Fisher passes along the above interview with war photographer Goran Tomasevic:
Tomasevic, who is Serbian, began working for Reuters in 1996, covering political instability in his native Belgrade. He has since become one of the best-known war photographers currently working. If you’re in the Washington, D.C., area, you can see some of his photos at the Corcoran Gallery, which is hosting a wonderful war photography exhibit through the end of September.
Max Fisher has an interview with Egyptian photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy. He reflects on “how significant events really end up taking seconds”:
As a photographer you always have to keep the shutter on — we call it the burst mode. I have full sequences, and sometimes it starts with somebody standing, but in the sixth or seventh photo, he’s got a bullet through his head, and it all took less than a second.
The consequences of that moment, of this guy getting shot or avoiding a bullet that killed someone else — it’s a very significant thing, and more often that’s becoming lost. I try to focus on that in my pictures, I try to include as few people as possible; just a man sitting with a killed friend of his, or a mother mourning next to a daughter. It’s a very individual act, one person killing another person.
Check out a Flickr gallery of Elshamy’s work here.
Alison Barker muses on The Art of Intimacy, Stacey D’Arasmo’s treatise on intimacy’s successful portrayal in literature and art:
[U]nexamined assumptions about something as powerful as intimacy make for stories that are full of stereotypes and stereotypical behavior. This is depressing. And it’s not art. By continually rearticulating how she conceives the different types of intimate relationships wrought by the best writers in this and the last century, D’Erasmo cleverly prepares us to accept that intimacy, necessarily, is a bit of a mystery, and that it is only when writers question their received ideas about intimacy that they are able to transcend sentimentality and produce stories that better illuminate this powerful, mysterious, frequently shape-shifting human experience.
Two days ago, Richard Deitsch wondered aloud how many of his Twitter followers have photos of their happiest moment ever. Megan Garber observes that the outpouring of responses is a testament “not only to Twitter’s power as a platform for sharing, but also to cameras’ increasing ubiquity in our lives”:
We may plan to take pictures at weddings, or during proposals, or after the births of babies; many of life’s happiest moments, however, are unexpected and random and weird. The fact that more of us are regularly carrying cameras around with us means that we are newly able to capture those moments–to make the ephemeral newly permanent. And, then, shareable with Sports Illustrated writers.
Many more excellent pictures sent to Deitsch are below:
For her series Reconciliation, Billie Mandle photographs American confessional boxes:
These photographs were made in confessionals, the small rooms found in Catholic churches where people confess their sins. Almost all religions have theologies of repentance; the confessional is unusual because it acts as a physical manifestation of an abstract idea. …
I was raised Catholic and so the traditions of these rooms are familiar to me. Photographing the confessional has become a type of ritual: I use a large format camera and available light, lifting the curtain of the confessional and looking into the darkness, just as I lift the dark cloth of the camera. The confessionals contain contradiction: darkness and light, corporeality and transcendence. They are rooms where people confess their sins and ask for grace surrounded by the traces of past confessions. In making these images I approach the confessionals as metaphorical spaces — rooms that suggest the paradoxes of faith and forgiveness.
Lawrence Krauss wants more research into extracting existing CO2 from the atmosphere as a way to address climate change. He notes that, unlike other forms of geoengineering, “direct air capture would treat the disease, not merely the symptoms”:
First, one removes CO2 from the air by using a sorbent, which is a material that can absorb gasses. Next, the CO2 has to be extracted from the sorbent and sequestered, presumably by pumping it deep underground at relatively high concentration or by binding it to minerals—a bit like how we handle nuclear waste. But another possibility includes actually converting it back into fuel. One particularly attractive possibility that has been proposed involves using an “exchange resin” sorbent which binds CO2 when dry and releases it when wet. In this way the evaporation of water could actually be used to help reduce the energy burden associated with binding and subsequently extracting the CO2.
Scott Rosenberg wonders whether geoengineering, through either carbon dioxide removal or solar radiation management, is “a slam-dunk no-brainer or a regrettable last resort”:
Computer scientist Thomas Murphy has designed an artificial intelligence, PlayFun, that can figure its way through videogames by relentlessly testing strategies that lead to high scores. Gary Marcus explains further:
The program proceeds by automating trial and error. It records everything in the Nintendo’s memory, and correlates every simulated press of a joystick with particular memory locations in the game that represent a player’s score. Any action that increases the score gets weighted more heavily; actions that decrease the score become less likely. In essence, Murphy aims to overpower the Nintendo through sheer brute force, not by what humans would consider actually playing the game. He writes that the “central idea … is to use (only) the value of memory locations to deduce when the player is ‘winning.’ The things that a human player perceives, like the video screen and sound effects, are completely ignored.”
In the wake of the Newtown shootings, NPR ran an item accompanied by the above picture. The news outlet was later contacted by the woman shown in the picture, Aline Marie, who noted that “no one asked [her] permission to post [the picture].” Coburn Dukeheart relates her feelings about the experience:
“I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men,” [Aline Marie] recalls. “I was having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to cry.” Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘clickclickclickclickclick’ all over the place. And there are people in the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I’m pissed. I felt like a zoo animal… yes, it was a lovely photograph, but there is a sense of privacy in a moment like that, and they didn’t ask.”
Dukeheart also spoke with the photographer, Emmanuel Dunand:
[W]hen he took Marie’s photo, he knew she was suffering, but that he simply didn’t want to bother her. He thought that leaving her alone was the most respectful thing to do.
NPR solicited reader comments on whether photographers should “interact with their subjects in moments of grief” to ask permission and names, or if it is “more respectful to leave them alone.” Dukeheart summarizes the responses here.
(Photo: Aline Marie prays outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on the day of the school shooting. Marie noted in her message to NPR that she was “not asking [them] to take the photo down, nor [was she] offended.” By Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.)
For his series "Baled," Wesley Law photographed bundled items at Goodwill liquidation centers:
It took him nine months. And when he finally got access, he found an awesome panorama — thousands of items leftover from Goodwill stores around the country, crammed together in bales as large as 5 feet tall by 7 feet wide, awaiting transport to new destinations. Initially, Law thought he'd shoot the scene as a landscape, to capture the size and scope of the facility and its contents. But on a second visit, he started considering the bales individually. "I realized when I got close to these things that they each have their own personality. They have their own identity," he says.
From Law's artist statement:
We are not forced to live among our refuse, knowing the immediacy of its decline, unaware of the process it undergoes. Our waste is conveniently carted off by mainly unseen forces. The average American discards 4.34 pounds of garbage each day. The majority of which ends up in a landfill or gets shipped overseas. Almost 200 million pounds of donated clothing was sold in 2011 by one non-profit in particular. The vast unknown quantities not sold were baled and sent away.