The Magic of the Cities.
Zen promotes the rediscovery of the obvious, which is so often lost in its familiarity and simplicity. It sees the miraculous in the common and magic in our everyday surroundings. When we are not rushed, and our minds are unclouded by conceptualizations, a veil will sometimes drop, introducing the viewer to a world unseen since childhood. ~ John Greer
|Christmas Blizzard of 2010 Central Park. New York|
(A major blizzard hit New York City and the surrounding areas on Dec. 26, and is expected to dump almost two feet of snow, snarling roads and canceling hundreds of flights to LaGuardia, Newark and JFK Airports.) NYDailyNews
Are too many people taking photographs?
I have been asked many times what I think about the fact that nowadays almost everyone takes pictures. The question of course, has a sort of hidden agenda. It suggest that photography has become so common place so as to render photography into a commodity, taking away from it, it's aura of sophistication, uniqueness and or the merit of being seen as some form of art, after all most people make pictures that are quite bad.
All along my answer has been consistently the same. I more than welcome the fact that so many more people today take pictures in comparison to, lets say, just ten years ago. Let me explain: if we were having this debate over the written word, probably no one would object that a nation make all the needed efforts to achieve total literacy. As a matter of fact, all over the world there is a strong awareness of how important it is for its population to become literate, at least in the dominant language of the country in question.
No one in their right mind, would expect someone to jump from not being able to read and write to becoming a laureate poet. Yet somehow the expectations that are being upheld for photography are a bit like that. We expect photos taken by people who yesterday did not even have a camera, to come up with at least good images, and if it does not happen then we should somehow be disappointed.
Let us look at this more in detail. To be visually illiterate is the equivalent to not knowing how read and write. However, as cameras have become more ubiquitous, and the price of the instrument coming down considerably, and the cost of taking a picture near zero , the number of pictures taken have increased exponentially. In other words, more and more visually illiterate people are making pictures because they can, not because they acquired a great visual culture before making their pictures.
Add to that, the fact that all the new technologies we have available today, have created cameras that are so intelligent that they make most of the decisions for the photographer with regard to the exposure and sometimes even the framing, allowing our new found photographer to obtain results that reward the efforts of pressing the shutter button. It's almost the equivalent of someone speaking to a microphone and the computer translating the sound of the voice, into a written text. We would not say that this person had in fact learned how to write. Well much the same happens when a camera takes a picture that is acceptable even though the person behind the lens has no knowledge of photography what so ever.
So we have that the entry cost has come down so much that it has made the picture making process a lot more democratic. Add to that, the technology has empowered everyone to have some kind of satisfactory result. This would suggest that although pictures are being made, they apparently are not the outcome of a deliberate decision making process as when you really know what you are doing. After all security cameras register images and we would not call such results as being provided by a photographer.
Having said this, we have to wonder how accurate such thoughts really are. After all how can one say that someone does not know at all what they are doing. Maybe what is happening today has to be viewed in a completely different light (no pun intended). Consider how any teenager sending pictures to all his or her friends, with regard to their latest adventures, would certainly fall into the realm of autobiographical expression, even though such a category might be far removed from any conscious decision making process. In fact I would think that this tidal wave of images, has left the intellectual community confronted with new challenges to understand and see photography in a "new light". Certainly the concept of "bad photography" is taking hold as a new concept that has to be dealt with. Has "bad photography" liberated "good photography" from becoming something else?
As I see it, with so many millions of people, the world over, having now explored making images, their curiosity for doing something different and new to their previous results will probably lead many to a new era of acquiring more and more visual literacy and technological know how, and leave the curatorial world scratching their heads as to what to make of it all. How could anyone dealing with photography in the XXI century, dismiss as trivial the shear volume of photographs that have been created. The collective document that has been produced world wide, documenting so much of our daily life in this period, will surely become a fundamental piece of information for generations to come. If this was it's sole merit, that alone would already give importance to all that has been photographed.
This opens up the field of photography in the realm of education and publishing in ways that will probably explode in the years to come.
The entry cost to participate in the creative world has come down so much that we can truly say that if you want to make a film, record a disc, make photographs, publish a book, and so on, it's not something that is beyond your means, as it was not too long ago. It has finally come down to the most meaningful part of the act of creating, and that is that you have something meaningful to share. And if you don't know what to say then don't worry, then at least have a lot of fun doing what ever strikes your fancy, that also counts as contributing in some degree to the well being of all those around you, after all happiness is contagious, and who knows, maybe without you knowing it, are changing the face of photography for ever.
I am personally very gratified to see so many people in the world engaged in creative activities that we could hardly believe possible not too long ago.
Coyoacán, Mexico City
Tulum is the site of a Pre-Columbian Maya walled city serving as a major port for Cobá. The ruins are located on 12-meter (39 ft) cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was at its height between the 13th-15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise. One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites.
The Maya site may have been formerly also known by the name Zama, meaning city of Dawn. Tulum stands on a bluff facing east and the Caribbean Sea. Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence or wall (or trench), and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to serve as a defense against invasion. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes and which made it an extremely important trade hub, especially for the obsidian trade. From the numerous depictions in murals and other works around the site, Tulum appears to have been an important site for the worship of the Diving or Descending god. Tulum also has some underwater caves where you can go snorkeling and many other attractions. Almost directly east of Tulum are the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Jamaica. [Wiki]
Playa del Carmen
The Balloon Man
Albariño (Wine Bar)
“Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
Cancun (from Women Island) Mx.
Caribbean Sea (from one of Cancun beaches)
Mercati di Traiano
(Via 4 Novembre / Via delle tre Cannalle)
To Fiumicino Airport
79th Street Boat Basin
(All) Riverside, NYC June 2010
Los Colorines Restaurant. Cuernavaca, Mx.
El Chalchi (El Tesoro/The Treasure) Mountain. Tepoztlan, Mx.
Flowers / Chanel
The nesting season usually begins in May and lasts for several months. The turtles come to the beach in large numbers during the nighttime hours for 2-3 evenings after a full moon. They scoop out holes in the sand 2-feet deep, deposit their eggs and cover them up. At the peak of this activity, turtles number in the thousands. The eggs look like slimy Ping-Pong balls.
Marcelo Ebrard, Mayor of Mexico City
awarded the 2010 World Mayor Prize
(Marcelo Ebrard, el mejor alcalde del mundo: City Mayors)
7 December 2010: Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, Head of the Federal District Government of Mexico City, has been awarded the 2010 World Mayor Prize. The mayor is a liberal reformer and pragmatist who has never shied away from challenging Mexico’s orthodoxy. He has championed women’s and minorities rights and has become an outspoken and internationally respected advocate on environmental issues.
City Mayors: What is the most recent satisfaction you have derived from the City?
Marcelo Ebrard: The greatness of the people of Mexico City recently manifested itself during the swine flu crisis, which, as the world knows, began on a large scale in our city in 2009. This was such an enormous crisis - a vast and terrible problem with an unknown virus. It was lethal. I basically asked all citizens to stop all activities for almost two weeks. We shut down everything, from schools to theatres. And they did so. We didn’t have to use force, which shows the civic awareness and responsibility of the people of Mexico City.
City Mayors: What can other cities in the world learn from Mexico City’s experience?
Marcelo Ebrard: We all learn from one another. I prefer to use the term “exchange”. I would say that out biggest advantage is Crisis Management, the high degree of vulnerability that we have has given us a certain culture, or way of confronting these crises, in an unusual and remarkable way. This is something rare in cities of this size. On the climate change action plan, some cities have asked me for a copy. On how we are preparing for the green economy, well, some mayors seem to look to our social policy, as well as to the initiatives we have taken on urban mobility and public spaces. These are the topics that other mayors ask me questions and seek information about. Mayors must act in concert. Together, we can take a more active role on global issues. Our cities are the sources of wealth, but also of pollution. Environmental matters are common areas of exchange, since we are all linked in the same dire destiny unless we soon enhance our cooperation and our actions. (You can see his interview here)
Cuernavaca is the capital and largest city of the state of Morelos in Mexico. Established at the archeological site of Gualupita I by the Olmecs, "the mother culture" of Mesoamerica, approximately 3200 years ago. It is also a municipality located about 85 km (53 mi) south of Mexico City on the D-95 freeway.
The city was nicknamed the "City of Eternal Spring" by Alexander von Humboldt in the 19th century. It has long been a favorite escape for Mexico City and foreign visitors because of this warm, stable climate and abundant vegetation. Aztec emperors had summer residences there, and even today many famous people as well as Mexico City residents maintain homes there. Cuernavaca is also host to a large foreign resident population, including large numbers of students who come to study the Spanish language.
The name "Cuernavaca" is derived from the Nahuatl phrase Cuauhnahuac, and means "surrounded by or close to trees." The name was eventually Hispanicized to Cuernavaca because the Spanish could not pronounce the Nahuatl name. The coat-of-arms of the municipality consists of a tree trunk with three branches with foliage, and four roots colored red. There is a cut in the trunk in the form of a mouth, from which emerges a grey swirl.