Eliot Porter Wars

We draw lines; we make selections, interpret them, and write history. Drawing upon sources means we sort thru the fog of distance and lost debates. What remains is a result of who wrote, why and, in response to what. This is the distance of time; remote memories remembered to meet this day’s question.

Too often, the audience wants a story to support their own; their hero should face the same problems with outcomes the reader understands and wants. We want to think we could have done that so we explain our choices with the hero’s story. Our path is the same as theirs…

We have spent all this time, a life getting something, only to find that we didn’t get anywhere.

Eliot Porter is a standard bearer of craft .. complex craft; something taking much effort, time, intense focus of energy. Something so difficult that few doubt its value. Something like Dye Transfer. Reality being what it is, those who have taken the longest to make a dye are those who consider it the hardest way to print. In some ways, they are correct. Making a dye transfer is time consuming, requiring attention to a process with many possible alterations. The key skill is energy.

So, where does this get. What is the history? Actually, what is the question?

Groupings of people view Eliot Porter’s work differently. The craft forum or the artforum come to differing conclusions about the importance of Mr. Porter’s work. They also hold different versions of Eliot Porter’s time at the Radiation Laboratory during World War II.

These versions, simply, are:

  • he was a machinist (meaning he could make precise craft items in later years)
  • he was a scheduler

he was a machinist

helped develop radar

And in 1987, the fuller tale: he was a clerk who expedited (scheduled) work within the shops at the Radiation Laboratory. He did help develop radar, along with several thousand others at the Rad Lab.

We use other’s war stories to fight our wars — tell our story. But as we all know, growing up is up to us.

So, is it necessary to be a machinist, or a scheduling clerk, or a Doctor, chemist to make Dye Transfer prints?

NO. Some of my better students had to rely completely on the step by step worksheets for the ‘craft’; however, they had the harder skill: they could see what they wanted the picture to look like.

[ I am doing edits on a post on the ways of making dyes in the early years …]

for more: https://webionaire.com/2014/06/22/eliot-porter/

Method or Mindset

Old work surfaces from boxes and prompts another look. Seemingly at random, flipping through boxes, I pull prints out to place on the studio table. Just what strikes me, without seeming reason or awareness.

This time, I’ve put them into ‘method’ or ‘mindset’ groups. Several of these are from 1970; none are more recent than 2017. The oldest are the figures, which I saw/see as more line than life, although the model probably felt, even feels, differently about.

This slide set is given the same treatment, but subject makes them different, even out of place. A disrupted set.

the second show is all treated the same, but the imagery is such that a mindset is applied.

with color we gain another factor; is it a palette being worked, or is it some element of shape that makes the folio from the box. Notice the blue; bold, or very subtle (hiding in the black).

None of these are finished; worked out. They are being worked on. There are also about 8 orphans on the table that haven’t been posted.