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/

Adal, Past Tense

from the past. He has ended, as I continue. Death is a reminder. To some it calls up life, while to others it calls up fears.

Adál Alberto Maldonado (November 1, 1948 – December 9, 2020), styled as ADÁL, was a photographer who lived and worked in New York City and Puerto Rico. (wikipedia)

Seems so brief. Just a ripple.

making the caption carry meaning across the boundary.

“Draw from your personal experience. Whether it’s a search for an identity, the celebration of beauty, a concern with correcting chaos in the world, or the simple entertainment of a thought experiment, what will set you apart and original will be how you see the world filtered through your personal experience.” Adal

Adal, dropped his last name and his darkroom manipulations after Lisette Modal’s visit to SFAI.

We were, for a few years, known to each other; grad students at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). After leaving the art institute I went to Syracuse, to EXS as a teacher. Light Work/ Community Darkroom was still installing equipment; still generating self-awareness; coming to define a role. I brought a mailing list of several hundred names and addresses of mostly West Coast, young unknowns.

I gave the entire list to Tom and Phil. And, the list of my “must show these people” … fewer than ten people. Adal was number three on that list.

Teachers, then:

Jerry Burchard. Linda Connor. Henry Wessel. John Collier. Margery Mann. Fred Martin (his class was one of the few required courses; grad students across all programs attended.)

Some Fellow Students:

Ingeborg Gerdes. Bill Arnold. Harry Bowers. Mike Mandel. Larry Sultan.

Light Work

https://webionaire.com/2017/06/23/getting-here-out-of-art-school/(opens in a new tab)

From my 1971 notebook:

the only thing
left to photograph is air. 

misprints are the key. as key to 
time -- fade -- light
(adal) wessel (difference is time, or space place light)
motion --- light dark
outlier -- misprint. 

It has taken me too many delays, too many re-writes to get this posted. While that doesn’t (shouldn’t) matter to you, it does bother me. When good artists die, we miss more than anther life.

Remembering isn’t rebirth. Not even for an optimist like Adal.