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The Ketchup Bottle of Creativity

September 25, 2009
Rockport Sunrise, 2009,  Abe Morell

Rockport Sunrise, 2009, Abe Morell

New Work from 2009 by Abe Morell

New Work from 2009 by Abe Morell

I’ve spent the past few weeks gently banging on my student’s bottoms. Like ketchup bottles, you don’t want to bang too hard or you may have a mess on your burger. Well, I have come to realize that banging hard, shaking the bottle violently, and even sticking a butter knife into the cantankerous container may be necessary actions to get what you need out of the bottle. It doesn’t really hold true that too much catsup is undesirable. I’d be as happy as a fully ketchupped burger if my students were putting up pictures as if they were wallpapering the crit room. More is better for my students because any outpouring of primordial ooze will give us something to work with.

There are many good signs. First, students all seem to like Abelardo Morell, the deservedly well-regarded Boston area photographer who teaches at Mass Art. He brings the early impulses of photography’s inventors into present day tangibility. He is illustrating what to do with a camera when you aren’t particularly seduced by the zoom and flash, the rattle and hum, of a small, hand-held automatic plastic box . We don’t all want to be photojournalists, fashion photographers and documentarians.

Actually, I have another reason for mentioning an old U2 album title. The new U2 album has a striking cover by one of the great living minimalist photographers.

No Line on the Horizon by Hiroshi Sugimoto

No Line on the Horizon by Hiroshi Sugimoto

There’s a neat story about Hiroshi being at a recent U2 concert and getting a shout-out from Bono here.

I did not grab this screen shot because I’m a U2 fan. The only Bono song I really like is on an old duet album with Frank Sinatra.

I like Hiroshi Sugimoto. I showed one of my classes Sugimoto’s pictures of movie theater interiors with the films running. All of the pictures encapsulate a glowing white screen. The length of the movie determines the length of the exposure. Why didn’t Abe Morell think of that?

Theatre by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Theatre by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Has anybody noticed all the Sugimoto and Morell rectangles floating in space? They remind me of my old UMass buddy Bill Kane. Back in the 80s and 90s he was floating actual rectangles of stuff on top of his photographs. He did a great series about Walden Pond.

From the Walden Pond series by Bill Kane

From the Walden Pond series by Bill Kane

Bill is still floating shapes in space. This is from his New Transrational Works.


Bill Kane, 2008

This 35X83 inch pigment ink on canvas work may look familiar. Take Bob Aller’s History of Photography course to find out more about Bill’s sources and inspiration. Damn, I don’t think HCC will offer it until fall 2010.

This brings me to a special invitation to the HCC Photo Club to do an assignment. I’ve been thinking about all the geometric shapes that inhabit our environment, from “big box” stores and road signs on poles to soccer balls on lawns and balloons in the air. I’d like to see pictures of this geometry deconstructed so they aren’t pictures of signage and buildings and neighborhoods and lawn parties, but indicators of new harmonies– celestial bodies, geometric theories, childhood building blocks (see Abe Morell below), new abstractions. The assignment is to turn objects, like the ever-present billboard, into a less literal symbol of mass culture. Make pictures about the shape of things that are.

Toy Blocks, 1987, Abe Morell

Toy Blocks, 1987, Abe Morell

I was about to post a link for club members to upload submissions to our Googlegroups site. I discovered that we have three HCC Photo Clubs on Googlegroups. I’ve got to find a way to put them all together so, more on this later.

In the mean time, if you want to submit to a contest with real prizes, check out

logo_04_publicMore on this later.

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