27 December 2009

Discovery: Abandoned Mill, CT

While driving with a friend in Connecticut, I saw an old mill set back quite a distance from the road. Surrounded by a chain-link fence, the blaring orange NO TRESPASSING signs did little to welcome passersby. My friend's sister recalled that this old mill was soon to be torn down. 

If that wasn't enough of an invitation to check it out, nothing would have been. Camera in hand, I walked the periphery around the fence to find that a gate had been left open. In I slipped to find an entire complex of buildings--some in good shape, some merely  exoskeletons. The ones that remained in tact were all boarded and locked up; the only way to get in was through a broken window pane...

The interior, a long vast space of columns and painted brick walls, still housed many of the old machines and wire from the industrial period. The light was dim but remarkable, diffused through windows tarnished with the sediment of a hundred years. 

I snapped away. Here are some of the images:

Turns out that the complex is the site of the former Gilbert and Bennett wire manufacturing company. It began in the early 1800's as a horsehair processing plant (read more here if curious), but when the company owners realized the inefficiency of the material, they turned instead to wire. From here, wire cloth was born, and continued to be manufactured, until the company's closure in 1989. The following image of the complex was taken in the 1920s:

Very interesting stuff.


22 December 2009

"As a child, I seem to have been attracted to forbidden places."

The Fall 2009 issue of Aperture Magazine featured an incredible series called Urban Archaeology by photographer Andrew Moore, documenting the "surreal decay" of the city of Detroit.

In a 2007 interview, Moore said:

I have to admit that one of the aspects of being a photographer I enjoy most is the opportunity to play both detective and spy. As a child, I seem to have been attracted to forbidden places. It actually got me into quite a bit of trouble later when I was a teenager...

Moore's series of images each function as sensitive portraits of places, prompting the viewer to consider a range of elements that, when shown together, contribute to an expressed sense of identity. Head over to his website to see his work!

Here is a sneak preview of some shots from his "Russia" series:

19 December 2009

This holiday season...

don't get stuck in the kitchen! 

(unless, of course, you love to cook).

12 December 2009

Food for thought...

Inspired by a recent project at UVM, Keith Petri, President of the Skidmore College Photography Club (of which I am a member), carried out the production and sales of the Skidmore Spur, a nude club calendar, to raise funds to be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Featuring a photo of a new college club for each month of the year, objects were placed strategically to conceal private parts. So far, calendar sales have generated over $5000 in revenues, and the club anticipates even more.

Hunkey-dorey and everybody leaves happy, right? Not exactly. After seeing the calendar, the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation rejected the Photography Club's donation of $5000, claiming that they were not willing to accept monies procured by such racy means. The average cost to fulfill a child's 'wish' is approximately $7300. In rejecting the Photo Club's donation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation chose to refuse funds that would pay for the greater cost to fulfill the wish of one child. The Photography Club is now looking to donate the revenues to a different cause.

In thinking about the recent events, I am reminded of a project I encountered while studying abroad. In Sicilia (southern Italy),  properties seized from the Mafia are being redistributed to young farmers and entrepeneurs. As quoted from this article, the goal is to "create employment and give honest Sicilians a chance to benefit from estates once controlled by Sicily's most notorious criminals."

It is important to draw a distinction here between what has transpired with the Photography Club, and with the redistribution of lands in Sicilia. The Skidmore Spur project has no smatterings of malfeasance at any point in its history; its pure aim is to help a worthy cause. Conversely, in Sicilia, former iniquities are being transformed into opportunities for positive growth. Given the recent turn of events, the situation with the Make-A-Wish Foundation is undoubtedly more controversial. 

Nevertheless, we are brought to the question...Should a charitable organization reject donations based on the means by which these funds were acquired?  Do such rejections hinder the ability of the organization to effect positive change?   

Check out the NBC coverage:

11 December 2009

Image: Selected Work!

This image from a series I shot in the style of William Eggleston has been selected and is now featured on the Skidmore Photo Blog, alongside some great student shots. It was taken at a diner in Cohoes, NY. Head over to check it out!

06 December 2009

Recommendation: Ólafur Arnalds

The past few years have seen the genesis of some really incredible music by emerging minimalist composers, who have continued faintly in the style of artists such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. One such composer is the Brazilian Andrei Machado. His slowly unwinding album Lacuna from 2008 features gentle, atmospheric piano strokes. His more recent release, Étant, is also an incredible listen. 

One of the most phenomenal contemporary minimalist composers of today (according to me) ironically began as a drummer for a hardcore metal band in Iceland. Sometime around 2007, Ólafur Arnalds dropped his drumsticks and instead focused his abilities on composition. In 2009, he produced Found Songs--each day, for seven days, composing a new piece and posting it online for free. One of his listeners put together the following video for the song of day 7, Ljósið:

You can get the album on vinyl for £13 from Erased Tapes.

Enjoy   : ) 

04 December 2009

Ken Burns Event!

For all those of you who live in or will be anywhere near to Manchester VT in mid-December,  this may be of interest to you:

On December 15th at 7pm, Northshire Bookstore will be featuring Ken Burns. You have likely heard all about National Parks: America's Best Idea (especially if you listen to NPR), a PBS documentary series directed by Burns on the history of America's parks. Tickets are $50 and include a copy of the accompanying book (a very good deal- it sells for $50 anyways). This event will be happening at the Equinox Hotel in Manchester, VT. Purchase tickets here.

Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature's most spectacular locales – from Acadia to Yosemite, Yellowstone to the Grand Canyon, the Everglades of Florida to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska - The National Parks: America's Best Idea is nonetheless a story of people: people from every conceivable background - rich and poor; famous and unknown; soldiers and scientists; natives and newcomers; idealists, artists and entrepreneurs; people who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved, and in doing so reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

 Burns (right) with cinematographer Buddy Squires

To those of you who can't make it...Be jealous :


We got the first hint of snow in Saratoga Springs this week, and I am hoping that the clouds might be inspired to drop some more (even as winter winds down each year, I still wish for another snowfall). Though the snow is actually melting, the following video is a lovely little piece of claymation work:

Happy Friday!

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