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Bob Black

Bones Of Time

Editors Note:

This will be my first editor’s note, but not my last. I have been remiss in writing intros for many of the essays here. I cannot do much of an introduction for some of the essays where the photographer is unknown to me nor have I been a part of the development of the story. Interestingly and surprisingly most of the work published on BURN so far has been from photographers I have NOT  known at all. Not them, not their work. But, I certainly can write a heartfelt intro for Patricia, Panos, Anton, Angelo, Kyung-hee, Victor and my old buddy from college days, Medford (damn right he is emerging..no joke!!)…Patricia and Panos are totally manifestations of online mentoring.  We all met here. There could not be two more different photographers or personalities than these two. Anton, Kyunghee, Victor, and Angelo come from my world of personal workshops and well, Medford and I met when he tried to crash into my darkroom space back in grad school..enough said.

Yes yes , this is an intro for Bob Black (and appropriately long!) (and full of referencing!)..Bob does not match any of the groups above…I did not have Bob as a student, he is a teacher himself. Nor did I mentor him online. Bob is who he is just because. As with all of the photographers here, I rarely or barely edit. I want this to be a forum to let the photographers run free. A crazy concept in publishing, but the one set of words I absolutely do not want to hear are “he didn’t run it the way i liked…he did not run my best pictures”… So, I may not always completely agree with a photographer’s edit on BURN, but I will stand by photographer’s rights and creative freedom over all other things. You are always seeing basically the “directors cut”.

At the end of the year when we do our print publication, you will see a tight edit from me. Or, at one of my presentations at photo fests. Like Look3 in June  where the Emerging Photographer Fund grant winner will be announced. But for here and now BURN is raw. Sure , I choose carefully the work. Some of  you have already figured out that I do a bit of it just to see where YOU will take it. This is your edit after all. BURN is nothing without the comments. This way both the photographers and their audience have the ultimate amount of freedom. I do not edit the photographers nor the audience. Photographers show their work. The audience is the judge.

With Bob Black you have now  an un-edited writer and  an un-edited photographer. Bob thinks things. Bob knows things. Bob is a biblioteque. He writes to each and every picture or essay presented on BURN without fail. Nobody has been HERE more than Bob. Now since I have gone this far (BB style) I just have to mention Marina (Russian born wife) and Dima (well behaved polite teen-age son). Yup, cool family.

Ok, now I am running..Bob Black style.. and Bob Black style is where we go now…

– david alan harvey





“What we see is not made of up of what we are seeing but rather from what we are.”–Fernando Pessoa

“I am a reflection photographing other reflections within reflections. It is a melancholy truth that I must always fail. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.”–Duane Michaels


“The son remembers what the father wishes to forget.”–Yiddish Proverb

…and so this morning darkness spreads thin the winter light and soon the pliable silence is more limber with memory as it enters.

And what began as a small ache, a tap of ash and rough bone, soon morphs into a presence that fills the elongated space between the chair and desk at which I sit and the throat of the corridor that scaffolds the space between these words and the commonwealth where my wife and son now sleep. It is because of this tract,  this early-morning quiescence, that specific beat between the rum of my ticking head-heart and all that has gathered between the un-counted clicks of thought and waking, that I am at unrest. Now with a receipe of words,  as if counting upon alchemy and gestation, I try to make sense of a description, try to make sense of an arrangement of pictures (photographs I have taken and images pin-tacked in my head) that are born of a remembering. At the moment, I am sifting through all this and am failing.

It is six in the morning and my body is crowded by the sound of my sleeping wife and son: and all begins to drift. Then, the swallowing of their  impressible, morning breath. As if my own. As if.  As. And then.

We are, if nothing else, small bursts of memory.

And it comes like an avalanche. We are comprised of this, a negotiation. The moments between that which was and that which tumbled into an accolade of what is and what will become, vigilant.  Pictures meant to speak of that which is here, the now of this quiet morning when I feel bereft, all that I am scrabbling to hang upon like beads on an abacus string. Without the sound of my wife’s hum or my son’s sleeping acuity, grounding disappears like vapor. Have the photographs that I spent the last six months making and wrestling with counted upon this morning impass? Is it possible to convey this doubt, the missing part of that which I am and all that I shall be as a simple thing? The description of that space housed by the corners of a morning, of the purloined arrangement beween solitary lull and what is bound. Seamlessly another thought pivots.

Between the silence and the space of their bodies and the lives apart that have shuttled into my own. The ‘we’ metamorphosed from the separated each. I ask myself a simple question: “Have you yet threaded the silence from which your life is built?”……



Our bodies carry, like flotsam and drift-wood upon the back of a slow-articulating river, the memories of those who came before us. Along the curve of our spine, tickled beneath the hinge of our jaws, along the fan of space between our fingers, from within the resonant sound of the shape of our teeth, memory seeds itself and grows with a fecundity we seldom acknowledge properly. What grows happens in the silent snap of a moment. That moment , however, may occur in the lick of a lifetime. We contain the entirety of the lives that came before us, bestowed to us along ligament and hair lick, tongue and tissue, wobbly vocabulary and vocal chord. We are, even in our muted silence, the spoken history of those lives lived gone, only too-often the songs written upon our bodies remain choir-less, the stories cast along our limbs unopened, the mythologies archived in the chambers of our cranial corners still un-categorized. Yet, we hunger to remember. But there still the faces and the traces, the sounds of the rounding of days, the pictures and tinctures of the already lived and lost, recomposed inside our own seemingly inimical lives. But are we unique or an amalgam? We grope to understand within the shape of our hunger to remember and to retrieve, to understand and delve, research and relinquish. We contain. We sift. We burgeon. It is, in fact, all there inside us though often at a loss of approximate distance. Remedy this, we tell ourselves, remedy this.

So, take into your hand something small and weave it into the movement of your thoughts. See how it enlarges all of you and all that you have not counted upon;  see how a small artifact reminds you of what once was and what still resides inside: a book, a story, a pen, a signature, a piece of cloth, a word, a scent, a glimmer of a shadow or a speck of light, an imprint, a sound, a comb, a shoe, a tattered lace, an indent, a forgotten taste, a photograph: all the small things that trigger obdurate things. How much could be unbelted if what we longed to retrieved were unhooked. Those places and faces and spaces, ancestor and parent, that sit like an unadorned and unopened book upon the shelf of your gathering. If only we but reached out and opened, would we begin to recognize ourselves more clearly?  To snap the spine that has woodened from age, the whelp into the world of recognition. Crack it. Shellack it. You were born of it: desire and duty. Look at the rings beneath your eyes, nibble upon the the carving along the back of your hands, focus on the nimble notes of your voice, take up the photograph of the woman standing on the bridge with her back turned and catch her, the curve of her hip suggesting the loss of love, wander over the TV screen in front of you as that unknown but somehow recognizable woman speaks to you of what has gone missing, distilling her life’s tale as if sung from Scherhazades, know not the name or the details of the forlorn awakening but speak upon them regardless. Arrest that which has rested too long. Remember what you had forgotten to remember while you see what it was that you were meant to see. The ache of a quick snatch gone fleeting. There, in that moment in front of you. Have you begun to remember? Picture this: a photograph as a map of your life pre-drawn.

Bones the size and shape of your once-remembered life.



Time scatters like voices weaved about the autumn grass, small pebbles of hardened mineral rattling like a cup of teeth, bricking and bracking inside the circumfrence of each of us. How can I begin toe pass along to you all those small pockets of eves that now seem so often to make up the pitch of my waking thoughts and stumbles? How can I begin to give you all that has made me the person I am and because you are of me, in me, gone from me, have begun to kneed and wittlemade you the person you too are becoming. Shall I begin with a memory?

We fall into earth long before we begin our step into flight and we are transfigured.  If we understand anything, anything at all, it might be this simple truth: we migrate, continually, inside and out.  We are tempered and transposed and tampered with by land and sky and sea. It shifts and shapes and sifts inside us, sitting until it (the trees, the water, the dusty earth) becomes us: the metamorphosis. Though is it really us who are transformed or have we been, all along, the transformer. Maybe it is we who bewitch and beguile the land and sea and sky. Maybe we ensorcel that which is around us, shape and hex it so that it resembles us, is defined by us, elliptically wakes inside us because it, place, is of us. We stain the land. We scent it with our hopes and fears and memories; we carve out from this migratory and shifting path, something else. We mark place with our scent, bend light upon its slippery back until it alights. A sky is dampened with yellow because we dream it to life. A sea opens wide its hilly mouth, small dots of cyan and amber teeth, because we have instrumented its awaking. Do we sense this?



“Does the world have nothing inside but sorrow?”–Andrei Platonov

Now, trying to finish this essay, these thoughts, scrambling to cull the photographs together in a way that makes sense, tossing them out into the world for others to see. Failure of the images to coalesce. Failure of the story to rhyme in a way that tints the head. Failure of the photographs to add up, to dream-catch the memories I ‘d had, the expectations for them I’d benchmarked along their ragged edges. A house of cards these images and I let them go. The words here have faired not better as I have struggled to pitch words against the silence of the photographs: ash and dust and bits of light and swatches of shadow, poorly calibrated exposures and thumb-stung negatives, dropped cameras and forgotten words. A mess, a wreck of pictures and a tempest of words. Back and forth between what I had seen and what I had remembered, coalescing. I am trying to offer something to my son and to my father, a gangway, a path, a constellation of moments that most likely only make sense to me, a double helix of words and images, of memories and calculations, or prescriptions and assides. I am lost to explain any of this but am trying to stitch my memories to the thatched stitching of my life’s body.

For the first time in years, I get out of my chair and walk to the store to buy a pack of cigarrettes. I smoke one and all, like a cornucopia of taste and sadness, of joy and illusion, of hope and despair, come funnelling into my body. How much time I have spent to say a simple thing to my father and to my son, how many words and photographs I have carved up to say a simple thing to my father and to my son, how, how to speak simply. Let me know, I ask myself in the dark coat of the winter night, how to tell them something simple: that I am made of them. That, beyond this, something simpler.  The words and the photographs have failed and all along I had wanted only to say something simple.

Dad, of you I am made and without you I am nothing.  Son, of you I am made and without you I am nothing.

A long, such a long time to understand a small balled thing, such a long time taken to enunciate a very simple thing. It is not DNA from which a family is constructed but time, bones of time enwrapped in the skin of a heart. This,  the two of you have taught. Renegade pictures, grandiose, ineloquent words. All that banter.  All that time. All those winged memories. Such a simple, fucking thing.

All that gaining and going. All that and all that I am

and so this morning darkness spreads thin the winter light…..


241 thoughts on “bob black – bones”

  1. anonymous burn viewer

    some gorgeous photography here, bob. we waited and waited and are rewarded. good on ya.

    consistent, beautiful, heartfelt and uniquely yours.

    it would be wonderful as a small format book where you could pair the images, and where one could move along at one’s preferred pace (these slide shows are POKEY, and disabling the music and clicking one by one is still soooo slooowwww.)

    (could do without the music on this and on most essays — let the images stand on their own.)

    bob, you need an editor — if not in your photography, then in your writing. so so much, too much, who’s letting this wash over them in web-world? not many. maybe mr. harvey, maybe some of the loyalists on this blog. i assure you. we have short attention spans — what was i saying? — on the web, it’s not the place for this kind of writing. well, it is the place but not the place where one will revel in it… maybe in a printed piece you’ll have some interested readers. you sure can craft a sentence, a thought, no doubt, you’re gifted, no doubt. cut it short; challenge yourself to say what you want to succinctly. wonder if you can do it.

    all respect bob b. i’m sure the following comments will, for the most part, gush.

  2. i have been waiting a long long time to see this… and now it is here. this work is amazing to say the least. these images bob are amazing… truly breath taking…

  3. Bob…
    I’m in the car… iPhone / no flash..
    I can’t wait to go home and see this edit…
    But I have seen part of it up in Brooklyn
    and I can’t wait…I can’t wait to go in
    a real computer and see this slideshow..
    Bones in Burn.. Where it deserves to be..

  4. BOB!
    a wonderful collection of photographs. love your use of depth / reflection / refraction. you’re in a class with kyunghee lee. that’s a compliment :-)

    – j.b.

  5. BOB,

    Thank you. I really enjoyed Bones. I have to say I have been eagerly awaiting this… esp after missing the preview a while back.

    Beautiful mood, delicate alluring images.

    We are very different in that I am a man of few (written) words, but this work to me was more of an emotional or spiritual experience rather than purely visual… and words don’t really go there. It’s feeling.

    You got me! I was in your world.

    …(its actually comfier than I thought) ;)

    Boring technical note: The music stopped early (around image 30). Kind of ruined the spell a little. Can this be fixed?

    Again, grateful thanks! and congratulations on this work.

  6. I watch the grain of images float by. I read words, dense in meaning, dropping like the grey rain outside my window. I watch again. I read again. Something alights in my heart, memories perhaps. Something unthought, unseen until now. I shall return. Again and again. For I know there are hidden here truths I need to uncover. How to critique a vision? I cannot. I will not. I only hope to catch a whiff of its scent, to let it permeate my soul.

    Thank you,dear Bob, for daring to go here yourself, for reaching out your hand that we might join you. If we dare.


  7. bobbro

    i have no words to say anything about the essay in concreto, because i don’t feel i can add anything more meaningful through writing here, than you have already done with your images and words. congratulations. i experienced this as a very solid essay.

    picture all 89 (i know you must have more :-) side by side in a huge grid, say, 10 by 10 metres, hung up by steel cables, and a scaffolding at an appropriate distance to climb up and watch. in an abandonded medieval french church. with the music, and the words. naturally.


  8. O.K. I don’t get it. A bunch of fuzzy, noisy, blury high contrast images. Clearly way beyond my sophistication level.

  9. BOB ;))

    For you, for bones, I must say…
    Have no doubt. You have succeeded. Images, words and music. It all came together. Past, present and future all here. Perfectly revealed. If my words don’t convince you, I hope my pounding heart will.

  10. bob,

    breathtaking!!! thank you for making the familiar new and wonderful and mysterious.

    as dads, we are nothing without our fathers before us and our children in front of us…thanks to you and to bones for articulating this truth that’s been in my heart for the last 7 1/2 years.

    in the words of your wise and wonderful wife, “well done br. black!”

    your friend,

  11. Bob, I’ve watched your essay twice — for me it’s both haunting and soothing.

    your pictures – moody. mysterious. your music – exquisite.

    your words, I will read again and let sit for awhile…

    congratulations mate! (heavy on the aussie accent, just for you bob black)

    p.s. I agree with James Chance on image #33

  12. What would have been surprising, Jim, is if you had you said anything but what you did. Jim, try something new… take a different way to work tomorrow, spend a day without your glasses, try a meal with wine instead of beer, go to a museum, read a piece of poetry. Life’s too short to be spent locked in a box.


  13. Bob, I like to make a short note first. I am following this blog for a long time – on and off again. You were there most of the time and you wrote, you wrote, you wrote. So many words I couldn’t read them all. Within all these words there were great thoughts, deep thoughts and ideas. And there was so much to discover – a real treasure! I blame my lazy eye, my cerebral limitations. So I missed much of the discussion about your essay “bones of time”. Some of the images I have seen before, but I never went into it really. Today I looked at these images with a reasonably fresh or perhaps new or innocent eye – more or less.
    Bob, this is an honest answer, my very personal answer. In my life I have seen many pictures, but this series of images really made me scared. I felt afraid. These strong contrasts of black and white, these faces, that I couldn’t see, this heavy music from ancient times, from a mystic, almost tragic past – it gave me the creeps.
    The music stopped at image 37 – my slow web connection. Silently the images continued. The mood stays heavy and I remember some of the images and my uneasyness with them when I saw them the first time. Perhaps it is my own fear? So, it was hard for me to continue until the end. Is it my own past? Bob, I am almost too afraid to look again.
    Please excuse me that I haven’t read your text, I didn’t read it, because I simply wanted to see the images without a comment. See what they do.
    Heavy stuff. My gut feeling tells me there is so much depth behind this essay. And I can only guess what is behind. Your images sent me on a roller-coaster ride that I rarely had before. Not from images so far. Certainly something that is not easy to digest.
    I would like to finsih my comment with something light, but I have no adequate words. Sorry.
    Thank you very much for this essay and thank you for your courage and your seriousness!
    I love this blog so much because of people like you Bob!

  14. Seriously, I guess I don’t understand it either. At what point do my images move from blurry and noisy to “art”? When it’s published, recognized/picked up by an editor? Do I have to be consistent?

  15. Lawrence and James, I think Bob would be the first to say that his work in image and word will not speak to everyone. In fact it will speak to a distinct minority of folks. And that implies no value judgement of either photographer or viewer. We just see things differently. And that is as it should be. How boring it would be if we were in lock step, here on Burn or in the world at large. Yes, we can try to expand our vision but we don’t need to become someone other than ourselves.


  16. Reimar…
    You just reminded me that old silent movie..
    “Jean D’Arc”…
    When I first seen it as a kid..
    I had nightmares.. and I developed a Fear
    for silent movies in general..
    Even Charlie Chaplin with all his funny movies..
    couldn’t remove the creepy feeling that I developed
    in my early years..( especially the scene that set
    Jean D’Arc on fire… The scary faces of those priests/judges…
    I know what you mean.. Like the feeling I get in a circus
    when I see a clown.. Any clown
    can freak me out.. Even now ,
    in my 40ies…
    But I have to admit that
    Jean D’Arc is a masterpiece…
    And bob’s world or subconcious is like that..
    Not the “easiest” or “safest” world to get into…
    Bob also belongs to that category of tormented artists..
    Like Nick Cave or Hunter T…
    or kurt Cobaln.. or even F.Nietzche…

  17. Well done bob, nice slide show. I was sceptical when I watched the first few images, I didn’t have my sound turned up, so didn’t realise there was music that went with the slide show. So I watched again with the volume up. The images went well with the music, it felt dark and passionate.

    I’m not sure if all of the images would hold up on their own as individual shots but as part of a body of work with great music they work well. This was obviously your intention. I’ve yet to read all of your words that go with it, sat at my desk at work so will spend some time this evening reading over it and watching again.

    Above all it had a clear theme and abstract style that ran all the way through the show. The people around you truly mean a lot to you as this piece demonstrates.



  18. Holy, you can write…and shoot! You have made my evening. You’ve taken me on a beautiful journey of poetry, raw images of grain and emotion. You’ve made the bones talk, you’ve awakened them. They dance in your photographs and I can almost feel their vibration. As much as your images are romantic, there is this lingering feeling of void and an awkwardness that makes me want to pull away. Almost afraid that there is this hand that will come out and grab my arm and pull me in. I think that’s why it all works. Your way of shooting, the grain, the black and the white – no need for greys, your alternate medium of the images (35mm or square), your honesty…it’s what it is and I think it is absolutely great. So when does the book come out?

    Thanks Bob.

  19. for me this just doesn’t work as an online presentation. i can see how it might work as prints or a book, but online, no.

    too many pictures for a start. i mean after 15-20 images, i didn’t really need to see anymore. i can imagine how the repetition in style/subject could work in a “real life” situation – anyone who saw Antoine D’Agata’s show at the Photographers Gallery in London will have seen how powerful a wall of images can be. but as a drip feed of photographs this left me cold.

    i feel that this is an example of how the internet isn’t a particularly great medium for showing photographs or even writing. I have to confess Bob that I flick past the majority of your written posts on Burn because I haven’t got the time or energy to read them, particularly on a screen! I will however regularly read a broadsheet newspaper from cover to cover.

    the internet (for me anyway) demands a more succint final product. for me this beats around the bush until there are no leaves left.

  20. It makes me sick. I’ve thrown my whole life away. I’ve gone the wrong way. Bad decisions. No decisions.
    These photographs make me mad. Bob has feelings. I ignored mine. Ignorance.

  21. Ben, I have to agree about those long comments.
    I have no time to read the above explanation either.
    After the 10th image I had enough. I quickly went to see
    the last 10 and there was no change. Repetition.
    It is like seeing the same photo 60 times.
    Mr Bob why the name bones? With all my respect but it
    make no sense.

  22. i’m with you ben. 100%. and the first poster. too too many photos for a presentation like this. although there are at least 20 excellent pix.

    re: bob’s writing above and in the comments. he’s a smart smart fellow, you can tell. seems like a great guy, too, we need more people like this on the planet. no question, he’d reach a lot more people if he could focus his written thoughts more tightly, stop riffing and showing off so much, always wants to say how deeply he’s felt about x photographer for-like-ever. (it would also be nice to read just one post from bob in which he didn’t tell us how special his family is. we all have special families, don’t we?)

  23. Jay,
    with all my respect.. I don’t know u but…
    What do you mean you ignored your feelings??
    What do u mean by saying you threw your
    Whole life away????
    Sounds very interesting!!!!

  24. What is the connection between the Japanese portrait and the prehistoric skeletons?
    I’m not trying to be sarcastic at all. I’m trying to get it but I need some help from the photographer here.

  25. Charleees!!!
    Is it raining or snowing in Seattle ????
    You know you have to post a “Felix”
    slideshow soon…;-)))

  26. BOB

    Fantastic- I can see a HUGE difference between your preliminary set that you sent me a while back and this edit. I’ve never seen the ROM look so mysterious, even when I was a kid running through those old halls and up and down the stairs near that huge totem pole.

    My personal favorites are 13, 26, 28, 42, 47, 48, 51. Especially 13, which I think is a killer shot, and 51 in which the dino actually looks like some humanoid skeleton with really long arms stretched out!

    I will add that I had some jazz blasting while I was watching, and it just made your photos seem even more lyrical! In fact I think your vision and style are not dissimilar from how a jazz virtuoso performs. May I suggest you watch your essay with “Free Day” playing (by the Yellowjackets)???? The live version would be even cooler (on their “25 Live” album).

    Congratulations, and of course “hugs”!


  27. Memories as the skeleton of our life when we remember it. Sometimes like monsters stalking through our minds, dinosaurs they are. – “Bones of Time” is a perfect title to your essay. Didn´t get it at once, but then read the intro. That was tough and I still don´t understand everything but nevertheless it opened your essay to me – and the title.
    Why should this essay need editing? As this is a journey through Bob´s world, this is what he wants to say- or (in my understanding of the intro) struggles to say. For me it´s absolutely not too long. Memories come and go. Bob shows them as mighty and raw creatures. In addition the photos of the dinos please me all as highly asthetic. If the beautiful woman in 06 and 50 is your wife, Bob, then I´m moved that she appears a little bit sharper in your mind then others… Even the at first glimpse “totally blurred and fuzzy pictures” reveal a hint the more you look at them. They fit into it – whereas it appeared to me as helpful to look at them in thumbnail size. Also interesting (for me)that a smaller picture reveals more …
    I think it´s irrelevant if an essay here is being rated as “works better in print”. Burn is an online forum. Surely every essay shown here will have a different look in print – so what?
    I found I could scroll through the images like through the pages in a book, just by going through the thumbnails and enlarge pictures here and there just like to finding references in a book.
    We do have this opportunity to play with this (and other) essays online. You don´t like the music – turn it off. I did. Why bother?
    Thank you Bob for sharing this and for your courage to do so. It is mind opening, an unexpected but a journey revealing so rich insights.
    It´s like apnoe diving. In the beginning you don´t make great depths because the pressure on your ears is to high. Once you stop trying to balance the pressure by swallowing and start to leave your ear channel constanly open -you get deep down. Your essay demands and teaches openess.

  28. I think you are becoming a bit of a parody of yourself James. Seriously. I dont even really care that you disliked it but this “critique”…about the laziest critique Ive seen on here or anywhere. Open the box Jim, photography isnt only about the literal.

  29. So I should lie and say I like it to sound sophisticated? An entire essay of fuzzy, grainy, high contrast images seems lazy to me.

  30. Riffing and showing off. Great description. Exactly my reaction to the words. I kept thinking that the writer was trying to overwhelm me with the sheer quantity of words, trying to substitute vocabulary for content.

  31. how is it lazy? Why are you so adamant that a TECHNIQUE is lazy? Its a technique or rather an artistic license. You seem stuck in the literal. Would you call d’Agata lazy? He too has grainy, fuzzy images. If you dont like it nobody is going to ram it down your throat, but a one liner with a sarcastic tone for a critique is what is lazy in my mind. Looking at this essay, it is obvious to me that a) a lot of work was put into it and b)a lot of thought was put into it and finally c)it is the result of a deliberate and thought out artistic approach. These are things that take years to develop. Theres a real authorship here, like it or not, its your choice, but calling it lazy is lazy.

  32. Ah Jim, it’s one thing to offer a well-considered critique of a photo essay and quite another just to call it lazy. Besides how in the world could you look at these photos and read the text and even think of the word “lazy”? But now I’m guessing you probably didn’t look beyond the first few photos and didn’t read a word of the text. If that is so, my friend, who is the lazy one?


  33. Well said Ben.

    For me, all content on the web needs to be more succinct and better edited. There is so much photography related noise on the web these days that it’s making people completely tune out. What responsibility do the ‘new’ editors and curators have in making this noise manageable for the audience?

  34. shapes..
    I immediately get a sense of past..
    past lives..
    make me believe…
    and gentle..
    yet peaceful…
    your visual diary..
    thanks for sharing…
    haven’t read your text yet, as I like the images to speak to ME…
    and now I will read your text and hear what you saw…

  35. First and foremost, let me say a simple and succinct thing:


    Originally, I had wanted to wait a day or two before writing beneath Bones. It feels a bit awkward to write about one’s one work, for the work itself and the words that accompany work, for me, are the instruments through which i’ve tried to tell a very simple, verbose as it is, story. However, what I cherish about photography and ideas, what I value about contact, what I love about this awkward and sloppy life is that we have one another. I promised David that when Bones was published that I would be here, engaged and interested and willing to talk about it, to answer questions, to discuss the work, to shed some light upon it’s pretty obvious failure and also to talk about what photography means to me, to answer questions and commit myself to dialog, for all photography is and all that photography has become is just that: a story by which we speak, sometimes eloquently sometimes inelegantly sometimes narcissitically, as a way to make lift and luft of our lives and passing ways. I’ve read all the comments and appreciate all and will try as best I can to answer and to talk about all your thoughts, both the supportive and the critical, but as usual, a digression…..

    I want to say a word about David and this project. A way to offer ‘context’, the story behind this story and what it means to me as a way, if interested, for people to not necessarily like (that isn’t that important, ’cause we all like and dont like shit) but to get a glimpse into the way another photographer things and works and reconciles pictures and editing and writing and transformation. This story, and it is a simple essay that was made exclusively for David and for Road Trips originally. I have not tried to publish the work, in full or parts, nor have I tried to exhibit the work without David knowing about what I was doing because this work was made specifically for three people: my son, my father and david and was born of David’s call for photographers to shoot an assignment for Road Trips and so I did. Here is that story:

    Last april, I returned to the US to attend my younger brothers’ wedding. I was excited and nervous as it marked not only the first time that I would travel without my wife and son since our marriage, but also it was to be the first time that I was to see my father since I’d been married and moved to Canada. My father has had years and I was afraid that I would be crestfallen when i’d seen him. In O’hara airport, I sent David an email and told him was i was experiencing and that I had decided to take only 1 of my cameras, my Lomo LC-A and a single roll of Tri-x, 36 frames, that is all, that is all I allowed myself and I wanted to photograph, i did not yet know, what that trip meant. I went, I photographed, my heart wobbled, wearied and was broken. I stayed in North Carolina for 3 days. On the morning I was to leave, my wife informed me that my son and a friend, the day before, had been mugged at knife point in front of his elementary school, on a bright and clear Sunday afternoon. There was nothing I could do but crawl and carve the frustration and fear and sense of failure (i was gone when my son was hurt) as a father and that elemental fear, the same fear that my entire life I have worked hard to protect my father from feeling. I was 1,000 miles away from my son and I had to wait nearly 14 hrs to see him. when i returned late that night, both my wife and son were asleep, and i just over the lip of my son’s bedroom’s doorway and listen to him breath, and i cried, for, cried for my father and for my son. That night, I decided that I would make a story about my father and my son, but I did not yet know what it would be.

    3 weeks passed, and David announced that he wanted photographers to ‘tell a story’ to tell him about an ‘assignment’ that they wanted to do for Road Trips, as a way of branching off Road Trips into producing work for the blog, dedicated work. Initially, I wanted to do a story on Chris Anderson’s Magnum Workshop for the toronto Contact festival, shoot it differently that it had ever been shot before, but the more i thought, the more time I started to write about my son and father, I realized that I wanted to make the story about my son, the new ROM museum, about bones, and about my own childhood memories at the National Museum of History in NY, a museum I’d spent a lot of time in as a child and a place my own father had taken me to in a profound time of crisis in my family’s life. So, I wrote David and started to shoot. The first day my son was to meet me, he was 3 hrs late, and within the recent moment of his assault, i instinctually paniced: ‘fuck, what now has happened to dima…”…i was, at first, angry (the pompous photogrpahy shit), then worried, then just flat out scared as my son is a pretty punctual guy….i called home, he was gone, out. so, in a moment of odd panic, i walked into the museum and started to photograph, alone. later, he told me he’d just forgot. I continued to go back to the museum 4 more times, 2 times with him and 1 time with students and 1 more time alone….after the 2nd trip, i realized that the story was changing, as i shot differently, as I thought and reacted differently, as I watched my son and others, as i photogrpahed without him, as i photographed students and strangers and children and myself….i realized that this story wouldn’t be the literal story i’d originally intended to photograph, but something different…parts of which are connected to my entire life’s work (faces, memory, self-portraits, negotiation of sight, blindness)….even now, i see parts of this story that you see before you as just that a failure…..

    you should know also that i am legally blind….thought that isn’t the reason why much of my pictures are blurry, or the focus or depth of field is skewed….those reasons are for another day….

    i spent only 4 weeks shooting….and then i did not develop the film for almost 2 months…but I started to write the ‘story’/essay that i knew would accompany the photogrpahs….part of which you see above….later, i developed the pics, scanned the negatives, and begin the wrestling/editing/fighting alone….

    I used 5 cameras: old 35 mm, Lomo LC-A, Holga, Diana and a pin-hole camera. I shot all Tri-x and the negatives are pretty much cooked….i wanted, stupid ambition, to make a story not only about my own memories within a limit time (3 weeks, limited rolls of film, 4 locations, etc) but about the conditions of making a document, testing the what a picture carries and what different cameras can do, what all that I was feeling and seeing, the archaeology of memory….a failure….

    let me just say this (i know this has been long winded, i just returned from a friends exhibition), Bones is a complete failure. I can’t even look at it anymore. In fact, I have not looked at it tonight because I am afraid that I will loathe it. Every photography I have ever taken has disappointed me, every essay and story and body of work that I have made (and that’s a lot of shit) has disappointed me, it is the nature of photogrpahy and our ambition to fail. The essay is too long, the photographs are too clausterphobic, there are not enough enviornmental pics, or pics with middle distance and far-distances, the story is too hermetic and of all the pics that i made as a cut, i ‘feel’ now only 5. I am not writing this as an apology but as an explanation. failure is the reason why we all continued, why we all burst our pulpy selves to make something of our lives, of the goodness and the sadness around us. I photograph only because I know how to do a couple of things and I continue to try. My life’s legacy is for my wife and son, to be good and to make work that speaks upon what this meant to me and how things tilted and tossed and tanked.

    I am so happy to talk and engage with you all, which i’ll try to do as best i can over the next couple of days. I APPRECIATE GREATLY all your comments and criticisms, it means a great deal to me. And please do not thing that I disdain or discourage negative points of view. There is not a single commentator who could write as negatively about the work as I often feel about it and your insights and concerns and comments mean a great deal to me. I’ll try to answer as best as I can.

    A word about the ‘LONG’ text…it’s a fragment. I’ve written a long essay and I bombarded Burn and David with it. The entire written essay is long long, but it was written to be part of a book, not an internet site and so, god bless David, I dropped it upon y’all. I am so thankful for your patience….

    And DAVID: THANK YOU SO MUCH for this amazing opportunity, not only to show the work, both the written and the photogrpahic, but to allow me this unfettered opportunity. the ‘length’ of this work was part of the trial, and I cannot thank you enough for the largess of your spirit and trust in me. You mean the world to the 3 of us….and this sloppy mess is for you! :))

    All the failures of length are mine, .


  36. ANONYMOUS :))))

    thank you so much for your kind and generous and patient thoughts. YES, i do need an editor…how about a 1/2 dozen ;))))….

    the text is is an excerpt from a very long essay i’ve written, written as part of a book. It was my decision to submit this long long version, knowing full well that most people would not have the patience, or endurance or interest to finish it. Mostly stupid vanity on my part, but i also did want to challenge the readership of websites….it is true that most people don’t want to read this kind of thing on the web…nor see an essay with 50 plus pictures….and I totally get that….

    but i still read long essays on the web and im still a succor for long photo essays and i guess that’s part of the vanity, to offer something different…

    by the way, i have a 100 word version, which i submitted for a grant…i guess i could have submitted that ;))))….but then it wouldnt be as the same ;)))…

    thanks so much :)))


  37. amigo :))…thanks so much…sorry we missed you tonight at rita’s show :)))….anyway, i appreciate your eyes….and soon your ears :))))…


  38. Brother P :))))….

    when aren’t you in the car brother, you’re homeless! ;)))))….thanks so much and well, whenever you look at it or try to read it, make sure the cobpipe is close at hand, makes more sense then :))))


  39. James :)))

    thanks so much…i think the poster frame is now up (i see it on this computer)….anyway, originally, i wanted the music to stop dead before the ending and finish in silence, so if that worked, well…if not, no biggie…I appreciate that if it makes sense, the spiritual side, than i’m pleased :))))….a kind of living in the cemetary with joy ;))))…hugs, bob

  40. thanks so much Patricia :)))))>..i appreciate that a great deal…now, if i can get you some wine and a wide sky, and just some sweet sifting grass-seraphins, oh the world would be large :)))))….im happy we’re there together for the ride :)))….hugs, bob

  41. anton :)))….that’s it little brother….with david’s horizontal train, it’s all good :))))))….thanks for all the effort and help you provided….u r the key….hugs, bob

  42. akaky akakievich:, yea, that’s the problem with old cameras and range finders…and that damn pesky overcoat that keeps getting in sight of view ;))))))….hows the grammar in the writing? ;))))))))…hugs, bob

  43. Are you familiar with the book,
    ‘Art and Fear’ by David Bayles and Ted Orland???
    If not,
    I recommend it for you…..

  44. Jim :)))…

    I totally appreciate your point of view. Same with Lawrence’s. In fact, I’m not offended or bothered at all. I think that is interesting how people not only view photography but discuss it. The great irony about photography, and it still seems to be the ONLY form a communication (let alone art form) that still often gets pigeon-holed by a nomenclature of precepts. In other words, many many many photographers view work or tackle work in a dismissive way if it isnt their cup of tea. I find this peculiar and Odd. I dont mean that I find your reaction dismissive. I, as far as I can tell, understand that you tend to like a specific ‘type’ of photography (can i make this a question of genres) but quite often adverse to others. I believe you mentioned having work for a newspaper or having been a newspaper photographer and editor. I totally understand and am also a product of that training. I was a writer for a newspaper when i was younger, 3 actually, and I shot for a newspaper as well, though i didnt consider my photographs anything except ‘dressing’ for the stories i was writing. At the time, photography wasn’t the center of my life (though I loved it), for at that time writing and painting was. But, I used to spend alot of wet lunches and wet dinners with our 2 editors (one who’d was a retired editor from the Detroit Free Press, the other from the NYTimes), 65 and 71. What i used to ask them then was a simple question:

    why is it that we value in writing or music or art or fashion or story telling the richest variety possible. We celebrate Joyce and we celebrate the mystery novel, we applaud the great historical non-fiction best seller and the poetry of Paul Celan. We love classical music and hip hop or folk or bluegrass or jazz or samba or rock and roll. We love someone who speaks as eloquently as Obama and we love the great drunk whose tells the hairy-balled story about fucking the neighbor’s lamp. We celebrate the richness of expression and we do not categorize nor denegrate based on these differences. and yet, in photography, we tend to do this, particularly in documentary photography. Why is this? My story is not journalism, though it is not stage. My story is not reportage though it was taken from the life arround. It is a form of story telling for me, and the same is true with the writing.

    It is true, that my photographs look a certain way, but this is the way i feel an image. It might help or not that I was a painter before, and I love texture, i love abstraction, I love that photography is as much abut what you do not see, but what actual moments suggests, for an image is an invention, a contrived and constructed object that, for some, duplicates reality, for others, mimics reality as a way to speak and for others offers a simply physical object as a way of suggesting something: memory, time, moment, emotional, spirit, boredom, whatever. I should also let you know that my entire life has been about BLINDNESS. I was born with a rare disease, Coates disease (i will put up links tomorrow of photogrpahs of the inside of my blind eye). As a child, i struggled with sight (though now i see fine, with glasses in one of my eyes) and i have been obsessed with that question: how do we see, what is it we see, the way we see….so, in a sense, the ‘look’ of my photographs (fuzzy, noisy, blury, high contrast) is part of the emotional impact of my disease and questioning sight. by the way, the ‘noisy’ problem is because i always over ‘sharpen’ the scanned negatives. my prints are NOT NOISY but filled with lots of grain….the contrast comes from not only how i shoot but the light i choose to shoot in and the way i develop the negatives. I do not mean anything by this, except that it is the language by which i’ve chosen to express the act of seeing.

    Photogrpahy is a lie upon which we’ve built a lot and for me, it doesn’t work. I mean I LOVE, as you know, the entire spectrum of photography, but i dont feel my pictures when they’re clear, when they’re technically strong. in fact, increasingly, im less interested in these technical perfections, increasingly as digital cameras and new/improved glass makes everything sharper, cleaner, clearer…i find it a ruse….but that’s only me….

    and by the way, i hope you know that I do not think it has anything to do with ‘sophistication”…shit, my work is not for everyone…in fact, it’s often not for me…imagine that struggle my friend….but, i do know HOW to make pictures and i have alot of shit in my head (photographs, techniques, experience, background), and the choices i’ve made as a photographer are just about the way i see and process and feel the world…

    it sure aint pretty, no doubt….but it’s me…


  45. thanks so much marc :)))))…and im ready to go looking for children’s books for the little one and take in a few museums…and i wont bring my cameras :))))…see u monday


  46. thanks so much kerry :)))))…i’ll check tomorrow on image 33…i cant remember which one it is now, and i dont want to look at the essay tonight…will friday…but, i have no doubts that you 2 are gith :))))…..

    let the words sit…they mean as much to me as the pictures :))))

    keep the accent thick ;))))


  47. Reimar :))))

    thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment. please do not worry about what you say, i appreciate and value it very much. In truth, this essay IS ABOUT FEAR…as i wrote earlier tonight, it came from something that I saw when i saw my father, and also after my son was attacked but also the fear about losing things….so, yes, this is very much about my own fears, as a son, as a father, as person…as a photographer….and well…I am just so thankful that you expressed your feelings and your reaction…i’ve never cared too much whether someone likes what i photograph or write so much as have they given me their honest feelings….good or bad, happy or frightful, did it sit somewhere inside ….

    that’s the most valued part for me and i am humbled that you feel so much emotion as to write :)))

    thanks so much

  48. Richard :)))

    Thank you very much. I agree that there are not alot of ‘great’ single photographs. In fact, for me, maybe there are only 5 pictures that i really like and would include with the body of my life’s work. but, i never shoot for ‘singles.’ I tend to always work in ‘essays’ or ‘stories’ or collisions.

    You see, before i was a photographer, i was a writer, a poet, and writers tend, or at least i do, to work through relationship between words, between sentences. same was true with painting: in series. my younger brother damon was also a great great painter and what i loved about his work is the sequential nature. the same is true with how i photograph: i never think ‘oh, great picture, shoot it.’ I tend to react visually and emotionally to people and places and ideas and then after i’ve developed the negatives, i try to see how they are related and construct a story. I am not a journalist or spot news reporter or even a typical documentary decisive-moment (i hated this about hcb) photographer. I think and work very differently. I work in moments, in collision, in stories and pictures that speak or spoke to me about something. In fact, i have shown this work here, as it is, as an example of an antithesis to what most documentary stories are about. I wanted collision and failure. I also wanted (and want) to see how much an image can stand up juxtaposed with other images.

    I’ll never never be the photographer who ‘got it right.’ NEVER. I just dont think like that and I dont ‘compose’ pictures. for me, photographs make sense in their relationship with other pictures. that’s why, yes, most of the photographs in this essay are not ‘great’ pics…maybe even not ‘keepers’….but, as i said, for me, photography is about collision, and opposition and telling stories through not single images, nor single moments, but a collision of things….

    so, yea, i totally get what you’re saying, cmpletely :)))


  49. Aislinn :)))

    thanks so much and i appreciate that so much…and cant wait to marina and i and dima come to montreal again :)))….the book…who knows….who knows if Bones can be a book….i dont know…but i am doing my best to make a writing book a reality and a photo book too, of what part bones will be, who knows….maybe only 5 pics from this, maybe all, maybe none….

    that’s the great thing about life, always change, always unknown :)))

    thanks so much

  50. Ben:

    I hear you and totally understand. without being flippant, i have to tell you that i think it’s your loss to flip through what has been written here. I dont mean that in a patronizing way, I mean it’s odd to me that you discriminate between a broadsheet (cover to cover, really Ben??) and rich, vital language. I mean I still read the London Review of books (not cover to cover) on the web. I think you are right about it’s length vis-a-vis the web. However, this was my intention. Im testing the possibility. While it is true that the average attention span for web surfers is practically nill, i am curious to see if it’s a viable possibility that people will stick around and read something this long, and this is only an excerpt. It wasn’t written for Burn or the web. It’s a part of a book im writing, a chapter, this was born from the essay. this isn’t an artist’s statement, but a juxtaposition of the story, a reimagining of language face up again the potency or flaccidity of the photographs. and, it’s totally cool tha you blow by what i write, god save anyone who has the patience to read all i’ve written here….but i also thing it’s just as neutering to divorce yourself from the viability of the internet to provide more than just soundbits….particularly from a smart and sophisticated photographer like you.

    the essay itself is long, purposefully so. Just to give you an example, 2 weeks ago i sent 15 photographs from this series to a Photography Festival, as a way to give a succinct story, a photographic representation. BUT, that is not what i wanted to do here, at Burn. God bless David for putting up with me and my vanity. I deliberated wanted to offer a long piece of writing, believing that probably most would a) not read it or b) think it was shite or c) find it self-indulgent and verbose (guilty). ditto the essay itself. I wanted to show something DIFFERENT.

    Yes, i know d’agata’s shows and my wife and i do the same with our work and that was part of my intention. yes, it’s not the same effect as sticking pictures on a wall (done that) or in between pages (done that) but i wanted do try something new: to offer a long story full of repetitions and motifs and failures and something else and see if it sticks. I think it fails, absolutely. I realize that as an internet essay, people aren’t able to stick with it because if there is any potency with the imagery it is formed by it’s collective identification and that just works much better in an exhibit or a book….

    but, i’ve never been a clean photographer and i’ve never been interested in clean, simple things…i always want to challenge, readers, viewers and above all myself….

    so, yes, i totally agree with you Ben about the length being unfit for web consumption for most people…..but for some, they’re willing to ride it….and that’s good with me….

    no leaves left? ;)))))….take the time to read what i wrote, maybe some leaves left unswept ;)))

    cheers ben, thanks for the input

  51. bryan:

    it’s all noise, 1 photo or 100. the audience can always stop and log off shift away. I think there is something to be said for a clean edit, this isn’t it surely. believe it or not, i can edit and can produce a story in 10 pics, but this was something else. i think the ‘responsibility’ for noise isn’t the editor’s at all. it’s our choices. if we grow bored at pic 1, or pic 20 or pic 200, we just leave.

    hope that makes sense

  52. hey frank :))

    repetition: yes, that’s the point. not true with all my work, but this one was about that, repetition, in words and pics. the name bones:

    it’s in the last paragraph in the excerpt….but also: about dinosaur bones and bones of family,….what else should i say?…it would only be repetitious ;)))


  53. congratulations dad….thanks a bunch…take your time…the japanese portraits are the only ones i feel now….the rest, i guess, who knows….enjoy the words when you can :)))


  54. Victoria:

    I lived in Asia as a child, first face i remember, asian nanny, first color green, first language mandarin, and im still haunted by this, which also has to do with my parents…but that’s another story….and well, there is more to it than that, but then i guess i’d be explaining the story and pics and i’ve done enough writing…im sounding like a broken record…;)))

    thanks for asking

  55. Bob

    In light of the background you have provided and the revelation that you feel this project is
    a failure what,if you can, do you feel might have made it a ‘success’ ?

    If you check out my website it’s pretty clear that I react,photographically,in a much more literal
    way to a subject so it goes without saying that your abstracted view of things
    is difficult for me to get a handle on and embrace. No big deal. Different strokes!

    I will say,though that your piece worked well,as a whole, in tandem with the musical score
    that accompanied it and,in that regard, I would call it a success even though I
    don’t really ‘get it’,if that makes any sense.
    The music help solidify a somewhat mysterious and somewhat melancholic mood even though I
    couldn’t latch onto any real theme.

    Keep running,

  56. thanks Asher :)))

    it’s now very very late…and i’ve written enough already….so just a big thanks and hugs…we’ll go together when you come….and yea, jzz….i’ll look for Free Day tomorrow and test drive it with the pics :)))

    hugs, indeed

  57. Niklas :)))

    thanks so much for trudging through the words…i also write when i shoot and i guess that’s different that most photographers…my words are never meant to EXPLAIN the photos just as my photos are never meant to enhance the words, but instead they, for me, come at the same problem from different angles…and i cant separate the 2…

    i am a writer and i am a photographer…and so, i dont think one makes sense without the other…who knows…

    but thank you so much for your beautiful and thoughtful response…

    it means alot to me


  58. Hi Mark :)))

    I think all photo projects fail, it’s the nature of the medium and the conundrum but also the impetus to continue. For this particular essay, I think i tried ‘too much’ to make a simply story carry much too much. First, there are not enough environmental pictures and there are not enough mid-distance and far-distance pictures: too many upclose picture, toomany portraits, too many 1 meter or less shots, too many ‘packed’ pics, not enough open space/negative space in pics. It looks to me very very clausterphobic, very closed and not terribly open. Not enough variety in the iconography or the graphic nature. So, i dont think there is enough visual diversity (close up, mid range, long range ) in the story. And i only shot this over a 3 week period + 1 day in NC. Now, if i take maybe 5 or 6 pics and stick them into other bodies of work, it makes sense to me….

    but, i did this is a specific way to try to make a repetition.

    People have complained (jim, ben, lawrence, and others) about the REPETITION and that IS THE POINT. I’ve been obsessed with what Frank does in Storylines with his rolls of film (moving film rolls), by putting them against each other, one after another. In a way, that was part of what i tried to do here: make a ‘movie’ NOT A PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAY but a FILM….that is why i put in those photographs with the Iris looking (of my son with classmates and of the korean woman)…i put my hand in front of my lens and dilated my fist so that most of the view from my camera lense was black:


    but, i guess, it didnt’ work…’cause almost no one saw or felt that or sees this essay as more a ‘movie’ than a photographic essay….fuck, now im explaining shit, ’cause im so tired ;))))…

    it fails, cause not only are there not enough great pictures, but the ideas of repetition, cinematic repetition, written repetition (notice the first and last sentence of my text) didnt seem to work, cause all it looks like is just dross….

    if i shot it again, i would spent more time photographing people and moments and feelings from mid distance and far-distance (like the 2 shots of the museum, the 1st photograph and the one toward the end)…

    but in the end, all projects, at least for me fail, because they dont seem to carry the hope i had for them….and so i begin again….and again….and again…

    the moment i make something that works, i think i’ll stop photographing….

    but, that’s why it fails for me….but, i can live with failure, because i known from which it was born :)0


  59. thanks wendy :))))

    the text is as important….i really appreciate your patience and your poetry :)))) it means a lot to me….

    now, i have to go to bed :))


  60. Jay….

    come visit, we’ll drink together and we’ll chat about throwing things away :)))…i’ve got fucking baskets of that ;)))….we all got what we got and brother, i detect a swell of feelings there, not ignore ;)))….

    whiskey is on me :)))

  61. and one last thing jim:

    i’ve been called a lot of things but LAZY sure aint one of them….in fact, i often find it lazy to rely on the technological tools as they are in photography, and i’m obsessed with challenging these tools…not only what a picture should look like (and this essay is pretty ‘realistic’ looking for my work) but also HOW TO SHOW;

    last year, i exhibited a suite of photographs, printed small, 5×7, put them in a box, closed the box….viewers couldnt even see the photographs unless they opened the box…and then, god forbid, THEY COULD TOUCH, SCRATCH, MOVE the pictures as they wanted….so, not only do i try to think about and challenge how pics are made but also how to exhibit them, how to write about them, how to show them….

    it’s part of the fun and the challenge….believe it or not, i do know about sharpness and development and focal distances and exposure and all that….but, at some point, each person becomes the photographer they are through an abacus of experience and reason…and i totally feel you if you find it boring or repetitive or ‘easy’…(is every picture really blurry?, well try shooting with trix in low light, boiling the negatives and see what happens: the pictures look like newsprint ;)) )…it’s all planned, not lazy….

    but i am lazy about one thing for sure:

    cleaning my desk…..or exercising in winter ;)))


  62. Bob mate!!!!!
    that’s cracked, splintered, sun bleached (& charred) poetry!!!! Profound, extraordinary, provocative, challenging, brave, solitary (amidst), unique & multi-dimensional.

    Your series, for me anyway, isn’t just about individual images creating a unique narrative, the overwhelming ‘dark’ emotions I’m left spiralling in (like your screaming terradactils circling on their own eddies) is this inter-related nuance, current/flow/stream of energy…this near, distant ‘call.’
    They strike their own cords, all catatonic and light-smashed, resonating outside of their respective individual frames and crashing quite simply, into & through each other – in very dizzying ways. Memory, collective encryptions & coding, spinal chords, time, love, fear, loss, death, life, the transitory and fleeting….reminders, nebulous oceanic emotion….(& questions, yeah, and ideas).

    Love frames 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 27, 27, 27, 27, 27, 27, (I want one :-))))) 35, 38….etc….v.much appreciate their abstraction (in the best sense of the word)….Hiroshima skies…..’the call’ is abstract, nothing’s much ‘making sense’…and that’s ‘the sense’ I respond to, one of the senses (for me anyway).

    ‘And I’m sorry for us

    The dinosaurs roam the earth

    The sky turns green

    Where I end and you begin

    I am up in the clouds

    I am up in the clouds

    And I can’t and I can’t come down

    I can watch and cant take part

    Where I end and where you start”

    Congratulations!!!! Bravo!!! And thanks!!!

  63. Siddhartha Hajra

    I must say this is a beautifully crafted essay! Really commendable display of artistry! Great choice of music to go along with the essay too! Cheers Bob! :)

  64. I don’t really live in the box you might think I do. It’s abstract art that hangs on my walls (not photography, I prefer photography in book form). I shoot everything from straight PJ stuff to fine art (my last gallery show was a 40 image show in January). But I do think photography should have a certain box around it, lest it become unidentifiable as photography. It’s the photograph’s ability to render the world with some clarity (although certainly not truthfulness) that prevents it from devolving into simply pan-everything-ism. Photography is pretty unique in the digital age. An oil and brush painting can never become a photograph, can never be starkly realistic in the same way a photo can. A painting is always an interpretation, it cannot put a frame around an actual moment in time. A photo can do that, but it can also become as abstract and interpretive as a painting. I just think photography should do what it does best, not just become a tool of abstraction for frustrated artists who found it a shortcut to “art.” (And I’m not saying at all that you have done that)

    More specifically, though, I don’t like photography that is abstracted in such a personal way that the artist’s message is no longer accessible to the viewer. And that’s how I react to your essay. Even with context, projected in a window here on Burn, even with all the words, your photos seem to much a private vision for me to ever understand what you are saying. I don’t look at other’s photography to understand myself, I look at photography to try and understand the artist. Increasingly, as photography becomes common, it seems that the way photographic artists choose to separate their work from the crowd is to make it more abstract – fuzzy, grainy, contrasty, – or so personal that it communicates nothing to the viewer.

    And that’s the problem I have with your work. Your vision has become so personal that it is beyond my reach as an observer. Perhaps that’s my lack of sophistication in the “art world.” My lack of interest in trying to interpret symbols. But it is where I’m at in looking at photography.

  65. My initial impression of this essay was not good; I found the grain and level of abstraction extremely irritating and a strain on the eyes – especially considering the length of this essay when compared to previous submissions on Burn. I felt for those who questioned the physical appearance of the photos themselves and agreed with what Ben said regarding the sheer volume of photos.

    However, when I viewed the essay full screen and at a distance of between six to eight meters it had an entirely different effect. At this distance, the length of the essay was to its credit and the images made sense to me. In one respect, they reminded of old black and white photos from books on ghost sightings, which I think complements the conception behind this essay and what it has to say about ‘memory’ and ‘seeing’. Perhaps the grain and abstraction are not a problem for some people when viewed up close, but, for my part, I would strongly urge people try to view these at a variety of distances and see if it changes their perception of the work.

    Thank you for this, Bob – it’s made me think differently about this type of work.


  66. We all fail. And we all get the blues after finsihing a photographic body of work. Moments that were missed, ideas that didn’t turn out the way we intended, compositions that simply didn’t work.
    However I feel that failure is also a success. You have achieved something. And Bob, you certainly have achieved something very special! Perhaps it turned out a little different from what you expected. But you have tried, you have learned something, you stepped outside, you gave it a try. This is the most important aspect.
    I look at it this way: In the first place you have to go on a race track in order to win the race. If you don’t go to the start, you will never know whether you can finsih or win the race. It doesn’t matter if you win, become 2nd, 3rd or last. You took part in the race and that deserves the most respect!
    To me, your work is perfectly okay the way it is. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
    We are humans.
    Please feel free to fail!

  67. bob

    i don’t doubt that there is some good stuff written here, but i just can’t stand reading large pieces of text off a screen!! it’s that simple…

    and also, its SO frustrating trying to look at photographs in an online slideshow form which dictates that pace for me. i can handle it for around 30 photographs of a compelling subject, but after that i really struggle.

    i don’t have any solution to this… i mean my own website has some sections with 44 images in a series – but at least there is a thumbnails option…


  68. I can see what you’re getting at about it being a film, but I do concur with others that it doesn’t work in its current form, on this website. But then I got thinking when you mentioned it being a film, and wondered if if were possible for you to convert it into an AVI file, or maybe an MP4 and offer the file for download? If it were possible, I could stick the file onto a thumbdrive, plug the drive into my DVD player, and watch it on television (with the soundtrack coming through something other than my laptop’s crap speakers); or, if it were an MP4, I (and others) could watch it on their iPod, their PSP, even their cell phone.

    Television is more immersive because when you’re watching television there is no bookmark bar, no “File – Edit – View” menus, no plugins, no general computer desktop clutter. Immersion is what I think you need, here, because you’ve provided a lot of images, a lot of text, and clearly a lot of thought has gone into that. It may be asking a lot to expect people to watch it on the screens they use to edit work, write emails, and whatever else. I, certainly wouldn’t be able to sit through it (and haven’t tried) on this laptop, because I don’t use it in that way.

    Jumping slightly to the subject of “what the web is used for”, I have to say that I no longer read broadsheets as I can no longer buy them, living as I do in China. So, even when I do get the urge to read them cover to cover (it happens), I can’t. But I do read a lot online. Some of it I read on my laptop, amidst the clutter, some of it I “print” as PDF files, allowing me to read using an eBook reader, and some of it I save and simply print off as an actual hard copy when I have access to a printer. But in short, as someone who doesn’t always have the option of getting hold of paper copies of what he wants to read, I am heavily reliant on the internet both as a source of information and also as a medium for transmitting that information.

    In this case, though, I want a file I can download, as if it has audio and has 100 (?) photographs, I will not – can not – consume it on this machine. I will watch it on TV, though.

  69. There you go. A much better critique, honest and forthright, and also indepth. People may not agree (I dont agree with much of what you say about what photographgy should and shouldnt be) but atleast you put out more than a one-liner.

  70. Bob my friend,

    This has been a long time coming; all the talk and anticipated build up of Bones of Time appearing as a feature essay here on Burn. DAH, you, always reminding us that Bones was out there taking shape, messing up your head.

    You do not disappoint. The words and images are one, and they burn into me like a branding iron.

    This work is beautifully haunting and down right frightening – like the best of Poe, the gothic flows from you.

    You have shown me the post apocalypse and it’s a world I don’t want to experience.

    I agree with James Chance, you don’t need 33 in there. For me 12 is weak too.

    For some reason 16 is unforgettably perfect!

    Text: I noticed a typo in IV, first paragraph – “toe”? 4th paragraph: “A long,” – wouldn’t that read better as “A long time, such a long time…, such a long long time…” or “very long time”?

    And do you really need “fucking” in there at the end? It doesn’t seem to add anything, only that look at me, I’m cool and can swear in my writing! “Such a simple thing.” Just is more powerful and has more impact.

    I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments but I’m pleased to see that there are so many…


  71. Now you’re being too hard on yourself. Every time I edit for a show, by the time I’m through I don’t want to see the images anymore and am sure it’s all crap! Someone mentioned the book “Art and Fear.” Get it. It was from reading it that I realized that many artists share the same emotions, specifically that that the potential in the image when we click the shutter is diminished in our minds in each step as we try to make that potential real in an object we can hold in our hands.

  72. I had a look yesterday and leave the night pass by and in this sunny day I can say just three words: I like it.
    For what I feel in looking at. Of course not all the people can think and feel and see the same and I find the debate so interesting and so lively.
    I see Photography without a box, a border, without have to choose between BW or color or a format or a number of picture. It depends from what you feel in the stomach.
    If we choose all the same style or we share the same though how boring it should be.
    Of corse to sell picture to a magazine or newspapaer on has to choose a format and respect some dictat. You can’t go with 100 picture.
    Here on Burn (sometimes I found time to look at the essay or photography rarely I had the time to read the comment and never to leave a post) you don’t have to sell anything.
    When I get bored I stop looking at.
    Also if I agree that I better see this work on large large print on the wall or just standing on the air hanging on the high ceiling of a natural history museum. Printed in both side?

    So giving an occasion to look, think adnd debate… it’s of course a success.. :))
    Regarding the words.. I wait to improve my english to read it as I already said in the past :)))
    More than three words.

    I go back to scan

    P.S. I tought the same on N.33 at the first saw.

  73. Bob, I’ve been looking forward to Bones and I was not disappointed. I really liked it (or was it my late father who liked it?).

    Your writing made me work hard; reminded me of James Joyce in that you almost invent language rather than use what is already available. As with Joyce you sometimes annoy because I already get it but you keep attempting to explain. You just love words Bob!

    The photographs were the perfect accompaniment to your writing it that they are conveying thought and memory rather than the literal. They are metaphors.

    As to where Bone goes next: don’t just put it away Bob. I see Fine Art here, a book, a traveling exhibition and reviews in Sunday newspaper supplements: all willing to pay good cash money to the artist. Take the money Bob and use it to make art.

    Have you seen the magazine Photoicon? It’s a high-end photography photo-art magazine with an international audience and I can see your work on its pages.

    Thanks Bob.


  74. I hate it too! Well done brother ! I only have issue with 1 picture and it’s so out of place it sticks out like dogs balls , but apart from that as someone who has a father , wife and son there is a lot in bones that speak to me , hold up a mirror…………..and bugger it I’m going to roll a number and watch it again.

  75. And Bob, just read some of the commnetary (above)….and what to say it is silent film noir (et blanc)…frayed, raw & soulful.

    Personally, I’m not so taken by what you call the ‘mid-distance’, the ‘far-distance’ or the ‘whatever is technically f-g polished into-balance distance’ of ‘ the clear, digestible, completion technique’ – I reckon distance is a state of mind – you’ve shown that here…I tend to respond to raw, soulful, X-Rayed – often ‘difficult’ work – where the ‘niceties’, the ‘politeness’ and ‘tell you what to think/feel’ of ‘photographic whim/visual grapplings towards an ideal/aesthetic/fashion/digestablity’ don’t really mean anything when trying to stay afloat in the undulating and ever changing swell of this insane beautiful, forlorn & paradoxical trip…..certainly in the face of bruised, light-smashed & heart-felt-bleeding and searching content. And your ‘essay’ – call it what you will – is just that. This IS a success, because it’s a genuine ‘transmission.’ It’s honest. Heartfelt. And it searches. It questions!! And proposes. And reflects. And questions again. And, well, it certainly made me ‘stop’ & think (I’m working,busy & don’t normally do ‘this’ – no time), reflect, and respond. It’s nothing short of courageous!!!! And I’m not so interested in the ‘value of aesthetics’….it works & does its ‘thing’ with poetry, art, eloquence – call it what you will – AND much of your love in there to give over-exposed-atomic light to it all.
    What’s interesting for me is how little the ‘photography’ has to do with this ‘universe’ of yours, ours, (I liken it more to a sequence of X-Rays)…and that’s a compliment BTW. think that’s what I meant by ‘ill-defined borders” reaching and arriving at and to one another. Peace and continuation my friend……bravo encore!!!!!
    Cheers. Oli

  76. Ben,

    I too struggle with reading text off of a screen. If I’m going to spend time reading something (long) I like to have it on paper. And I often will print it out for my sins and lean back in my chair and read it.

    Im the same with photographs, Ive started printing out most shots that I take so that I can see it on paper and not stairing at a monitor

    weird huh?


  77. Jim: :))

    Fair enough, and thank you for that detailed response. Let me first share with you some digital photographs taken of the inside of my blind eye. this is what the inside of my blind eye looks like:


    You can click around there cause there are a few other images. They were taken 2 years ago when i had another problem with my eye and I thought I would have to have surgery or remove the eye….i’ve written about that experience in an essay and did my own photo project on eyes/seeing, but maybe, without taking up too much bandwith, that image (click around at the others) is a way to begin to ‘understand’ my vision. I cannot at the moment, as im really tired, sum up better my ideas or working methodology about photography than what the great photographer Oli has written below. I don’t put you in a box by the way, but merely tried to frame our conversation within the context of what you’ve written in the past and without knowing your work or you it’s difficult to contextualize a discussion about photography, or in this case, this particular essay. Let me say that this essay is the same and also very different from most of my work: it is indeed entirely clausterphobic, but that was the nature of the experience and the struggle with both the memories and the work and as the shooting continued, it pitched itself into that: an examination and an excavation of my own work and way of seeing myself and an attempt to wrestle with a very specific fear related to loss and time and my son and father.

    Now, as i’ve said, i came to photography from the background as a writer and from fine art and cinema. I always wanted to make movies so in a sense, my work is about movies but also paintings and poems….the work of Paul Celan is a very big part of my life, but that’s a digression. I actually disagree about photography but I respect and understand your orientation. I dont think photography should have a box placed around it, like a cod piece because photography ALREADY has it’s framework: its a tool to show the work, tell a story, offer an emotion or reflection or introspection, using the device of light. For me, that’s it, that is the only constraint of photography, what we use of it, how we use it, how we measure and press and vanquish it is up to us. Photography does not itself tell us anything about this life, but the photographer may (or may not). Reporters show us what they saw or experienced, and that is still an incredibly abstracted, personal and disonnected point of view and yet that kind of work is rarely, if ever, question for it’s impact or versimilitude. PHotography is a ALWAYS an interpretation because it is not experiecing life but contriving life, a language by which a photographer has expressed themselves or reported an event or attempted to descripe an idea or emotion or thought. A photograph does not capture Life, it translate 1 miniscule moment of time and this too is ONLY a specific kind of photography, not all of photography or photography itself. it is still an interpretive comment on what happened, what was seen, what was felt, a priori.

    I think ALL photographs are personal examinations and commentary. I think some photography is easier to read, easier to get, easier to understand. I dont mean that my work is some stupidly over sophisticated not-for-the-masses idea. I mean that each of us tells the story of our life and that is rarely understood, ’cause we’re in the shell, only our shell and we’re actually the only one’s that get that, or not, and the only ones that can communicate it….and it’s our human failure, not matter who we are, that our stories go unbridged and yet we persist….

    i dont think my vision is more personal that a family album or a PJ or your work. I just think it reflects my own peculiar life experience and what made me the person i am, all those things come out when i photogrpah, in the way i shoot, the subjects i choose and the things I see. I think all of photography are coded things, it’s just that we’ve grown accustomed to see photography as easily readable….if the pics above were drawings, would it make more sense?…i dont know…

    anyway, im not a frustrated artist, but just a guy making work. i never claim the mantle of art for my work, either the writing or the photos, but something simpler….

    they are just expressions, an expression, always, beating against the disappearance of things, my eyesight, the stories, loved ones, moments, all, retreating and returning, enduring even in their extermination…..

    thanks so much for your thoughtful comments

  78. OLI :)))))))))))))))))))))….

    MATE, what can i say to you but your x-ray vision is like a tractor beam of life and love and bone-hard finery….no way, im gonna top anything i tried to write here about the work as youve expressed, but that’s it….we sing shit the only way we know how to, filled will all our rhyme and bluster, our stupid cowlick selves and our hopes and miasma of thoughts…i was so surprised to see u here and so happy…it made my morning, sleepy wearied as i am….will send you words this weekend….almost spent from writing ;)))…but man, your words carved our my own head and that’s a pretty lovely surgery indeed :)))


  79. Mike r :)))

    thank you so much for those wonderful words. im not sure about Joyce, but he is a hero of mine, and any writer will tell you, our great failure is that we love words, for good and ill, the sound and bobble of them, the way they smooth us and choke us and i dont what else to say. i ALWAYS WRITE and i always write with my photographs. Photography DOES NOT NEED WORDS nor do words need photographs and so i dont use them together to explain the other, but i am cloven by these 2 things: im a very visual and physical and emotion person and i process and drink up the words through sensation and images but i also feel the world through words too. i write with my photographs because they dont need each other but i like them together, cause they’re both part of who i am: divided self. I have always LOVED the way Sebald uses photographs in his novels and i guess that’s sort of how i see them together, not explaining one another, but co-habiting…different drinks, different ways of expressing the same thing, both of which still often feel very neutred compared to silence…the thing i love best, believe it or not ;)), that’s my sin my soul, that i fill the silence, or rather the silence gets filled by all the words and all the images and feelings and sensations in my life and in this world…it’s always a reckage, always, but it’s the only way i know how to do this all….

    to put the noise of words against the silence of pictures and see how they both rhyme together, an uneasy peace i guess ;))))

    and i dont know Photoicon but i will definitely check it out this wekeend….

    thanks so much

  80. laura :))))
    thanks so much and maybe it doesnt matter, maybe the words are just little pictures that may or may not be like musical notes…and i love the idea of printing on both sides and letting people walk around them…i may steal that idea :))))…

    thank you so much

  81. Justin, mate :)))

    thank you so so much…yea, that’s a typo….but i kind of like toe ;))), will recorrect though after i finish the final edit (of the writing)…and i hear you about the word Fucking. when i read this exercept to my mom she had the same reaction and was a bit upset, saying ‘why do you need to use that word, it brings down the ‘intelligence’ of the writing…’…i dont know, i love ALL WORDS and the use of all words and its the only example in the ridiculously long text (you dont want to know how long the entire thing is ;)) ) that isnt abstract or convoluted by ideas. the word is real for me, because that is exactly how i felt at the end of the edit, and the end of writing the draft…tired, frustrated and in the end, i couldnt think of anything else and that’s the word that came. I used ‘such a simple thing’ once and then repeated (repetition is a part of the essay, both written and photographic) and it was how i felt, just fucking tired, exhausted. and the word came….simple,not meant to sound cool…im way way too old to be cool and im reminded of that when i talk about hip hop with my son ;)).

    ‘Yes’ is the final word of the book that has pitched a tent in my life, a simple world after an incredible journey in the day in the life of the world of dublim and maybe that was how i felt…that work, i think, in the context of the entire essay sticks out cause it seems so different and painful (to me) and so, it was what it is, a world that expressed my frustration with having failed with what i wanted to write and what i had wanted to photograph: a story for my dad and son about my own fears and the strength to face them….

    but you have a good point, it sounds dead on the page…in the ear….a shock…but i was in a state of shock and that’s i guess why it came out ;)))

    hugs amigo :)))


  82. thanks so much Emyr for taking the time to watch the show the way i look at it, from a couple feet away from the screen, again like a film, or watching not photographs but watching a dream, my own personal dream, and i think the nature of my images need that physical distance, casue of the grain, cause of the stuff going on…maybe not, but i think the work makes better sense large…not large as prints (i actually dont want them to be larger than 16×20, and actually like them smaller, like small stones, 5×7 or smaller…but when projected, it becomes etheral, watery, what my work is…it nothing but a dream song, and i am really humbled that you did that…it means a great deal to me…

    thank you so much emyr :))


  83. you will have Night Tree before my birthday my friend…and any other image you want…with time, they’re yours :))))….you always light me up like phospherous :))))

  84. hey brother, i hear you i hear you….i guess i gotta take that image out…it’s kinda like the use of the word ‘fucking’…but, done, it’s coming out :)))))…if you got the beer and the patience to see again, you’re a better pop than I ;))))))))))….hugs man, big ones


  85. Ben:

    I totally hear you and i wasnt trying to criticize you for not reading comments (especially my verbose and long-winded ones) nor my text. and i agree that maybe the web isnt the proper way to see a long story or read a long piece, not at all. but sometimes i also get frustrated with the use of words ‘explaining’ photographs or ‘artist statments”, i want the words to co-exit with the pictures, they’re separate and yet a part of the story, as i am both a writer and a photographer. i do need an editor (any volunteers?) photographically and writting-wise, but i think one of the GENIUSES of David’s idea for BURN is that this magazine words as a house of conversation and dialogue, a place where both words and photographs can exist. I cant believe that David is so trusting and willing to let me ramble and to put up the pictures and the text that i wanted, because i see them together, not to explain each other, but to re-work and re-imagine each other…i wont ask you to read the text, but if you print it, and read it over a drink, maybe that will help coalesce what i was tring to do….

    either way, i am grateful that so many have taken the time to actually look at the damn thing, suffer through its repetition and abstraction and mismatch of ideas and im really surprised if anyone atually reads the text…i guess as a writer, and aphotographer, we make things because its the only way we know how to express something and i never think someone will like it or persevere…its the bane of what i do, always struggling with that…who the fuck will read a book by me or buy a photograph or carry a book of my pictures…but, in a way, its the only legacy i can give my wife and son, other than to be a good perswon for them. to express all that came and entered and got fed out through the pipeline of my words and pictures…

    if you print the text and read, i’d be happy if not, not worries. i understand. i mean, shit, im plowing through 19th century russian literature again, looking around and sometimes thinking: damn, what am i doing ;))))…words helped me as a child and i guess im stuck with them ;)))

    thanks ben

  86. richard :))

    i hear you…it took me a long time to read anything on the web…but now i cannot afford to by the nytimes on sunday, so i read it throughout the week on the web…same with some lit magazines (nyreview of books, london review of books, etc)…so, i’ve changed…i still read the books and prefer that, but i’ve learned to read too online…in fact, now i hunger for more…cause it’s cheaper and still electifies me…but you and ben are correct, im rather vaingloriously asking alot by showing this many pics and giving that long text…and it’s only a short excerpt ;)))…

    what’s a guy to do ;)))


  87. jim:

    riffing yes, totally…showing off, i hope to god not…its the nature of being a writer: look at Akaky…but he’s a much funnier (and more grammatically accurate) writer…vocabulary is content for a writer….believe it or not, i write short things too…but i dont want to share that, it might be too disillusioning ;))))


  88. ALL:

    i need a break for, even i am totally pooped writing about writing and photographs ;)))…and so, if you’ll grant me a day, i’ll come back later. I just wanted to thank everyone whose had the patience to look at the work, read the text, and comment. it means a great deal to me. The BEAUTY OF BURN is just that: discussion, dialog, conversation, debate, negotiation of what this thing is that we do and how we do.

    I will take any questions, personal or technical or aesthetic, about the work or what im doing, whatever you want, i’ll try to answer. i hope that the Photos and the Essay (text) help spark an idea and a conversation that we still HAVE NOT plumbed the depths of what photography and language can accomplish…for me, photography is only a child learning to walk, so much it can do and tht’s the great joy for me, we still have so much to accomplish and we can harness it to our lives and expressions and ideas and wayward selves…i hope if nothing else, it help others get a glimpse into what one photographer imagines…it’s only a tiny tiny part of the big picture of our lives, but maybe if we reinvent our ways of thinking we too can reinvent our feelings about this wonderous and enigmatic and ineluctably vanishing life…it is all we have…

    and a big big THANK YOU to David Harvey for this…i cannot express enough how much you trust and belief means to me….more than i can express nimbly…for that my most succinct sentence:

    together, in gratitude, we embark, thank you.


  89. BRYAN F…

    first of all , i am very anxious to publish some work from you…your personal work and the work from the photographers of La Pura Vida Gallery are out there on an interested edge…i will link to you today..sorry, i just flat out forgot to do that before…

    yours is a good question…however, i do not really have THE answer…for my own work i edit very very tight and then always have to be forced to show it at all…i tend to edit student work at workshops very tight as well…print magazines have space limitations, so a tight edit is a given…this super tight edit for magazines is what most photographers tend to complain about….even books have a limit…

    so the net is the first place in history where so many of us can see the “contact sheet” so to speak…as i said in my intro, for the BURN annual at the end of the year, there will be a very tight edit as are the presentations i will do at the photo festivals..but here, maybe a bit loose..

    as totally imperfect a place to view photographs as it is, the net does allow us to go in whatever direction we want…this was heretofore impossible for any kind of mass communication…we can look at a single photograph for two seconds or a two hour movie….our choice to click escape at any time…

    admittedly , i am experimenting a bit with BURN in the editing category.. i mean why not?? i have no bosses, no clients here.. i think if people do “not have time” they just will not want to hang out at BURN anyway…

    i 100% refuse to pander to the concept of “make it quick for the web, people just do not have time” .. for this reason , i think BURN will always be “limited edition”…not for everybody..

    to run a long “directors cut” essay once in awhile from a photographer as passionate about his work and life as is Bob, then i say, what the hell…..was this an editor’s mistake?? responsibility gone awry ?? well, i have made bigger mistakes and wield much larger responsibilities..please forgive…judging from the conversation going on it was well worth it….pro or con, good discussion and good points all around including yours…

    i mean, i actually would LOVE to see Dennis Hopper’s four hour version of Easy Rider…i might hate it, but i would love to see it..

    however, just to keep things interesting, tomorrow i will publish ONE very quiet , very sharp, 8×10 urban color landscape with a three word caption…hang on to your hat!!

    cheers, david

  90. actually not, my wife is a bitch and my children are little bastards who keep saying my photos make no sense…

  91. A technically perfect picture of nothing is still a picture of nothing.
    someone once told me.
    I believe it still.
    If you view this essay through the lens of a ruler and a scalpel all you will see is bones.
    harmonic theory is fine if you want harmony.
    order and safety are fine if you are scared of the dark.
    Break on through to the other side.
    Jim Morrison said.
    And I have to agree.
    Life is too short to play safe with the world.
    In every sense.

    I do not fully understand this work.
    But I am drawn to it.
    It is seen through a different lens.
    If fascinates, scares and baffles me in equal measure.
    I may never get it.
    But ‘it’ is there for sure.
    Waiting just outside the reach of the light.

    A bit of an abstract answer for sure, but I wanted to react to the essay, and [just as importantly] the previous reactions to it.

  92. Bonjour Bob,

    j’aime votre essai… il est tellement envoutant (je l’ai déjà regardé 3 fois!!)… il y a beaucoup d’amour et de nostalgie dans vos photographies… vous avez un regard singulier… un grand merci à vous!

    All the best, audrey

  93. BEN…

    well put and the obvious weakness of the net….however, i never see the net as anything but a starting point…i mean, the whole intent of BURN has always been to get to print or to gallery…this net experience is just a preamble to print…

    give me the smell and feel and the true interactive nature of paper any day…

    do you think the Kindle change all of this???

    cheers, david

  94. thank you so much john :))))))…that’s all i could hope for….

    i thought of you this morning when i was posting the photographs of my eye :))))

  95. Bob, I think your work is a visual surprise.

    It possesses a very special quality, which mainly stems from the fact that you are literally telling the story of your very existence. I think this is both, brave and extremely difficult to do.

    I will admit some images seemed redundant to me, but, it’s YOUR STORY and I am sure all the pictures represent a very special meaning to you. I also did not read the accompanying excerpt as few others have said here. This is because I am by nature an impatient person and I get very easily bored and distracted. I think I found out more about your project from reading your responses to some of the comments here than from trying to read the excerpt.

    Having said this, I think the whole dialogue about the Internet, as a medium for showcasing work like yours, is just invalid. I think the Internet works for those who embrace it and doesn’t for those who don’t. I personally can’t deal with too long neither on the Internet nor in “real-paper life.” It literally makes me feel like I am suffocating.

    Now, on your pictures. I would like to know how long you have been working on this and how much longer do you intend to work on it? Do you intend to continue adding to this for years to come (maybe as your son grows older, maybe you move to a different place to live, maybe, maybe…)? Also, have you and your wife –whose work I am also a fan of– considered working on this together (something like Marina documenting you and you her and then putting it all together)?

    Also, I feel I should ask if you feel OK after all the comments here? I read your post where you said you felt this work had failed and I really hope you don’t really mean that. It’s never a failure until YOU believe it is and it certainly isn’t a failure for many people here, myself included. Actually, I would like to see more pictures and see what other visual surprises you have managed to capture.

  96. Wow! It makes me feel stupid because I don`t understand it. I makes me wonder if there needs to be a message and what that message needs to be. It makes me wish i could do abstract; yet I love the focus of the eyes in number 47 It makes me want to go to a museum and shoot dinosaur bones. It makes me ask why i`m so worried about soft images yet here the grain is hard and sharp and all the impact is in that and that is unignorable. I am an admirer of Bob`s words and images, and have been for years, but some of these shots seem reached for to me, the silhouettes of prehistory too obvious perhaps with the title slide fresh in our eye; the shadowed eyes of shadowed faces too dark so that any meaning we wish to write there can be easily scripted and the kudos attached at some later, told you so, date. It feels, to be honest, as if we do all the work to find the nuance and the artist simply agrees with our interpretation like some democratic art of endorsement and convenience: the wish to please all our ideas stronger perhaps than Mr. Black`s original and I am sure subtle manifesto. Yet though I don`t quite get this I also feel that by putting my own warnings and gravity into the ample darknesses provided I`m missing something obvious to everyone else and everyone else will laugh at me.
    I don`t know why I like this but I do. I could never do this this type of work and that is perhaps why, but like it I do without one finger fixed reason to do so. Sorry if this makes no sense, it is suddenly that sort of evening. Going to watch the slideshow again now. Bye

  97. Bob, I loved bursts of memory and tempest of words of yours. It’s like a set of transparencies – each layer, each image, each word, each bone adds to the whole picture of who you are. Reflections of reflections as Duane Michals said? Could it be memories of memories? I want to remember.

  98. Sorry. Bob, can’t see the essay, even trying to download Flash Player isn’t going anywhere (I am in a net cafe in Thailand). Is it an extensive version of the work you submitted on Road trip, plus text.

    One thing is, one should tolerate the thoughts of people who might not enjoy it, or even see any redeeming value to it, without having to assume they live in a box, or are square as a boxing ring. let’s reserve our judgement on people once we meet them and get a chance to know them, in the flesh, (and even then….). It sseems the decent thing to do, and will allow other people to beg to differ from the praising majority (God, do i hate that word!).

    We should always drop this stupid debate about straight and loose,sharp and blurry, etc…. There is no sense to it. I can go out now, and make 2 dozens of shots in 2 dozen different “styles”, from blurry, loose to straight and tripod sharp. photography is a rich medium that can accomodate just about every style one cares to choose, I am not sure why so many times in our forum here and on road trip, it always has to come down to oppose one against the other. the difference are hardly of the magnitude separating Haydn from Boulez. IMHO.

  99. Hey, I like my box. There’s nothing wrong with being in a box. I come here to see Bob’s pix and what do I find? Boxist attitudes that went out with the Dark Ages. The idea!

  100. And what is wrong with being locked in a box? I like my box. My box is wonderful, and better yet, it has air conditioning. It’s a great box and I am very proud of it. So then I come to Burn to take a look at my boy Bob’s out of focus pictures (I’ve told him before to get that damn camera fixed, but will he listen to me? Hell no! That’s the problem with kids nowadays.) and what do I find? Stereotypical boxist attitudes I thought had gone out with the Dark Ages. Wake up and smell the coffee, people: boxism is a vile and ugly prejudice, and if you find yourself spouting such anti-box venom without really thinking about it, then you’ve got yourself a big problem and one you should try to overcome forthwith. There’s no room for that kind of thinking in modern America, none at all.

  101. Bob i got the repetition, and liked it and the dinosaurs give it the space you say you missed. True the space is scary and haunted by their bones but isn`t that the point?

  102. herve :)))

    agree 100%! :)))…and i totally tolerate and more respect people who dont like the work or dont feel it and more importantly genuinely offer their reflection and insight and critical judgment…that’s why im showing the work…not to win folks over, but to share, the story and i’ve really enjoyed the discussion…though, i think it’s time i just shut up for a while and let others chat ;))))…which i;’ll do


  103. thanks damon, really appreciate that alot…yes, i wont be too democratic ;))), but i do really enjoy reading and thinking about how others react and thing…it’s all good nourishment, believe me ;)))


  104. Laura: :))

    thanks, yes, im tired of writing…and now, i’ll just try to read as the ideas and words come it. i guess it’s a touch juggling act: to balance the love of talking about work and the idea it’s my work that being talked about, which is always odd…in an exhbition, i rarely rarely ‘talk’ about the work and try to listen and hide…here i cant hide ;)))…as for the web, i agree, i think the web is good for whatever we use it for…its not just about 5 second bits…students watch films, read books, i readd alot there too…so…it’s whatever we make of it…

    i wont continue ‘this essay’ per se, it was done as a short Assignment for Road Trips…but the story continuees and some of the pics have become part of a longer body of work about faces and memory….so in that sense it continues…my son, as is my wife, are always in my work in some sense or another, for they are the navigation compass by which i move through things…that’s forever :)))

    more later
    i’ll writ eyou more later, but have to run now…

    thanks so much for your time and insightful thoughts…


  105. And there are no well-behaved polite teenagers, despite what our fearless leader says in the introduction to this essay. The existence of such a specimen would be a sure sign of the coming of the AntiChrist.

  106. wow! 135 comments! So now I understand Bob why you liked my work so much. Your work and your essay is fantastic. The music adds such an atmospheric feeling to the essay and I love how primal your work feels. My personal favorites are 6, which is brilliant, 11, 13, 14, 15(love), 17, 18, 28 (amazing) 36, 41 (beautiful-love the feeling with the birds) and 43. Thanks for sharing your work I really enjoyed it. My favorite essay so far.

    My best, Valery

  107. Bob,
    I am learning a lot about photography on “BURN”. I love the variety here. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to judge other’s photography based on my own work. This may be okay to a point, but the more open minded we are to other perspectives, the better. Someone earlier mentioned about getting out of our box…. not such a bad idea. You are articulate, and write more in a day than I could write in a year. Sorry to add to these lengthy comments, but you must have known they were coming. I hope to meet you someday, other than in cyberspace. LOOK3 perhaps.

  108. Well Bob…
    First of all, i’m so sorry , i’can’t express myself like i would because of my poor english (just a little frenchie…)

    I’m so impress by your vision, by its graphical result, it makes sense to me. Bones, lights, shadows are dancing on my screen and makes me thinking to the primary human condition.

    I like the way you followed to reveal things not so simple.

    One thing is certain : your pictures are not made of silence, each screaming to my ears and i like that.

  109. Dear Bob,

    Now I imagine one Korean poem …”Do you know the genius who was stuffed? He had wings… ”

    As you know I love your works very much …especially 19 and 27.
    I feel maternal love from 19…It’s like the pelvis to me.
    And “In the beginning Was the Word” from 27…

    Your works always stimulate my imaginations.
    Thank you so much and Congratulations! :))

  110. Hi David,

    I agree with you about the web being a place for experimentation. One of the reasons I’m drawn to Flickr is that it provides me the opportunity to hang out in the photographer’s ‘studio’ while they experiment. It’s fun, interesting and educational.

    I guess my question regarding editing boils down to attempting to find a wider audience for photography on the web. Of course, like most niche oriented art, it will probably only appeal to a particular sensibility most of the time. But I think there’s tremendous room for photography to expand on the web and bring in a wider audience, at least for some type of work. This is where I wonder about the responsibility of of the new editors and curators. Whose going to take the initiative to carve out new territory for photography on the web?

    I suppose this is a broader question that really doesn’t have much to do with Bob’s essay. I know Burn wasn’t created to appeal to the masses, but initiatives such as this, and even my own with La Pura Vida make me wonder if everyone involved with photography on the web are just content to hang out in the ‘photography’ neighborhood.

    I’d love to see a Huffington Post type aggregator for photography. A nice portal where people who are interested in photography can go to find all the interesting content that’s floating around out there. I mean, it’s impossible for me to keep up and I’m pretty wired into all the blogs, collectives and such. I can’t imagine how people not as well networked must feel when confronted with all the content out there.

    ok, I’m drifting way off track. Apologies Bob :)


  111. hi again Bob,

    I originally wrote my first comment after seeing your essay and not reading any of the other comments. Now I just spent I’m not sure how long reading all the comments about your essay including your own comments where you feel as though your essay is a failure. I really hope you were just tired and were only able to see the criticism, most of which I did not agree with, and were not able to see all of the beautiful things that were said about your work. I meant it when I said this was one of my favorite essays I have seen on burn so far. if I really had to critique the work as a whole I would agree that especially at the end of the essay you can edit out about 10 images or so, such as 25, 40, 46, 49, 50, 53, 55, 57 and, 58. The strongest images for me are number 6 and number 28. I think 28 is the strongest image and I love it so much, very strong and spiritual. so I disagree about you not having images that stand on their own.

    Editing though it is really hard and I myself have the hardest time editing my work and each person that looks at the work will edit it differently, depending on who that person is and what experiences in their life makes them who they are and makes them sways in one direction or another towards what they are attracted to, afraid of, dislike, and what they think a good photograph is. I also admire the fact that you can speak about your process and your art, something which I find hard to do with my own work. I struggle to write an artist statement and will definitely need help. Something you are really comfortable with and I for one understood entirely everything you meant to say in your photographs and I can see you in them.

    My best, Valery

  112. With a smile I think to myself, how can anything be too long?

    I watched the essay full screen sitting back and truly enjoyed the images, then I read the words Mr. Black had so eloquently written. I had to stop somewhere in the middle to go outside and have a cigarette and a cup of coffee and think about my own father and sons and all that we have been through, together and apart, and all the things that have made us who we are, fear, life and death.

    I don’t know Mr. Black, but I had thoughts about him and his father, his son, his wife, his photos and his eyes. I guess inside we are all the same, bones.

  113. just a quick 1 comment for now :))))…thanks damon (that’s my brother’s name too by the way)…i really dont get upset about if people like/dont like and i really ENJOY conversations about ideas, alot and it’s really is nourishment…it’s what I LOVE ABOUT BURN…and besides, it’s only photography…the real work is how to be a decent fellow (but i sure aint no saint either)…but, criticism is what it is: all part of being in the game, all part of having the courage or the audacity to give the work to the world….shit, i just feel so fortunate that people hae seen it and deal with it…and for those who know me personally in real life, they know…i get more upset when people attack others work than my own…i’m both conntected to the work and love it but not, i hope, suffocating of it ;)))…thanks man…

  114. Hi Bob,

    Bones really is a beautiful body of work; I enjoyed watching it a great deal. I have to admit that I haven’t read the words, yet, but I will. Actually, I’m glad I haven’t, I want the pictures to say all they can before I read your thoughts.

    I’ve watched Bones twice today. It speaks to me of time, (such a meaningful abstract: indefatigable, fleeting, ponderous). History, (personal, collective, factual, fictional, it grounds us, gives us a place and identity). Memory, (like time, so fleeting and fragmentary, so personal; vivid in one moment and abstract in another – involuntarily connecting the present and the past). Relationships, (like all the others can be fleet or life long; loving, painful, difficult, fun; they can be a big part of what makes us who we are, they can be the motivation for all we do, they can lead us to destruction). I think it shows how all of these are fluid – intermingling with each other, then breaking apart, getting lost then reuniting, or not – their forms and meaning changing according to our perceptions at any given moment. You know it made me think about “The Sound and the Fury”, the way Faulkner plays with time and memory, or even Proust in “Remembrance of Things Past”.

    I really like the music to, I’m going to get see if I can get hold of that somewhere. Do you know the work of Krzysztof Penderecki? I’d like to see how you’d visually respond to his work.

    Anyway, thats quick enough from me. Well done!


  115. as i watched it i had a deep sense of [the Buddhist concept of] Emptiness.
    the grain brought to mind the dissolution of reality and how what
    we seek is in the spaces between the grain.. the words..
    our concepts of who we think we are.
    thank you for evoking that powerful experience in me.

  116. Bob,

    I saw a few of the pics, and what I saw I kind of liked (fragility, anguish, memory, childhood, dialogue with the absent, shadow theater). But Digital Divide prevents me to see the whole set.

  117. OK, I’ve had my fourth look at the show and read your text. At first, I hated it, didn’t get it. On my second viewing, I got past my initial reaction and found many of the images very powerful. I must admit, I like some of the images on their own more than I like the whole.03 and 04 are two I like a lot. I have to agree with some of the opinions here that the whole thing could be edited down some, as could the text.

    All in all, I think it is a remarkably ambitious project, which has in large part been very sucessful and moving. Thanks so much.

    I am thinking you are a first time father of a young son. It brought me back 26 years to the birth of my first son. I suddenly understood how much my parents loved me, knowing they would have felt the same feelings for me as I was now feeling for my son.
    My dad had abandonded us when I was about 10. I had a snapshot of him standing behind me as a toddler, cradling my head in his hands. I could see the tenderness in his face, and was able to forgive him, finally understanding how painful it must have been for him to leave us. A snapshot can be a powerful thing.

    A few suggestions for your essay. I don’t mind the “anti-photographic” approach so much. There is a long tradiition of it when making art. Avedon and others come to mind. I’ve taken my share of “Diana” and pinhole pictures.
    What is spoiling some of the impact for me are small dust marks in many images, 03 and 04 two of the worst, but present in most images. Back in the late sixties, in photography school, our instructors would reject assignments if they weren’t spotted. Then it was painstaking work with a brush, in the digital age it is a mouse-click. My other problem is the grid pattern apparent in some images #21 and others. Perhaps it is deliberate. However it just looks like a bad scan job to me and I have a hard time getting past it. Maybe I’m being an anal old fart, but to me it’s about respecting our craft. I’ve heard “I really wanted it that way” too often as an excuse from students.

    Thank-you again Bob for this marvelous essay, and thank-you David Alan for presenting such diverse work. What a contrast this is to “Mariposas”. I love what you are doing on this site.

  118. The Pessoa quote at the start is perfect for this essay … (I think that’s also been readily illustrated by the variation in the comments!)

    If I’m being honest, Bob, I don’t have the answers to how I should interpret your essay, but that doesn’t matter. Watching it felt like drifting in dark water illuminated only by the reflected residual light of a life’s events. The viewer is forced to add form to the vague outlines of these events and by doing so, gets drawn into the tide. The music you’ve chosen is essential to this.

    On the music … when I searched the web for info on it, I found the translation of the lyrics on Wikipedia. I was interested to learn that a large aspect of it is a call for light – almost a call for seeing in different way (albeit in the case of the lyrics, with a religious motive) – hopefully, I’m not wilfully misreading it! This ‘seeing things in a different way’ theme this fits perfectly with the impressionistic images you’ve chosen.

    Anyway, back to earth (!) … I was surprised by one of your comments that you didn’t see too many outstanding single images in your work – image 27, in particular, is beautiful.

    I really liked this essay.

    All the best,

  119. my dear bob… i am so proud of you. i know what a labor of love (and pain) this has been for you. many of us have been there with you on this project/journey. the work is personal, deep, moving, dark and beautiful – it is truly BOB BLACK. thank you for sharing. i look forward to seeing you and marina at LOOK and giving you a true “gina” hug! xoxo

  120. BOB,

    I’ve been quietly watching Bones for 2 days – I have not seen it before.
    My feelings are spinning around foundations of life, death, their cycles and the fears we feel while alive.

    Bob, you are subtle and smart. I love your work. Now, run.

  121. Haik..
    Why quietly???
    Clap your hands.. Make some noise…!
    Hey , maybe Venice this weekend???

  122. How can I refuse Venice?

    Bob – when are you getting them ol’ bones to Venice? It’s in your rodina state, man.

  123. Dear Bob,

    I am hypnotized by your whimsical, solarized, dinosaur images. To me, they evoke a sense of Man Ray’s rayographs. I’d like to see them as an installation piece, projected, floor to ceiling on the walls, and moving in succession across space and time.

    Live long and prosper-

  124. Dear Bob

    I am a little impaired internetwise at the moment, which ist the reason why I haven’t been here at BURN for a while. But right now, sitting in this Café, seeing Bones is finally up, I just ordered 2 more cups and waited for it to load. I simply HAD to see it even if I will have to get back to the text later – and to the comments too.

    But … Fernando Pessoa … yessss! Oh, I so love some of his work! We used to live in Rio in the old part of town, and when you went on the street it was just like being in a time mashine and you would expect FP to come around the corner any second.
    The feelings he described … I can sense them in your work. I definitvely can. The first passage you wrote (yes, I did glimpse), you did write before in BURN … with some alterations. And … it was FP. No. It was better. It IS better. You manage to describe something I thought could not be described with words. It is the feeling I get when I cannot sleep (again), when the shadow the dim moonlight casts, start to move … When darkness feels like warm cotton balls …

    And now you managed to describe it with photographs, too. I wished I could have turned the musik even louder. I have a headset with me, so I do ot disturb anyone, but I am at max loudness and it is not enough.

    Two things. The artifacts, that are generated by the compression and the adaptation of size are truly a bother. It is better viewing it full screen mode.
    There is one picture that does not fit at all, is that purpose? (Cannot go back to check – it would take another hour- but you probably know which one I mean).

    Oh yeah, and I had to go onto the “play” button of the music, to make it start over at frame 37 or so. I had the impression you wanted the silence, but then it was a little to aprupt for me. Maybe start the musik over and let it fade over 20 seconds to black. A lot of people have a hard time with this. When I did the Kursk-Video, I had to explain the guy who did the music, that I wanted it to fade into nothing at the end with the title-fade veeeery slooooowly …. And after 6 or 7 fast versions I went and told him, he should picture the scene with di Caprio in Titanic, when his character is swallowed by the water. Slowly …. disappearing into the black. That helped A LITTLE, but I still would love to have it half the speed it still is. I will have to do it myself eventually :)

    This is YOUR essay and it breathes your time. I understand if people say it is too long (somebody probably said that), but … In a way you are giving us a ride into your memory and … it is just as it is.

    And … I do not know how to explain … I think the time you use is needed (at least for me) to break my own rhythm and start to breathe in yours. And then I myself felt in this dreamlike situation … like breathing (again – yes – it felt like breathing) under water … seeing images appear and disappear. Memories that are not mine but that in a way trigger something so universal that … I have to remind myself that they are not mine. They feel mine. They feel logical. Dreamlike logic.
    Breathing again … the reoccurence of this (bull?)scull, being hold by someone … the rhythm that is created by this. Dreamlike again always leading into new episodes … chapters of life maybe? I do not know. But I do not have the feeling I need to know. It is as it is. And like in a dream, my mind just accepts this without questions. Believe me: this hardly ever happenes :)

    And something else, very amazing. I went to a buddhist center (for the first time in my life) last monday. I just happend to get to know someone two weeks ago who I wanted to include in my project and he took me there to show me what his life is about. And … Well, that is a long story and does not really belong here, but … I think the essence, as far as I could understand it (and I probably did not), has a lot to do with your work. The explanation that was given to me as to what happens when you start to meditate … I kind of see it when I watch your essay …. the passing of time … the passing of thoughts … the rhythm of …. life … or whatever it is, casting shadows, or light … leaving traces. Even the grainyness … like sand on the beach … being written upon by the ocean … written and rewritten … and rewritten again … and again.

    Call me crazy but that is what I saw.
    You are a buddhist, Bob, are you not?

    I had seen some of your BONE photographs earliear and although I found them superb, I was not sure about the essay. You see, the photographs I had seen where only the ones in the museum. Bones & Dinosaurs … I guess it would have been tiering just to see those… But now you used them to form the rhythm … as one layer only of many more … and it is just … It is just perfect, Bob!
    I do not know what else to say. I will order another coffee and … I will watch it again.

    For me it is the absolute best thing I have seen so far. Maybe in my whole life.

    In awe,

    It needs desperately to become a book! Also because of the moiree-effects that you see online …. They are not doing you a favor.

  125. BRYAN…

    it is 5;45 am and i have to scramble to catch a plane down to Oaxaca..but, i just wanted you to know i read your response to my response to your comment, although i think i am replying in the wrong place..in any case, this is a terrific discussion…should either La Pura Vida or Burn try to get outside the environs of the photo community….i just do not know nor am i really able to identify exactly the “photo community”..everybody walking down the street thinks they are a photographer and they are…folks with cell phones are the new news photographers for example..anyway Bryan, i want to continue this, but just cannot now…you are moving to New York soonest..correct?? this sounds like a good round table discussion to me..we can do some of it here and some in person…anyway, as i have told you before, my door is open..pretty much off line in the next week i think, but will think this one over long and hard…thanks

    cheers, david

  126. I agree with James: picture 33 looks out of context. And, maybe, the cow (?) skull is a little bit overused in the serie. As already said at the time of Road Trips’ preview, it’s a great work, Bob… and I really love the tactile quality of your B&w.

    BTW: no poster frame for this essay yet, neither for Mariposas…

  127. I really like this. I don’t normally like music on a slide but think this works. It is a great body of work.

  128. Harry :))

    thank you so so much. the music is from the 15th century, a Roman Mass…now, im neither catholic nor christian, but the meaning of this particular mass felt connected and i love the sound of voices…thanks so much for your kindness…


  129. Hi lassal :))))))))))

    you are in a cafe and I am just waking up ;))))…how is that for synchronicity ;))))….first of all, i waited and waited and thought, ok when will Lassal watch it, i cant wait to see how she reacts, especially about Pessoa :))…and i dont yet have the language to make sense (still 1/2 asleep) but that’s it…when i first read Pessoa I’d thought i’d found a lost uncle and every place i’ve been too began to make sense, i felt, almost, as if I’d stop writing, all I had ever wanted to write or say is in The book of Disquiet, and for 2 months i carried it in my book bag unable to read anything else…I can even think of Lisboa without his words, and when I worked on my Portugal photos, it was to the rhythm of his and Antunes’ words that I made the work…i am so so happy you know him…

    Yes, buddhist. In fact, meditation (as well as all that work, 4 noble truths, 8-way path, Dana, etc) has re-sculpted my life and ABSOLUTELY YES this essay is informed by that, the pacing and the way pictures blend, the way i feel as my body movies from concentration on the object of meditation to the equanimity of the body, the transformation and the connectivity. yes, you’ve understood that. The thing is that this was the first ‘short’ essay or body of work i shot/edited that was formed of all that transformation. i wanted to include tibetan throat singers as the music, but it seemed too jarring and i thought the viewers would just get annoyed ;))…but yes, i am thrilled to hear that you’re discovering it for yourself…the PROBLEM with the time/length of the essay is that I AM USED TO SITTING/MEDITATING long times and im used to the patience of things unfolding and i know it’s unfair to force that upon people, ’cause people are busy and most people do not have the patience (not their fault) to sit, especially on the web….i guess im to much a dreamer ;))

    as for the technical details of the presentation, i dont know. I’m very very stupid when it comes to technical stuff, pretty pathetic really considering im a photographer. I will write Anton about looping the music, because while the music was supposed to end before the final 3 frames, i guess it stops too short. Maybe we should just ditch the music. Burn is still work on the techs stuff, so i worried more about the photographs and the text…

    YES, the slide show should be OPTIMIZED to full screen, that’s the intent, because the pics are so large (1600). the smaller version doesnt show the grain and looks weird to me, not like the prints. but, i wont force that on anyone….but, yes, full screen, and people standing back a few feet was my idea….sort of like a small sized projection ;))…all the moiree-effect and other tech stuff, i dont know/get, ’cause im hopelessly lost….but, i’ll figure something out…

    again, im sleepy but thank you so so much four your beautiful words and friendship….and funny, marina and i were in the AGO with dima this weekend, and i was looking at post-cards and i thought ‘must buy one for Larissa to send for her project!” :))))…all things connected :))))

    thank you so so much :)))


  130. thanks so much Krissy :))))))….the definite intent is either as part of a book (a chapter, severely edited: David, want to help edit?;))…or Marc P: you want to help???, or a small monograph) and definition an exhibition/installation…to mimic the museum itself or family album…but, i dont know yet…i just wanted to get the damn thing done for the Assignment ;)))…but theyre all connected to other bodies of work…but this short thing was for my dad, son and david….

    thanks so much

  131. that’s it my friend :))))))))…watched your link…now, i WOULD LOVE/NEED to see your essays/books or even a pic here at Burn….now you know why i haven’t had time to write emails…stressed with editing/writing ;)))…will write you saturday :))))

    thanks so much Gecko hunter :)))….it makes my day

    circling ;))

  132. Hey little brother Haik and Big Brother Panos! :)))))

    yea, shout shout shout with your hands in the air, just like ya just dont caaaare! ;)))))))))….jump jump jump ;))))…

    haik, i hope u and brother P are running running running to V…thanks so much for digging the shit:

    the pin-hole picture of the boy holding the cow skull over his head (with the truck behind him) was made for Panos! :))))))….will be his gift!

    thankis so much!

  133. GINA! :)))))))

    THANK YOU SO MUCH GINA! :))))…i really appreciate that alot and it is always a bit scary to show people something, especially this, which is so personal and it’s easier to show other work, than this which is so much about me and wrestling with all that shit about loosing loved ones, but it’s pretty much a self-portrait, i guess that’s obvious ;)))….and we CAN’T WAIT to get a gina hug! :)))…we miss those hugs alot! :)))…and i still here your voice in my head and your damn cool laughter :))))…cant wait to see u again…


  134. Hi Andrew :)))

    wow, thanks so much for doing the legwork on the music! :))))…yes, the Mass and what that the meaning of that particular liturgy (i dont want to publish the lyrics, cause it’ll make some folks cringe ;)) ) is EXACTLY why i choose this music….it’s sometimes weird, ’cause its always difficult when making work, either photographic or written or multimedia stuff, ’cause i do put A LOT of thinking into how it goes and why i use this or that, maybe i think too much. The irony is that when i shoot, it’s just instinctual, physical, reactive…i never talk and never talk to anyone when im shooting, unless im asking someone if i can photograph them, and i cannot talk for a long time after photographing…and i actually wait long periods of time to shoot…sometimes i shoot all the time, and sometimes i just walk and listen and look…and always thing, about what i see, how i see and also the ideas in my restless head…and yes, this is about calling for light from the darkness (that’s why i shot so many silhouette shots of my son, children and the people walking)…and it’s also related to my blindness…

    how to arrange blindness and shadow as a way to pin=point light/seeing….

    that is also what the Mass is about….or meditation ;)))

    thanks so much…you can stay out in space, no worries, because I usually am! :)))))


  135. Hi Gordon! :)))

    thank you so much for your warm and thoughtful comments. First of all, yes, I am a first-time father and I think the fact that within 2 days of one another I saw my father (with whom i am very close) who I hadn’t seen in 4 years and my son was mugged, punched and robbed at knife-point, sets the ‘intensity’ of this project. In fact, much of my photographic life has changed and been informed by the relationship with him: he’s taught me more about shit than i’d known before…ironically, something I know understand about what my dad had talked about when I was young. The essay here DEFINITELY could and needs to be edited. As ‘singles’ i dont see many, maybe 5. As an essay, maybe part or a chapter of a book of my longer life’s work, i see not much longer. As a short essay, i agree, maybe 20 pics? I sent and edit of 15 to a photo festival. I guess after editing the story down in august and september, from 420 frames to 200 too 100 to 82 it was an intense experience…and then to 55 then 58 then 50 then 35 then to 5 etc….but it definitely needs a re-working…i guess the long edit was supposed to ‘put the viewer in the state”…but yes, i agree…

    the issue of Dust is a very good and important point. I always get frustrated with scanning my negatives. In the dark room, i get blow the dust away with a dust remover. At home, it’s more difficult and at the time i was preparing the negatives in the summer to try to put together the essay, i only had an anti-static cloth (plus we live in a dusty apartment ;)) ). I was very very frustrated with the dust. When I saw the dust in the picture of my father (after i scanned), i DID NOT CARE. In fact, i wanted the dust and never worried. In THAT PICTURE ONLY the dust is critical, for me at least, because of what was happening at the moment when I photographed him. I liked the dust and the small print of my finger that’s there, but not as obvious to the eye. HOWEVER, the dust hurst the pictures in the other photographs and WAS NOT MEANT to be there. I really appreciate that you picked up on this. I’m pretty anal about some things, like the way I WANT my photos to look like, so the distraction (and my frustration with the damn scanner and my negatives and these pesky dust creatures) of the dust was not intended and it’s still something im trying to figure out how to get rid up. I hope the new can of professional dust off my wife bough will rememdy this when i re-scan the images (and the new work, unrelated to this). I couldnt agree more. Just know that the picture of my father (crying, exiting a room, he’s on the right side) was meant to keep the dust and print, but the others were not. This was a failure on my part.

    As for the patterns of the images, it is always hard to tell. When you look at the slideshow on Full Screen mode, does it still look bad? I will go back and re-look at all the pictures tonight and see what it looks like. I am also a teacher and so I dont think you are being too anal at all, if there is a technical distraction that is not part of the idea or intention, then this is a failure. I am not terribly technically adept (this is not an excuse) but I tried hard to do good scans. Im not scanning on an Immacon, but a good scanner, so if there are problems, that is my error. let me take a look…

    all the failures and technical problems are critical problems and Im still trying to figure out what is the best way. There are things that i intened to have ‘my way’ BUT many of the points you have raised are not supposed to be there, if it hinders the viewers reaction, or if what you see are technical problems with either the dust or the quality of the jpgs, that surely is a particularly onerous problem. Let me investigate that!

    thanks so much for your time and wisdom.


  136. Gordon:

    i just went back and looked at #21…the Holga shot of the Pterydactol…i didnt see a scanning issue with the file??…maybe i dont understand the problem, but i will ask my wife tonight, Lassal talked about something too, …it is the ‘sharpness’ perhaps, the points of light? (i over sharpened to try to get the grain, which in real life is pretty intense in my prints…

    anyway more detail will be greatly appreciated…


  137. oh JOHN! ;))))))

    I am so happy that you at least saw some of it ;)))))…well, though the digital divide divides us from seeing the music, well you can read the words ;))))….and i appreciate that at least a few pics were able to land in Cambodia…i know we’ve often spoken about this problem, bandwith and that the west or developed nations should not take for granted what the viewers are able to see, based on their on internet situations…this was a worry for me, specifically for you…i wanted if you would be able to see it…maybe, if you want, ou can just click on a few pics through out and not worry about watching the slideshow itself…

    but, I am just so thankful and happy that you had a chance to see a few and that you ‘kind of liked’ them….that’s the ‘kind of praise’ i can live with, totally! ;)))))

    thanks so much John, it means the world


  138. thank you katia so much! ;))))))

    yes, we meditation and practice….and try to live the 8fold path and yes the emptiness and the letting go and the concentration on the object and above all the equanimity and the change…

    we are all connected through transformation and the breath…

    and dana, above all dana :))))

    I cant wait to see your project here :)))


  139. Jason:

    I LOVE PENDERECKI…i actually LOVE Polish contemporary classical music! For the small projection i did with Dave Harvey last year for Look3, i used Zbigniew Preisner piece he wrote on the death of Kieslowski….and i love, who doesnt, Gorecki a lot! :)))))…i try to use music in these kinds of things that speak to me not about the pictures but about the mood/feeling…

    thank you so much for your thoughts and insights :)))…and that’s quite a complement if it helped you think of faulkner or Proust….probably my prose is sloppier than Faulkner and my pics stuffier than Proust’s cork-lined room ;))))…but damn, i’ll take the comparison….that sure is flattering…but i know im only bob ;)))))

    thanks so much for having the patience to watch and for giving me such insightful and powerful words


  140. WOW, COOL! :)))))))))

    THAT IS IT! …NOw, people will be able to REALLY SEE what the museum looks like, since my 3 shots of it are pretty fucked up ;))))))…and that’s a great pic…everytime i see a color pic, i think; FUCK IT, im not shooting b/w anymore….yesterday marina and i were visiting Jarek (from the party) who is a great photographer, all color…and i thought all night:

    it’s time to move on to color :))))

    hugs see u monday, write u this weeken!


  141. Brother Bob, I am so sorry I have not been able to see or read… I am in Victoria doing an essay on the fires… it was a ‘tidal wave of fire’ and its beyond words or images…I can’t feel at the moment

    I will write later but I just wanted to let you know I am very proud of you…

    Love to ‘my’ family…

  142. Michael :)))
    thank you so much…yes, each of us are the same, connected by the same tissue of bone and blood and time and it’s all there inside each of us…there is not a day goes by when i dont think about my father (mom too) and how all that they gave me is inside everything i try to give my son, who in turn makes me the person i am…and im happy you saw it full screen, as intended…

    eachother, its all we have

  143. hi valerie ! :)))

    thank you so much for BOTH your comments. yes, your coney island holga dream and the great great essay about brooklyn stuck in my belly for a long time (especially magenta-snow :)) ) and although I still see the story has failing…i mean, it disappoints me, but i guess that’s everything we do right…but, the work is who i am and it tells me about me, or i guess people sort of guess the type of guy i am, what i think aobut, how i feel toward things, and i guess in this sense it succeeded but i still want to do better, make something that speaks about how this life and the people i love and know and come into contact with sticks and inspires and breathes life into me…in this sense, it always fails…trying to scribble up something that approximates how i experience life and love and loss and time and all that shit ;)))

    editing, especially for me, is always difficult…and i ahve learned alot from listening and reading David and looking at other people…working on my stuff and talking and watching my wife’s own work and her thinking process…

    and I EMBRACE and i really really have digested all the comments, especially the critical ones, because they’re so informative and helpful…i never take criticism as a personal attack, cause noone can be as tough on the photographs or the writing as i am, cause i usually end up thinking everything i photograph, everything i write, everything i write is just a sloppy mess….

    it’s been very rewarding reading all this…tiring yes, not from what people write./express, that has been so nourishing…but from my own struggles and looking in the mirror…seeing all the stupid problems (the dust for example or images that dont work)…

    still growing…until my own bones gather dust ;))

    thanks so much

  144. Alexis :))

    thank you so much…yea, i guess im a bit dramatic ;)))…really i love silence…but i cant manage, unless meditating or walking, to do that ;)))…that’s my biggest goal: to be silent and calm and just loving…

    by life is like a beautiful howl…and i guess that’s part of me too ;p))


  145. Dearest Kyunghee :)))

    thank you so much…as you know, i feel a kindship with your work and a connection and it continues…and, well, i dont know about genius, BUT, i do agree I am stuffed ;))))…and im learning learning to grow wings…what else can we do….i guess daedlus’ dream is a part of all of us, and so too those waxy things strapped to icarus’ back ;)))

    thank you so much for listening to Bones and flying with us :)))


  146. Mike :)))

    thanks so much…yea, that is also what i LOVE about Burn too…the variety and the richness and the idea that this magazine is a celbration of not only photography but the photographic life, which in the end, is life itself…and all the words, i can live with them…it’s been relishing to read…and while even i am tired of wrting ;))), i guess if there is still one thing i can do, is talk too much ;))))

    hope to see u in Va :))


  147. Davin:

    rodinol when i develop the negatives…if i have the negatives developed by TIW (burtynsky’s lab) i believe they also use…and i always have the negatives cooked…when printing, using red filters too…but all the high contrast (all the whites and the dark blacks) come from over processing the negatives and shooting trix….and i tend to do everything opposite…including shooting into light…i guess i love blacks and white…and rarely have good or any neutral mid-tones…loss of detail in the tonality, but it’s the way i love…like charcoal drawings :)))


  148. AINT THAT THE TRUTH DAD AKAKY! :)))))))))))))))0

    i know, i was a misbehaving teen once…and live with one now…but, i’ll take him, no matter what he does ;))))


  149. thank you so much Imants! :)))))))))

    and i wont charge you for the quote ;))))))…i do do hope you submit a photograph here!…or better, one of your book-essays :))))))))

    write u in a few days


  150. sis Lis;’ :)))

    no worries at all!….more importantly things going on now in victorial….do what you need and get that story out…here or elsewhere…i couldnt believe what happened, and watched an interview and video with a survivor who shot while fire was chewing upon everything….

    read, look and write only when you have a chance, but do your story and get it to us and others ….

    your family here across the ocean is sending love and light…


  151. ALL :)))

    Again, i just wanted to THANK EVERYONE who has taken the time to look at the pictures and read (or not read) the text and to share with me your thoughts. I am really stunned and humbled by the outpouring of support. I didnt expect it. Not becasue of the work, but because i always thing my writing and photos are too personal, too self-obsessed, too hermetic and I always feel this is a big big failure on my part.

    all of the words (and yes, i’ve read ALL THE COMMENTS) have meant alot to me and i very much welcome the criticism and have thought a lot about it, from the small technical details to the the problems with dust on my negatives to the too-long text and essay, too repetivie, everything else. they have given me alot to think about. I should tell you all that i TOO HAD TROUBLE with image 33. in fact, for a long time i struggled with the idea to include or not this girl, as with other images that i did not include. she was dancing on the street and singing with her father and i waited a long time to photograph her, watching and listening and thinking and then i shot only 2 pics, 1 was stupid and the other, i waited until she looked right at me, smiled and continued to sing. I included here because it did seem different, like an escape from the intensity of my own thoughts, this small child singing and that mouth and eyes just cut me to the bone, and so i thought: she’ll be the fulcrum of the story…but, yes, it probably doesnt work here, and maybe should be for another story (faces)….

    one last bit of context. I made this story as an attempt to do an Assignment. I wanted to prove to myself that i could shoot a story in a short period of time. I wanted to make something for my son and dad, about them, about me, but also I wanted to give David something, as he’s given me personally and each of us so much. To show that Road trips (now burn) could PRODUCE a body of work. I approached this with specific guidelines (only shoot for a certain period of time, about 1 subject). I wanted to show others (editors, magazines, whoever) that i could try to give a story that was ‘assigned’. I am the worst possible photogrpaher for this kind of thing, ’cause i take a long time to ‘feel’ a place, a moment, see, i walk alot and look alot and think and i didnt know if i could ever shoot something that would coalesce…i still am a sloppy photographer, but the limitations i set out for myself forced me to try not to expand, but to go inside…to do an assignment that was both limited and personal, something that could speak about something i felt saw. Part of work life’s work is seen in this essay for sure, but i thought “if i can just make a specific story about a specific feeling” maybe it will work. this work was shot exclusively for road trips…and it became a part of me….

    and this: 2008 was a huge and dramatic year. the year prior was also quite intense…my wife and son were in russia for a long time and i often struggled with that, and even, at one point, my son was prevented by russian customs from leaving to return to canada…it was a difficult time in our lives and much of what came out after the wedding and after my son was attacked and after i spent time shooting him and shooting my wife and writing about all this, all those feelings of fear and loss and trying to hold on came out…more in the writing probably, but it’s there too in the photographs…

    we’re nothing without one another…and how to manage that continued loss and transformation, how to speak out against the disappearance of things…and yet, it’s all there, inside us…we’re made up of all those things…as a child i spent time comforted by books of dinosaurs and time with my parents in the natural history museum….and i guess, all comes full circle…

    it’s the in and out of the breath…



  152. Bob,

    I really liked it. As I said before, it is strong authorship that marks your essay. I like the scope of it and the fact that you were shooting for the stars, one might say. No denying the ambition of your essay. It had me thinking.

  153. Bob..there is no way my thoughts can adequately translate into words where your images are concerned..so just a few thoughts..first, on the assignment level – congratulations..I know what a ride this was and you came through in one piece! As David says, it is no small thing to actually complete something..

    I first saw this work in a wide edit at the loft..my body was tired, my head was in an odd space, sort of quietly zoned out, and I turned and there bones was. You were showing it to someone on the computer..there was music playing, but it wasn’t music you had chosen..and as I am looking over your shoulder I can hear just bits of what you are saying..and honestly what I was thinking was..who made this work?? It didn’t hit me that it was yours, despite your ‘style’ despite your authorship..at that moment I could see it only as new from and to you, that it had grown out of you like a magic seed given to Jack.

    I kept wanting to stop the slideshow..to sit with certain images..still there are singles that to me are magnificent, and then others that I feel are more relevant in the sense of a personal diary, a family album, maybe strong in the way Mann’s What Remains images are strong for me. meaning, I get them, but as singles, they don’t stand alone as incredible images. But then there are these others that completely knock me off my chair and I want to say in the colloquial way “SHUT UP! you MADE these??” because it isn’t easy at all to materialize what is inside. Yes, we can feel it, I can nearly describe it, what I would want to express in an image..but to be able to CREATE the inner as outer..that is a gift.

    I know you aren’t all about lists, but here is the line up for me..9,11,13,22,31,32,33,53…BINGO

  154. Rafal :)))

    thank you so much. Ambition is a tricky thing and while i didn’t set out to make anything more ambitious that just a story about my dad, son, me, bones and memory, i guess everything that became unearthed tilted it toward that ;)))…and while i still see the essay as too clausterphobic, not enough ‘FUCK, WOW’ photographs, i think that at least it did what i wanted, which is go a long-winded string of words and memories about what it meant to see and remember and struggle…

    I cant wait to see your Home Sweet Home or Pieces of Us story…that will be wonderous1 :))


  155. Erica :)))

    thank you so much for taking the time to sit and swallow and digest and write about Bones. I COMPLETELY AGREE. I think there are a few photographs taht ‘work’as stand alone photographs, and most dont and maybe aren’t even interesting photographs so much as connections, tissue and lining and dna. I shot this work as an essay, and a connection to one another, to the text i was writing, to the thoughts I had. In other words, as you correctly point out, i think most of the photographs must be seen in their connection and juxtaposition to one another. If i do a book of the work of ‘bob black’i dont know that any of them, but maybe 1 or 2, would be included at all. And certainly, within the story, are pictures that make sense in either my Faces series or my series about invisible cities (all the pin hole stuff for sure). but, it is as a story, as a story for my son and for my dad, that i put this together. I photographed the story in a 3 week frenzy, confining myself to only 4 places (my home, the museum, NC and my son’s school): that’s it. The essay certaintly doesnt have the visual scope of other things i have done, so it’s kind of clausterphobic and hermetic. I was really happy and really surprised to see so many people enjoy such a personal essay…and one made over a short period of shooting time….

    I too am a major fan of Mann’s…all the workd before What Remains, but especially What Remains (especially the portraits of her children) and Deep South. In the end, i wanted the essay to just be evocative of time and thoughts, a poem more than a novel…a poem about photography and memory and my life and the changing and collision and disappearance of that…

    and yes, i hate lists, but thanks so much for giving me your BINGO….your bullseye means ALOT ALOT to me :))))

    cant wait to see your portraits sister e!


  156. “i wanted the essay to just be evocative of time and thoughts, a poem more than a novel…a poem about photography and memory and my life and the changing and collision and disappearance of that…”

    you did it perfectly!

  157. David,

    Safe travels. I’m in New York and will be renting a room in Williamsburg during March. That might be a good time to chat.

    A round table discussion on photography, the web and publishing would interesting. With all the turmoil going on these days, it might be a good time for some innovative ideas…



  158. BROTHER BOB, you mad mad motherfucker! i love your brilliance. (and no i haven’t been drinking.. but i will now… will you please join me?)..

    (no internet folks, just the coffee shops, thus the disappearing act)..

    big hugs,


  159. Davin ;)))

    yea,…though in life, my prints tend to have a sand-storm of grain…not just from the rodinol + trix combination, but how i shoot and then develop…it definitely aint for everyone, ’cause many many of the pics look like Newsprint, all that grain…but for me, it works, i like grain and the texture of grain as much as the content of the pics…but i guess that’s the painterly shit in me ;))


  160. hey, if this are bones, today I’m a dog… :)
    man, when you come back to Lisbon you got to let me know, we must have serious fun!!
    I think you should really develop the connection between your photographs and Pessoa poetry, they sometimes fell the same, like they come from the same source…
    take care friend, Miguel

  161. BROTHER SILENT-COWBOY! :))))))))))

    yea, what else is a poor hombre to do but climb up in the saddle and ride like mad into the sun :)))…and i am ALWAYS with you drinking….and we’ll share some of that fine fine Tq soon enought: VA? :)))))…

    thanks so much, cant wait to drink a fistfull of dollars with y’all :)))…and True Grit too :)))

    miss u amigo

  162. Miguel! :)))

    hope we return soon too…got lots of ideas for work and Pessoa…and he and Antunes and Lisboa are big parts of my work, the entire life work, not just bones….and I am happy that you were happy chewing on these bones….

    and cant wait to have some serious fun in Lisboa again…for sure Miguel, for sure :))))

    thanks so much amigo…means a lot to me :)))


  163. Bryan/David:

    important and essential discussing…:)))…and in NO WAY did i take offense, and i agree, it’s critical to think about editing and this should ALWAYS be in reference to the ‘goal’ of what the edit is related to….if this assignment were published in a print magazine, im guessing, i’d show 3-5 pics, tops. if it were for a submission (as i submitted it recently to a photo festical), it would be 15 pics. the thing is that my goal for Bones for Burn was to create a ‘state of mind’ an incantatory piece about memory and lyrical sense….in fact, i dont even know if bones itself could stand up as a small book, a monograph: i really dont know as im moved on emotionally from it…but, i do know that some of the pics will be part of a bigger book that I am planning (and david i need help to chat about that, maybe in May?)…but, i think the critical thing is that we discuss editing and we discuss ‘audience’…

    i think ‘audience’ must be defined by the intent of the photographer. An audience for work like my own (including it’s inherent length and verbosity) is small…and so, it doesnt matter if i show 10 photographs or 82 (the original director’s cut version) or write 100 words or 4000 (the length of the total essay), people will stay or not. I think the internet is defined entirely by WHO WATCHES/READS at a given point. I can sit and read or look at pictures for a long long time…and then other times, i have only 5 minutes (now)…so, the web is entirely open, entirely UNCONSTRAINED….and this is what Burn should exploit…

    Burn SHOULD NOT be just another Web magazine but should bring to the table ORIGINALITY. By this i mean not only great photography, but also great IDEAS…i tried as best as i could to WRITE TO ALL COMMENTS AND WRITE ABOUT MY PROCESS/IDEAS, this way Burn becomes a portal for Discussion…how rare is that, for a magazine to publish the work (photographic and written) and also allow to have an EXCHANGE :)))….some people enjoyed, some continued, some ignorned…

    but we must re-imagine the web….and i also thing a magazine that doesnt cater to a theoretical audience but instead CREATES itself will always draw….

    Bryan: my work is the antithesis of a ‘tight-edit’..and that is true, perposefully, also in the aesethetics of how i shoot, how i develop and how i print…i am after and interested in something else….something more visceral, more internal…and that’s also why my edit was long, including the amount of text i offered David/Burn…

    there part and parcel of the same idea….

    now, was it too much?…for most yes…too boring, probably…but, i think the great editor understands that a great magazine devoted to work must encapsulate the entirety of vision that is out there….

    good discussion

    hope that makes sense :))


  164. hey there Bob,
    thank you for your e-mail which brought me to burn. No comparisons, just a list for myself: dylan thomas, sylvia plath, bob black, ts eliot, and a touch of rilke somewhere in the wings. (we go to therapy to remember, then we go shopping to forget!)
    Thank you for the journey, it was not one to step off because of the constant movement. Love the images, which I will return to many times.

  165. Hi Ben :)))

    thanks so much for that my friend…i hope that all is ok with surgery and that soon winter will pass and that walking will abound….and please keep me abreast of stuff going on in your life: you showing at Contact?…i’ll be there to see u this time around….2009 has calmed down afer 2008! :))))….

    thanks so much my friend, your words and support mean alot :))


  166. Bob…
    Thank you for watching the 3 slideshows..
    As I was saying over there..
    When we are “full”.. We should
    “empty”… and make it photographs..
    Marcin and Pat and Reimar and Bob..( YOU ),
    reminded me how important is to be spontaneous
    and stay fresh by all means…
    Right here right now..
    Of course some might say:
    Later is safer.. ! Could be !
    You be the judge , por favor..!

  167. thanks for sharing bobo… beautiful… and [personally] painful. the blade just twisted a quarter turn further contemplating that i am made up of blood, and tears, and memory, and who the fuck knows what??? some of the strongest bones of my existence are those of absence, of negative space, of the unknown, the vast loneliness.. but they too can make for a strong foundation it seems… perhaps a stronger one. now to somehow embrace it not as a fragile weakness to hide behind, but as a scarred, and calloused and fortified bit of scaffolding to maybe even rely upon… to continue to fully embrace those objects, those glimpses, those deeply etched memories that serve as the mortar, but now, perhaps, to finally let go, and bear a little more weight, have a little more faith in the unbreakable blocks carved out of the chasm of my emotional existence…

  168. BROTHER J1 :))))))))

    even amid a sqwalking bar in DC it was lovely to hear your voice…marina, dima and I will be out all of today (family day holiday in Ontario! yeeee-ha!) and back tonight, if u want to call! :))))…

    that’s it j, all that shit carved up for us from us and ‘who the fuck knows what?”….it’s all we have and then we squelch out whatever the hell dips inside and i dont know but the only thing to do is to squelch right back ;)))…our sin, our soul our song, it’s all we have, right…and those damn mollasses/brownsugar/whiskey licked steaks…..

    thanks for taking a ride down memory lane with me, hope it was as sweet, if even tough, as a back ride in the ’57 chevy with bobby avelon crooning something over a biting white moon :))))

    your words soooth the smarted soul…..

    means a lot to me :)))


  169. hey bob

    great to feel the snaps in context with the words.. very good indeed and much appreciation for the technique and time spent crafting both.. i guess it is the kind of subject which demands thought, time and emotional investment – congratulations on giving it your all.

    looking forward to buying the book and perhaps hanging a bob black on my wall alongside other likely characters.

    ¨we migrate, continually, inside and out.¨


  170. I have been away… and now I am just speechless… this work is so poignant to me its almost unbearable…

    I don’t need to sing its praises, because that would be simply inadequate. I have only one thing to say…

    When is the book coming out?

  171. Wow. It took me awhile to make my way into reading/viewing this piece. Bob, you are obviously quite a thinker, and one who seems to live inside his head a bit. This I can relate to. It is often hard to articulate what we mean with the words we use, and to have someone else understand and realize what we actually mean. Now add eyes to the translation and we have images that we want others to not only see, but also to understand. This was a deep piece, one that I will have to view a few more times to get the full impact. But, that said, I really, really enjoyed your use of black and white film (keep the art breathing!), super high contrast, texture, grain, and soft focus…or, simply put, some of my favorite things ever about photography. I do agree with some others that it could be shorter, in text and imagery. But very, very cool. Love those dinosaur skeletons.

  172. Hey Bob!!

    Man, it sure has been a while since I’ve wrote anything on here(!), but your ‘Bones of time’ is the perfect timing – especially this early morning with the Berliner Messe! Great to hear, though I never ‘visualized’ this work with such a music. It works totally.

    Lucky enough to have met the man (Cheers DAH), I need to ask: when will you and Marina grace us again in NY??

    Hope it’ll be soon!
    Take it easy up there in the cold ;)

  173. TANGUY :)))))))))…thanks so much much for taking the time to read and watch…yea, funny, the music sits inside me, and i always have very musical associations with seeing too…i dont know why…and i hope we get to see you again on our next trip down…dont know when, but i am sure someday before 2009 disappears….nyc as always beckons :)))))…thanks so much…and cold, yea, dont remind me ;)))))..hugs…

    CARRIE :))…thanks so much for that. yea, my head’s pretty much over-stuffed…i guess that’s why i love and need the meditation, a way to quiet the disquiet….evyerhting i tend to do is always too…too many pics, too many words, too few money, too much internet, too much reading…someday, im gonna grow up and get it right: some simple loving silence :)))))))…thanks so much for wading through too many words/pics :))…it means a lot to bme :))))

    DAVID B :))…thanks so much for that and especially for your endurance and patience will all my long-winded stuff…i cant wait to see your decade(s) long work in progress and eagerly await seeing it here….that will be cool-ass stuff! ;))))…kisses to the little lion cub….hugs, bob

    SIS LIS :)))))))))))))))))))…thanks so much for that…yes, if if a book happens, you will get a special version, accompanied with a good long hug and a good long talk over wine :))))…maybe that’s what all these dreams of Oz of late have been about :)))))…not give us some of that MM stuff from Oz that you have so tireleslly and powerfully been stewing up…..hugs bob

  174. precious words for the little monster – passed it on to him, (in a silly voice of course), and he smiled.

    i´ve just put a few words and phots in yesterday for a work in progress blog, joining anton.. my hope is to make the most intelligent edit of my work possible.. with the help of you all.. keep em peeled as it may go up this month.. really looking forward to all feedback bob.. hoping that stoopid will have an opinion.. will be my edit, of course, although educated by respected scribblers.

    you and i follow different ideals with our photography, to some degree, and in watching you produce bones i have begun to see the similarities in working method.. this has led to a greater understanding of art photography for me and i´m grateful to you more than most for that.

    patricia and yourself in part inspired the introversion which led to my self portrait and the open attitude you and others lent to road trips encouraged me to try my best to pass on what little knowledge i have..


    a few kind words about our work is an easy task.. reading your work, while more difficult, is a rewarding pursuit.. instigating the kind of refection which can only progress us as human animals and perhaps as snappers..

    i also believe that as a colleague teacher you probably have a love for corduroy jackets which is always respected by me.

    love from the fam.

  175. David :)))

    I hope that lion cub understands my words, it’s good that you used a silly voice, to go with the words ;)))))))…

    and i am excited to see the work up in Work in Progress and I will definitely be watching and will totally offer any help I can (audience groans ;) ). I’ve always loved your Journalism/Music Documentary work very much, not the least of which because it feels authentic and in-the-moment and drawn up with the sense that you’re in the middle of it all and that those you’d photogrphed were comfortable with that, even the strangers, which means as a photographer you’re both present and absent and that’s a great great thing! As while our work might look different, i have always thought the essence is the same: to speak about what passes before us and through us as testament to this weird and wild and shaping life. I’ve never ever been a ‘competitive’ (or jealous) guy and i guess i am still always amazed that there is so much enmity in the photo world, some of which we’ve seen here as well. For me, it just seems to be born of insecurity and the neeed for people to categorize or create hierarchies of quality…i mean, for me, i jones for all good photography, it doesnt matter to me whether it’s beautiful, technically powerful and carefully poetically observed work, like Michaels’ essay on Sakhalin, or classic, dispassionate (but incredibly passionate) Journalism/documentary like John Vinks, or conceptual stuff or abstract stuff or color, or b/w or digi or film or whatever. All interesting photography, for me, begins and ends with an authentic expression and a complete dedication to the vision of the work, whatever that may be and unfortunately too many, by dint of taste or education or orientation dismiss work that the either do not like do not understand or do not recognize. for me, when i dont ‘get’ something, i think to investigate why, if i dont like something, i try to figure out why, and in the end, it’s always a learning process. Because photography is a tool of visual technique and one obsessed with perfection (as we can see right here at burn), an art form and a form of communication that differs from many others (what constitutes a perfect painting or piece of music or dirty joke, etc), and I increasingly move away from all technical perfections for that very reason. And yet, your own very accomplished work deals with great technical skill and verve and that’s also a pleasure :))

    so, whether people come from the same country or not, often they can communicate and also discover that the same joints mean the same, have the same value, only expressed totally differently…a pinhole camera STILL produces photots that LOOK AS MAGNIFICENT to me as all these super crisp, perfect digital photographs…..and yet, often to me, it seems we’ve lost our bearings in all the beautiful colors and precise detail…detail is seductive, but might be misleading, i think Holmes suggested ;)))

    so, i can’t wait to see your decade project here and will jump right in and i think and expect it to be a magnificent project and a terrific book…

    and those jackets…..totally….though my own i bought for $50 and is 50 years old….the life of the n.american artist…money goes toward the good and film and books not the clothes ;)))

    cant wait until your up…


  176. BOB,

    I have been away for the past 10 days, on a short vacation with the family with no computer or internet access. All I had was my Blackberry so I knew your long awaited “Bones” was up and could not wait to be back home to watch your essay… I had just put the kids to bed early and allowed myself some quiet time to look at it, get myself immersed into the mood, the dreams of Mr Black… As I told you before Bob, I was one who was skeptical initially but I have SO SO warmed up to what you did here… The music on top of the essay was a great choice… I felt transported into a very different place, started meditating… From my heart, well done Bob and thanks for having shared this very personal and unique piece of work with us….

    A Bob Black hugs.


  177. Eric :)))

    i like receiving bob black hugs indeed :)))…thank you so much for your insight and patience to sit down and watch bones. i am happy that the work was ‘successful’ in fueling your dreams or your memories or your initial skepticism….skepticism is not only good and healthy but i think a required elixir for each of us…im still very skeptical about the efficacy (can i use this word to describe an essay?;)) ) of the story, but i’ve had to live with it and put it out, and i’ve learned much from the failures of it…but, if you felt transported, then i am happy for that is always my hope for any work, that somehow it may speak to someone, take them on a personal journey that began as my own but somehow ended up their own….the collective sharing of memory….that’s all i could hope for….thanks so much eric

    caint wait to see your essay here too!

    bobblack hugs

  178. Bob — A powerful, beautiful essay. It immediately reminded me of a quote from Boris Pasternak:

    “life too is only an instant,
    only a dissolving of ourselves
    into everyone
    as if we gave ourselves as gifts.”

    And while it is obviously a very personal piece, there is a certain mysterious anonymity to the photographs that make it very easy to see one’s self in the work.

    Thanks for sharing it.


  179. Adam :)))….thanks so so much…and especially for Paternak! :))))…a big big fan of pasternak, and long long ago, i once tried to court a young lady with the Hamlet poems from Zhivargo ;))))…and that is it exactly :)))…and if the piece became a part of you, that’s all i could ever hope for :))))…

    and by the way, you can get a book now of Ruscha’s photographs (which include the 26 gas stations JOhn vink and I spoke of), i think you’d love the book :))))…and i loved your description of your projects :))))

    thanks so much Adam for your sensitivity and insight :))))


  180. “”Quality doesn’t mean deep blacks and whatever tonal range. That’s not quality, that’s a kind of quality. The pictures of Robert Frank might strike someone as being sloppy – the tone range isn’t right and things like that – but they’re far superior to the pictures of Ansel Adams with regard to quality, because the quality of Ansel Adams, if I may … Read Moresay so, is essentially the quality of a postcard. But the quality of Robert Frank is a quality that has something to do with what he’s doing, what his mind is. It’s not balancing out the sky to the sand and so forth. It’s got to do with intention.” Elliott Erwitt

    and… here is something to make you smile.. burn is actually quite the teaching aid.
    note – not one mac on a website.. all on desktop, feet up on tables for the ride… no corn pipes allowed.

    i have wondered about insecurity and narrow vision frequently while a practitioner.. for me the insecurity was extremely localized.. worrying that colleagues could snatch a job from me, and therefore take a weeks worth of cheap pizzas from under my nose. it was never a concern that so many people photographed, nor that my job was fairly sought after, (by those too foolish to understand exactally how much sacrifice it entailed.. just like me in the dawning).

    focusing on our own thing has a way of relieving us of the competition, no? doing our thing.. seeing our thing.. enjoying our thing.. it has no limits and it takes nothing away from others.. photography is in that way much less of a stable product and much more of a ramdon marketplace.. we’re all selling, or showing, different cakes and so why bother that someone else cake is a different colour?

    what i did find over time that my work has gone something like this – mid teens i could not get enough of books.. other photographers work.. devouring all with equal passion and projecting myself into the photographs i saw.. always considering the photograph as a reflection yet also picturing the photographer within the scene.. and what scenes i enjoyed.. extremes from the greats. the first photo book i bought was tim pages nam soon after it was released in the early 80-s.. i must have been 15.. and then the family of man reprint for an antidote.. and on.. and on.. to the point that last week i could take a book in from a single photographer with each of my students in mind.. “here – you would enjoy this..+” and so on.

    then my own projects began.. many little ones.. and it stopped.. i did not look at another photographers work after about 1997 when i finally graduated.. not because i was not interested.. because i was focused on my thing.. i did not want to mistakenly produce derivative work, and that was part of the reason, but also because there was so much i found before me of interest that in persuing it all i simply did not have the time to look into other peoples thing.. it somehow became prohibitive.

    i’ve always enjoyed crisp photography of less than crisp events.. tough subjects photographed sharply.. and yet i took all kinds.. so now.. with the book.. i am looking at all kinds.. and the past year since i finished the music project i have started again – to look at photographers work.. and i see so much more than i did as a teenager.. i see photos and respect photographers who have aloowed me to challenge my own persception of work.. which will allow me to use photographs like this..
    alongside photographs like this..

    it is exciting for me.. seeing things which i previously disregarded in a completely new light.. contextual texture which overall must only be a positive thing for this endeavor, and in part burn is responsible for helping develop my perception philosophically.

    i, as do you, photograph every day without fail.. and i said to my students today –
    “photograph everything that interests you every day.. pick up your camera with your wallet and keys when you go out.. and play the game.. if you see a photo, take it.. because in 10 years you may see your work diffrently and photos you thought were poor may well complete a picture”

    the game for me is about moments, shapes and layers.. the rules are simple – no cropping outside the camera and be close.. use the technology as it is needed to catch the scene.. stay away from the scene though and remain invisible as much as possible.. when interacting, be quick.. be quick.. smile with eye contact only afterwards.. or run from clenched fists and bottles if they are heading my way :o)

    it’s great fun, this game.. just great.
    any words in the work in progress will be well received bobus and so please tuck in.
    i have the second post planned and the first is yet to go up :o)

    and on the jacket.. i payed 30 usd from the sally army..
    rock on.
    david, beate and top catx

  181. ahhh.. MAN – i just typed a long response and it’s GONE.
    maybe the anti-spam pixies.. have it copied on a sticky so if it ain’t here later will post it again..

  182. David :))))

    just saw this now….thanks so much for the great thoughts…totally agree and yea, erwit’s got it nailed! :)))) and thanks for the link to the class washing dinosaurs :))))….

    LOVE LOVE your gold-red angel-dream photo! :)))))))…reminds me of found 8mm film, shot by Stan Brakhage! :)))))…and im totally with you….

    now, no energy to write….im taking a holiday from Burn for now…i’ll write u when your work goes up :)))….yea, that’s it my friend, the flame of the flamingo’s smile that burns the same for all of us :))))

    yes, it’s a pleasure to write here with you and talk and i hope hope it’s been great for your students too :))))….cant wait to see your project in full as it gets whittled into history books :)))))

    more in a few weeks, or when u come up :)))


  183. CODA:

    “I’m always doing the same images. I’m always looking outside trying to look inside, trying to tell something that’s true. But maybe nothing is really true except what’s out there. And what’s out there is always different.”–robert frank, film ‘home improvements’


  184. strong images, great flow. i really like the sequencing, the repetition of motifs, the wheel of never ending reappearence. i can´t see how this piece as a whole could benefit by a tighter edit, actually demanding one sounds to me like to say david lynch had better made a 3:50 rammstein vid instead of lost highway. it´s a mindtrip, and the mind works according to patterns. it´s excellent as it is, moody, tripy, imaginative.

  185. Superb editing, Bob. Finally reminded myself to look at it, and it’s a great piece of personal art. Yes, all art is personal, but yours call the adjective to mind more than for others here. And well, this is exactly what I mean: the P here is for personal, not photography, and it is for painter too, if one wishes, ie. Your hand is everywhere, not your index finger.

    We need not go back to the genesis of the image, (the shutter opening and closing), that information is but become a mere shadow. This image is as much shaped, and kneaded from your own inner vision and strength as by mechanical reproduction. You do not trust the camera, of the facts it catches. Or rather, you have no use for it, no use for photography itself, dare I say. I am not sure the light you claim is what the medium is all about, is not actually coming from you, entirely.

  186. HERVE :)))))))))

    good god, you’ve just made me cry….literally…i guess i wasnt expecting to be very emotional today (just returned from shooting and now flying out the door) but good god, that’s one of the most people things anyone has ever written about my work, and you are one of the few people to ever understand that, or at least express it directly to me…

    i hope that this year, will be the year we finally meet…always space (even in our tiny apartment) here in Toronto…

    thank you so much my friend….

    yes, the light comes from within…

    big hugs

  187. It took me a damned hour to write this down, Bob! It is finally longer than your reply.

    18 months after we first sparred on RT, I finally outworded BB. Not a slight task! :-))))

  188. HERVE :)))

    yea, we’ve come a long long road…and i’ve really grown up…sort of ;)))….

    what a strange and beautiful trip it’s been…

    not a slight task, indeed ;)))


  189. When you feel alone and lost
    Living in a world that seems so rough
    There would be no cost
    Praying for blessings is enough.

    For the blessings we receive
    Come in the small treasures we look past
    Those that fill your heart, I believe
    Those that will bring you hope at last.

    Having hope will change your views
    And will bring happiness to your soul
    For it’s not something you have to lose
    It is our ultimate goal.

    -Kirsten Hutchinson

  190. How are you. Before we set our hearts too much upon anything, let us examine how happy those are who already possess it.
    I am from Arabia and bad know English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “Just, one desists to the teens of the released to do at an synthroid mcg.”

    Waiting for a reply :), Xerxes.

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