Category Archives: Laurie and Debbie’s blog

A Few Choice Links

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Debbie says:

My links list is longer than your browser window, and my time is limited, so here are a few favorites:

frontI have one friend in particular who rages about “unisex” t-shirts with no space for boobs, and I thought of them when I read this Alice Goldfuss piece:

So, why didn’t I make a shirt that says “JUST USE ‘FOLKS’” and offer it in every cut? Because, sometimes, the best way to expose privilege is to take it away. Many men expected me to include men’s sizing by request. By telling them no, I gave them a choice: don’t participate in something you enjoy or adapt to the only option given.

This is a choice marginalized people face every day. …

Something this campaign also helped expose was society’s very limited view on what it means to be a woman. Society expects women to be short and slight, and any deviation from those rules is not supported. Despite offering women’s shirts up to 4XL in size, some women still couldn’t buy them due to women’s sizes being smaller and shorter than men’s. Usually these women have to buy men’s shirts, because they have no other options.

To those women (and nonbinary individuals, and people with gender dysphoria) I accidentally excluded with this campaign, I am truly sorry. You have my permission to take the design and make a shirt for yourself that fits.

My next shirt campaign will have both women’s and men’s sizes, but I want to emphasize that this is bullshit. Labeling clothing this way forces our bodies into a binary that doesn’t exist.

You can buy Alice Goldfuss’s shirts at Outreachy.

***

emily-ratajkowski-760x760

I had never heard of Emily Ratajkowski until I came across her essay in Glamour earlier this month. Ratajkowski is an actress, a model, and a Bernie Sanders supporter, who (strangely enough) does not think those things are contradictory.

I’ve been called an attention whore so often that I had almost gotten used to it….  [A]s women we are accused of seeking attention more than men are, whether for speaking out politically, as I did, for dressing a certain way, or for even posting a selfie. Our culture has a double standard that runs so deep, many women have actually built up an automatic defense—attempting to be a step ahead of potential critics by making sure we have “real” reasons for anything we say or do. …

It’s absurd to think that desire for attention doesn’t drive both women and men. Why are women scrutinized for it more, then? And if a woman dresses up because she does want attention, male or otherwise, does that make her guilty of something? Or less “serious”? Our society doesn’t question men’s motivations for taking their shirt off, or shaving, or talking about politics—nor should it. Wanting attention is genderless. It’s human.

Ratajkowski is funny, a clear thinker, and a good writer. If we didn’t know what she looked like, if she used a different name or kept her personas separate, would we read her writing differently? And if she was a funny, clear thinking male model, would that be different again?

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Most articles on disability are either “medical model” perspectives of one kind or another, or they are “my story”: anecdotal experiences. The staff at The Mighty found a new approach: short descriptions from 28 people to build a big picture. One capsule take on what brain fog feels like is just one perspective: 28 stories provide a solid foundation.

“Brain fog is like stumbling around in the dark with no clear path out. It’s like your brain being trapped in quicksand constantly.” — Rachel Johnson

“Brain fog is needing a reminder to remind you what your reminders are for.” — Selena Marie Wilson

“Brain fog for me is feeling completely lost in a familiar place.” — Cherie Rendon

I have never experienced anything I would really call brain fog, but reading these descriptions gave me a much fuller concept than I had before. Now I want to see this model applied to different experiences of disability … and longer stories.

***

We can always count on Ragen at Dances with Fat to find the most important stories and write about them clearly. This post is no exception:

Brookhaven Elementary school in Mississippi prioritized students not seeing a 9 year old girl in a “too snug” t-shirt, over that girl’s education.  She was removed from her classroom and put into in school suspension her mother then brought another outfit which was also deemed inappropriate.  The school has verified that they are standing by their decision.

Here’s the first inappropriate outfit (Ragen also has a picture of the second one):

dress-code-1

After dissecting the story behind the story, Ragen concludes:

mostly what I want to say is that this kid is fricking nine years old and she deserves to be able to go to school to learn in pants and a t-shirt without having to worry about being dragged out of class in front of her peers and put into in school suspension because of a ridiculous fat shaming dress code and the sizeist teachers and administrators who choose how and when to enforce it.

***

Stacy Bias provides a fine antidote. Her twelve Good Fatty Archetypes include:

comic_7_mamahen_color

The others range from No Fault Fatty to Fatshionista, and nine more. You’ll enjoy them.

Aside from my usual sources of links, Lisa Hirsch sent the Dances with Fat link (and a couple of others that didn’t make it into this post), and Body Impolitic’s own Lynne Murray sent the Stacy Bias link. Thanks to both!

Colorization of Black & White: Maybe Not

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Laurie says:

I have been a black and white photographer for most of my time as an artist. When I began my Memory Landscape: A Visual Memoir project, I needed color to express the aesthetic of memory that I want, and for the art and the visual authenticity of the story. Of course this has made me think a great deal about color and its uses and values.

There are fine color photographers and I’ve frequently featured color photography in posts on Body Impolitic. But it seems to me to be that color photography is the sensory default that we find most comfortable. Black and white photography automatically demands a greater involvement in the work.

Color can create an illusion of reflecting reality that we tend to accept without reflection or skepticism. It’s a fundamental part of how the world is represented to us. We are encouraged to react this way both by our natural inclinations and the intense media visual world we live in. Color makes it harder for us to see the manipulations in “real” color photography. Black and white photography engages you without the fake reality of color getting in the way. And what makes good color photography hard is that it has to disengage itself from that “fake reality”. (This does not apply to non-representational work.)

Zsolt Batori from the PH21 gallery in Budapest said this about their RGB color exhibition. (He wrote the best comment ever on a single picture of mine when it won the Juror’s prize in the Body exhibition at PH21.)

“There are two kinds of photographs with respect to the significance of their use of colours. On the one hand, ever since colour film technology became widely available, colour has become the default in most photographic practices. That is, some photographs are in colour not because their colours bear some special significance (compared, for instance, to their possible black and white counterparts) but simply because the available film or digital technology has long turned colour to be the common method of capturing photographic images. We may think of these photographs as colour by default. On the other hand, colours are often central to the meaning of photographs for their emphatic, symbolic, psychological, social, compositional, etc. significance. These photographs would not work in black and white the same way; that they are in colour is not merely a technological given, rather, it is an integral, formative and significant aspect of their photographic meaning. We may think of these photographs as colour by significance.”

I love the phrase “color by significance”. What I want to write about today is the colorization of black and white photography in this context. Colorization of black and white work removes both the historical authenticity and most frequently the art as well. Once it replaces black and white (particularly in film), the original work tends to diminish and sometimes disappear.

A good example of problematical colorization is Marina Amaral’s work colorizing historical black and white photographs. She feels colorization makes them more real and life-like. My friend Tracy Schmidt sent me a link to Amaral’s work and my immediate impulse was to find and compare her pictures with some of the original black and white images.

Amaral says: “Color has the power to bring life back to the most important moments: One day I decided to combine my fascination with history and skill using Photoshop.  I started to restore and put color into photos that were originally black and white, allowing people to see history from a new and colorful perspective. Each photo is made to be realistic by recognizing the value behind each one of them, respecting and preserving their stories, paying attention to the finer details and maintaining their original essence. Every completed work has gone through long and in depth research, and is supported by the opinions of experts in each particular area if necessary, to faithfully reproduce the original colors and atmosphere. My work ranges from simple portraits to complex and detailed images, taken from various historical periods covering a wide range of topics.”

This not how I understand the process. She refers to her work as “restoring” black and white photographs by making them in color. Restoration means that you are bringing work back to its original form. Typically repairing the ravages of time. coloring original black and white work is not restoration.

Most important, the aesthetic of the composition of black and white photographs falls apart in color. (It’s like looking at the Mona Lisa in black and white.) The use of color for a historical photograph when all the work of the time was black and white makes it less real, not more. The viewer is deprived the the photographer’s presence in the work. (It’s as if it happened yesterday – and it didn’t.) All of this assumes that the colors are right and usually they aren’t. And of course “natural color” is a whole other conversation.

Amaral’s work is really a framing for my thoughts about colorization of black and white originals. This is done routinely both artistically and commercially to photographs and films. She is appropriating and transforming historical images and this is artistically valid. The images she creates are transformed into her own original art. But this is neither restoration nor “maintaining their original essence.”

An example of an original and Amaral’s colorization is below. Besides the colorization, she either cropped or used a cropped version of the photograph that eliminates dramatic framing in black vertical lines. These lines are crucial in the black and white composition but do not work in color.

times-square-d-day-1944

..

amaral_dday_c

In this photograph, people at Times Square in New York City are seen reading a news ticker about D-Day (Normandy landings), the largest seaborne invasion in history. D-Day occurred on 6 June 1944 when Allied forces targeted a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of Normandy, France to begin the invasion of German-occupied western Europe. It was the beginning of the end of WW2 in Europe.

The photo itself was taken by either Howard Hollem, Edward Meyer or MacLaugharie on the morning of 6 June 1944 and is available through the Library of Congress.