The New York Times’ Lens blog is running an interview with Ben Lowy, a conflict photojournalist and prominent defender of cellphone photography. Most interesting is Ben’s argument in favor of using apps like Hipstamatic.
…we have to capture what’s there in front of us and not go back in postproduction — I think one of the big problems in recent years, especially with the Danish school of photojournalism, is this crazy postproduction. There’s just too much of that going on. Photoshop is too easy now.
Notably, the interview fails to mention Instagram. It would be interesting to hear Ben’s thoughts, given his strong feelings on the fine line between pre- and post-production. That aside, his basic view on the mobile phone as a legitimate tool for photographers makes a lot of sense.
If I can use a tool that allows me to take these images quickly in a new way that attracts an audience to look at content that’s important, and I’m not creating anything that’s not there, I don’t see that as being a problem.
The Believer is running an excellent piece on Norman Bel Geddes, an early American industrial designer and game creator. One of the most fascinating bits details his mechanical horse racing game and its impact on Raoul Fleischmann, co-founder of The New Yorker:
“It was a tense race and a close finish, but Raoul’s horse won,” Geddes would recall decades later. “Not until five minutes before sailing did someone remember, and shouted, ‘Raoul, your ship!’ into his ear. Raoul dashed from the house without hat, coat, or winnings, and arrived at the pier in time to watch the Europa—her gangplank in, her docking lines aboard, her whistles wide open, and her railings draped with wives and children hysterically sobbing—set sail without him. Raoul won his second race of the evening, however, when an amiable tug captain put him aboard the ship in mid-channel.
Gedde himself was a little more humble about the game:
The Nutshell Jockey Club would usurp all of Geddes’s previous games, despite his insistence that he’d “never been the slightest bit horsey.”
Gramio is simple web client for browsing photos taken with mobile phones.
I originally put it together as a way to show my mom my Instagram photos without interface clutter or other things that might confuse her. I found browsing tags and locations in this format so fun that I decided to build a bit more functionality around it, while still attempting to keep things simple.
I discovered music a lot later than my friends did.
One of my most vivid memories takes place in first or second grade, sitting at the lunch table among my classmates. It’s pizza day and the cafeteria is booming. Our table, in particular, seems to be operating at a frenetic if not exhilarating pace. The topic of discussion quickly moves from Saturday morning cartoons, to conflicting definitions of sex, to TLC’s newest single. Lyrics are misquoted, choruses are sung, and the table — myself included — unanimously agrees that this song is a good one. At the exact same time, I’m harboring what I consider to be a truly awful secret: I’ve never heard this song in my life. This is an extremely delicate situation. I’ve got baby fat and I’m shy. The last thing I need is my classmates finding out about my pop culture ineptitude and completing my own personal trifecta of grade school loneliness.
This memory comes back to me frequently, like many others do. Unlike the others, however, I’ve always taken time to ponder this one. A few years ago, I realized that this memory wasn’t entirely accurate. My musical ignorance expanded far beyond chart topping singles and into the world of music as a whole. It wasn’t just TLC I was unfamiliar with; it was everyone. If it didn’t play at a department store during the holidays, I hadn’t heard it.
For whatever reason, my parents never played much music around the house. There was a tape player in their bedroom, with precisely one tape available for play: Ace of Base’s The Sign. I can only guess why it had be that record, but it plays a large part in another recurring memory I have that acts as a counterpart of sorts to the one in the cafeteria.
On Saturdays, my parents would go shopping for groceries and I would stay behind. Make sure our dogs didn’t get into trouble, play Sega Genesis, drink milk straight from the carton, that type of thing. On one such Saturday, I decided to snoop around my parents’ bedroom and see what I could find. It wasn’t long before I was dancing around the the house, reading lyrics from liner notes and singing out of key as Don’t Turn Around played on repeat. A few more songs and their car pulled up in the driveway. Music off, tape back in its case, and me in front of the television, parents none the wiser. This went on to become sort of a tradition for me. I remember it distinctly and still blush when thinking about it.
Ace of Base gave me the courage to start functioning as a music listener at a very basic level, but this has largely been my story for as long as I can remember. I didn’t buy my first CD until I turned fourteen. Heard my first Beatles song at eighteen. Even today, I regularly get Genesis and The Police mixed up.
I own over 25,000 songs and believe I have nearly twice that number committed to memory. My friends come to me every day for listening suggestions. In some ways, I’m still that kid from grade school. My knowledge of music has been and will always be a spotty mess, and I spend every day searching for unheard music, new or old, trying to make that basic truth a little more bearable. To me, music is an unsurmountable challenge, requiring enormous amounts of dedication for even the most minuscule gains. Every day I spend hours searching for minutes of bliss and dance around when no one’s looking. I wouldn’t have it any other way.