what they were...


Aaron B. Brown said...

Sorry you have to go through that legal BS, it must be a distraction from your work and the rest of your life.

I'm always audio recording when I cover things. Primarily because I don't have the ability to take notes efficiently, and it's not really practical for photojournalist or photographers anyway. In some states, like Florida, it's illegal to audio record people without their permission, but here in Missouri it is legal as long as it's within 100 yards. Nevertheless my audio recordings are strictly for notetaking purposes, when I'm doing journalism, not for publication.

It's interesting and revealing to listen to myself talking to people, especially friends or family members when I'm not self censoring much or at all. Sometimes it's hilarious, other times it's painful. You can learn a lot about yourself by keeping such records, it's like a journal without the editorializing. I think it's an extremely useful tool for self examination and understanding yourself particularly during times of heightened emotional stress when you may not be thinking clearly. Audio and video allows you to reevaluate things through the unyielding crucible of an accurate record.

I've been using this Sony ICD-UX71 with a little lapel mic for a while now, it's very small portable and unobtrusive.

I recently stepped up my game with this Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder for doing a higher quality music and event recordings, the addition of a couple of XLR Rode Shotgun Condenser mics gives me the ability to do true 4 track recording on-the-fly. Amazing. :-)

Aaron B. Brown said...

I'm getting into doing video as well now that I have a Canon 5D Mark II, which does fabulous standard video and cinema quality HD. I haven't really done any video editing since college, but I've got Final Cut now and am learning to use it.

I noticed that you were complaining about flat digital images in comparison to film photography in another post. I come from the days of film, started out on my dads Canon cameras, and I'd put the raw images of the 5D II with Carl Zeiss or even Canon's own L lenses up against most any 35mm film camera, you really need a larger format camera with Zeiss or Leica lenses to surpass it. It's color rendition, depth and accuracy rivals Canon's top-of-the-line equipment and even some medium format digital stuff. Also some of the Leica digital cameras can smoke the best film cameras, in my opinion. From a practical standpoint and outside the world of art, film is deader than dead, and I don't believe in living in the past, beyond my personal life anyway. :-)

For a long time I carried a roll of 35mm film on me in case somebody asked for it, I tossed it away about three years ago when I realized it was never going to happen again. Though admittedly I do know a serious film shooter that I see every year at a local airshow, old Japanese guy.

Science has already found a way for the digital world to manifest itself in the physical, on a microscopic level matter can now be created from 0's and 1's.

Hypothetically I believe an image of infinite depth could be created. In other words you could take an image of say the Earth from space, and then just keep looking closer and closer at that physical image until you reached the subatomic, that's the power of binary. Perhaps it will replace our world at some point, and those in the digital universe will look back nostalgically at our kind. :-)

I'd still like to do film, for the tactile feel and the physical manifestation of an image through chemical process, and there are a few things that can be done with film that can't quite be replicated digitally... yet. But without a dark room and the wherewithal and finances to maintain one, film is no longer feasible for me and most people.

sidenote: it's not important to me that you publish my comments, I just like writing shit to you, and I don't much conform to rules boundaries or strictures, that's just not me. I'm a rule breaker, I'm a bad boy, or so some imagine me to be anyway. I just care about reaching people, even if it's only one person, quality over quantity. :-) and I've got some kind of thing for you that I don't really understand, but that doesn't matter. It seems like I'm reaching you, maybe it's an illusion, but oftentimes that and my imagination is all I've ever had. I'm not hitting on you or anything, but I am trying to impress you. I've always been an irrepressible showoff, and I talk shit incessantly, but I'm trying to be a better person, I'm motivated in that regard because for the first time in my life I met someone I really connect with, and it gave me hope at a time when I had lost hope for myself. I also have a kid and for her sake I have to make something of myself at this late date in my life so that maybe she can have a better life than I did. That's really all I've got in this world to hold onto, so I hope you will forgive me my trespasses.


Anonymous said...

Oh my.

Jason said...


I dunno if this is even relevant, but your post was on my mind when I stumbled upon this while hunting for reference materials at my local booksellers. It was wrapped in cellophane, so there was no thumbing through it.

Take Care,


jshawback said...

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