bob black – loomings upon an horizon

Hover over the image for navigation and full screen controls

Bob Black

Loomings Upon An Horizon

play this essay


Author’s Preface:

It has been more than a year and a half since I completed “Loomings Upon an Horizon” and I have not, until recently, looked at it since except to show it as part of an author’s talk and projection in January 2012.  

I have set it adrift and moved on to another and maybe fuller project. It has been a somewhat painful and embarrassing experience looking at it again: akin to recalling a former messier and awkward self. But one abides and in that humour, smiles at the ungainly self one often is.

The above story is an edited version of the final book. I should say that I’ve never been interested in individual photographs, per se, but what pictures do in combination with others, including all the repetitions and motifs you’ll find here and in the longer version, the good with the bad, the confident with the cow-licked and dog-eared.

In my own projects, I rarely experience individual photographs as “good” or “successful” but instead as notes or syllables in the story or emotion I am trying to convey. With the exception of the final tree, I’ve never really liked any of the individual photographs but am instead interested in the noise they make together, notes in a musical score or the texture of brush strokes in a painting.

The original includes drawings and a few poems as well as pictures not included in the BURN version. A longer form of the picture sequence (without the drawings or poems) can be found at the link provided below.

Much of “Loomings” is comprised of a hand-made book (tape and all) but because of the length, it seems not only self-indulgent but, remedially speaking, unfair to ask readers to wade across its full, bloated body here. In this age of already prolonged exposure to the dimming flicker of the LCD squawk, spending too much time glued to the computer screen just feels plain wrong.

Allow your eyes a well-deserved rest away from the buzz of the clicks and hisses. Have a peek and then go out into the world and drift and survey and listen. Also, as for the long author’s text below, I can’t separate the pictures from the words nor the syllables from the tri-x grain. A family. Read it or not, do with it as you will. Brevity has never been one of my graces.


I would like to thank the photographer/writer Ling Ang for her openness in allowing me to quote from her poem for the project. It means a great deal to me, the words and the friendship.

Most importantly, I wish to offer my deep appreciation to David Alan Harvey and the editors at BURN for their gracious patience and humour in wrangling me into shape. Lasso’d without the rope burns.



Related links

Bob Black


“There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.”—Herman Melville


“It passes, but it does not pass away.”–Laszlo Krasznahorkai


“And I

am the bodiless

The spectre

The comma nestled between the verbs”

–Ying Ang




Picture this: pollen of garlic light.


The horizon like a finger of wet chicory. The lift of language barrier’d and ballasted by the curve of the land along the sea’s long liquid neck. There, stretching go we.


Swift the sound of scattering wings that clip the space between a window in front  of you and the far-lost long-ago window through which you once pulley’d down the sky: a kite of birds and telephone line, eclipsing.


Stones gather beneath a fallow wall the way tab and tip and beer-caps drift as if dust into the knees of gutters and grassy corners. It is we not the place which is unkempt, is it not?


Bone and feather-less wing, knobby beak and elongated rib of our throat: all that is left of our singing when the song has gone wrong, all that is left when the singing has gone rung, wrong-by-wrong.




So there it is,

Life changes in the quick, a click of this and twitch of that until cut and tissued and forgotten like a careless nick. And all the spanning and the planning. Is it easier said than un-done?


And yet that spark, sparred in the instant, then and there, slipping forward-toward the something and then always (regardless) away.


The change in that unrecognizable mount the way breath fractures its step from the copper in-take of our concavity through the silent soft hum of an exhalation the way the curving land beneath our feet bumbles and joists and cantors without recognizable knowing the earth our death our thoughts the days  dotted by our forward moving and if but we are still enough at times or tumbleweed-headlong-over-heels enough in our racing that moment that cardiac infraction a blip can catch us just long enough in its stilled web for us to more than know it but to see and feel and quarter it like geometry as recipe as the sound of her voice tango’d to the shadow on the wall an intact-tact and of that we need only to touch the transformed carving moment once to know it makes up the days and ways that make up the who of the what we are sung from.




Stick these moments together and exhale. Scatter these photographs each-from-each and turn aside. Have you caught up?


Sung at last and un-lunged.




We create that which invents us and name it home.


Do we not?


And though the world rises before us, we are its constructor. We stitch together from a tapestry of twig and feather the nest from our surroundings, kingfishers tucking at the muck and stain, the light and ligature, tucking the world into our beaks and carrying it over land and time until we’ve perched and begun to shape it into a loamy hull. These hull our refuge.  And all the small crooks and knuckled branches, the memories and experiences, the quotidian and the quixotic churned and chewed into the clay that will shape the world we call home. Along with the detritus and deposits, an accumulated crew of observations gathered and held before us until it remains fast, the outline and scaffolding of “you.” The joinery a loom of trickled time shuttled back and fourth into an assembled shape, the finery a tapestry of earthy materials become a frock that we wear the days of our lives. We call this garment a village, city, nation, home, the turf from which we believe an understanding can emerge, our identity, our malleable, squeaky self. But we are more. We are inventors. Look around. Look around.


What then is this task, the task that we have each set for ourselves in our waking, that which has been described and spoken of as “identifying” and as “seeing”? The hum inside the organ of our being. And what is this thing called place and what is that which we imagine as knowing? Is it not a conjuring, an awakening to the alchemy of our own creation? How is it that we begin to make sense of our whereabouts, how to carve out a home, a patch of time and swatch of hobbled earth into which we can locate ourselves:  between the pitch and pull of the earth? And how does one begin to carve, from the ripened world, a small pocket of safety and calm that defines the place from which you have come and into which you return when left mossy and shorn?


How does one begin to know of which and of what they are.




“Loomings Upon an Horizon” is long and it is conflicted.


Just as I am, conflicted. It has been more than a year since I completed ‘Loomings’ and I am a very different person now than I was when I had first set out to navigate some dreamed-up voyage that I had once hoped would set me free of the intense inwardness and abstraction of most of my work, set me free of the joinery of all those faces and voices I was compelled to ruminate upon and ruin with my unseeing and unsaying camera. I had wanted, in a word, to escape. To escape my own work and my self and the deluded self and thinking that I seemed reluctant to shear away. To escape not my life, mind you, nor my family (at the time the anchor holding firm the meaning and manner of my life), but the alphabet of what I had always photographed: people’s faces, people’s eyes, specific places in such a cloistered and claustrophobic manner that the work rarely seemed capable to speak of anything but only of ‘me.’ All those faces were my face, my blindness and my struggle. Take to the land and to the sea.


It has been difficult to shape ‘Loomings” into something seemingly coherent or cohesive for it has  for the length of much of its creation meant more to me as a private rumination on the importance and solace of trees and land, meant more to me as a kind of self-examination (or rejection) of the kind of pictures I had already made, as a kind of catharsis or tackling than  as an actualized photographic story. In fact, even now, especially now as I look at it again more than a year after I had even last looked at the pictures, the sequence, I see only its failures and sloppiness. I had always viewed the pictures more as drawings, sketches that allowed me to continue with two larger bodies of work with which I had been obsessed than as something brought to fruition. I say this not out of false humility but because it’s the way I feel about it. To photograph land without a metaphysic but with a desire to break my own photographic tics against the size and strength of the land and the sea.


What began as a kind of sketchbook, a cahier of sorts, to balance or blanche the two longer projects, “Loomings” turned into a way to escape all those intense faces and rhymed-racking that I was struggling with, including my own face, my own blindness and my own disappointments. Its gestation first began several years ago when working on a small body of work, private reflections on the great writer Antonio Lobo Antunes and Portugal, and now ends with that first photograph. A tree at night and its timbre in the wind.




In this work,  I had hoped to describe just one simple thing: the small and intensive pockets of silence, the knocking of the wind’s cantor through a canopy of trees, the spray of the sea’s tumble, the notched scouring of the sky as the memory of my father’s face when he carried me as a child, the scent of green mountains verdant and tinctured by sea oil in Taiwan,  the curve of a hill penumbra’d by the sun, land and sea as a hermitage that tented the under-top and undertow of my life. I wished to make a series of photographs not about what the land looked like but what its power and nourishing and silence felt like. The size of its certainty large and small. I realized that pictures could not accomplish what I had felt by doing simply, nothing.




More than two years ago, I had promised Magnum photographer and BURN Curator/Publisher David Alan Harvey that I wanted to make an exclusive project for BURN Magazine. At the time, I thought it would be much more interesting for photographer, a photographer, to try to make something with the magazine itself in mind. Well, for good or ill, this is that promise. In the subsequent year after suggesting it to them, “Loomings” underwent many changes and variations, in both concept and picture. What I had hoped at first to be made up solely of pictures without any people or reference to people, I quickly realized seemed frustratingly impersonal. As in life, I tend to wear my emotions on my photographic sleeves and instead grew to need to photograph not the relic of the land but what it felt like to struggle and to find succor and awe in both the land and the people in my life who shared those places in my life.  No matter how we sheer and shore, no matter how we reconfigure the land and our lives to our own hungry need, the land observes and absorbs us and does not let go even in our forgetting. To work images from small abstract gestures, the stroke of black ink upon rice  paper as a means to sing out the world, to write the letters of the lives around in small, cow-licked strokes.


In truth, “Loomings” is a kind of calligraphy. In fact, more than photography, it was inspired more by painting and drawing (ink and charcoal) than by the tradition of photography. At its heart, within my own heart, is the compass of Chinese scroll paintings and calligraphy. My childhood among the wind-fed verdant cities and hills of Taiwan or at least the place that sits inside the hermitage of my memories.


Strokes of words comprised of the shift of shade and vocabulary of light.


And seemingly with less and less time, I snug up longer and longer against the tree of doing little more than thinking or reading or just listening. Eyes open and drawn to that which scatters through me. This too, the doing of nothing but sitting, sometimes feels like a failure. Though it is to that failure that I am increasingly drawn. The heat-tug of time played out along our making of things and digesting of them. For in the end, “Loomings” really isn’t about anything. I have no grand design nor want to convey any large or significant meaning. If anything, I hope that it conveys my deep love of the earth around especially how light and shadow work their dance in the magic of the land. If anything, I hope that it conveys my deep love for photography and its remarkable and endless flexibility; its extraordinary generosity in allowing for us to seize and stretch it into whatever tale or notion we wish to tell. Although much of it is visually dark, I hope that others see this not as some kind of angst-ringing suffocation but rather about trying to confine my own photographic practice to some basic tools: a brush and ink with black and white, not for nostalgia or romance but for dietary reasons. What is the color of a letter? Letters, though seen in black most often, convey the color of surfacing around and do not need a wide palette to suggest the multifarious forms that abound. Light in the suggestion, color in the scarping hill beneath the palm of sky and cloud. The alchemy of this waking world.


Toward that finger-stain’d horizon each of us go, sprocket-after-sprocket, click by click, f-stop breath, as all things tumble into and at a time.




An approximation of love even when in error.


And too many words and too many pictures and too little time.  Alas.


But even in the error, from the error really, comes a love more precise than its original approximation and that all I have learned from the leaving and the losing of things points toward something simple. Not photographs but the living underneath and entwined and enmeshed in the world makes for the singing, makes of the singing out to it, if even with these bewildering and imperfect gestures, essential for in that clinking and clanking I’ve learned to recognize the timbre and the clamor of my heart lit sloppy but undeniably a mess, but childishly hungry and bedazzled by unrest and ignition of our gravitational life.


Nothing more deep or artistic than that.


So be it.




All that surfeit of light and surrounding life giving and graving and snapping above and through the geography of life and its sound, inimical.


Though all things may vanish, they do not pass away.


–bob black


Author’s note:


I want to thank David Alan Harvey for his inimical generosity and patience for who but he and where but BURN could a photographer publish such a broken and long-winded series of pictures. Who but David would allow such looseness and such an ungainly and addled series. Too many pictures, too many words. For him and his sustaining belief, I am always grateful and filled by love. It goes without saying that the above text does not have to be read. It isn’t an explanation but instead a kind of sibling, the whiskey in the beer. Take it for what you wish.


And so, this series is dedicated to my father Robert A. Black, who taught me about the sea, my mother Margo Woodward, who taught me about the sway of a garden and to my dear friend Marc Davidson who taught about endurance and acceptance: with light upon the horizon and reckoning.



Bob is a writer and photographer currently based in Toronto.  He has exhibited and published his writing and photographic work in a variety of publications and venues (yada yada yada) though he’s a bit fatigued by the taxonomy of all of that now. Instead, he is more interested in a good bottle of wine and  long chat or slow walk than where those pictures and words have and will end up. Truthfully, he wishes he were handier around the house and still aspires to win a Father-of-the-Year award more than anything photographic or literary.  He is currently trying to finish a Children’s Book for his son and is at work on a project that will contain a ridiculous number of pictures he’s too embarrassed to even mention. But that’s another story. Most importantly, his home is always open to wayward and neighborhood cats. Just paw at the door and come in.


166 Responses to “bob black – loomings upon an horizon”

  • Bob!

    It is long long story …
    not because of sheets of pictures… because you show us life and death and you tell the memory and oblivion.

    It is very sad, sensitive and beautiful story but you describe it with calm voice and your own unique personal perspectives.
    I love it very much.

    and Thank you for sharing.

  • MIKE R :)))

    well, i’ve always been open about my life and the eye disease. I could write an entire novel about the experience and how it transformed and formed me (for both good and ill), and I still struggle with it (physical problems ever couple of years and some issues of self, etc) but, i guess that will have to wait for another time when I’m not as tired…or rather, for a chat with wine :)))…thanks so much for asking

    AKAKY!!!!!!! :))))

    and some of those are expensive cameras…go figure ;)))….i think my head’s been out of focus since I was a kid…must be the 7-up ;))

    YOUNG TOM :)))

    thank you amigo….that’s all we got brother, all we got :))…

    MARCIN :))…

    THANKS so much…glad to have you here :)))


    135% longer, damn…i’m getting to be like a baseball player, intestinal fortitude or something ;))…

    MTOMALY: :))

    gorgeous pictures…i love the shaft of broken light over the frozen Montreal river very much and the blackness of the dog….and of course the title ‘gloomings’ is hilarious…i in truth, they’re quite luminous and still and, well, the way a child (or an adult trying to remember as a child) imagined the world…at least that’s what they speak to me….best think about photography and inspirations is that its endless and the it transforms us and we transform it :))))…lovely work, continue continue….

    PANOS :)))…DAMN…YEA, love the Lynch…big time and the video…and I absolutely am mad crazy about his last film ‘inland empire’, a masterpiece that really was overlooked/underthought…color color color is coming…just must finish Wan Li book and then maybe that’ll be for me and b/w…i wish I had Lynch’s hair :)))..thanks brother

  • KYUNGHEE :)))

    thank you so much. its kind of my own ‘island’ ;)))…and what else to do with life but try to sift through calmly and openly…its all we have. I cant wait to see your 2nd book :)))))….will make me very very happy…thank you so much

  • DAH… thanks for the explanation You’re right, I don’t do RSS feed stuff. I come directly to the site… like a magazine!

    Good to hear everybody is getting some love!


  • If anyone is interested in seeing the difference between my left, seeing eye and my right, blind eye, here are 2 pics taken of the inside of my eyes 4 years ago….i’ve actually done a series on the inside of the eye (with color), but those pics are waiting for the right moment…anyway:

    the inside of my seeing eye (and what all of your eyes look like): the inside of the eye is a revelation…a cosmos until itself..

    and the blind eye:

    cheers, b


    i am so so pleased we finally got this published…like a fine wine, these kinds of essays just cannot be rushed..thank you for your patience…

    this is by its very nature EPIC…and does what i look so hard to find in most essays, a real visual literacy and an an introspection that is deep…full of all your fears, and dreams, and pain, and joy..a microcosm of who you ARE….Loomings IS Bob Black….

    you are not afraid to unveil, to reveal, to share, to expose, and to illuminate your inner self…this is indeed treacherous territory for many say they are exploring their “inner self”…yet you actually are doing it…clearly….and yes even concisely….you choose the “long form”…well fine…so be it…your way….your method…your stream of conscientiousness…your mirror….

    in a world of sound bites and fast hits on the net, it is nice to see something where we must dig in, get our feet wet, and for heavens sake THINK and explore a bit…information presented on a silver platter is, well, information….often useful, utilitarian, but most likely vacuous by definition….

    you have thought Loomings through…..tweaked it….babied it…over thought it..under thought it…hated it…loved it…..most likely got up in the middle of the night and paced the floor over it in a hot/cold sweat…all the stuff that makes things actually HAPPEN….part of the deal

    take your warm hugs now and enjoy them….ride it…for photography does indeed provide its moments….ecstasy never comes in large doses, dammit, but does happen….

    this is your moment….

    cheers,hugs, david

  • DAVID :)))

    hey Amigo, what can I say after that?…Just that I am so thankful for your belief and support and friendship and mentorship. As I’ve said long ago, I can’t imagine any other place I would rather publish or share my work than with this community. As I get older, it just seems to be the place with which I feel the most at home. Much of that has to do with your helmship and leadership of this magazine. But it is your undying faith and love and support of photographers and photography that is the most inspired. As I’ve said long ago, a photographer of your history-book level and your success, could very easily have skated and rested on his laurels, but your ceaseless hunger for pictures and new directions has been a remarkable inspiration to many of us, both old and young. An iconic photographer who not only started a magazine to showcase new work but also donated his own $$ to create an award/fellowship for emerging photographers (people may have forgotten that the Magnum EPF Grant awarded annually was started by David out of his own pocket) and the leadership (look at the books you’ve produced for others) and tireless giving….its just a beacon in a world often foggy and adrift….

    and i am deeply appreciative that you had the patience to stick with me. Your suggestion to edit the beast down was the best thing i’ve done in the last couple of months and it helped guide me to seeing the bones of its innerself…and I will write later today about the editing process, because it was so important and i owe that to you….

    well, above all, i take away our friendship…and use that to river my own unsteady way…

    it means more than i should express publically ;)))..otherwise, it might get to be embarrassingly emotional…

    thanks amigo, from the deepest place in my life :))


  • Bob…

    Why your preference for film over digital? Any special reason or is it because you don’t own a digital camera?

  • Bob, looking at your pictures is a big, big joy and inspiration to me! Thank you so, so much!

    Great images that speak to me… looking at the grain, the strong blacks and whites, lines and compositions let me go on a journey with you and my own imagination. Simply great!

    As Paul and several others pointes out, your work inspires me to take out my camera and go out and take pictures. And who knows, maybe one day I will take out my black and white chemicals and enlarger… hope somewhere there is some Tri X film to buy… it would be fun for sure!

    One thing is clear: you are certainly the master of creating true art with your images!

    Enjoy the good vibes!
    Big hugs!

  • PAUL :))

    Good question! I have (surprise, surprise) a long answer for you :))…

    First, yes I do not have a digital camera. But I have used digital cameras and actually love them. I have a cellphone (very cheap nokia, which isnt a smart phone) and have enjoyed shooting with it actually, but havent figured out how to transfer the pictures from my phone to my computer. However, I once did use a digital camera for almost 2 years. This was back in 1998. In 1997, I inherited an old rangefinder and an old slr from my grandmother after she had died. At the time, I wasn’t a photographer although I loved photography. I was a painter and was actually interested in making films. I didnt think ever about making photographs myself until my grandmother died. She had been a photographer (the first woman to own and operate a photostore in Philadelphia). When she died, she left more than 30,000 color slide prints and this was a profound revelation: the power of photography on a personal level. I received 2 of her camera’s and started to ‘learn’ about photography. I was living in Los Angeles at the time. I saw some pictures at an exhibition of Moriyama and I was stunned. At the time, most of my photographic knowledge was for documentary/journalistic work and work that comprised the ‘greats’ of photography. In High School I was obsessed with Arbus and the Vietnam war photographers and I loved Penn and Avedon and Steiglitz and Mann Ray and Ansel Adams and Eggleston and Duane Michals (who was the first Artist/photographer who i fell in love with). but, i was always more concerned with painters and sculptors and filmmakers and conceptual artists. Phpotography (with the exception of Michals and Arbus) seem not as ‘vital’ to me, or rather, it didnt speak to me the same as Fine Art…Throughout college, I learned more. I met Siskind and Callahan in Providence at a museum and I started to ‘teach’ myself about photography, even though I wasn’t making pictures. I just started to fall in love with photography and looked at as much photography as I could during university and afterward. Then In 1997, my grandmother died and bequeathed me the cameras and I started to fuck around. And man, was I in love. But, I was a pretty bad photographer!! that the moriyama pictures woke me really up.

    In 1998, I left LA and returned to florida and I started experimenting with learning how to use a camera and film. I even took phpotographs for the NYTimes-owned magazine that I was writing for. then one day, my brother (who was a high school teacher) brought home a Sony digital camera for me to play with. I mean, that was 1st generational digital. The kind that used a floppy disk and you could only get like 5 pictures to a diskette. I was obsessed and fell in love with it and especially all that pixelated noise it generated. I made lots and lots of pictures (all color) and was really having fun and doing all kinds of while stuff with them and photoshop, it felt like painting, where my film stuff and old cameras felt more like a chore (i was still learning). Eventually, i started sharing my digital photography on the internet, including at a russian website called and At the time, alot of the russian photographers hated it and denigrated me (because this was before people really used digital cameras, generally). After a few months, i said ‘ok, you want to see my ‘real’ photography?” I took down all my digital stuff and started sharing my film work. and I never used a digital camera after that.

    then around 3 years ago, another photographer and gallery owner who liked my photography and had seen one of my shows, asked me if i was interested in digital photography. I said yes, but i only show film at the time. I explained why i loved film (the grain, what i could do with low light and my body and etc etc) but that I loved the possibility of digital as well. I’m not a luddite and I actually love how digital photography and digital manipulation as transformed the medium. I am crazy about instagram and digital manipulation and all that stuff. The reason why i love using my Lomo LCA is because it feels like a phone…only with film inside and little control. And, after the photographer let me play around with his Richoh to make a project, i started to think, time to switch to digital.

    I still havent switched yet. I cant really afford to buy a new camera but I am ready to ‘go back’ to the kind of weird and physical color stuff I did 15 years ago with that 1st generation Sony. So, I’m not adverse to digital equipment at all and actually, i feel its time for me to move on. I’m trying to finish this big book project ‘Wan Li’ and then i sometimes thing once that is done, i’m going to go to digital camera and color…but, i dont want a ‘good’ digital camera. I want a small, point and shoot and use this with other things. What is so exciting about photography (and technology) is that it is endless in its possibilities. I know some think of my work as more traditional (because I only own film cameras and only use trix) but this is just because I liked what I got from using those tools. I dont think i’ve even fully yet explored the b/w + film possibilities (i have another project using xerox photos), but there will come a time when I go digital…

    The reason why, up to now, i ‘prefer’ film is simple: i love the texture i get from the chemistry at play with the silver and the light/shadow. I love that film pictures still are textural and seem more physical to me than digital. Also, with film cameras, I CANT KNOW what happened. In fact, i often wait a long time to even develop my film. sometimes weeks, sometimes months, and in a special case, 2 1/2 years and countin…it makes me patience and reinforces the physcial act of shooting and the act of waiting. When I shot with a digital camera, i always looked immediately. So, its also a question of meditation, of waiting of learning to accept that one cannot know right away what they’ve done. I like that with my filmcameras, I must learn to wait….and I must learn to let go…and all this builds surprises…sometimes disappointment, sometimes exhiliration….

    but, at least for now, that raw physicality of grain and of chemistry just speaks to the way i feel life and how i feel about making objects….

    now, if someone one’s to by me a digital camera, i’d willing use and work with it ;))).
    hope that all makes sense :))

  • REIMAR :))

    thank you so much for your generosity and thoughtfulness. I deeply appreciate that. Well, i know how happy and inspired I get when I look at other photographers. In fact, its always interesting to me because I always feel best inspired by others, much more so than my own work. I mean, generally, i’d rather spend the day looking at pics and essays at BURN or reading Aperature or sifting through an exhibition or looking at new Japanese picturetakers or even going to a World Press show then thinking much about my own work. dont get me wrong, i do believe what Arbus believed when she said ‘I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.’…i feel this about EVERY photographer, which is why i love so much to look at other work people are doing, no matter how similar or different from my own. I just feel inspired by other’s work, whether icons or newbies or students…its all part of the same carnival…and if this story inspires you to go out and write upon the sky with your own tongue, then I am happy :))…that’s all we have,our stories and the sharing of them. thanks so much R! :)

  • Bob; I have been playing around a bit with a $8.99 kids digital camera. The effects are really interesting! Noisy; colour shifts etc, it’s great fun!

  • ROSS!! :)))

    oooohhhh!!!!…that sounds like what i’m sniffing around for!!…:))…I have to run (and it seems like my comments as always are a bit, ummm, long-winded) but if you have a link, let me know. …i’d love to see also some of your work using it….i’ll write you at FB tomorrow and follow up on our chat, must go teach now…


  • Hey Bob, I really appreciate all the effort you put into understanding the work of others, was happy to do what I could to return the favor in some small way. Though to be honest, that’s just the kind of thing I like to do and am happy when something worthy of deep analysis comes my way. I’m glad I ended up liking your project but figured you’d appreciate the effort to understand it even if I ultimately didn’t.

    The Moscow subway thing is something else altogether. Although many of the photographs are very good technically, who really gives a fuck about yet another subway project. At this late date it’s pretty much the equivalent of a Drawing 101 class going to the Louvre and sketching the Mona Lisa. What’s the point?

  • Bob…

    Thank you very much for all your marvelous answers. This essay and everything surrounding it has been an absolutely brilliant photofest celebration. Lets not stop and keep on :)!!

    You know what I love about film and is the big hole I miss in digital? The gamble, the unsureness, the maybe I got it and the perhaps not. I also love not remembering what I shot on that finished roll of film waiting in my studio. And there is something biological about film grain which is a little bit removed from us Homo sapiens…

    Cormac McCarthy on writing…
    “Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.”

  • who really gives a fuck about yet another subway project.

    Ooooh… challenge accepted!;^}

  • Paul,

    Take one day, go shoot your town or your kids or whatever strikes your fancy that day and turn off your LCD preview. No looking at all. In fact, wait one day before putting the card in the reader. It’s not exactly like shooting film but it’s pretty cool anyway.

  • Bob, already so much has been said, and so thoroughly. I just want to chime in and tell you that I really enjoyed this, and have been wondering over the last day or so, why it was not forgettable to me.

    I say this to you meaning it as a compliment: To me this series is like one of the many hand made quilts that my grandmother owns. Though I would never see one in a store and want to buy it (the style is just not for me), I deeply cherish them, and have been given one of my own… which I sleep with almost every night. The quality of the materials, and the love which they represent are unmistakable.

    Though this is not the kind of work that usually grabs me, I am none the less grabbed by it… because it is clear how much time and love is involved. It is utterly genuine; and thats always a wonderful thing. Congrats!!

  • Each of us struggles with the task of finding our own unique voice as artists and as humans. We start out as originals but soon lose our wonderful rough edges as parents. teachers and the other kids insist that we fit into their ideas of what and who we “should” be and do. The better we play their games, the less we remember of our own. As artists our task is to, as Bob puts it, excavate the layers we have lived as society’s child, digging ever deeper into the crevasses of often painful memories to find the gold dust of our true selves. Few dare to dig to their core for the cost is high.

    That is what Bob Black has dared to do. The few years of his journey that many of us here have shared have shown his courageous willingness to become naked and vulnerable as a newborn baby, sometimes experiencing great pain in the process. It is out of this courageous journey into the depths of his past and present that Bob’s art emerges. No, it is not easy to understand or pigeon-hole into any pre-determined box or genre, for it is uniquely Bob’s vision with eyes that may not see out very clearly but always see IN with razor sharpness.

    What a privilege it is to get a glimpse of such authenticity. Thank you, dear Bob, for being who you are and for sharing what you see, think and feel in your art. You may never become “famous” but to my way of thinking you are and will always be a Master of your craft.

  • “An xray gone wrong”. That’s brilliant.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this rather poetic piece of photographic intensity. Will digest some more and comment further later.

    – Paul Treacy

  • MW :)

    hey, thanks so much again. Yes, your insight into both the statement and the work just made all a flutter like a kid at their prom :))…its the kind of thing we all hope sometimes someone will get, that recognition that they’ll be a few folks who delve into things and come through it with a sense of what the journey was about. I mean, for me, the greatest aspect to being alive (and goes the same for making things, reading a book, writing, meeting folk, forming relationships) is the transformative and electric chemistry that happens from both the tempest and the calm. Its why its so hard (and feels so debilitating) to just sit, to just allow life to course by. Into the muck I say and from that the beachy calm of the sun’s drying lox…:)))…thanks again so much for putting the time and the weight into thinking and feeling through all that craziness :)))….

    PAUL :))…that IS it exactly! the physicality of film hasnt let me out yet of her talons and even when i shoot stuff with my silly phone, or have borrowed another’s digital camera to experiment, only film still gets me viscerally and somehow ignites my insides in a way that paint or charcoal used to…but, the most important aspect to using film cameras is that it requires patience and it requires you to forget and to wait and to reflect because you cant really ‘do over’ based on chimping at an lsd screen. it forces a moment, it forces the act of shooting to be physical as well, a kind of pirruet. it alwasys becomes a gamble, because you cannot delete a frame and reconfigure, you must rely on both hope and instinct…and even when i double or triple expose an image, i understand that i might be losing a frame i actually may have preferred but it a risk, a risk from committing to something other than whether or not you got something….a practice. If there is one think that I lament (including with myself at times) is the nature of our collective impatience now…we want everything immediately, and on juiced up on the sugar of the instantaneous, the right-of-now/right-away. I mean, i cant even imagine a life without knowing that it’ll take me days or weeks to read a book, so all the NOWNESS of things just makes me sad and using film and old cameras forces me to remember…and it has helped disciplined me…so that when it is i decide to develop the rolls, that moment becomes so magical, both in its joy and in its disappointments…

    and yup, McCarthy was write all along. Were that the one thing I could bequeath my son, that would be it….:)))

    MICHAEL K :))

    how about extend that. spend 1 day shooting and turn off the lcd screen and not print the card for 2 weeks…just wait…it’ll be a revelation, i’m sure…it is what makes me feel sad when i’m around many photographers now, especially many young ones I mentor, shooting-looking, shooting-looking, shooting-looking…its almost as if they’re not even looking/feeling the world, but have a staring match with their lcd screens…..besides, the world looks a whole lot richer in front of the camera than from behind ;)))

    ROBERT L :))

    thanks so much. Yep, yep, that’s it. that’s a wonderful metaphor and yes, that’s why i love hand-made things and things that, even if no one else will like, are arrested from sleep because of the life sewn into them by their maker…here is a quick story…when i was 14, my grandfather died. my grandmother gave me all his socks (he loved colorful socks). I wore only those sucks until they were filled with holes and threshed about, and got rid of the final pair after i graduated from university…everytime, i opened by sock drawer, I thought of him…and i swear to god, i felt as if they not only protected me but allowed me to be happy…those things that come down to us through love, those things that are made or are of another become the highest bridge for me….and you know, damn if i couldnt use a hand-made afghan blanket (my grandmother made them too) myself to make the winter day wave over a bit easier :)))…thanks so much for that Robert :))

  • PATRICIA :)))

    Well, i’m kind of speechless, you know. And that’s kind of a hard thing to do for me (ask my son! ;) ). All i can say is that if there is one person who has taken their own life toils and mined it and turned it into both rays of hope and celebrant strength, it is you. All your achievements are a guidepost really of inspiration. I am personally deeply proud of all you’ve accomplished with your work, your book, your exhibitions and most importantly your unstinting faith in yourself and others. You can’t keep a good woman down! As for the not ever being famous, well, that’s not really important at all to me, never was for we’re all the same in the end, just carbon and blood and water and dreamy star-turned creatures who’ll be forgotten. That I can spend time with family and friends and celebrate all that creates is good enough for me. btw, I hope you’ve watched ‘Searching for sugarman’. you’re city baby, and what a hero he is. that is kind of how i’ve always viewed my own life. family and friends and just living above all other. the fame game or even recognition game is just not that important. Sending you much love and bigger hugs Patricia. thanks so much for that love :))


    Paul, yea, i’ve been thinking about the description since the first day. pretty brilliant :))…and keep the kids coming ;))…thanks so much


    you make a great case for film…and all of it right on imo…with film you must keep moving FORWARD..not knowing for sure, you keep trying and trying..moving forward…and exploring more and more the subject in front of you…with digi all of us are in the very moments of creation taking a step back…looking at what we just did….becoming perhaps too self satisfied with the digi image on the screen…most of my life i have been a film shooter…and still shoot med format film and “polaroids” now…yet i find myself mostly shooting digi for the same reasons almost everyone has gone to digi..yet i too have caught myself looking at the screen as things are still going on in front of the camera…how many great moments have i missed while looking at what happened just before?

    sometimes however i also know for sure i have shot much looser because of digi….running out of film is real….i remember getting to frame #30 for example and for sure i became a different photographer for those last 6 frames…tighter…too tight….with something going on and no time to change film, i would become “careful” with those last 6 frames….no way no time to get “loose” ….so for this i do like digi…i can run with an idea for longer with digi than i can with film….and changing film, especially med format, seems to take an eternity IF in the middle of a “thought”….so i probably have missed about as many pictures changing film as i have in being tempted to look at the screen…who knows?

    i have a nice new darkroom….and plenty to print….yet i must admit i am not as drawn to the darkroom as i once was…why? well for one thing, i am in a small dark room…for hours and hours….the magic of watching prints come out is still the same, yet where the darkroom was once the only place i could go to realize my work, i can now do the same and watch the birds in the trees or the weather change AND get a really fine print…

    all of the tech side of our art/craft are trade offs…every damned thing we do eliminates something else….one way we get this, the other way we get that…simply finding a comfort zone and having a passion for whatever it is we are working on is the only thing that matters….i am really weird….i like the instant gratification and looseness of my iphone and the connectivity to others with say Instagram and at the very same time am tweaking 60×40’s meticulously for a show in Dubai…and at the same time making family pictures in the darkroom….all of it rewarding, all of it photography and all of it images that just MUST pop out of my head….

    your reasons, as i said, for sticking with film are good ones….and oh yes, there is another really really good reason for film…and i know this because for the last two weeks i have had a whole team helping to organize my archive….my film archive is a nightmare for sure, yet i can handle it…see it….that cardboard box has Cuba transparencies in it…film….get it sleeved and look at it on the light table…..tangible …real…

    my digi archive is a worse mess….that cardboard box has hard drives in it…hard to think about…new firewire cables dont fit the old drives…are the old drives even working? how long will the drives last? my film archive has moved around dozens of times since i was a kid, but it is all still HERE…never stored properly my old negatives seem perfect, and even my old Kodachromes from 50+ years ago are perfect looking even though often stored in attics and basements etc…

    the push is to get the whole thing into the Magnum archive and on some server somewhere that we all hope does not break or get a virus or get terrorized….even the film must be digitized to have value in the modern world…

    so film is a working method only these days, not a final product…your film here is digitized so we can even see it here on Burn….

    sorry for the ramble..

    in any case, keep doing what you are doing Bob, for whatever reasons or by whatever methods….getting it down , getting it done, realizing your vision , is all that matters…

    cheers, david

  • Bob
    I can’t stop viewing this essay. For all the reasons you and others have articulated so eloquently. But I always stop and pause the longest at 49. That image causes my mind to go silent. All the mind noise fades to heavenly silence. I don’t know who first said it but “death is not the opposite of life…it is the opposite of birth. Life has no opposite”…sums up how I experience this essay.

    And funny you should mention Rodriguez. I’ve been listening to his music obsessively since I first heard of him many months ago. 40 years too late. And last night I watched Searching for Sugarman. A truly unbelievable story. A beautiful soul. My new hero.


    very well said…thank you

    and we all look forward to your upcoming book Falling Into Place….keep us updated please….and i will do an interview with you here on Burn…

    you inspire us all with your fortitude and insight..

    cheers, david

  • VIRGIL :))

    yes, death is not the opposite just the continuation. I’ve always wondered why so many people (religions, politicians, adults, the old and the young) always speak about Life After and rarely speak of Life Before. I dont mean this in a religious sense, but in an existential sense. our lives before we come into this world was just as long, or rather, not our ‘lives’ but life in general was existant prior and continues and we’re shaped that way and when we vanish, it just chains us forward, or rather, just chains the continuance of things…its hard to accept, because we cling so hard (rightly so) to all that we love and cherish and all that makes our lives incandescent. But loss, and we all experience it, defines all things. In fact, for me, it makes things precious…that all the things i love (and once loved) will vanish, as will I, and yet that remain inside…and that joins me so much to all things and to all those i loved. i cant hold on to them, but they ignite me regardless and i feel that gift of having had them (grandparents, parents, friends, partners, colleagues, etc) in my life: for they have made me the person, have bequeathed their life into mine….and i only hope i can pass down that same fervor and love to my son, all things great and small, we’re bound and lit up. As for the picture (49), that is my son. He was walking by himself, staring at the ocean in Novia Scotia (Cape Breton) and he looked both incredibly strong and grown up and also melancholic…and i started to cry a bit when i saw it, so i quietly walked behind him and shot into the sunlight…and i thought, how he is already a man, and all the grace and goodness and sadness which that entails…and i was proud of him and a bit sad and i just thought, i already see myself in him and that continuity was a blessing…and that there he is, a man, staring out to see, strong and unsure and well…maybe that’s the picture in the series that is also a selfportrait too…thanks so much Virgil…hugs

  • DAVID :))

    Amigo, well if there is someone who loves a ramble it is me :)))…great comment…and, i must run now to teacgh, but I will follow up at Lunch in response…I agree with what you say exactly…and i understand totally and am ready to move to digi just a time and money issue…but, will write more at lunch…

    lots to think about and respond…for me, all tools are good and the more tools that free a photographer, the better :))

    more later

  • DAVID :))

    i COMPLETELY agree about the necessity of the digitalization of pics/negatives/archives. And, actually, i love the fact that we can get that film (or pixels) out into the world quicker and via digitalization. I mean, shit, maybe only a few people would have seen any of my work in its ‘real’ form and that’s cool. I actually love that digitalization has freed us from the cumbersome task of film and from the cumbersome task of reproduction. and you are exactly right about using digital equipment to free the shooter. I felt that way when i used a digital camera in ’98-99. for long time, i missed that freedom until I was able to learn how to be totally lose with rangefinder and slr and then the pinhole worked its way into my life as did the Lomo and Holga. Now, shooting with my phone feels like the LCA and its lighter and smaller and like a toothbrush, and I love that so much. can be even more quiet and unobtrusive and physical…

    and i too have not much interest in being in a darkroom. I do miss the intense quiet and solitary magic, but at the same time, i realize that there’s something else to do with printing digital files…jsut working on them is a different experience than being alone. though alone with a computer still is kind of the same….and i think you’ve expressed it exactly correct: that you have both mentalities and both work ethics: attention to detail in your med format stuff, and lose lose lose with your iphone: they help and enhance one another….and that’s key…

    and i’m sure the real secret is that while different tools change the phtoographer, in the end, we each end up being the ‘same’ photograher…as soon as we figure out who we are…

    and in your case, its even that much more important that you have the negatives and have recovered. I mean, i just will repeat the importance of ‘Tell It Like It Is’ (exhibition please and re-publication) and of course that extraordinary College pic you posted of the young boy….that film can still be preserved…

    but, yes, for all the reasons you’ve articulated, I think that what is important is that a photographer use whatever tools allow her to sing out in the world and to embrace what allows her to make and feel that she has a place in what she’s done…whatever form, its all good to me…

    and to surrender to patience…and that all things that rise converge….

    someday, i’m sure i’ll be wielding a digi…maybe that Child’s camera Ross mentioned :)))

  • I think you all are giving Bob and Paul horrible advice regarding digital. Telling them to not use the back screen and wait two weeks before processing is like telling a small child who has just been given a set of blocks to put the square peg in the round hole. Of course reasonable people can disagree, but my strategy has always been to figure out what’s unique about whatever camera (or film back in the dark days) I’m using and then shoot to its strengths and weaknesses. Not try to make it work like something else. Something it’s not.

  • MW

    Now that is perfectly said!

  • MW:

    YES, that is exactly correct. However, my suggestion wasn’t about treating the use of a particular camera or system differently than intended (but i like that idea very much too in order to challenge convention), but to try something different as an act (building patience for example). I agree completely with your “my strategy has always been to figure out what’s unique about whatever camera (or film back in the dark days) I’m using and then shoot to its strengths and weaknesses. ” That is not only sound advice but an important challenge. What i was referring to was how to break patterns imposed on people by technology.

    for example. The LCD screen. A useful tool, for sure, but also a bane. I have a close friend in Taiwan who is a camera engineer and works for Sony, Nikon and Cannon on LCD and button design and one of her tasks is how to make the ‘experience of looking/using lcd’ (her words) better. Technology kind of imposing itself. In other words, rather than focus on what digital means/does, but creates a need. I kind of want folk not to be so reliant on contrived need rather than decided upon need. Here is another example: if you use Facebook, its intent is to look at feeds/walls/posts as much as possible: its intent…sometimes this is good but over time it re-orients…and i was suggesting that rejecting some of the applications of technology (or non-technology) is healthy and food and reforming…

    just as i hated all the old-school people who rejected digital and argued that silver prints are better or film cameras, i also think its important we dont worship modernity either….inevitabilities do not have to be manufactured upon us…we dont all have to workship facebook or buy apple products but try to orient ourselves to our own compasses….

    rathered than manufactured consent :))

  • Oh, I’m not against trying something different or using a camera different than intended. The #49 like photo I tagged you in over on FB is an example. But by my way of thinking, it’s usually best to master the way things are intended to be used before trying to master different ways of using them. The old, you have to know the rules before you can break them effectively trope. Not always applicable, but generally good advice. And seems to me all the advice above is a bit outside that paradigm anyway. It’s not trying something different. It’s trying to do the same thing with something different. Not the same at all.

  • Bob Black,

    I’m still digesting this one….just like your posts, this one is a LONG ONE.
    Part of me loves it and part of me hates it.
    The first frame is so impact full that somehow what followed was a bit of a let down. Not all of it but for sure the way I first saw it. That one frame set my bar so high that I was disappointed with the rest.
    I see the more literal ones as opposed to the more abstract ones to work better as a whole and still retaining “the feeling”….the abstract ones add too much noise that it becomes distracting and monotonous. Like watching TV late at night in a foreign country…a confusing experience.
    I can see how it all works in the end (after viewing it many times) but that does not mean I find the execution as it is necessary.
    Something along the lines of “less is more”….
    Amongst all the echoes bouncing back and forth a discernible voice emerges. I hear it…but it’s hard for me to concentrate on its message.

    This song reminds me of your work:

  • Bob, I just dropped into Burn for my first time in 10 days. I knew I would experience something amazing upon my return – but, wow – there was Bob Black, published in amazing contemplation, thoughtfulness and wonder. Congratulations and yes, like others, I find this work to be both an inspiration and the kind of discouragement that makes me contemplate, for a moment anyway, the possibility of just throwing my cameras away.

    Sadly for me, I forgot my reading glasses when I left home to come here to Hawaii where my son will wed on Friday. This adds some extra blur to the blur of the pics and that is okay, because I can certainly make them out and the added blur just kind of intensifies the theme.

    If I concentrate, I can read text, too, but it gives me a headache and so I can’t stick with it – and when it comes to Bob Black, text demands to be stuck with.

    Thus, I am pretty much skimming and skipping over the text, including in comments. So I am missing much of the experience.

    Maybe I will buy some reading glasses, or maybe just wait until I get back to Alaska.

    My recent absence from Burn is not a departure. I just realized I needed to cut my internet time down and figured I could take in all the essays and the essence of the Burn discussion if I dropped in every Saturday instead of half a dozen or more times daily, but, given our travels here to Hawaii and the fact that I used Saturday to go take a look at the big waves on Oahu’s shore, I didn’t make my Saturday visit.

  • MW… I get what you’re saying but remember the “advice” to Paul wasn’t so much “here’s how you should always do things with your digital camera”, it was simply a suggestion for him (temporary at that) after his comment to Bob: “You know what I love about film and is the big hole I miss in digital? The gamble, the unsureness, the maybe I got it and the perhaps not. I also love not remembering what I shot on that finished roll of film waiting in my studio.” Again, not exactly like shooting film but might scratch an itch he’s having.

  • Hey Michael, no offense intended. I offer this stuff in the spirit of bullshitting with people I like and respect. And this is an old, old conversation, often prefaced by something along the lines of “the grass is always greener…” Well, sometimes it is, but more often than not, I’d say, not. But it’s getting late in the afternoon and I’ve got things to do, so in teh spirit of the modern age, I’ll let a youtube clip express my feelings on the subject rather than make any further effort on my own.

  • CARLO :))

    Thank you very very much. I really appreciate your patience and insight. I understand completely what you’re saying and if I may, let me explain, or describe to you, the importance (and use) of that first picture and its relationship to the others. First, I have also always loved the first photo (incidentally, DAvid Harvey deserves the credit for putting it as the lead photograph. I’d originally used the text frame first, but I love that david used this image prior to the Text image) and it kind of is there for a reason: let me explain>

    It seems the MOST tradition image (or one of them) in the series and maybe one of the most ‘beautiful’ in terms of its geometry and framing and metaphoric power and mystery. And I knew I would always finish the series with the final lone tree in Portugal, so they play off and mimic one another. It is also a deeply person photograph and I have a great love and attachment to it and it is one of the pictures in my archive that people who know my work often remember. And yet….it’s too ‘obvious’ to me…it’s too ‘photographic’ to me, too ‘cinematic.’ Actually, this is my mentality, but I wanted to see if pictures that are ‘less strong’ can stand up, can make just as much of an emotional impact as that one. that picture is also an early photograph and reflects more the photographer I used to be than the one I’ve become. It’s also more ‘youthful’ to me and much less ‘pained’. And so I knew that having the image at the beginning, it would create a certain expectation and that if it’s followed by pictures that are more prosaic or constructed (like the ones with tape), it would produce a kind of dissonance and again great a dialogue. but, as i wrote in the Prologue, I never am really interested in 1 picture for long, and i definitely am not interesting in making a series, or a book, with one ‘good’ picture after another, like beautiful laundry hanging on a wire. I want something else. I kind of want all that conflict to be the point. There are actually pictures as ‘strong’ as the first that I never used in the project, and have kept for my Wan Li project, and its’ always a risk.

    And I understand the monotony of the abstract and ‘noisy’ (the grain) pictures, like tv. but, the funny thijng is that I have that SAME experience when i look at too many ‘good’ pictures. I want something else. Maybe its just because I prefer abstraction to representation. In my poetry, words collide. In my old art, the same. I just get tired with the ‘representation’ of things. But, this is not only a personal orientation but maybe too because i have SO MANY photographs in my head (both from history adn my own work) that I’m constantly trying to go against them. But, i understand how people can get bored with much of this work, and particularly the pictures that arent as ‘strong’ as the others. Funny, one of my favorite photographs is #43 (landscape), #44 (beach in portugal at night with boat upside down and broken trash can) and 50 (a cowskull)…and yet, those rarely get responses making because they just look like noise…but i love them, and as prints even more….

    I once wrote about ‘anti-essays’ as essays…and that kind of got misconstrued, but I kind of mean it. How to make a series, and a book, that is against most principles of photography and yet have the same impact….maybe my problem is that i look spend all day in front of a kline painting or a diebenkorn or watch jospeph beuys or spend my life reciting Paul Celan…all delerium…a kind of burning buzz in my head, always…:))

    and thanks so much for the beautiful song :))…i hadnt heard before…

    thanks so much for taking the time and patience to deal with it, overkill as it is :))

  • FROSTFROG ! :))

    hey Bill, Alohoa! :)))…lucky bastard. thanks somuch for taking the time away from the beach, surf, pineapples and sun to look at my essay (are you crazy!!!! ;)), go back to the beach or climb those hills). I really appreciate your words and that you took the time, sans lumieres, to actually hack through the essay and please dont kill your eyes on the text. the text is or will still be there and i think works better read with whiskey late at night, like a drunken sailor at see singing out to his lass on land! But, I’m so happy that you’ve chimed in and thankful for your patience and support. It means a lot to me Bill.

    Now go play! :))

  • MW:

    i LOVED that picture of yours of the boy by the gorgeous tonuge of sea. its strong strong strong, btw. Well, i guess all i really believe is simple things. forget the rules. yes, learn them or at least learn what they mean to you or how they apply to you but, well, rules were meant for teachers, not students. I say set the asylums free :))


  • Hey, Miguel! No offense taken. Honest. Love the back and forth.

    Peace, bro.

  • And MW… that photo on FB is stunning.

  • I can envision a similar product conceived by you, Bob
    Call it the CyBob. Utilizes a vintage 1Mp camera that records any color situation and,utilizing
    a complex algorithm, defocuses the image and converts to a hi contrast,grainy rendering.
    Degree of effect is determined by the mood slider :)

  • Bob / David, I remember reading a White House photographer recall how he watched photographers chimping the LCD screens of their cameras when the President had only just walked past them a few yards. Anything could have happened and they were chimping!
    I turn the auto review off and chimp later. As for the majority of us who don’t have Magnum to take care of our archives, print, print and print some more: when you breath your last your prints may have a chance of survival but your hard drives may well end up on Ebay.


  • Carlo…

    I saw Mecano live in the summer of 91. Long, long concert and very beautiful music and a very beautiful girl who accompanied me to see them.

    A quick little tip, maybe will maybe not help you with Bob’s essay. Don’t “look” too much at it.. Just breathe deeply and feel it. There are no hidden secrets it’s just life. Close your eyes and tell me if you can see your memories and experiences perfectly clearly? I can’t remember mine perfectly, image wise they aren’t perfectly distinguishable…blurry, warm, loud…

  • “Your heart’s desire is to be told some mystery. The mystery is that there is no mystery.”
    Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West.

  • MTOMALTY! :))))))))))

    damn, that is some wild wild stuff….loved the interview and bit…cybob ;))…i wonder…actually, a cyborg has been secretly typing all this stuff for me…that is just extraordinary…and fucked up too (in the best sense)…you gotta read, btw, Oliver Saks…makes your head spin…MOOD SLIDER IS ALL! ;)))…brilliant, thanks for that…

    MIKE R :)))…yup :)))


    yes, that is IT…and yet we need to invent mystery, ’cause what else can we do ;))…

    ok, must run…done teaching, time to go home…

    i’m still trippin’ over the cyborg thing …damn!!

  • Bob, way late to the party, but congratulations. Amazing as always.

    I feel at a loss to comment on this. I have to admit, I’m intimidated.

    I knew this was yours instantly. First time through, mostly way over my head, and all the while, at the end I am moved. I feel something. I look inward. I feel the power and the intensity of my twenty-something self.

    This is such a jolt.

    I finally managed to wade through your statement, and all the comments. When I say wade, it is because I, unlike you, have major trouble processing text. I love words, but my mind wanders, my eyes continue to read, but my mind goes else-where. I have many many photo books, and have never read the text in the vast majority. I, unlike you, also love, and relate, to individual images, less to how images work together and tell stories. This is something I’ve only recently realized. I consciously force myself now to try and think in sequences, rather than individual images.

    I love the opening image. For me, it is all I need here.

    Anyway, thanks Bob Black. This is amazing.

  • I look at most essays on burn 2 or 3 times..
    I have looked at this more than 10

Leave a Reply

You must login to post a comment.